Silence is Not an Option

Silence is Not an Option


America is in crisis right now. A lot of people want to help, but have no idea where to start. In our new podcast, we’re going to dig deep into the reality of being Black and brown in America, and explore what you can do to help find a path forward. We’ll have tough conversations with activists, artists, and thinkers about our nation’s deep racial divide. As we look for meaningful and lasting solutions, there is a lot to learn and unlearn. 

These conversations are going to be challenging—even uncomfortable—but they’re important. Because this time, we get to rebuild America together. 

Hosted by Don Lemon.


Remembering Trayvon Martin

The death of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 sparked a social justice movement that still reverberates today. In this special episode of CNN's 5 Things, Don Lemon examines why the killing initially struggled to make headlines, traces the rise of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the decade since, and shares why his conversations with Martin’s mother are among the most powerful interviews he’s ever done.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
23/02/22·12m 22s

How the King of Calypso Helped Change the World

For nearly 70 years, superstar actor and singer Harry Belafonte has used his platform to advocate for freedom and equality in America and around the world. Don Lemon speaks with Belafonte about his dedication to humanitarian causes, and how Belafonte has inspired Don to speak up about injustice. The star’s daughter, Gina Belafonte, and Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz tell Don about Belafonte’s lifelong commitment to civil rights, the balance of arts and activism throughout his career, and the roles he’s played in social justice fights everywhere from the Deep South to South Africa.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
15/07/21·24m 55s

When Catwoman Met Lady Bird

Don’t call Eartha Kitt an “angry Black woman.” That’s how Eartha was portrayed when she spoke truth to power and criticized the Vietnam War and wealth inequality in front of President Johnson and the First Lady. The bold move cost her career opportunities and even prompted a CIA investigation, but she still came out on top. Don Lemon speaks with CNN's senior entertainment writer Lisa Respers France and Eartha's daughter, Kitt Shapiro, who recently wrote a book about her mother, Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter's Love Story in Black and White.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
08/07/21·31m 13s

The Team That Took on a Senator

What would you risk to fight racism? In 2020, the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream put paychecks on the line to speak up for Black Lives Matter and against their owner, former Senator Kelly Loeffler. It was an unprecedented match between players and owners, and the direction of U.S. politics hung in the balance. In this week’s episode, Don Lemon discusses WNBA player activism with sports and politics writer Jemele Hill, and the Atlanta Dream's Elizabeth Williams and Renee Montgomery share how they pushed for change. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
01/07/21·23m 21s

A Gay Civil Rights Leader Pushed into the Shadows

Bayard Rustin organized the March on Washington and advised Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on direct nonviolent action, but this Civil Rights hero didn’t get his proper due at the time because he was gay. For this special Pride month episode, Don Lemon affirms Rustin's rightful place in history and explores how Rustin persevered despite personal attacks. Don and CNN National Political Writer Brandon Tensley discuss Rustin's lifelong tension at the intersection of Black and LGBTQ rights, and why he only joined the gay rights movement later in life.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
24/06/21·31m 47s

The Officer Who Didn't Stand By

When former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne saw a colleague put a handcuffed Black man in a chokehold, she said she knew she had to do something. Her intervention cost her job and her pension. On today’s podcast, Don Lemon hears from Horne and her lawyer, Harvard Law Professor Ron Sullivan, about that fateful day in 2006 and their ensuing legal battle that lasted until just months ago. And what does Horne’s case mean for national police reform? To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
17/06/21·20m 9s

Fifteen-Year-Old Freedom Fighter

Everyone’s heard the story of Rosa Parks, but few know of Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old girl who was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a White passenger... nine months before Parks. So why wasn’t she the face of the movement? Don Lemon explores Colvin’s life and legacy with CNN anchor Abby Phillip and scholar Beverly Guy-Sheftall. And youth activist Anya Dillard shares what activists today can learn from Colvin’s fight for justice.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
10/06/21·28m 24s

Season 2: Rabble-Rousers and Truth-Tellers

Change doesn’t happen without taking risks, without fearless activists who stand up for what’s right even when it’s uncomfortable. This season, Don shares the stories of those who used their fame to shine a light on injustice like Harry Belafonte and Eartha Kitt. But you will also hear the stories of change makers who deserve greater recognition, like a teenager who took a stand on a Montgomery bus before Rosa Parks and the police officer who stopped a chokehold. We’re talking about the folks who know that speaking out sometimes means breaking the rules. So, come meet the rabble-rousers and truth-tellers who put everything on the line when silence is not an option. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
04/06/21·2m 14s

Lift Every Voice and Sing

The so-called Black National Anthem was composed in 1900, and it’s provided a soundtrack to Black life ever since. For this special Black History Month episode, CNN’s Don Lemon speaks with Rep. James Clyburn, historian Prof. Imani Perry, and Howard University choir conductor Eric Poole about the song’s history, cultural significance, and impressive staying power over the past century. Today, it’s more relevant than ever. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
11/02/21·33m 12s

The Axe Files: Nikole Hannah-Jones

When Nikole Hannah-Jones was a high school student at a predominantly white school in Waterloo, Iowa, she complained to a teacher that the school newspaper wasn’t covering stories that mattered to Black students. He told her she had two options: stop complaining or start writing for the paper and telling her own stories. She joined the paper, launching what became a celebrated career writing for publications like ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine. Nikole is well known for her reporting on segregation and racial inequities in education but recently won a Pulitzer Prize for The 1619 Project, which traces the legacy of slavery throughout American history. She joined Axe Files host David Axelrod to talk about what it was like growing up in working-class Iowa, how she finds motivation in being underestimated, and the inspiration and creation of The 1619 Project. Originally released: September, 2020To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
31/12/20·1h 4m

Black to the Future

A record number of Black candidates ran for office this year, representing not only their constituencies, but also the diversity of perspectives that exist among Black Americans. Don talks to two newly elected representatives, Mondaire Jones (D-New York) and Cori Bush (D-Missouri), about their platforms, their strategies for Congress, and the future of Black politics. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
19/11/20·28m 22s

Black Women Did That

Black women are largely responsible for electing America’s next president. They have been one of the Democratic party’s most reliable voting blocs for a long time. Why? Don talks with LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, about how their votes were earned in the 2020 election. Also, Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson discusses the excitement surrounding VP-elect Kamala Harris and her affiliation with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated (AKA).To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
12/11/20·22m 36s


Why stay where you’re not wanted? Some Black Americans are thinking about moving abroad to escape centuries of racial oppression and marginalization. Historian Kevin Gaines shares the long history behind this phenomenon. Don also speaks with author Tiffanie Drayton about her move from the U.S. to Trinidad and Tobago and why she considers herself a refugee.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
29/10/20·34m 59s

Yes, Voter Suppression is Alive and Well

Why is still so hard for Black communities to vote in this country? Massive early voter turnout has led to hours-long waiting lines, and Black and other voters of color can expect to wait the longest. Voter protection specialist Josh Levin says that even after decades of legal battles over voting rights, communities of color consistently encounter barriers. Don also speaks with Carol Anderson, author and professor of African American Studies at Emory University. She argues that modern suppression tactics are no different than those of the Jim Crow era.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
22/10/20·33m 12s

Can You Vote Your Way to Change?

If injustice occurs in America no matter who is leading the country, is voting really as powerful as we say it is? Election day is so close, yet not everyone is convinced that voting will lead to meaningful progress. Activist Daud Mumin argues that we need more than just incremental change. And Don speaks with Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown about whether elections are our most effective tool.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
15/10/20·23m 15s

Raising an Antiracist Generation

School is back in session as protests and calls for racial justice continue across America. So how should parents and teachers talk to kids about this national reckoning? Don speaks with clinical psychologist and race relations expert, Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, about the right time talk to kids about racism and how to help them navigate a multiracial society.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
10/09/20·31m 54s

The Color of Love

Amidst a summer of unrest and calls for social justice, Don talks with host of CNN's United Shades of America W. Kamau Bell about matters of the heart. More than five decades have passed since the US Supreme court protected interracial marriage in America. Both men are in committed relationships with partners of a different race, and they reflect on the conflict and comfort that can be found with a loved one during a national reckoning on race. Don takes listeners into his home to share a special conversation with his fiancé, Tim.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
27/08/20·33m 14s

Clearing the Air: Environmental Justice

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, environmental protections, natural resource management and climate change are a big part of the conversation. Protecting the environment goes way beyond fuel efficient cars and polar bears, it also means improving living conditions for communities of color who often bear the brunt of environmental decline. Don talks to environmental justice advocate, Mustafa Santiago Ali about the environmental justice movement and how it’s tied to the larger racial reckoning happening today.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
20/08/20·23m 31s

Do Black Lives Matter in Sports?

The NBA and Major League Baseball have restarted their seasons and NFL training camps are underway. As professional leagues and college teams navigate how to play safely during a pandemic, they are also confronting racial justice issues that plague American sports. Don talks to sports journalist William C. Rhoden about Black athletes, activism, and how much still needs to be done.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
13/08/20·24m 24s

American Caste with Isabel Wilkerson

Lately everyone has been talking about race, but Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson wants us to look at caste as well. We may associate that strict social hierarchy with India, but Wilkerson argues it has been present in the U.S. for over 400 years. She talks with Don about her new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, and why she thinks race is just one part of a larger system that determines who is valued and who is dispensable in American society.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
06/08/20·21m 17s

Reimagining the Police

As protests against police brutality continue across the country, there are calls to reform, defund, and even abolish the police. So, what does it all mean? Don talks to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka about the reforms he’s implementing in a city with a long history of tension between the police and its Black community. Gwen Carr reflects on the years since the death of her son, Eric Garner and Professor Chenjerai Kumanyika provides important  context about the history of policing in the United States. Let us know what you think of the show! Take a short survey at learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
30/07/20·32m 1s

Finding Common Ground

In the wake of antisemitic comments from prominent Black athletes and entertainers, we examine the strong alliances and deeply ingrained tensions between the Black and Jewish communities. How does their solidarity during the 1960s civil rights movement inform these relationships today? Don talks to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who recently penned an article on this topic, as well as historian Marc Dollinger and political strategist Ginna Green.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
23/07/20·31m 47s

Defining What Matters

When racial tensions flare, people often call for a conversation about race. But do we all share the same definition of racism? Don speaks with recent college graduate, Kennedy Mitchum about changing the definition of racism.  Linguist, John McWhorter explains how words succeed and fail at leading to change.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
16/07/20·28m 3s

Monumental Conversations

Confederate statues and symbols are being removed all over the country. This is long overdue for some, while others say that it’s a dangerous effort to erase history. Don speaks with the descendants of a Confederate general whose statue was recently toppled as they come to grips with their family's complicated family legacy. He also gets insights from author and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton who sheds light on the history of the Confederacy you didn't learn in grade school.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
09/07/20·26m 5s

Schooling the System

It’s been over 60 years since the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. But in 2020, some classrooms are still pretty segregated. Don reflects on his own educational journey and speaks with Michigan State University’s Professor Sheneka Williams about the state of American schools. How far have we really come since Brown v. Board of Education, and how can we all take part in fixing the system?To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
02/07/20·24m 11s

Beyond Mammy: Misrepresentation in Film

In the midst of protests for racial justice and calls for police reform and defunding, why should we care about the movies? Well, representation matters and the media we consume influences the way we view ourselves and each other. HBO Max recently pulled "Gone with the Wind" from its film library but just added it back online, with a new introduction addressing the controversial racial depictions. Don shares a love of classic film with his mom, so in this episode, they talk about their conflicted reactions to historical Black representation on the screen. You'll also hear from Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart, who presented that new introduction to "Gone with the Wind.” She explains why context is key when reexamining controversial classics.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
25/06/20·29m 25s

Why Not Being Racist is Not Enough

We live in a society where it's no longer enough to simply not be racist—we must proactively choose to be antiracist. And that choice means showing up and doing the work, every single day. In this episode, Don talks with Professor Ibram X. Kendi and Professor Christopher Petrella about how we got to this moment and what it will require of each of us to build a more inclusive future. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
18/06/20·27m 51s

There is No Going Back From This Moment

Whether you're protesting in the streets or at the voting booth, we all recognize the need to disrupt generations of racism in our country. Knowing what to do is harder. Each week, Don Lemon will talk with experts, activists, and artists to help us figure out how to move forward, together. Because no matter how you choose to engage, silence is not an option.To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
15/06/20·1m 7s
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