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Silence is Not an Option

This season of Silence is Not an Option is all about fearless individuals who stand up for what’s right — even when it means breaking the rules. Host Don Lemon will share stories about Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, and others who used their fame to speak out against injustice. Don will also highlight the stories of change-makers who deserve greater recognition, like Claudette Colvin and Bayard Rustin. So, come meet the rabble-rousers and truth-tellers who put everything on the line when silence is not an option.

A crowd of protestors holds up signs, fists and a megaphone
Remembering Trayvon Martin Silence is Not an Option
The death of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 sparked a social justice movement that still reverberates today. In this special episode of CNN's 5 Things, Don Lemon examines why the killing initially struggled to make headlines, traces the rise of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the decade since, and shares why his conversations with Martin’s mother are among the most powerful interviews he’s ever done.
Feb 23, 2022
How the King of Calypso Helped Change the World Silence is Not an Option
For nearly 70 years, superstar actor and singer Harry Belafonte has used his platform to advocate for freedom and equality in America and around the world. Don Lemon speaks with Belafonte about his dedication to humanitarian causes, and how Belafonte has inspired Don to speak up about injustice. The star’s daughter, Gina Belafonte, and Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz tell Don about Belafonte’s lifelong commitment to civil rights, the balance of arts and activism throughout his career, and the roles he’s played in social justice fights everywhere from the Deep South to South Africa.
Jul 15, 2021
When Catwoman Met Lady Bird Silence is Not an Option
Don’t call Eartha Kitt an “angry Black woman.” That’s how Eartha was portrayed when she spoke truth to power and criticized the Vietnam War and wealth inequality in front of President Johnson and the First Lady. The bold move cost her career opportunities and even prompted a CIA investigation, but she still came out on top. Don Lemon speaks with CNN's senior entertainment writer Lisa Respers France and Eartha's daughter, Kitt Shapiro, who recently wrote a book about her mother, Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter's Love Story in Black and White.
Jul 8, 2021
The Team That Took on a Senator Silence is Not an Option
What would you risk to fight racism? In 2020, the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream put paychecks on the line to speak up for Black Lives Matter and against their owner, former Senator Kelly Loeffler. It was an unprecedented match between players and owners, and the direction of U.S. politics hung in the balance. In this week’s episode, Don Lemon discusses WNBA player activism with sports and politics writer Jemele Hill, and the Atlanta Dream's Elizabeth Williams and Renee Montgomery share how they pushed for change.
Jul 1, 2021
A Gay Civil Rights Leader Pushed into the Shadows Silence is Not an Option
Bayard Rustin organized the March on Washington and advised Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on direct nonviolent action, but this Civil Rights hero didn’t get his proper due at the time because he was gay. For this special Pride month episode, Don Lemon affirms Rustin's rightful place in history and explores how Rustin persevered despite personal attacks. Don and CNN National Political Writer Brandon Tensley discuss Rustin's lifelong tension at the intersection of Black and LGBTQ rights, and why he only joined the gay rights movement later in life.
Jun 24, 2021
The Officer Who Didn't Stand By Silence is Not an Option
When former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne saw a colleague put a handcuffed Black man in a chokehold, she said she knew she had to do something. Her intervention cost her job and her pension. On today’s podcast, Don Lemon hears from Horne and her lawyer, Harvard Law Professor Ron Sullivan, about that fateful day in 2006 and their ensuing legal battle that lasted until just months ago. And what does Horne’s case mean for national police reform?
Jun 17, 2021
Fifteen-Year-Old Freedom Fighter Silence is Not an Option
Everyone’s heard the story of Rosa Parks, but few know of Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old girl who was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a White passenger... nine months before Parks. So why wasn’t she the face of the movement? Don Lemon explores Colvin’s life and legacy with CNN anchor Abby Phillip and scholar Beverly Guy-Sheftall. And youth activist Anya Dillard shares what activists today can learn from Colvin’s fight for justice.
Jun 10, 2021
Season 2: Rabble-Rousers and Truth-Tellers Silence is Not an Option
Change doesn’t happen without taking risks, without fearless activists who stand up for what’s right even when it’s uncomfortable. This season, Don shares the stories of those who used their fame to shine a light on injustice like Harry Belafonte and Eartha Kitt. But you will also hear the stories of change makers who deserve greater recognition, like a teenager who took a stand on a Montgomery bus before Rosa Parks and the police officer who stopped a chokehold. We’re talking about the folks who know that speaking out sometimes means breaking the rules. So, come meet the rabble-rousers and truth-tellers who put everything on the line when silence is not an option.
Trailer
Lift Every Voice and Sing Silence is Not an Option
The so-called Black National Anthem was composed in 1900, and it’s provided a soundtrack to Black life ever since. For this special Black History Month episode, CNN’s Don Lemon speaks with Rep. James Clyburn, historian Prof. Imani Perry, and Howard University choir conductor Eric Poole about the song’s history, cultural significance, and impressive staying power over the past century. Today, it’s more relevant than ever.
Feb 11, 2021
The Axe Files: Nikole Hannah-Jones Silence is Not an Option
When Nikole Hannah-Jones was a high school student at a predominantly white school in Waterloo, Iowa, she complained to a teacher that the school newspaper wasn’t covering stories that mattered to Black students. He told her she had two options: stop complaining or start writing for the paper and telling her own stories. She joined the paper, launching what became a celebrated career writing for publications like ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine. Nikole is well known for her reporting ...Show moreon segregation and racial inequities in education but recently won a Pulitzer Prize for The 1619 Project, which traces the legacy of slavery throughout American history. She joined Axe Files host David Axelrod to talk about what it was like growing up in working-class Iowa, how she finds motivation in being underestimated, and the inspiration and creation of The 1619 Project.

Originally released: September, 2020
Dec 31, 2020
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