Midday contributor Sheri Parks engages culture critic Martha Bayles on American entertainment's influence on world opinion. Bayles argues that by allowing our chief cultural exports -- violent movies, reality TV, vulgar music -- to serve as the nation's de facto ambassadors, the world gets a distorted view of American values. The US no longer shares the best of itself, she says, and there are consequences to that.
As the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act approaches, Midday features the story of James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first African-American student at the University of Mississippi. Four years later, as Meredith led a “March Against Fear” to promote black voter registration, he was wounded by a gunman, a moment captured in an iconic photograph. What followed was one of the central dramas of the civil rights era.