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Summary

  1. Summer in the City is exploring race relations, policing, inequality and opportunity in the US
  2. We're sharing stories of summer from cities across the US
  3. Watch all the features on the video tab below - and tell us how you think America has changed

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Could you get into a top New York high school?

Try some sample questions

students at CAS tutorial
BBC

These are just a few of the tens of thousands of New York City students spending their summer studying for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT).

The SHSAT is the first step in gaining a spot at the city's top public high schools.

Could you get in? Try some sample questions below. No cheating by looking ahead to the answers!

test sample
Thinkstock

LOGICAL REASONING

1 - Three children—Raquel, Tiara, and Xing— each own one pet. The pets are a parrot, an iguana, and a hamster. Xing does not own the hamster. Which of the following additional pieces of information is needed to determine who owns the iguana?

A. Tiara owns the hamster.

B. Raquel does not own the hamster.

C. Raquel owns the parrot.

D. Xing owns the parrot.

E. Tiara does not own the hamster.

2 - Jack played three instruments in the orchestra. He played violin for two years, cello for three years, and bass for three years. He never played more than two instruments during the same year. The first year, Jack played only the violin. What is the least number of years Jack could have played in the orchestra?

F. 4

G. 5

H. 6

J. 7

K. 8

Studying
BBC

MATHS

How many positive two-digit numbers are evenly divisible by 4?

F. 22

G. 23

H. 24

J. 25

K. 26

The measures of the angles of a triangle are in the ratio 1:2:3. What is the measure of the largest angle?

F. 30

G. 60

H. 90

J. 150

K. 180

studying at Khan Tutorial
BBC

Pencils down - here's the answers

Logical Reasoning

1. - C -  Raquel owns the parrot.

2. - G - 5

Maths

1. -  F - 22

2 -  H - 90

What is Summer in the City?

The National Urban League’s #SaveOurCities conference coincides with the BBC’s own Summer in the City series. 

It’s a season of stories about today’s America – and some of the key issues the US faces. We’ll look at race, policing, inequality and opportunity. 

And as the crowded field of candidates make their pitch for the presidency, we’ll be asking who gets to enjoy the American dream and who gets left behind? 

You can share your stories using #bbcsummercity or email summerinthecity@bbc.co.uk

View more on youtube

Presidential pitches come to an end in Florida

Republican Jeb Bush (left) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (right) during their speeches at the National Urban League's annual conference in Florida - 31 July 2015
Reuters/Getty Images

With Jeb Bush’s speech over, the Urban League’s presidential forum comes to an end. Here's Anthony Zurcher's take on the battle between the two front:

Perhaps not surprisingly, the audience favourite was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – and she seemed to feed on the crowd’s energy. 

If there were some concern that Democrats have been taking the black vote for granted, she wanted the community to know that "your issues are deeply personal to me".

Jeb Bush received polite applause throughout his address. Unlike Mrs Clinton and the other Democrats who spoke today, he gets points just for showing up before this audience.

He noted his defeat in his first run for governor in 1994 as a key turning point that has made him more sensitive to the concerns of the black community.

I went through what some people might call self-reflection – I call living and learning

Jeb Bush

Now its back to the New Hampshire and Iowa dominated campaign trail for the Democrats, while Mr Bush and forum opener Ben Carson begin intense preparations for next week’s Republican presidential debate – which will likely be the biggest moment in their race so far.  

Bush says he's glad it looks like Ben Carson will qualify for next week's debate. "When that thing is over, we might just need a doctor".

'Proudest moment of my life'

Mr Bush praises the decision to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol grounds and boasts that he oversaw the removal of the image from the Florida state flag and “put it in a museum, where it belongs”.

But he shows most passion when he goes on to talk about education reform. 

It's clearly the issue he cares the most about, says Anthony Zurcher, but it's been tough for him to talk about it to Republican audiences because of his past support for Common Core education reform, which is anathema to parts of the right.

We've explored the challenge this poses to Mr Bush before, here

Jeb Bush says day first charter school opened in Florida was one of "happiest, proudest moments of my life"

Jeb Bush says day first charter school opened in Florida was one of "happiest, proudest moments of my life"

Last but not least: Republican Jeb Bush

Our North America reporter tweets:

Jeb Bush gets anchor position in candidate forum at the Urban League. Being introduced as man "looking to win trifecta" for Bush family

Republican Jeb Bush is up next. He's had an up-and-down relationship with the black community in his three races for Florida governor.

When asked what he would do for the black community in his first campaign in 1994, he replied "probably nothing". He won just 5% of the black vote and lost to Democrat Lawton Chiles.

Four years later, in his successful gubernatorial bid, he reached out to the minority community ­and was rewarded with 14% "Republicans have ignored the black voters of this state," he said during a 1998 debate. "And I was a part of that. It was wrong."

The next four years were punctuated by a fight over Mr Bush's proposal to end affirmative action in Florida universities and government contracting ­and that successful effort cost the governor support in his 2002 re-election campaign. His share of the black vote dropped to 6%.

'End mass imprisonment and police violence'

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at the National Urban League"s conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida - 31 July 2015.
Reuters

Mr Sanders said if he becomes president, his administration would be "vigorous" in fighting all forms of discrimination.

"Violence and brutality of any kind, particularly at hands of law enforcement, is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. We must reform our criminal justice system. Black lives do matter, and we must value black lives," he said.

Police should be part of the community, not an oppressive force, Mr Sanders said, adding that education and jobs are better investments than incarceration and prisons.

Bernie Sanders now talking about criminal justice and police violence. “We need to end prisons for profit,” he says to applause.

'Jobs, jobs, jobs'

Bernie Sanders is focusing on jobs and inequality in his speech at the moment. 

The BBC Pop Up team looked at both of these issues last year, asking the residents of one of America’s most dangerous communities what they thought would change their lives. 

"Jobs, jobs, jobs," one Baton Rouge local told them.   

You can watch the report by  @BenjaminZand below. 

View more on youtube

Democrat Bernie Sanders takes the mic

Bernie Sanders is now speaking to the Urban League conference, and he couldn't offer a more stark contrast - both in style and in content - with the two Democratic candidates who preceded him, writes Anthony Zurcher

"Frankly it is too late for establishment policies, it is too late for establishment politics, it is too late for establishment economics," he says in a gravelly voice, occasionally bumping his microphone as he waves his hands for emphasis. 

"We need some new thinking, some bold thinking."

"I ain't a tele-promter guy", @SenSanders says, holding out his Urban League speech on a few sheets of paper #FeelTheBern

"Income inequality is the big moral issue of our time," Sanders said. Sticking with standard stump speech so far

"Income inequality is the big moral issue of our time," Sanders said. Sticking with standard stump speech so far

Clinton shows some passion

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks before the National Urban League - 31 July 2015
AP

Hillary Clinton's speaking style has occasionally been criticised as lacking passion­ of being almost robotic, writes our North America reporter Anthony Zurcher

But she flashed a bit of fire in her speech this morning, taking aim at the man who could be her opponent in the 2016 race, Jeb Bush. 

Although she didn't mention the former Florida governor by name, she repeatedly referenced the name of his political action committee "Right to Rise" and took particular note of his recent comments about public health programmes. 

"I don't think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise and then say you are for phasing out Medicare and repealing Obamacare," she said. "You can't seriously talk about the right to rise and deny laws that support the right to vote," she added. 

"What people say matters, but what they do matters more." 

O'Malley focuses on policing and race

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley speaks at the National Urban League's conference in Fort Lauderdale - 31 July 2015
Reuters

Mr O'Malley mentions the recent deaths of black Americans while in police custody, including Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas jail cell after being pulled over for a traffic offence.

"We have moved toward a fuller respect for one another, but we are not there yet. Every headline or video of abuse, injustice, indifference, reminds us of how far we have to go," he tells the crowd. 

"No American surrenders their dignity because of the colour of their skin. If you don't believe that, you're not qualified to run a city, wear a badge or carry a gun," he added.

Temp of crowd: O'Malley gets round of applause talking about Sandra Bland and reducing prisoner pop in MD @NatUrbanLeague #saveourcities

This might be the best speech I've ever heard O'Malley give.

Democrat Martin O’Malley up next

Former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is speaking now - and he firmly states "black lives matter" early in his speech.

"You and I are part of a living, self-creating mystery called the United States of America," the presidential hopeful tells the crowd. "Our country was not born in perfection, or without original sin."

Still segregating in 2015?

A map of the proposed city of St George
St George campaign

In her speech, Hillary Clinton said “American schools are more segregated today than in 1968”. 

Last October, BBC Pop Up looked at a wealthy white suburb in Louisiana that wanted to split from the city of Baton Rouge. 

Proponents insisted race was not a factor and said they just wanted better schools for their children.

Opponents pointed out the new city would be 70% white - and that the mainly poor and black community in the rest of Baton Rouge would face crippling cuts to education.

You can watch the feature here

Initial reaction to Clinton and Carson

Political reporters tweet:

Carson was not interrupted with applause at all during remarks

Pretty subdued response/applause for Ben Carson.

Much warmer initial reaction for @HillaryClinton than for @RealBenCarson at @NatUrbanLeague conference.

Much warmer initial reaction for @HillaryClinton than for @RealBenCarson at @NatUrbanLeague conference.

Big cheers when Hillary tells #SaveOurCities: "I'm planning to be president" & says every candidate needs to listen to black experience

Clinton gets standing ovation from what looks like a standing room only crowd for @NatUrbanLeague candidates' forum. #SaveOurCities

Hillary Clinton takes to the stage

Our North America reporter tweets:

Hillary Clinton is next to address the Urban League conference. She takes the stage to cheers, saying "This is a great way to start my day"

Hillary showing a bit of fire as she says "we have to see things as they actually are, not how we want things to be".

Hillary showing a bit of fire as she says "we have to see things as they actually are, not how we want things to be".

First up: Republican Ben Carson

Our North America reporter tweets:

First candidate up is @RealBenCarson. Talking about his childhood poverty in usual low key style

First candidate up is @RealBenCarson. Talking about his childhood poverty in usual low key style

"There's a nasty rumour going around that Carson wants to get rid of all welfare programs even though he probably benefitted from them," Mr Carson tells the audience.

"I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to provide a ladder to get people out of dependency."

Outing the no-shows

National Urban League President Marc Morial says all the presidential candidates were invited to speak at today’s event. Three of the five Democratic candidates are here, while only two of the 17 Republicans accepted the offer.

He goes on to name the candidates who said they had “scheduling conflicts” and those who never responded.

“We believe in transparency,” he said.

View more on twitter

Courting the black vote

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (left) and Democrat contender Hillary Clinton
Reuters/AP

Good morning! Today we're covering the National Urban League's annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where a handful of presidential contenders will be speaking.

It'll be the first time since they announced their candidacies that Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush have appeared at the same event.

They, along with Republican Ben Carson and Democrats Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders, are courting the black vote in next year's election ­- a constituency that has been firmly in Barack Obama's camp since 2008.

Could the black vote be up for grabs in 2016? Our North America reporter Anthony Zurcher, who is at the event, answers that question here.

Bodycams on police and the death of Samuel Dubose

Ray Tensing (left) and Samuel Debose
Cincinatti Enquirer/Family Photo

University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been indicted for first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Samuel Dubose, a black motorist whom he shot in the head during a traffic stop on 19 July.

It’s the latest episode in a series of police killings of unarmed black men in the US, which has prompted widespread unrest and the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

In this case, the officer was wearing a body camera – and the prosecuting attorney says the resulting video was a key piece of evidence in building a case.

Earlier this month, BBC Franz Strasser looked at the impact mobile phone video is having on these cases as well as body cameras as they become more widely used among US law enforcement.

The family of Ricardo Diaz Zeferino received $4.7m from the city of Gardena, California after he was shot and killed by police
BBC
The family of Ricardo Diaz Zeferino received $4.7m from the city of Gardena, California after he was shot and killed by police

The BBC will have more coverage of the murder charges and the reaction to it in the coming days.

Will the Cincinnati shooting become an issue in the ongoing US presidential campaign? On Friday BBC’s Anthony Zurcher will report from the annual conference of the National Urban League – a nonpartisan black civil rights organisation - which is host a forum featuring Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Jeb Bush and other US White House aspirants.

A year since Eric Garner's death

Eric Garner and family
AP
Eric Garner (right)

A year ago, a Staten Island man died after a police officer put him in a chokehold and pulled him to the ground. Eric Garner was being arrested on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. 

It was all captured on video by a bystander with a mobile phone. Garner's words, "I can't breathe", became a slogan for protesters nationwide after his death. Large demonstrations followed when a jury declined to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with Garner's death, despite the city medical examiner ruling it a homicide.

View more on twitter

His family has received a $5.9m settlement from the city, but they have said the money does not amount to justice, just a recognition by the city of their loss. As this New York Times photo essay shows, Garner's family, including his mother, continue to join protests against harsh policing they believe is targeted against minorities.

Esaw Garner (C), widow of Eric Garner, sheds a tear while holding a candle during the Interfaith Prayer Service for Healing and Reconciliation at the Mount Sinai United Christian Church in the Staten Island borough of New York July 14, 2015.
Reuters
Esaw Garner (c), widow of Eric Garner, sheds a tear while holding a candle during a prayer service

Video evidence of police misconduct and shootings has changed the conversation about policing and race in the US.

"Now that people are taking video out and putting the spotlight on them... its like, now we have proof," Erica Snipes, his daughter, told the BBC last year.

Erica SNipes
BBC

This week, a judge forced the Los Angeles police department to release a video of a 2013 shooting of two unarmed men, one of whom died.

Again, the police officers involved were not charged, but Los Angeles paid almost $5m to settle a federal lawsuit with the victims and their families.

This overview by the Wall Street Journal shows police payouts for shootings and other incidents has jumped across the country in the past four years - but driven in part by the settlement of much older cases.

Wall Street Journal graph
Wall Street Journal

Last summer, shortly after Garner's death, another police killing case caught the attention of the US and the world - the death of Michael Brown in Missouri. Since then, changes like more body cameras for police have been promised.

But what has really changed in the past year in your city? Have you seen a difference in how police in your city work? Have you changed how you react to them?

Email us at summerinthecity@bbc.co.uk or tweet using the hashtag #BBCSummerCity or text us at +18059944022 (that's a US number)

What's harder than being in prison? Returning home

harrell
BBC

Jondhi Harrell knows what its like to leave prison only to find life on the outside is harder. After serving a 19-year sentence, Harrell works at a re-entry centre in North Philadelphia.

Now Harrell helps those who were like him, working towards a semblance of normalcy. Many of the more than 30,000 people released from prison to Philadelphia each year come back to Harell's neighbourhood, Nicetown

nicetown
BBC

Many return to find that Pennsylvania law prevents them from getting licences to do certain types of work, prevents them from getting housing and sometimes bars them from entering their former neighbourhoods altogether. These types of laws are known as "collateral consequences," and according to a national website that tracks them, Pennsylvania has nearly 1,000 of these restrictions.

"It's become almost like a sport for the legislators to create all these barriers," says Angus Love, a lawyer with the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project.

The BBC's Jessica Lussenhop went to Nicetown to learn why early release and lighter sentences for non-violent drug offences may be only the beginning of criminal justice reform. Read more here.

Why are so many Americans behind bars?

More people are in prison in the US than anywhere else in the world, driven in part by heavy sentences for non-violent drug charges.

President Obama acknowledged that this week, as he launched a fresh bid to reform the US criminal justice system, saying: "Mass incarceration makes our entire country worse off". 

Rajini Vaidyanathan takes a look at how the US prison population got to record levels in this short video:

View more on youtube

We asked you for your thoughts on the issue on the BBC World News Facebook page, and you didn't hold back.

"Why? Because prisons are big business in the US," writes Robert Mingione

Julie Langston argues that sending drug dealers to prison makes sense but says it's "appalling how many people are in prison for simply possessing personal amounts of drugs".

While Jon Goldson feels the real problem is the effect prison can have on low-level offenders: "By sending drug offenders to jail it enables networking between these nonviolent offenders and criminal gangs."

Not everyone agreed though. Judy Meyer wrote: "In my opinion there should be MORE people behind bars. Don't tell me that the business of drugs is nonviolent."

And Donamarie Darnell agreed. "Why? Because of lack of morals and poor upbringing. Choosing to break the law is just that, a choice."

You can read the full discussion on Facebook here

You can also join the debate with us on Twitter via @BBCNewsUS, like Trevor Carlson did:

View more on twitter

Tomorrow, we'll be taking a look at a neighbourhood in Philadelphia that has been badly affected by a high incarceration rate. 

In the meantime, take a look at this great series of maps and charts produced by Vox on how the US ended up with the world's largest prison population. 

This one, for instance, shows how the rate of violent crime in America is much lower than it was two decades ago - yet the public perception is that it's been getting worse. 

A chart produced by Gallup showing the rate of violent crime in the US compared to the public perception
Gallup

So how do you feel? Safer? More afraid? Let us know your thoughts by using the hashtag #BBCSummerCity on Twitter, emailing us at summerinthecity@bbc.co.uk or texting +18059940222 (that's a US number)  

A 12-year-old on the Baltimore riots and summer in his city

Tay is 12 years old and lives in Baltimore near where riots broke out in April 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray. He tells the BBC what it was like during that time, and how he feels about the relationship between police and the community.

View more on youtube

'The church had a responsibility'

Rev Jamal Bryant began the Freddie Gray community centre, after protests following the death of Gray while in police custody several months ago.

"After seeing so much of the unrest was centred around issues connected to young people - I thought the church had a responsibility," Bryant tells the BBC.

Bryant
BBC

He adds economic development can make a change - "So many young people like Freddie Gray are absent of job opportunities and a place where they can thrive".

How US students feel about school security

Three Washington DC students tell the BBC how school security - metal detectors, police and security guards - affects their education .

View more on youtube

Does school security make you feel the same way? What does keeping students safe look like near you? Tell us more by using the hashtag #BBCSummerCity on Twitter or texting +18059940222 (that's a US number)

'Treated like criminals'

Fatima shares her story
BBC

Some students across the US must undergo security screening before entering their schools each day - and many schools have security guards, police officers or both on premises. 

A Washington, DC after-school programme called Critical Exposure brought a group of students together to discuss these practices.

Fatima, one of Critical Exposure's participants, told the BBC about how such security changes how she sees her education.

Check back for other students' reactions to school security on Monday

Children play in Baltimore
Getty Images

Its the 4th of July - America's independence day - and most students are no longer in school. 

So how do young Americans celebrate their independence? What does the "freedom" of summer look like for you?

Tweet us at @BBCNewsUS.

A season of stories on today's America

View more on youtube

On a hot day last summer, Michael Brown was shot dead by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, his body left for hours in the beating sun. 

The resulting unrest – and the questions it raised about race, class, and use of force – kicked off a debate in the US that has been going on ever since

Demonstrators hold signs as they protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 15, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Getty Images

From Baltimore to Charleston to a Dallas pool party, Americans are re-examining their notions about who’s really free, who gets to be brave, and whether there really is equal justice for all.

It’s not just about black and white.

As presidential candidates spend this summer at county fairs and backyard barbeques trying to court voters, people are talking about who has access to the best America has to offer – and who gets left behind.

They are complicated questions with complex answers – topics that were avoided for years in the US, or written off as unimportant

Jaeleen Ramirez (R), age 10, and Caesar Soto, age 10, cool off in a fountain on September 2, 2014 in New York City
Getty Images
girl walks with a sun umbrella on a hot day in the East Village in Manhattan on June 11, 2015 in New York City.
Getty Images

But it’s summer once again in American cities, and the country is still grappling with the varied experiences and opportunities offered to people who call themselves “American”.

Throughout July and August, BBC News will be exploring these issues – and we want you to get involved.

Tell us what stories we should be covering and what you are seeing in your own city by replying to us on Twitter (@BBCNewsUS). And follow more on our Facebook (BBC News) feed.