Educators and Parents: These Educator and Parent Guides are provided for teachers and parents to use as a catalyst for discussion and learning if they choose to watch these programs with their students. CNN provides Educator and Parent Guides for all of its "In America" programming.
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While much of the country struggles to emerge from a recession, California's Silicon Valley is booming, and technology companies like Facebook, Skype, and Apple are seeing their valuations soar. CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien reports that the ownership of this digital boom is mostly young, white, and male. For her fourth Black in America documentary, O'Brien asks why, according to industry analyst CB Insights, less than one percent of all venture capital money went to digital startups with African-American founders in 2010. She follows the progress of eight strangers after they were selected to live together for nine weeks in a unique, technology-focused "accelerator" developed to help African-American digital entrepreneurs secure funding to establish their businesses.
"Latino in America 2: In Her Corner" follows Marlen Esparza's journey to the 2012 Olympics, the first games to allow women to compete in boxing. The 21-year-old, five-time national champion weighs 112 pounds and hits so quickly and so hard that she has to spar with the guys. Marlen hasn't been interested in things you'd expect most young women her age to pursue. Instead, she's been fixated on boxing since she was 12. She is smart enough to get full academic scholarships to top colleges, but postponed university because she and her working-class, Mexican-American family dream she will get to be among the first women to represent the U.S. in the Olympics. Marlen's biggest competition is Christina Cruz, a Puerto Rican fighter from Hell's Kitchen.
Today's middle and high school students may have been too young to remember or to understand what happened on September 11, 2001. The events of that tragic day, while memorable to adults, are not in many students' immediate frame of reference. As the nation observes the 10th anniversary 9/11, you may choose to address it with your students. CNN Student News has provided these discussion questions and learning activity to help guide students' understanding of the events of that day and their impact on students' lives.
"Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11" profiles the sometimes overlooked female rescue workers who raced to the Twin Towers in the wake of the attack. Anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien looks at the work of these rescue workers over the decade following their life-altering experiences. Among the stories of these heroic women of New York's Ground Zero is an African-American firefighter whose company lost seven of the 343 firefighters who died that day. She is pushing to recruit more women to this dangerous job, even as the number of female firefighters has dropped to less than one percent of the NYFD. O'Brien also speaks with the family of a decorated police officer and mother who was photographed rescuing survivors just moments before the collapse of the towers. O'Brien reports the present-day struggles of these unsung heroines and hears about their determination to be prepared for the next attack -- and to restore hope.
In "Education in America: Don't Fail Me", we learn that at this very moment, America's future is at stake. "If we don't generate the next group of innovators, scientists, engineers, and problem solvers," inventor Dean Kamen warns, "our standard of living, our quality of life, our security, will plummet!" American students rank 17th in science and 25th in math when compared to other industrialized nations. They don't have the skills to take on the high tech jobs of the future. This is because of how and what we teach American kids. It is also because of a culture that values sports and celebrities above all. The United States needs to change the way students are taught math and science, and children need to be encouraged and inspired to take the toughest classes in those subjects. There is a nationwide competition designed to motivate high school students to take those classes, push themselves, and learn more. Students Maria Castro, Brian Whited and Shaan Patel are actively involved in it. But is it too late for them? Is it too late for us?
Sharples, West Virginia -- population around 100 people -- is ground zero in the fight over an issue of importance to every American who has ever plugged in a computer, watched a television or taken a hot shower: How should the U.S. mine coal? About 50% of U.S. power still comes from burning coal. In West Virginia, over the past few decades, there has been a push for Mountaintop Removal Mining, a destructive yet highly effective form of strip mining that literally blows the tops off of mountains to reach the rich coal seams buried inside. Miners say mountaintop removal projects provide much-needed jobs. Their opponents say the cost of those jobs -- to the environment, the people and the future -- is just too high. There is an intense, enormous struggle going on in tiny Sharples. Soledad O'Brien is there to cover it from all sides in her documentary, "Battle for Blair Mountain: Working in America."
"Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" examines a city in middle Tennessee that is torn apart by fear and suspicion as residents fight to block the construction of a large Islamic center. From New York to California, since Sept. 11, 2001, fears of radical Islam, terrorism and "Sharia law" have fueled opposition to mosque projects and launched a national debate around religious freedom protections. Murfreesboro, Tennessee has just over 100,000 people, 140+ churches, and one mosque. For decades, Muslims have lived and prayed in Murfreesboro without incident, but last May, when the Muslim community gained county approval to build a new 52,000 square foot Islamic center in town, hundreds of Murfreesboro residents took to the streets in protest. CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight to block the mosque project in Murfreesboro and the fight over religious freedom; a fight that would ultimately include protests, vandalism, arson and an explosive lawsuit that would involve the U.S. Department of Justice.
"Pictures Don't Lie: A Black in America Special" examines the hazy legacy of legendary photographer Ernest Withers, who helped advance the civil rights movement with his stunningly intimate black-and-white images. Withers was everywhere: in Dr. King's hotel room for strategy sessions, in the courtroom of the Emmett Till lynching murder trial, behind the scenes at the Memphis sanitation strike before Dr. King was assassinated. Now, just three years after his death, the reputation of the man dubbed "the original civil rights photographer" is in question. Withers may have led a double life as a paid FBI "racial informant." Caught in the middle of the firestorm are the children of Ernest Withers, who are disputing the charges and fighting to open the namesake museum that will display his historic images. The Withers children are speaking out for the first time with CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien. We will also speak to leaders of the civil rights movement who were allegedly spied on by Withers to hear their reactions. Do they believe the accusations? Do they feel betrayed? And how common was the FBI's practice of employing racial informants? During this month of reflection, the timing couldn't be better to debate this conflicted character's place in civil rights history.
"New Orleans Rising" is a story of hope reignited in a landmark middle-class African-American neighborhood in New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the ensuing years, Pontchartrain Park saw one of the lowest rates of homeowners returning in New Orleans. That might have been the end of this once vibrant community had it not called on one of its own to lead a charge to return it to its former self. Stage and screen actor Wendell Pierce became more than just a celebrity face. By surrounding himself with a cadre of experts, learning on the job, and winning over city planners and politicians, this accidental developer became Pontchartrain Park's greatest hope. "New Orleans Rising" is about love, loss, and home.
CNN anchor & special correspondent Soledad O'Brien reports on those left most vulnerable in the wake of Haiti's devastating earthquake: Haiti's remarkably inspiring children. Told through the eyes of 6-year-old Cendy Jeune and former child slave Marc Kenson Olibri, O'Brien reports on how Haiti's orphans struggle to overcome immense obstacles, including crushing poverty and child slavery. Along the way, O'Brien interviews people connected to Haiti's 380,000 orphans: the missionaries, aid workers and relatives, all of whom must overcome bureaucracies and a frail recovery from the powerful earthquake.
Gary Spino and Tony Brown have fought for gay rights all of their lives, but these days, one of the most radical things a gay person can do is form a traditional family -- and that's precisely what they want. We follow Gary and Tony on their struggle to have a baby, which has a biological and legal connection to both of them. They spend a small fortune hiring an egg donor and a surrogate, and facing a string of court battles. But all the medical miracles and legal maneuvering can't guarantee the approval of the people around them, or even a baby.
Every leading indicator -- unemployment, income, wealth, educational attainment, homeownership and foreclosures -- demonstrates that the African-American financial foundation is crumbling at rates that are worse than other segments of the U.S. population. Reported by anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien, "Almighty Debt" explores how one church is helping its 7,000 parishioners survive the worst financial crisis for African-Americans since the Great Depression. Rev. DeForest Soaries believes "debt is the new slavery." See inside his church as he fights debt from the pulpit and leads his members on a new revolutionary struggle.
The Latino population, now America's largest minority, is set to nearly triple by 2050. In fact, the U.S. now has the highest Latino population after Mexico. Their sheer numbers are shaking up America, reshaping schools, churches and neighborhoods and forcing a nation of immigrants to rediscover what it means to be an American. For two nights, CNN's Soledad O'Brien journeys into the homes and hearts of a minority group destined to change America. Is it the ultimate clash of cultures, or the ultimate melting pot? Witness the evolution of a country as Latinos remake America, and in return, America remakes them.
With "Black in America 2," CNN deepens its investigation of the most challenging issues facing African-Americans. CNN's Soledad O'Brien journeys to South Africa and criss-crosses the U.S., reporting on groundbreaking solutions that are transforming the black experience in America. O'Brien uncovers pioneers who are making a difference: people inspiring volunteerism, programs that are improving access to quality health care and education, and leaders working to address financial struggles and develop strong families.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien retraces the steps of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., James Earl Ray, the FBI and Memphis police, and she explores alternative scenarios of who may have been responsible for King's death.
Forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., CNN launches a sweeping on-air and digital initiative, CNN Presents: Black in America. These documentaries, "The Black Woman and Family" and "The Black Man," focus on fresh analysis from new voices about the real lives behind the stereotypes, statistics and identity politics that frequently frame the national dialogue about Black America.
This year, CNN will join the fight to end modern-day slavery and shine a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery. The CNN Freedom Project will amplify the voices of the victims, highlight success stories and help unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life. You can find more information and stories at The CNN Freedom Project.