tv PBS News Hour PBS February 25, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the fight for 15-- debate continues on raising the federal minimum wage as income inequality in the u.s. grows ever wider. then, getting the vaccine-- we look at the reasons why many health workers remain hesitant to receive covid inoculations. and, disconnected-- amid the pandemic, millions of students with limited broadband access are at risk of falling further behind. >> until the internet is looked upon not as a luxury, but as a need. we're going to always have this gap. and it's unfortunate that this
is dividing us in a country that is already divided. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> at fidelity, changing plans is always part of the plan. >> the kendeda fund. committed to advancing restorative justice and meaningful work through investments in transformative leaders and ideas. more at kendedafund.org.
>> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president biden marked a hopeful milestone in the pandemic today-- the
country's 50 millionth covid vaccination. at a white house event, he said the u.s. is ahead of schedule, on vaccinating 100 million people in his first 100 days in office. but he cautioned against relaxing. >> this is not a victory lap. everything is not fixed. we have a long way to go. that day when everything gets back to normal depends on all of us. >> woodruff: more than 45 million people in the u.s. have received at least one shot of the pfizer or moderna vaccines. johnson and johnson's vaccine could receive emergency approval, tomorrow. the number of americans filing unemployment claims fell sharply last week, to 730,000. the drop suggested layoffs caused by the pandemic may be easing. but, the overall figure is still historically high the president's nominee for
surgeon general, vivek murthy, vowed today his overriding priority will be the harm that covid is causing american families. he spoke at his u.s. senate confirmation hearing, and added a personal note. >> there are issues that have been worsened by covid-- mental health and substance abuse disorders-- and those are my accompanying priorities as well, but we've got to turn this pandemic around first and foremost. sir, to me this is very personal. i've lost seven family members to covid >> woodruff: also today, the full senate confirmed former michigan governor jennifer granholm to be secretary of energy. the sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed u.s. women's gymnastics took a shocking new turn today. former olympics coach john geddert took his own life after being charged with abusing the girls he trained. he also had ties to sports doctor larry nassar, who went to prison for assaulting female athletes. we'll return to this, later in
the program. the u.s. house of representatives has voted to ban discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity. the "equality act" adds those protections to existing civil rights law. democrats said it's long overdue. most republicans said it violates religious freedoms. its prospects in the senate are unclear. the acting u.s. capitol police chief said today that the agency never expected a large, pro- trump mob might storm the site yogananda pittman appeared at a u.s. house hearing. she acknowledged there was internal intelligence, and from the f.b.i. as well. chief said today that the agency never expected a large, pro- trump mob might storm the site on january 6th. she acknowledged there was internal intelligence, and from the f.b.i. as well. >> that f.b.i. document also stated this is an "information report, not finally evaluated
intelligence, it was being shared for informational purposes but has not been fully evaluated or integrated with other information, interpreted or analyzed." receiving agencies are requested not to take action based on this raw reporting. >> woodruff: pittman said about 800 protesters actually breached the capitol out of more than 10,000 who massed outside. in myanmar, supporters of the military junta attacked protesters in yangon. the violence sent protesters running, but some were cut off and beaten by groups of attackers. police stood by and did not intervene. back in this country, texas lawmakers grilled the state power grid operator over last week's winter storm blackouts. but the head of ercot insisted that the forced blackouts prevented even worse outages. governor greg abbott said the
legislature will stay in session until it adopts reforms. on wall street, a rout of tech stocks dragged the markedown today, as rising interest rates on bonds siphoned off investors. the dow jones industrial average lost 559 points to close at 31,402. the nasdaq fell 478 points, 3.5%, and, the s&p 500 dropped 96 points. and, "mister and mrs." potato head are going gender-neutral. hasbro says it will now market the classic toys as simply "potato head." it's the latest in a series of similar moves. barbie now comes in multiple skin tones. and, the thomas the tank engine lineup has added female characters. still to come on the newshour: debate intensifies over raising the federal minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour.
a former u.s. gymnastics coach dies by suicide following charges of human trafficking and sexual assault. many health care workers remain hesitant to receive covid inoculations. and much more. >> woodruff: more than 1.5 million u.s. workers are paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. in the meantime, workers and business owners are reflecting on how a minimum wage increase could affect their livelihoods. we'll hear some of those stories and then stephanie sy will pick up the conversation. >> hi, my name is donora gordon. i am a food service worker and have been for more than 30 years
and i am in favor of raising the minimum wage. >> my name is nya marshall. i own a restaurant located in the city of detroit. >> my name is christian cardona. i am a mcdonald's worker here in orlando, florida. >> my name is carrie burkett. i own jamesc boutique in lexington, kentucky. >> hello, my name is latonya jones costa, i am a home care worker. i've been in the health care field for over 23 years and at the present time i make ten dollars an hour. housekeeper, a confidante, a medical manager, prescription filler, a chauffeur. i do all this for my clients and i make ten dollars an hour. i asked my daughter today how me being in this field has impacted her. she doesn't get to see me a lot because i'm working so much. she sees the struggle on me. she sees me struggling to make sure the bills are paid to make sure that we have food.
and that's a hard thing to hear from your child >> our workers are all college age, so the minimum wage increase would definitely it would it sounds great to all the college girls and, you know, for the business owners. i think 's a little different. you just start to think like, can i even afford to have the girls that i have on a schedule if i want to keep all of them? because, of course, i would want to i'm going to have to cut their hours. i would try to keep all my employees, but it would be very hard. eventually something would have to give. >> about 10 years ago, my father and my sister and i came to this country. we came here seeking better opportunities. we believed in the american dream. but the reality has been that even people who work really hard in this country can still live paycheck to paycheck. we all make less than twelve dollars an hour. by raising the minimum wage to a living wage would mean for me that i would be able to afford
to go to school and seek higher education to go for a job that i love to do something that i care about. >> i don't think that wages should be increased during a pandemic because most businesses are barely making it as it stands right now. i'm barely keeping my doors open week by week. 48% of black businesses have closed as of right now and increasing adding a wage hike right now would increase a huge number of closures for businesses overall. what that means is my employees will be on unemployment. that's what we already have, a labor shortage as it stands right now. >> right now, the job i'm working as a 55 year old with carpal tunnel and a herniated disc is rolling silverware in a restaurant. i've wked every day of this pandemic. and to say the least, at my age, it's been stressful. raising the minimum wage, the
effect on my life would be substantial. at this point in my life, i'm stockpiling everything i can in my social security. i need to be able to hopefully not retire in absolute poverty. many americans feel completely lost in this society of work, work, work until you die. there's just there must be more to the american dream thanhat. >> sy: raising the minimum wage will have positive and negative effects on the economy. the question is on net, will it be good for the country? for different perspectives on the issue, i'm joined by two economists. michael strain, director of economic policy studies at the "american enterprise institute" in washington. and, arin dube, a professor at the university of massachusetts amherst. gentlemen, thank you both for being on the "newshour". michael strain, i want to start with you. we just heard from workers who
have been on the front line fighting the pandemic, some of whom are making $10 an hour. given all the inequities that have been laid bare in the last year of this pandemic, is now the time to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. >> the economy has inequities and should be addressed by public policy. nobody disagrees with that. the question is what is the best tool to use in order to address those inequities, and i do not think the minimum wage, particularly a $15 hour minimum wage is the best tool. the congressional budget office nonpartisan kind of score keeper, referee in policy debates finds a $15 an hour minimum wage will reduce employment opportunities by over 1 million jobs. who's not going to be getting jobs? it's not going to be college graduates or workers who have higher skills, but who didn't graduate college, it's going to be the least skilled, least
experience, most vulnerable workers in society who are going to bear the costs of that policy. i would look to a different policy. i would look to federal earning subsidies, the earned income tax credit, programs like that, that can be used to help make work pay, that can be used to help pull people out of poverty but that wouldn't have the effect of eliminating over a million job opportunities. >> reporter: you mentioned the b.o.'s most recent analysis. i want to talk to the numbers before we get to mr. dube. they say, with a $15 minimum wage hike, it's projected 900,000 people could be lifted out of poverty, 27 million people would get a raise, and, michael strain, as you say, 1.4 million jobs would be lost. with that in mind, arin dube, given all the job losses we've already seen during this pandemic, is now the time for more, even if it means that hundreds of thousands of people will be lifted out of poverty?
>> so, first of all, i think it's important to understand that we have not raised the federal minimum wage for almost a dozen years. that's actually the longest that we have not raised the minimum wage since we've had the minimum wage in 1938. so i think it's certainly the right time to talk about raising the minimum wage, and, look, we are not really talking about raising a very substantial raise in the minimum wage during the pandemic, we're talking about phasing in over a number of years. so i want to think about where we would be five years from now without a minimum wage. i think we would be in a place where low-wage jobs are -- low-wage woers are going to struggle even more. so let's look at the c.b.o. numbers. the c.b.o. numbers says 27 million people are going to get a raise from this policy, and theyer are do you that 1.4 million fewer jobs will be
there -- they argue 1.4 million to you fewer jobs will be there as a result. that means working people as a whole come out far ahead because the wage gains are substantially greater than any job losses and, as a result, nearly a million people are pulled out of poverty. i happen to think that those estimates and job losses the c.b.o. put out are too pessimistic. i've laid out in great detail why i actually think those estimates tend to really put more weight on some of the most negative studies that actually have been done to date which actually b have shown to have a lot of problems. >> reporter: that gets to another question i have, which is the number $15 an hour, which is a lot compared to what was proposed when, for example, president obama was president. he proposed $10 an hour. michael strain, i want to ask you about that. there are places, for example, in the south where folks are still earning that federal
minimum wage that has not been changed for a decade, just over $7.65 an hour. isn't it time to look at some type of raise, and can you see how that might minimize job losses and lift at least a few hundreds of thousands of people out of the poverty which is what the c.b.o.'s estimate was for $10 an hour? >> going to 15 would have significant impact on the labor markets of many of these states. three states where half of all workers earned less than 16.50 and half of all states workers earned less than $15 an hour. that should tell you how high a $15 minimum wage is. you're talking about a minimum wage that would affect a huge share of workers in many states in over a dozen states.
and the effects of that -- in my mind, pretty clearly, point to job losses. you're right that a lot of those states currently have a 7.25 per be more than doubling the minimum in those states and, again, thosestates are particularly low wage. i think arin is right to point to the tradeoff. you're going to have jobs that are lost. at the same time you're going to have households with higher income because most households are going to keep their jobs and those affected by the minimum wage are going to get a raise. so the question is is that tradeoff worth it, and i think the answer is no. >> reporter: arin dube, what is your response to some of michael strain's alternatives to raising the minimum wage and, also, what do you say to people that say why not just continue to leave this up to cities and states based on the cost of living in their locales? >> in terms of regional
variation, in practice, we actually do have regional variation because especially higher-wage blue states the end of higher state minimum wages, and, so, we actually do accomplish that by allowing states and increasingly cities to having higher minimums. at the same time, there are, you know, around almost, you know, maybe around 21 states that currently have not had a federal increase or any other increase for nearly a dozen years. so i think we do need a federal floor to ensure that low-wage workers everywhere are reached, be it alabama or be it massachusetts. >> reporter: we'll have to leave it there. arin dube with the university of massachusetts at amherst and michael strain with the american enterprise institute joining us from washington. thank you both. >> thanks for having us.
>> woodruff: as we reported earlier, there were once again shocking developments in the world of women's olympic sports today. former u.s. olympic women's gymnastics coach john geddert committed suicide after being charged with human trafficking and sexual assault, among other crimes. christine brennan, long-time sports reporter for "usa today" has covered olympic sports for years and she joins me now. christine brennan, thank you so much for joining us. this is just another terrible turn in what seems to be a steady stream of all news coming from women's gymnastics. >> to begin to fathom this terrible, dark nightmare, this awful labyrinth of lies and deceit that these mean, larry nassar a name many know, in jail now, serve a 60 year term,
federal prison, for his sexual abuse of so many of these women with potential charges and jail time to come, and now coach john geddert who harked hand in hand with larry nassar side by side for at least a quarter of a century, maybe more, in michigan, at this gym in lansing, michigan, and we're talking hundreds of young women who were sexually abused, and that's one of the reasons there was such joy in the gymnastics community when geddert was brought to justice with the michigan attorney general announcing massive charges and then, of course, the news that he died by suicide as just another layer -- adds just another layer to it, almost unbelievable tragedy and a nightmare within something we expect is so beautiful and pure and lovelily, these kids playing sports. >> woodruff: one of the many questions i have, christine, is
how did it take so long for this to come out? the stories have been there, i read today the gymnast rachel danhollander says as long as two decades ago, she said people knew that this was going on. she put it in her book a couple of years ago. why has it taken this long for this to be known and for there to be charges? >> judy, this is a question that should be shouted from the rooftops, why was no one listening to these young women? and why was the power dynamic in this sport, as in many youth sports, why was it so difficult for any of these young women to believe they would be heard or they would feel comfortable enough to speak out? and this goes to the very heart of, obviously, abuse, in this case horrible, years, decades-long sexual abuse, but also the power dynamic involved with almost any sports, and it's something throughout sports in the u.s. and around the world
people should be looking at. this is triggers so many conversations that hopefully get us to a better place. but you've got these gym nails being abused by larry nassar, and then in the charging documents there was also charges that geddert actually abused one teenage girl, and you've got this going on and no one speaks out. and this has been a question, why wouldn't they have spoken out? well you're thinking about this and hoping to go to the olympic games and hoping to make a big state or regional competition, and it would take a lot for a young teenage girl who spent years and years in the gym and her parents spent all this money, maybe even mortgaging their home again, to be able to have this girl follow her dream to then be able to step up and say, you know, i'm being sexually abused and, in some cases, the girls didn't even really know what that was. when you have larry nassar saying i have to work in this area of your body because of
whatever back or pain you have, and they didn't know better. so the notion that no one looked out for these kids, that no one was able to speak out for them, and that they just felt so hampered from speaking out themselves. it is truly one to have the tragedies of american sports and something we'll be talking about for years to come. >> woodruff: and we want to remember and think about, as you were telling us, those young girls who've grown up to be young women but who carry this with them for their entire lives, and i'm sure we are going to be hearing more about it. christine brennan, thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: covid-19 vaccines were developed with record- breaking speed. and by late last year, they were rolled out to frontline health care workers across the country. but despite being first in line many of those workers have
decided to delay getting the shot. amna nawaz reports on the critical effort to vaccinate america's health care professionals. >> nawaz: since mid-december, doctor kathy ferrer's been going non-stop... >> we were holding these clinics monday through friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. so 12 hours a day. hello dr. holbrook, good to see you. >> nawaz: an infectious disease expert at children's national hospital in washington d.c., ferrer is leading the charge to vaccinate all staff who work at the medical facility. >> you better poke me with that needle and get this over with. >> nawaz: that's more than 8,000 people. and ferrer says most have gotten their first shot. but not all... >> 1500 straight out said im not getting that vaccine. >> nawaz: what were the reasons they were giving you? >> a lot of it was because they were being cautious in terms of they were like, well, this is the first time i'm not going to be the guinea pig. other folks just had misinformation. well, there's covid in that vaccine or, you know, that's
going to change your d.n.a. >> nawaz: among the skeptical? nurse keetra williams. >> my first thought was that there's no way there's a vaccine available for covid-19 this quickly. >> nawaz: williams, a nurse for almost two decades, even warned her own family against it. >> they all look to me for my professional opinion. and at the time i said, absolutely not. no one gets this vaccine. i mean, no one. >> i was leery because it seemed like they were rushing things to hurry up and find something and is it really going to work? >> nawaz: in northumberland, pennsylvania, jane keefer, a certified nurse assistant for over 40 years, was worried about side effects. she changed her mind and got the vaccine, she says, after getting covid, then losing her husband to a heart attack. >> i lost my husband a week after i had covid, so i can't afford to be sick. nobody's around to take care of me anymore. >> nawaz: across america's health-care workers, the first in line to get limited vaccine supplies, recent surveys show about a third remain reluctant
to receive the shot. nationwide, mistrust of the vaccine has been highest among black and latino health care workers, who are also more likely to contract covid-19 than their white colleagues. >> so we have to acknowledge that and we have to listen to them. >> nawaz: dr. julie morita is the executive vice president of the robert wood johnson foundation, which for the record is also a newshour funder. >> health care workers are also part of our communities. and some of these communities have reasons to have distrust of the health care system, distrust of government because of historic and ongoing discrimination or mistreatment or experimentation. we have to talk to them and hear what the concerns are, what is the information they need to feel more confident and comfortable getting vaccinated. >> nawaz: ferrer found herself having that conversation not only at work with her colleagues, but also at home, with her wife. when the vaccine was first made available to both of you, did you both jump at the chance to get it? >> no, no, no. i mean, not me anyway. >> nawaz: dr. clarissa dudely is
a pediatrician who also works with d.c.'s children's hospital.. >> and i'm assuming that she is going to be on board with me and we're like, well, should we get it on the same day? we could get on different days? what about side effects? she's like, i'm not getting the vaccine. i was like wait a minute i'm in charge of this vaccine process! how can you not get the vaccine? and then she started giving me all these reasons. >> nawaz: what were those reasons? >> i have a political science and african studies background. i'm black first in this country, and that has with it a lot of baggage, to tell you the truth. and my public health degree, the culminating experience that i did was related to the relationship between black people and physicians throughout and that relationship has been a cantankerous one. and so those are the kinds of things that are deeply embedded and challenging to overcome, even within someone who's a scientist who understands those so i want to get away from the word of hesitant, because i think it's that people in the community are being thoughtful about the vaccine. >> nawaz: you use the word thoughtful. fair to say there's mistrust?
>> oh, absolutely skepticism. a lot of mistrust, a lot of skepticism. >> nawaz: were you surprised when you saw that even among health care workers, there was that level of skepticism? >> i was not because having had the black experience, that that level of mistrust has always been an underlying current. >> nawaz: in their discussions at home, dudley says the science led the way. >> she helped me to kind of really look at the data because i wasn't looking at the data at the time carefully. and so it's ok to carefully look at the data, gain knowledge for myse so that i could make a decision that was not only that i could support, but that i could encourage other people to support. >> nawaz: once dudley was on board, ferrer enlisted her to convince their colleagues. >> and i know that our staff, particularly our environmental services staff, is many black americans and latinos. and again, i knew that her as a messenger would resonate far
more than i would. >> especially hearing it from somebody who was also very hesitant to begin with. >> nawaz: an early challenge? calming fears over a rushed vaccine. >> we talked about the branding early on and we were like, oh, that's probably not a great idea to call this whole vaccine distribution as warp speed. >> it's also a challenging public health message for people who are resistant or hesitant for receiving vaccines. >> nawaz: as time nt on, the doctors found that following up paid off. >> if you text them and say, hey, we have an extra dose and we i saw you the other day and you said no, but are you interested now? >> nawaz: are you really doing that, like following up with people over text? >> people would say, this is the third time you've asked me, dr. ferrer. but again, it also requires that because we know also from market research that it takes 17 touch points before you're going to even consider something. >> nawaz: for keetra williams, that's what made the difference. >> she just kept providing more
and more information, you know, any questions she was willing to answer? so i would be texting her saying, what do you think? and so she was very instrumental in me getting the vaccine. >> nawaz: also key to acceptance? ensuring access is easy. >> it was the first chance i had to get it here at this location. >> nawaz: nakisha quarles works in patient registration at childrens' hospital. today, she's getting her second shot. >> i watched a couple colleagues for like 30 days just to see if they had any reactions or side effects that i should be aware of and i was and i was encouraged to get it, so i did. >> nawaz: christine brown works security at childrens. a covid survivor, she also had early doubts, and waited. >> i heard like different stories, like some of them say, you know, a lot of people say, well, the shot gave them headaches. they were just mainly talking about the side effects of it. >> nawaz: after a few weeks of consideration, brown opted for the shot. today, she says it gives her a sense of peace.
for dudley and ferrer, earning the trust of their colleagues is the necessary, first step to wider acceptance. >> one of the reasons why the c.d.c. decided to vaccinate health care workers first was because typically health care workers are seen as trusted members of the community. we made a very concerted effort to ensure that our vaccination rates could get as high as possible, knowing that that had future ripple effects in the community. >> recognizing that our community is dying, brown and black people are dying at significant rates, and we need to do something to try to limit the despair that's happening there. >> nawaz: patience and persistence, they say, are what it will take to keep the vaccine effort moving forward. for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz, in washington, d.c.
>> woodruff: now, during the pandemic, the federal government has tried to boost access to broadband internet. the "cares act" provided $150 billion dollars to state and local governments, which many used to help extend connectivity. yet many children in this country still can't connect for class. john yang reports on the persistent digital divide as part of our "race matters" series. >> yang: tuesday morning at francis-marion school in the central alabama city of marion, a handful of students are in class. >> so you're not gonna say she, you're gonna say her. >> yang: officials suspended in- person learning last year because of the threat of coronavirus, but many students are still here two days a week, because they can't get online at home. and neither can some of their teachers. >> i would prefer to be at home, but my situation calls for me to be here, so i have to be here. >> yang: english teacher tempra tucker. >> i live in a very, very
country type area, a suburban area way out in the country. and so it is challenging for me. i can, especially with the zoom, i could hear my students. they can hear me sometimes. but the connection was very, very off in the country. >> you know, it's almost like we're like mayberry r.f.d. in 2021. >> yang: cathy trimble is the principal at francis-marion, an overwhelmingly african-american pre-k through 12 school. 97% of the students receive free-or-reduced price lunches. in 2015 the school won an apple grant, and all 800 students received free ipads. trimble says that was a great help when students were in school. >> but when you have citizens going home and it's almost like they're going out of the light into the darkness, because what it does is it prohibits them or blocks them off from the rest of the world. without the internet, it was just a blank slate, basically, it was just like a book with no pages.
>> yang: marion is the seat of perry county in central alabama, and home to a rich civil rights history that echoes today. in february of 1965, a white state trooper killed jimmie lee jackson, a young unarmed black man, while jackson was defending his mother during a voting rights demonstration. his murder inspired the “bloody sunday” march from selma to montgomery that sparked the passage of the voting rights act. for years the area has struggled economically: rural, poor, and on the dark side of the digital divide. >> it's almost like we have, we don't have a voice because it isn't heard. and it's almost like we're out in the in the woods and we're yelling and we're screaming. and because there's no one around, no one hears us. >> yang: francis-marion senior fannirah brown is one of those without a voice. before the pandemic she was on the dance and cheerleading squads, and was a strong student. but at home, just 10 minutes from downtown marion, she's
often unable to get online and has fallen behind in her school work. >> it takes a long time for your assignments to load and either it don't go all the way through or is it just goes to you in like a jump a little bit so you won't get all the way through. >> yang: the pandemic has brought america's digital divide into sharp relief. for decades, it's been driven by both the cost of service and the lack of infrastructure. for private internet service providers, there's often too little financial incentive to fill gaps in coverage, particularly in hard-to-reach rural areas. and so millions of americans like fannirah have been left in the digital dark. last year, fannirah's school used “cares act” funding to give her and her two brothers a wifi hotspot, after deploying wifi enabled buses in poorly served neighborhoods didn't work. >> for every step that we took, we had to, in some instances, had to step back and rethink this and come up with a plan b. and now we're probably on plan c d, e, i'm not sure where we are.
>> yang: but most days the hotspot is unreliable, too, says jesha brown, fannirah's mother, who also depends on it for telehealth visits to manage r diabetes. >> it's sketchy, it will pick up real good on some days and some days it drags or some days it won't pick up at all. >> yang: and it's not strong enough for all three children to get online for remote instruction, leading to incomplete assignments, slipping scores, and a lot of frustration. >> i do have times when i'm it makes me upset. it's-- it basically breaks down my tolerance of not being able to help them when i know that they can, they can do their work, they know their work, and the only thing hindering them is the connection to the teacher with the internet. >> the pandemic has highlighted just how intimately related lack of broadband access is to systemic inequality. >> yang: nicol turner-lee is director of the center for technology innovation at the
brookings institution in washington, d.c. before covid-19, she spent months traveling across the country documenting the lack of broadband access. >> people of color, particularly african-americans and latinos and people from tribal lands who are really struggling with a set of systemic inequalities, economic, socially, politically, educationally, that keeps them on the outskirts of educational achievement, of employment achievement. they are really struggling by not being connected. and even more so today. >> yang: the federal communications commission estimates that fewer than 14.5 million americans lack reliable broadband access, a number that's been steadily falling. but many say the way the f.c.c. counts coverage is highly inaccurate and paints an overly rosy picture. broadbandnow, which researches connectivity across the country, estimates the number of disconnected americans at 42 million. microsoft says 157 million
americans, or about half the country, has slow or unreliable internet. >> we're actually seeing learning losses attributed to kids that are not formally connected to any type of schooling. among african-american kids and latino kids it's almost that upwards of a year where they will not have cognitive retention of basic skills. that is a travesty because in essence, what we are suggesting is sort of the regurgitation of brown versus board of education in the 1950s where young people do not have the resources that they need to survive. >> yang: she says across the country, people like cathy trimble have been trying to address the massive problem through patchwork solutions like mobile hotspots, wifi buses, and in-school instruction for those who can't connect. >> at the end of the day, they're coming up with what i consider to be band-aid solutions to fill blind spots. that, in essence, really is reflective of the fact that we have just broken our social contract in the united states when it comes to having everyone connected. >> yang: she and others hope that with the pandemic, and a
new administration in the white house, broadband access will be thought of as part of the nation's basic infrastructure, like roads, sewers, electricity and healthcare. >> until broadband connectivity becomes a national issue, until it is addressed nationally, until it is until the internet is looked upon not as a luxury, but as a need, we're going to always have these fannirahs. we're going to always have these students, and we're going to always have this gap. and it's unfortunate that this digital divide is dividing us in a country that is already divided. but now this-- there's another means of dividing us. >> yang: for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: daily reports of racist incidents and deepening racial divisions within the country leave many looking for answers. we turn now to special correspondent charlayne hunter- gault who profiles a leader who is looking back in history to
help inform and improve future race relations. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: this is one of dr. ronald crutcher's favorite ways of communicating. dating back to the '70s and his days as principal cellist with a german orchestra in bonn. crutcher has long used his musical talent to create harmony. but harmony is also a key component of his efforts as the president of a university, which, like many institutions- is beset with issues of racism and division. here at the university of richmond, that came to the surface a couple of years ago when a student-driven organization unearthed a number of racist images in past yearbooks. crutcher has said he saw the issue as a call to action, one he hoped would help not only his university confront the complexities of racism, but
hopefully come up with lessons for all educational institutions and even the larger society. crutcher recently published his book: “i had no idea you were black, navigating race on the road to leadership”. dr. crutcher is a friend and he asked me to write the foreword. as the title suggests, it details how you formed your ideas about race on the road to leadership. and at the moment you see your job as responding to what you describe as whiplash. what do you mean by that? >> if you look at the way americans live these days, we live in segregated societies and segregated communities. 91% of whites have only otherwise as part of their social network. 83% of blacks and 63, 64% of hispanics. so when students come to college
and university campuses, basically they're coming from these communities, many of them have had some experiences interacting with people who are come from a different culture race from them, but most of them haven't. so we as universities have to realize that these students have no experiential basis from which to build relationships across racial differences or for that matter, religious or political or ideological differences as well. and that manifests itself in lots of different ways. >> reporter: but you've also written that colleges and universities have traditionally served as crucibles for learning how to live and participate constructively in a democratic society, but no more. why is that? >> students self segregate, even, even on very, very diverse campuses such as our own. therefore, when they come into the university, we have to engage them in ways that help them to learn how to have
conversations with people from different races, from different political perspectives, and how to have full throated conversations and in a way that focuses on listening to what the other person is saying so that you can have a deeper understanding about why they hold that view. in other words, true, authentic interactions as opposed to superficial. >> reporter: there was a black student organization at your university that unearthed a number of racist images and you said that you saw it as a call to action. >> i took it as an opportunity, as a relatively new president to develop a commission, which i called the commission on university history and identity. and the goal of that commission was to go back and look at our history, look at those archives and tell the full story of the university of richmond, the story of those individuals who were enslaved and were hired out
to the university of richmond as a university that was founded in 1830 to educate white baptist ministers not to educate me in the capital of the confederacy, i think it's incredibly it's critically important for us to understand our history and to know our history, all of our history as we move forward into the future to develop what i called a skilled intercultural community. >> reporter: when you begin to bring together black kids, white kids, kids of color, of all colors and start to have these uncomfortable conversations, how do you comfort them? how do you deal with that? >> you know what we have to do as universities is to develop. cultures of trustworthiness, so we can have these full throated conversations, some of which are going to be uncomfortable, but i think if we don't steel our students and prepare them, help them, if you will exercise that muscle, we will have we will not haveerved them well when they graduate.
and i'll be honest with you, i've not always been in that place myself. i had a conversation with a parent who had given us some large gift and was sitting down with him to thank him. he was trying to demonstrate to me that he had raised his children not to not to see race. and he said, you know, we've raised our girls not to see color. well, i felt i needed to be honest with him when i said, let me just share with you my perspective on what you just you're saying to me that you raised her. not to see who i am. now, i'm a black man. you can't miss that. and so and he looked at me and he looked at me rather quizzically. but he said, you know, that's a, i had never thought of it in that that manner. when you have people from a variety of political persuasions, religious backgrounds, races and ethnicities, it doesn't mean everybody has to link arms and sing kumbaya. but what it means is that people have to learn how to be in
community with each other in a way that where they demonstrate empathy and the ability to listen and hear. >> reporter: how hopeful are you that we, particularly in the united states, can overcome this challenging time any time soon? >> i could not get out of bed every day if i were not a glass half full person. i didn't have that perspective. i have to remain hopeful. but but i will say this. i don't think we will have dealt with this in our lifetime. it's like cancer, if you will. we've never found a cure for it, but we keep finding ways to prolong people's lives. >> reporter: whose job is it going to be? >> it's everybody's job. it has to be everybody's job. we have to work together as a campus, black, brown, asian, low, low income, first generation, whatever across the the whole spectrum. otherwise, we won't find a cure for this disease of systemic
racism. >> reporter: dr. crutcher, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you so much charlayne. take care. >> woodruff: last night, rare documents with 12 signatures of martin luther king jr. sold for more than $130,000. rikki klaus of public station of atlanta on the uncovered items on view for the first time. it's part of our arts and culture series, canvas. >> injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. >> reporter: the reverend martin luther king, jr. wrote those famous words behind bars in 1963. >> i'm in birmingham because injustice is here. >> reporter: king was arrested in alabama that april, for
leading a march protesting racial segregation. at the jail, expressions of support arrived for the civil rights hero. he signed for them in a logbook. first, it was a letter. a couple days later... >> he got a western union telegram. and then on this side of the page, is where he had to put an x down, and then he would have to sign it. >> reporter: these historical documents, containing a dozen of king's signatures, are now in the hands of scott mussell, an americana specialist at hake's auctions in york, pennsylvania. >> every time i sit and think about it for any amount of time, all the hair on my arms stands up, straight up. >> reporter: worthpoint c.e.o. will seippel felt about the same after his skepticism wore off. an anonymous woman asked him to research the potential value of her family's unique possession. >> it's ke, oh, yeah, right. and i found the holy grail. >> reporter: the men sought help from signature authenticators and another expert from australia. seippel flew in the woman's family to his sandy springs georgia offices, just outside atlanta. they handled the four pages with
gloves. >> you're looking at a piece of history from one of the most remarkable civil rights events. i mean, you can put this right up there with rosa. >> reporter: the family said a birmingham jail employee was ordered to throw out the logbook, but kept it instead and gave it to a relative. selling it at auction was a hard decision. the minimum bid was $10,000. it sold for more than 13 times that last night. the auctioneer said this page of history ultimately received the respect it deserves. for the pbs newshour, i'm rikki klaus in atlanta. >> woodruff: in 1967, george henderson, along with his wife and seven children, relocated to norman, oklahoma, where he became a professor at the university of oklahoma.
the hendersons became the first african american property owners in norman. he talks about this experience and more in tonight's brief but spectacular. i was born in hurtsboro, alabama. i grew up in east chicago, indiana. started my elementary education and special education education, i was educationally retarded. we were labeled special ed primarily to my knowledge exclusively because we were black. my mother never believed in labeling. my mother believed in dreams and possibilities and she told me, george, you're going to take this family out of poverty. as her mother told her, you're going to do what i have not been able to do, but i have you. i think all poor mothers tell their babies that this child, this child must be the one. when i finished my doctoral studies with a ph.d. in educational sociology, i
received a call from a place called the university of oklahoma. he said, we heard that you're interested in being a full-time professor. would you consider coming to oklahoma? i was silent for a moment, and i said, there's something you need to know about me. he said, what? i said, i'm a negro. he said, that's your problem. would you like to come to oklahoma and teach? norman, oklahoma was a sundown town. terrible things happened to black people in the state after dark who stayed too long. imagine going to a place where you're not wanted, where immediately you receive obscene phone calls at all hours of the night, garbage thrown on your lawn, police officers stopping me at night and asking me why in the world are you in this neighborhood at night, boy? it was the best of times and the worst of times. the worst of times was very obvious -- people write about it, they talk about it -- the best of times, on the other hand, are the people who said
we're glad you're here, welcome. 10:00 at night, doorbell rings, 12, 13-year-old white boy standing there. i said i paid for the paper last week and closed the door. i said i'm not your paper boy, i've come to take faith to a movie. i remember telling him i teach that stuff at the university, we don't live it in this house. immediately thereafter my daughters and my son said, dad, we've got to talk. you're involved in the civil rights movement, you're encouraging other people to live as humane people, why do you behave so badly when our white classmates come and they want to do things? hmm. that was my moment of truth. if i teach reconciliation and acceptance, then i must live that. if i teach judging a person by the quality of their character, not the color of their skin, i
must live that. my name is george henderson, and this is my "brief but spectacular" take on living what i teach. >> woodruff: wonderful to hear. and you can find all of our "brief but and you can find all our brief but spectacular segments online at pbs.org/newshour/brief. >> woodruff: the u.s. carried out an air strike on a building in syria linked to an iran-backed militia. reuters report it was approved by president biden, the first under his administration. it follows recent rocket attacks targeting the u.s. in iraq. and that is the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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to amanpour company. here's what's coming up. >> i learned as prime minister that we have to focus more and more on the most fragile states where it has been hardest. >> david cameron makes the moral case for helping the world's poor. the british prime minister joins us for an exclusive interview about his new green initiative, covid and brexit. then. >> all my life this is what i wanted to know, this is just incredible. >> shocking discovery through dna. tech and business reporter samuel burke reveals the most surprising genealogical journey that he investigated through his new podcast, suddenly