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tv   Matter of Fact With Soledad O Brien  NBC  April 17, 2022 5:00am-5:30am PDT

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soledad: right now on "matter of fact": meet the serial entrepreneur who built a brewery staffed by rival gang members. george: i actually believe gangs are potentially some of the best ways to solve some of the major social problems in america. soledad: could his radical idea actually work to curb gang violence? plus, on the racetrack, he has the need for speed. can nascar keep up? joie: is there really a place for african-americans to succeed, to be stars in the sport? blake: of course, i believe there definitely is. soledad: but first, in 1940's california, this little girl was turned away from her local public school. sylvia: you can't leave these children here. why not?
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because we don't take mexicans here. soledad: now her family's legal battle became a landmark case. sylvia: judge mccormick said separate is not equal. the first time that had been spoken separate is not equal. soledad: i'm soledad o'brien. welcome to "matter of fact." in 1954, the u.s. supreme court ended racial segregation in schools with the decision in brown vs. the board of education. but seven years earlier, a federal circuit court in california ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional. the california case, mendez vs. westminster, decided 75 years ago, on april 14, 1947, focused on mexican american children denied access to white schools. 7-year-old sylvia mendez was at the center of that case. she's now in her 80's. we sent "matter of fact" correspondent laura chavez to
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meet the woman who helped pave the way for integrated schools. sylvia: oh, my god, i see myself. laura: sylvia mendez may seem like any other hispanic grandmother, but behind that smile is a woman who changed history. sylvia: my name is sylvia mendez, daughter of gonzalo and felicitas mendez. laura: sylvia was the little girl at the center of mendez vs. westminster, a little-known case that paved the way for integrated schools before brown vs. board of education. in 1945, sylvia's father, gonzalo mendez, asked her aunt sally to enroll her and her brothers in a school just down the road. sylvia: my aunt sally went up to the clerk. she said, you can't leave these children here. she said why not. because we don't take mexicans here. these are the older kids at the mexican school. laura: at the time, schools in california were segregated. and dark-skinned children with hispanic last names weren't
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allowed at 17th street elementary. that school was just for white studets. sylvia: gonzalo, jeronimo, alicia, and virginia and i would have to walk into the barrio to go to the mexican school. laura: so this is where you would walk? sylvia: this is where the school used to be right here. laura: sylvia's father went to the school administration, but everyone gave him the same answer. no mexicans allowed. gonzalo then recruited four families, one from each school district in the county to join the fight. the mendez family then put up their own money and hired attorney david marcus, who had just won a case to integrate public swimming pools. sylvia: he just won that case with the 14th amendment, and it's in the "los angeles times." laura: once the mendez family hired a lawyer, the school board made gonzalo and felicitas an offer. drop the case and sylvia and her brothers could go to the white school. but the mendez family knew this wasn't just about their kids anymore. it was about the quality of
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education for all children, like these students also at hoover elementary, the mexican school. so talk to me about some of the differences between what they taught at the white school and the mexican school. sylvia: in the mexican school, they were just trying to teach you how to speak english, even though we already spoke english. how to take care of a house and how to cook because they figured, they'll end up being maids, you know. they weren't teaching, as you know, academics like reading, writing, and arithmetic. laura: the mendez's attorney argued the case based on the 14th amendment which guarantees equal treatment for all u.s. citizens. after a two-week court battle -- sylvia: judge mccormick said separate is not equal. the first time that had been spoken separate is not equal. and they won the first case. laura: the school board appealed the decision all the way to the california supreme court and in the end, the court ruled in favor of the mendez family. shortly after, the governor of california, earl warren, signed
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a law prohibiting segregation in all public schools. five years before brown vs. board of education was decided. sylvia: i received that one in mexico city. laura: sylvia has received dozens of awards and honors for her work and the work of her parents, including the medal of freedom in 2011. but the honors she is most excited about is the one in her hometown. the mendez tribute park, still under construction, will be a reminder of her family's legacy. this is a beautiful space. it is. their win meant that sylvia did go to the white school. she graduated and became a nurse. sylvia: oh! that's when you graduated! >> that's when i graduated. laura: this story struck a chord with me because of my own family's journey. back in the early 1950's, my grandparents took a leap of faith and brought my father and his siblings to the u.s. from mexico. in the hope of giving their kids and future generations the best
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education available. my dad was actually the first one to graduate college of his immediate family. and it was such an accomplishment for my grandparents to see this happen because it wouldn't have happened without them being brave enough to cross over into the u.s. but it also wouldn't have happened if you weren't brave enough to walk in those doors. sylvia: it wasn't me. it was my parents. i'm just a storyteller telling the story of mendez vs. westminster. part of my history. laura: in westminster, california, i'm laura chavez for "matter of fact." soledad: next on "matter of fact" -- a micro brewery on a mission to curb gang violence. anthony: they don't want to be out selling drugs and doing these violent things they do. but they don't have any opportunity to walk away from that. soledad: can a job with benefits be the chance they're looking for? and later -- thousands of missing indigenous women and girls leaving grieving families waiting for any word.
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soledad: buy a beer and help stop gang violence? that's the aim of tru colors, a brewery that launched last fall in wilmington, north carolina. its beer can be found in hundreds of stores and bars across the state. and the business has plans to expand. but right now, the company is getting attention for its workforce. you are or correspondent, jessica gomez reports, the brewery has recruited and trained active gang members hoping the beer business will help bring rivals together. >> pretty much i was out here living the street life, selling drugs, had a gun to protect myself. jessica: the streets of southside wilmington. for 31-year-old anthony
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jessica: a place where survival is often the measure of success. ant, in a gang since he was 16. anthony: i grew up in foster care so i ain't never had real family structure where i felt i belonged there. jessica: now ant says he belongs here, his new office at tru colors, a startup brewery. >> where they say violence, violence, violence. jessica: where 65 of the more than 80 employees are active gang members. george: tru stands for truth, responsibility, unity. jessica: tru colors, c.e.o., george taylor. george: i went into assuming like most people do if you are in a gang, you have two roles in life. you sell drugs and carry a weapon. very quickly i realized that is not true. like, that could be my -- jessica: taylor, a successful entrepreneur, got the idea a few years ago.
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after a gang murder near his software company in downtown wilmington. with help from authorities, taylor tracked down the city's highest ranking gang members, those like press bethea, gang life all he'd ever known. press: i was raised by my mother. she died of cancer. the day after christmas when i was 10 years old. it was at that point that i decided i had to become a man. jessica: press and the others here, buying into taylor's proposal, work for him and help stop the violence all while staying in their gangs. george: frankly, if you want to make change, you have to meet people where they are. i can't say, hey, opportunity here. put on a collared shirt and come see me. it ain't happening. jessica: taylor's $10 million investment into the company matched by outside investors, including beverage giant molson coors. >> there's no place that would offer them the same opportunity they could get here, a livable wage, medical, vision, dental, stock options. >> what you got? jessica: tru colors onboarding
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process focusing on emotional and physical health, building on confidence and corporate skills. >> why didn't you come and talk to me? jessica: and -- >> our mission is to really bridge these gaps. dealing with vice lords, dealing with crips. jessica: lennard waddel, his nickname dune, on the tru colors payroll, but his job, in the streets, trying to keep the peace. lennard: when things go wrong in the hood, i have to be the steppingstone to say, things are going to be all right. jessica: but recent gang violence, now has some questioning the company's approach. ben: i support the effort. i don't support the execution. y district attorney, ben david. ben: i am for anything that is going to help us build community to fight crime. what i am not for is this idea that you can renounce violence without also renouncing the gang. george: what would happen is that we would have no employees. jessica: it sounds like your
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idea is, if you can't beat them, join them? george: very much so, very much so. how long are we gonna continue to fight a losing battle before we change our strategy? jessica: a strategy, those like ant say is making a difference, on the streets and in lives. anthony: a lot of conversation is happening in these walls that stop a lot of violence happening. it's peaceful. you know, i can plan out for the future. i don't have to worry about two weeks i will be locked up or dead or something like that. jessica: near does press bethea. press: i actually feel like i can live, i can relax. and that is something i haven't been able to do my whole life is take a deep breath. jessica: in wilmington, north crolina, for "matter of fact," i'm jessica gomez. soledad: coming up on "matter of fact" -- driving for change. can the short track star they call the youngster steer a new generation of drivers and fans to nascar? and still ahead -- highways,
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sidewalks, even buildings, the idea behind the new wind turbine walls that could soon be popping up in your city.
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test. since i left for college, my dad has gotten back into some of his old hobbies. and now he's taking trulicity, and it looks like he's gotten into some new healthier habits, too. what changes are you making for your type 2 diabetes? maybe it's time to try trulicity. it's proven to help lower a1c. it can help you lose up to 10 pounds. and it's only taken once a week, so it can fit into your busy life. trulicity is for type 2 diabetes. it isn't for people with type 1 diabetes. it's not approved for use in children. don't take trulicity if you're allergic to it, you or your family have medullary thyroid cancer, or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. stop trulicity and call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction, a lump or swelling in your neck, severe stomach pain, changes in vision, or diabetic retinopathy. serious side effects may include pancreatitis. taking trulicity with sulfonylurea or
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insulin raises low blood sugar risk. side effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, and may worsen kidney problems. the choices you make can help control your a1c. ask your doctor about once-weekly trulicity. soledad: for one of america's premiere sports, the drive to embrace greater diversity has been a long, rough ride. -- rough road. since nascar leaders banned the confederate flag in 2020, three new minority owned teams have joined the race. including one co-owned by michael jordan. and another by pitbull. nascar says those new faces are
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helping the sport attract race fans of color. one of the drivers creating a buzz, a 19-year-old phenom who may represent nascar's best hope for an inclusive contributor. special contributor joie chen met blake lothian at nascar's mecca, charlotte's motor speedway. joie: on the speedway, someone tagged him the youngster. and the nickname stuck. blake: i'm blake lothian. i'm a nascar driver diversity driver with rev racing and i drive number 16 car for a.k. performance. joie: lothian is trying to set the pace in nascar's drive for diversity campaign. a decade-long effort that's so far produced only the second top tier racer in nascar's 72-year history, bubba wallace. with a fan base that's nearly 80% white, drives like lothian could be key to steering new fans to nascar. is there really a place for african-americans to succeed, to
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be stars in the sport? blake: of course, i believe there definitely is. i mean, the statistics don't look amazing. but i say there definitely is always opportunity. joie: the road to nascar's premiere cup series is a long one. like many of his peers, lothian started out with go-karts. by 10, he'd reached the first rungs of junior racing. now he's driving toward a future as a pro. this is your baby? blake: yes. she's brought me to one top three so far, two top fives. joie: though the a.k. garage starts drivers as young as 8. a former racer himself, kendall sellers joins young racers that the odds are almost against them. when you're racing, you're one person against 25. so the percentages are way down and it's the most unrewarding sport out there. joie: the challenges don't end there. care racing is obviously dangerous. 70 miles an hour he came in your door.
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blake: right there. i honestly thought i died when i got hit. it was so scary, just being stuck there. like there was nothing i could do. i just have my arms up like this, just preparing for the hit because i saw the guy coming right at me. then after i got hit, i opened my eyes and i just saw fire from the other guy that hit me. his car was just completely engulfed in flames. joie: families must steel their nerves and open their wallets for an expensive journey. even with a sponsored car, young drivers can run up gear, travel, and repair tabs into six figures. but the biggest barrier to launching a young driver may be getting in their heads. phil: first of all, you have to convince the drivers that they're athletes. joie: coach phil horton trains the rev racing drivers and young pit crews to muscle up to the intensity of motorsport. phil: what you're doing for three and a half hours, you know, in 130-degree car, and you're in traffic, you know, going 200 miles an hour, you know, your hand-eye coordination
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has to be superb. your stamina, your ability to deal with the heat. and all of those things come under the athletic realm of being an athlete. joie: horton says nascar's recent efforts to build inclusion have helped but the stories of the first african-american racers, drivers like charlie wiggins who defied discrimination on the track and off should really inspire young drivers to push the limits. phil: we try to ingrain in them that motorsports is in their blood and they're not breaking into something that's not part of them. joie: still for lothian and nascar, making inroads with new fans will likely mean facing some hard bumps in the future, but both are focused on the road ahead. for "matter of fact," i'm joie chen, in charlotte, north carolina. soledad: since we first met blake lothian, his drive to succeed in nascar hasn't let up. he's currently racing late model stock cars and is now approved
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to race on all nascar speedways. ahead on "matter of fact" for decades, indigenous women and girls have been disappearing, leaving families with little to hold onto. >> i pray for strength to go on but it's so hard. soledad: the first of its kind alert system that could help bring the missing home. to stay up to date with "matter of fact," sign up for our newsletter at
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soledad: welcome back to "matter of fact." in february, we told you about a bill in washington state that would create an alert system for missing indigenous people. the system is modeled after the amber alert for missing children and the silver alert for missing older adults. the proposal was sponsored by the only native american member of the washington state
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legislature, democrat debra lekanoff. debra: the alert system intertwines our tribal, local, state, and federal police and our broadcasters. showing that we have a lost woman and we need to bring her back to our family. soledad: just last month, washington's senate passed the bill on the heels of the state's house of representatives. both were unanimous votes. the state becomes the first in the nation to create this kind of alert system. >> next on "matter of fact" -- wind wall or work of art? after years on the battlefield and multiple concussions, migraine attacks followed me home. i wasn't there for my family and i was barely functioning. until nurtec odt changed all that. nurtec is the only medication that can treat & prevent my migraines. don't take if allergic to nurtec.
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the most common side effects were nausea, stomach pain, and indigestion. now, i run a non-profit for other green berets. when i feel like myself, i can do so much more. what will you do? ask your doctor about nurtec today. with less moderate-to-severe eczema, why hide your skin if you can help heal your skin from within? hide my skin? not me. dupixent helps keep you one step ahead of eczema, with clearer skin and less itch. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur that can be severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems such as eye pain or vision changes, including blurred vision, joint aches and pain or a parasitic infection. don't change or stop asthma medicines without talking to your doctor. ask your doctor about dupixent.
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soledad: and finally, wind power is one of the fastest growing forms of clean energy. but wind turbines aren't always popular with the design-minded. for decades, communities have campaigned against wind farms,
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saying they are eyesores on the landscape. but now an engineer has invented a turbine that is more artwork than machine. the wind turbine wall is made up of rotary blades that spin in the wind, generating electricity, designed for use in urban areas. you can put them up around builds or on sidewalks. that energy can be stored in a battery or fed back into the power grid. the turbine walls are still in the final engineering stages, but the creator says they far outperform any other type of clean energy system per square foot. it's kind of a breath of fresh air. i'm soledad o'brien. that's it for this edition of "matter of fact." i'll see you back here next week. >> if you missed our top stories about the young girl at the center of a historic case that helped integrate public schools, a brewery run by gang members, a young nascar driver who is bringing diversity to his sport, and a first of its kind alert system to help find missing just go to,
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and listen to "matter of fact with soledad o'brien" on your favorite podcast provider. watch us during the week on fyi, pluto, and youtube. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] is your bathroom over 10 years old? i'm mike holmes, agm rens
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today on "asian pacific america," the writer and director of the hit pixar movie "turning red" joins us to talk about the coming-of-age film, as well as her journey to become an oscar winning storytelling. then the philippiny celebration yum yams is coming next week. see why the popularity is growing. and we'll wrap up with a performance by musician sammy l. hello, i'm robert handa, your host for our show on nbc bay area and cozi tv. welcome to "asian pacific america."


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