Arizona PBS to air Sandra Day O'Connor documentary Sept. 13

A premiere event and panel discussion for members is scheduled for Sept. 8


September 3, 2021

Arizona PBS will honor the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with the national premiere of “Sandra Day O’Connor: The First” from 8 to 10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, on “American Experience” on Channel 8.1.

An encore presentation is scheduled for 11 p.m. Sept. 13, with subsequent airings at 2 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor Former Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. Download Full Image

In addition, Arizona PBS will host a special virtual preview of the documentary for its members at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, followed by a panel discussion led by Mi-Ai Parrish, managing director of ASU Media Enterprise and a member of the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy’s board of directors. Panelists Nicole Maroulakos Goodwin, managing shareholder of the Phoenix office of Greenberg Traurig, and Leezie Kim, chief legal officer at Fox Restaurant Concepts, will discuss O’Connor’s legacy on the court and her influence in Arizona.

O’Connor was the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court after she was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. She spent 25 years on the court, emerging as one of the more moderate justices of the time.

O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, and was raised on a cattle ranch near Duncan, Arizona. She graduated at the top of her class from Stanford Law School but focused on volunteer work and public service after law firms refused to interview her because she was a woman. 

This led to her rise through the ranks of the Arizona Republican party from precinct captain to Arizona’s assistant attorney general to the first female state Senate majority leader in the nation. O’Connor was a state Court of Appeals judge when she was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Reagan, who had made a campaign promise to name a woman to the highest bench. At the time of her appointment, she had never heard a federal case, but was well-regarded and well-connected within the Republican party. 

Her hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee were the first of any Supreme Court nominee to be broadcast live on television, and tens of millions tuned in. O’Connor’s interrogators attempted, time and again over three days, to probe her about her views on the most controversial issues of the time. Her Senate confirmation was unanimous at 99 votes to 0, and she was officially sworn in on Sept. 25, 1981.

During her tenure, O’Connor was frequently viewed as a swing vote due to her moderate stance on various issues, as well as a judge who could negotiate with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. She served as the critical deciding vote on some of the most controversial issues of the 20th century, including those involving race, gender and reproductive rights. O’Connor was the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore in 2000, which gave the presidential election to George W. Bush.

O’Connor retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. This PBS biography, released on the 40th anniversary of her appointment to the highest court, recounts the life of a pioneering woman who both reflected and shaped an era.

To confirm your Arizona PBS membership and register for the virtual event, please contact Paulina Sanchez at paulina.sanchez@asu.edu.

Jamar Younger

Associate Editor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Essays explore altered social experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic


September 3, 2021

The Pandemic Reader” is a new collection of essays edited by faculty in Arizona State University's School of Social Transformation, in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The collection explores the multitude of ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed life in every aspect. As people around the world try to navigate challenges and revelations that have unfolded in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the faculty involved in the project say it is still crucial to consider the societal impact at large, and what it will mean down the line.  mugshot photos of four women School of Social Transformation faculty members (from left): Mako Fitts Ward, assistant professor, African and African American studies; Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis, senior lecturer, women and gender studies; Jennifer A. Sandlin, professor, justice and social inquiry; Christine L. Holman, senior lecturer, justice and social inquiry. Download Full Image

“Our collection of essays, articles and activities are designed to assist in both understanding and deconstructing the ways in which the pandemic has impacted our lives — as individuals, families and communities," said editor Christine L. Holman, senior lecturer, justice and social inquiry.

“The Pandemic Reader” draws from research, writings and discussions by journalists, students, community activists and academics who have formed teachable viewpoints on the world’s current state of affairs. The contributors come from a wide range of specialties from economics to pediatrics to epidemiology and investigative reporting. 

The editors of this collection are Mako Fitts WardJennifer A. SandlinMichelle McGibbney Vlahoulis and Holman. They helped bolster the sociohistorical framework and evidence-based responses used to address issues such as: pandemic racism, coronavirus capitalism, communications surrounding exposure and protection, pandemic leadership, and social messaging.

The Pandemic Reader book cover

In addition to offering thought-provoking narratives, “The Pandemic Reader” strives to serve as a blueprint for new teaching strategies as communities relearn how to connect and move forward.

Sandlin says the book is “an attempt to expose the cracks in systems that have become too wide to ignore."

"It’s important to provide context to understand how the multiple pandemics of 2020 — including COVID-19 and dismantling structural racism — exacerbated vast disparities that have existed and been cultivated for decades and even centuries,” she said. 

This book aims to provide a resource for courses on social justice and introduce critical perspectives for enlightening classroom discussions. After engaging with this material, the intended outcome is that COVID-era inequities are magnified, to inspire new perspectives and necessary change.

The book is available in e-book and paperback at diopress.com/the-pandemic-reader.

Communication and Marketing Coordinator, School of Social Transformation