Fireworks explode behind the Olympic torch after it was lit at end of the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7, 2014.
Photo by Bernat Armangue/AP

The February 8 ‘MHP’ Syllabus

Updated

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia officially began on Friday, as nearly 2,900 athletes marched into Fisht Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony. While spectators watched the elaborate performances, the real center of attention was the man who fired the starting gun for the Games: Russian president Vladimir Putin.

For him, the Olympics are a chance to showcase a modern and resurgent Russia. However, given the continued security threat and the recent barrage of anti-gay laws, the international response and visible demonstrations to those laws (not to mention the allegations that Sochi accommodations are less than accommodating), the Games may highlight Russia’s internal strife rather than its progress.

Republicans in Missouri are working to add a constitutional amendment to the ballot this November that would open the door to a separate bill requiring voters to show photo ID. The state supreme court already ruled that a voter-ID law was unconstitutional in 2006; hence the need for a constitutional amendment before a voter-ID law could pass. State Republicans say they have now fixed what the court found objectionable in previous voter-ID measures. On Saturday’s MHP, we’ll be joined by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander to discuss his concerns with the legislation.

There are two significant rallies being held this weekend. In Miami, the “I Am Trayvon Day of Remembrance Peace Walk” gets underway Saturday morning. Trayvon Martin would have been 19 years old on February 5th. And in North Carolina, the “Moral Mondays” protest has expanded to a Saturday Moral March on the state capitol. Activists will demand changes in education, health care, criminal justice, economic sustainability, and voting rights.

The federal government’s wire-tapping and surveillance of the Civil Rights Movement is well documented. But what happened on the state level? The story of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission is perhaps the biggest untold story of the Civil Rights movement. It’s a story of how one state decided to spy on its own citizens in an effort to siphon information from Civil Rights activists and scare others away. On Saturday, director and producer Dawn Porter will join us to discuss her new documentary, The Spies of Mississippi, which chronicles just how far Mississippi was willing to go to maintain its racial status quo.

Be sure to read what we’ve linked above, and watch Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET – due to the Olympics – on MSNBC! Also, don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #nerdland.

Melissa Harris-Perry, Mississippi, Missouri, Olympics, Trayvon Martin and Voting Rights

The February 8 'MHP' Syllabus

Updated