The Syllabus: What you should know for the May 4 ‘MHP’

Updated
President Barack Obama answers questions during his new conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013.
President Barack Obama answers questions during his new conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013.
: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

After President Obama’s performance in front of the White House press corps on Tuesday, it was clear that he’s already singing the second-term blues. On Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, our host will discuss why the president is feeling trapped by a Republican minority in a Congress that seems to block him on every road. The Obama of 2009 who pushed the stimulus package and the Lilly Ledbetter Act–among other large pieces of legislation–has given way to an Obama forced to condemn Congress for failing to pass bills like a common sense background check bill supported by 90% of America.

Melissa will also dive into the controversial Pigford vs. Glickman case that made headlines recently in The New York Times article “U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination.” To jog your memory, in 1997 a number of black farmers sued the USDA claiming that the USDA was denying or limiting the loans they gave to black farmers. This claim was further substantiated by numbers showing a 93% drop in African-American farmers from 1940-1974. The farmers won, but controversy arose about the appropriation practices of the compensation leading to Pigford Two. The Times now says there is far more corruption occurring than what meets the eye.

In our Writer’s Corner, Melissa will sit down with author and Columbia University political science professor Ira Katznelson to discuss his new book, “Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time.” The book examines President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s revolutionary New Deal legislation, the country’s fears during his presidency, and the tactics FDR used to negotiate with southern Democrats in order to implement his plan.

Saturday’s show will also highlight a new program called “The Mission Continues,” which helps veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan rebuild their lives at home through educational opportunities and community service. msnbc’s Thomas Roberts will join us live from Brooklyn, NY, with a group of vets volunteering at the League School.

We will wrap up out show with a discussion on teaching creationism in schools, specifically in the context of the Louisiana Science Education Act that still stands after a failed repeal attempt this week. Our foot soldier, 19-year-old activist Zack Kopplin, will join us to discuss repeated attempts at repealing the legislation which is catching on in other states such as Tennessee and Missouri.

Watch Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday at 10am ET on msnbc, and be sure to join us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #nerdland!

The Syllabus: What you should know for the May 4 'MHP'

Updated