Kate Sheppard

Kate Sheppard is a political reporter at Grist, and a former Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles


Too often, all public discussion of Martin Luther King Jr. 's legacy makes him into a soft, non-threatening shell of who the man he actually was. But on the 40th anniversary of his assassination, I've actually been heartened to see the coverage of King's real and often very radical legacy, rather than simply focusing on his dreams of a legal grant of civil rights to African Americans. The Washington Post has a fantastic cover story on Dr. King today, and our own Kai Wright offers a significant testimony over on TAP Online as well. Then of course there's the push to reopen conversation about his proposals for addressing economic disparity, which I noted yesterday . For King, the problems of racism, poverty and war were inextricably linked, and presented a united threat to equity and justice in this country and this world. While his quest achieved legal recognition of the rights that should be granted to all Americans, if he were still alive today, he would surely still have much to say...


I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds John McCain 's latest web video entirely creepy. But more than creepy, I have to wonder how effective it will be, as it implies that the only way to understand war, serve one's country, and be a true patriot is to go to war. Now I understand that there are many Americans whose deep appreciation for those who have served in the military would lead them to believe this is true. But there's also a sizable number that haven't personally served and recognize that there are plenty of other ways of being patriotic and offering up one's life in service. And there are cases where that means opposing unjust wars and the mentality that would lead us to perpetrate them. I'm dubious as to how far this sort of message can carry him, but also somewhat afraid that it will. --Kate Sheppard


Forty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. , several black economists are marking the anniversary of his death with a renewed call to embrace King's proposals about how to reduce poverty and inequity in this country. Steven Pitts , labor specialist with the University of California-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, and William Spriggs , chair of the Howard University Department of Economics, released a report on the subject yesterday, "Beyond the Mountaintop: King's Prescription for Poverty." As they say in the report, King talked about reaching a "promised land" of social and economic justice, today "we seem to be paralyzed outside the gates of the city." In the report, Spriggs and Pitts advance three specific proposals for reducing poverty: stronger anti-discrimination laws and enforcement of those laws, elimination the barriers to unionization, and an effective minimum wage. These are the same policy initiatives that King advocated in order to...

Can Obama Make the Populist Case in Pennsylvania?

Barack Obama is fine-tuning his populism in order to gain ground in what has seemed like a Clinton stronghold.

When a Wilkes-Barre resident asked Barack Obama about rising gas prices earlier this week, the candidate responded with a story about watching March Madness in a local bar with Sen. Bob Casey. "We were talking to a guy sitting next to us who was out of work," he told the 1,500 Wilkes-Barre residents gathered in a gymnasium on Tuesday. "And it should be obvious to so many of us, but sometimes you don't think about it. He's out of work. He's having to drive around looking for work. He said it's killing him to try to fill up the gas tank just to get to an interview for a job. You're out of work, you're just burning up money filling up the tank." The Wilkes-Barre speech was part of Obama's six-day "Road to Change" Pennsylvania bus tour, which stretched from the western Rust Belt region of the state, up to the northeastern coal-mining and post-industrial towns, and south to Philadelphia. At community centers, local bars, and bowling alleys, the candidate set aside much of his soaring...


GQ has an interesting and often repugnant Q&A with Karl Rove , covering everything from his million dollar plus book deal to his thoughts on the Democratic presidential candidates. This is one of the most interesting parts, perhaps: I get the sense you respect Hillary more than you respect Obama. Off the record? Please don't go off the record. Off the record… [Yeah, it's good. Sorry.] Damn! Now say that on the record. No. Nope. Nope. Nope. Let's try again, then: on the record. I get the sense you respect her more than him. Uh, I know her better than I know him. And I just, uh—she has been around public life a lot longer and has demonstrated, you know, more involvement than he has. He equivocates, however, on which candidate he thinks poses the biggest threat to McCain. The whole thing is pretty interesting, if you're wondering what Bush's Brain thinks about the primary in general. Read it here . --Kate Sheppard