Juana Summers

Juana Summers is a political reporter for NPR covering demographics and culture. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.

She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss national politics. In 2016, Summers was a fellow at Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service. Summers is also a competitive pinball player and sits on the board of the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA), the governing body for competitive pinball events around the world.

She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and a native of Kansas City, Mo.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A Latino advocacy group wants more lawmakers to learn to speak Spanish, not just to pull out a few awkward words when they run for office. NPR's Juana Summers reports.

The voting advocacy organization Voto Latino is calling on elected lawmakers to make a year-round effort to engage with Latino constituents. They're also calling out those who make feeble attempts to speak to voters in Spanish.

"We want elected leaders to continue communicating with our community in the language that they speak and understand, but also with real frequency," said Danny Friedman, the managing director of Voto Latino. "Our community is not simply a group to check off the list at campaign time."

During his first full week in office, President Biden made clear that addressing inequity would be not only a fixture of his presidency, but also the responsibility of the entire federal government.

As he signed a series of executive actions, he declared that "advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our government."

On the day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom named Kamala Harris' replacement in the U.S. Senate, Molly Watson jumped on a call with other organizers and the two Black women in Congress whom they had urged Newsom to appoint to the seat instead.

It was an emotional conversation, in which Watson said she struggled to hold back tears.

The vast majority of mayors in American cities do not support sweeping changes to the funding of their police departments, and most say last year's racial justice protests were a force for good in their cities, according to a new survey of more than 100 mayors from across the U.S.

Before they gather virtually to watch the inauguration, students at YELLS, a nonprofit youth empowerment program in Marietta, Ga., will receive some special packages.

Each student will get a delivery that includes an American flag, a copy of the oath of office and a special set of pearls in honor of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. YELLS staffers are encouraging their students to dress up to watch the ceremony, to make a ruckus with provided noisemakers. And after the ceremony, staff will guide them in writing letters to the new president and vice president.

A coalition of progressive groups say they are organizing a sweeping network to mobilize around climate change, racial and environmental justice, making a new unified push as President-elect Joe Biden is days away from taking office with Democrats set to control both the House and the Senate.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, the incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., are unveiling legislation that would seek to end federal capital punishment, putting a focus on the issue as their party prepares to take over complete control of Congress, along with the White House.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET

Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' victory early on Thursday, the end of a long day and night marked by chaos and violence in Washington, D.C. Extremists emboldened by President Trump had sought to thwart the peaceful transfer of power that has been a hallmark of modern American history by staging a violent insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol.

President-elect Joe Biden opposes the death penalty and has said he will work to end its use, but as President Trump's administration accelerates the pace of federal executions in the closing days of his presidency, activists and progressive lawmakers are feeling more urgency to push Biden to act immediately upon taking office.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

When Beth McDonough started to tell her stepdaughter, Mia, about the woman who will be the country's next vice president, one of the first things she told Mia is that Kamala Harris has a stepdaughter too.

"She just lit up because we live in a super-small town, and as a kid with two moms and in a blended family, she faces a lot of not being able to see what her family looks like in other families," said McDonough, 33, who lives in Meadville, Pa., with her stepdaughter and wife.

When Joe Biden thanked Black voters in his first remarks as president-elect, he credited them with lifting his campaign from its lowest point during the Democratic primaries.

"You've always had my back, and I'll have yours," he promised.

While Biden won Black voters overwhelmingly across the country, they were key to his victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia — places where President Trump and his allies have been targeting ballots in cities with large Black populations in an attempt to overturn the president's defeat and retain power.

Former first lady Michelle Obama called on Americans, "especially our nation's leaders, regardless of power," to "honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power," as President Trump continues to dispute the results of the November election.

Obama warned that a refusal to commit to an orderly transfer of power could put the country at risk.

When Joe Biden addressed the nation for the first time as president-elect, he said that his victory was supported by "the broadest and most diverse coalition in history."

Now, Biden is facing high expectations from one big and especially diverse segment of that coalition — young voters who appear to have turned out for him in record numbers, particularly young progressives who now say they want to see him deliver on their priorities.

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