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Trevor Noah, Equal Justice Initiative, and Andra Day Talk America’s History of Racial Violence

In a somber interview just over a week after the violence in Charlottesville, The Daily Show brought on Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson and singer-songwriter Andra Day to discuss how the debate surrounding “Southern heritage” and monuments further marginalizes the history of African-Americans. “We’re burdened by a history of inequality that we have not addressed,” Stevenson said. “It’s become like smog in the air. We all breathe it in and it doesn’t take much to expose these conflicts and tensions.” Stevenson brought up how other countries deal with their shameful histories — including genocide in Rwanda, the holocaust in Germany, and Apartheid in South Africa — and how America is quick to brush over its own past of slavery, lynchings, and segregation. He explained, “To me, the great evil of American slavery wasn’t involuntary servitude, it wasn’t forced labor, it was this ideology of white supremacy — this idea that black people aren’t like white people, and we never really addressed that.” He added, “I don’t think slavery ended in 1865, I think it evolved and it turned into decades of terrorism and violence.”

Day, who is also involved in the organization, talked about the part music can play in activism. Day said, “I think musicians are revolutionaries in the sense that they take the message from, just in this situation, from the afflicted group of people to the broader public. They bring awareness to what’s going on, and you can’t effect change without actually knowing what the problem is.” To seemingly prove her point, she ended the segment with a haunting rendition of Billie Holiday’s politically charged “Strange Fruit.”

Trevor Noah Covers America’s History of Racial Violence