By Alan Silverleib, CNN Congressional Producer
Washington (CNN) - Last November, Hispanic voters planted the seeds for serious immigration reform when they backed President Barack Obama by a record margin.
This April, we'll see if those seeds can grow in Capitol Hill's toxic partisan soil.
Congress returns from spring break Monday, and immigration reform tops the agenda. The Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" is preparing to release its long-awaited plan for resolving the status of 11 million undocumented men, women, and children now living in America's shadows.
Can a unique confluence of factors - a Democratic president trying to build his legacy, a Republican Party grappling with new demographic realities - overcome the usual strong bias for inaction in a sharply divided Congress? The answer remains unclear.FULL STORY
(CNN) - In 2011, Meryl Streep gives her thoughts on Margaret Thatcher's legacy after portraying her in "The Iron Lady."
By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
(CNN) – As Quanesha Wallace remembers, it was around this time last year when the idea first came up at Wilcox County High School. It was nothing big, just chatter about prom, school, what comes next, what they'd change.
If things were different, someone said, we'd all go to the same prom.
For as long as anyone could remember, students in their South Georgia community went to separate proms, and homecoming dances, too. White students from Wilcox County attend one. Black students, another. They’re private events organized by parents and students, not the school district. Schools have long been desegregated, but in Wilcox County, the dances never changed.FULL STORY
The first rounds of arguments are over. The nine justices on the Supreme Court today heard about an hour and 20 minutes of debate around Proposition 8 – the measure that banned same-sex marriage in California.
And on Wednesday, the issue of the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between one man and one woman will be up before the highest court.
So what do you think? Who has the right to say I do? And what do our laws say about who we are? Add your thoughts at CNN's iReport.
By Alexander Mooney, CNN White House Producer
(CNN) – Seeking to ignite congressional movement on immigration reform, President Obama said Monday he expects the Senate to take significant action on the issue next month.
"I expect a bill to be put forward. I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible," Obama said at a naturalization ceremony at the White House.
"We are making progress, but we've got to finish the job," Obama said.FULL STORY
By John D. Sutter, CNN
Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a human rights and social change columnist for CNN Opinion. E-mail him at CTL@CNN.com or follow him on Twitter (@jdsutter), Facebook or Google+. This column contains language that may offend some readers.
Franklin County, Mississippi (CNN) - Statistically speaking, Franklin County should be straighter than John Wayne eating Chick-fil-A. The middle-of-nowhere rectangle in southwest Mississippi - known for its pine forests, hog hunting and an infamous hate crime - is home to exactly zero same-sex couples, according to an analysis of census data.
In other words: It's a place where gays don't exist.
At least not on paper.
Before I visited Franklin County, I figured there must be gay people living in Straight County USA. But I didn't expect anyone to be open about it - and with good reason. As part of this op-ed project, I recently ranked the Hospitality State as one of the least hospitable for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, based on its lack of legal protections. In addition to allowing gays and lesbians to be fired because of who they are, Mississippi is also gracious enough to let landlords evict gay residents.
Those are great incentives for a gay person to become invisible. And being invisible, of course, could mean avoiding census workers.
I drove to this place of rolling hills and misty valleys with a few questions on my mind: Can there really be such a thing as an all-straight county? If so, what is it like to be someone who never has met a gay person? Do you just watch "Glee" and figure it out?
If there are gay people in Franklin County, what keeps them hidden?
I spent a few days searching for answers before I realized I was making the wrong assumptions: It's not that gay people here (or anywhere really) want to be in the closet, necessarily. It's the rest of the world that pushes them in and shuts the door.FULL STORY
Send us your thoughts and memories of author Chinua Achebe on iReport.
By Laura Smith-Spark and Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) - Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, acclaimed in part for his groundbreaking 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart," has died, his British publisher, Penguin Books, said Friday.
He was 82.
An author of more than 20 books, his honors included the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.
He was also accorded his country's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award.
Achebe is a major part of African literature, and is popular all over the continent for his novels, especially "Anthills of the Savannah," which was itself shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987, and "Things Fall Apart."
The latter was required reading in countless high schools and colleges in the continent, and has been translated into dozens of languages.
Set in precolonial Nigeria, "Things Fall Apart" portrays the story of a farmer, Okonkwo, who struggles to preserve his customs despite pressure from British colonizers. The story resonated in post-independent Africa, and the character became a household name in the continent.
Achebe's stories included proverbs and tackled complex issues of African identity, nationalism and decolonization, adding to his books' popularity.FULL STORY
(CNN) –Today marks the anniversary of the third and decisive civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte recruited fellow singer Tony Bennett to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965. They shared their moments with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "Starting Point".FULL STORY
By Michael Martinez and Mariano Castillo, CNN
Los Angeles (CNN) - Jonathan Larios hears it all the time: Someone walks into his Honduran restaurant and they think it's a Mexican place.
"Oh, I hate that. That bothers me a lot," said Larios, 21, general manager of two Los Angeles-area restaurants called Honduras Kitchen. "They always ask, 'How's the Mexican food?' It gets frustrating over time.
"It's like the most race that people always see is black, Mexican and American. They don't see anything else," said Larios, whose mother is Honduran and father Salvadoran.
His first-hand experience shows that some Americans confuse all Hispanics as being Mexicans. While it's true that Mexicans make up the largest segment of the Hispanic population in the United States, a new Brown University study that shows Latinos are hardly a monolithic group.
The demographic has wide differences in nationalities that are becoming more salient, the study said.
"When studies are done of Hispanics, the results mostly reflect the experience of Mexicans, who are more than 60% of the total," the study says. "But observers would be mistaken if they thought they knew Hispanics in the U.S. by looking only at Mexicans."