Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Image of Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacting to her election win.
Courtesy of Netflix

The richest black man in America pledged to pay off the student debt for all 2019 graduates of Morehouse College. Billionaire Robert F. Smith shared the news in a commencement speech at the historically black men's college earlier this month. His approximately $40 million gift has renewed the public conversation about America’s student debt crisis, which disproportionately impacts black students.

Thom Tillis speaking
http://thomtillis.com/

The Senate voted on a resolution to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration. Twelve Republican senators sided with Democrats, but North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis was not one of them, although he previously stated he would vote against the emergency declaration.

Women members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., center, cheer after President Donald Trump acknowledges more women in Congress during his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech struck analysts as both bipartisan and deeply divided. He called for unity and shared bipartisan victories, and he also promised he would build a border wall and warned lawmakers that there cannot be peace and legislation while there are ongoing investigations. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showing the internet trolls that Congresspeople can dance.
Screenshot @AOC

California Sen. Kamala Harris joined the growing list of Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential race earlier this week. How will her legacy as a prosecutor and her biracial identity impact her campaign and candidacy? It is one of many topics popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context.