If Revolution Isn't Televised, Can It Be Tweeted?

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Host Michel Martin and editor Ammad Omar crack open the listener inbox for backtalk. This week, listeners tweet about online activism, and education.


And now it's time for Back Talk. That's where we hear from you, our listeners. Editor Ammad Omar is back here with us once again. What's going on, Ammad?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hi, Michel. We covered the big event marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington this week. Martin Luther King Jr.'s family was there, President Obama was there speaking from the Lincoln Memorial, so did former presidents Clinton and Jimmy Carter. But if you couldn't make it to the mall on Washington, you could've participated on social media, and millions of people did. We talked about that on air, and we also reached out online with this tweet. Gil Scott-Heron said the revolution will not be televised, but could it be tweeted? What do you think about social media and social change? Again, that's what we put out there on Twitter, and we got a huge response from coast to coast. Isaac Crispin (ph) from Queens, New York says, yes, Gil Scott-Heron was right. It won't be televised, but the revolution will be hash-tagged via Twitter. Also from New York, from Brooklyn, Christina Scarlett (ph) wrote, I had a lot of hope for social media's potential, but there's so many apathetic people, it's hard to stay hopeful. But, Michel, you wouldn't know that judging by our Twitter audience on the West Coast. We heard from Ryan Euing (ph) in Berkeley, California. He tweets under the handle, @yolopinato (ph). He says, revolutions take years to make incremental progress, 140 characters are just a grain of sand on the beach head. We also got this from Acannay Macklin (ph) from Murrieta, California. She says, no matter the forum, a person has to want to engage in the revolution.

MARTIN: Well, thanks for all of those tweets. And, Ammad, we also have a lot of Twitter responses to our education chat this week. Is that right?

OMAR: Yeah. We had a big conversation going on #NPREdChat. But I want to read an e-mail about a conversation we had on the radio. We spoke with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. We spoke with teachers, and also some students, about what they think should change in education. And one of our panelists said that he wants people in his area to have higher standards because a lot of the kids he grew up with think that community college is the best that they can do. Anyway, that brought out this from Professor Ormond Brathwaite from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. Michel...

MARTIN: And he said, please point out to your guests that many community colleges throughout the United States successfully deliver the first two years of a college education. People like Robert Bruce Merrifield, a Nobel laureate, began his college education at a community college, and so did my husband, I might add, if I could mention that. Professor Brathwaite went on to tell us that over his 19 years of teaching, he and his colleagues had mentored many students of color who went on to earn advanced degrees. And he also pointed out that Professor Jill Biden, who's the wife of the vice president, also teaches at a community college as she has done for some years, which is true. Well, thank you, Professor. And thank you, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you.

MARTIN: And remember, at TELL ME MORE the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can send an e-mail to tellmemore@NPR.org. You can also follow us on Facebook and, of course, Twitter. We're @TellMeMoreNPR.

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