Civil Rights

Updated at 12:59 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a long-awaited set of cases testing whether the federal law that bars sex discrimination in employment applies to LGBTQ employees.

Specifically, the question is whether employers are free to fire employees because they are gay or transgender.

Leigh Paterson / KUNC

Standing in the crowds at Denver’s Civic Center Park on Jan. 20, I struggled to see over people’s heads. But I had a clear view of thousands of poster-board signs poking out above the masses.

Messages about women’s reproductive rights, immigration reform and climate change were scribbled on signs in marker and colored pencil. Some signs referenced Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign – reading "I’m With Her" -- as well as "Time’s Up" signs referencing sexual harassment and the #metoo movement.

screencap via

When you open a window in your home, do you consider yourself outside? Probably not. That was the argument that inmates at Colorado State Penitentiary made in a class-action lawsuit [.pdf] against the Colorado Department of Corrections. The case has been settled and the Department of Corrections will build three new recreation yards at the Cañon City prison by the end of 2016.

Tom LeGro / PBS NewsHour

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered Monday in several events, including free admission to Rocky Mountain National Park.  In celebration of it's centennial year, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee, will offer free admission for 16 days during 2016, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Here are other scheduled celebrations across the Front Range for Jan. 18, 2016.


A federal lawsuit that alleges Greeley-based meatpacking company JBS USA engaged in wide-scale discrimination against Muslim employees is heading to trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer denied the company’s request for summary judgment in a case that stems back to 2008 when the company’s Greeley beef plant fired Somali Muslim employees who were requesting breaks be scheduled to coincide with prayer time during Ramadan, a month of the Islamic calendar that requires daytime fasting and prayer.

The 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., became known as Bloody Sunday because it ended in state troopers beating nonviolent protesters as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

In photos from that day you see the marchers being struck and trampled, and just above them are the bridge's big arches, with the name Edmund Pettus emblazoned across the steel beam.

The bridge has become one of the most hallowed places in America's civil rights history, but who was Edmund Pettus?

On June 18, 1964, black and white protesters jumped into the whites-only pool at the Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Fla. In an attempt to force them out, the owner of the hotel poured acid into the pool.

Martin Luther King Jr. had planned the sit-in during the St. Augustine Movement, a part of the larger civil rights movement. The protest — and the owner's acidic response — is largely forgotten today, but it played a role in the passing of the Civil Rights Act, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.

In 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., became America's first major museum to paint a broad picture of the civil rights movement. Its content hasn't changed much since then. But this Saturday after a nearly $28 million renovation that took 18 months, the museum will reopen with a new design that aims to appeal to an older generation as well as a post-civil-rights-era audience.

Tom LeGro / PBS NewsHour

On Monday, January 20, 1986, people across the country celebrated the first official Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the only federal holiday commemorating an African-American. In Colorado, many will commemorate the life and legacy of the slain civil-rights leader across the Front Range.

As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, All Things Considered concludes its series about the moments that defined the historic summer of 1963. Back in 1999, Noah Adams explored the history and legacy of the song "We Shall Overcome" for the NPR 100. The audio link contains a condensed version of that piece.