Words Matter


Words Matter Library: The Ginsburg Tapes

Season 2

This week we sit down with Lauren Moxley, the host of The Ginsburg Tapes Podcast -- which chronicles Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s oral arguments before the then all-male United States Supreme Court from 1972 to 1978 —before she became #Notorious RBG.

The Ginsburg Tapes allows the listener to be a fly on the wall for some of the most important cases in American jurisprudence as future Justice Ginsburg challenged laws treating men and women differently. In between the actually Supreme Court recordings, Lauren puts the cases, the law and even the Justices themselves in historical context and explains how as a lawyer, RBG really did change the World.

More Episodes


Presidential Words Matter: Barack Obama's Eulogy for the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney

Season 3, Ep. 26
On June 26th 2015 President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy at the funeral of the ReverendClementa C. Pinckney, the senior pastor oftheEmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Churchin Charleston and a South Carolina State Senator.Reverend Pinckney and 8 other Black church members had been murdered a week earlier during Bible Study in a racially motivatedmass shootingperpetrated by a white supremacist.TheEmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Churchis one of the oldestBlack churchesin the United States, and it has long been a center for organizing events related tocivil rights.Founded in 1816, the church played an important role in thehistory of South Carolina, duringslaveryand Reconstruction, during thecivil rights movementof the 1950s and 60sandin theBlack Lives Mattermovement.It is the oldestAfrican Methodist Episcopal Churchin theSouth, often referred to as "Mother Emanuel".Rev.Pinckney, was a well known activist who had held rallies after theshooting of Walter Scottby a white police officer two months earlier, in nearbyNorth Charleston. As astate senator, Reverend Pinckney had pushed for legislation requiring police to wearbody cameras.The Reverend and his church were targeted because of their history and role in civil rights activism.With a rousing eulogy and a chorus of “Amazing Grace,” President Barack Obama called on the country to honor the nine victims of the South Carolina church massacre by working toward racial healing.He said that included removing the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House grounds.“It’s true, the flag did not cause these murders,” The President said, but “we all have to acknowledge the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now.”“By taking down that flag,” he said, “we express God’s grace.”But I don't think God wants us to stop there.“On July 6, 2015, theSouth Carolina Senatevoted to remove the Confederate flag from display outside the South Carolina State House.Make no mistake - the protests we have seen in the last month are a continuation of that struggle. And none of us can stop - none of us should rest until we dismantle and remove every symbol and every fact of thesystemic oppression and racial subjugation that President Obama described in his eulogy of Reverend Pinckney.

Presidential Words Matter: LBJ 1965 Howard University Commencement Address

Season 3, Ep. 25
On June 4, 1965, President Johnson delivered the commencement address at Howard University, the nation’s most prominent historically black university.‪In his address, Johnson explained why “opportunity” was not enough to ensure the civil rights of disadvantaged Americans.‪The ‘To Fulfill These Rights’ speech as it is widely known was the intellectual framework for affirmative action.‪President Johnson spoke of racial injustice and economic disparities between black and white Americans.‪For many in the audience that day, it was one of the first times they felt a president - any president - really acknowledge the treatment of black citizens from slavery to Jim Crow.‪As one graduate - Lillian Beard -recalled on the 50th Anniversary- “I believe that afternoon in 1965 changed a lot of minds, because we felt that he spoke directly to us.”‪LBJ’s Howard University address came only a few months after he had gone before a Joint session of Congress to speak in support of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.‪It was in that message to Congress that Johnson famously identified himself with the civil rights movement when he declared, “We shall overcome.”‪The Howard speech, which was principally the work of presidential speech writer Richard Goodwin and then-Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan was an extension of Johnson’s March voting-rights speech.‪The goal was to take the civil rights movement from one focused on legal justice to one focused on economic justice.‪In the Howard speech, Johnson pointed out that the racial barriers to freedom were slowly tumbling down, but instead of resting on that progress and what his administration had done to that point - Johnson went a step further: “Freedom is not enough,” the President told the graduates.‪It was important for American society to achieve “equality as a fact and equality as a result.”‪The next day President received a telegram from Martin Luther King Jr., telling him, “Never before has a president articulated the depths and dimensions of the problems of racial injustice more eloquently and profoundly.”Dr. King was not exaggerating the importance of the Howard speech.In August Johnson would sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, and two years later, he would appoint Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, making him the nation’s first black justice.But unfortunately- the racial transformation Johnson had promised and hoped to bring about when he spoke at Howard did not take place.55 years later the same underlying conditions exist and the economic disparities LBJ described have not gotten better - far from it. They have gotten exponentially worse.If we are to fulfill the promise of social and economic justice made By LBJ to Black Americans more than a half century ago - all of us must commit ourselves to radical and immediate change. Anything less would be a monumental failure.