What do the census, voting rights and democracy have in common?

Emails made public by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School recently showed that officials under President Donald Trump tried whatever they could to rig the system for redistricting purposes. It and other government documents detailed clashes between the administration and the bureau’s experts in areas that had the potential of affecting the count and who gets elected. Mary C. Curtis sits down with Kelly Percival, with the Brennan Center’s Democracy to discuss what this all means.

‘Beat them in court, beat them in Congress and beat them at the polls’

On the one year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the administration woke up to it’s fifth defeat in six months in passing legislation to ensure voting rights for all. Biden had promised to put voting rights at the top of his agenda, but the path appears more fraught than ever. Mary C. Curtis speaks with White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond on what comes next.

You don’t notice climate change, until you do

Though you’d hardly call me a skier, a skiing fan or a more than casual follower of the sport, even I have heard of American champion and Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn. So, I paused to listen when she plugged her new memoir on NPR. What kept my attention were her reflections on how climate change has shifted her sport in — when you think about it — predictable ways.

“It’s been so difficult the last few years to hold the entire World Cup schedule. A lot of the races that we have are a bit lower in altitude, and those races have been canceled more often than not,” she said. “The glaciers that I grew up skiing on in Austria and places like that are essentially gone. It’s incredibly sad, and global warming is something that’s very real for the world. And I feel like in the grand scheme of things, our sport doesn’t really matter in that way, but we see it firsthand.”

From fires out West that destroy cities in the blink of an eye to a record number of deadly tornadoes in the last month of last year, few areas of the globe have been spared. According to research released last year in the journal Nature Climate Change, at least 85 percent of the global population has experienced weather events made worse by climate change. And climate effects in other places can reach America’s shores.

However, as with most issues, including those based on science, there is a partisan divide when it comes to belief in the seriousness of the problem and what, if anything, needs to be done about it.

Americans who excuse violence need to see the world through Maxine McNair’s eyes — and soul

It looked like an ordinary room when I visited it years ago, a place you’d pause for a chat in the middle of a work day or to enjoy that lunch packed from home. But it was so much more, a room where memories and emotions overwhelm in the space of a few seconds.

When a business trip took me to Birmingham, Ala., I knew I had to visit, to witness at the 16th Street Baptist Church, where cowards placed a bomb that injured many and murdered four little girls getting ready for a church program on Sept. 15, 1963.

While the church itself is a beautiful sanctuary, the basement space is no less sacred.

That is what violence looks like, violence spurred by hate, violence that ended the lives of Addie Mae Collins, 14; Cynthia Wesley, 14; Carole Robertson, 14, and Carol Denise McNair, just 11 years old. It wasn’t just Ku Klux Klan members whose fingerprints stained that evil and bloody act. Among the guilty were the “good” white citizens of Alabama, the leaders and politicians, who feared any change in the social, economic and political order that solidified their status, their place at the top. Whether silent or vocal, they supported the folks who did the dirty work.

Maxine McNair, the last living parent of any of the girls killed in the 1963 church bombing, died on Jan. 2 at the age of 93. Any mother, any person, could and should feel a piece of that pain in their bones; they should try to imagine how it might have felt to live nearly 60 years after burying a child, all those years to remember what was and to think of what might have been.

Short-term memories

Instead, a lot of Americans have apparently forgotten that important historical event from not that long ago. It’s not that surprising if you paid any attention to how divided Americans were in their commemoration of an insurrection, a violent attempt to overturn the results of an election judged fair by officials of every political party.

And that was just one year ago, on Jan. 6, 2021.

recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that about 1 in 3 Americans believed violence against the government could at times be justified. Though that third included all Americans, who listed a range of said justifications, from vaccine requirements to “protection,” there was a distinct partisan divide — with 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats indicating approval.

The fight for Black and brown children

There is a double standard when it comes to the treatment of children of color. They are punished in schools more frequently. They are arrested more frequently. Why is this happening and why are so many Black and brown children robbed of their childhoods? Kristin Henning, author of “The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth,” uses her experiences, data and research to paint an alarming picture. Henning sits down with Mary C. Curtis to discuss the problem and potential policy solutions.

The politics of equity 2021

In this wide-ranging, year-end conversation, Mary C. Curtis speaks with New York Times columnist Charles Blow about what he considers the dramatic rollback of the nation’s civil rights and whether President Joe Biden has been proactive enough to help stem inequity.

Careless adults take note: ‘Children will listen … children will see’

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see

And learn.”

At his death late last month at the age of 91, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was praised for writing for character rather than the hit parade. Playwright Arthur Laurents, who worked with him on several productions, once said that Sondheim “writes a lyric that could only be sung by the character for which it was designed.”

However, the audience for his work is everyone.

At this moment, the words of “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods” sadly resonate in a country where children are learning the wrong lessons from adults who should know better.

In Michigan, family, friends and classmates are mourning Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, killed in an attack in a place that should be safe — high school. A 15-year-old was charged in the murders at Oxford High School, and in a rarity, his parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter for what prosecutors said was behavior that made them complicit.

Guide them along the way

Children will glisten

Children will look to you

For which way to turn.”

Fudge on housing funds in reconciliation: ‘We can’t live in the past’

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better package includes almost $150 billion devoted to remedying inequities left by the country’s history of discriminatory housing practices. If a bill passes the Senate includes that amount, it would be historic.

Marcia L. Fudge, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has been sharing the message about infrastructure investments that include public housing rehabilitation and rental vouchers, and what it would all mean for American families. Fudge joined a recent episode of CQ Roll Call’s podcast Equal Time to discuss the issue further.

A transcript, edited for clarity and brevity, appears below.

What do the battle against omicron and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge have in common?

Equity is top of mind this week. First, the omicron variant is now the topic of global conversation. How the story unfolded in the U.S. illuminates how disparity and racism are intrinsic to keeping the virus evolving. Harvard University public health expert Dr. Ingrid Katz speaks with Mary C. Curtis about how global vaccine equity is the only way through this pandemic and the only path to preparing for the next. Then we feature a conversation with Housing Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge about housing, infrastructure and reconciliation.

Wanted this holiday season: More wise men and women on the Hill

Any true connoisseur of “A Christmas Carol” would rank Alistair Sim’s 1951 star turn at the top of the list. It’s impossible to resist sharing the sheer joy of his Ebenezer Scrooge, waking up to discover he’s been given a second chance to become a human being, one who can make the world a better place with generosity and kindness. And he gets something out of the deal, as well.

Cue the happy ending and lessons learned.

For this holiday season, a remake is in order, with Scrooge a sucker for falling for Bob Cratchit’s tale of woe. A raise? Times are tough, or haven’t you heard how many people would love to have that clerk job. The greedy Jacob Marley may not be loved, but he sure would be admired, perhaps even praised, for accumulating as much wealth as possible in this life, with little regard for his soul in the next.

And what’s that hiding under the cloak of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come? Not Ignorance and Want, which come with a warning of harm if these societal ills are ignored. But instead, sacks filled with fraudulent mail-in ballots from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The point of so many holiday tales, when you think of it, hinges on transformation — that moment when the protagonist opens his or her heart. Think of the Grinch, whose actual heart seems to grow three sizes when he hears the gift-less residents of Whoville raising their voices in glorious song.