OK, so I'm going to record going on my morning run is six forty five. So here we go. Keyes mask phone group. I run, I run a lot, I run by myself. I was on good morning, how are you? I'm fine running to be actually quite meditative. And what I am thinking about, I'm usually I'm thinking about my day and recently I'm thinking a lot about the people who have come before me. I'm thinking a lot about the lessons my grandparents taught me without actually saying anything.
Namely, that if the people you love and I love black people need something and you've got it, you have to share it. From a New York Times. I'm Michael Barbaro. This is daily today. As protests against police brutality enter their third month, meaningful reform remains elusive. My colleague Caitlin Dickerson spoke with one demonstrator about her journey to the front lines and the lessons she's learned about the pace of change. It's Wednesday, August 5th.
So let's jump in and I think starting at the beginning would be great.
Yeah, so my name is Sharon Thabazimbi. I grew up in the Watts section of Los Angeles, and I was raised by my grandparents because my mother struggled with addiction and could not raise us and my father was incarcerated. So Sharon Dabashi is born in 1984 and she grows up in the care of her grandparents who moved to Los Angeles, both from Louisiana during the Great Migration.
So right now, it's a household that is really kind of steeped in the past, steeped in music.
My grandfather was a pretty big James Brown fan. My grandfather loved Sam Cooke. And so themes around race were pretty present and the music they played.
There's a Sam Cooke song called Last Mile of the Way.
It's a gospel song. But one of the things that I remember talking to my grandfather about was work and how the song talked about work and physical labor and as a sort of metaphor for kind of getting to heaven and how just angry he was about that being the only promise for safety and reward we had as black people with. What were you like as a kid? I think it really depends on who you ask. I was always a really good student.
I always earned really good grades. I was always at the top of my class. My grandparents said there were two things we always had to do in our house, and that was go to school and go to church. But I have always had sort of a knack, I guess you could say, for challenging authority, always asking why about the things I see around me. Mm hmm. And so I really credit my grandmother. And so I really credit my grandmother and, you know, her standing behind me and saying to me, like, if you have questions, you should ask them.
And if a person in authority tries to sort of, you know, push back or squash that in you, I got your back. And that mattered to me tremendously. As a young person, I think that she wished that she had asked why more? Mm. I think she realized that she likely would have made a different set of decisions had she questioned what was expected of a poor black girl born in 1932 in New Orleans.
Sharon is very close to her grandmother and her grandmother works hard basically to shape Sharada into this young woman who knows her history, understands what her family's been through, what her ancestors have been through, and also to feel free to build the life that she wants.
My grandmother told me that I only have to do two things in this life in that stay black and die and that it was my life and it was mine to live as I chose. Right.
Her saying stay black and die, saying those two things are going to happen and anything else is really up to you, right?
Correct. So how do these teachings inform Sarandos view of this neighborhood around her?
You know, she remembers a community with a lot of police, but not a whole lot of protection.
This is sort of the height of the war on drugs and the war against gangs. So I see police everywhere. And yet there are regular and consistent drive by shootings. I see police pulling people over. I see men thrown up against walls. Mostly those are the images that stick with me. And still, I know people whose homes have been robbed. And so I'm like, the police are everywhere and yet the crime that harms us still happens. How is that?
Her grandparents taught her very early on, basically, that the police were not her friends. And the message that she got was actually that her grandparents were there to protect her from the police.
So as a kid, she internalizes this message of caution and it comes out in interactions with the police. But that's not the only way it comes out. Mm hmm. For example, one Sunday after church, she's walking with her grandmother to this meat market that they used to go to all the time because it was kind of on the other side of town, but it was near their church. So they would always stop there on the way home. And her grandmother would be humming the music that they'd heard in church that day.
But she was at the meat counter and I sort of wandered off as kids do. And I remember a man had come from behind the meat counter to say to me, like, you better go back with your mom. And there was something about his tone that immediately sort of shifted when I said, that's not my mom. He was not expecting like a kid to talk back to him. No one. And I think especially not a black kid to talk back to him.
And it's very clear that he's upset about this whole situation. There's just this tension that makes her a little nervous, and I could tell as we walked away that my grandmother actually was a little shaken by it.
I didn't know why I didn't have the language to say why, but I never wandered off again.
That day eventually makes a lot more sense to Sharon. A few years later, because of something that happens in her community, the girl was killed over a bottle of orange juice, over a bottle of orange juice.
Store owner Sunjammer Doo thought. Fifteen year old Latasha Harlins was going to steal some orange juice.
Harland's, who is a 15 year old teenager in 1991 when she walks into a grocery store in South Los Angeles and she picks up a bottle of orange juice worth a dollar and seventy nine cents.
And people who are in the store say that Latasha puts the orange juice in her backpack and she has two dollars in her hand and she's walking toward the counter when the store owner grabs Latasha sweater and Latasha punches her in the face and she puts the orange juice on the counter and she heads for the door and the store owner picks up a handgun and shoots her in the back of the head, killing her instantly. What happened?
The store owner accused Harlan's of stealing the juice.
There was a confrontation and she sees why her grandmother was so nervous for her that day in the store. All right. It was an injustice. Justice has been served. This lady has killed my 15 year old granddaughter and she got away with five years probation. But this is an injustice. My mom. It's right around this time that a video surfaces in Los Angeles.
Outrage grows over a videotape of police beating an unarmed motorist, Rodney King being brutally beaten by police involving white police officers, beating a man they had just pulled over to a cameraman recorded at all.
The incident really takes over Los Angeles.
It takes over Watts, where Sharada lives here outside Parker Center, where for some reason her grandparents had TVs in almost every room in the house and they were blaring day and night television.
I had to come here and let my boy, where are these people?
And I remember, you know, my grandparents hosted a regular spade's game, right where my aunts and uncles and cousins would come by. And I remember just.
A hearing at the card table, conversations about and debates about what they thought would happen, who they thought would actually be convicted of anything, one of my uncles, I remember just he he was fiery. But in this moment, he just sort of was like, man, we know nothing can happen. Like, we might as well just play cards.
And that just did not make sense to me. And I did not understand why my uncle thought that, because my seven year old brain was like, they did something wrong. They will be punished. Right. And my seven year old brain didn't understand that. That's not how things work here. Like he knew something that she didn't couldn't possibly given her age. He understood the kind of different. Form of gravity in the universe. That's a good way of putting it, there was a different force like gravity, something else that she hadn't learned about in school that she wasn't familiar with yet.
But that was going to impact this, you know, trajectory or natural order of things that she had been taught so far in her life here outside Parker Center, where protesters have descended on her place. One question on everyone's mind is, how did this jury see the same videotape that the world saw and reach the conclusion that no crime was being committed? Other than I've met the challenges and I don't think I started crying. I mean, that that hurt.
We are Rodney King here. We are human made love. We all across the hall and we're not that jury. And then I remember going back to church and going back to school. Oh.
And just not talking about it. But all around me, I could see the burned buildings, right, like the Pep Boys wasn't there anymore, right? The supermarket wasn't there anymore. And we just didn't talk about it. So Sharona and her family go back to normal, kind of as if nothing ever happened until a few years later when their whole lives are upended.
So I'm 13 and I come home after my babysitting job. It's about nine o'clock, right? Not too late. And I have a late dinner by myself. My grandmother is in her room probably watching either in the heat of the night or Matlock, and we chat for a little bit. I say good night, I love you. I give her a kiss, I head to bed, and in the middle of the night I wake up because my grandfather is screaming my name and saying, call nine one one, call nine one one.
And my grandmother is having a heart attack. Her grandmother is taken to Martin Luther King Hospital. It's a public hospital and it's known in the community as Killer King, known for not providing good care. And when the doctor, a white man, walked in, my sister and I just started wailing.
We knew that doctors didn't make time for you unless things were really bad. And we just sort of knew.
And for Sharon to she's really taking note of the conversations around her, we have a funeral and people are at the house and, you know, aunts and uncles and church members come by and, you know, you hear over and over again, well, why did they take her to King or oh, lord, she went to King. And there was just this sense that, you know, maybe things could have been different if she had gone somewhere else.
And you just you'll never know. And so she becomes a really angry kid, I was pretty angry at God when my grandmother died. I felt like I had been dealt a pretty short hand already. On the parent front, parents who struggled with addiction, a father who was incarcerated, a mother who was absent for most of my life, and then to take the only mother I had ever known. At 13, I just I didn't know what kind of God would do that.
So I enter high school just mad at the world and mad at authority in particular, she gets in a lot of fights, a lot of fights, but there are a couple of teachers who she gets along with really well, who seem to understand what she's going through, see it for what it is, and they're pretty determined to help her through it.
So there's one teacher in particular, her English teacher, Mrs. Campbell, and she says to Sharada, you know, you could really do something with all this anger that you're feeling. And Sharon is like, what do you mean? I thought initially that my teachers were going to have me do something wacky, like a petition drive or join student government, and I had no interest in doing that.
And Mrs. Campbell says you can protest, you can try to change these things that you don't think are fair. You can become an activist. And what did she want to make of that? It really resonates with her and she decides to participate in a school walkout for the first time, and it's one that's being organized because some of her peers were upset that they were attending a school called George Washington High that was named after a slave owner. And on the day of the walkout, you know, she remembers pausing before she reached the doors of the school looking around, and I remember security guards standing at the gates and saying, if you walk out, we're going to report your name to the front office.
And she just takes this deep breath, like, am I doing this?
If I had to call my grandfather and say, Grandpa, I'm at the police station because I walked out of school, I, I, I couldn't imagine having to do that and then exhales and decides she's doing this. I got to walk out. So she blows past the security guard out the doors. She remembers feeling, you know, the fresh air on her skin and just feeling a release, a release that feels productive.
I think I was setting out to prove to myself and to others that, as the kids say now, I was about this life, right. That I could work up the courage to stand up to authority in a way that could result in real consequences for me.
Mm hmm. It's my life and I get to do with it what I want. You know, Sharon has been taught from childhood that there are two inevitable realities in life and the rest is really up to her. And this is the first moment of her starting to figure out what does she want to do in between.
As you can imagine, that that meant sometimes that I was going to decide against my grandfather's wishes to walk out of school. He wasn't always thrilled about that. But, yeah, I was very clear that I got to do what I wanted. And once she figures that out in the next few years really kind of fall into place for Shawanda.
So she continues to participate in protests over not just the name of her school, but the amount of funding that it gets from the city, the very low graduation rates that it has, and that evolves naturally into her after graduating college, deciding to become a teacher herself to try to address some of these inequities that she saw when she was growing up.
Welcome, Barack Obama. And around the same time Barack Obama campaigns for president, which is this really kind of electric moment for young black professionals.
Look at all of you. So for the first time in a long time, you had an entire generation of young people and young professionals who were just out of college in their first jobs and got picked up by the Obama machine.
And she volunteers for the campaign and she meets a lot of other like minded organizers. You're young, you're black, you're a professional. You just kind of know each other, work with you. Together, we can finish the work that needs to be done in a new birth of freedom on this earth. Thank you very much. And then something happens that really changes the trajectory of Miranda's life. Actually, two things happen that change the trajectory of where she's headed.
She's living in New York City, working in education when Trayvon Martin is killed in Florida.
And so we began to show up to marches and we began to show up to protest, and I think one of the things that is beautiful about this particular moment is that there is this sense that any one of us can put out a call to action and someone will show up. And that idea begins to gain traction over the next year until August 9th, 2014.
So you, the police, what are they saying to you right now about what's happened to your son? There aren't telling me anything. They haven't told me anything.
They wouldn't even let me know when Michael Brown Jr., who's 18 years old, is fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, say, yeah, that's my son. I'm so sorry. The man in the street for hours. I was. I'm so sorry. And then it erupts as street violence raged for hours last night, at least two people in a crowd of protesters were shot.
And all of this started just hours after National Guard troops arrived in a community there, outraged after the fatal shooting death of a new justice will soon to be justice for some. It becomes sure Rhonda's focus in life, what she wants to try to change, and so she just gets on that train and starts to become a part of the movement there, sort of an activist railroad, there are bus loads of people who go from New York. Right. So we start raising money for that.
There's the need for supplies to Ferguson. So we start raising money for that. There's the you know, she's got a job, a nine to five job in New York, but she starts to dedicate all of her extra time to these issues.
Her weekends are spent on the phone with people who are on the ground in Ferguson and in other cities where protests are breaking out. And she actually reconnects with people she met during President Obama's 2008 campaign.
OK, what are you guys working on? What should we be working on? You know, what are your police allowed to do? What's in their contract that shouldn't be in ours? What's the difference between a chokehold and a stranglehold?
How do we talk about that? So we start building these networks in these friendships that help us share information, that help us strategize. They don't really want to push for change within government, within a system that they fundamentally think is broken.
I just don't believe in how you doing? Are you are you here to support us?
You are, because we haven't seen you marching at all. Jesse, we are seeing you. Where you go, where you go. Stop, Jesse. We don't want you here in St. Louis. We activist out of your brother. This is real. We don't want you here. You're not a leader.
You know, we were grassroots, pretty leaderless, dispersed network of people are guided by a sort of North Star.
Right. Which was hashtag Black Lives Matter what. We'll be right back. The capture is a new Peacocke original series that explores pressing questions about surveillance and misinformation in a post truth world seen can be deceiving, hailed by critics as a thinking man's bodyguard. The capture is a modern day spy drama set in London that begins with the arrest of a former soldier and then spirals into a thrilling conspiracy involving manipulated video evidence. All episodes of the capture are available now on Peacocke, the new streaming service from NBC Universal.
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Now this is John Legat. I'm a national correspondent with The New York Times. And I cover issues of race. What I'm really getting at is telling the stories of marginalized people whose experiences are often unheard and unseen. And in order to tell their stories, I really have to meet them where they are going out to a protest where there's police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at people fighting for racial justice. I'm often brought into unpredictable situations, situations where you don't know if the police are going to see you as a protester yourself.
But that's really what it takes to tell these stories. And if this kind of work is important to that, I would ask you to support us by subscribing to The New York Times. You can do that at NY Times dot com slash subscribe. What are these organizers hoping to achieve by not raising up a singular figure, by being kind of leaderless?
What Charanga says is that, you know, at this point in her life, she is feeling really suspicious of hierarchy of any kind of concentration of power that disenfranchises people below.
But because they choose to avoid establishing leaders, it's really confusing and a turnoff to a lot of the country who don't feel like they hear a clear message coming from one person and who are also noticing that some protests have turned violent and are really uncomfortable with that. There's a way in which this movement becomes really big, but the support for it across the country also kind of hits a ceiling.
It's fascinating. The movement is suspicious of leaders and some of the public is suspicious of a movement without a leader.
And then I knew that the killing of Alton Sterling was going to be another flash point in the movement.
Alton Sterling is killed by police in Baton Rouge. He's the man who is sitting outside a grocery store and selling CDs. When someone called the police about a person who had a gun and the officers who respond to the call end up killing him. So when that happens again, activists from all over the country get in their cars and start heading to Baton Rouge. In a lot of them are Sharona's friends. A couple of my friends from Ferguson, you know, we get on a call because we always get on a call and we're like, well, what are we going to do?
And they're like, we're going to drive down to Baton Rouge. And I remember they took a nap before they decided that they were going to make the last few hours drive.
And I remember being terrified at sending them off to drive for the next, you know, four hours through Mississippi and into Louisiana. Right. A state whose history I knew well, because I learned it from my grandparents. So that fear, Sharada says, is in the groundwater in Louisiana, which makes going there to protest an entirely different experience and a very scary one for her, but at the same time, it feels really important.
And she just kind of feels like if I'm going to commit myself to this movement, then, you know, this is in a way exactly where I need to be. I need to be in uncomfortable places.
Exactly. And so the next day, she packs up her car, she heads to meet her friends in Baton Rouge. And what happens when she gets to Baton Rouge, as soon as the sun sets, the police show up in riot gear and just sort of they block the street and you end up in these confrontations with the Baton Rouge police department that almost immediately feel like. You have no plans to let me peacefully protest. You know, the local law enforcement makes clear that they're not happy about people being in the streets.
There are a series of very tense standoffs and a lot of arrests, including one of Toronto's close friends, DeRay McKesson, who basically gets tackled and carted away in handcuffs just as they're walking to their car.
But that for us, was a reminder of just how dangerous this work is. Right, that even if you are not physically positioning yourself as the leader, any one of us can can be arrested right at any time. And sometimes that's the best case scenario. And I remember, you know, checking in with myself and asking, like, are you courageous enough to do this? And I think that doing that in high school, I go back to that that moment a lot.
And often when I am protesting and when I am showing up, I am showing up for that girl. So at this point, it's two years into the movement and the country is really paying attention, the president is paying attention.
And Hillary Rodham. The 2016 election is right around the corner. Thank you so much, so we were all gearing up to fight Hillary Clinton. We were all gearing up to say we want to build on the momentum that we have built. And then we got from. And as soon as he takes office, it's as if the entire progressive policy platform is under siege.
Overnight, another surge of protest against President Trump's controversial executive order.
A new initiative that would separate children from their parents if they tried to enter the United States illegally with protesters storming major cities all across the country, outraged after the Trump administration announced its rescinding DACA, giving Congress six months, I next they're calling this the largest youth led protests since the Vietnam War era. But these young activists are taking a stand in a country that is deeply divided over guns.
We have team coverage issues seemed so much bigger and so much greater immediate importance. And I don't even know how I can bring myself to say that knowing that the issues we were organizing around were literally issues of life and death.
But we start to see the dehumanizing of entire communities and policing just sort of got bumped down the list of priorities.
And some folks show up with their Black Lives Matter gear or their signs, but there is a sense that it had become one of many sets of demands. This idea of Black Lives Matter really fades into the background. And we just. We didn't talk about it. Huh? You know, the interesting thing is you had asked me earlier what it felt like post to ninety two and that's what it felt like one day it was my entire world. And the next day no one talked about it.
Did that feel like a failure when all the momentum disappeared and fell flat? In our quiet moments. Some of us reflect on the trauma we experienced. Some of us reflect on the sacrifices we made right to jobs, to credit scores, to savings accounts. And we do ask ourselves if it was worth it. Do you have any regrets from that time? Wish you did anything differently. That's a really hard question to answer.
I wish we had done a better job of talking about the importance of both inside the system activism and outside the system activism, and by that I mean it took us a couple of years to get to the point where many of us felt we could do things like run for office and not feel like sellouts, not feel like our only credibility came from being in the streets. And I wish we had gotten there sooner. I think we could have helped usher in a new wave of leadership much earlier.
We could have pushed to have our people in places of real decision making power.
Hmm. And. I. I wish I hadn't been naive and. I wish that. I had been just a little more realistic about how long change actually takes.
I will say I didn't think we'd be back here this time. I know you've been here before.
So is there anything right now that you're afraid of?
I'm afraid of my country and my countrymen breaking my heart again. I am afraid that we are going to take very shallow and superficial signals of ally ship as a sign of real change.
And I don't know if we have done the work of helping people imagine what the future can look like. And I think that's the next phase of the work. We have gotten people to a point where they know that something has to fundamentally change, that we can no longer tinker around the edges. But I don't know if we've helped them imagine what we have to build in its place. Are you hopeful now? That change is coming. Am I hopeful now that change is coming?
I have to be if I was not hopeful that change was coming, I would not be in the streets. If I was not hopeful that change was coming, there would be no point in having this conversation.
You know, hope is really important in this work. And you have to hope that tomorrow can be better than today. Otherwise, it makes showing up impossible. No. And my God, I got you this looks so good. I wonder what Shawanda thinks her grandmother would make of the decisions that she has made and the life that she is now leading and the role she's playing in this movie. She does think back about her grandmother a lot and she wonders if this is the life her grandmother envisioned for her.
Is there something you would you would ask her if you could? If I could ask my grandmother something, what would I ask her? You know, given my grandmother's personality. I think I would say. Or ask her. If she knew, it would turn out like this for me. My hunch is she probably hoped it did. I could have chosen. To do anything other than this. But my sense is my grandmother probably knew that I was always going to be this person, I would want to ask her that.
The protests aren't getting as much coverage. Crowds are still big and probably not as big as a couple of weeks ago, not as big as some of the daytime marches and rallies, but definitely bigger than they have been in a long while. In order to believe that you will complete a marathon, you have to talk to yourself the whole way. You have to encourage yourself. You have to tell yourself the finish line is close because that is the only way that you make it through.
And that's, what, a minus. We'll be right back. Vanguard was founded on the simple but radical idea that an investment company can succeed because it puts investors first, Vanguard is client owned, you own their funds and the funds own Vanguard, which means Vanguard is built to ensure that your interests will be the priority together. Vanguard's 30 million investors are changing the way the world invests. Visit Vanguard Dotcom or talk to your financial advisor to learn more.
Here's what else you need to know today, not a bomb. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
A series of explosions in Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, have killed at least 78 people and injured thousands more. The back to back explosions occurred at a waterfront site that stored thousands of pounds of explosive materials, including ammonium nitrate, a chemical commonly used in both fertilizer and bombs.
Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
The second more powerful blast overturned cars, shook buildings, shattered windows and sent debris flying across the city. The cause of the explosion is unclear, but President Trump said that U.S. military leaders suspected it was an attack rather than an industrial accident. That's it for the daily unlikeable borrow see tomorrow.