Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

HIV Vaccine Breakthrough

Cover image for podcast episode

Sergey Menis, IAVI

A computer image of the outermost layer of HIV.

For 40 years researchers have been working to unlock the key to HIV prevention, now the success of a clinical trial is a first step in realizing that goal. Plus, to address the disparities in health care and to create better outcomes for Black families, San Diego County is launching the “Black Legacy Now” campaign. And, two parents say San Diego Unified wrongly denied their son special education services — now he’s fallen behind. And, in an excerpt from the latest episode of the “Port Of Entry” podcast: Separated by deportation, how a family’s love kept them connected despite the border wall between them. Finally, a look at a century of Black cinema that’s both problematic and inspiring.

Speaker 1: 00:01 Scripps research makes a big step toward an HIV vaccine,

Speaker 2: 00:05 The most difficult vaccine problem ever attempted.

Speaker 1: 00:08 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS mid-day edition, San Diego launches black legacy. Now to address racial disparities in healthcare, it's really sort of a Clarion call to action that these inequities are fundamentally on just the challenge of navigating through special ed policies for students in San Diego and for the 28 days of black history month, 28 days of black films. That's ahead on midday edition. First that the news

Speaker 1: 01:00 There has been a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV, which also may change the way vaccines are used to fight other diseases. Scripps research has announced success in the first clinical trial of a new approach against the disease. One that involves vaccines that boost the body's ability to produce antibodies. Researchers have been working for 40 years to find a key that would unlock the riddle of HIV prevention. This clinical trials results are the first step toward realizing that goal. Johnnie Mae is William Schafer, a professor and immunologist at Scripps research and executive director of vaccine design at I obvious neutralizing antibody center and professor congratulations. Thank you very much. The world has been so focused on COVID. It's important to remember that more than 36 million people around the world are living with HIV and nearly 2 million new infections each year. So give us a sense of how important it would be to have a vaccine prevention for HIV.

Speaker 2: 02:04 You know, it's something like between four and 5,000 people every single day, get newly infected with HIV and, uh, here in the United States and in the developed world, people have access through their insurance. Basically two drugs can PR that can save you from HIV, that you can maintain a relatively normal life, even if you get infected, but in many places around the world, access to those drugs is not so easy. They're expensive, they're hard to get there's social and economic barriers to access. And if you don't have access to those drugs and you get infected, there is no, there's no known cure. There's no way to get rid of the virus. And so it's still basic. It is really a death sentence. Uh, for many people still, and a vaccine would be the way, uh, if we could make a vaccine that would, could prevent infection and prevent, uh, millions of people every year from having to fight this battle for the rest of their lives. Now, one of the reasons

Speaker 1: 03:00 That an HIV vaccine has been so elusive is the complexity of the virus itself and its ability to mutate. Tell us about that.

Speaker 2: 03:08 So people are, I think everyone is getting pretty used to hearing about the spike protein of Corona virus and how all the different vaccines are trying to elicit antibodies that bind to the spike protein and block it from infecting ourselves. And HIV has a similar spike protein well, and people are used to hearing about the variants now of Corona virus. And in some cases, variants make the vaccine protection, you know, more difficult to achieve. And HIV is just that problem on steroids. It's really not one virus. It's like 50 million different viruses, all of which have a different spike protein or variants of the spike protein. So if you make a vaccine using one spike protein of HIV, you might protect against that particular variant, but not against the other, you know, 50 million that are circulating around the world. So the real challenge is to induce what we call broadly neutralizing antibodies that have the ability to neutralize diverse strains of HIV. And that is an incredibly difficult problem.

Speaker 1: 04:08 This vaccine trials showed success in stimulating production of rare immune cells that could eventually produce a rare type of antibody. What do you mean by rare immune cells?

Speaker 2: 04:20 Yeah, that's a good question. So we, we, we believe, and we know that we need to induce what we call broadly, neutralizing antibodies. Those are antibodies that bind to patches on the HIV spike that don't change very much. Um, it's just very difficult to elicit those kinds of antibodies, those antibodies that can broadly neutralize HIV have special properties typically. And when you're, uh, when you're designing a vaccine, when the vaccine is first exposed to a person, it first engages with what we, what are called naive B cells. And it turns on a set of naive B cells. And those B cells will mature and gradually learn how to neutralize the virus. And so in our vaccine clinical trial, we had a strategy to target very specific set of naive B cells that have genetic and structural properties that give them the potential to develop into the kind of antibodies that we know we need to elicit in the long run and rare they're rare because they are, their frequency is about one in a million of naive human B cells. So the vaccine had to find sort of like a needle in a haystack and activate the right B cells. And it seems to have done that.

Speaker 1: 05:34 And when you stimulate the right B cells, then you can develop these broadly neutralizing antibodies that can keep up with this mutating virus. Is that it?

Speaker 2: 05:45 Yeah. The idea actually is to be ahead of the mutating virus. Uh, the idea is not so much to keep up, but to illicit an antibody that doesn't mind if the virus is mutating because it, where to hold on where the antibody is not making any mutations and the idea in the, in the clinical trial that we just carried out. You know, we, we're not eliciting broadly neutralizing anybody's, but we, we were eliciting precursors to broadly neutralizing antibodies that had some key properties that are required for one particular kind of broadly neutralizing antibody. And the challenge for us now will be to develop additional shots, to be followed in six, to be given in succession that will allow the B cells to develop further and produce antibodies that are actually broadly neutralizing antibodies,

Speaker 1: 06:34 Series of vaccinations would produce the right antibiotic.

Speaker 2: 06:38 That's the goal. Yeah. Starting with the one we just tested and then a series of a few additional ones that are different from the one we just gave.

Speaker 1: 06:46 Now you presented your team's results yesterday to the international AIDS society research conference. Was this clinical trial more successful than you anticipated?

Speaker 2: 06:57 Yeah, so we were testing a new vaccine concept and no one had ever tested this in humans before we had shown a relatively good results in animal model systems, but we didn't really know if it would work in humans. Um, and we also thought even if it does work, we would be happy with a proof of principle, not necessarily, uh, such great performance that we could just build on it and keep, and just use this particular vaccine antigen. You know, you can always imagine if you prove the principle, then you say, okay, now we need to make it work better so that we can really use this in the real world, but it actually performed well enough that we don't need to go back to the drawing board and improve it at the moment we can just build on it in the long run. We might try to improve it, but it worked pretty darn well. So yeah, we were surprised at how well it worked, both the concept and the sort of the practical performance.

Speaker 1: 07:49 You mentioned the similarities between the spike proteins that we've been hearing about on COVID-19 and the spike proteins in the HIV virus. I'm wondering, where is the crossover here? What other diseases might a vaccine like this be able to prevent?

Speaker 2: 08:06 So this strategy we're actually looking into using this strategy to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies against Corona virus is also a, and that again would be not to not to catch up to the coronavirus variants, but to be ahead of it and to elicit antibodies that really don't care, which variant the coronavirus generates. It can neutralize, no matter what. Uh, so we're looking into trying or investigating whether this strategy might help elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies against the Corona viruses we and others are working on trying to make what's called a universal flu vaccine, which would be the same kind of idea, elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies against flu. You wouldn't have to take a new vaccine every year if we enlisted really broad neutralizing anybodies. And there's some reason to believe that the strategy that we just for HIV might help in that quest. And there are other, there are other viruses as well. Dan gay and Zika. We may, we may be able to use with the strategy for

Speaker 1: 09:04 What happens now, how does the research proceed to the next step?

Speaker 2: 09:08 Actually, people have heard of the modern vaccine for Corona viruses and we've been collaborating with Madonna for quite a long time. And in our major interest is that with their technology, we can do more clinical trials more quickly. So we actually are going to go back into humans and test if our, if the same vaccine concept will work as delivered by Madonna MRNs. And we're going to test the first try at giving a second shot. So the next shot of our vaccine, that's supposed to have the antibodies develop more toward, uh, broadly neutralizing antibodies. And so we have another clinical trial that's planned to start later this year, actually.

Speaker 1: 09:48 Okay. Unfair question. When do you think this series of HIV vaccinations might be available to the public?

Speaker 2: 09:54 I mean, you know, we're trying to go as quick as we can, but it is a very, very difficult problem. It's probably the most difficult vaccine problem ever attempted, which is why, as you said, at the beginning, it's been 40 years and we still don't have a vaccine. And a lot of smart people have tried a lot of clever strategies. So will this ultimately work? You know, we can't say that it will, we're going to do our best with our, all of our colleagues. How soon might it work? I mean, if everything goes really well and, you know, we might be able to see, I would say in the next five years that we can induce broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. And then when could that be deployed as a vaccine around the world? You know, if we went as fast as the COVID did, maybe, you know, just a few years later, uh, but I would say it would be hard to imagine having a real vaccine for HIV before, let's say 10 years from now.

Speaker 1: 10:45 Okay. Then William Shu. Thank you so much. Oh, William chief is a professor and immunologist as Scripps research and executive director of vaccine design at Irv neutralizing antibody center. Thanks so much. And thanks for your work.

Speaker 2: 10:59 Thanks very much. Maureen

Speaker 3: 11:08 Racism, pervades all aspects of our lives, including the quality of medical care we receive. That's especially true for black mothers and babies. According to the most recent data from the California department of public health, black infants are three times more likely to die. And 60% more likely to be born prematurely than white infants and black mothers are three times more likely to die due to pregnancy or delivery complications than white mothers. This is happening because of racism in healthcare to address the disparities and create better outcomes for black families. San Diego County has launched a campaign called a black legacy. Now Dr. Thomas Coleman is the medical director of maternal child and family health services with the, uh, Dr. Coleman.

Speaker 4: 11:54 Welcome. Thank you, Jay. It's great to be with you. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Speaker 3: 11:59 The name of the campaign is black legacy now, and that title conveys urgency for the County to address these disparities. Tell me about that urgency.

Speaker 4: 12:09 Uh, it's really sort of a Clarion call to action that these inequities are fundamentally on just, and, you know, we need to, as a community, you know, we need to educate everyone. Then we need to come together as a community to rectify these structural inequities and have more equal outcomes in terms of, of, of particularly related to maternal and infant health in the black and African-American community.

Speaker 3: 12:37 You know, despite the same levels of education, insurance coverage and preventative care, black women are still three times more likely than white women to die during pregnancy and babies are 60% more likely to be born premature. What's the root cause of this

Speaker 4: 12:54 There's evidence that structural racism, as well as implicit bias in the clinical arena certainly, uh, leads to these, uh, tragic, inappropriate disparities that we all need to work direct defy.

Speaker 3: 13:09 So you say that, you know, systemic racism and implicit biases have caused these negative outcomes for black mothers and black babies. Can you give me some common examples of how this plays out in the healthcare system on a day-to-day basis?

Speaker 4: 13:21 There's ample evidence that, uh, there's a differential way that pain is treated and responded to in terms of the black and white communities. So I think on a, on a daily basis, you know, from the implicit bias perspective, we know that that impacts clinical management across multiple arenas, not just the obstetrical or period natal arena,

Speaker 3: 13:46 Some common things you've heard from black women when they go to visit the doctor and they're expecting

Speaker 4: 13:52 Being disrespected, not being heard, um, not being valued, being dismissed, um, not taken seriously and pregnancy should be one of those joyous things. But whenever we go to the doctor, there's inherently at least on baseline, a differential of power, if you will, a lot of this relates to power, and it's not that that is inherently set up. It's just people feel vulnerable when they go to to the physician in general pregnancy really should be a joyous occasion. And, uh, you know, if you look at, uh, a again, a person or a patient centered perspective, it values the perspective of the woman and her family. It values the autonomy of the woman. It incorporates the woman's values and perspectives. It, it evolves, uh, you know, active listening, sort, a collaborative relationship

Speaker 3: 14:53 Highlights how the medical community fails. So many black mothers and families what's being done to fix what's broken within the system. And what interventions are being implemented through this program?

Speaker 4: 15:03 Well, that's a great question. The, the two primary interventions are, uh, the implicit bias training, uh, that will soon be, um, implemented in terms of, uh, the healthcare arena. We're also, uh, we have the fatherhood initiative that we mentioned, but we have a longstanding history, uh, within the County and within a public health service under Dr. Wound's leadership with a focus of everything that we do on health equity. So I mentioned the black infant health program, which, uh, is longstanding and is a group-based model that, you know, works with women from an empowering perspective. That's the other part of, you know, having a trauma informed lens in terms of all of our programs. So we work with black infant health. We also have a perinatal care network initiative within our maternal care maternal child and adolescent health funding, trying to get women into prenatal care earlier with a concerted focus for that, but also connecting them to ancillary services.

Speaker 4: 16:10 There are multiple home visiting programs, both within the County and community partners. I think the other part too, is listening to the community. The community advisory board that we have for the perinatal equity initiative has been instrumental from the beginning, as far as, you know, the interventions that are put in place. So it's very much community driven, uh, as far as what we look at, there are other programs, uh, but you know, within our maternal child and adolescent health program, but all of the focus is really on health equity in terms of providing information and resources in a way that sort of lifts up in a positive perspective. Asset-based for all of the people that we serve within San Diego County, but certainly within the, uh, the arena of, uh, African-American mothers and infants,

Speaker 3: 17:06 The goal of the black legacy now campaign is to connect families with resources and information to address the problem what's available to people. And how can they reach out?

Speaker 4: 17:16 I think the first place is to go to the black legacy now S d.com website. There's a wealth of information. As I mentioned, it's, you know, to focus about why are we focused on this? What is the initiative? There's a focus on communities because we want this to be all of the community to be galvanized in terms of this critically important endeavor. There's a focus on the women that I mentioned. There's the fatherhood initiative. There's actually a section with a lot of different that's explicitly title it for healthcare professionals for their review and incorporation into their clinical practice. So it's really meant to be a global multidisciplinary multi-focal program that incorporates all aspects of the community. Again, sort of raising awareness of this pivotal issue, but then also us collectively moving forward to rectify these long standing structural inequities that have led to these outcomes that are just unacceptable.

Speaker 1: 18:22 I've been speaking with Dr. Thomas Coleman, who is the medical director of maternal child and family health services with the County of San Diego health and human services agency. Dr. Coleman, thank you very much.

Speaker 4: 18:32 Thank you, Jay. My pleasure.

Speaker 1: 18:47 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heineman as special education costs continue to spiral battles between parents and school districts over what services students need have intensified KPBS education reporter. Joe Hong has the story of one family who took their fight to court.

Speaker 4: 19:08 Can you tell him your name?

Speaker 5: 19:10 Eli's parents say they knew right away that their child would have hearing problems. His dad, John Davenport recalls how, as a toddler, Eli held his plastic toy guitar right up to his ear to hear the noises of man,

Speaker 4: 19:20 He would sit when he was one year old, he would sit and he would lay his ear, flush against it. What was blasting music. And he would just lay with his ear like that, you know, and I tested it, I took it and I held it close to my ear and it hurts. You know, that was, it was obvious at that point that he had a problem. Unfortunately,

Speaker 5: 19:35 Davenport didn't, his wife, Ferris Sheree were able to put Eli in the deaf and hard of hearing program for toddlers at San Diego. Unified's Lafayette elementary school and the Claremont Mason neighborhood. But when Eli turned three, he aged out of the program and the district has denied him entrance into the full day program. Ever since for the past two years, Eli's parents who are both physicians have spent upwards of $30,000 to provide Eli with a patchwork of private services. But despite the advantage of being health experts with financial resources, they see Eli still significantly behind where he should be. The pandemic has only made things worse.

Speaker 4: 20:09 And then after that, that he didn't meet there. You know what the district called their criteria for hearing impairment. And so they kicked him out when he was three. Um, but he should have remained in that school. If he had remained in that school. I think his speech would be far improved from where he is now. There's no question. It would be

Speaker 5: 20:25 Eli's parents say they have no clue why the district did not provide the services in the past two and a half years, several independent experts examined Eli and found he easily qualifies as hearing impaired hearing specialists. When Susan is one of those experts,

Speaker 1: 20:38 I have three audio

Speaker 4: 20:41 That clearly show he has a hearing loss in both ears. So if I look

Speaker 6: 20:48 At his audio gram, he has a moderate rising to mild sloping down to a moderate loss in both ears.

Speaker 5: 20:57 The couple sued the district in November, 2019. And again, in October, 2020 for denying Eli services and for reimbursement for the private instructors and therapists so far, they say they've spent more than $20,000 on attorney's fees. Some are stuck as a special education attorney and a former teacher. She says this agreements like this occur only in a small percentage of cases, but when they do happen, they can be costly for both families and school districts.

Speaker 6: 21:20 Sometimes, you know, you do wonder how you end up paying all the attorney's fees and all of the other costs, and sometimes reimbursement to families that have paid for the services themselves. And when you look at what it would have cost to just do it in the first place and see if it is in fact what the student needs to receive a FAPE, um, it probably would have saved a lot of money.

Speaker 5: 21:48 San Diego unified school district spokeswoman Marine McGee would not comment on Eli's case citing the pending litigation. She also did not respond to questions about the district special education policies. Sheree says the final straw came last October after they made one last failed attempt to get services for Eli through San Diego unified at Lafayette elementary, the parents said they couldn't wait any longer

Speaker 6: 22:09 Progression. I guess it's progress is good, very, very slow. And he is nowhere near, um, age level. He has, he does not have age level language. Um, and, um, I would say he's maybe at about two, two year old, two year old speech. Yeah. And he's five

Speaker 5: 22:29 In November. They enrolled Eli at the John Tracy center in Los Angeles, which offers full-time in-person instruction for deaf and hard of hearing students. The parents rented an apartment in Los Angeles and took turns living with Eli for a week. At a time. The couple says they're fortunate to be able to pay for their son's special education, but they can't get back what they lost.

Speaker 6: 22:49 There's no amount of money in the world. I think that someone could have and still give everything to their child. You know, we have resources, but it wasn't enough.

Speaker 1: 23:01 Johnny May as KPBS education reporter Joe Hong and Joe. Welcome. Thanks for having me. These parents have been through quite a lot, trying to get help for their child, San Diego unified wouldn't comment on this case, but do they have a special ed criteria publicly available? So parents can figure it out.

Speaker 5: 23:20 So, uh, there there's actually a federal law for that. It's called the individuals with disabilities education act that is, you know, publicly available for folks to read. But the problem in this case was that the federal law it's, it's pretty vague. Um, it basically just says if a student's disability impairs their ability to learn, you know, then they're entitled to services. And what we found in this case was that the districts, we actually acquired internal emails at the district that shows that they actually have their own sort of internal criteria for hearing loss that the parents had no idea about. So that's one of the questions I had for the district is, you know, what sort of the legality of having these metrics when there's a federal law in place,

Speaker 1: 24:10 What did you learn from those emails? How San Diego unified policy is different from federal policy

Speaker 5: 24:17 In federal law. It just says, you know, if a student's hearing is bad enough that it affects their learning, um, then he or she qualifies, but, uh, the district has on top of that created, um, its own metrics, meaning like what decibels and what hurts are students able to, um, process sounds, you know, I really kind of saw this behind the scenes exchange that, you know, the parents say that they should have been a part of that conversation

Speaker 1: 24:48 On a larger scale. We've heard that special ed students have been hit especially hard by school closures because of the pandemic. Can you give us an update on that situation?

Speaker 5: 24:58 Most districts in the County right now are offering some form of in-person, uh, instruction for students with disabilities and in small groups. But before that really, uh, started happening, um, late last year, these students were really struggling, you know, special education, uh, more so than general education is inherently sort of a physical sort of in-person, uh, process and instructors really need to be physically with these students. And without that students have really regressed in a lot of cases. Uh, students have fallen behind in speech acquisition in, uh, developing sort of positive behaviors. And of course, academically as well,

Speaker 1: 25:46 And San Diego unified is offering, I think some in-person instruction to kids struggling with remote learning. Is that aimed at special ed students.

Speaker 5: 25:56 Yeah. So, uh, it's what they're calling their sort of first phase of reopening they're prioritizing high needs students for appointment-based, uh, in-person learning and yeah, definitely one of their top priorities is students with disabilities and sort of getting them back on track.

Speaker 1: 26:13 I want to ask you about this new push to get California schools reopened. Governor Newsome just said that schools should be able to reopen safely, even if all teachers have not yet been vaccinated. How did teacher's unions feel about that?

Speaker 5: 26:28 Uh, they are they're, they're not happy about that. So yeah, governor Newsome, uh, sort of fell in line with the Biden administration, uh, this week just saying that, uh, teacher vaccinating teachers is not a prerequisite for reopening schools and, you know, unions sort of swiftly responded and said that they have serious concerns about sending teachers back to campuses, uh, without the vaccine. And, you know, while the studies showed that younger children might be less susceptible to, um, getting the virus and, and spreading the virus, these teachers are still at risk.

Speaker 1: 27:05 What is San Diego unified position on the issue of reopening for in-person learning?

Speaker 5: 27:11 The district has really set up three criteria for reopening. Um, one of them is teacher vaccinations. Uh, the second is getting the County back down to the red tier. So just lowering the spread of the virus overall in the community. And then the third is a robust testing, uh, program, which the district has in place where everyone who's on campus regularly needs to be tested every two weeks.

Speaker 1: 27:37 So that sounds like it's going to take a while. And we did see some reopenings of other school districts in San Diego followed quickly by shutdowns because of COVID outbreaks. Are there school districts reopened now in San Diego?

Speaker 5: 27:52 So there's definitely no public school districts that have fully sort of gone back to normal, um, Poway unified school district this week. They started a hybrid model sort of, uh, a half day in person instruction for elementary school students. But there was a lot of back and forth at Poway as well. Um, they, they started this half day program back in, uh, August, September in the fall, and then they had to stop because of the winter surge. And now they're back again and sort of the same thing happened at, um, Oceanside and Escondido school districts. They started in person in the fall and then had to close down in the, in the winter. Um, and those districts actually aren't back are not back yet for in-person. Again,

Speaker 1: 28:40 Speaking with KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe. Thanks a lot. Thank you.

Speaker 6: 28:54 Valentine's day is around the corner. So how about some romance? KPBS is border podcast. Port of entry continues its series of cross border love stories with couples. Who've been separated by deportation. They talk about how their love has kept them connected despite the wall running through their relationship. Here's host Alan Lillian and Thall talking with Emma Sanchez and Michael Paulson. Emma came to the us without papers, got married to a us citizen, Michael and had three children with him before an immigration judge banned her from reentering the us for 10 years. We pick up the story from when Emma moved to Tijuana. So she could be closer to Michael who kept living and working in San Diego. Emma

Speaker 7: 29:42 Moved up to Tijuana from Los Cabos, with her three boys into the house. Michael had rented for the family. It's estimated that thousands of families use the Aquinas the way Emma and Michael did as a place that allows families to keep living their lives together. Even though they're separated by a border wall, Michael worked two jobs back in San Diego to help pay the extra rent. He kept his house in Vista an hour drive North of the border. So he could be close to his jobs. Emma says that the corner house was quote as big as her loneliness.

Speaker 8: 30:35 [inaudible]

Speaker 7: 30:36 She's saying she would try not to cry, but when she couldn't help it, she would lock herself in the bathroom. So her kids wouldn't see Michael and Emma wanted the boys to get educated in the U S so one by one, as the boys grew up, they moved back to the U S to live with Michael and start school. Eventually Emma was left all alone.

Speaker 8: 31:05 [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible].

Speaker 9: 31:20 She would cry sometimes saying I'm stuck in Tijuana. And, um, I don't mean to make you mad and everything. And I said, I'm not mad. I married you for better or worse. This just happens to be the worst there's daylight over the Hills. Just be patient bite, the bullet, and you'll get through it.

Speaker 7: 31:46 Michael knew how lonely Emma was. So nearly every weekend he'd pack the boys into his car.

Speaker 9: 31:54 Oh yeah. Every weekend we would go down there. We'd go down. I can take them down on Friday, leave them on. If I had to work Saturday, I'd come back work and then go down again and then bring them back. Many times to being late, waiting at the lawn, boarder waits six and a half seven hour weights. It's online. I waited sometimes.

Speaker 8: 32:20 Okay.

Speaker 7: 32:20 In 2015, nine years after she was deported, Emma wanted to use her family story to make a big, bold political statement. She asked Michael if they could renew their vows in a wedding ceremony at the actual border fence at a place friendship park, where the wall runs into the Pacific ocean. So on July, 1920 15, Michael in his freshly pressed dress blues and Emma in a white wedding dress, white gloves and avail held an outdoor wedding as surprise border patrol agents stood by.

Speaker 8: 32:59 It gives me great pleasure. Now married Michael and Emma

Speaker 7: 33:35 Photos of the wedding. They posted online quickly when

Speaker 8: 33:38 Viral, you know, how many people, you know, um, Marine gets married out of the country in another country, in his dress blues with that Mexican lady, she made the San Diego union Tribune front page during the Olympics and the LA times she made front page on the LA times. Also

Speaker 7: 33:57 A couple became something of an icon for other couples stuck in similar situations.

Speaker 8: 34:01 You know that when I giving up my family is not giving up. And then I had a lot of people call me up and said, uh, good going. You're all like a light at the end of the tunnel for a lot of people

Speaker 7: 34:23 Three years after Michael and Emma's wedding at the border. And 12 years after Emma was first deported Emma's path back into the U S came into view. She reapplied for citizenship status and was approved. It took two years longer than they had hoped, but the day finally came,

Speaker 8: 34:49 [inaudible]

Speaker 7: 34:49 Deported. Moms walked with Emma to the Sandy Cedar, a port of entry, carrying flags

Speaker 8: 34:59 [inaudible]

Speaker 7: 34:59 And Michael and the boys crossed into the corner. So they could walk back through the border. By Emma side, one of her sons who had joined the army war, his military,

Speaker 8: 35:08 The uniform, she was ready to go. And we crossed the border and there was some people interviewing somebody and they didn't show up. So they saw us and they, they overheard us talking or something and they asked if they could interview us. So they were taking pictures and, uh, for like, we were celebrities like, wow, [inaudible] Emma is saying, it felt amazing to walk through the big door as she called it, the port of entry, like a dream come true. We were walking as a family across the border. We got mom back. So yeah, it was a, it was a great feeling. I was like, yes, 12 years I did it. I did it. I did it. Give myself a Pat on the back. Emma and Michael have been living together in California. Ever since now, I get the cuddle love with my wife at night, kind of a weird feeling like I'm just got married again.

Speaker 6: 37:01 And that was Emma Sanchez and Michael Paulson talking with the port of entry host, Alan Lilienthal. You can hear the rest of the episode on KPBS, his port of entry podcast online at port of entry, pod.org or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Speaker 6: 37:30 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. The history of black films in America is both problematic and inspiring. It's problematic. And the racial stereotypes it presented and how underrepresented black voices have been in the creative process. Yet over the past century, there have been amazing examples of black filmmakers presenting their point of view and countering the white perspective, KPBS cinema junkie, Beth Huck Amando plans to highlight a century of black cinema for the month of February. And she is joining us with more Beth. Welcome. Hey, thank you. So cinema junkie is your blog and podcast here at KPBS. Explain what you're doing for black history month with it.

Speaker 10: 38:13 Sure. During the summer, I was highlighting a black filmmaker a day and people responded really well. So I decided that every day in February, I would highlight a film in chronological order of release to create a kind of timeline of black film history. So I'm sharing photos and info on social media and then collecting all the films on my cinema junkie blog to do this for black month.

Speaker 6: 38:36 So, so what's the criteria for being on the list.

Speaker 10: 38:39 It's five basic things. The most important being, it must be directed by a black filmmaker. I didn't want to have any of the films from a white perspective or a white director. So the films must feature a black cast. They must also be a us release because I wanted to focus on black films in this country because there's a wealth of black films from Africa that I'd love to cover in a different list. They must also have some sort of significance. So it can be a first, it can be overlooked or underappreciated tackle, provocative topics, challenge. The status quo have an impact on pop culture. Be pioneering are paving the way for others. Those kinds of things are important. And finally, I wanted to make sure that people could see these films, so they must be streaming or on YouTube, or be available on DVD or Blu-ray because I'm really hoping that people will seek out some of these movies. And that's really, my whole objective is to get people to appreciate this long history of black cinema, to understand how we arrived at, do the right thing or black Panther.

Speaker 6: 39:40 And, and speaking of just being able to see the films, you're starting with some silent films, why are these important? Well, I think it's important

Speaker 10: 39:48 To really know the past and directors like Oscar Micheaux, who made silence and early talkies is truly a pioneer and many of his films have been lost, but there were a few that have been saved in the library of Congress and have been restored. And they're really important to see and understand the roots of black cinema Michaud started the first black owned film production company and made films with all black cast aimed for a black audience. And these were known as race movies. So a film like within our Gates was made five years after birth of a nation and only months after the bloody Chicago race riots of 1919. And he depicts things like the lynching of an innocent family to counter the images and ideas that someone like DW Griffith had shown in birth of a nation. So he was challenging that white perspective and pointed out that it was whites who were committing some of these barbaric acts of cruelty. And to be fair, he was not popular across the board with all black audiences, but his films, the few that still exist are really important to see. And some of them are just amazing works.

Speaker 6: 40:53 It's, it's amazing how powerful a film can be and how it can help shape a narrative. What do you have coming up next?

Speaker 10: 41:00 Yeah. I want to bring up Spencer Williams. He was an actor and a director, but his pioneering work in early black film, maybe overshadowed by the controversy over his racially stereotyped role as Andy on the 1950s TV program, the Amos and Andy show, but hopefully Williams will be remembered for the more interesting work he did before his TV fame in 1941, he made the blood of Jesus, which served up a religious tale that crossed into surreal territory, complete with a devil and an angel fighting over a dying woman's soul. William's presents a portrait of black faith and community from baptism to death in a manner that feels very honest and sincere. The film was thought lost, but a prune was found in the eighties and it's since been added to the library of Congress's national registry of films. So here's a sample of the gospel music that drives the story

Speaker 8: 42:06 [inaudible].

Speaker 10: 42:06 So that was from Spencer Williams, 1941, film the blood of Jesus.

Speaker 8: 42:10 And you'll be highlighting some films from the 1970s known as blaxploitation. These films can be problematic for some people. So why do you think it's important to include them?

Speaker 10: 42:21 First of all, not all blaxploitation films are good. There are many that are not worth revisiting, but a lot of them were really noteworthy for creating opportunities for black filmmakers and actors, the mall

Speaker 8: 42:33 At Harlem back, they got shot, John Shaw, introducing Richard Roundtree.

Speaker 10: 42:45 So someone like Gordon parks became the first African-American to direct a major studio film with shaft. While you have someone like Melvin van Peebles, who made sweet, sweet back's badass song, completely outside the studio system. And he created a film that was so dynamic and experimental that even today, it's kind of shocking for audiences to see how audacious his storytelling, his cinematic storytelling is. I spoke with David F. Walker. Who's an author. He did the shaft graphic novel, and he has a new one out about the black Panther party. And we share a love for blaxploitation films. And we talked a little bit about why these films are important.

Speaker 11: 43:25 There's two things I tell people they need to consider. One is that what blaxploitation did is it signaled a shift in the way lackness was presented. And it was a fairly significant shift in the way it was presented in popular culture. And that shift was reflective of power, fantasies and desires. And in a lot of ways, the unfulfilled dreams of the sixties and in terms of film and TV, this is what grew out of that. And I think that if you look at those films and then you look at the decade that came before and you can see that progression, right? So that's that's first and foremost. But I think that when you look at say, get out, or, or Marvel's black Panther movie, like I'd argue that none of those films would exist today. If it wasn't for blaxploitation, because if nothing else, what the blaxploitation era and the movement itself did, was it opened the door and created opportunities that that door was never, they could never shut that door again. I would say that if everybody doesn't have at least two pairs of glasses through which view everything they should have at least have a pair of bifocals with different lenses, you can look at everything through a contemporary lens and that's fine, but you have to look through everything through a contextual lens of the time and the era in which it was made.

Speaker 10: 44:45 So I think to appreciate where we are now or why we haven't progressed more than we have. We need to look back at the past and we need to celebrate where these films made progress. Even if there are some times problematic aspects to them as well. And black exploitation films had an undeniable cultural yeah.

Speaker 6: 45:01 Impact. So where can we find a, your social media post about this?

Speaker 10: 45:07 You can check out my cinema junkie page on Facebook, or you can follow me as cinema Beth on Twitter and Instagram.

Speaker 6: 45:14 I've been speaking with Beth duck, Amando KPBS arts and culture reporter, Beth, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. All the films will be collected on Beth's cinema junkie blog at KPBS dot

Speaker 11: 45:39 [inaudible].

KPBS Midday Edition podcast branding

KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.