NPR News

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on bus in Montgomery, Ala. — and changed the course of history.

Her action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which would eventually lead to the end of legally segregated public transportation.

And for many Americans, Parks is the civil rights icon they love to love: the unassuming seamstress who, supposedly, just got tired one day and unwittingly launched the modern civil rights movement.

Today I was thinking about something one of the Freedom Riders told me a few years ago, when I had the opportunity — the privilege — to interview a group of them. Remember, these were the courageous men and women, both black and white, who rode the Southern bus routes for seven months in 1961 — facing vicious beatings, fire bombs, arrests and jail — all to draw attention to the fact that public facilities were still segregated despite the passage of laws saying it should be otherwise.

Still several weeks out, the hype is already hitting enormous heights for the new Star Wars installment. The Force Awakens has sold more than $50 million in tickets — and the movie doesn't even open until Dec. 18.

What do you think about when you think about Janis Joplin? Her untamed hair, her eclectic wardrobe, a raspy, soulful singing style that was blues and rock and somehow yet all her own? For many people, she was the quintessential wild child of the late 1960s — especially after her untimely death from a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

There's a common misconception that science is purely about cold, hard facts — concrete evidence, mathematical models and replicable experiments to explain the world around us.

It's easy to forget that there are people behind the data and equations. And when people are involved, there is always room for human error.

Every time a violent attack is carried out in the name of Islam, as happened in Paris, Muslims in this country often feel pressure to speak out, to say how extremists have nothing to do with their faith.

We turned to Muslim Americans, who came of age after Sept. 11, to understand how they have managed that kind of pressure, and how it affects their lives and their faith.

As Colorado Springs held vigils for those killed during a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic, we are learning more about the alleged gunman and his possible motive.

Police say Robert Lewis Dear, 57, killed three people and left nine wounded.

In a photo montage, dozens of meteorologists — all women — stand before digitally projected maps of their towns, forecasting the weather as usual. But there's one thing a little strange about the image: Every single one of them is wearing the same dress.

The montage, first posted on meteorologist Jennifer Myers' Facebook page, has since gone viral on the Internet. The image is so striking, it's not hard to see why it's been shared — but why are all these women of weather wearing the same dress in the first place?

It's been seven months since protests over the death of an unarmed black man after his arrest erupted into looting and arson, leading Baltimore's mayor to declare a curfew and call in the National Guard. Now, that unrest remains a potent backdrop as the trial begins for the first of six police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death.

On-air challenge: For each category given, I'll name something in the category that closely follows the name of the category alphabetically.You tell me the only other thing in the category that fits between these two things alphabetically.

For example: "Shakespeare Plays" and "Tempest" --> "Taming of the Shrew."

Last week's challenge, from listener Dan Pitt of Palo Alto, Calif.: The following three Thanksgiving dishes have something very unusual in common:

  • Spit-roast turkey
  • Cornbread stuffing