LA Times interviews Brenda E. Stevenson

tags: Los Angeles, Race, LA Times, UCLA, LA riots, Brenda E. Stephenson



Historian Brenda E. Stevenson (pictured in her UCLA office, with an African sculpture) mostly writes about the long-gone — 18th and 19th century African Americans, and the lives of enslaved women. Then came the case that made history while L.A. watched: Korean-born shopkeeper Soon Ja Du killed black teenager Latasha Harlins over a bottle of orange juice. A jury convicted Du of voluntary manslaughter, but she was sentenced only to probation and community service.

Stevenson's new book, "The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins," analyzes the other "no justice, no peace" case that echoes through the 1992 riots and into the present day.

Thirteen days after the Rodney King beating, Harlins was shot and killed. Where were you when all of this happened?

I had just moved to Los Angeles. I'd been teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, and I thought, "L.A. is going to be this wonderful, liberal place." The Rodney King event happened, then Latasha Harlins. I thought I'd jumped from the frying pan into the fire....




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