tv PBS News Hour PBS April 16, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: gun violence in america. indianapolis reels from a deadly mass shooting at a fedex facility, asodycam video of the police shooting of a chicago teen is released. then, a growing trend. dozens of states across the country are seeking to ban young transgender athletes from competition, despite widespread public opposition. plus, it's friday. david brooks and jonathan capehart look at the national divide on police violence, and the president's plan to withdraw all troops from afghanistan. and, making their voices heard. after decades of being shunned by the industry, black women
finally gain prominence in country music. >> there's already the issue of women not necessarily getting the same air-play as male artists. add to that being a person of color. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> woodruff: police in indianapolis havspent this day looking for answers after a gunman shot eight people to death, and then, himself. the bloodshed followed other attacks nationwide, prompting president biden to call it "a national embarrassment." it also stunned a city hard hit by gun violence. indianapolis today is enveloped in grief. already reeling from a recent series of mass shootings, last night, it became the site of the nation's latest attack. >> this morning, for the third time since january, our community woke up to news of a senseless crime that will not soon leave our memory. >> woodruff: police said just after 11:00 p.m., 19-year-old brandon scott hole drove to a fedex operations center near the indianapolis airport and opened fire with a rifle. he was a former employee at the
facility. >> there was no confrontation with anyone that was there. there was no disturbance. there was no argument. he just appeared to randomly start shooting. >> woodruff: police said the gunman began shooting in the parking lot before moving inside the facility. the entire attack lasted a matter of minutes. one witness said he heard pops that didn't sound like gunfire, until it intensified. >> then more shots went off. somebody went behind their car to the trunk, and got another-- got another gun, and then i saw one body on the floor. >> woodruff: police say the gunman killed himself before they arrived on the scene, and say they don't yet have a motive. police also said a significant number of the employees at the facility are members of the sikh community. a sikh civil rights organization said members of the community were among the wounded a dead. relatives are still waiting for victims to be identified. in a statement, fedex offered condolences to the families of
those killed, and said it would cooperate with the investigation. today, the indianapolis mayor called for national efforts to stop gun violence. eight people were killed in two separate shootings in the city this year, before last night's attack. >> the process of healing will take time, but i think healing does depend on meaningful conversations between people about how we stop this cycle of violence that's driven by readily accessible guns. >> woodruff: in washington, president biden echoed that message. he called on congress to pass legislation implementing universal background checks and banning high-capacity magazines. in a statement, he said, “too many americans are dying every single day from gun violence. it stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation.”
the white house today also lowered its flags to half staff to honor the victims. late today, indianapolis police said they seized a gun from the suspected shooter last year, and that the f.b.i. interviewed him after police made a mental health call to his home. meanwhile, a police officer in san antonio killed two people during a traffic stop today. an exchange of gunfire came after police pulled over a truck with three people inside. police said body camera footage shows the officer having a conversation with the driver, who then pulled out a gun and shot the officer in the hand. the officer returned fire, killing the driver and the front seat passenger. a third passenger was injured. questions over a different fatal shooting, and the role of the police, are front and center in chicago. there, the mayor, city officials, and community leaders are taking stock of how police respond with force, and whether more changes are needed.
stephanie sy begins with this report. and a warning: the story contains graphic images. >> sy: chicago sits on edge as protests have broken out over the police killing of 13-year- old adam toledo. >> we're constantly burying our kids, and no justice is being served. what do they want us to do? >> sy: business owners along the city's magnifint mile began boarding up windows, as city officials called for calm. toledo lived with his family on chicago's west side. the last moments of his life are now under investigation. on thursday, this graphic video from chicago police officer eric stillman's body mera was released from the early morning of march 29. the nine minutes of footage shows officer stillman chasing toledo down an alley. he was with a 21-year-old man
who police say fired a gun. toledo can be seen fleeing as officer stillman yells for the teenager to “stop” and show his hands. toledo then turns around. from another video, he appears to make a throwing motion in a direction where officers say this gun was later recovered. but then, he raises his hand the officer fires one shot, killing the seventh grader. >> he put his hands up, and he was still murdered. what more could have he done? >> simply put, we failed adam toledo. >> sy: chicago mayor lori lightfoot called the video“ excruciating” to watch, but called on protesters to remain peaceful as the incident is investigated. >> while we don't have enough information to be the judge and jury on this particular situation, it's certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling that all-too-familiar surge of outrage and pain. it's even clearer that trust between our community and law enforcement is far from healed, and remains badly broken.
>> sy: previous police shooting videos that have gone public sparked major protests in chicago, including one in 2015 that showed a white officer shooting 17-year-old laquan mcdonald 16 times. today, another mother grieves. elizabeth toledo described adam as a “curious and goofy” teenager who loved animals, riding his bike, and junk food. the toledo family issued a statement urging people to avoid violent protests-- protests that have erupted time and again, as the nation continues to grapple with how to check police power and the use of lethal force. let's look further at some of the questions raised by this case, and similar question other cities are grappling with more widely. hans menos is the vice president of law enforcement initiatives for the center for policing
equity. he served previously as the executive director of the police advisory commission for the city of philadelphia. mr. menos, thank you so much for joining us on the newshour. i think most everyone would agree, it is simply unacceptable for a 13-year-old to be shot and killed by a police officer. but when you lookat that video, is there nuance that needs to be discussed and explored? >> so first, thank you for having me. and, you know, my heart goes out to the toledo system. i honestly can't imagine as a father and as a parent having to watch that video of your child on a regular basis. so yeah, of course there is nuance. there is nuance in everything. what we have to start with is adam was a 13-year-old boy. and we fail to, if his death is not wholly his responsibility, it is on us as the adults to prevent these issues from
occurring. so we're going to find out there will be an investigation, there is an ongoing investigation. but some of the things we have to keep in mind are that the evidence that has been presented so far has been presented by the police department. has been done in a light that needs to be brought objectively. and so we know that's happening. the chicago civilian office of police accountability is investigatg and we should all wait to see what pans out there. >>sy: so we are hearing sort of the police side of things as you described it but we also have seen video from at least two angles. and we know that the officer was running after adam toledo and another adult who has been charged. let me ask you how that pursuit, on foot, could have led to this situation, and could it have been avoided? >> so this is a great question. an online going question i think around the country as well as in the actuality city of chicago. is the foot pursuit sufficient?
the answer is we don't really know because there is no foot pursuit policy. what can officers do to prevent the discharge of their firearm? what practices can they employ? how can they keep themselves safe and keep other people safe by drafting, writing, vetting a foot pursuit policy that guides their practice? without that, what we have is officers doing what they think is right in the heat of a moment and that can have disastrous consequences. >>sy: we know that the chicago police department has a troubled history of firing their weapons and disproportionately so on black and brown men. do you think this fatal shooting of adam toledo fet a pattern we've seen before with other -- fit a pattern we've seen before with other victims? >> yes, when we see the history of this country not just chicago, the effect of blook and brown men, highlight that other much more egregious much older
white men have managed to live through their offenses. dylann roo other egregious shooters, killing 17 to 18 people have lived, have lived through this experience and were brought to justice. we're never going to know what adam toledo might say in his defense because he was killed on the streets. so that's significant. and the community draws this comparison, it is not lost on community that black and brown young kids are dying at the hands of police while white kids are being brought to trial and being brought through the normal path of justice. >>sy: hans menos with the center for policing equity. thank you so much for joining us with your perspective. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the u.s. justice
department is getting back into the business of policing local police. attorney general merrick garland today rescinded a trump-era curb on consent decrees. that will make it easier for to investigate police departments and press for major changes in use of force and other policies. an indiana man has become the first person to plead guilty to federal charges in the assault in january on the u.s. capitol. jon ryan shaffer is a heavy metal guitarist and a member of the far-right oath keepers militia. he pled to charges that stemmed from storming the capitol and using bear spray on police. on the pandemic, the world health organization chief reports that covid-19 infections are nearing the highest rate yet. india recorded another 217,000 cases in just 24 hours, and, the number of deaths worldwide closed in on three million. in washington, public health leaders warned again of surges
nationwide. >> some of these increases are as a result of relaxed prevention efforts in states across the country, such as relaxed mask mandates, or loosened restrictions on indoor restaurant seating. another reason for these increases is the continued spread of highly transmissible variants. more than 50% to 70% more transmissible. >> woodruff: the biden administration also announced that it is providing $1.7 billion to help track and identify variants of the virus. russia responded to new u.s. sanctions today with penalties of its own. on thursday, washington ousted ten russian diplomats and imposed other measures, citing interference in the u.s. election and hacking of federal agencies. russia's foreign minister sergei lavrov answered, in moscow. >> ( translated ): you said ten diplomats were included in the list. we will respond reciprocally to this measure: we will propose ten diplomats of the united
states to the russian federation to leave our country. >> woodruff: in addition, eight current and former u.s. officials are banned from entering russia, including the f.b.i. director and attorney general. iran has begun enriching small amounts of uranium to 60%, its highest level yet. today's announcement is still well short of the 90% level that's needed for weapons-grade uranium. >> we do not support and do not think it's at all helpful that iran is saying it's going to move to enrich to 60%. it is contrary to the agreement. .>> holding indirect talks in vienna on resurrecting the 2015
nuclear deal. a court in hong kong sentenced nine pro-democracy leaders today over a mass anti-government march in 2019. it was mainland china's effort to suppress the protest movement. media tycoon jimmy lai was ordered to serve up to 18 months in prison. 82-year-old former lawmaker martin lee had his sentence suspended. in cuba, raul castro made it official today. he is stepping down after ten years as leader of the ruling communist party. he made the announcement at a party congress. it marks a transition to a younger generation of communist officials. raul castro is 89. he had succeeded his brother, fidel castro, who led the 1959 revolution, and died five years ago. back in thisountry, a watchdog report finds former secretary of state mike pompeo repeatedly violated ethics rules. the state department's inspector general says pompeo and his wife asked aides to carry out personal tasks more than
100 times. they ranged from handling pet care to mailing christmas cards. and on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 164 points to close at a record 34,200. the nasdaq rose 13 points, and the s&p 500 added 15-- also reaching a record. still to come on the newshour: the biden administration reverses course twice in one day on the issue of refugees. multiple states seek to ban transgender athletes from competition. david brooks and jonathan capehart consider the week's political news. plus, much more.
>> woodruff: today the biden administration gave mixed messages about historically low caps on refugee resettlement, our yamiche alcindor has more. >> alcindor: today, president i'm joined now by jenny yang. she is the vice president of advocy and policy at world relief, a humanitarian nonprofit. jenny yang thanks so much for joining us. go through these twists and turns on the refugee cap. >> earlier today, the president signed a presidential dhearmings basically kept the low ref -- determination that basically kept the low rfs cap, this was a number that was previously set by president trump but which president biden himself decided to keep. the one change he did make was
to revise the program to expand the categories through which refugees are actually eligible to come into the program. but the fact that he kept the refugee ceiling at the historically low level of 15,000 is very, very concerning because it does mean that refugees will continue to be excluded from the program even though many have been waiting many, many years to come in. now the white house just recently issued a statement saying that 15,000 is not the final number for this fiscal year but it is very concerning. because the president himself said that he would actually raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500 and we're still waiting for him to follow through on that commitment. >> alcindor: talk about the impact this has on the lives of migrants who are waiting to come to the united states as refugees. >> well, refugees is a very small subset of the larger immigrant population and you have to have a well tbownded fear of persecution on account
of your racial, energy, nationality can race or social group or political opinion. once you're referred to that program, at the time we are facing the world's worst refugee crisis, the united states settles m less than 1% of the world's refugee. expanded to help those individuals who cannot go home or locally integrate. historically the united states has had a refugee ceiling on average of 95,000 is refugees per year, so if fact that the refugee ceiling is 15,000 means it is not only the lowest number ever set, but it effectively shuts out many deserving refugees from being able to be reunite wednesday their loved ones in the united states. and just as an example, one of our staff members is fm the democratic republic of congo. he was resettled several years ago but his brother is waiting
for his wife to be reunited with him and she was on a flight to come to the united state so she sold all of her belongings and was waiting to board a flight, and the flight was cancelled because the president didn't sign the necessary paperwork to revise the ceiling. she had to go back into the refugee camp where she is now and we still don't know if she will be rebooked to come to the united states. nlsdz lastly, the biden administration said this had to be kept low because of the surge ter border. what do you make of that argument? >> that is not a good reasoning because the program is run by the state department. they have a public health different funding stream. other agencies are prepared and necessary to actually welcome refugees. the issue at hand is not at capacity or resources, it's a matter of political will and the courage to actually up the refugee ceiling and help those
who have nowhere else to go. >> alcindor: thank you very much to jenny yang, for world relief. >> woodruff: it's been a record-breaking year of bills proposed in state legislatures that would limit transgender rights, from access to medical care to sports participation. despite that, a new pbs newshour -npr-marist poll found that americans across the political spectrum oppose those efforts, and more than half of people personally know someone who is transgender. john yang has our report. >> yang: late afternoon in boise, idaho, and lindsay hecox is doing what she loves most. a track and cross-country runner in high school, hecox, now 20 years old, dreams of running for boise state university, where she's a student. >> i don't know how i would have gotten through high school if i didn't have my running teams. they were my only friend group.
i kind of just feel like i need friendship through running again. >> yang: for most teenagers, going from high school to college is a big step. but for hecox, it was a major life change: she came out as transgender, meaning her gender identity does not align with the sex she was assigned at birth, a condition known as“ gender dysphoria.” >> gender dysphoria just sucks. you don't get to be the person you were meant to be just because of some random luck when you're born. i'm able to deal with struggles in life a lot better now just because i've already gotten through this. >> yang: as her transition, and college, began, she found herself at the center of a political firestorm over >> all female athletes want is a fair shot at competition. but what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy? >> opportunities for women are being shoved aside for a new priority: transgender athletes. >> yang: last year, idaho became the first state in the
country to ban transgender women and girls fromompeting on all-female sports teams. >> house bill 500 has passed the house. >> yang: hecox, who had begun her transition not even a year earlier, was at the state capitol speaking out. >> i think i'm rightfully pissed off. they word it so that i'm "othered," and made different, when it doesn't need to be that way. >> yang: after idaho's republican governor brad little signed the measure, hecox sued, and a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect. in the year since, three more states: mississippi, tennessee, and arkansas, have enacted similar bans. it's part of a sweeping trend. more than 60 such laws proposed in nearly 30 states this year alone, according to the human rights campaign, an l.g.b.t.q. advocacy group. >> this seems to be yet another in the list along party lines of the kind of cultural clashes
we've seen where democrats on one side of the fence and republicans on the other side. >> yang: lee miringoff is the director of the marist college institute for public opinion. >> the republicans are saying, all right, we're going to talk to our cultural base here and we're not going to worry about the broader public opinion. >> i'm calling from marist college. we're talking to people in your community... >> yang: a new pbs newshour-npr- marist poll released today found americans split on whether transgender athletes should be allowed to play on high school teams. but among republicans, an overwhelming majority said they should not. however, when asked whether they should be banned by law, a large majority of both republicans and democrats said“ no.” >> they don't want to legislate. they don't want to go to that level of extreme views or actions in their own minds. >> i'm not a politician. i'm a pediatrician. >> yang: for transgender youth and their physicians, like robert garofalo at lurie children's hospital in chicago,
the effect of these bills could be very personal. >> my understanding of legislation is that we legislate things that are problems. this is legislation in search of a problem. >> yang: the n.c.a.a. allows transgender athletes to compete on single-sex teams after a year of hormone therapy. neither they nor state high school athletic associations keep track of the number of transgender competitors. but a recent associated press analysis found only a handful of instances among the hundreds of thousands of students playing high school sports. those backing the bans say transgender females have an unfair advantage. connecticut allowed transgender high school athletes beginning in 2017. last year, four female track team members sued, saying that just two transgender runners had won titles that had been held by nine different female athletes. >> i was forced to compete against biological males. girls across connecticut and new england all knew the outcome
of our races long before the start, and it was extremely demoralizing. >> yang: most medical experts, including the american academy of pediatrics, say there's no scientific or medical evidence that transgender female athletes inherently have an edge. >> we're not legislating sports participation based on the size of your shoe or based upon your height or other sort of immutable characteristics. >> yang: in fact, hecox says she noticed a difference the moment she transitioned. >> minutes are now gone from what i would be able to do in a 5k. i'll feel like i can't go as long, so, stamina, my muscles will give out. i need to stop quicker. >> yang: dr. garofalo says excluding transgender youth from athletics could be devastating for them, recalling his own teen years. >> sports participation, especially in high school or junior high school, is much broader than whether you win or lose.
if you would have told me when i was 17 that i couldn't play on the soccer team or i couldn't play on the tennis team, so much of my self-esteem, so much of what i pin my self-worth as a teenager would have would have >> yang: hecox hopes that public opinion will continue to shift in favor of transgender rights as more people hear stories like hers. >> things will get better, and this legislation is just a momentary setback for trans acceptance. >> yang: what would you say to your high school self? >> yeah, i would say that even though this is a hard journey, i don't want to just fade from the world and not have any impact on it. i'm on the leading edge of this last frontier, trans people. it's really awesome. so, high school self: be happy that you got this opportunity, and keep fighting.
>> yang: fighting both in the courts and on the track for a slot on the team. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: and to the analysis of brooks and capehart. that is "new york times" columnist david brooks, and jonathan capehart, columnist for the "washington post." hello to both of you, very good to see you on this friday night. but i want to start out with something that has been less than uplifting this week and that is, more gun violence in particular two more police shootings of young black men, different circumstances, one in minneapolis, just ten miles from the man who is accused of
murdering george floyd is on trial, the otherne in chicago. jonathan, my question is, we keep seeing this happen. what do we make of it? and is it something that is going to require a change in law? >> capehart: it's going to require a change in a lot of things, judy. it's going to require a change in law certainly. but a change in attitudes. among the american people as a whole. and among police. you know, when i leave my home, when i leave my apartment, i know that when i am no longer at home, i'm viewed with some level of suspicion. even as a threat. simply because i'm black, and certainly because i'm a black male. and that is something that i have to deal with. and, you know, i've said often and i'll keep saying it.
there's no such thing as a routine traffic top when you're african american and particularly when you're an african american man. i think attitudes need to change particularly among police because more often than not we are viewed as threats. we saw that in the video of army lieutenant nezario in virginia that happened, dime light last week. we saw that in the video with the initial encounter with george floyd. when they tapped on the window of. george floyd's are suv with a flashlight, they saw a black face. police said i'll tase you, taser taser taser. instead she had a gun in her hand and shot him. judy these are all different circumstances but the overall mood is the same.
black people feel under threat. they feel under siege and until the rest of america changes its attitude, and until law enforcement somehow changes the way it views the people they are sworn to serve and protect, nothing is going to change. >> woodruff: david why does this keep happening and what do you think about what needs to change? >> brooks: well the first thing that needs to change is we accept there is racial bias in polici. there are too many people in the police force that think it's not there. it's not only jonathan's experience and the experience of almost every african american person i know, there are dozens of studies in traffic stops, car searches, drug arrests, there is vast disparate policing, that still goes on and that's just about attitude. the good news is you know if you do take some reforms you can make some progress. there's been a sharp drop in the number of shootings of unarmed
people. armed people it's still pretty stable but unarmed people we've made some progress. there are things that can be done and those are things like removing choke holds. those are things a little idea i kind of like is you have to have written permission to seemp car. these things called pretextual stops, they search a car an pretext when they're looking for something else. data is very poorly connected. what areas are having the most disparate arrests or searches? that data is not collected. there are these things called police officers bill of rights, that police unions have instituted that create all these artificial barriers to investigating an incident that a cop has ton punished within 30 or 100 days and if it's too late then he's off. so there are lots of lil things that can be done to -- little things that can be done to hopefully reduce these kinds of
tragedies. >> woodruff: and jonathan are these the kinds of things that you think can make a difference? what can we be trying that hasn't been tried before now? >> capehart: well, all of those things that david just mentioned are pieces of away when is known as the george floyd justice in policing act. i think if that does become law that it will start to put us on a road of ameal i don't remembe, generations of americans have been talking about this and thinking about this and a lot of difference is that a lot of this has been caught on video. if you do have things like ending racial profiling, ending qualified immunity which makes it and police departments accountable when they get it wrong,those are all things that will improve
blessing, but will also improve the relationship between communities d police. because anyone who thinks that african americans don't want protection from crime and don't want police to actually be there to serve and protect, they are suffering under a very wrong notion. >> woodruff: a david i have say, i misspoke, the shooting of two, one was a black man and one was a latino, 13 years old. david do you i think these measures can make a difference? with. >> brooks: yes, there was an atmosphere then maybe there still is but i think it's probably less, first in the world that we capture the good guys and the world is an awful place and so there was almost a military attitude and that military culture is something experts talk about in the training of police and that's
not the right attitude. the hard part about this is i think there are 18,000 police force owes in this country, hyper-local, a lot of them are underresourced, changing that culture so people are out in the neighborhood i any has helped and getting diverse workforces has helped a little bit. this has been awful to watch these things but it's not like it's something we haven't made some progress toward. >> woodruff: something else i want to ask both of you about, the decision by president biden to put all troops out offing afghanistan by september 11th. it will be 20 years since the united states was attacked of course by al qaeda. the president's argument is that this was never meant to be a war that lasted this long. in his words a multigenerational war and he also made the argument we don't need the threat has met a metastasized ad the world. we can't fight it as boots on
the ground around the world, what do you think of his argument and his decision? >> capehart: i think his argument is one we should take seriously and one we should deal with. the threat has metastasized around the world and not just coming out of afghanistan and it does make sense to remove our troops and have them nimble enough to respond. 10,000 nato troops in afghanistan 20,000 are u.s. troops. we're not talking about the troops we had on the ground in 2011, this is an easier lift. to keep in mind the number of people who have cycled through there, i have some stats here, 30,000, 2300 dead, 20,000 wounded, 30,000 u.s. service members have been deployed to afghanistan, at least five times. and we're talking about not a broadly shared sacrifice. we're talking about a narrowly
shared sacrifice and not even shared at all when you have 1% of the american population serving in the military. so this was not an easy decision i would think for the president. but the fact that he made it, and said, and set a deadline which is very controversial, but he wants the united states out. and i give him credit for making a very tough decision. >> woodruff: and david what's your thinking on this? >> brooks: i disagree. i think it's a grave mistake. i think every expert i read or at least most of them seem to believe that the taliban will take over, afghanistan, will take over kabul, that's not good for people who want to enjoy a life of freedom, a return to something pretty ugly. we have only 2500 there but they are protecting the other nato troops who are doing most of the training. our men and women are not on
front line combat by and large anymore, it's not as onerous a lift as it was before and to preserve a somewhat free society i think is the right thing to do if the u.s. pulls outs all the -- out all the other nato forces are expected to pull out. i understand the impatience, but we've been in south korea a long time, we've been in europe a long time. these things can sometimes seerve use and while saying that, recognizing the sacrifice of people go over there. >> woodruff: what do you say to the argument it's leaving a lot of people in the lunch in afghanistan? >> capehart: i understand that argument and david makes a very good point that afghan women and girls probably face danger, afghanistan could collapse. but it could and might not assured. and so like i said, this was not an easy decision. in some ways it's a gamble but
it's one that the president felt he had to make. >> woodruff: david? >> brooks: yes, listen we're not going to be the world's policemen anymore, not the kind of supermen we were after world war ii but we are still the biggest power in the world and with that comes opportunities to try to preserve civilization when you can. that doesn't mean going to war, doesn't mean putting our men and women in combat but guarding those afghan soldiers into combat that seems to me the right balance to strike. >> woodruff: sobering stuff at the end of this week. david brooks, jonathan capehart, thank you both. >> woodruff: as we do every week, we take time now to commemorate the lives of five souls lost to covid-19, as
remembered by their loved ones. ronald verrier's loud, strong laugh gave comfort to his patients at st. barnabas hospital in the bronx, new york, where he worked as a surgeon. ronald was 59 years old. his colleagues remembered him as a rare combination: “a good brain, good hands, and a good heart.” born in haiti, ronald rushed back when the 2010 earthquake struck to volunteer however he could. his sister said that was who he was: always the first to help. elizabeth massman, or betty to her family and friends, moved some 26 times in her early life, and her daughter said she made lasting connections wherever she went. she pursued her education while her children were growing up, and became a school nurse, and later, an advocate for abused children.
her daughter said 91 years old betty was the family's rock, and never lost her love of adventure, traveling the world, hiking and cycling well into her later years. tony murray's husband, mk, remembered knowing he was the one from the day they met at an educators' conference in 1995. he said tony was a great cook, famous for preparing enough ribs and fried fish to feed an army. he worked for the y.m.c.a. in new york city, where he loved working with children on concerts and plays. tony became a mentor to his nephew, jason collins, the first openly gay n.b.a. player, and walked beside jason in boston's gay pridparade. tony was 60 years old. bob green was a true montana cowboy, his family remembered, with a gruff exterior but a soft heart and a presence you could always count on. after four tours to vietnam with
the navy, the wide open spaces of his native state called him home again. bob, 83 years old, took pride in tending to the green spaces in their small community of trout creek, and his dream was to build a playground there for children to enjoy. the community will build that playground this year, and name it after bob green. pastor david gilmore radiated kindness from his pulpit at new mount zion baptist church in baltimore. he was active in the church all his life. it's where he met his wife lea when they were young. lea described his presence as“ santa claus 365 days a year, a jolly guy with a beard.” she said she sees the qualities she treasured most in him embodied ihis two sons. david was 59 years old.
>> and our thanks to family members for sharing these stories with us. our hear go out to you, as they do to everyone who's lost a loved one in this pandemic. >> woodruff: this weekend, mickey guyton will become the first black woman to co-host the academy of country music awards. she was the only black woman to be nominated for an award this year. but as amna nawaz reports, a number of black women are starting to gain traction in the genre. it's part of our ongoing arts and culture coverage, "canvas." ♪ like my good just ain't good enough ♪ my honest ain't true enough ♪ >> nawaz: when brittney spencer released the first single from her debut e.p. last summer, she didn't know what to expect. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> honestly, i didn't know that anyone would listen to this project.
i just thought that i was putting out something on all the streaming services to be able to sing whenever i pitch myself for, like, a-- i don't know, like a 2:00 a.m. slot at a festival or something. and so much more has happened. ♪ you can hold my hand ♪ >> nawaz: in october, spencer tweeted out her cover of a song by country super-group the highwomen. a montlater, she said she was floored when group member maren morris sent her a shout-out from the country music awards stage. >> brittney spencer. rhiannon giddens. there are so many amazing black women that have pioneered, and continue to pioneer this genre. >> nawaz: since then, spencer's song, “compassion,” which tackles issues of racial justice, has been streamed more than 3.5 million times on spotify. >> it's been such a wild ride. i'm honestly just living in the constant state of gratitude, because so many people have embraced me. >> nawaz: singers like brittney spencer, tiera, chapel hart,
reyna roberts, miko marks, long excluded from country music, are now breaking through, and finding audiences flocking to their music. >> things are changing. you know, people want to see a different nashville. >> nawaz: shannon sanders is executive director of creative at b.m.i. and has been in the industry for more than 25 years. he says the death of george floyd last may, combined with the covid-19 pandemic, created a defining moment for the nation, and for nashville. >> people were forced to be still, people were forced to pay attention. america especially had time to just stop, look at itself and realize what was going on here. >> nawaz: what was going on in country music was that people of color, especially women, were being kept out. a recent study from the university of ottawa found that women of color represent less than 1% of artists signed to a
major label, and over the last 20 years, black women accounted for 0.03% of all music played on country radio. >> there's already the issue of women not necessarily getting the same air-play as male artists. add to that being a person of color. ♪ show the world you're a country girl ♪ >> nawaz: in 2007, rissi palmer's song, “country girl,” made it on the billboard charts. but staying on top was a different story. how hard has it been since then to get a song back on the charts? >> oh, i don't even try. the thing that people don't understand is how much it costs to even do this. i think that's part of the reason why there hasn't been a huge presence of people of color, because you have to have backing to do this. >> nawaz: that's why palmer is trying to help other artists get recognition outside of the typical avenues. she hosts a show on apple music called “color me country,” a name that pays tribute to black country singer linda
martell's 1970 album. and palmer created a fund that gives small grants to independent artists of color. >> the industry has had how many years to make all these things happen? and they haven't. and so, i think, if i can do this, little rissi palmer, then, you know, what are y'all doing? what are y'all with all the millions of dollars? what are you doing? what can you do? and i hope it inspires them and i hope it makes them make changes. >> nawaz: in the meantime, black, female country artists are bootstrapping their own careers, collaborating with each other and reaching fans directly through social media and streaming platforms, proving there's a market for their music. >> country music is not a white music. country music was constructed as a white music. >> nawaz: steven lewis is the curator of the newly-opened national museum of african american music in nashville. he says black artists were integral to the creation of country music. even the banjo was based off an african string instrument.
>> the reason why most people don't know about it has to do with decisions that were made in the recording industry in the 1920s. in particular, the decision to market country music, or what was then known as hillbilly music, to white consumers. >> there's a l of money being left on the floor, just because people don't feel like they're invited to the party. black people were at the concrete pouring, if you will, of country music, and built this house, and somehow got locked out. so to have country open the door with open arms, i think we're set up for real homecoming. >> nawaz: it's been a kind of homecoming for julie williams. she grew up in tampa, and even though she listened to country music as a child, she didn't imagine herself becoming a country singer. >> it's hard to want to go into a genre of country music, when country music for me was the boys in high school blasting it out of the back of their trucks with confederate flags on it. right? that just, it told me that this
isn't a genre for me. even when i moved to nashville, i was hesitant to say that i was a country artist, because that was not the country that i want to be a part of. but the country of rissi palmer, mickey guyton, maren morris. right? that's the country i want to be a part of. ♪ cause our too-tight skin is too dark to feel beautiful ♪ >> nawaz: last month, williams took a leap of faith and released a music video for her new single “southern curls.” ♪ with the wrong kind of southern curls ♪ >> i would hope that younger julie would see this and hear this song, my song about my hair and my journey, and-- and know that there are other people out there that feel the same way, and so she would love herself. that's what i'm hoping. >> nawaz: for brittney spencer, it's been a journey to find her own voice, too, moving to nashville from her hometown of baltimore several years ago. >> i'm aware that there's not a lot of people in the space that
look like me, and that there's a lot of people in the space who might not know how to handle someone like me. >> nawaz: does that ever make you feel like-- to put it bluntly, like "i should be programming and singing for white people?" >> i think, when i first moved here, i think my mind probably might have been more in that direction. but today it's not. i stopped asking the question of whether or not something i do is good enough. i started asking, is it me enough? and that has made a world of difference in my music. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> nawaz: adding her stories and her voice to the growing chorus in country music. for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> woodruff: and you can see more of our arts coverage later tonight on "beyond the canvas," presented by our own amna nawaz. check your local pbs listings.
>> woodruff: it is with sadness, we want to note a passing tonight that means a lot to us at the newshour. vartan gregorian was the president of the carnegie corporation of new york, founded by andrew carnegie in 1911. at the time, the largest philanthropic organization in the country, it is still among the largest. earlier, gregorian served as the president of brown university, and of the new york public library. born in iran and of armenian descent, he went on to earn two ph.d.s from stanford, and later was awarded the presidential medal of freedom. he remained active in supporting armenian causes throughout his life. several years ago, he co-founded the aurora prize, which honors individuals for humanitarian work on behalf of the survivors the armenian genocide. the prime minister of armenia called it the armenian nobel
prize. vartan gregorian and carnegie have been long-time believers in and supporters of the newshour. i personally mourn his loss as a dear friend and mentor, one of the most extraordinary people i have ever known. with deep sympathies to his family, we will miss him very much. and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here monday evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, have a great weekend. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> fidelity wealth management. >> consumer cellular. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation. for more than 50 years, advancing ideas and supporting
institutions to promote a better world. at www.hewlett.org. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contrutions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc
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