Novelist Susan Straight talks about her new book, ‘Take One Candle Light a Room’

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LeTania Kirkland: This story was largely influenced by your own family and stories that you picked up from your own community. How did you bring it all together?

Susan Straight: These are stories that I’ve been hearing pretty much since I met my future husband, which was in the 8th grade. When we started hanging out a lot at his family’s house, there were all these men who were always around telling stories, and one story that I heard at a family reunion was, someone was standing behind me, and said to my father-in-law, ‘Oh, how did you all get to riverside?’ My father-in-law, who is from Tulsa, told how his family came, and he said, ‘How about you?’ This person was from Louisiana, and he told the story about how he got to California. That was the basis of the whole Mr. Mcqeueen story, which is that someone had a beautiful daughter, and Mr. so and so was gonna come get her one night, so they had to pack up and flee to California.

Kirkland: The main character, her story has a lot to say about race, class and family. Do you feel that her character crosses racial boundaries and that these themes even blur the lines of race and class?

Straight: I have these three daughters that are of mixed race. I just wrote an essay about mixed blood. We talk a lot about how America is clearly not a post racial place. In fact, I think we might be moving to a much more… place of racial separation. The character of Fantine, it’s funny, my oldest daughter thought she was a jerk in the beginning. My oldest daughter looks that way. When we used to go places, people would think she was Samoan or Hawaiian or Algerian. The entire room changes when someone says, ‘I’m black, African American or even, I’m mixed race.’ When I was working on this book, I realized there are two kinds of people: the people who stay, and the people who leave. Fantine left. She considers that the complete eruption of any ties. It has to be about race and class.

Kirkland: You’ve made a commitment to writing about the places east of Los Angeles. I don’t think a lot of people realize how diverse the Inland Empire is. How do you think that diversity has influenced your work?

Straight: Oh, there’s no place like the Inland Empire. My kids and I, when we travel around, it’s astonishing to them when they go someplace else, how segregated that place might be. In riverside, because we grew up in this neighborhood, right next to a military base, I had friends who were half Japanese and half black, and half Egyptian and half Hawaiian. All of these people that I grew up with, we then married each other. When people try to break down what racial designation someone is in Riverside, it’s actually pretty funny sometimes. I do have a commitment to it I think because I’m parochial, but I also feel like, I remember reading Ernest Gaines, and he said he went to the library when he moved from Louisiana. He went to the library in San Francisco, and he said, ‘I read all the Russians, but my people weren’t there. I always thought that I wanted people from the Inland Empire to be in fiction in the same way that Flannery O’Connor’s people, Louise Erdrich’s people and Joyce Carol Oate’s people were in fiction. I wanted my people to be there, too.

Compton beauty queen speaks out for her community

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LeTania Kirkland: You’re hoping to represent Compton as Miss California USA. What made you decide to represent in this way?

Shanice McKinley: Even since high school, I always wanted to come back to my community and be a leader and a role model, because a lot of our youth, we don’t have that. They don’t have many people to look up to and say, ‘They did something amazing.’ When I got offered that opportunity, I said, ‘This is the perfect way to get the message out. Everyone knows about Miss California.’

Kirkland: Would you have ever considered being part of a beauty competition before this opportunity?

McKinley: No, I actually wouldn’t. I would’ve never imagined so much would come out of this beauty pageant. I thought that it would get some attention as far as getting the message out. I didn’t know it would inspire so many people. I had people cry while I’m there giving my vision. I had people shouting out their cars, so many kids giving me hugs and parents telling me thank you.

Kirkland: And you call yourself ‘Miss Birthing a New Compton,’ the city’s new motto. Why did you decide upon that?

McKinley: I mean, Compton has really changed so much and the old brand of Compton… Compton has a very strong brand. You can go to Africa, and they’d probably know about Compton. The things that are associated with that brand are so negative, and I love the city’s slogan, ‘Birthing a New Compton,’ and that’s the message that I wanted to get out to the people, that this is not the same Compton anymore. We have changed so much, so I thought that would actually be the perfect slogan, so when people hear Compton, they’ll have a different taste in their mouth.

Kirkland: How do you plan on bringing your own success, past and future, back to the community?

McKinley: My whole envision is this youth center. I’m actually starting a freelance marketing business right after this pageant, and with the profits I get, I would donate 10 percent of it to building this youth center. The vision of the youth center is that they will be able to operate as a resource center to connect youth to their dreams, like financial aid, SAT scores, help them prepare for becoming a business owner or doctor. We’ll help them step by step to get those met.

Kirkland: The competition is this weekend. Are you nervous?

McKinley: Oh yeah. I’m nervous, I feel so pressured. But this is what I’ve been working for. These three months, this is why I’ve been talking to people, this is why I’ve been sharing my vision.

NPR Host Michele Norris talks about her memoir, ‘The Grace of Silence’

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LeTania Kirkland: You venture to write this book about other people and the conversation about race in America. What caused you to change course and write about your own family?

Michele Norris: Well, I started listening to this hidden conversation about race around the country because I wanted to capture it and write about it. And when I set the frequency to listen to that conversation, I started picking up bits and pieces of it in my own family. I started realizing that the older people in my family were talking about things that they’d never spoken of before. I realized as interested as I was in the other book, where I was listening to other people and examining how they talk and think about race, the story I had to pursue was my own family’s history.

Kirkland: As a journalist who’s normally telling other people’s stories, what was it like to switch roles and talk about your own family’s experience?

Norris: It was incredibly difficult and vertigo producing. I’m used to being on the side lines. I’m not used to being a part of the story, and I couldn’t stay on the side lines in this case. I had to get into the story, I had to speak honestly about not just what i was discovering, but what it meant to me.

Kirkland: And you found that your parents kept things from you regarding their own experience around race. That’s what you call the grace of silence. Why do you think they chose to keep those things from you?

Norris: They moved on. They decided not to dwell on painful aspects of their past. But I now understand something else, that they were trying to create a narrative of their lives about ambition, success and getting to a better place, but they also did not want to burden the next generation, and that is where the grace comes in because it would’ve been so easy for them to wallow in complaint or frustration or feed their kids a steady diet of regret, woe and complaint. And they didn’t do that, because they so badly wanted their children to soar, that they decided not to dwell on it.

Kirkland: You have your own children now. How as a parent do you negotiate your own grace of silence or not?

Norris: I grew up in a family with lots of secrets, and I just made those secrets public by writing a book about it. My children will know about the things I never knew when I was growing up. But i will try to not just put the information out there and let it sit, I’ll talk it through with them. I want them to take away from this a strong sense of perseverance and to know that bad things happen in life, but it doesn’t have to define you. I hope they will be a bit more open in their willingness to talk about this than previous generations were. I hope the main lesson they take from this is that they come from strong people.

Charter schools: Assessing the ICEF model in South Los Angeles

Students at Frederick Douglass High School

At Frederick Douglass High School in the West Adams District you are likely to see students working the reception desk, answering the phones, handing out tardy slips and making sure any students waiting in the hallway belong there. Most are volunteering, just looking for a way to spend their time during a free period.

Every five minutes or so you might hear, “Are you late?” If a lie is suspected, the next question is, “Are you lying?” They keep a close eye on everyone.

The high school is one of 15 elementary, middle and high schools in the Inner City Education Foundation Public Schools. ICEF is a group of charter schools in South Los Angeles founded by former CEO, Mike Piscal, who envisioned bringing rigorous education to the inner city.

ICEF has become, to many, a symbol of high academic achievement all over South Los Angeles.

As of this year, ICEF schools have a 95 percent graduation rate and more than 85 percent of those graduates have been accepted to four-year colleges. Six of ICEF’s 15 schools exceed the 800-point state target for API test scores and 11 of the 15 have scored above 700.

Frederick Douglass Middle Schoolers share the same campus with the high school

“I feel that it’s one of the best gifts that we’ve ever been given in the inner city,” said Chris Meadors a parent who has two children, Payton, a fifth grader and Matthew a third grader, attending View Park Elementary School.

Despite gleaming reviews, ICEF ran into financial troubles that could not be ignored. In September, the organization was facing a deficit; ICEF’s interim CEO Caprice Young said it needed $9.5 million in immediate cash to operate through February and it was not sure that it would be able to meet its October 1st payroll.

Private donors stepped in to help save the schools. Former Mayor Richard Riordan, Eli Broad and philanthropist Frank Baxter contributed $700,000 collectively. Riordan is now also serving as Chairman of the Board of ICEF Schools. The three philanthropists are all long-time supporters of charter schools.

Young said support from the business community and local philanthropists was key to saving the schools. And though there has been a tremendous amount of anxiety, she is hopeful about the future.

“The threat of losing something that has become so dear has been really galvanizing. People have come out from the woodwork to help out,” said Young.

Sacrifices and Solutions

Saving the ICEF Schools was not accomplished without sacrifices. Teachers and other staff were laid off, classes were restructured and the organization’s founder and original CEO, Mike Piscal, resigned in October. As the organization struggled to slash 25 percent of its payroll budget, Piscal decided it would be best to move on and make room for people who can bring the schools back to financial solvency.

“My specialty is not fundraising or restructuring, mine is building organizations from scratch and building community and partnerships. They’re going to be able to raise the money that I can’t raise,” said Piscal.

Caprice Young has taken the reins as the new interim CEO. She was the founding CEO and president of the California Charter School Association and formerly served as a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District School board.

Shortly after ICEF’s financial troubles were made public, Young called in directors and administrators from each school site to discuss solutions. The organization was faced with the task of cutting 20 percent of its budget. Twenty-five percent of payroll, teachers and staff were laid off and the curriculum was reconfigured.

Students at the elementary and high school levels will move to a block schedule. Elementary students will rotate to four teachers who each focus on a different subject.

High school students will take four classes (instead of the previous eight) per semester; giving them extended class time for each subject. The block schedule allowed administration to cut teachers without increasing class size.

At the middle school level, teaching assistant positions were cut, as were administrative costs and class sizes increased from an average of 25 to 30 students per teacher. Young predicts the deep program and operating cuts will erase the deficit by early next year.

Dr. David Morrow, the director of Frederick Douglass High School

Losing good teachers was the most “painful” aspects of the changes, said Young. But, she said parent and student reaction has been positive and she is convinced the new structure will not affect the quality of education at the schools.

“It’s actually really exciting. People keep expecting it to look morose,” said Young.

Dr. David Morrow is the director at the Frederick Douglass High School. He said the extended class periods are an asset to students.

“When they get home they leave with an in depth understanding of what the objective is for that night. I think that a real positive for our kids,” said Morrow.

Parental Achievement

It was not just the faculty and staff that stepped up in defense of the schools. Parents showed up for evening meetings to discuss the future of ICEF and some donated their own money.

Meadors, the parent from View Park Elementary, is the chairman of “Friends of ICEF,” a fundraising committee for the organization. When he’s on campus he often takes the time to make copies for teachers who he knows are hard pressed for time since the changes were instituted.

The ability to be involved in his children’s education was one of the major draws to the ICEF schools. His children attended pre-school at a traditional public school, and he said parental access, what he calls “touchability,” was not always welcomed. Parental involvement is one of the driving forces of the ICEF schools’ success.

“There is more of a sense of family, as opposed to you teach my kids I take them home and feed them,” said Meadors.

Guilbert Hentschke, a professor at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, agreed that it is often the parent’s drive that lands a kid in charter school in the first place. Their continued participation plays a crucial role in the success of the curriculum, he said.

“Charters expect more of parents…As far as I can tell, parents seem to be, busy as they are, responsive,” said Hentshcke.

This has been one criticism pointed out to those who see charter schools as the cure-all of the American education system. Hentschke said parental involvement will never be as high in traditional public schools as they are in a smaller charter school, so that factor should be taken into account when scrutinizing the traditional public school system.

“They [public schools] find themselves with less options, less drawing power to draw parents. It’s a shared issue between the schools and the parents,” said Hentschke.

LAUSD School Board member Steve Zimmer said he admires the level of parent involvement at ICEF, but said it is not a standard that works for all families or students. In traditional public schools, he see parents who are working two jobs and foster kids who do not have the parental support and involvement that is required at charter schools.

“I do have concerns when parent engagement becomes something that’s required rather than encourage and fostered,” said Zimmer.

The Kids

In Ms. Mayfield’s first period Spanish class at Frederick Douglass most students were engaged, working on their pronunciation and reciting vocabulary. Chatter would start to creep up every now and again but was kept to a minimum, and one student leaned sleepily into the wall next to her in the early morning hour. Students at ICEF schools face the same distractions and sometimes push the limits.

But the push to do well does not just come from teachers or parents. There’s an air of expectation that comes from students as well.

On a Thursday afternoon at Frederick Douglass Middle School two student workers sat at reception, both of their eyes peering closely at a third student — a violator caught peaking at Facebook.

Sebastiana Menbreno (left) Paige Shelton (right) both joined ICEF in high school and they say a smaller environment has provided them with necessary guidance

“What would your mom say if I called and told her that her daughter got caught on Facebook?” asked one.

“You should never be bored in class,” said the other.

Paige Shelton, a senior at Frederick Douglass High School, said there is pressure from all around. She lives in Compton and attended traditional public schools until this year. She did not like the environment “at all” when she arrived in the fall and said her “laid back” demeanor did not jibe on the campus. But, she has grown to like it. The pressure from her peers, she said, has pushed her to improve her performance in school.

“I didn’t care about school before. I was just going because my mom said I had to go. But now when I think about it I’m like, everybody else is doing good, so I don’t want to be the only one in the class that is failing,” said Shelton.

The girl who did not care about school has now begun her college search.

Safe Haven

Parents and community organizations have long viewed ICEF and charter schools as a safe haven for African-American students in a city where the public school system becomes less appealing—both because of academics and issues of safety.

Charter schools largely serve students of color. According to a study by the California Charter School Association, in Los Angeles alone, 25 percent of charter school students are African-American and 59 percent are Latino.

Danielle Foster, who requested her name be changed for this article, is a parent whose children attend Thurgood Marshall Middle School and Frederick Douglass High School. When she relocated recently from San Bernardino County, a friend told her about ICEF and she looked to them as an alternative to large public schools where she feared potential violence and fewer academic expectations. ICEF provides security that is difficult to find elsewhere, she said.

“It’s more like family and it allows students to feel comfortable enough to attend the school and feel good enough to interact with the teachers from a personal place,” said Foster.

Until recently, ICEF has largely catered to African-Americans who live in the communities where the schools exist. ICEF schools are 89 percent African-American.

In 1994 ICEF founder Mike Piscal was teaching at the private Harvard-Westlake school. After reading accounts of the floundering public education system, he left Harvard-Westlake to help kids in the poor public schools receive the same rigor in education as those in private schools. A native of New Jersey, Piscal himself often felt lost in the massive public school system and was unprepared to write a college level essay when he arrived at Wake Forest University.

ICEF was founded in 1996. What started with just a preschool and after-school program morphed into View Park Prep Elementary School and now includes 15 schools serving about 4,500 students. ICEF’s reputation precedes it and families are still arriving to place their names on the waiting lists.

Jazmin Masiel just started her freshman year at Frederick Douglass

“Kids who didn’t think they would ever be college material, because we believed in them, they started believing in themselves and the community started believing,” said Piscal.

But the community is changing. South Los Angeles also has a large Latino population and ICEF is now beginning to account for that growing constituency.

Overall, ICEF schools have only a 10 percent Latino population, but two of the schools — Lou Dantzler Elementary, Middle and High schools and the Fernando Pullum High School — are now predominately Latino.

Interim CEO Caprice Young said she is interested in reaching out to everyone in the community. But the key to much of ICEF’s success is word of mouth and the ICEF “word” has largely been passed through the African-American community.

“In L.A. people tend to stay within their ethnic groups so it spread quickly in the African American community. But it’s starting to spread more quickly in Inglewood. I know that we’ll get more diverse as things go by,” said Young.

ICEF did have a full time position for outreach in the Latino community, but it was cut as a result of the budget crisis.

Hentscke agreed that much of the charter school traffic is guided by “word of mouth and how you pick it up on the street.”

A Missing Population?

Charter schools in Los Angeles have long been criticized for the lack of special education and English learner students.

School board member Zimmer said ICEF is concerned with the small number of special education and ESL students at ICEF. The low number makes it unfair to compare ICEF’s test scores to traditional public schools that are serving large numbers of special needs students in the same community.

“When we look at data for charter schools, what I’m looking at is, do the charter schools accept and retain a congruent demographic profile to their ‘competitor’ schools in the neighborhood,” said Zimmer.

Five-point-six percent of ICEF students are English learners. Seven percent are special education. Young said this is something that should change, but that not all schools are especially “skilled” at serving special needs students.

Young said there should be a place for these students at charter schools—her own daughter has a severe learning disability. But her challenge is finding the resources and teachers that specialize in that work. Given the financial struggles, expansion is not an immediate option.

Despite his scrutiny, Zimmer said he believes Caprice Young’s new leadership will prove to be an advantage to ICEF—both in terms of finances and student diversity.

“Caprice has a virtually flawless track record of not only ensuring economic stability for charter schools, but also her commitment to equity issues. I don’t question that,” said Zimmer.

Young said ICEF’s commitment is to the community. With quality education, she said, this generation’s students will begin the cycle of healing the community in the future.

“Everybody who is part of ICEF is really part of a broader vision than just the kids that are in the school today. It’s about students of the future that are going to come back to the community as doctors and teachers.”

Karen Bass speaks about her new role in Washington

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LeTania Kirkland: Now that election day has passed, what are your objectives in this new role?

Karen Bass: Well, you know, first order of business is really getting organized and hiring staff and the nuts and bolts of getting ready to take office and move across country. That’s the beginning, and then after that is really looking at where things are going to be. Considering there was such a dramatic change in Congress, it’s really going to take a couple of weeks before it’s even clear what direction I can proceed.

Kirkland: Now that Republicans have taken control of the House, what challenges do you anticipate, and how do you think you might work together or compromise to meet your own objectives?

Bass: I’m used to working with Republicans. I just finished serving six years in the state Legislature and two years as speaker. In those two years as speaker, I had to work with the legislative leaders on the other side of the aisle. I’m used to that. I do anticipate, though, that it’s going to be quite chaotic. I do believe January, I’m going to find a certain level of chaos. The Republicans coming in are coming from a couple of different perspectives. The Republicans who are in office now, and then you have ones that are coming in that are going to be much stronger in terms of being conservative, and so how they are going to act with the existing Republican caucus I think is going to be one area of challenge and then the change in leadership, so the Democrats stepping down from chairmanships and Republicans taking over, I think January and February is going to be pretty chaotic.

Kirkland: After Diane Watson’s long run in Congress, what is it like following that legacy?

Bass: I feel wonderful about it and extremely honored that number one, she felt I could follow in her footsteps. I’ve certainly been in contact with her very closely over these last two years, and I feel that she has done a tremendous amount to prepare me. I feel ready to serve, and with the challenges we’ve had in California over the last couple of years, I think it has served as good preparation for me.

Kirkland: In today’s political climate, a lot of the focus has been driven to everyday middle America. How might you bring the focus back to cities and inner-cities in particular?

Bass: Everyday middle America is Los Angeles. What we’re facing here is being experienced around the country, and that’s record unemployment. And of course the unemployment in the district is high in certain areas. The overall district is relatively affluent compared to the rest of Los Angeles, but there are very serious pockets of poverty. And so many of the issues related to that, I’ve had a long history working on and plan to continue in Congress. What I would be able to do, though, is truly remained to be seen.

Kirkland: You were a community organizer for years. How has that work influenced your work in politics thus far, and how do you imagine it will in the future?

Bass: Being a community organizer has been extremely helpful to me. I use the same principles of organizing in the six years when I was in Sacramento. It helped me obtain the speakership, it helped me get legislation passed. Community organizing, very simply said, is about building, maintaining and connecting relationships. That’s what it’s about. And so, you know, the skills and the art that you learn as an organizer is applicable, as far as I’m concerned, to many different areas of life, but it’s extremely applicable to the legislative process.

Kirkland: Given that it may take through the month of January for things to settle, is there still any hope that you have for this time that you’re stepping into?

Bass: Oh, sure. I mean, I have plenty of hope. Believe me, I wouldn’t be going if I didn’t. I think that we’re in a situation that has happened historically, where any time you’re in the mid-year, two years into a new presidency, you see this type of change. I think this type of change is something that happens and it’s a question of regrouping and moving forward. I do believe that once things settle down, I will be able to accomplish things. The issues that I’ve worked on, foster care, education reform, health care, criminal justice issues, it’ll take me a month or two before I can determine what I can start working on. The good thing about Congress is that I won’t be term limited. Naturally, I have to run for re-election, but I can actually have a long-term plan, and I will begin to establish that after January is over.

Contact Karen Bass:
Capitol Office
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0047
(916) 319-2047
(916) 319-2147 fax

District Office
5750 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 565
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-4747
(323) 937-3466 fax

Email: [email protected]

Recent poll finds Democrats not enthusiastic about this year’s election


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LeTania Kirkland: This is sort of an unusual election year. How would you say that is?

Darry Sragow: Well, every election year is unusual. This one is unusual in part because we have a Democratic president who was elected with a lot of hope and a lot of votes, and who I think has disappointed a lot of voters, and the result is that there is a sense that the Democrats will not do well in the midterm elections. There’s a lot of precedent for that. It’s not unusual for the party of a new president to have a problem two years into his first term. That’s kind of a dynamic that people think they’re going to see here.

Kirkland: There was a theory that Democrats were not enthusiastic about this year’s election. How enthusiastic do you really think Democrats are?

Sragow: There was a statistical measure we use, which is we ask the folks in our polling how enthusiastic they are about voting. We give them a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most enthusiastic. And there was a gap in the September LA Times/USC poll on that measure between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats were less enthusiastic about voting. In the October USC/Los Angeles Times poll, there was no difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats appeared between the middle of September and the middle of October to have gotten more excited collectively about the campaign.

Kirkland: In 1978, California opposed property taxes with Proposition 13, and in 1994, we had Proposition 187, which was sort of a rally against illegal immigration. Do you think there’s any common place where Californians are placing their frustration in this election?

Sragow: No, that’s a great question because when you ask Calfiornians is the state headed in the right direction or the wrong direction, 80 percent of Californians think the state is headed in the wrong direction. More than half of the people who said the state’s headed in the wrong direction, said they were disappointed. That’s why we’re not seeing people take to the streets, that’s why we’re not seeing a Proposition 13 or a Proposition 187 or a recall. I just think they are incredibly frustated and disappointed, so I think they’re sort of going, ‘I don’t know what my options are anymore.’

“Down for Life” explores one girl’s reality of life in a gang

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LeTania Kirkland: I understand you were chosen for this role under unusual circumstances. What were they?

Jessica Romero: I was at school. I was going to Manual Arts High School in South Central. They were having a casting call at my school. Some lady asked me if I wanted to be in a movie, and I told her, ‘No, I’m cool, no thanks.’ Another lady came up and asked me about five minutes later. She was just like, ‘It’s a really good opportunity for you, so why don’t you just go?’ So then, I was like, ‘Alright then, I’ll go.’ So then I went, and they were asking all of these girls. There were a lot of girls in the auditorium, and they were lined up on stage, and they were going into this little room for about three minutes and coming out. It was my turn to go into the room, and I went in for about 20 minutes, and in those 20 minutes, they were just asking me different questions like, am I in a gang, have I ever been in a fight, have I ever started a fight. I just answered pretty honest, you know. And here I am, three years later.

Kirkland: And the reason why they were looking at high schools, they thought it would be better to choose kids from South Central because they do relate to the story. How did you relate to this character Rascal’s story?

Romero: At the time, I was more involved in gangs and stuff. I didn’t really have my priorities straight or anything. The character Rascal, she kind of discovered herself, too, in the story. At the time, that’s what I was going through. Now I’m 18, and thanks to this movie, I’ve kind of found my way, and I know exactly what to do with myself now.

Kirkland: And you said you know exactly what you want to do with your life now. What is that?

Romero: My dream is to be a marine biologist. That’s what I want to do with my life. Before, I didn’t really look forward to anything besides the day I was in. Now, I have goals and stuff that I want to do five, 10 years from now. I think Rascal goes through that. In our story, everything takes place in one day, but what I discovered in three years, she discovers in that one day.

Kirkland: This story was based on the actual writings of a girl at Locke High School. Do you feel like you did her story justice?

Romero: I met her a couple of times. She told us herself, ‘Wow, you guys did it right.’

Kirkland: Has being a part of this film changed your mind about the power of art and the effect it can have?

Romero: Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of things out there, and a lot of different books and movies and poems. But it’s different when something comes straight from the heart, when something is real. That’s how our movie is. There’s no fancy stuff, no extra stuff. It’s just plain and real, and I think that’s what touches people.

An interview with Autry Museum Director Jonathan Spaulding

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Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros had a short and controversial influence on mural art in Los Angeles.