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Documentary explores Jesse Owens' life beyond victory
The documentary "Jesse Owens" tells the athlete's story, from his youth in Ohio beyond his Olympic victories in Germany.
May 1st, 2012
05:42 PM ET

Documentary explores Jesse Owens' life beyond victory

The headline of Jesse Owens’ life always mentions the four gold medals he won in track and field events at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, which crushed Nazi German notions of Aryan superiority. But the real story of his life neither begins nor ends with that victory, and a documentary airing tonight on PBS explores Owens’ life before and after.

“Jesse Owens," an hourlong episode of American Experience that airs at 8 p.m. on most PBS stations, starts with Owens’ record-breaking high school and college years in Cleveland, Ohio, and at Ohio State University.

His Olympic victories had a deep impact on Americans, but also on German spectators whose lives would be changed by the Holocaust.

“When I saw him run, he became something of a hero to me,” said then-11-year-old Theodor Michael, a German of African descent who is quoted in the film. “It was truly inspiring for me to see a person of my skin color, my kind, winning.”

After beating the German favorite in the broad jump, the two competitors walked arm-in-arm around the stadium for a victory lap, to Nazi leaders’ disgust.

But the lucrative endorsements and contracts that were dangled in front of Owens after his victories didn’t materialize once he returned to the United States. He faced discrimination while touring with other members of the U.S. Olympic team and was forced to stay and eat in segregated establishments.

"All of those experiences helped him become an incredibly strong man who survived through so many challenging times," said "Jesse Owens" director Laurens Grant. "He fought back with grace and his talent. Those things are maybe forgotten by the wayside, and I think all those things made him the man he was."

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • Race • Sports • Who we are
Engage: Thousands gather in celebration of Native American heritage
‘Gathering of Nations’ is said to be the world's largest annual meeting of indigenous and Native American people.
April 30th, 2012
01:12 PM ET

Engage: Thousands gather in celebration of Native American heritage

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Native American powwow draws thousands to New Mexico - Chicago Tribune

Henry Louis Gates helps actor Samuel L. Jackson find his roots - The Huffington Post

More children identify as biracial, but what does that mean? - The Washington Post 

New wave of African-American networks aim to relate to large black audience  - Variety

Engage: Pitcher on anti-gay kiss cam practice: 'Enough with this stupid trend'
Pitcher Brandon McCarthy spoke against homophobic responses that commonly arise when two men are shown on kiss cams.
April 27th, 2012
02:40 PM ET

Engage: Pitcher on anti-gay kiss cam practice: 'Enough with this stupid trend'

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Oakland A's pitcher calls Kiss Cam stunt 'homophobic' - The Advocate

George Zimmerman: Before the shots were fired - Reuters

Study shows discrimination towards blacks in North Carolina restaurants  - The New York Daily News

The L.A. Riots through the eyes of Korean-Americans – KoreAm Magazine

Engage: Politicians planning around Supreme Court Arizona immigration debate
Activists protested the Arizona immigration law being debated in the Supreme Court this week.
April 24th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

Engage: Politicians planning around Supreme Court Arizona immigration debate

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

If upheld, Democrats to force vote on Arizona immigration law - Washington Post

Mariah Watchman wants to be the first Native American supermodel - Indian Country Today

Opinion: Koreatown newspaper editor reflects on aftermath of L.A. riots  - KoreAm

High school soccer team wears hijab to support teammate - South Florida Sun-Sentintel

Investigation: Are U.S. border agents using excessive force? - PBS Need to Know

Josh Hutcherson, Chaz Bono win at GLAAD awards - Los Angeles Times

April 23rd, 2012
12:19 PM ET

Engage: 'Girls,' writers criticized for 'hipster racism'

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Can racist comments ever be 'ironic?' - The Atlantic Wire

Alabama to watch closely as Supreme Court debates Arizona immigration law - The Birmingham News

Opinion: Obama, Romney 'hispandering,' not understanding - San Antonio Express-News

As Harlem's demographics shift, black leaders fear political, symbolic losses - The New York Times

Survey: Two-thirds of kids with autism targeted by bullies - NPR

Trayvon Martin case revitalizes black media - Poynter.org

Engage: Is 'Think Like a Man' disparaging single women?
The movie "Think Like a Man," based on a book by comedian Steve Harvey, opens April 20.
April 19th, 2012
02:05 PM ET

Engage: Is 'Think Like a Man' disparaging single women?

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Opinion: 'Think Like a Man' blames single black women for their singleness – Ms. Magazine blog

Vatican reprimands U.S. Catholic nuns for 'radical feminist themes incompatible with Christian faith' - The New York Times

New YouTube channel spotlights Hispanic celebrities, pop culture - The San Antonio Express-News

Opinion: Attention on lack of diversity in HBO series 'Girls' compounded by racial comments - Colorlines

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Attorney: Plaintiffs will appeal dismissal of Iowa discrimination lawsuit
A judge's ruling said there wasn't evidence to prove 'unconscious bias' against black job applicants.
April 18th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

Attorney: Plaintiffs will appeal dismissal of Iowa discrimination lawsuit

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – The lawyer representing up to 6,000 African-American plaintiffs in an employment discrimination lawsuit against the state of Iowa says he will appeal a judge’s dismissal of the case.

"This was a step forward, but we're disappointed that it wasn't a bigger step forward from this judge," said Thomas Newkirk. "We will appeal it and keep fighting to expose the reality of how bias works in the system."

Iowa Fifth Judicial District Judge Robert J. Blink dismissed the case Tuesday, ruling that evidence presented by the plaintiffs did not prove hiring and promotion discrepancies between blacks and whites were caused by discrimination. But it also asked the state why it wasn’t using existing tools and policies to see whether it was fulfilling its goals as an Equal Opportunity Employer.

In a press release, Iowa State Attorney General Tom Miller praised Blink's ruling, calling it a "thoughtful decision (that) is based on the law and the facts of the case."

"The plaintiffs had an expert who testified that even if the agencies didn't know the race of the applicants, that somehow in a subconscious way they did know and discriminated against African-Americans," Miller said in a press release. "Judge Blink has rejected this claim as clearly as he should have."

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • How we live • Race • Social justice
Ruling expected soon in Iowa employment discrimination lawsuit
The suit alleges that black employees were passed over for job opportunities because white managers preferred to hire whites.
April 16th, 2012
08:01 AM ET

Ruling expected soon in Iowa employment discrimination lawsuit

Updated April 18, 2012: Attorney: Plaintiffs will appeal dismissal of Iowa 'unconscious bias' discrimination lawsuit

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – According to her resume, Nansi Woods looked like a good fit for the job, an adviser position at the Iowa Workforce Development office. She had a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, a bachelor's degree in communications, one of several preferred fields related to the job and a minor in social work. She more than met the minimum requirements listed in the job description, which asked for an associate's degree or certificate of education completion.

Another applicant had a bachelor's degree in a preferred field, but was still taking courses toward a master's degree in human resources. A third person seeking the job had no degree, no specific job experience and none of the listed computer skills. These last two applicants – both of them white – were offered the job. Woods, who is black, was never granted an interview.

A class action suit filed in 2007 on behalf of Woods and up to 6,000 other African-Americans who were passed over for jobs or promotions with the state of Iowa alleges that they were victims of discrimination.

The plaintiff's attorneys attempted to remove lead plaintiff, Linda Pippen, from the case after she was convicted of embezzling more than $43,000 in unemployment benefits from the state, but a judge denied the motion. Thomas Newkirk, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said Pippen’s conviction should not cast doubt on the others' discrimination claims, and that her misconduct occurred after the suit was filed.

Jeff Thompson, the state attorney representing Iowa, said that the state could not comment on an ongoing case. But in the state's answer to the lawsuit, it denies the allegations of discrimination.

Lawyers from both sides of the case said an Iowa court judge was expected to rule on the suit, Pippen et al. v. State of Iowa, soon.

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Engage: 'War on Women' has parties fighting for women's vote
A comment about Ann Romney's qualifications to advise her husband on women's economic issues has sparked discussion.
April 13th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Engage: 'War on Women' has parties fighting for women's vote

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

In 'War on Women,' who wins female voters? - National Public Radio

Statistics disprove myths about black crime in the U.S. - Colorlines

Polls indicate opinion divide on Trayvon Martin case, but not on self-defense principles - The Los Angeles Times

Federal complaint alleges businessman of Ponzi scheme that defrauded church members - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A history of the LGBT punk movement - Out Magazine

Same-sex couples in North Carolina prepare for marriage vote
Kelli Evans and Karen Wade were photographed with their triplets for Commitment NC.
April 11th, 2012
09:42 AM ET

Same-sex couples in North Carolina prepare for marriage vote

Editor's note: See more images from Justin Cook's Commitment NC project on CNN Photos.

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – Despite long-term relationships, shared children and steadfastness to each other in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, same-sex couples like Heather McIver and Suzanne Lowe, Kelli Evans and Karen Wade, and J. Wesley Thompson and Trey Owen know that their commitments could be invalidated with enough ballots. They live in North Carolina, which will be conducting a referendum on gay marriage next month.

On May 8, voters in North Carolina will head to the polls to vote on Amendment 1, a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define "marriage between one man and one woman" as "the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized." According to same-sex marriage advocacy group Marriage Equality, North Carolina is one of 20 states that are considering whether to allow or ban same-sex relationships. Twenty-one states recognize some form of same-sex relationships, either as marriage, civil union or domestic partnership. Thirty states ban same-sex marriage by law, constitutional amendment or both.

Each of the above couples participated in Commitment NC , a documentary photo project that aims to show the faces of the families that would be affected by passage of Amendment 1. It’s the brainchild of Justin Cook, an independent photographer based in Durham, North Carolina, who says he wanted to show the "real love and real lives" of gay and lesbian couples. Commitment NC has also grown to include images and stories from a similar project, Love for All, by another group of photographers capturing the lives of unmarried couples, gay and straight.

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Filed under: Community • Family • Politics • Relationships • Religion • Sexual orientation • What we think
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