I Know Why Public Enemy, TLC, and the Caged Bird Sing

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership today on Studio 360.

S2: We would promote gigs and put Malcolm X on the cover of Fly is some cat.

S3: We roll up to us and say, Yo! Who’s this?

S4: Malcolm The Tenth How Politics Shaped Public Enemy and Public Enemy Shaped Politics.

S3: That’s what we say is important to see if we can use the music as it reaches people and just fill it with something that means something. Plus.


S5: How Maya Angelou turned memories of the brutal racism of her childhood into a gorgeous, important book she identified with that caged bird with this tremendous impulse to fly, to be free of that cage and American icons feature about.

S6: I know why the Caged Bird Sings. That’s ahead on STUDIO 360 right after this.

S7: This is Studio 360. I’m Colonel. And I’m sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. First level of this was Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden.

S8: I’d like to have the roasted chicken feast. Very well done. Editing is all about timing. I tried to get a little bit away from the actual subject. You get sick place, right? Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen.


S6: In the 1970s, Carlton Douglas Righton Hower was a teenager in Queens, New York, and went to his first hip hop show. The music hadn’t started and he didn’t know quite what to make of the equipment he saw onstage. And as he told an interviewer in 2001, I was totally confused. I was like, why? They need two turntables.


S9: Case the one over there breaks down. This person is very prepared.

S6: He figured it out, had his aha moment and in short order became a rap superstar himself. Right. And Hower is much better known by his stage name, Chuck D and Chuck D is, of course, the leader of the group Public Enemy. In 1988, Public Enemy released. It takes a nation of millions to hold us back. That album was aggressively political and generally considered among the most important of the modern age. Our story of that Public Enemy album begins with a longtime fan of the band.


S10: I absolutely remember the first time I heard Public Enemy.

S11: My name is Tracing Cracker. I’m a former editor and vice president of Source magazine. I was one of those. You know, I still have my cassette copy of the album Rush the show.

S12: He was bum rushing in on the industry, so to speak. I’m Hank SHOCKLEE, creator of Public Enemy and creator of the bomb squad.

S13: That record was to me was the prey loop of what was to come. Which was it takes a nation of millions to hold us back.

S14: That first album dropped and Public Enemy wasn’t getting the profit they deserved. You know, from the media, they weren’t getting radio play, folks were criminalizing Chuck D.


S15: Based on the imagery and, you know, the things that he was saying, even though it wasn’t criminal, you know, I think they underestimate I don’t think they recognize that this was an educated black man that was really able to contextualize what was going on. And so when they came back, he came back harder and more focused and more politicized.

S16: Can you know what the game is, the incredible public enemy number one?


S9: Right now, all around, I am so compelling. You never miss the fact there’s no melody. Is there music that is all beat, strong beat and talk. It’s rap music.

S17: First of all, they never really considered rap music, music. And then they’d say, well, it’s a kid’s music. I remember when George Harrison once called rap music computerized. Right. If it was a Lennon or McCartney, I would have felt dissed. But.


S12: We had to do something fast. We had to do it now and we had to do it cheap.

S13: So we decided to just make records from the records that I already had.

S18: Our sole intent was to destroy music. Sonically, we set out to do that to redefine what people thought of as music.

S19: And since we didn’t have a bass guitar and things of that nature, we had to figure out how to use samples in a most creative way.

S13: I have 10000 records, so it’s a very tedious and incredibly arduous task to just go through and listen to every little hit, little squeal vocal snippet.

S20: Freedom is the rule by the balls to do every little possible thing that we can possibly use in order to create this record.


S13: Some of the sampling is you want people to know that it’s a sample and then the other parts of the processes that you don’t want them to know. There’s many ways of dirtying up a sample. The first thing that we did was what is known today as bit crushing and we would use the acai s nine hundred. And that machine had the ability to not only play at 12 bits, but you can also reduce those 12 bits down to eight 4. For example, you get a graininess that happens with the sample and it becomes less distinct, but it takes on a new characteristic. There was many different techniques that was used. We would take a very small snippet of something and loop it bit, bit by bit, bit, bit. We would take filtering. We would truncate sounds so that it become unrecognizable. If you played it in such a short or purpose. These are techniques that we had to develop. We found ways of using the technology, meaning the drum machines to create the sounds that we want to do.


S19: The rules of sampling when the time wills creating the AP records where there were none. This was new territory that nobody kind of like had any kind of understanding of what the legal ramifications was. So we kind of like went underneath the radar. That’s the reason why we decide to use so many of them is so that we want to get the feeling and the understanding of, wow, you can use all your records and not just one or two.

S12: Now, there really is no set limit on how much you can charge for a sample. So if you look back on what we were doing, if everyone had that frame of mind, the cost of the records that we were doing would be so astronomical that it wouldn’t be worth doing it in the first place.


S14: The album is powerful. It is militant. It is unapologetically black.

S17: We would promote gigs and put Malcolm X on the cover. Fly is in some cat. We roll up to us and say, Yo, who’s this? Malcolm the tenth.

S21: That’s what we say is important to see if we can use the music as it reaches people and just fill it with something that means something about.

S22: Number one, stop shop over.

S23: Unless you had parents who were in the movement, you know who Assata Shakur was. You didn’t know who Malcolm X was, you knew who Martin King was, but you didn’t know about these other folks. Public Enemy raised our awareness, you know, to where, OK, we started doing our research with connecting the dots and realizing, you know what? We have revolutionaries who weren’t standing for this.

S17: Study out music. You get our history by default.

S13: The samples had to have a deeper meaning. We want to feel like it was a revolution, too black, too strong. So in order for that to be possible, the sounds that we had to choose had to resonate that vibration. It’s not just about the textures or the timbre.

S24: It’s also about the emotional content that we will have the brand name wrapped around love, our religion, our culture, our God. And by the way, we not even grandma.

S17: You can trigger minds into not being so much asleep by using art, using song to make them think progressively against what’s wrong or what’s ignored in the never ending search for the basics.


S25: We plan to do. Yes, that’s right. Schools took out the justice selling Mellen refined product.

S26: Oh. Oh, wow. Right. Walking around those computers these days.

S14: He called out the drug dealers. He called out the users. And then he gave us a visual check.

S27: Did you check now? Yo, MTV Raps. This is Luce’s house. And I’m gonna show you what happens to families when one of them members becomes a basis for it all on their faces.

S28: First come, first served basis for playing at the curb.

S14: People like to turn a blind eye to the ugliness that happens out here, and he shined a light on it.

S17: It’s my obligation and duty to use the medium that reaches out to the people that bring a certain point or issue that’s stuck to the back up for discussion. And that’s what we did. I got to go home. What do they want to be given?

S29: A fair bit. I never gave a damn about life.


S14: I felt I was a step occurred to me that people weren’t talking about this type of stuff on this level. You know, remember, we’re post-civil rights generation. Chuck D reinvigorated the movement. See, we were languishing. Things still weren’t right in our community, but we had no voice. We weren’t organized. Chuck D singlehandedly raised our consciousness and made us aware that the things that we were seeing and feeling were real.

S30: I never, never told Steve that the president of Cool America, based on the counter-intelligence program, had something to do with the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King.

S11: We know the FBI has a relationship with the black community. Cohen tell pro-GM.

S30: Chuck D knew that CIA, FBI, every time they get well, folks were ready for that.

S15: Folks think they’re WOLKE now, like Chuck D was WOAK A.F. back then 30 years ago and woke up an entire nation.

S12: That story was bruised by Jenny Cataldo and BNP audio. All of those Chuck D clips are from a 2001 interview for the public television show Speaking Freely.

S6: Given how ubiquitous memoirs are today, people now get masters degrees in memoir writing. It’s a little hard to fathom that as the 1960s were ending an autobiography by a living African-American woman was rare, verging on nonexistent.

S31: But that changed in 1969. That is when Maya Angelo, age 40, kind of a late bloomer as an author, published her first book. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was her first of seven autobiographies, and it became the first nonfiction book ever by a black woman to become a bestseller.

S32: I know why the Caged Bird Sings as a coming of age story about the racism, sexual abuse and other outrages Angelo encountered. Its acclaimed, beloved and also a regular subject of bands by school libraries. For this installment of our American Icon series, producer Sonia Green looks at how Angelo’s first book came to be and why it became so important to so many people.


S33: Thanks to the book that launched her writing career. I know why the Caged Bird sings. Maya Angelou is remembered as a writer of the highest order. But she lived nearly half her life before she wrote that book and had done just about everything to pay the bills. Here’s the abbreviated version. At age 16, she was pregnant with her only son, Clyde. Guy Johnson, to support him, she took on many jobs. She lied about her age to get a job as San Francisco’s first black female streetcar conductor.

S34: Later, she worked as a prostitute and ran a brothel.

S33: Then in the 1950s, she’s singing at a club in San Francisco when she meets some cast members in the award winning opera by Gershwin, Porgy and Bess. They ask if she can dance. She says yes. She’s offered a role and goes on a 22 nation tour around the world with the company.

S35: Back in the States in 1957, she records her album Miss Calypso.

S36: These Yankee girls gave me a big scare black man behind the iron base named Parents’s, where both girls made calypso girls to see what they got.

S33: She also ends up writing for television, is a journalist, a playwright and a poet. She becomes friends with writers like Rosa Guy and James Baldwin.

S37: The German, she attends a speech of Dr. Martin Luther King juniors in Harlem, organized politically and spiritually around the concept of the equality of man.

S34: She ends up befriending Dr. King. Human personality.

S38: And then on her 40th birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of nonviolence in the civil rights movement, has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee. Police rushed the 39 year old Negro leader to a hospital where he died of a bullet wound in the neck.


S39: She’s devastated. It just does not.

S33: That’s Angela from the 2016 documentary And Still I Rise. Her grief makes her relapse into a condition from her childhood volunteering, mutism.

S39: And I fell into mutism again. Tests.

S40: This couldn’t be messier than a friend step stepson in family after about five days. James burthen came to my family over Lamen and open this door. I’ll call the police.

S41: So open the door and he came in, he saw I was really unkempt, my house was a mess and I always left a pretty house. He said, go take a shower, put some clothes on. I’m taking you somewhere.

S33: He took her to a dinner party at the home of cartoonist Jules Feiffer and his then wife, Judy.

S41: And both of them asked me, tell me a little bit about your grandma. Tell a little bit about stamps. I can tell. So I started by, say, in Arkansas, racism was so prevalent that black people could move any vanilla ice cream.

S42: And so everybody laughed and they asked me to tell us to tell another.

S33: The next day, Judy Phifer calls her friend, an editor at Random House, Robert Loomis, and she tells Loomis that Angelo is a gripping storyteller. Many years later, in a 1986 interview with Terry GROSS on Fresh Air, Angela recalls that conversation she had with Loomis.

S43: He phoned me a number of times and I said, no. Robert Loomis. I said, no, I’m not. I’m not interested until he said to me. Well, Miss Ansgar, I guess it’s just as well that you don’t attempt this book, because to write autobiography as literature is almost impossible. Sigh. Well, in that case, I’d better tie and try.


S33: She did in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she lived. She would rent a room at the Books Town in hotel. Her only niece and archivist, Rosa Johnson, took me there.

S44: We are at the historic Brooks Down Hotel here with the Salem, where Dr. Angelo would come to do her writings. And we are.

S33: Johnson says her onward rent a room for the entire time she was writing.

S45: She was an early riser. So she’d probably be down here like six o’clock in the morning, maybe till afternoon and come home and have lunch.

S46: She had a ritual and she check in here. She would have the staff take any paintings or drawings off the walls because she would have heard the stories, her bible, a Bible sherry and a yellow prayer.

S33: So with her Bible, her thesaurus, her bottle of sherry and yellow pad, Angello found her mind settling on her earliest memories.

S47: When I was three and barely four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing pegs on our wrists, which instructed to whom it may concern that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Junior from Long Beach, California, enroute to Stamp’s Arkansas in care of Mrs. Amy Henderson.

S33: And this is where life begins for my Angello born Marguerite Johnson. For the first several years of her life, she, along with her brother Bailey, are raised by her grandmother. That’s Mrs. Annie Henderson and Uncle Willie. Mrs. Henderson owns the only store in the black section of town. Joanne Gavin runs the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. She also teaches Angelo’s work in her English class.

S48: And so when she takes us to Stamps Arkansas, we can see the fear that Uncle Willie has to go through, has to hide in a vegetable bin to avoid the Ku Klux Klan from the side of the store.


S47: Bailey and I heard him say to Mama Annie, tell Willie he better lay low tonight and crazy nigger messed with a white lady. Today, some of the boys will be coming over here later. Even after the slow drag of years, I remember this sense of fear which filled my mouth with hot, dry air and made my body light.

S48: She knew early on that because of racism, black people were hated too.

S33: Briefly leaves her life in stamps when her father shows up and takes her, Bailey delivered their mother in St. Lewis Marguerite was almost 8 years old, and it is here that she’s raped by her mother’s boyfriend. The man is arrested, put on trial and found guilty. The day after the trial, he was killed, possibly by her uncles. This is the first time angelakos me.

S49: Just my brain carrying my words out might poison people and they curl up and die like this black belt slurs that only pretended I had to stop talking.

S33: After five years of not speaking, reading is what eventually helped the writers speak again. Among the authors she read was Paul Laurence Dunbar. His point sympathy would inspire the title for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that she would write decades later.

S50: I would like to read the Dunbar poem, if I may.

S33: Professor Emeritus from the College of William and Mary. Joanne Braxton.

S51: I know what the caged bird feels.

S5: Alas, when the sun is bright on the upland slopes, Braxton wrote about Angelas, had a biography and black women writing autobiography, a tradition within a tradition she identified with that caged bird with this tremendous impulse to fly, to be free of that cage.


S50: And while there were many ways in which she could not escape the immediate oppressions of her environment, she could test them through imaginary flights of literature.

S33: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was released in 1969 prior to 1970. Sexism played a role in who was allowed to tell the story of being black in America. Selwyn Cajal, professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College.

S52: If we look at an image backwards beat Frederick Douglass, big Washington woman, voices are silent. So you don’t hear the word they were just their wives or their helpmates, but they’re never painted or printed or published or articulated furious by our executive director, Joanne Gavin.

S48: There were very few autobiographical pieces that I knew of by black women, and so my Angelou’s was among the first.

S33: The power of Angela’s story is that she is a black woman.

S53: But the early black woman tradition really comes into being in the 1970 now significantly enough. In 1970, a number of works come out that of give us a sense of women voices. For example, you have Toni Morrison’s The Blues by 1970. You have Maya Angelou. I know why the Caged Bird Sings. You have Lewis Mary Waters in terms of daddy was a numbers runner in 1970. You have Alice Walker, the third life of Grange. Grange Corcoran. And of course, it ended, of course, in that very same year with Michelle Wallaces. Very powerful work.

S33: Black Matthew in the midst of the civil Angeles Black demonstrates all the forces that black women still grapple with and what some call intersectionality today. Kimberly Crenshaw formed the theory to describe how our overlapping social identities relate to structures of racism and oppression.


S51: She’s already talking about intersectionality. We just didn’t have the terminology that Kimberly Crenshaw. Most brilliantly brought forth after the fact, but she had illustrated intersectionality without calling it that.

S54: She called it a tripartite crossfire.

S55: The black female is a in her tend to use that all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is common in the tripartite cross-fire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and black lack of power, which, if you think about it, is a little bit more charged than intersectionality, which sounds more neutral by comparison.

S33: You cannot talk about Angela without talking about her influence or relationship to other black women writers.

S52: You could not have a color purple without a caged bird sings. It opens up a space.

S33: The Color Purple by Alice Walker came in 1982, 13 years after. I know why the Caged Bird Sings. angeles’ book shows her struggles with race and class as a teenager. She works as a maid alongside Miss glory.. Their employer, Mrs. cullin in one day decides to call Angela, who is Margaret to her? Mary, because a friend said her name was too long. Marguerite was furious. Reverend Serena’s turn, the senior pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Angela was a member for decades.

S56: You visited that, Angelo. You know, surely she had, you know, the the home staff. But she she treated them with the utmost respect. In this method, UTU, when she would introduce them, this is Mr. So and So. This is Miss. So Mrs. So-and-so, it wasn’t, you know, Taney. No, no.

S57: She would insist that whoever came across her door in respect.

S58: Everybody in that house. Yes. Is my housekeeper. Miss Thomas is not married to you.


S57: And I’ve seen times when she had people to leave because they didn’t give their due respect to the women.

S33: So Angela did not take matters of respect lightly. Not long ago, a tweet we surfaced a 90s video of a teenage girl addressing the author. I wanted to ask my her views on interracial relationships.

S59: Oh, thank you. First, I miss Angelo, Miss Angie as well, and not Maya. I’m 62 years old. I have lived so long and tried so hard that a young woman like you or any other has no. You have no license to come up to me and call me by my first name. For some, the debate was not about what she said, rather.

S60: I am never here for any black person scolding another black person around white folks.

S61: I am never here for the best. From King of Read on YouTube.

S60: I am tired of respectability politics.

S33: I am tired of this notion that just because of my studies class, I have to address them, because for others it was more a matter of respect. Something Braxton says Angela tried to achieve through her writing.

S62: So in the tradition of these slave for mothers and the women, missionaries and ministers who wrote autobiographies before her. She is negotiating for respect. Not merely for herself. For herself, yes, but also for others like her, that they might be recognized both as fully human and also as representing a spark of the divine.

S63: You also can talk about Angelo in only literary terms if you just see that the great actress, that she was the great dancer, that she was a great musician, that she was. You miss her. If you don’t realize that this is a woman of tremendous faith and tremendous dependence on God.


S33: I visited Reverend Churn in his office one Sunday after his church service.

S64: She came to see me one day. Well, it was summer. We had our summer camp. And I knew her car had arrived. And she never showed. I finally went downstairs, found her surrounded by kids rapping. You know, Dr. Angelou, could you know, people try today? Dr. Angelo could grab.

S33: She had those kids in from the album she recorded way back before her writing career in 1957 is one of the many reasons Angela is sometimes dubbed the godmother of hip hop.

S65: She was speaking the times. The struggle to beat. On Miss Calypso in 1957, just drums and her voice on beat. I don’t know anyone who came before her, at least within their recorded era of music, that is music producer Shawn Rivera.

S66: I’m sure that our ancestors kept history by putting words in stories to music because we couldn’t write it down. But as far as what we know is hip hop today. Maya Angelou was the pioneer.

S33: Rivera discovered Angeles back in 2007. It was Life-Changing and inspired Kate birdsongs, an album he worked with Angelo on for seven years. It was released November 2014, six months after her death. The songs are from her poems, some of which are based on experiences from the book she talks about.

S67: You know, there’s a long dead girl in San Francisco by the Golden Gate. She said she’d give me all I wanted, but I just couldn’t wait. Right. And it made me laugh because for someone who seemed to be so presidential and prim and proper, I didn’t realize how she came from the same kind of streets. I was raised in and then some before they were what they are. She became this. I could connect with her through the book in a way that the poetry only alluded to.


S68: There’s a girl in San Francisco. Have a good day.

S69: Give me that one that had just started picking them up and taking them and picking them up, and then getting to the next town, picking them up and taking them. The album has a cult like following.

S67: People are still discovering it. And that’s one of those things. When you when you’re as timeless as Dr. Angelo, there’s no rush. When I found her book almost 40 years after it was written, and it’s still changed the trajectory of my life to this day. So 40 years from now, you know, my great grandkids will be just as inspired by it.

S33: You’ve heard to be in Book Week. It started with one book. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

S70: There was a challenge to her book in 1982 that came to the attention of a small group of publishers, booksellers and librarians that were working on a display for what turned into BookCon.

S33: Today, Debra CALDWELL Stone is the director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association.

S70: It was the idea that her book was being banned. Now, you know, a nominee from multiple awards, an actual award winning book with a great work of literature is being removed from the schools based on the objections to the use of language and sexual situations that were challenging but relevant and important to the book that really spurred these individuals to bring a focus to book censorship.

S33: In 1990, years after the office was inspired to work on banned books, they started keeping a yearly list of the top Bixby and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings has made the list hundreds of times.


S71: What’s cited most often in the listed challenges is profanity, explicit sexual activity or the description of explicit sexual activity and sometimes very vague references to the book not representing, quote traditional values unquote.

S33: Cobblestoned says there are always be challenges to I know why the Caged Bird sings because it itself is a challenge to the status quo.

S71: It forces individuals to confront their preconceptions of culture, of race, of class. And people find that profoundly disorienting and uncomfortable. And I think as long as literature is does that and in fact, isn’t that the task of literature to challenge us, to cause us, to question ourselves and our beliefs? Joanne Gaman.

S48: Maya Angelou was right on target when she said this has to be not only recognized, but young people have to read about this. Not only did she give us that scene in terms of the rape, but she also talked about the very hard issues of racism, of racial violence. And so she tells us these stories that are sometimes hard to hear, but must be heard earlier in her life.

S33: Angela struggled to find her voice, sometimes literally when she did not speak in finding it and writing about it. She helped others find theirs.

S67: This book was the closest thing for me to feeling understood by someone who had walked a path.

S50: And emerged successfully from a childhood of abuse I identified with her as a young black girl. The young black girl who is still alive and in side me who experienced. Terrible things that I don’t want to talk about. She became a champion for me, for me, too.

S33: During my interview with Braxton, she asked me why I wanted to produce this story in particular.


S72: I did not encounter it until college and it changed. It changed my. It changed my life in ways that. I didn’t I didn’t even know how to articulate. So, yeah, I get emotional. Good talking to Ratzmann.

S33: Take me back to reading the book. As a college student in the 90s, I saw myself for the first time in the words my story of rape at a young age. Racism and identity was not unique, but it was also not normal and I felt validation.

S73: Angelos Neese There’s family dynamics that we as a people don’t often talk about, like mental health issues, incest, rape that goes on in the family. And so by. Writing about those things. It opened the door. For us to realize and acknowledge, I pay.

S33: This is perhaps the greatest lasting impact of the book.

S74: Joanne Braxton I think it’s critically important to recognize that her text. Offers itself as a counter narrative. To the American historical narrative that remains his story. By bringing her black and female voice four-word. To say, in the words of Langston Hughes, A to sing America.

S55: The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect, if not enthusiastic acceptance.

S75: The best it ever done it. That’s my title and the whining. Man, I’m bad.

S6: So In The Green produced our story. She is based in Macon, Georgia, where she’s a reporter at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism. Pedro Rafael Rosado was the engineer. Maya Angelo died in 2014 at age 86. All of studio. 360’s American icons are made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. And you can find dozens more American icon stories, an hour long documentaries at Studio 360 doored.


S8: 15 years ago, Lisa left Eye Lopez, the L in the group TLC died at age 30 as part of TLC. Lopez made memorable songs like this.

S6: One TLC super fan was a girl in Jackson, Mississippi, named Angie Thomas.

S76: I had these two friends in middle school and the three of us pretended we were TLC all the time, so I was always left.

S77: And they were too wise. And Julie and we would practice TLC songs in my driveway. We would play the songs maybe on a little Walkman, even though it had headphones. You could try to turn the volume all the way up so you could still hear. And we would try to do the songs and the raps and everything and do our own little dances that they would do in the videos.

S76: But on the last day of sixth grade, my school decided to announce the students with the highest GPA and I was the sixth grader, but I had the highest GPA in the entire school, moreso than the seventh and eighth graders. And the teachers made the seventh graders feel kind of bad that a sixth grader had a higher GPA than them. So I guess they remembered that over the summer, because on my first day of seventh grade, the eighth graders just harassed me. I couldn’t go down the hall without one of them pushing me or making a comment about me.

S78: They were calling me Betty. They would push me.

S76: They would try to trip me, all kind of stuff.

S1: I remember looking for those friends that I just had in sixth grade that I was, you know, imitating TLC with. And they were silent.

S76: And I get it now because when you’re that age, your first instinct is to protect yourself and not stick up for your friend. But I wished that they would stick up for me and they didn’t. So I remember going home. Midge’s I was done. I was done. My mom, I love my mom to death and she does so much for me and for my grandmother.


S78: She took care my grandmother full time as a caregiver because my grandmother ended up having dementia and they end up struggling financially, not having a car. You know, having to ask neighbors to take us to the grocery store and stuff like that.

S79: It was hard.

S78: And for some reason, I thought that the best way to help my mom was if she didn’t have to take care of me.

S80: I thought that was the best thing. If I just got out of the way, I had a moment where I just decided I was born to do it.

S81: And I locked myself in the bathroom and I was going to take some pain medicine and for some reason took my little walk.

S76: My little c_d_ player into the restroom with me. And I just sat on the floor and I cried and my mom was outside of the bathroom telling me, just come out, please don’t. You know, she’s trying to talk me down. She didn’t know that that was trying to take pills or anything like that. But she was trying to just get me to come out to talk to her. And I wanted to drown her out. So I put my headphones on and I pushed play on the c_d_ player and waterfalls came on a.

S82: And in that moment, I decided to really listen to the song as much as I enjoy this song. I decided to really listen to it and really listen to Lisa’s rant.

S83: But now one dad here. Right here in my life gave me a great real pain. Fade away, seldom reasonable other family day. My only bleed and hope for the folk who can cope with that enduring pain that keep them.


S76: She entered. The rat was saying dreams are hopeless, aspirations and hopes of coming true.

S83: Believing is the director. That to me.

S77: Believe me yourself, the rest is up to me and you.

S76: And I remember listening to those lyrics, and he spoke to me in such a way that I decided, no, I’m not going to take these pills. I’m going to get up and I’m going to fight. I’m going to keep going because there’s a rainbow on the side of this.

S78: I turned the C.D. off and I took my headphones off and I went out of the bathroom and I apologize to my mom because I knew I scared her. I told her I was like this song. I told her about the song. I said, the song just really changed me just now.

S84: Well, I started listening to my face.

S85: My name is Julia Williams.

S86: And you smile and thought about what Andrew was gone, what had been going through. And I thought, oh, if I could get Lisa to talk and Jimmy, maybe that would cheer her up. I called recording studio record label company all called everybody in a bad act to keep track.

S85: And I had some other co-workers and the parents say, go you crazy. I wouldn’t be trying to go the one where you can stay in your mold, babe.

S87: And I do crazy things. Whatever it takes. And so I found the name of her studio that she had at that time, not realizing that was located at her house. So when I called, there was this young lady on the phone answered, and I told her who I was and that my daughter was crazy about Lisa and how Lisa had really made an impact on my child’s life.


S84: And I was like, if she could just say hello. And the next most I heard was Lisa left Lopate.

S78: I was in another room and my mom was talking to Left Eye from TLC on the phone and explaining to her everything. And my mom comes in the room where I am. I was watching television. My mom muted the television. She said, someone wants to speak to you.

S79: So I took the phone and I say hello. And she goes, Hey, this is left by.

S88: I drop the phone, had she dropped the phone. And so when I got on the phone, she said, Are you OK? And I said, Yes, ma’am. And then she was like, oh, you said, me? I don’t think she was used to kids saying mail to her. So no answer there. I couldn’t help it.

S78: And we were just talking and she she she kind of eased into it. You know, it wasn’t a thing from jump. Let me talk her off the ledge. No, it was like, let me ease my way into it. So she told me, you know, your mom told me you’ve been going through some stuff.

S89: And she’s was like, I’m sorry that you, you know, feel like you have to end it, but don’t. And she said, you know, you have so much to fight for. You got your mom, you got your grandmother. You’ve got so many things you could do in your life. One day she said, I’ll take your life. She was a symbol with, you know, don’t do it.

S90: And I used to wish that my life would end. You know, my mom would look at me and say, oh, so and so. And it you say that if you don’t know what it feels like to be happy. You don’t know what you don’t know. You know, it’s like there’s no hope. But it doesn’t really have to be that way.


S78: So she said, I’m talking from experience and it may seem like is hard right now, but I promise it will be better. I remember just I was I was just more so stunned that it was left by talking with me, but still is. It hit me and I was like, yes, ma’am.

S91: You know, Lucille said some things to her. It really encouraged her in a way like I could never have done that. Well, at least I felt like I could fail. But it made a difference. It made an impact. And it stirred my daughter and encouraged her. In a way, honey, that is like what iLvl gone through.

S84: They said coming out of this.

S78: TLC was the biggest girl group ever at that time. They were like, humongous. So the fact that my mom was able to find the number. The fact that we were able to get her on the phone, it show me. OK, anything can happen. If that can happen, anything can happen for sure.

S92: Angie Thomas’s young adult novel On the Come Up was published in 2019 2017 debut novel The Hit You Give, it was adapted as a film and that is it for this week’s show.

S93: Studio 360 is a production of Pride in Association with Slate. Our production team is Jocelyn Gonzalez into Adam Newman. Sandra Lowe. Best onesided. Evan Chung. Zoe Saunders. Sam Kim Morgan. Flannery, Tommy. Busy area. And I’m Kurt Andersen. People like to turn a blind eye to the ugliness that happens out here and he shined a light on it. Thanks very much for listening.

S94: Our Public Radio International next time on Studio 360. What’s the news matter anyway? It’s our last day. Can we say goodbye?

S7: It’s usually sort of a world change. You know, someone’s hired, someone’s fired, somebody is moving. Somebody gets a new job. The end of an era finale. Right.

S8: Yes, exactly. It’s like this time together is ending next time for the last time on Studio 360.