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The Syllabus: What you need to know for the July 13 'MHP'

The prosecution and defense teams in the George Zimmerman trial made their closing arguments, so it is up to the jury to decide a case that sparked a nationwide
George Zimmerman during trial. (Photo by Gary W. Green/AP/ Orlando Sentinel)
George Zimmerman during trial.

The prosecution and defense teams in the George Zimmerman trial made their closing arguments, so it is up to the jury to decide a case that sparked a nationwide debate about guns, race, self-defense, and Florida’s "stand your ground" law. The jury will resume deliberating Saturday morning at 9am ET, one hour before Melissa Harris-Perry goes live on msnbc.

Regardless of the jury’s decision, recent actions by the Broward County Sheriff’s department and some news outlets are creating a climate of fear in anticipation of the potential public reaction. On Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry our host and panel will discuss the fear-mongering about the possibility of violent African-American riots if Zimmerman is acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the February 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. (For a look at what life is like for black residents of Sanford, where Martin was killed, read Trymaine Lee's report here on

Martin is one face of underlying racial tensions in America; another young African-American man--Oscar Grant III--emerged as a similar symbol four years earlier when he was gunned down by police in an Oakland, CA., transit station on New Year's Eve 2009. Grant’s story has resurfaced as a result of the movie Fruitvale Station, an independent film that chronicles the last day of Grant’s life. The movie opens in select cities today and nationwide on July 26. Host Melissa Harris-Perry will be joined by the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, to discuss the film and the parallels between Martin and Grant--who were both unarmed, black, and presumed dangerous.

The definition of torture has long been a contentious debate both domestically and internationally. Recently, the practice of force feeding inmates who are participating in hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay has become of a subject of protest, especially as Muslims enter the holy month of Ramadan. Hip-hop artist and actor Yasiin Bey–formerly known as Mos Def–recently volunteered to be force fed in the same manner as these prisoners in order to shed light on the controversial process. Saturday’s show will talk about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as well as those in California’s Pelican Bay Prison who have started hunger strikes in protest of what they deem to be the cruel and unusual punishment of solitary confinement.

All eyes are now on two local New York City political races. Eliot Spitzer took to the streets this week to gather the signatures needed for his petition to run for New York City Comptroller. Though the position is a far cry from where he once reigned as governor, Spitzer’s political resurrection is yet another example of a politician working to battle his way back from scandal. Harris-Perry will welcome one who knows--former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry--to discuss the vices that befall some of our highest regarded politicians. Whether it be sex or money, many successful politicians have let temptation get the better of them. Our host and panel will discuss what it is about these disgraced politicians that keeps them coming back--or in Virginia Governor McDonnell’s case, hanging on.

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