Jonaki Mehta

Updated June 7, 2021 at 5:00 PM ET

In the early months of India's coronavirus pandemic, Manisha Pande recalls watching the evening news tell the public to go outside and bang pots and pans in solidarity with healthcare workers. She says that the energy was very "we're going to fight this thing together," encouraged by Prime Minister Narenda Modi.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Rock, pop, punk and fun - these are some of the flavors Japanese band CHAI captures in their genre-fluid music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PING PONG!")

CHAI: (Singing) You and me, racket and ball.

This story is part of an NPR series, We Hold These Truths, on American democracy.

Last summer, DonnaLee Norrington had a dream about owning a home. Not the figurative kind, but a literal dream, as she slept in the rental studio apartment in South Los Angeles that she was sharing with a friend.

At around 2 a.m., Norrington remembers, "God said to me, 'Why don't you get a mortgage that doesn't move?' And in my head I knew that meant a fixed mortgage."

For Simranjit Singh, spending time in his family's almond and raisin fields is "the most therapeutic thing I could ever ask for." He says it's something he could never give up.

Singh is a 28-year-old farmer in a town 15 miles west of Fresno, Calif., called Kerman.

His extended family gathered on the farm last weekend to celebrate Vaisakhi, a farming holiday celebrated annually on April 13 or 14, and throughout the month.

Home: It's where a lot of us have been spending our time since March 2020. For Mike Milosh, leader of the R&B music collective Rhye, the word has taken on new meaning — he's gone from life on the road to a more permanent idea of home at his house outside Los Angeles, where he created his latest studio album. But the sound of this record was conceived well before the pandemic: It began with the idea of wanting to include a choir, which led to Milosh inviting the Danish National Girls' Choir to come to the U.S.

The year of large racial justice protests led to an unprecedented number of Confederate symbols being removed around the country.

More than 100 Confederate symbols have been removed from public spaces or renamed since George Floyd was killed, according to a count by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Across the country, students of color have been demanding change from their schools. At one Denver school, the push for a more inclusive and diverse curriculum came last year, from a group of African American high school students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College.

Pirette McKamey is fighting for anti-racist education.

Over her more than 30 years as an educator, the principal at Mission High School in San Francisco spent a decade leading an anti-racism committee.

In the wake of ongoing protests for racial justice, young people in America are demanding change from their schools.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The decision is often framed as a landmark decision that transformed education for Black students, allowing them equal access to integrated classrooms.

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