As a law student, Bryan Stevenson was sent to a maximum security prison to meet a man on death row. The man told Stevenson he'd never met an African-American lawyer, and the two of them talked for hours. It was a day that changed Stevenson's life. He's spent the last 30 years working to get people off of death row, but has also spent the final hours with men he could not save from execution. He argues that each of us is deserving of mercy.

Learn more about Bryan Stevenson in his book, Just Mercy.

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Direct download: 01_Episode_45__Just_Mercy.mp3
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Not only was John Frankford a famous horse thief, he was also a notoriously good escape artist. People thought no jail was strong enough to keep him, but then in 1895 he was sentenced to Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary. At Eastern State, Frankford became the victim of a strange practice that carried implications for both the state of Pennsylvania and the medical establishment we know it today. Reporter Elana Gordon from WHYY's The Pulse has today's story.

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In 1979, a group of labor organizers protested outside a Ku Klux Klan screening of the 1915 white supremacist film, The Birth of a Nation. Nelson Johnson and Signe Waller-Foxworth remember shouting at armed Klansmen and burning a confederate flag, until eventually police forced the KKK inside and the standoff ended without violence. The labor organizers felt they'd won a small victory, and planned a much bigger anti-Klan demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina. They advertised with the slogan: “Death to the Klan" and set the date for November 3rd, 1979.

As protestors assembled, a caravan of nine cars appeared, and a man in a pick-up truck yelled: "You asked for the Klan! Now you've got 'em!" Thirty-nine shots were fired in eighty-eight seconds, and five protestors were killed. The city of Greensboro is still grappling with the complicated legacy of that day.

The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s full report is available online.

Today, Reverend Nelson Johnson is a pastor with Faith Community Church and serves as the Executive Director for the  Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, which advocates for social and economic justice.

Signe Waller-Foxworth is the author of  Love and Revolution: A Political Memoir.

Eric Ginsburg is the associate editor at the Triad City Beat

For this story, we also interviewed Elizabeth Wheaton, author of  Codename Greenkill.

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People have been giving each other "the finger" since Ancient Greece. The first documented use is said to be a photograph from 1886 in which the pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters extends his middle finger to the camera (ostensibly to the rival New York Giants). Even though it's been around for so long, many still find the gesture offensive enough to try to bring criminal charges. Courts have ruled that "flipping the bird" is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. It's not a crime to be obnoxious. But there's a man in Oregon who tests the limits of free speech by giving the finger to every police officer that he sees. 

To learn more about the legalities of the middle finger, you might
enjoy: "Digitus Impudicus: The Middle Finger and the Law" from the UC Davis Law Review. 

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Direct download: 01_Episode_42__The_Finger.mp3
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Since 1965, there's been an unsolved murder in Houston, Texas. The main suspect managed to disappear and police were never able to find him. The case is still considered open. In 1997, a couple of accountants decided to look into the murders, and were able to uncover evidence that the police missed. They think they've solved the mystery. 

To learn more about Hugh and Martha's book. The Ice Box Murders, click here:
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Direct download: Episode_41__Open_Case.mp3
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When it comes to the bourbon Pappy Van Winkle, it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have -- you can't get it unless you're exceptionally lucky or willing to break the law. The Pappy frenzy has law enforcement, bartenders, and even the Van Winkle family themselves wringing their hands.  

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Direct download: 01_Episode_40__Pappy.mp3
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In 1983, three men were prepared to plead guilty to a violent sexual assault in Anderson, South Carolina. Defense attorneys did not want their clients to go before a jury, and arranged a plea deal. This left the sentencing in the hands of the judge, who gave the assailants a very controversial choice.

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Direct download: 01_Episode_39__Either_Or.mp3
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Jane Toppan was born in Massachusetts in 1857. She attended the Cambridge Nursing School, and established a successful private nursing career in Boston. Said to be cheerful, funny and excellent with her patients, nothing about "Jolly Jane" suggested she could be "the most notorious woman poisoner of modern times."

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Direct download: 01_Episode_38__Jolly_Jane.mp3
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In 2010, an eighth-grader brought a loaded gun to a middle school in Hastings, Minnesota. We speak with two students and the principal about the minutes and hours in lockdown. 

Read Jake Bullington's essay, "Yeah, I'm Afraid of Guns.

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Direct download: 01_Episode_37__Hastings.mp3
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The 500-year-old Treaty Oak in Austin, Texas was once called "the most perfect specimen of a North American tree." But in 1989, Austin's city forester realized that the Treaty Oak didn't look so good, and began to wonder whether someone had intentionally tried to kill it.

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Direct download: 01_Episode_36__Perfect_Specimen.mp3
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