Scott Shafer

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 28 August, 1963, on The Mall in Washington, DC, during the 'March on Washington'

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, we talk to historian and MLK scholar Taylor Branch about the iconic minister and his lasting impact on the civil rights movement. Taylor is the author of “America in the King Years,” a trilogy detailing MLK’s life and the civil rights era. The first volume, “Parting the Waters” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1989. We also talk with a curator from the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

California voters last month rejected a measure to repeal the death penalty and narrowly passed one that will speed up the process for executing inmates. California hasn’t carried out an execution in a decade because of issues with its legal injection method. A new protocol is pending approval by the end of the year. Forum discusses the state of the death penalty in California and how soon executions may resume.

Sprinklers on an urban farm

On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a water projects bill that has split California Democrats and is worrying some environmentalists. The 360-61 vote pitted Senator Dianne Feinstein, who negotiated the California-focused items, against Senator Barbara Boxer, who strongly opposed them. The House bill offers millions for California water storage projects and eases limits on moving water to San Joaquin Valley farms. The $558 million water package now goes to the Senate for a vote.

Cleve Jones poses for a portrait.

Cleve Jones has been at the center of the Bay Area’s LGBTQ movement since the 1970s. He worked closely with Harvey Milk, co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and conceived of the historic NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Jones now works as an organizer with the hospitality workers’ union, UNITE HERE. His new book, “When We Rise,” traces his life in activism and is the inspiration for an upcoming ABC mini-series.

Drag queen Scarlett Letter performs on stage during the GX4 Kitty Powers Drag Show.

For decades San Francisco has embraced drag performance, while most of America shunned it as perverse. Now, drag is veering into the mainstream with the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” earning an Emmy and a recent Fox remake of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” But in San Francisco, drag has remained subversive with a new wave of queens, to whom drag is more like punk performance art than glam dress-up. We’ll talk with San Francisco Chronicle style reporter Tony Bravo and local drag queens about the past and present of San Francisco’s drag scene.

Mentioned on Air:

SF’s New Wave of Drag Queens Rebel Against Glam

This combination of pictures created on October 09, 2016 shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016.

Republican nominee Donald Trump’s supporters are hoping Wednesday’s third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas will help him regain momentum against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. We’ll analyze the debate and discuss the ongoing fallout of the Clinton campaign’s leaked emails and the continued allegations of sexual assault against Trump.

KQED’s Complete Election Coverage

Marcus Samuelsson poses for a portrait.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s background is a tableau of different tastes and experiences: Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, his culinary influences are a swirl of Ethiopian spices and smoked mackerel. When he moved to America and fell in love with Harlem, Samuelsson decided to mix those same flavors into the comfort food he cooked at his restaurant, Red Rooster. Sameulsson joins us to talk about the diverse influences on his cooking and about his new “Red Rooster Cookbook,” which features recipes alongside stories of Harlem’s past.


Twenty five years ago Wednesday, a small, mostly-extinguished grassfire was stoked by a hot, dry wind, that ignited a firestorm in the Oakland and Berkeley hills killing 25 people and destroying more than 3,400 homes. In this hour Forum invites listeners to share their memories from the fire and its aftermath and any lessons learned since the tragedy.

A fan holds a sign in the stands imploring the team to stay in Oakland during the NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs at Coliseum on December 6, 2015 in Oakland, California.

The tug of war over the Oakland Raiders continues. On Monday, the Nevada governor signed a bill approving a $750 million tax subsidy to help build a $1.9 billion stadium in Las Vegas, furthering the city’s bid to convince the Raiders to relocate. Raiders owner Mark Davis has already pledged to move the team to Las Vegas, pending approval by the NFL and a vote by team owners. Meanwhile, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf says she is working to keep the team “where they belong.” We get an update on the Raiders’ status.

Cataract Falls on Mt. Tamalpais.

A first of its kind study of the ecological health of Mt. Tamalpais finds that while birds are thriving, Coho salmon, steelhead trout and some frog species are struggling. We’ll discuss the study, which also looked at the the impact of sudden oak death, invasive species, fires and floods. And we’ll hear what can and should be done to preserve and maintain this favorite destination for Bay Area bikers and hikers.

More Information:
Mt. Tam Health Report Yields Hope — And a Warning (KQED Science)

Measuring the Health of a Mountain

i voted stickers

California voters have until Monday to register or to change party
affiliation for the June 7 presidential primary. The primary contest
has sparked a sharp increase in new voter registrations,
especially among Democrats, Latinos and youth, and the newly
registered are expected to number more than two million by
Monday’s deadline. We discuss the implication of these
registration trends and how and where to register if you’ve
moved, changed your name or have just become eligible to vote.

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Ro Khanna in front of a chalk board.

As part of Forum’s Election 2016 coverage, we’ll talk with Ro Khanna, candidate for the California’s 17th district in the U.S. House of Representatives which includes Silicon Valley. This is the second time Khana, who served in the Obama administration as deputy assistant secretary of commerce, has challenged Rep Mike Honda. We’ll talk with him about his platform, which includes investing in K through-12 education and making colleges affordable.

NOTE: Rep. Mike Honda has also been invited for a one-on-one interview with Forum.

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William Finnegan

New Yorker journalist William Finnegan has covered armed conflicts in Africa and urban poverty in the United States. But for decades he shied away from writing about his personal passion: surfing. Last year, Finnegan published a memoir, “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life,” that describes his journey from boyhood to manhood catching waves in California, Hawaii, and the Polynesian islands. The book recently won a Pulitzer Prize.  We’ll talk with Finnegan about surfing, his journalism and maintaining both into old age.