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The News Fix
It’s a bad combination: A definitively American holiday weekend — characterized by big-group, multigenerational gatherings and an abundance of food and drink — takes place this year in the middle of a pandemic that’s hitting the United States particularly hard. As states started tentatively reopening their economies in recent weeks, bars, nightclubs and get-togethers became nodes for the virus' spread, and the average age of infected people has skewed younger as cases have spiked. Turns out the coronavirus loves a party.
Smart In a Shot
On our show this week we played a voice memo from listener Rhonda Brown, a Chicago-based artist who shared with us her painting of Shirley Chisholm (above). In 1968, Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 1972, she became the first Black woman to seek the Democratic nomination for president.
The NumbersBeaches are closed, community celebrations got called off and lots of people are sticking close to home this Independence Day.
16,000That’s how many organized Fourth of July fireworks shows take place in an average year. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many communities have canceled those displays, dealing a financial hit to the companies that typically put on the shows. Meanwhile, consumer sales of fireworks are up 200% to 300% as more people look to set off their own.
43 millionThat’s how many people in the U.S. traveled more than 50 miles from their homes over Independence Day weekend last year — the second-most on record, according to AAA. But this year it’s anyone’s guess how holiday weekend travel will stack up. With coronavirus cases rising and social distancing restrictions varying state to state, it was too hard for AAA to predict.
8,386One way to connect with the Founding Fathers while you’re cooped up at home this weekend: raise a glass of beer. Taverns were popular among politicians in the nation’s early days, as this piece from Smithsonian Magazine explains. And with 8,386 American breweries to choose from nationwide, there’s likely a taproom nearby to provide some celebratory suds (with or without alcohol) for the occasion.
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"It’s always been broken"Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams recommends this Twitter thread from writer Jacqui Shine in response to a New York Times essay on work-life balance for mothers during the pandemic. "This isn't 'the COVID-19 economy,'" Shine writes. "This is how it works for many people all the time."
How the American economy was builtListener Jim H. recommends the book "The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism" by historian Edward E. Baptist. Using plantation records, personal narratives, newspapers, political speeches and other primary materials, the book lays out how the expansion of slavery in the early days after independence built American wealth and global power. "America was the fastest growing economy the world has seen, but it was built on slave labor working land stolen from the Native Americans," Jim writes.
Getting smarter... at homeNewsletter reader Roger T. recommends reaching out to old friends and family during lockdown, adding that it’s making him smarter and helping him reconnect in meaningful ways. "It helps my disposition and maybe theirs too as we discuss a myriad of topics important to us," Roger says.