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March 15th, 2013
11:53 PM ET

KTH: No investigation after fatal hit and run

Two hit-and-run deaths in rural Mississippi just a few miles apart highlight a disturbing problem about data collection on possible hate crimes.

Last summer, 61-year-old African-American Sunday school teacher Johnny Lee Butts was hit and killed by an 18-year-old white driver. The teen told Panola County Sheriff deputies he thought he hit a deer but the driver's two passengers said he steered straight for Butts. One passenger said he could see that Butts was black. The killing has sparked outrage in the local African-American community. Civil rights groups have demanded that police prosecute Butts' killing as a hate crime.

Nonetheless, prosecutors chose not to.

There was no evidence, authorities said, to suggest a racial motive. The driver was charged with murder. He has not yet pleaded in the case.

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January 16th, 2013
11:08 PM ET

Outrage over Miss. hit-and-run killing

It was a hot Sunday morning last July when, right on schedule at 6:30 a.m., 61-year-old Johnny Lee Butts left his rural Mississippi home on his morning ritual, a 4-mile walk.

His neighbor, Otis Brooks, says Butts, a Sunday school teacher, waved as he passed his front door wearing a blue T-shirt.

Brooks remembers that his neighbor's skin tone was easily visible that morning. "You could tell he was black; you could see his arms." The point would become important later.

At nearly 7 a.m., about an hour after sunrise, three white teenagers were barreling down Panola County Mississippi Highway 310 in a white Monte Carlo. Two of the three teens later admitted they had been heavily drinking vodka and smoking marijuana all night. They were headed right toward Butts.

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Race in America
Tonight on AC360: Mississippi hit and run a hate crime?
January 16th, 2013
07:05 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Mississippi hit and run a hate crime?

61-year-old Johnny Lee Butts enjoyed his morning ritual, a four mile walk in Panola County, Mississippi. But this past July, Butts, an African-American, was killed during this walk by a white teenager behind the wheel of a car. Law enforcement insists race was not a factor. But Keeping Them Honest, exclusive reporting by CNN raises question about the role race may have played in the killing.

18-year-old Matthew Whitten Darby was the white teenager behind the wheel of the car that hit Butts. Darby is charged with murder, but not a hate crime. Butts’ family and many African-Americans in the community claim the District Attorney and white law enforcement in the county aren’t doing enough to investigate why Butts was run over.

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September 28th, 2012
10:05 PM ET

Students: Teacher segregated black kids

Gary Tuchman reports on a sixth grade teacher in Minnesota who is accused of putting black and special needs students in the back of his classroom. Timothy Olmsted was placed on leave this past January, and then resigned two months later. But, he's still getting paid.

"He separated me from the white kids and sent me to the other side of the room where all the black kids were," a 12-year-old girl said. Black students told their parents and grandparents that Olmsted repeatedly called them "stupid, sloppy, and disgusting."

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Filed under: Education • Race in America
April 6th, 2012
04:26 PM ET

Your response to 'Kids on Race'

Tune in to CNN at 8 and 10 p.m. ET and on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET for AC360's special series.

For the past year, Anderson Cooper and the producers at AC360° worked on a project that explores how children form opinions on race. The purpose of  "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture" was to find out more about when they notice race, what informs their views and how all of that differs for black and white children.

We commissioned an original study and partnered with renowned child psychologist and University of Maryland professor Dr. Melanie Killen. Dr. Killen's role was not just to design and implement the study, but also to help us analyze the findings so we could inform parents and teachers.

Anderson wrote in his blog, "I hope this study helps us all consider how our perceptions of race impact our thoughts and behaviors, and also what messages adults are passing down to children."  The data we gathered is attention-grabbing, but what's equally fascinating is hearing the raw, unfiltered thoughts of kids as young as six. Their honest comments along with the results paint a picture of how far we've come in teaching the next generation about equality and acceptance - and how much farther we have to go.

All week we've presented the study to you, and in return you've given us your reactions and shared your personal stories. Thank you for contributing to this ongoing national discussion on Twitter, our Facebook and Google Plus page, our blog, and iReport.
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Filed under: Kids on Race • Race in America
April 5th, 2012
11:10 PM ET

Parents confront interracial dating views

In 360's ground-breaking study on kids and race, teens talked candidly about interracial dating. What they said begged for a response from their parents, so Anderson and Soledad O'Brien sat down with their parents.

Learn more about "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture"

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Filed under: Kids on Race • Race in America
April 5th, 2012
10:49 AM ET

Tonight on AC360: Interracial dating exposes divide between teens and parents

Editor's note: Tune in to AC360 tonight for the surprising results of a groundbreaking new study on children and race at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

(CNN) - Luke, a white seventh grader, believes his parents would not be supportive if he dated an African-American girl. "Honestly I don't think my parents would be too happy because ... if you marry a black girl, you're connected to their family now," he said, adding, "and who knows what her family is really like?"

Jimmy, a black seventh grader, recounted that after he had several white girlfriends, his parents seemed to interpret it as an affront to his own race. "They said, 'Why not your own kind?' because all my girls have been white," he said, adding, "it's not like they were like, 'You need to choose a black girl,' it's just they were asking me why I like white girls and I was just like, 'there's no ... specific reason.' "

Their stories highlight a divide not between the races, but between the generations. Both teens participated in an Anderson Cooper 360° study on children and race. Many students reported discouragement of interracial dating from their parents, or those of their friends, with reactions ranging from wariness to outright forbiddance.

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Filed under: Kids on Race • Race in America
A mixed-race romance, a family rift
Despite her dad's objections, Elizabeth Mayo says she never considered breaking up with her future-husband, Alex Chancey
April 5th, 2012
10:47 AM ET

A mixed-race romance, a family rift

Editor's note: Elizabeth Mayo is a digital producer for CNN's "Early Start" and "Starting Point." All this week, AC360° airs the special series "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture" at 8 and 10 p.m. ET. Thursday's installment will focus on interracial dating.

It all started on my second date with Alex. It was 1997 and on a whim we went into Manhattan to see the ball drop on New Year's Eve in Times Square. The closest we could get was 55th Street and Seventh Avenue. That's pretty far away, but we could still see the glittering ball touching the sky. He was 19, I was 17.

For him, I was his childhood dream girl: I'm tall, have curly brown hair and I play cello, so I was the real-life version of Sigourney Weaver's character in "Ghostbusters" (his favorite movie). To me, he was smart, doting and hilarious.

On what had to be the coldest night in the history of the ball drop, we shivered next to each other waiting patiently, with a few thousand spectators, to get one year closer to the millennium. At midnight, the ball dropped and the crowd erupted.

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Filed under: Kids on Race • Race in America
April 5th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Where does racism start, and what can be done about it?

Against the backdrop of the Trayvon Martin case, CNN is taking a look at race in America. We asked readers to post short video comments answering the question of whether racism still exists and where it comes from, in response to the study commissioned by AC360° to explore children's perception of race.

We got a number of fascinating responses that branched in three distinct directions.

1. We need to look at the black community's leadership

Jerome Almon of Detroit says he used to be a political science lecturer. He says the black community needs new leadership and is not served well by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons and Spike Lee. He said he believes these men should be viewed with more skepticism.

"How do Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton make a living?" He asked. "You see them after a tragedy takes place."Almon went on to say that he believes these people have little credibility with black youths.

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Filed under: Kids on Race • Race in America
April 4th, 2012
10:21 PM ET

Q&A: Kids on Race study explained

AC360° hired renowned child psychologist and University of Maryland professor Dr. Melanie Killen to design and implement our study that examines children's perceptions of race. The results are the basis for Anderson Cooper's special series "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture." We asked Dr. Killen to highlight key findings, offer advice to parents on how and when to teach about equality and shed light on the thinking behind her methodology.

Watch the series of Q&A videos to get deeper insight on the year-long investigation.

 

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Filed under: Kids on Race • Race in America
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