New at Zócalo


The Group of Florida Legislators Whose Attack on the NAACP Turned Into a Witch Hunt Against 'Liberal' Minorities

In the 1950s, the Johns Committee Spied On and Harassed Anyone They Saw as a Threat to Racial and Sexual Norms

By Stacy Braukman

    Across America, and particularly in the South, struggles over cultural values have often been rooted in race and sex. Yet some historical moments stand out as stranger than others.
    In 1956, Florida’s state legislature established a committee to investigate legal infractions by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as well as any links that the organization might have to subversive groups. At the time, Florida was just one of several Southern states creating their own sovereignty and education commissions, as well as committees on un-American activities.
    The Florida committee, like the others, was part of the white South’s campaign of “massive resistance.” State and local governments deployed legal and procedural weapons against efforts to implement Brown v. Board of Education, ...

Connecting California

California's Trees Need to Stop Just Standing There

With Humans Unable to Solve the Golden State's Forest Crisis, Our Woodsy Friends Must Step Up for Themselves

By Joe Mathews

    Dear California Trees,
    When are you going to stand up and take some responsibility for all the damage you do to this state?
    It’s not only the blue-purple blossoms that you jacarandas use to stain Californians’ cars, or the colonies of disease-carrying rats that you palms harbor, or even the roots you magnolias use to keep messing up the sidewalks on my street. It’s not even that your out-of-control-fires foul California’s air, destroy homes, and drain the state budget.
    No, what most upsets me is that, instead of being accountable for the trouble you cause, you leave us humans to solve all your problems. You trees are more aloof than any Hollywood star. Do you think the Lorax from Dr. Seuss is going to show up to speak for you? Or do you think you’re magical heroes, like the trees from The Lord of the Rings? ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews


  • By Stephanie Brown

    Cooked, the socks, the pantry stocked,
    Thanksgiving dinner for twenty.
    Crab apples around ...

  • By Blas Falconer

    The ruffled hem floats
    as you spin
    Of them all,
    the one you like
    most ...

  • By Irene Sanchez

    Freeways connect
    The Golden State
    Prisons ...

  • Video Highlights

    Looking Back at Four Years of “What It Means to Be American”

    The Smithsonian/ASU/Zócalo Project on U.S. History and Identity Is Just Getting Started

    Since its launch on April 14, 2014, the "What It Means to Be American" project has convened 12 events in seven cities and published more than 300 essays on American history and identity. And we're just getting started. Here's a look back at where we've been, and where we're going.