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  • I have lived through some of the most seminal moments in American history, and you will also reporting on It's you.

  • You work for 50 years in this business.

  • What do you think was the biggest change that you saw in your time in journalism?

  • As the first African American woman working at The Washington Post?

  • I think the biggest change.

  • Waas, um, after the urban uprisings of the sixties, when the Kerner Commission, which was a commission that was named by the president, said the media had in many ways contributed to the fact that the that the urban riots occurred and that was because they had not integrated their reporting and the editing staffs, and in many ways, they said they were just showing us America only through white eyes.

  • So I started at the post in 1961.

  • When I went back in 1972 it was a little different because there were more reporters of color rights, more females.

  • But still it was very white, Male dominated.

  • You came into this world at a time when it was just something that did not happen.

  • You walked into a newsroom where there were only two other reporters who were black.

  • You were the first African American woman in this space and reading in the book that is one of the I mean just the most harrowing passages where they had a policy off, not reporting when black people were murdered.

  • One.

  • And it's even called those cheap deaths that shouldn't be reported.

  • How do you even begin to work in that kind of environment?

  • And did you help the editors understand why it was crucial to report all news?

  • I tried to to help them, and I think the way I began working in that environment is because Dr Martin Luther King was beginning to say to young black people go into why corporations and Excel so part.

  • It felt like I was almost part of the freedom movement by going and becoming the first African American woman to The Washington Post.

  • I didn't think I was a Trailblazer at that point.

  • I just was doing the job that I loved.

  • I had had four years in the black press, and black press has been very important in America, both in terms of reporting on civil rights but in going going places where white reporters wouldn't go right.

  • We're white.

  • Newspapers wouldn't go.

  • So that experience also have to prepare me for my work at The Washington Post.

  • I I'm honestly fascinated to know in that time when this was happening, Were you optimistic?

  • Did you think that you would see America change?

  • Or was the resistance to integration so strong that you thought it would last forever?

  • The integration was so strong that I never thought I would see a black president.

  • Wow, that waas a huge, um, step forward run many ways.

  • But of course, with America it can have the liberal and then it can swing to conservatism and you see what we have.

  • Now I see what we have now doing congratulations on creating and working with a group of people on a project that has gone on to become more than just a moment, but rather a rethinking off America's history.

  • Let's start with the why behind this.

  • I mean, history seems like it has been written, so why try and write it again?

  • Well, history has been written, but it's been written to tell us a certain story, and the 16 19 project is trying to reframe that story.

  • and it's really about the ongoing legacy of slavery.

  • We've been taught that slavery was a long time ago.

  • Get over it, which is something nearly every black person this country hears at some point.

  • And the 16 19 project is really saying that slavery was so foundational to America and its institutions that we are still suffering from that legacy now.

  • And it's exploring the many ways that we that we still are.

  • That was an idea that I don't think I had fully thought about before I read this magazine was the concept that America's foundation was a lie in, that it was a group of promises that weren't that weren't fulfilled.

  • You know, people of color and two women in many respects, and and what you argue in this magazine is that black people basically have the job of making it a truth.

  • What did you mean by that?

  • Absolutely.

  • So when Thomas Jefferson writes those famous and English words, we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.

  • Ah, he owns 130 human beings at that time, including some of his own family members, and he understands that 1/5 of the population will enjoy none of those rights and liberties.

  • So we are founded on a hypocrisy on a paradox.

  • Black people read those words and said, We're gonna believe that these words are true and apply to us and fight again and again.

  • We see them fighting at the revolution.

  • The first person to die for this country was a black man, a man named Christmas addicts who wasn't free.

  • We see that happening with abolitionist movement, largely led by black Americans.

  • We see that happening at the Civil War with the reconstruction amendments and, of course, the civil rights movement, which brings the franchise to large segments of America for the first time.

  • So we we said we were founded as a Democratic republic, but most Americans could not vote at the time of the Constitution.

  • But thanks largely to black resistance and freedom struggles, we are close to a multi racial democracy as we've ever been.

  • I have, like, the utmost respect for you.

  • You're a mogul at an age when I was just trying to figure out how to get money to buy candy bars and school.

  • No, you genuinely are you You're kicking ass right now.

  • First of all, congratulations to end a police CP image was the thief, huh?

  • When you're winning awards for best actress at this age, do you ever wonder, like like if you just done like, what do you do?

  • A 20?

  • Well, I mean, I'm still beyond grateful.

  • I'm really excited.

  • So I feel like each one I get is like a surprise.

  • Still.

  • So hopefully a 20 I'm still winning.

  • You know, you you have an energy about you that that that most people describe it like they they go your stool, a young person.

  • But you're really mature.

  • You are home schooled, but you're well adjusted.

  • You are a child star, but you are normal.

  • How?

  • Well, I think that's just great parenting from my parents like to think.

  • I always like to keep me grounded.

  • And, you know, they're also my coworkers.

  • I work with them in my new production company.

  • So But like wherever we are, it's still like calm down, girl, like you got to your homework later on.

  • Looks you know, you're an actress is really successful in black ish.

  • And you also one of the youngest moguls we've ever seen in Hollywood.

  • You have a huge deal to produce films.

  • And you?

  • I mean, you've executive produced this film.

  • Little where Where do you want to go from here?

  • Because most people they they want to get to where you are now and then you are You are here now.

  • Already.

  • So where do you go?

  • No, I'm serious.

  • Where do you go from?

  • From head.

  • Like I mean, you could literally be anything in the world.

  • Like people say that the kids all the time.

  • But it's not true.

  • You can be anything you want.

  • You can from 1/2 of them.

  • Can't you genuinely can.

  • Like what do you want to go?

  • What do you do?

  • Uh, well, a long time ago, I said I want to be a legend.

  • Like when I was, like, very young.

  • But I still I still want to, and I think I'm getting there, but I feel like but I think it's just taking it one step at a time.

  • I want to just keep on creating things that I that I love that is coming from a mind off.

  • Not just like a kid, but someone that hasn't had that same representation when I was younger.

  • So just to make sure everyone feels comfortable when they see their Selves on TV and you know, just to, well, late two things that people would like to see to it, right?

  • It is interesting that you say that I feel like we live in a time now when younger people are not just consuming but becoming creators.

  • You know that on social media, I don't know if it's the access to technology that maybe previous generations didn't have.

  • But you're in a position where you can create the world that you want to see where you know, when many generations were younger, they just they were like, That's the world.

  • Yeah.

  • So do you see that as an obligation on opportunity to put faces out there that reminds you of yourself?

  • Yeah, definitely.

  • I feel like I have so many friends that are doing amazing things also, So I want to give them a platform just to speak their mind and whatever they want to do to and just thio put out new talents that you know, don't think their voices have been heard in the past.

  • So just to give them the opportunity to say in whatever they want to speak their mind.

  • I honestly have met few people who have lived as much of a life as you have you made.

  • I'm old.

  • I know some people are old, but they haven't lived life.

  • They really haven't.

  • Because because reading through your story truly fascinated me.

  • I mean, you know, you were at the forefront off opposing the war in Vietnam.

  • You know, you were one off the key individuals who fought for the American government to impose sanctions on the apartheid government in South Africa.

  • You've been fighting for equality in America for a long time.

  • You've been on the front lines and you're a friend off Dr King's family.

  • If you look at MLK Day today and you look at how people have walked his message and his image etcetera, what do you think is the biggest misconception people have about Dr King?

  • The biggest misconception is that Martin Luther King was a dreamer who had a dream.

  • Every time I go someplace, people get him said yes.

  • He was a dreamer.

  • It was always dreaming.

  • Well, that's because of the speech in the part that's taken out uh, Martin Luther King believed in the right to vote.

  • The first speech he gave in Washington at the prayer pilgrimage in 1957 is coming out, as it were in Washington, was about If we ever got the vote, everything would change.

  • We'd have justice if we just got the vote.

  • That was even after a year before they had done the boycott, the Montgomery boycott.

  • But over the years, as he evolved, he saw, Hey, the vote is important and we should get in.

  • He continued to fight for it.

  • But voting by itself isn't going to give us justice.

  • And he concluded that protest is an essential ingredient of politics.

  • You see, politicians want to things, they want you to vote for them and they want to get get elected and they want you to vote for them so they can get reelected, right.

  • Those are two things they want, but the thing you have to want is to make them do what I will give you justice and equality in this country.

  • And they won't do that unless you make them do it.

  • And that's where a protest is involved.

  • I loved how in the book.

  • You talked about small and meaningful protests that you try and implement in your life.

  • For instance, you talk about how you're done.

  • Code switching, correct.

  • You say what you love is you go.

  • I'm not just going to be black.

  • I'm going to try and be the blackest black that I can way to say it.

  • Yes, on.

  • That's that's a really interesting idea.

  • Why do you think it's so important to do that?

  • Do you think?

  • Do you think coach switching reinforces the stereotypes that people have about black people?

  • So they go, Oh, you sound more white.

  • Ergo, you know, whiteness is associated with smartness, and then you go like, No, I'm going to be as black as you think a black person can be while still maintaining that level of intelligence.

  • Is that is that a lot of switching is a marvelous cultural tradition, and I love it.

  • I love that I'm able to do it right.

  • I also love that I'm able to choose not to do it.

  • What I am doing when I do it is that I am acknowledging the fact that I have achieved certain ah status symbols that we tend to associate with people who don't look like me.

  • And I want to make people uncomfortable with the fact that they are uncomfortable with me.

  • Reconcile the fact that if you think I am anything worthwhile, intelligent or attractive or important, I want them to reconcile that with the fact that I sound like I sound I look like what I look like, what I am, what I am at making you answer Congress.

  • That is exciting.

  • It's been a long journey.

  • It has been a long journey, and it has been a fruitful journey as well.

  • People love throwing the first you do.

  • Do you ever get tired of having to be the first of everything?

  • We will go first.

  • Refugee for Somalia Go first.

  • A woman of color to represent Minnesota like 1st 1st 1st response.

  • People just add extra first since that are not first woman named Ilhan Bey in Congo.

  • Yes, yes, but you are a trail blazer.

  • I mean, just the job alone is something that fundamentally changed what Congress was.

  • There's a ban on the job for thing was over 100 years, apparently 187 year, and that that changed because of you?

  • Yeah, was it wasn't like backlash.

  • Does anyone like look at you and go?

  • Does anyone say anything about the way I was like, Yeah, this this makes sense.

  • I mean, so it's interesting because there was, Ah, ban on hats and head wear And what people didn't realize is that it it made it unconstitutional to apply to me because we're supposed to have religious liberty in this country.

  • So it would have applied a religious test.

  • And so lifting it, it's just upholding our Constitution.

  • People are like, Well, they did her a favor.

  • And all of these people are changing things for her, and it's like, No, we're just following the Constitution.

  • A lot of people excited for you.

  • Many of your fans are excited because all of your day ones have been with you on this journey.

  • You know, uh, you create music and a really specific way.

  • You even described your music as church with a Twerk.

  • Hello, you holiday travel.

  • I don't know.

  • I feel like my music is really positive and uplifting, and I played enough shows now toe ask people how they feel, and they always say it's a religious experience or spiritual experience.

  • I've rope in charge in Kojic Church of God in Christ in Detroit.

  • And so that was my connection with music with spirituality and gospel.

  • So I like to bring that into, you know, the Liz.

  • Oh, world.

  • And also Abby's working is all I want.

  • Now I support you.

  • You have a smooth You have a style that's really unique because of all of your influences.

  • Like you grew up playing the flute.

  • Yes, right And what I really enjoy But your stories you talk about how, like, there was a point when you were ashamed that you played the flute.

  • Well, there was a very small window when I was, like, trying to be a rap rap rap hip hop in the back of the capital back the dab the door were looking like, you know, like when I was like a rapper like B Rabbit People were like, Don't bring the flute into That is embarrassing.

  • Like, you know, no one's gonna take you seriously.

  • A couple of rapper with a flute?

  • No, is that I was terrified.

  • You know, I'm a band nerd underneath this cool exterior.

  • I'm a geek.

  • I know all my scales Major Minor pentatonic Harmonic.

  • Theo, you've got the wrapping.

  • A lot of people who are fans of yours remember you for the rap and started rapping here.

  • And then you brought in the flute and then you started singing Hey!

  • And nowhere.

  • Yeah, it is really?

  • Wow, You have a Well, I learned how to sing.

  • I started singing when I was 19 and I was a bad singer.

  • Yeah, cut to the clip of me.

  • Sounded like shit.

  • You can say shit, Thio.

  • Good, baby.

  • Now you can sing.

  • You can wrap.

  • You can dance.

  • Uh, you could You could Actually, actually, this is one of my favorite moments that I saw of yours.

  • It was a viral video that came out of nowhere and it blew people away.

  • We actually actually have that clip right here.

  • That's magic.

  • No one expects that.

  • Do you do Do you enjoy playing with people's expectations?

  • Well, you know what happened that day?

  • This woman, she was like we were playing like a homecoming at a college in this Professor.

  • This, You know this is very nice, White lady.

  • At first she came out and she we were sound checking and, you know, my my team is mostly brown women.

  • Um, and we were sound checking and she walks up to the stage.

  • This is huge built stage in the middle of the college campus that says homecoming.

  • I have a microphone on and she's like, Do you have a permit?

  • Do you have a permit to be playing music this loud out here?

  • Students trying to study and what was Sorry?

  • Bits.