The Flaming Sword of Justice, with Ben Wikler






March 2013
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Ever been harassed on the street? Ever wanted to fight back, with a vast global network of awesome activists standing with you? Your wait is over: Hollaback has got your back. Our guest, co-founder and executive director Emily May, tells the story of the group's founding all the way through to the present—62 cities, 25 countries, 250 trained leaders, 4000 stories, and one world getting changed by the minute. 

Plus, a call from the Working Families Party to celebrate their paid sick leave victory yesterday!

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm EDT

Imagine paying $3000 to visit America through a cultural exchange/guest-worker program—and then being forced to live on a cot in a packed basement room, abused at work, and threatened with expulsion if you called out your boss... who owns both the McDonald's where you work and the basement where you live. He can get you kicked out of the country with a single phone call. Do you try to bear it? Or do you fight back? Today's guests took the latter option—with some help from labor organizing pioneer Jess Kutch and her new organization, Four guests, outrageous injustice, and a very satisfying ending... all on today's Flaming Sword of Justice.

In this episode: Jess Kutch,, the National Guestworker Alliance, the McDonald's Must Pay campaign

Photo credit: Kara Newhouse

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_28.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02pm EDT

How does it feel, after decades of battling hate and discrimination, to stand in front of thousands of people cheering their support for your right to marry the person you love? On today's show, Darlene Nipper brings us with her as she MCs the rallies for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court. Dare you not to cry.

Direct download: Sword_2013_3_27.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

A decade ago, attacks on marriage equality helped Bush win reelection—and scared Democrats away from equality for years. Today, as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the issue for the first time, everything has changed. But the massive shift in public opinion was not inevitable. Our guest, Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange—and, formerly, GLAAD—tells the story of his own work to change minds by touching hearts... including a story about a TV network president that will make you want to cheer. Plus, how America's largest online civil rights group shut down corporate funding of ALEC. It's a great show!

Direct download: Sword_2013_3_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:57pm EDT

When you're thinking about climate change, it's easy to get demoralized. Happens to everyone. But for the organizers of, even the darkest moment in recent climate-movement history—the aftermath of the global Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, when world leaders tried and failed to create a global treaty—couldn't keep them down. Hear how 350 went from that moment ("Take a nap, and get back to work") to devising a whole new strategy of civil disobedience (see: Keystone XL) and corporate campaigning (, and breathed new life into the global climate movement. Plus, the origin of the word "crisitunity!"
Direct download: Sword_2013_03_25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

Last year, student loan debt passed $1 trillion—surpassing credit card debt for the first time. We talk to two organizers helping people tackle the student debt crisis in different ways: Chris Hicks, of Jobs with Justice, who is helping students stand up to loan giant Sallie Mae; and William Winters of, who tells the story of Ella Edwards, a woman who started a petition after her son died... but whose student loans lived on. Help came from an unexpected source. Tune in.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42pm EDT

Until Newtown, talking about gun violence was politically taboo. But it wasn't just the horrific killings that changed the debate. It was also the voices of survivors of the mass shootings of the last few years—voices like that of our guest, Stephen Barton's, who was hit and nearly killed by a shotgun blast during the massacre in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. Stephen tells the story of that awful night... and the story of how, instead of trying to put that trauma behind him, he joined the fight to stop tragedies like that from happening again. It's an intense, but ultimately uplifting, episode of The Flaming Sword of Justice.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_21.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47pm EDT

What happens in US politics will happen in Florida first. And a new group called Dream Defenders—an alliance led by Black and Brown youth, founded after the killing of Trayvon Martin—is rising up to tackle the injustices that deny the American Dream to so many. Hear about their launch action that shook the Tallahassee statehouse; Phillip's personal journey from a childhood in the church to lifetime dedication to social justice, with a depressing detour in corporate America selling, ironically, anti-depression drugs; and the transformative forty-mile march that set Dream Defenders in motion.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm EDT

Since Aaron Swartz's tragic suicide in January 2013, tens of thousands of words have been written about his life, his death, and his legacy. What none of them noticed is what he was doing with most of his time for the last couple of years of his life (other than fighting an outrageous prosecution and launching the campaign that stopped SOPA—a story he told on The Flaming Sword of Justice episode 2). So what was keeping him busy? For one thing, he met, and fell in love with, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. For another, he co-founded this very show. We tell both stories on this personal edition of The Flaming Sword of Justice. 

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41pm EDT

Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, founders of, tell the inside story of how it all began—and the thrill and terror of waking up to discover that hundreds of thousands of people are asking you what they should do next.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_06.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53pm EDT