Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon
Visit the Midday Edition homepage

Civil Rights Attorney Eva Paterson Headlines All Peoples Celebration

January 15, 2018 1:24 p.m.

Civil Rights Attorney Eva Paterson Headlines All Peoples Celebration


Eva Paterson, president and co-founder, Equal Justice Society

Related Story: Civil Rights Attorney Eva Paterson Headlines All Peoples Celebration


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

>> San Diego's all people celebration has been on nursing -- honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. this year the theme is them -- has been embodied in the word stand. Civil rights attorney Eva Patterson was the keynote speaker of today's all people celebration. She is president and cofounder of the equal Justice Society. Thank you for joining us. Can you tell us what the theme of this year's event stand, what does that mean?
>> What did Martin Luther King stand for? People tried to neutralize him and try to make like Santa Claus and make people forget what he stood for. I talk about that he was a spiritual man, he was antiwar, he was into civil disobedience, he was jailed, he was against racism and he was also an occlusive person. It just wasn't about black people, it was about all peoples.
>> You spent your career advocating for social justice. From class-action civil rights cases to helping domestic violence survivors. How has the legacy of Doctor King shaped your life -- Dr. King shaped your life?
>> When I was a freshman in college, he was murdered in my freshman year. So, but I tried to do, I don't consciously go what would Dr. King do, I am in the tradition of the social justice warrior. I embrace that term. You take truth to power, you challenged power and you bring lawsuits. You are out on the streets and trying to make the world better. The hardest part is to try to do it with love. Trying to love President Donald Trump, that's artist thing to do. To try to embody the love, to heal the earth. It's being out there to change things.
>> I understand that when you were in high school, you travel throughout the state of Illinois. You gave Dr. Kings I have a dream speech. Why did you do that?
>> I don't know. I was on the speech and debate team, as you can tell I like to talk. You had to have a speech that you gave and that's one of the things that I did. Have to say that part of me wonders if I really did that? It's been said so often that I think I did. It is a great speech.
>> Tell us more about your work that you're doing with equal Justice Society. Has increased?
>> Our tagline is transforming the nation's consciousness on race. So, we sue people, we sued the Bakersfield high school district because they were disproportionately expelling Latinos, brown and black students. We brought in social science concepts such as unconscious bias and racial anxiety to help retrain all the people in the school district in Kern County. We also believe that art is very important of transportation -- part of transportation. Not only does that express her views about justice, a list our spirits, someone says art knows no fear. We have had conferences at Yale, at Harvard, Duke, Irvine with social scientists, activists and lawyers. We initiated a weekly newsletter called this week in white supremacy rare -- where we list things that are going on because President Donald Trump has enabled white supremacy. We have been more busy because of Trump and our board decided that we should be visible. When white supremacist came, and anti-Semitic people came to San Francisco, we spoke at the Temple Emmanuelle. We are out everywhere speaking saying that Trump is a racist and liar because people don't say comfortable saying that. We do.
>> I'm asking you, do you feel that the problem is the president? Is it deeper than that?
>> It is much deeper and that's what's most troubling. 40% of the people but a for him. He still has 36% of the people who supported him despite all of the insane things he is doing. I had a friend in San Francisco who vote for Obama, she and I don't speak anymore because she said I vote for Trump and now I am in that -- white nationalist. She is a white woman I said what? It is remarkable that someone I knew embraces Trump. She said that a white woman with a Trump bumper sticker was dragged out of her car was dragged out of her car and beaten by black lives matter people. I asked to see the clipping on that, she never sent it to me. I found out that there is false news being put up by Facebook and I was thinking she was suckered in by this. Horrible things are going on, someone is going to blow up a bus, young woman was killed in Charlottesville, the people in the mother of Immanuel Church. It is Trump and Trump is some -- Trump is some -- trumpism. We can get white racist Southerners to go from the Democratic Party and go to the Republican party. We were trying to appeal to the racist in our society. It is beyond Trump. I was having a conversation about people who are Trump voters who are reasonable who are not racist? There are some who are just racist and they're so happy to have someone articulating their point of view. I think there are some people who are misled and those of the people we need to get to to bring back into the light.
>> What are you doing to get back to them?
>> I'm speaking as a private citizen and not as a nonprofit head. I'm trying to connect with the Democratic Party to see if they can get more resources to black people. Look what we did in Alabama. We took that state blue. Not that much money goes to black folks so we need to get money to black pollsters to figure out what messages get to those persuadable's. There are about 40% of the people who are just with Trump, but there people in the middle. Will get to them? The fact that they are losing healthcare, maybe they don't really want to be racist, where trying to figure that out.