Archive for Behind the Headlines
How many times have you seen "based on a true story" before a feature film? The truth is often the basis for some very successful Hollywood films. Films like Milk, The Social Network, and The Queen are just a few from recent memory. Inevitably, the truth in the true story becomes something that critics and audiences debate.
This summer comes a film based on a popular novel, The Help. This film doesn't carry the "true story" mantle but the book was inspired by the white author's own upbringing in a racially divided Mississippi. The press and online debate about this film starts there. Entertainment Weekly, in a cover story, talks about the "crooked culture of storytelling when it comes to the black experience." In its review, the Boston Globe says, "The Help joins everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Blind Side as another Hollywood movie that sees racial progress as the province of white do-gooderism." Variety calls the film "A stirring black-empowerment tale aimed squarely at white audiences."
Pioneers of the Gay Rights Movement used the riots at the Stonewall Inn to propel their own civil rights movement in 1969. Today, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender movement is utilizing social media to fuel that same agenda. At the time of the uprising the American Psychiatric Association still classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and the act of homosexual sex -- even in private homes -- was considered a crime. Since those riots in front of the Stonewall Inn and the subsequent establishment of the annual Gay Pride Parade, the LGBT community (like the racial and religious groups before it) has sought the right to receive equal treatment under the law.
Early this morning the American Space Shuttle program ended. When the Atlantis shuttle landed at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, it brought to a close 30 years of American innovation and leadership in space exploration. When I look back on the Space program, one particular initiative comes to mind -- the Apollo program. Apollo is known for its many success and failures, particularly Apollo 1 and Apollo 13 but it was Apollo 8 that instilled faith that the United States might actually reach the moon.
Heavy snow and rain this past winter and spring have led to massive flooding of the Mississippi River Valley in 2011, devastating populated areas along the river's path and causing millions of dollars in damage. Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee are just a few states that have been affected by the flooding, displacing thousands of people across the South and Midwest. Over the past several weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers has destroyed levees along the Mississippi River to direct excess water away from more densely populated areas and into flood lands.
Late on Friday evening, June 24, 2011, the State Senate of New York passed the Marriage Equality Bill, granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the Empire State. The most populous state to legalize same-sex marriage, New York joins Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, and Washington D.C.
Passage of the bill gave New Yorkers something new to cheer about during their 42nd Annual Gay Pride Parade on Sunday. An estimated 6,000 people from the LGBT community along with their supporters celebrated as floats rode by, one holding Governor Andrew Cuomo, signer of the landmark legislation. "Cuomo was the parade's rock star, eliciting loud cheers and shrieks as he made his way down Fifth Avenue, " the San Francisco Chronicle reported. "The roar became almost deafening as the parade turned onto the narrow Christopher Street." Christopher Street, home of the Stonewall Inn and site of the Stonewall Riots, has remained a cradle for the LGBT community of New York since the 1960s.
On June 14, the National Assessment of Educational Progress released a study that claimed only 9% of fourth graders were able to both identify Abraham Lincoln and give two reasons why he was significant to American history.
The results of the study have prompted a barrage of criticism for the American educational system, yet many are quick to point out that, historically speaking, history has always been students’ worst subject. NPR’s All Things Considered ran a story on June 19 that pointed out that on a similar test in 1943, only 22% of students could answer the same question about Lincoln. NPR said that students “face rote textbooks and a system dominated by multiple-choice testing that encourages ‘teaching to the test’ instead of deeper, contextual learning.”