At Liberty is a weekly podcast from the ACLU that explores the biggest civil rights and civil liberties issues of the day. A production of ACLU, Inc.

Vanessa began producing At Liberty in June 2023. Here are some selected episodes:​​​​​​​

Vanessa speaks with young adult and middle-grade literature author, Jason Reynolds. He joins us to discuss carrying on the tradition of Black storytelling and how we can all inspire young people to love literature. 

Vanessa is joined by Henderson Hill, Senior Counsel for the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, to discuss Hasson Bacote’s North Carolina Racial Justice Act hearing and the ACLU's ongoing work to fight against the death penalty.

Vanessa speaks with Barry Jefferson, Dorothy Nairne, and Khadidah Stone, three plaintiffs from Section 2 cases. They’ll discuss their experiences challenging racially gerrymandered district maps in their respective states, what compelled them to take action, and how we can all be voting rights advocates.

To close out 2023 Vanessa and host Kendall Ciesemier highlight some of the most notable episodes from the year, which also happen to be some of our favorites. We’ll chat about what we enjoyed, how they came to be, and where the issues we reported on stand today. 

The episodes featured above are guest hosted by Vanessa

TikTok superstar Drew Afualo joins us to discuss her journey to online content creation, Samoan identity, and the way comedy and culture have built a meaningful community online primed not just for likes, but also for action. ​​​​​​​

We bring you the highlights of our live conversation with poet and motivational speaker Ian Manuel, as part of the Brooklyn Public Library's 2024 Night In the Library event. 

October marks LGBTQ History Month, and on this episode of At Liberty we are honoring the legacy of LGBTQ activism throughout the AIDS epidemic. Sarah Schulman is the author of 20 books, her latest being “Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, New York 1987-1993” which documents the people and tactics behind ACT UP’s success. Sarah is also the co-director of the ACT UP Oral History Project. She joins us today to share her expertise and remember the movement.

We confront one troubling question: Why are students being fined by police in schools? 20-year-old Amara Harris is one of those students. She’s entering her senior year at Spelman College, finally free from an alleged theft fine that she received as a high school student in Naperville, Illinois. She joined us to explain how a misunderstanding over a pair of lost AirPods led to a trial four years in the making.​​​​​​​

We speak with Sarah Schulman, a novelist, journalist, playwright, and AIDS historian, who is fighting to ensure that we remember the history of ACT UP and its lasting victories.

​​​​​​​Last year, in November of 2022 Dexter Barry was experiencing a renewed sense of health and stability in his life. This was all thanks to a heart transplant that he received after waiting for an organ for 12 years while battling ongoing heart complications. That month, Barry got into a verbal dispute with his neighbor in Jacksonville, Florida. The incident resulted in a misdemeanor arrest that kept him in jail for two days without anti-rejection medication for his transplant, despite several pleas for it. Three days after he was released from jail, he died from cardiac arrest that was caused by an acute rejection of his heart. We’re joined by his children Janelle King and Dexter Barry Jr., who are amplifying their dad’s story to get justice and prevent what happened to him from happening to anyone else.

​​​​​​​Texas is banning more books than any other, eliminating libraries, and through these decisions, targeting low-income students of color. We're joined by Becky Calzada and Deborah Hall, two Texas librarians who are advocating for students and the future of their profession. Then, we hear from ACLU of Texas attorney Chloe Kempf, to help explain how the rise in education censorship infringes on students’ civil rights.

​​​​​​​In the cases of Students for Fair Admissions. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, the Supreme Court — in a 6 to 3 decision — overturned affirmative action in higher education.  Joining us to unpack the decision is ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.

​​​​​​​One year out from the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade, we confront the consequences of losing the legal right to an abortion. We at the ACLU asked you to share how your life has been impacted by the overturn of Roe and the abortion bans that followed. We received hundreds of submissions from folks all across the country.