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Life & Times Transcript

1/27/03

LC030127

VAL ZAVALA>> TONIGHT ON LIFE AND TIMES --

JESS MARLOW>> THEY COME FROM A SECRET TRAINING CAMP SOMEWHERE IN LOS ANGELES, A LOW-TECH PEACEKEEPING FORCE ON A MISSION TO STOP SUICIDE BOMBERS IN ISRAEL.

MIKE HERSTIK>> THEY HAVEN’T EVER COME UP WITH ANYTHING BETTER. THEY HAVE ALL KINDS OF MACHINERY OUT THERE, BUT NOTHING IS ABLE TO DETECT EXPLOSIVES WITH THE SENSITIVITY OF A DOG’S NOSE.

VAL>> AMERICA’S CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE MIGHT HAVE FOLLOWED A VERY DIFFERENT PATH WITHOUT HIM. WHILE MARTIN LUTHER KING INSPIRED THE MARCHERS WHO DESEGREGATED THE SOUTH, THIS MAN TRAINED THEM IN PRINCIPLES OF NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE. TONIGHT A CONVERSATION WITH CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER, REVEREND JAMES LAWSON.

JESS>> WE ALL HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT PUBLIC EDUCATION, BUT DO THINGS LOOK DIFFERENT FROM A FRONT ROW SEAT?

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> GO ON IN, TAKE YOUR SEATS. ALL RIGHT.

JESS>> TALES FROM THE TRENCHES. WE’LL HEAR WHAT IT’S LIKE TO START YOUR DAY FACE TO FACE WITH A ROOM FULL OF SOMEONE ELSE’S KIDS. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER.

VAL>> THESE STORIES COMING UP NEXT ON LIFE AND TIMES.

LIFE AND TIMES TONIGHT IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE FOLLOWING FOUNDATIONS:

THE L.K. WHITTIER FOUNDATION
DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE BY SUPPORTING INNOVATIVE ENDEAVORS IN THE FIELDS OF MEDICINE, HEALTH, SCIENCE AND EDUCATION.

AND THE CALIFORNIA ENDOWMENT
THE STATE'S LARGEST HEALTH FOUNDATION SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS THAT DIRECTLY IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF CALIFORNIA'S DIVERSE COMMUNITIES. THE CALIFORNIA ENDOWMENT, A PARTNER FOR HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES.

VAL>> GOOD EVENING, I’M VAL ZAVALA.

JESS>> AND I’M JESS MARLOW. THE WAR ON TERROR CALLS FOR EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES AND TONIGHT WE HAVE THE STORY OF HOW MAN’S BEST FRIEND WAS DRAFTED AS A FOUR-LEGGED FOOT SOLDIER. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT BOMB-SNIFFING DOGS BEING TRAINED IN LOS ANGELES FOR A MISSION TO ISRAEL.

VAL>> THE TRAINING CAMP IS SO SECRET THAT EVEN WE HAVEN’T SEEN IT, BUT WE HAVE SEEN THE END RESULT, DOGS THAT MAY GIVE ISRAEL A WAY TO STOP SUICIDE BOMBERS. TONIGHT GAY YEE TELLS US ABOUT THE ANIMALS AND THE LOS ANGELES ECONOMIST WHO STARTED THIS SPECIAL MISSION.

[FILM CLIP]

GAY YEE>> GLEN YAGO IS A JEWISH-AMERICAN WHO’S SEEN THE VIOLENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND WITNESSED THE TERROR COME HOME.

GLEN YAGO>> I’VE BEEN OVER TEACHING IN ISRAEL. I’D WITNESSED A NUMBER OF SUICIDE BOMBING ATTACKS. I HAD, YOU KNOW, SPENT SIX HOURS TRYING TO FIND MY SON ON SEPTEMBER 11. THE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO KILL CIVILIANS FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES, THAT’S WHAT TERRORISM IS.

GAY YEE>> HOW DOES ONE FIGHT SOMEONE WILLING TO STRAP ON EXPLOSIVES TO KILL HIMSELF AND TAKE OTHERS WITH HIM? YAGO, WHO’S AN ECONOMIST WITH THE MILKEN INSTITUTE, IS A TRAINED PROBLEM-SOLVER. TO HIM, THE SOLUTION TO THE FREQUENT BOMBINGS WAS FAIRLY OBVIOUS. ISRAEL SHOULD BRING IN SPECIALLY TRAINED DOGS TO SNIFF OUT EXPLOSIVES AND STOP AT LEAST SOME OF THE SUICIDE BOMBERS BEFORE PEOPLE GOT HURT.

GLEN YAGO>> THIS IDEA OF GOING TOWARDS HUMAN SACRIFICE IN TERROR IS A TABOO THAT IS ALIGNED THAT, AS A SPECIES, WE CANNOT CROSS.

GAY YEE>> USING BOMB DOGS TO SNIFF OUT TERRORISM. IT ALL SEEMS SO SIMPLE THAT YAGO WONDERED WHY ISRAEL HADN’T THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE. WELL, IT TURNS OUT THAT ISRAEL HAD. THERE JUST WEREN’T ENOUGH DOGS. SO YAGO CAME UP WITH ANOTHER SOLUTION. HE STARTED A BOMB DETECTION SCHOOL FOR DOGS SOLELY AIMED AT HELPING ISRAEL AND HE CALLED IT “PUPS FOR PEACE”.

[FILM CLIP]

GAY YEE>> NITRO IS A STAR PUPIL, AS WE SAW DURING THIS DEMONSTRATION AT A PRIVATE HOME IN BEL AIR. FOR SECURITY REASONS, THE SCHOOL ITSELF OPERATES IN SECRET AT AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION SOMEWHERE ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF LOS ANGELES. YAGO KNOWS THAT, WITHOUT THE SECRECY, THESE DOGS COULD EASILY BECOME TARGETS.

MIKE HERSTIK>> THEIR JOB IS VERY SIMPLE. THEY SEEK OUT EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS USUALLY IN THE FORM OF A BOMB. THEY DETECT IT, THEY INDICATE IT TO THEIR HANDLERS. THEY HAVEN’T EVER COME UP WITH ANYTHING BETTER. THEY HAVE ALL KINDS OF MACHINERY OUT THERE, BUT NOTHING IS ABLE TO DETECT EXPLOSIVES WITH THE SENSITIVITY OF A DOG’S NOSE.

GAY YEE>> MIKE HERSTIK IS AN EXPERT WHO’S TRAINED BOMB DOGS FOR THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT.

MIKE HERSTIK>> THE REASON THEY ARE SUCH A TREMENDOUS DETERRENT TO THE TERRORISTS IS BECAUSE THEY ARE SO EXCELLENT AT THEIR JOB AND THE PRESENCE OF THESE DOGS IS ENOUGH TO REDIRECT THE PLANS OF A WOULD-BE TERRORIST.

GAY YEE>> HERSTIK TOOK A PAY CUT TO WORK AT “PUPS FOR PEACE”. HIS MOTHER AND FATHER WERE HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS AND HE SAYS HE ALWAYS FELT INDEBTED TO ISRAEL FOR GIVING HIS FAMILY A SECOND CHANCE.

MIKE HERSTIK>> IT’S ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING, BUT THE FACT THAT I WAS BORN IN ISRAEL, THERE WAS A CERTAIN SPIRITUAL CONNECTION. I HAPPENED TO LEAVE THERE WHEN I WAS THREE AND A HALF AND I FEEL LIKE THINGS HAVE COME FULL CIRCLE.

GAY YEE>> AND IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE THAT HERSTIK ALSO FEELS A STRONG, ALMOST SPIRITUAL, BOND WITH NITRO.

MIKE HERSTIK>> HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT A DOG THAT YOU BET YOUR LIFE ON? WE’RE A TEAM.

GLEN YAGO>> “SINCE ONE IDEA LED TO ANOTHER AND WE SAID WHY AREN’T THERE DOGS IN ISRAEL? SO WE....”

GAY YEE>> YAGO’S GOAL IS TO TRAIN A THOUSAND DOGS SUCH AS NITRO TO WORK IN ISRAEL TO PROTECT SCHOOLS, BUSES, TRAIN STATIONS, ANY PLACE YOU’D FIND THE PUBLIC, BUT IT ISN’T CHEAP. EVERY TRAINED DOG ENDS UP COSTING AROUND $10,000. YAGO IS COUNTING ON STRONG SUPPORT FROM OTHER JEWISH-AMERICANS WHO SHARE HIS CONCERNS.

GLEN YAGO>> IT’S A GLOBAL PROBLEM. IT’S NOT JUST AN AMERICAN PROBLEM. IT’S NOT JUST A JEWISH PROBLEM. IT’S NOT JUST A MIDDLE EASTERN PROBLEM. BUT IT’S A PROBLEM OF TRYING TO GET A DISCOURSE GOING ABOUT PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD WHERE THERE ARE GRIEVANCES WHERE PEOPLE DON’T TARGET CIVILIANS AS THE STRATEGY.

GAY YEE>> ISRAEL’S PROBLEMS ONCE SEEMED FAR AWAY, BUT SINCE 9/11, YAGO BELIEVES AMERICA HAS GOTTEN A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE, A WORLD WHERE TERRORISM IS AN EVERYDAY THREAT FOR ALL OF US.

GLEN YAGO>> YOU KNOW, IT’S NOT A MATTER OF WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT TO GO VISIT THE MIDDLE EAST. THE MIDDLE EAST HAS A WAY OF COMING AND VISITING US AND IT CERTAINLY DID ON SEPTEMBER 11.

GAY YEE>> AND WHILE A PERMANENT SOLUTION REMAINS ELUSIVE, YAGO SAYS HE’S ENCOURAGED BY A HANDFUL OF LOYAL CANINES WHO SEEM TO HAVE A NOSE FOR PEACE.

JESS>> GAY YEE JOINS US NOW. SEVERAL OF THOSE DOGS ARE IN ISRAEL NOW.

GAY YEE>> THAT’S RIGHT.

JESS>> IS THE PROGRAM WORKING?

GAY YEE>> WELL, THE FIRST GROUP OF DOGS WENT OVER, ABOUT SEVENTEEN DOGS IN EARLY OCTOBER. WORD IS THAT THEY HAVE HAD SEVEN ACTUAL SIGHTINGS AND FINDS, SO SEVEN INCIDENTS, SEVEN CASES, WHERE TERRORISM WAS AVERTED.

VAL>> WOW, SO A BOMB WAS FOUND BEFORE IT WENT OFF BECAUSE OF THE DOGS.

GAY YEE>> ACTUALLY DETECTING THE EXPLOSIVES.

VAL>> NOW HIS GOAL IS TO GET A THOUSAND DOGS TRAINED. HOW CLOSE IS HE TO THAT GOAL?

GAY YEE>> HE WOULD LOVE TO DO THAT. RIGHT NOW, WE’VE HAD ONE WAVE OF DOGS BEING SENT OVER. THAT WAS SEVENTEEN DOGS. BY THE END OF THIS MONTH, HE SHOULD HAVE ANOTHER TWENTY-FIVE GOING OVER. HE PLANS TO HAVE A TRAINING SITE SET UP IN NORTHERN ISRAEL SO THEY CAN ACTUALLY TRAIN THE DOGS OVER THERE. AND THEY’VE ACTUALLY TRAINED SOME TRAINERS HERE, GETTING THEM PREPARED SO THEY CAN DO THE JOB THEMSELVES OVER IN ISRAEL.

JESS>> HOW IS IT FUNDED?

GAY YEE>> WELL, IT’S MAINLY DONATIONS AND PART OF THE STORY THAT WE WORKED ON, WE WERE ACTUALLY AT A FUNDRAISER IN BRENTWOOD. A FORMER COLLEAGUE OF HIS DECIDED TO HAVE HIS FRIENDS OVER FOR BRUNCH AND TO MEET THE DOG AND GET A SENSE OF WHAT THEY WERE DOING. IT’S VERY, VERY GRASSROOTS. IT’S A VERY SIMPLE IDEA TO TRAIN THESE DOGS TO DO A VERY SIMPLE JOB, YET IT COULD SAVE SO MANY LIVES.

VAL>> NOW HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN A DOG?

GAY YEE>> IT TAKES, I BELIEVE, SEVERAL WEEKS TO BE ABLE -- CLOSE PERHAPS TO A NUMBER OF MONTHS TO DO THIS, BUT IT’S NOT THAT DIFFICULT. IT’S ALL DONE ON POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT AND THE DOGS ARE DOING THIS JUST OUT OF A SHEER DELIGHT TO RETRIEVE. IT’S FUN FOR THEM AND THEIR REWARD IS NOT A PIECE OF FOOD. IT’S ACTUALLY THEIR TOY, SO THEY ARE SNIFFING OUT THE EXPLOSIVES, HOPING THAT THEY GET TO PLAY WITH THEIR TRAINER.

VAL>> I WOULD THINK THERE WOULD BE A BIG DEMAND RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU NEED DOGS AT AIRPORTS, I MEAN, THERE’S A SHORTAGE OF THESE DOGS, NO?

GAY YEE>> ABSOLUTELY, AND I BELIEVE AT THE END OF FEBRUARY, THEY HOPE TO HAVE SOME OF THESE DOGS AT TWO BUS STATIONS IN ISRAEL.

VAL>> GREAT. THANK YOU SO MUCH, GAY. THAT’S A REALLY INTERESTING STORY.

TOMORROW NIGHT, THE BATTLE OVER AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. THE SUPREME COURT IS TACKLING THE QUESTION OF RACIAL PREFERENCES AT STATE UNIVERSITIES. WHAT WILL IT MEAN TO CALIFORNIA? WE’LL HAVE BOTH SIDES OF THE DEBATE AND THE LOCAL IMPACT.

JESS>> HE’S BEEN CALLED THE ARCHITECT OF THE NON-VIOLENT CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. FOR MANY, THOSE WORDS MIGHT CALL TO MIND THE REVEREND DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, BUT THEY WERE WRITTEN ABOUT ANOTHER CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER, THE LONG-TIME PASTOR OF L.A.’S HOLMAN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, THE REVEREND JAMES LAWSON.

VAL>> REVEREND LAWSON IS A KEY FIGURE IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST RACIAL INJUSTICE. HE IS THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE AND HE STUDIED UNDER GANDHI. ON THIS DAY WHEN WE HONOR MARTIN LUTHER KING, JAMES LAWSON TAKES US BACK TO THE ROOTS OF THE STRATEGY KNOWN AS CREATIVE NON-VIOLENCE.

[FILM CLIP]

REVEREND JAMES LAWSON>> MY LEARNING NON-VIOLENCE AND NON-VIOLENT WAYS AND NON-VIOLENT PHILOSOPHY BEGAN FAIRLY EARLY. ONE DAY WHEN I RAN AN ERRAND FOR MY MOTHER, A CHILD IN AN AUTOMOBILE, OPEN WINDOWS IN THE AUTOMOBILE, CALLED ME A NIGGER AND I WENT OVER AND SLAPPED THE CHILD, COMPLETED THE ERRAND FOR MY MOTHER, RAN BACK HOME AND THEN TOLD HER OF THE INCIDENT OF MY SLAPPING THE CHILD. SHE HAD HER BACK TOWARDS ME WORKING AT THE STOVE IN THE KITCHEN. WITHOUT TURNING AROUND, SHE SIMPLY ASKED ME, "JIMMY, WHAT GOOD DID THAT DO?" I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THOSE WORDS. THEN AS SHE TALKED TO ME ABOUT WHO I WAS AND THAT I WAS LOVED AND I WAS A CHILD OF GOD AND THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO PRACTICE CHRISTIAN LOVE, SHE ALSO SAID TO ME, "THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY." THOSE TWO SENTENCES WILL ALWAYS LIVE IN ME.

[FILM CLIP]

I WENT TO INDIA FOR THREE YEARS AS A COACH AND A CAMPUS MINISTER AT HISLOP COLLEGE IN NAGPUR, INDIA, WHICH IS IN THE GEOGRAPHICAL CENTER OF INDIA. IT WAS THERE IN EARLY DECEMBER OF 1955 THAT I LEARNED OF THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT AND FIRST READ THE NAME OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND I WAS ELATED BY IT, VERY EXCITED BY THAT HAPPENING, AND FELT STRONGLY THAT THIS COULD BE THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING RATHER EXTRAORDINARY IN THE UNITED STATES.

I FINISHED MY THREE YEARS OF WORK IN INDIA, FINISHED IN THE SUMMER OF 1956, AND RETURNED HOME TO ENROLL IN GRADUATE SCHOOL IN THEOLOGY AT OBERLIN. MARTIN KING SPOKE THERE ON FEBRUARY 7, IN FACT, AT A BIG STANDING ROOM ONLY ASSEMBLY IN THE FINNEY CHAPEL. I HAD BEEN INVITED TO HAVE LUNCH WITH HIM AFTERWARDS AND DID SO. I TOLD HIM THAT, ONE DAY, I EXPECTED TO COME SOUTH IN A PASTOR MOVE THERE. HIS WORDS WERE, "COME NOW. COME IMMEDIATELY. WE NEED YOU. THERE IS NO ONE LIKE YOU IN THE SOUTH", MEANING THERE'S NO BLACK PERSON IN THE SOUTH WHO HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF NON-VIOLENCE, WHO CAME OUT OF THE BLACK CHURCH AND COULD TRANSFER THAT EXPERIENCE AND INFORMATION TO OTHER PEOPLE.

IN NASHVILLE IN 1959, A GROUP OF ADULTS DETERMINED IN NASHVILLE WE WERE GOING TO DESEGREGATE DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE. SO IN SEPTEMBER OF 1959, WE BEGAN WORKSHOPS TOWARDS THAT PURPOSE.

[FILM CLIP]

WE DID A LOT OF DRAMA. THAT IS, WE ROLLED BACK ALL THE TABLES AND THE CHAIRS AND I WOULD PUT UP SCENES.

[FILM CLIP]

BEING IN NASHVILLE, WE DID PREPARE PEOPLE TO FACE HARASSMENT AND TO FACE A FIST OR VIOLENCE OF BEING DRAGGED ON THE STREET AND WE WOULD NOT PERMIT ANYONE TO GO ON THE SIT-INS WHO FELT THEY COULD NOT RESPOND NON-VIOLENTLY RATHER THAN WITH VIOLENCE. WHAT WE DID WAS, WE HAD A FIRST WAVE OF PEOPLE READY TO GO INTO FIVE OR SIX OR SEVEN PLACES, RESTAURANTS AND LUNCH COUNTERS. AFTER THEY SAT IN, WE SENT A SECOND WAVE OF PEOPLE WHO STAYED IN THE STREETS, DID NOT GO INTO ANY RESTAURANT, UNTIL THEY WERE -- UNTIL, LET'S SAY, WOOLWORTH'S STORE LUNCH COUNTER PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED.

THEY WERE UNDER ORDERS, THEN DIRECTIONS, TO WAIT UNTIL THE PADDY WAGON ROLLED AWAY WITH THOSE PEOPLE. THEN THEY WOULD MOVE IN FROM THE CROWD AND FROM THE SIDEWALKS AND THEY WOULD TAKE THEIR PLACES AT THAT RESTAURANT. WE HAD THIS GOING ON VERY WELL AND THIS FRUSTRATED THE POLICE. THEY WERE ASTONISHED THAT PEOPLE WERE UNAFRAID OF BEING ARRESTED. BLACK FOLK HAD FEARED THIS. AFTER THEY HAD ARRESTED, I THINK ONCE OR TWICE IN EACH PLACE, THEY ORDERED THE RESTAURANTS TO CLOSE DOWN.

WHEN ATTORNEY ALEXANDER [LUBY'S] HOUSE WAS BOMBED ON APRIL 19, 1960, THAT BOMBING TOOK PLACE MAYBE AT 3:00 AND, BY 6:00 OR 7:00, WE HAD A STRATEGY. THE STRATEGY WAS FAIRLY SIMPLE, THE SILENT MARCH DOWN JEFFERSON STREET TO CITY HALL. BY 10:00, THERE WERE 5,000 OF US MARCHING SILENTLY. WE MARCHED WITHOUT NOISE. WE DID NO SINGING. WE DELIBERATELY DECIDED IT WOULD BE A SILENT MARCH. THAT IS STILL A VERY IMPRESSIVE AFFAIR. SO IT BECAME, IN FACT, THE LARGEST NON-VIOLENT MARCH THAT UP TO THAT TIME THE SOUTH HAD EVER EXPERIENCED OR WITNESSED. WE MARCHED IN ROWS OF ABOUT THREE OR FOUR PEOPLE APIECE AND CONFRONTED THE MAYOR AND WE SELECTED DIANE NASH AND C.T. VIVIAN TO BE OUR SPOKESPEOPLE. WE TOLD THEM WHAT WE WANTED SAID.

[FILM CLIP]

DIANE AND C.T. VIVIAN GOT THE MAYOR TO SAY THAT IT WAS IMMORAL TO NOT SERVE PEOPLE AT THOSE COUNTERS AND RESTAURANTS IN THE CITY.

[FILM CLIP]

AND THEN FOR HIM TO SAY, "LET'S INTEGRATE THEM, LET'S DESEGREGATE THEM", WHICH WAS THE FIRST TIME ANY MAJOR WHITE FIGURE IN THE CITY HAD SAID, "WE'RE DEALING WITH A MORAL ISSUE AND WE OUGHT TO CHANGE."

MAY 10 WERE THE FIRST SIGNS OF DESEGREGATED EATING IN DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE AND IT SPREAD FROM THERE TO SOMETHING LIKE 150 CITIES ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST. IT ALL CAME OUT OF NASHVILLE. DALLAS DID IT AND THEY CALLED IT THE DALLAS PLAN. NEW ORLEANS FOLLOWED OUR SCHEME. THEY CALLED IT THE NEW ORLEANS PLAN. WHEN I MOVED TO MEMPHIS AS A PASTOR IN 1962, I WAS PART OF THE MEMPHIS PLAN THAT WAS BASICALLY THE NASHVILLE PROGRAM THAT WE OPERATED IN 1960.

SO THE ISSUE TODAY, IT SEEMS TO ME, IS NOT KNOWING WHAT IT WAS LIKE BACK THEN. I SAY UNDERSTAND KING, NOT FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE '60S, BUT UNDERSTAND KING FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE ISSUES THAT TODAY CURRENTLY DEPRIVE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS OF EQUALITY, OF JUSTICE, OF ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITY.

VAL>> LAWSON IS NOW RETIRED AS A MINISTER, BUT HIS WORK FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY CONTINUES. HE’S INVOLVED IN THE LIVING WAGE MOVEMENT AND IN ORGANIZING LOW-WAGE WORKERS. THIS SPRING HE PLANS TO TEACH A COURSE ON NON-VIOLENCE AT UCLA AND TO RESUME HIS WEEKLY NATIONAL TELEVISION PROGRAM, “LAWSON LIVE”, ON THE HALLMARK NETWORK.

LIFEANDTIMES@KCET.ORG
WWW.KCET.ORG
LIFE AND TIMES TONIGHT
4401 SUNSET BLVD.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90027
(323) 953-5555

VAL>> WE USED TO LOOK FORWARD TO THOSE DAYS AS KIDS. YOUR REGULAR TEACHER IS SICK AND YOU GET A SUBSTITUTE. IT COULD MEAN YOU’D GET SOMEONE WHO DIDN’T REALLY KNOW THE RULES AND WOULD LET YOU OFF EASY.

JESS>> BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO THE PERSON WHO HAS TO TAKE ON THE JOB OF TEACHER FOR A DAY? WE GET THE STORY OF ONE SUBSTITUTE IN THIS FILM FROM THE VERITAS PROJECT FEATURING SOME OF THE BEST WORKS OF LOCAL INDEPENDENT PRODUCERS.

[FILM CLIP]

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> MY NAME IS DENISE BEAUCHAMP AND I’M AN ARTIST AND A TEACHER AND THE WAY I EARN MY LIVING IS BY BEING A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT.

SCHOOL IS VERY QUIET BECAUSE IT’S ACTUALLY SUMMER SCHOOL. THE KIDS WHO ARE HERE FOR SUMMER SCHOOL ARE KIND OF INTERESTING. THEY’RE ACTUALLY, I THINK, IN SOME WAYS, THEY’RE THE KIND OF KIDS I LIKE TO TEACH. I HAVE A LOT OF EMPATHY FOR THEM. I CERTAINLY KNOW HOW IT FEELS NOT TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE PARTICULARLY GOOD AT ACADEMICS.

ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS FOR ME IS TO COME INSIDE SOMEBODY ELSE’S ROOM AND READ THEIR NOTES. THERE’S ALWAYS THIS SMALL ANXIETY OF LIKE I’M NOT QUITE SURE WHAT THEY’RE THINKING AND I’M GOING TO DO IT WRONG.

“ALL RIGHT, EVERYBODY GO ON IN. TAKE YOUR SEATS. ALL RIGHT. TAKE YOUR BACKPACK OFF. GO AHEAD, STAY AWHILE. WHO REMEMBERS MY NAME? WHO KNOWS MY NAME? YES, WHAT’S MY NAME?”

CHILDREN>> MS. BEAUCHAMP.

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> “AND IF MS. BEAUCHAMP IS TOO HARD, YOU CAN CALL ME MS. B. I’M GOING TO BE HERE FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, SO LET’S VERY QUICKLY GO OVER SOME OF MY RULES. WHAT ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH OUR HANDS WHEN WE’RE IN CLASS? YES?”

STUDENT>> RAISE YOUR HAND?

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> “YES, RAISE YOUR HAND. AND DO WE RAISE OUR HAND LIKE THIS? OH, OH, OH, CHOOSE ME, CHOOSE ME! NO? WHAT DO WE DO? SHOW ME. LIKE THAT. A SILENT HAND.”

YOU NEVER WANT TO HAVE NOTHING TO DO AND YOU NEVER WANT TO SEEM HESITANT. YOU ALWAYS WANT TO JUST KEEP MOVING.

[FILM CLIP]

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> IT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF LIKE A -- JUST KEEP THROWING THINGS AT THE WALL UNTIL SOMETHING STICKS.

“DON’T WHINE AT ME. WHEN YOU TALK TO ME LIKE THAT, IT’S KIND OF CRAZY MAKING. WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO TALK TO YOU LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME? NO. IT WOULD DRIVE YOU CRAZY, HUH?”

“HOW MANY -- OKAY, LET ME SEE THAT. HOW MANY WORDS DID SHE GIVE YOU? [STUDENTS]. YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DISAGREE, BUT IN A POLITE WAY.”

WHEN YOU SEE THE WAY THEY’RE PUT OUT IN SOCIETY, THEY’RE CUTE. THEY’RE ENDEARING. THEY ARE THAT, BUT THEY ALSO ARE EXTREMELY COMPLEX.

“I SEE THAT LOOK IN YOUR EYE IN THE CORNER. IS THERE A TATTLE-TALE COMING ON?”

[FILM CLIP]

STUDENT>> WE REMEMBER THE DAY THE WAR HIT CLOSEST. A BOMB EXPLODED NEAR HER SCHOOL’S PLAYGROUND.

STUDENT>> NEARLY 3,300 PEOPLE HAVE DIED BECAUSE OF THE FIGHTING.

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> “OKAY, CREATE A POSTER IN WHICH YOU’RE ENCOURAGED TO VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE PEACE PLAN.”

STUDENT>> PEACE, DUDE.

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> “OKAY, CAN WE SPELL PEACE RIGHT?”

“IS THIS TO BE A RAINBOW? IS A RAINBOW PEACE?”

“WHEN YOU THINK OF PEACE, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT?

STUDENT>> BEING TOGETHER.

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> “BEING TOGETHER, SO BEING TOGETHER IS A REAL STRONG SYMBOL OF PEACE FOR YOU. CAN YOU PUT ANOTHER LITTLE FRIENDLY SQUIRREL TOGETHER WITH HIM?”

“THIS IS CUTE. I LIKE THIS.”

“THIS IS A GOOD START, BUT I THINK WE COULD DO MORE.”

STUDENT>> CAN WE PUT ALIENS ON OUR POSTER?

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> “OKAY, WHAT HAS THAT GOT TO DO WITH PEACE?”

“SO I’M GOING TO DO IT LIGHTLY AND THEN YOU DO IT, OKAY? YOU LIKE THAT OR NOT?”

“YOU NEED TO COLOR YOUR TREES IN DARKER. THEY’RE GETTING LOST.”

[FILM CLIP]

DENISE BEAUCHAMP>> KIDS SAY INCREDIBLY TOUCHING THINGS. KIDS SAY FUNNY THINGS. MOSTLY THEY’RE HUMAN.

JESS>> AS WE NOTED, THE FILM YOU JUST SAW IS PART OF THE VERITAS COLLECTION. IF YOU’D LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON THE NEXT ROUND OF SHORT DOCUMENTARIES, SEND AN E-MAIL TO VERITASPROJECT@EARTHLINK.NET. THE ENTRIES ACCEPTED WILL BE TELEVISED ON KCET LATER THIS YEAR.

VAL>> THAT IS OUR PROGRAM FOR THIS EVENING. REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN CHECK TRANSCRIPTS OR LISTEN TO RECENT LIFE AND TIMES SHOWS VIA AUDIO ON OUR WEBSITE AT KCET.ORG.

JESS>> NOW FOR ALL OF US HERE AT LIFE AND TIMES, HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

LIFE AND TIMES TONIGHT WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE FOLLOWING FOUNDATIONS:

THE L.K. WHITTIER FOUNDATION
DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE BY SUPPORTING INNOVATIVE ENDEAVORS IN THE FIELDS OF MEDICINE, HEALTH, SCIENCE AND EDUCATION.

AND THE CALIFORNIA ENDOWMENT
THE STATE'S LARGEST HEALTH FOUNDATION SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS THAT DIRECTLY IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF CALIFORNIA'S DIVERSE COMMUNITIES. THE CALIFORNIA ENDOWMENT, A PARTNER FOR HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES.

TO REACH US AT LIFE AND TIMES TONIGHT, CALL 323-953-5555. SEND US AN E-MAIL TO LIFEANDTIMES@KCET.ORG OR LOG ONTO OUR WEBSITE AT WWW.KCET.ORG TO SEND MESSAGES OR DOWNLOAD TRANSCRIPTS OF TONIGHT’S PROGRAM.

 

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