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The Syllabus: What you need to know for the July 21 'MHP'

Laid out for us in the First Amendment is “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This
AP Photo/Alex Menendez
AP Photo/Alex Menendez

Laid out for us in the First Amendment is “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This fundamental right brought us women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Act. More recently, it gave power to hundreds who marched in cities across the country calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman and power to those who will keep gathering to demand further federal action. The first amendment gave Texas women the right to protest the signing of HB2. In North Carolina Moral Mondays continue to draw more and more protesters to petition the General Assembly. But unlike historic demands for institutional change, modern protests seem to lack results. A quick glance at history makes it seem like those victories were won in a matter of years when in actuality those fundamental victories were a result of years and years of struggle, failure, and persistence. On Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry our host and panel will discuss the nature of protest and that notion that victory can be born from defeat as long as you persevere.

Last week’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and President Obama’s subsequent remarks have put the lives of teenage African-American boys in the spotlight. Social media outlets have erupted with personal stories and expressions of frustration and fear all illustrating what it means to be African-American in the United States in 2013. On Sunday’s show, we in Nerdland will explore what it means to “grow up Trayvon.” From the 16 year-old high school junior to the grown man whose mother still worries about his safety, we’ve asked you to give us some insight on your own experiences as our national dialogue continues to grow. If you’d like to share your thoughts, we would love to read them and learn from them, just send an email to, tweet at #caringforchildren, or visit our Facebook page, be sure to first read the terms of submission.

In the past week several high profile individuals have weighed in on the George Zimmerman verdict. Stevie Wonder has pledged not to perform in states with Stand Your Ground laws, and Beyonce and JayZ attended a rally in New York City. While a celebrity endorsement certainly helps in garnering support for a cause, it does not guarantee results. Tomorrow, Harris-Perry and her guests will discuss the realistic effectiveness of discussing social issues such as race within the sphere of politics and celebrity.

While the world anxiously awaits the birth of the next "royal baby," our host and panel will examine instances in which pregnancies are not highly anticipated, much less planned. Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a new law that bans abortions after 20 weeks and creates restrictions that could shut down the majority of legal abortion providers in the state. Harris-Perry will take a deep dive into the the all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights from sexual education to the availability of contraception.

Plus, Broadway is coming to Nerdland! Billy Porter, one of the stars of the Tony Award winning Kinky Boots, will be on set live.

Of course, we will bring you all the crazy headlines we couldn’t fit anywhere else into two hours in this week’s installment of “WOW…Seriously?!”

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