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

Data Analysis Shows Inequity In Vaccine Rollout

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY MATT HOFFMAN

Above: Patients waiting in line for a COVID-19 vaccine outside a vaccination super station in Chula Vista, Calif. Feb. 5, 2021.

The San Diego Union-Tribune analyzed data that show that San Diegans of Latino, Black and Asian descent are being vaccinated at lower rates than their white counterparts. Plus, the Santee city Council calls out Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego Board of Supervisors, for his remarks over the movement to recall Gov. Newsom. And the state of California has started a commission to study reparations for African Americans. Then, remembering Trunnell Price, co-founder of the San Diego Black Panther Party. Finally, author David F. Walker discusses his newest work, “The Black Panther Party,” and the film “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

Speaker 1: 00:01 Data highlights inequities in the vaccine rollout,

Speaker 2: 00:04 The main issues beyond being hesitant or being willing to get the shot is actually knowing how and where you can get it. Yeah.

Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. It's been one of the driest winters on record in the region.

Speaker 3: 00:28 We are well short, so we're basically around 50% of where we should be

Speaker 1: 00:34 And the case for reparations and how California is examining that. Plus remembering a founder of the black Panther party that's ahead on mid day to day, New data reveals San Diego's hardest hit communities are facing barriers to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. And it's more than just hesitancy the numbers, highlight inequity in the rollout biotech reporter, Jonathan Busan, along with Andrea Lopez via Fanya filed the report in the San Diego union Tribune. Jonathan joins us with details. Jonathan, welcome.

Speaker 2: 01:22 Thank you for having me. So your report

Speaker 1: 01:24 Analyzed the rate of vaccination among different ethnic groups in the County. Walk me through your, uh, primary takeaways on that.

Speaker 2: 01:32 So one of the primary takeaways was that even if you account for who can get the vaccine, who's eligible in San Diego right now, you still see that people of color are getting vaccinated at lower rates. So essentially we took a look at the county's data on their dashboard. We did our best to get data on who can get the vaccine right now, people 65 and up people in the healthcare field. And even when you account for eligibility, you can see that Hispanic or Latino San Diegans, uh, patients are getting vaccinated at somewhat lower rates than white residents, uh, and the black or African-American people are getting vaccinated at even lower rates. So even when you correct for this question of who can get the shot at the people who actually are getting the shot tend to be wider than you would expect.

Speaker 1: 02:20 And these groups are also the most impacted by COVID having the highest rates of hospitalization and death. Why are they bearing the brunt of this virus?

Speaker 2: 02:29 So there are a few things going on there. You know, we know this is the virus where it helps to be wearing a mask to be socially distant from people. And if you're doing a job where you can't actually be six feet apart, or if you're living in multi-generational households where you have contact with relatives who might be older and more vulnerable, because they have certain pre-existing conditions, you know, those are all, some of the reasons why we've seen consistently, for example, that about 55, sometimes close to 60% of COVID cases have been among people who were Hispanic or Latino, even though they're only about a third of the County. So that pattern of, uh, communities of color being a hard hit has been pretty consistent over the past year. Basically

Speaker 1: 03:12 We've previously talked about vaccine hesitancy among people of color on midday, but it's not the only issue leading to these lower rates of vaccination. Talk to me about that.

Speaker 2: 03:22 Yeah. Well, one of the main issues beyond being hesitant or being willing to get the shot is actually knowing how and where you can get it. And that's been, I think, confusing for a lot of San Diegans of all backgrounds, but know the fact that to sign up for a vaccine appointment, you generally need a computer because you have to go to my turn. You have to go through any of these online systems for the 20 plus vaccine sites that we have. So if you don't have a computer or if you're not comfortable using one, if you have language barriers, so maybe you don't speak English, maybe you speak Spanish or one of the other, you know, dozens of languages, especially in our refugee community. Then basic information that the rest of us take for granted about who can get the vaccine, even knowing what the vaccine is and then how to actually go about making those appointments. You know, those, those are all, some of the barriers. So technology language, and there is still to be fair. There is still some lingering hesitancy among people who are kind of in a wait and see mode as far as how these vaccines will affect people.

Speaker 1: 04:29 And how did the location of these vaccine sites, uh, impact the numbers?

Speaker 2: 04:35 So that's one of the things that I think in general, people have said, the County has done a decent job of putting in place more than 20 vaccine sites throughout the County, including the Superstation and Chula Vista. That's being run by sharp at a former Sears department store. And we stopped by there basically the other week and saw that a number of the people who were getting vaccinated were from Chula Vista were from nearby that area. Of course, you also have people who are trying to make appointments and going wherever they can get them. Uh, but there have been, you know, there are several sites in the South Bay, there's the sideshow Vesta, there's a site at Tubman Chavez. There's going to be some vaccination happening at the Malcolm X library, uh, this week as well. So the County is trying to create this infrastructure where you can get a shot, you know, closest to where you're at right now, but then you still have to be able to secure that appointment, which not everybody is able to do as easily.

Speaker 1: 05:35 But for a lot of people, the lack of transportation is still a barrier to getting vaccinated, right?

Speaker 2: 05:40 Yeah. That's, that's still a barrier. And you know, even though technically, if you do have a vaccine appointment, you can get a free ride on MTS. You know, if it's a matter of taking three buses to get to your vaccine appointment, as, as one of the doctors I was talking to the story you mentioned, uh, that's going to be a challenge. So there are certain groups that Chicano Federation, for example, has launched a call center to help Spanish speaking residents make appointments. And, uh, they're also offering transportation for people who don't have transportation. I spoke with Alliance health clinic, which mainly serves the refugee community as well as low income San Diego ones. They're doing vaccination on a small scale. So we're talking about about 250 doses so far. So they've also been offering transportation, transportation for folks who need it. And I think that's one of the things that ultimately is also as you pointed out a barrier. So there are groups that are trying to help with that piece of things too.

Speaker 1: 06:42 You mentioned earlier those over 65 healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are eligible for the vaccine right now, when can we expect people with pre-existing conditions to be added to that list?

Speaker 2: 06:55 So the state of California said on Friday that as of March 15th, people who have serious pre-existing conditions, as well as disabilities will be eligible for the vaccine. So it sounds like we're about a month away from that. You know, if you have hypertension, diabetes, obesity, a number of other conditions that the state has spelled out, you may be able to get the vaccine by mid-March regardless of your age,

Speaker 1: 07:25 Expanding the eligibility, uh, in that way would, uh, impact the inequities, right?

Speaker 2: 07:32 It should, I, I very likely will because we know that the rates of heart disease or obesity, diabetes, a number of medical conditions, sickle cell, the rates of those different conditions and diseases are higher among people of color. So as we bring in those groups, into the vaccine rollout, you would expect to see those groups represented more among who's. Who's getting their shots as well

Speaker 1: 07:56 With San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter Jonathan Busen. Jonathan, thank you very much

Speaker 2: 08:01 For joining us anytime. [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 08:13 When it comes to San Diego's weather, this February there's good news and bad news. The bad news is we're looking at one of the driest Februarys on record in a winter that's already behind in rainfall. The good news is that we're one of the few areas of the country. That's not being battered with winter storms and freezing temperatures. And that includes places like Texas and Louisiana, which rarely see winter storms joining me to discuss the extremes of this year's winter weather is meteorologist Alex tardy of the national weather service here in San Diego. And Alex, welcome back.

Speaker 2: 08:51 Thanks for having me on again.

Speaker 4: 08:53 Now let's start with what's happening here. How far behind normal winter rainfall are we?

Speaker 5: 08:59 Yeah, so here we are in the middle of February and February is our wettest month on our normals. When you look at state of California or even Southern California, so it should rain in February right now, as we stand in February, we're looking at deficits here in San Diego that are three and a half inches below where we should be. So despite the rain we had in late January, we are well short. So we're basically around 50% of where we should be. Why

Speaker 4: 09:29 Aren't we getting many winter storms?

Speaker 5: 09:32 Well, the main issue is the storm track. And before we started looking at this winter, we did expect that we were going to be on the dry side of things. And part of that was because of the LA Nina, the cold phase along the equitone Pacific ocean that was forming in the fall. And we figured that would drive the storms further to our North and East. And also because of the general pattern that's been going on over the past couple of years, storms going to our North in East. And so that's really materialized and it's not like there's less storms. It's just that they're all passing quite a bit far to our North. And they're going into the Midwest and almost completely missing us on occasion. You know, we've had five storms this year, but five is not enough. Uh, this deep into the winter, are we heading toward a drought? Yeah. Right now we're in a deficit of precipitation. And what that means, the difference between that and drought is, uh, we have a long-term deficit, basically this winter. So we're entering into a short-term drought. We're not really into a true drought when you're talking about water supply shortages or other type of impacts. Now, Northern California, different story. Their drought began last year and they continue to be below average. And they're in a true drought in that region, but also the California right now, we're just looking at it, significant deficit of precipitation.

Speaker 4: 10:56 Uh, meanwhile, another major winter storm is heading from the midsection of the country to the East coast. How many storms does that make it in the last week or so?

Speaker 5: 11:08 Yeah, it's been, it's been several storms. Um, uh, minimal three. It really started in about mid January. So at the time that we saw some significant storms here in Southern California, late January, the storm track really set up and became active across most of the United States in mid January. And now here we are talking in mid February, the past couple of weeks, it's really accelerated storms are going by to our North, but they're carving across Texas gathering that Gulf moisture and then moving up the East coast. The other thing that's happened that really changed this month is the cold air out of Canada. Uh, so it's really, we call it the polar vortex or that sort of speak, but the cold air has come down out of Canada often as it does in February, but it's been anchored. And so when you have the ingredients for an active storm track, the cold air and the moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the country, that's the recipe for really big and messy storms.

Speaker 4: 12:07 Why have places like Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana been hit so hard by winter storms this year

Speaker 5: 12:14 When the cold air finally decided to come down from Canada and Alaska. Uh, and, and basically we're taking their cold air. It's been much colder in North Texas in the Midwest than it has been in parts of Alaska. So we're literally stealing their cold air. And so when we actually get that cold air, then you end up in a situation where you're having snow freezing rain and very nasty travel conditions like we've been seeing

Speaker 4: 12:40 Yeah, more than 25 people have died from these storms, any sign of a break coming for these States, suffering from storms and power outages,

Speaker 5: 12:49 Not really a longterm break. The storm tracks still remains active. The good news is that we do see the cold air. That's really causing all of this shifting to the North back into Canada.

Speaker 4: 13:02 And what about San Diego? Will we be seeing some more storms anytime soon and get some rain?

Speaker 5: 13:08 Yeah, it doesn't look like it. So for the month of February, most indications are that the precipitation that we do get would be light, uh, just like what we saw yesterday morning, light precipitation. It gets us further behind in our deficit. And when we get into the spring time, we could be talking about the development of drought here and even in Southern California, not just Northern California. So the long range outlook for February is, is not bone dry, but mostly dry, but much below average. And we don't see much promise in March. Now I do think though, because of the storm track being so active and coming out of Canada, we will see a couple more storms that are significant as we roll through March. It's just that they're going to be few and far between. So we're still talking about overall dry conditions. We are looking at a mild trend to coming up for the latter half of February, where things start getting more mild. Um, and, and that will really make a seal spring like

Speaker 4: 14:06 Springtime, right? Springtime in February. That's not what we need. I've been speaking with meteorologist Alex tardy of the national weather service here in San Diego, Alex.

Speaker 5: 14:17 Yeah. Thanks so much for having me on

Speaker 4: 14:28 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade. Heinemann the recall effort against governor Gavin Newsome and which organizations may be giving that effort aid and support. I've stoked a controversy in of all places. The Santee city council council members voted to ask San Diego County board of supervisors, chair, Nathan Fletcher to step down after he suggested the recall effort was being led by those linked with white supremacists neo-Nazis and right wing militia groups, Santi, denounced that statement as hateful rhetoric, although reporting by the LA times has established some of those links. The controversy provoked by Fletcher's comments and the history of hateful rhetoric. Insanity makes an odd juxtaposition for San Diego union Tribune, columnist, Michael Smolins, and he joins us now. Michael welcome. Hi, Maureen. How are you today? Very well, thank you for being here. Where did Nathan Fletcher make these comments in the first place?

Speaker 6: 15:30 Well, there was a June 12th remote news conference. It was the anti recall effort, uh, the defending Gavin Newsome and, uh, he joined, uh, Democrats democratic leaders and office holders across the state, including, uh, San Diego mayor, Todd, Gloria, uh, based sickly denouncing the recall effort. And the theme was twofold. One that there were extremist groups as Fletcher mentioned. And so did Gloria linked to, uh, the recall effort, uh, and also they equated it with, uh, there was a lot of backlash initially, uh, particularly on the equating, the coup with people. Um, even like-minded Democrats saying, wait a minute, a recall is a totally legal process. A coup is not, but they were tying these people to the kinds of people, if not the exact same people that, that did the assault on the Capitol. Uh, just six days earlier on January 6th

Speaker 4: 16:21 Now the right wing links that Fletcher referenced in the recall effort, they were turned up and kind of confirmed by the LA times. Were they not?

Speaker 6: 16:30 Yes, it was interesting because initially not only were the Democrats called out for, for, you know, making the comparison to a coup, but also not having any, uh, evidence that, of these links and not, not giving him any examples and so forth, uh, including an LA times editorial, oddly enough days later, their news staff looked into this and they found, uh, numerous links. It's hard to quantify how deeply involved these groups were, but clearly they were involved in, in signature gathering and signing petitions. And even in one case, the infamous problems, uh, provided security at one anti Newsome rally, which makes the Santee city council action a little more curious because their action came after this news had broken by the LA times. That's, uh, extremists were involved.

Speaker 4: 17:16 Did Santee city council members say they are joining these rebukes against Fletcher?

Speaker 6: 17:22 Um, it's hard to say why, uh, you know, I think that, that, that Santi figures that because of their history in recent times and over the decades with racist issues and racism, uh, they felt compelled to call out, well, wait a minute, you know, before being beaten up, not them personally, but their city, uh, we should be calling it out elsewhere.

Speaker 4: 17:42 Could you go into that a little bit more Santi has been the site of, of recent white supremacist incidents. It,

Speaker 6: 17:50 Yes. Uh, last year there were two unfortunate incidents within a matter of days of each other in may. Uh, one guy was wearing a KKK style hood in a grocery store and, and like five days later, a couple wearing, you know, pandemic facial mask that they had a Nazi insignia on the mask that made national news. And that would be embarrassing for any community, but Santi has a history of, you know, issues with racism and white supremacists back in the sixties and seventies, there were KKK rallies and even cross burnings back there, uh, subsequently there was skinhead activity. And then there were some, uh, you know, racially motivated violence that has tarred the city. So it really has its image took a beating and all that sort of came back up last year. And then frankly, again, because the city council decided to weigh in on this.

Speaker 4: 18:43 Now, why would Santi with its own history as you've been, just been speaking about with a right wing extremists and white supremacists, why would it call out someone for criticizing the involvement of those very groups in a political recall?

Speaker 6: 18:59 Well, that's, that's a good question. Uh, as I wrote my call I'm, I mean, one thing that it was guaranteed to do was to rekindle the interest and the reflection on Santis history, uh, Santi has tried mightily, uh, including the same council to get past that they did a lot. They, they had community outreach, they expanded a community police board. In this regard, they put a banners saying Santi is a welcoming place and we support unity. So it is sort of curious, especially when as one council member, the one member who abstained from voting Ron hall, he said, I don't see this solves anything. And, you know, frankly it'll probably create some enemies. So while obviously their action was cheered by, uh, certain elements of the community and in the larger political world, it raised the question why they would get an official city action. Uh, in this case

Speaker 4: 19:52 What's been Nathan Fletcher's reaction to the controversy.

Speaker 6: 19:56 Well, he sort of dismissed it saying, you know, the city Santee is officially lost its mine. He hit back. They, they voted for, you know, to send him a letter, chastising him and calling on him to apologize and just stepped down as County board of supervisors, chairman, uh, he didn't do either of those things. And he did point out that there was this LA times article that basically substantiated what he was saying so that they had no basis in calling this hateful rhetoric because there were facts behind it.

Speaker 4: 20:28 Now, you know, it seems like even very local politics is getting uglier more polarized. Is the potential recall bringing that out in other places as well?

Speaker 6: 20:39 Well, you know, you say it's, it's, it's happening everywhere. Everybody wants unity and, and turn down the dial on the, the, the tone, but you know, it's become part of politics. And frankly, a lot of the Republican party has to deal with these elements. You know, these extremist elements because, you know, frankly, they become more involved in Republican politics. Uh, it is still the party of Trump, even though he's out of office and he has attracted these groups and given them standing quite frankly, if not overtly encouraging them, which some people believe he has certainly enabling them and, and sort of casting the stigma off them, uh, even calling them Patriots. This is going to be, I think, a problem in the recall campaign, assuming the recall qualifies, and there's a special recall election later this year, certainly you're going to see advertising along these lines at that point out extremist groups are involved. I, you know, are they going to be portrayed as the major part of the recall? Probably. Is that the reality? Probably not, but that's politics.

Speaker 7: 21:38 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune columnist, Michael Smolins Michael. Thank you. Thank you

Speaker 1: 21:49 For African-Americans. America has bad credit as the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr said in his, I have a dream speech nearly 50 years ago. The country has defaulted on its promise of 40 acres and a mule along with Liberty and justice for all. Now, the state of California has started a commission to study reparations. A DISA LK belong is a professor of Africana studies at SDSU, and he makes the case for reparations in an opinion piece. He wrote for the San Diego union Tribune. I spoke with him recently, here's that interview California is talking about reparation secretary of state, Shirley Weber, who was previously a state assembly member for the 79th district authored assembly, bill 31 21 to study and develop reparations proposals for African-Americans. What do you think California? And this country needs to study as it pertains to reparations at this point? I mean, what's left to look into,

Speaker 6: 22:47 Well, honestly, I don't think there's a whole lot, uh, to study. I mean, certainly the data already exists, uh, that let us know about, uh, you know, educational advancement, uh, economics, um, incarceration rates, uh, birth rates. I mean, there are just a number of metrics that we could look at to see that African-Americans are still, uh, in a state of oppression in this country. So, you know, I don't know that we necessarily have to steady it, uh, but perhaps from a political standpoint, uh, that is considered a necessary step on the path to, uh, truly dealing with reparations. But I am proud of the work that our secretary of state did, Dr. Shirley Weber. Uh, I hope

Speaker 8: 23:46 That the state of California, you know, kind of do right by its African-American citizens, uh, but also serve as a model for the rest of the country, you know, for what, for what can happen.

Speaker 1: 23:59 And we have this conversation about reparations. Many people think it's just about slavery, but you point out that reparations would need to address contemporary forms of oppression and everything in between. Can you explain that a bit more?

Speaker 8: 24:12 Oh, absolutely. I mean, of course enslavement, uh, is the original sin of this nation. And, you know, the situation that African-Americans find ourselves in today is a result of that, uh, troubled traumatic history, but subsequent to enslavement, I mean, we had years of Jim Crow segregation, a racialized violence in, uh, you know, terror, terrorism really directed towards African-Americans with lynching and, uh, sexual assaults were also something that was a pandemic in African-American communities or, or racialized sexual assaults. Uh, so there were, there are a number of forms of oppression and discrimination, uh, since enslavement, that is also a part of the reparations debate. And in fact, that's most significant to the re reparations conversation than enslavement itself.

Speaker 1: 25:15 So what do you think reparation should be for African-Americans?

Speaker 8: 25:19 Well, I think it can be a number of things. I think it should be a number of things, whether we're talking about housing grants, uh, free public education or free post-secondary education, free healthcare. And, uh, of course, you know, healthcare is something that is a right, that all Americans should have. Uh, but that's definitely one of them. I think that a targeted affirmative action program, uh, should certainly be implemented. Of course we have affirmative action nationwide course, but the primary beneficiaries even have affirmative action are white women. So I think that, you know, reparations can take and should take, uh, a number of forms and really not just one,

Speaker 1: 26:04 What role then does social justice play in reparations? And why is it so important?

Speaker 8: 26:10 I don't think that this country could really move forward and truly be what it has always said. It was, uh, without actually living up to these ideals of social justice. I mean the United States government and its citizens since its birth have all ways gone about the world, promoting itself in such a way that doesn't really reflect the reality of the people that actually live here or LA, or at least in this context, uh, African African-Americans. So, so social justice is very much a part of reparations, but to add to that when, and if reparations are awarded to African-Americans, there must also be put in place preventative measures so that these kinds of things do not happen again. So it's really not enough, uh, to provide reparations without truly creating a just and good multicultural society. So social justice is very much a part of reparations it's reparations itself, but it's also instituting preventative measures to ensure that we live in a society that we think we should live in a just society

Speaker 1: 27:26 And reparations. Aren't a new concept for America. Can you talk a bit about that?

Speaker 8: 27:32 Well, it's not, you know, this conversation of reparations for African-Americans, you know, or reparations for African-Americans is not as pioneering, you know, revolutionary strategy or tactic to address past wrongs. Uh, but it's one in a line of reparations. I mean, you know, when we talk about reparations for Japanese Americans, for their unconscionable internment in concentration camps during world war two, there has been reparations given to indigenous people of this country, not nearly enough, but that, that happened even, you know, to, to an extent, uh, Jewish Americans have received, you know, reparations for something that the, the type of anti-Semitism that didn't actually take place here in the United States. So there is a, there is a blueprint for reparations, uh, in, in this country and there's no justifiable excuse to support reparations, uh, for other groups and then deny reparations for, uh African-Americans.

Speaker 1: 28:40 Why do you think it's taken so long for America to just now begin to talk about reparation?

Speaker 8: 28:47 Well, I think the protests of the 2020, uh, put the plight of African-Americans, uh, front and center in this country, I think that if the pandemic and the protest never happened, we wouldn't be having this conversation today. So I think that's the reason why we are having the conversation, uh, but hopefully, uh, unlike some of the conversations that we have had, which have been very much cosmetic, uh, just kind of scratching the surface, but hopefully this discussion of reparations, you know, we'll eventually have much more traction.

Speaker 1: 29:24 I've been speaking with SDSU professor of Africana studies at decent LK blond professor. Okay. Balon, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 8: 29:32 You're welcome. And thank you so much for inviting me.

Speaker 3: 29:41 [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 29:45 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh, Darnell price. One of the original founders of the San Diego black Panther party has died. KPBS is Amica Sharma spoke with price in 2017 about the police brutality and community poverty that spawned the local black power movement in the late sixties. And last week, she spoke to others in the movement about prices of legacy Chanel price were the trademark black Panther Baret almost as a second skin. It represented the antidote to what he had witnessed and lived with fierce eyes, a strong voice, and a desire to convey with precision what it meant to be black or Brown in San Diego in 1967, price described a time when the city's racial fault lines ran deep

Speaker 10: 30:36 Enables conservative city, and most people outside of the black community here in San Diego did not want any interaction with the people in the inner cities. The people in Southeast San Diego, the people in Logan Heights

Speaker 9: 30:50 Price grew up in Southeastern San Diego during the 1950s and sixties, even though the city's racial lines were unmarked, price said, police harassed them. If they strayed beyond those borders,

Speaker 10: 31:02 If we were accosted by the San Diego police department for what ever reason pick one, we are usually taken down by father Joe's at the lumberyards, and we were brutalized. You know, we were beaten or talked down to or cussed out.

Speaker 9: 31:19 So price was enthusiastic as a 17 year old San Diego state student in 1967, when the national black Panther party in Oakland asked the black student union at the university to form a local chapter,

Speaker 10: 31:33 But it allowed me an opportunity to help the black committee

Speaker 9: 31:36 And help. He said was long overdue life within Southeastern San Diego was a tale of duality while it was in the midst of a vibrant revival

Speaker 10: 31:46 Coming out with new types of music and new types of dress and things of that nature. It was a very upbeat, robust society.

Speaker 9: 31:55 The flip side of this Renaissance where civil rights protests highlighting poverty rooted in high unemployment and substandard schools.

Speaker 10: 32:04 There's a lot of social unrest, a lot of disappointment in the black neighborhoods and black communities throughout the United States, San Diego was not any different from

Speaker 9: 32:14 The gate. Price said the new local black Panthers fed the elderly children and homeless people. They also started community health clinics. Those programs stemmed from the black Panthers strategy to educate, employ Howes African-Americans and demand that government treated them fairly. Or are you told basically the 10 point platform and what it meant. Fellow original San Diego, black Panther, Henry Wallace met price when they were teenagers in the early days of the local party at SDSU

Speaker 11: 32:46 Where this little briefcase, he was very serious young. Man. We just laugh

Speaker 9: 32:53 For health prevented price from fully reprising that role with the local black Panthers reactivated in 2017 after Donald Trump was elected president, but current San Diego, black Panther chairman, Robert Williams said he still learned a lot about the importance of education and lifelong curiosity among other things from just sitting at prices. Speed,

Speaker 11: 33:16 Cornell price was key in terms of helping individuals that come to the struggle. As one as community members recognize how powerful we can be as a collective.

Speaker 9: 33:27 I never got to ask price about the racial justice protests last year, following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, but he had long called for police to reflect deeply about how they interact with communities of color.

Speaker 10: 33:43 They do that God willing. They will realize that everybody has a right to life. Liberty question is about respect. A lot of police officers think that people in the community should fear to, you know, man's fair. Another man,

Speaker 9: 34:01 Amita Sharma KPBS news. A Memorial service for Trunnell price is scheduled for this Saturday at 11:00 AM at new seasons church in spring Valley, The legacy of the black Panthers is also being honored in a graphic novel released last month by author David F. Walker Walker has written graphic novels about Frederick Douglas, as well as shaft. His new book arrives at the same time as the new film Judas and the black Messiah, which looks to the murder of Panther member, Fred Hampton, KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando sat down for a conversation with David Walker,

Speaker 11: 34:45 David, your graphic novel, the black Panther party has just come out. What was it that inspired you to write this and to choose to do this as a graphic novel? Oh, it's a, it's an interesting story. I, um, about two years ago, I did a book on the life of Frederick Douglas and so that in some ways it started there, but the truth of the matter is, is that I had wanted to do something about the black Panther party for, for going on 30 years now. And when I had gotten the Frederick Douglas deal with 10 speed press, I had, I casually mentioned to my editor at the time that, you know, Oh, you know, I've always wanted to do a graphic novel about the black Panther party specifically about Fred Hampton and his murder. And he said, um, you know, I think that's a great story, but there's a bigger story there. And my concern be do people, you know, well, people understand really the gravity of, of, of who Fred was and what happened to him that they don't understand the black Panther party. And that got me to thinking about, yeah, that's a, that's a really good point. And so I shifted gears and just knew like, okay, I'm going to do something about the black Panther party as a whole.

Speaker 12: 35:57 The book begins with the sense of once upon a time and myth versus reality was that one of the key points that you wanted to address about the black Panthers

Speaker 11: 36:08 It was. And the more I studied and the more I wrote the book, the more I felt that, that it was crucial to address that upfront. I knew going in that I had to address two or three things. And one was the fact that in sort of our collective consciousness and within this larger historical narrative, they exist more as myth than anything else. And then I also wanted to try to address and to contextualize what America was like leading up to the, their formation, because the, the story of their formation is almost always presented as a well, they are a bunch of angry, young black men who started this militant organization wanting to, you know, start a carrying guns. That's not their origins, right? Their origin is go back to everything from slavery to civil war, to reconstruction, to the great migration, all these things. And if you don't understand that, and if you don't understand the sixties in particular, the freedom marches and the killings of Goodman, Chaney and Swarner and all these sorts of events, if you don't understand that, you're never going to be able to understand the Panthers,

Speaker 12: 37:13 A couple of the key points that you would like people to come away from this with in terms of how they view the black Panther party

Speaker 11: 37:23 There's aspects of this book that really explain where we are as a country today and how we got here. And I mentioned in the afterward, I wrote the afterward right after the killing of George Floyd and in the, the protests and the violence from the police and the aftermath. Yeah. I can say emphatically without a moment's hesitation that I was, I was the person who was not surprised by any of it. And when the, you know, the events on January 6th, I wasn't surprised by it. And, you know, as I was getting phone calls from friends and family, text messages back and forth, and, and I'm trying to sort of remain calm in my, my armchair historian voice and go, you know, well, if you, if you ever read the Kerner commission report, you would know that this is a, you know, but people don't know what the Kerner commission report is, but if you read the book, you'll, you'll find out. And, and I think that that's crucial because right now we're living in a time when the old adage is that history repeats itself. And we're doing to repeat the mistakes that we didn't learn from in the past. And we're living it man, every single day.

Speaker 12: 38:32 Well, for people who don't know what the Kerner report was, remind them kind of how prescient it was in terms of predicting a lot of the things we're dealing with right now

Speaker 11: 38:41 In 1967, there was a series of uprisings in cities all across the U S the vast majority of them were racially motivated. Most of them started in the wake of police brutality, and it wasn't just the summer of 67. And it happened in all throughout the sixties to be perfectly honest, but 67 was the worst year. It was called the long hot summer of 67. And in the aftermath of that, president Johnson wanted to know why it happened, what happened and what could be done to, to change it so that it doesn't happen again. And he got a bunch of politicians together led by Otto Kerner out of Illinois. They spent like seven or eight months putting together this, doing this comprehensive study on everything from poverty to the education system, to the medical healthcare system, to law enforcement. And they came up with this really startling document that said America was essentially two countries, a one black, one white separate and unequal.

Speaker 11: 39:42 And then it spelled out all the reasons why it was separate and on equal. And it all came down to matters of oppression and racism, disparity in wealth, things like that, all the things that we talk about, all the things that us lefties talk about, right? And then it spelled out everything that was going to happen if these issues weren't addressed, but then also spelled out how to begin to address these things. So it didn't happen. President Johnson to his credit, dismissed it all as being a plot by the commies. And that somehow the communists had infiltrated the commission and, and literally nothing, none of the recommendations in the Kerner report were adhered to or addressed, I should say. And, and th th th the interesting thing is when you, like so many people haven't heard of it, right. Uh, came out in 1968. This was like a best-selling book.

Speaker 11: 40:35 Like it was published and put out, you can, you can get it online for free right now. There's PDFs of it. The, the Kerner report was like, that was it. This is what people are talking about in 67 68. And that wasn't a lifetime ago that wasn't a hundred years ago. That was just a little over 50 years. It was 52 years ago. So I just find it interesting how few people know about it and how few people understand the impact of what was going on in the sixties and that the answers were there. Right? And the problem is, is that every time we're faced as a nation, every single time we've been faced with the difficult things that need to be done, we don't do it. At least if it comes to race, we don't do it. And this goes all the way back to the founding of when, when, when we went from being a colony to a nation, when we declared our independence from, from Britain and the constitution was written, there was an opportunity to address race and the issues of race. And this is in the 17 hundreds. And it wasn't, and they're there, you know, people who sign the declaration of independence and who helped draft the constitution, who said, this is it, slavery and race are the things that will destroy this country. That was, you know, 240 something years ago, and not to make light of it, but it was like, they were absolutely right

Speaker 12: 41:52 Now in terms of how you depict the black Panther party. One of the things I appreciated as you include some things like their 10 point program, which people have probably heard about, but probably fewer people have actually read through it. And this is included in its entirety. Hmm.

Speaker 11: 42:09 Yeah, no, I, I felt like the 10 point program is it's one of those things you hear about the black Panther party had a 10 point program. It was a manifesto and it was divided into two parts. There was what we, what we want and what we believe Huey P Newton, Bobby Seale put this together in 1966 and all, all of what they wanted and all what they believed are still relevant today of the 10 things, that stuff like we want an end to police brutality. We want an end to systemic racism. We want an end to poverty. We want better educations. We want fair housing. We want all of these things that we're talking about. This is all the stuff the Panthers were talking about 50 years ago, 50 plus years ago.

Speaker 12: 42:51 Well, one thing that your book also points out, which I wasn't quite as aware of is how young these people were that were involved in this. And, you know, for somebody who's like 20 to go and read the constitution to try and find things, to support some of the views that they wanted to project out to the public. I mean, it's, it's really interesting how smart and passionate they were at that young age.

Speaker 11: 43:20 Yeah. That I, you know, I, I talked about, you know, some of the more difficult aspects of writing this book, putting this project together, and there was, there was no moment that was more difficult than the moment that I realized that that Bobby Hutton who was killed by the police when he was 17 years old, he was the youngest member of the Panthers. He was the first member that Bobby Seale and Huey Newton recruited the moment that I realized that he, that I was old enough to be his dad right now. And I was working on the section of the book that was detailing his murder. And at some point I realized, you know, I'm, I'm sitting there studying the death of a 17 year old kid who put his life on the line for something he believed in for his community, but did he really know what that meant?

Speaker 11: 44:04 And I think that, that most of the Panthers probably didn't fully know what that meant, because when you're in your late teens and early twenties, do you know what that means? You know, there's a fire in your belly, there's a driving your spirit, but the maturity isn't quite there. The, the there's so many things that, that we don't have. And that once I had that realization about Bobby Hutton, actually the book became more and more difficult write, but yeah, that youth, I mean, that's what worked in their favor and it's also what worked against them, or I don't want to thank you very much for talking about your new book. Thanks. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. It's always good to talk to you.

Speaker 4: 44:44 That was Beth Armando speaking with author David F. Walker about his graphic novel, the black Panther party. You can listen to her full interview on her two-part cinema junkie podcast.

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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.