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Remembering A San Diego Civil Rights Leader

 February 17, 2021 at 4:59 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday, February 17th We Remember the leader of San Diego’s Black Panther Party. That’s coming up, but first... let’s do the headlines…. San Diego county public health officials reported nearly 700 new covid-19 infections on tuesday and 5 additional deaths. The county’s current infection rates have dropped enough that - per state regulations -- elementary schools could reopen for pre-kindergarten to sixth grade students. However San Diego Unified and Chula Vista Elementary school districts remain cautious and will likely stay closed for now, though there has been optimism for reopening. A new shipment of Moderna vaccine arrived yesterday in San Diego county following a delay that forced some vaccination stations to temporarily close and appointments to be rescheduled.. The Petco Park Super station says it will reopen for appointments this morning. Governor Gavin Newsom was in east Los Angeles on tuesday where a new FEMA-supported vaccination site is opening. Similar to the sites in San Diego, it hopes to deliver thousands of doses a day to people in their cars. Newsom didn’t specify if San Diego would see federal-supported vaccine sites, but he hopes there will be more opening soon statewide. From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Trunnell Price, one of the original founders of the San Diego Black Panther Party, died late last month. KPBS’s Amita Sharma spoke with Price in 2017 about the police brutality and community poverty that spawned the local Black Power Movement in the late 1960s. Last week she spoke to others in the movement about Price’s legacy and she brings us this remembrance. Trunnell Price wore the trademark Black Panther beret 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 segregation ran deep. “Most people outside of the Black community did not want any interaction with the people in Southeastern San Diego, the people in Logan Heights.” Price grew up in Southeastern San Diego during the 1950s and 60s. Even though the city’s racial lines were unmarked, Price said police harassed them if they strayed beyond those borders. ”If we were accosted by the San Diego Police Department for whatever reason, pick one, we were usually taken down by Father Joe’s at the lumber yard and we were brutalized. We were beaten or talked down to or cussed out.” 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. “I was immediately attracted to it because it allowed me to help the Black community.” 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.... “We think of the histories of Black communities and we think back East, the histories of Detroit, Chicago and Harlem as having a rich Black community. The West Coast was also very active in the culture, new types of music and new types of dress. It was a very upbeat, robust society.” The flip side of this renaissance were civil rights protests highlighting poverty rooted in high unemployment and substandard schools…. “There was 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 the gate, Price said the new local Black Panthers fed the elderly, children and homeless people. They also started community health clinics. “We were more excited than the people because we were fulfilling our obligation.” Those programs stemmed from the Black Panthers’ strategy to educate, employ, house African-Americans and demand that government treated them fairly. “He basically taught the 10-point platform and what it meant, you know.” Fellow original San Diego Black Panther Henry Wallace met Price when they were teenagers in the early days of the local party at SDSU. “He'd be so studious with his little briefcase. He was a very serious young man. And we just we used to laugh and mess with him.” Yet, Wallace said Price’s earnest approach made him particularly effective at his party job as minister of both education and information. Poor health prevented Price from fully reprising that role when 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 Price’s feet.” “Trunnell Price was key in terms of helping individuals that come to the struggle, as well as community members recognize how powerful we can be as a collective.” 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. “If they do that, God willing, they will realize that everybody has the right to life, liberty and happiness. It’s about respect. A lot of them think the people in the community should fear them. No man should fear another man.” And that was KPBS’ Amita Sharma. A memorial service for Trunnell Price is scheduled this Saturday at 11 am at the New Seasons Church in Spring Valley. Coming up.... Early data show the state vaccine roll out hasn’t been equitable. We’ll have that story and more local news next, just after the break. EARLY VACCINE NUMBERS FROM THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH SHOW THAT BLACK AND LATINX RESIDENTS ARE UNDER-REPRESENTED AMONG THOSE WHO HAVE GOTTEN THEIR SHOTS. CAPRADIO’S SAMMY CAIOLA Reports. Roughly 6.2 million COVID-19 shots have been administered in California. So far, that’s mostly been people in priority groups like health workers, long-term care facility residents and people over 65. Only 3% of all vaccines administered have gone to Black Californians, though six-and-a-half percent of the state’s population is Black. And just 16% of the doses have been given to Latinx residents — despite that group making up nearly 40% of the population Experts say transportation issues, health access and technology barriers are all part of the problem. In Sacramento, I'm Sammy Caiola. That was Cap Radio’s Sammy Caiola, reporting from Sacramento. California educators are in the process of finalizing a new Ethnic Studies Curriculum for K through 12 public schools. But now the first designers of the project are walking away in protest. CapRadio’s Sarah Mizes-Tan reports. Twenty Ethnic Studies experts who drafted the state’s original educational blueprint have requested their names be removed. They say the original purpose was to focus on people who have been marginalized because of race. Theresa Montano, professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge says the state’s new version expands the teachings out to include people whose voices are already represented. MONTANO: 9:27: in an ethnic studies course, you make an attempt to center the racialized communities of color whose histories for hundreds of years have been revised or repressed. The state board of education says it revised the curriculum 200 times and included various stakeholders and public comment. It’s set to be approved next month. That story from Cap Radio’s Sarah Mizes-Tan. A NEW “SEED LIBRARY” IN CITY HEIGHTS IS LENDING OUT NATIVE PLANTS AND FLOWERS TO people. KPBS’ MAX RIVLIN-NADLER reports. The seed library, sits in a custom-made concrete box, overlooking Manzanita Canyon in City Heights…. It works kind of like a regular library…. People take seeds of plants native to San Diego to plant in their own yards... And after their plants blossom, harvest those seeds and bring them back to the seed library. Anahi Mendéz was part of a group being trained by the San Diego Audubon Society that came up with the idea for the seed libraries…. wIt focuses only on natives, so people could take advantage of it and will start doing landscaping projects, landscaping, and start learning about natives in their local environments. The groups behind the seed library are planning for others in San Diego to meet demand… as the library has already had to be restocked with native seeds. That story from KPBS’ Max Rivlin Nadler. The Lunar New Year is here and celebrations are underway in San Diego County. KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says the two-week festival has changed a lot this year because of the pandemic. This year’s Lunar New Year festivities started on February 12th, to celebrate the year of the Ox. But the COVID-19 Pandemic is holding back full scale celebrations across the county. Lauren Garces, Special Events Director with the Convoy District, explains. “We’re having a lot of virtual Lunar New Year celebrations. So you’ll see live streams of the performances, they'll talk about the different food, educate people on the different traditions that families have.” Garces says some businesses in the Convoy district have had to close due to challenges posed by the pandemic, and encourages the community to support pan-Asian businesses to help keep them open. Jacob Aere, KPBS News. That story from KPBS’ Jacob Aere. Filmout is San Diego's LGBTQ film festival, and it’s been on hiatus since the pandemic hit. but now it’s restarted its monthly film series online. KPBS film critic Beth Accomando says the french-language indie film jumbo is available on friday and is well worth checking out. HERE’S THE ELEVATOR PITCH FOR JUMBO: A SHY YOUNG WOMAN TAKES A JOB AT AN AMUSEMENT PARK AND FALLS IN LOVE WITH THE NEW RIDE. NOW BEFORE YOU DISMISS THIS AS A CRINGE-WORTHY IDEA LET ME JUST SAY THAT JUMBO IS DELICIOUSLY SUBVERSIVE AND ORIGINAL. IT MAY NOT EXACTLY QUALIFY AS AN LGBTQ STORY BUT IT DEFINITELY DISPLAYS A QUEER SENSIBILITY IN ITS DEFIANT EMBRACE OF AN OUTSIDER WHO REFUSES TO CONFORM TO ANY STANDARD NOTION OF LOVE. IT SPEAKS TO ANYONE WHO’S BEEN MADE TO FEEL DIFFERENT OR TOLD THEY ARE NOT NORMAL. JEANNE IS THE YOUNG WOMAN AND JUMBO IS THE NAME SHE GIVES TO THE THEME PARK RIDE. SHE’S NEVER BEEN CLOSE TO ANYONE BUT THE PASSION SHE FEELS FOR JUMBO MAKES HER GIDDY WITH EXCITEMENT. THE BRILLIANCE OF ZOE WITTOCK’S FILM IS THAT SHE LETS US SEE JUMBO THROUGH JEANNE’S EYES WITH LITTLE CONCERN FOR WHETHER JUMBO IS A SENTIENT BEING OR NOT. THE POINT OF HER FILM IS THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER. JEANNE ISN’T HURTING ANYONE WITH HER ROMANTIC OBSESSION SO WHY NOT JUST LET HER ENJOY IT. THE FILM HAS AN INTOXICATING BEAUTY AND A DEEP SENSE OF EMPATHY. I APPLAUD FILMOUT FOR FINDING THIS WONDERFUL INDIE FILM AND SHOWCASING IT. That story from KPBS film critic Beth Accomando. Check out Jumbo and other films at filmoutsandiego dot org. That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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The co-founder of the San Diego chapter of the Black Panther Party, died last month at 72. Trunnell Price helped start the local chapter while a student at SDSU in the 1960s. Meanwhile, California’s vaccine rollout has not been equitable, according to early data. And, a new seed library is helping San Diegans plant native plants.