Juana Summers

When President Biden gave a much-anticipated voting rights speech in Philadelphia this week, he called the fight against restrictive voting laws "the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War" and decried what he called a "21st century Jim Crow assault" on voting rights.

But a lot of people who turned out voters to elect Biden think he's failing them in the battle for voting rights so far.

Updated June 8, 2021 at 2:47 PM ET

Sen. Joe Manchin praised a Tuesday morning meeting with civil rights leaders, calling it "constructive" and "informative," but maintained his opposition to a sweeping set of election overhaul measures known as the For the People Act.

Vice President Harris on Wednesday urged Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to turn their pain, after a year marked by a surge of racially motivated attacks, into power.

She also praised the passage of legislation to address the increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The day that a white mob came to Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, Okla., Viola Fletcher was just 7 years old.

During emotional testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Fletcher, who is now 107, recalled her memories of the two-day massacre that left hundreds of Black people dead.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

President Biden marked the important moment for the country speaking from the White House.

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Updated April 20, 2021 at 2:24 PM ET

When Joe Biden offered his condolences to the loved ones of George Floyd in a video address that played at Floyd's funeral service last year, he posed a question.

"Why, in this nation, do too many Black Americans wake up knowing they could lose their life in the course of living their life?" Biden asked.

Biden, then his party's presumptive presidential nominee, urged the country in that speech to use Floyd's death as a call for action to address systemic racism.

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President Biden has pledged to help end the epidemic of Black men being killed by police. But he's also presented himself as an ally of the law enforcement community. NPR's Juana Summers takes a look at the line the president is walking.

Updated April 15, 2021 at 1:43 AM ET

A House committee has voted to move forward with a bill that would establish a commission to develop proposals to help repair the lasting effects of slavery. The vote came nearly three decades after the bill was was first introduced.

Fresh debate over the issue of reparations for the descendants of enslaved people comes amid a national reckoning over race and justice.

President Biden's sweeping $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan also aims to deploy more than $5 billion to support community-based violence prevention programs.

As President Biden called on senators to quickly pass legislation to tighten the nation's background checks system, he said that he did not need to "wait another minute" to address the epidemic of gun violence.

Even before the deadly shootings at spas in the Atlanta area killed six women of Asian descent, President Biden had taken steps to address the recent surge of violence against Asians and Asian Americans by making forceful statements against hate and harassment, banning the federal government from employing the sort of "inflammatory and xenophobic" language used by his predecessor and tasking senior administration leaders to hold "listening sessions" with community leaders and advocates.

There is little difference in reluctance to take the coronavirus vaccine among Black and white people in the U.S., according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey.

House lawmakers have passed two bills aimed at strengthening the nation's gun laws, including a bill that would require background checks on all gun sales and transfers.

The top Senate Democrat vowed to bring up legislation expanding background checks up for a vote, but it does not have the 60 votes needed in the chamber to advance.

Congressional lawmakers are launching a fresh push for significant gun control legislation, introducing two bills aimed at sweeping overhauls of the nation's gun laws.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by California Rep. Mike Thompson, who leads the congressional task force on gun violence prevention, reintroduced legislation Tuesday to require background checks for all gun purchasers.

The day before President Biden's allies on Capitol Hill were set to roll out his sweeping immigration overhaul, a group of activists rallied outside of the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, projecting a message onto the building's façade.

"ICE is deporting and torturing people," the all-caps message read. "Abolish ICE and CBP," a reference to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A Latino advocacy group wants more lawmakers to learn to speak Spanish, not just to pull out a few awkward words when they run for office. NPR's Juana Summers reports.

The voting advocacy organization Voto Latino is calling on elected lawmakers to make a year-round effort to engage with Latino constituents. They're also calling out those who make feeble attempts to speak to voters in Spanish.

"We want elected leaders to continue communicating with our community in the language that they speak and understand, but also with real frequency," said Danny Friedman, the managing director of Voto Latino. "Our community is not simply a group to check off the list at campaign time."

During his first full week in office, President Biden made clear that addressing inequity would be not only a fixture of his presidency, but also the responsibility of the entire federal government.

As he signed a series of executive actions, he declared that "advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our government."

On the day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom named Kamala Harris' replacement in the U.S. Senate, Molly Watson jumped on a call with other organizers and the two Black women in Congress whom they had urged Newsom to appoint to the seat instead.

It was an emotional conversation, in which Watson said she struggled to hold back tears.

The vast majority of mayors in American cities do not support sweeping changes to the funding of their police departments, and most say last year's racial justice protests were a force for good in their cities, according to a new survey of more than 100 mayors from across the U.S.

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