(Editor's Note: NPR's Michel Martin was invited by St. Louis Public Radio to moderate a community conversation on Thursday around race, police tactics and leadership following the shooting death of Michael Brown. The following story is based on what happened at the event.)
Ferguson, Mo., is a study in contrasts. It boasts spacious Victorians in its historic section, with lush green lawns, many featuring 'I Heart Ferguson' signs. Just blocks away, there's a burnt-out QuikTrip. The signs here read "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." In some cases, there are boarded-up windows advertising plans to reopen, or decorated with the town's thanks for the love and support.
Not far from either: A mound of teddy bears and dried flowers mark the spot where 18-year-old Michael Brown fell after being shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Brown's death not only put a spotlight on these contrasts, but has also encouraged people to try to address them.
That was the Rev. Willis Johnson's hope. He's the pastor of Wellspring Church, which hosted a community conversation Thursday night. In welcoming the audience, Johnson acknowledged he's "gone from feeling hurt, to wanting to hurt," but he said he hoped the event would be a step to healing a "community in trauma."
Over the course of two hours, many members of the audience — black, white, young and old — shared similarly reactions.
Ferguson resident Jeff Schultz said the problems that came up in the course of the weeks of disturbances were "invisible to white people like me." He urged the group to find ways to begin to talk about these issues in a way that would keep other whites from getting defensive. But a number of the African-American attendees repeatedly described feelings of being disrespected by institutions and individuals that were supposed to serve them.
"My people are not respected. ... Look at the schools, which schools are in trouble?" Former Missouri state Sen. Rita Days said. "Those are schools with predominantly people that look like me."
She urged the group to acknowledge those divisions.
A panel of community leaders — which included Days, top law enforcement officer Daniel Isom, a retired St. Louis police chief and the incoming director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, and Kimberly McKinney, a Habitat For Humanity executive — wrestled over questions about the police tactics used during the demonstrations, but also about those used on a regular basis, which some observers have suggested is tied to raising money for fines and fees.
Many people expressed particular disgust at the treatment of Brown's body, which remained on the scene and uncovered for more than four hours after the shooting. Much of the anger was directed at Ferguson Mayor James Knowles and others, who attended the event.
David Jackson, a member of the St. Louis Board of Education, was blunt.
"I am so disappointed in you as a leader," he said. "The buck stops with you. It starts with you."
Among the more remarkable developments of the evening was the emergence of an increasingly vocal group of young people who, prompted by social media and world of mouth, arrived at the event to share their experiences and demand accountability. They spoke of being tear-gassed, spoken to roughly by authorities and shot by rubber bullets.
One of the more dramatic moments came as a young man who introduced himself as Frankie Edwards pulled up his shirt to show the mayor a freshly scabbed scar from a bullet wound he received while protesting in Ferguson. He asked Knowles to apologize on behalf of the police, and asked the mayor whether he would step down.
Knowles pointedly said he would not.
"I'm not stepping down," he said. "The voters have an opportunity to relieve me when the time comes."
But African-Americans were not the only people to express disappointment with Knowles' leadership through the crisis. Emily Davis, a white mother of three who lives in Ferguson, said her first emotion after Brown's death was deep sorrow, "but now I am angry," she said.
She had been out protesting or volunteering daily with her children, but "I still don't see any engagement [from the police.] And my kids are confused. My son said 'I thought police were the good guys.'"
Another attendee, Geoffrey Higginbotham, said this was his third riot, after the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles following the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"I came here to the city of Ferguson about 2 1/2 years ago to speak about economic development and how we address these issues," he said. "They were not ready for it."
Both Johnson, the pastor, and Isom, the former police chief, concluded the evening on pensive notes.
Isom asked for the community's ongoing engagement in addressing the issues raised over the course of the evening.
"I just feel sorrow. I feel sorry that as a leader in St. Louis, we haven't done a really good job," he said. "I'm redoubling my effort to hold myself accountable, and see what I can do to make it better. But I can't do it by myself."
Johnson added: "I am hurt. Sometimes I feel a little helpless. But I am hopeful, because I know there's a better day."
Last week, we brought you the first half of the live show we recently held at the Bell House in Brooklyn, featuring producer emeritus Mike Katzif and a conversation about what we'll take away from this summer and what's to come this fall. This week, we have the second half, packed full of special guests and good pals and quizzes that are, in some cases, very difficult, apparently. You'll learn more than you wanted to know about television, shoes, teeth, Susan Anton, super dogs, fighting cats, and the deep, deep insecurities that lie within us all.
First up, we have a hard-fought battle between Stephen and Glen of Team PCHH and Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton of Team Ask Me Another. Can Stephen and I redeem ourselves from our humiliating performance at an AMA event here at NPR last year?
Oh, you never heard it? By all means, let us share it with you.
Next up, we invite my former Television Without Pity colleagues Sarah Bunting, now the east coast editor of Previously.TV, and Joe Reid, now entertainment editor at The Wire, to answer a bunch of questions about old and obscure television. Will they be able to tell the real variety show acts from the fake ones? Can they guess what a show called Small & Frye was about?
As if that weren't enough, we hold a competition between two media giants: our pal Parul Sehgal, an editor at the New York Times Book Review, and the marvelous Josh Gondelman, web producer (and Twitter voice) for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.
Finally, we wrap up with what you all really are eager to hear, which is a very difficult Glen quiz about superhero animals, with which a couple of audience members were kind enough to jump in and help out.
We are eternally grateful to everyone who came to the show, everyone who was in the show, everyone who listens to the show, everyone who helped us put on the show, everyone at the Bell House, everyone at NPR, everyone in New York, everyone in Washington, everyone on the internet, and especially the place where we got barbecue for dinner before the show, because that was really good.
Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: me, Stephen, Glen, Mike, and producer Jessica. We'll be back with regular shows starting next week, despite the fact that I'll be exploring the wonderful films of Toronto, and we hope you'll all be with us.
The Syrian civil war has sparked "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era."
That's according to António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who added that while the world's response to the crisis has been "generous," it hasn't met the needs of refugees.
The U.N. agency released new numbers on Friday and the picture they paint is exceedingly grim. A few data points from the report:
— The total number of Syrian refugees will surpass 3 million people since the conflict began in 2011.
— Nearly half of all Syrians have been forced to abandon their homes.
— One in eight Syrians have fled the country.
— 6.5 million Syrians are displaced inside the country.
The situation is also growing more acute, according to the report. More than half of the refugees coming into Lebanon, for example, told the agency that they have moved at least once before. One in ten refugees in Lebanon say they have moved more than three times.
The U.N. also released a report on Thursday that assessed the conflict. As we reported, it found that both sides were indiscriminately killing and torturing civilians.
A world-class jazz composer and pianist, Makoto Ozoné began playing organ at age 2 and picked up piano at 12 after falling in love with the music of Oscar Peterson.
In this episode of Piano Jazz from 2002, Ozoné shows his mastery of the keyboard as he solos in his original "Lullaby for Rabbit." Host Marian McPartland performs a "Portrait of Makoto Ozoné," and together they enjoy musical jokes in Sonny Rollins' "Sonnymoon for Two."
Originally broadcast in 2002.
- "Lullaby For Rabbit" (Ozoné)
- "Here's That Rainy Day" (Van Heusen)
- "Ill Winds" (Arien)
- "Windows" (Corea)
- "Asian Dream" (Ozoné)
- "Free Piece" (McPartland)
- Example from Twentieth Century (Ozoné)
- "Portrait Of Makoto Ozoné" (McPartland)
- "Sonnymoon For Two" (Rollins)
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Bruce Springsteen is writing a children's book about a bank-robbing baby called Outlaw Pete, based on his song of the same name. "Outlaw Pete is essentially the story of a man trying to outlive and outrun his sins," Springsteen said in a statement. The song "Outlaw Pete" was inspired by the 1950 children's book Brave Cowboy Bill. "When Bruce wrote 'Outlaw Pete' he didn't just write a great song, he created a great character," his co-author, cartoonist Frank Caruso, said in a statement. The book will come out from Simon & Schuster on Nov. 4.
- For the Boston Review, Quyen Nguyen has an interview with Tobias Wolff. Asked about the relationship between literature and politics, Wolff said: "I think it is a political act to force someone to enter the mind, the spirit, the perspective of another human being. We are often resistant to this experience because it forces us to give up all our ideas about other people and actually enter their lives and see through their eyes. That's a radically political act to me."
- Ivan Kreilkamp considers the "Against [X]" essay in The New Yorker: " 'Against [X]' is a symptom of a liberal culture's longing to escape its own strictures; it's the desire of thoughtful and nuanced people to shed their inhibitions and issue fearsome dicta. We feel that we must be fair and evenhanded in our prose, but in our titles we can fly a pirate's flag."
- The D.C. Public Library has hired a social worker to work with homeless patrons. Mark Jenkins reports in The Washington Post: "Libraries in other cities have addressed homelessness in various ways. Philadelphia has a cafe and Seattle a coffee cart run by workers who were previously homeless; Dallas produces podcasts of interviews with its homeless regulars. But as far as [social worker Jean] Badalamenti knows, D.C. is only the second U.S. city to hire a library social worker, following San Francisco." Badalamenti told the Post, "Because the libraries tend to be gathering places for people without homes, it's important to be part of the citywide conversation about how we're going to address homelessness, health services and moving people out of homelessness."
- At Flavorwire, Elisabeth Donnelly makes the case for a more inclusive literary culture: "Lots of people who are professionally writing about books are also snobs, and snobs to the point that they won't even consider what the specific alchemy and magic is that makes something like 50 Shades of Grey save the book industry for a year. ... Ignoring the biggest literary phenomenon of the decade is not good criticism."
- For NPR, 2012 National Book Award Finalist Domingo Martinez describes his struggles with getting health care: "Last year, as I sat in a community health clinic, I wondered if I was the only New York Times best-seller who was waiting to get sliding scale treatment from an underfunded community project, so I wouldn't die from an asthma attack or have a stroke."