Latonero speaks at AAAS conference on big data and human rights

On January 15 and 16, research director Mark Latonero spoke at the Science and Human Rights Coalition’s “Big Data and Human Rights” conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Sessions explored how human rights can be affected by the collection and analysis of big data, the rapidly growing collections of information that can now be processed thanks to recent technological advances.

“The application of big data in the human rights domain is still really in its infancy,” said Latonero. “The positives and negatives are not always clear and often exist in tension with one another, particularly when involving vulnerable populations.”

Click here to watch a video of Mark Latonero’s presentation.

The event was divided into three plenaries. The first session began with a discussion of the latest trends in big data, led by Toni Carbo of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) and Kavita Berger and Theresa Harris of AAAS. Carbo said that “last year there were 4 zettabytes of data.” (One zettabyte is equivalent to one billion terabytes, with the number of bytes being written as a 4 followed by 21 zeroes.)

The second plenary examined how big data can be a threat to human rights. Jessica Wyndham of AAAS talked about the connections between science and human rights. In the final plenary, titled “Big Data in the Service of Human Rights: Opportunities and Responsibilities,” Latonero discussed how human rights principles can guide responsible data-mediated interventions in preventing human trafficking.

According to a post by Kathy Wren of AAAS, “Latonero showed how analyzing classified ads can reveal patterns suggesting organized child sex trafficking and even investigate particular individuals. Corporations such as Western Union, Google, and J.P. Morgan Chase are also analyzing data that can reveal financial transactions or other evidence of human trafficking. When this data is shared with human rights groups and researchers, it brings up yet-unanswered questions about who has a responsibility to act if a human rights abuse is uncovered, and who has the responsibility to report and monitor that situation, Latonero said.”

“The event was an important opportunity to explore big data and human rights from a scientific perspective,” said Latonero. “While there is existing research on big data and development, humanitarian and crises, this meeting was important for those of us focusing specifically on data and human rights.”

In 2014, Latonero was named to the inaugural class of fellows at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York, where he is studying the intersections between data, development, and human rights. At CCLP, Latonero spearheaded the Technology and Trafficking Initiative with groundbreaking research on technology’s dual role in facilitating and combating human trafficking.

This post was written by CCLP project fellow Justin Chapman and web & IT coordinator Liz Krane.

Policymakers and industry leaders take steps to improve cell phone capabilities during emergencies

Mobile phones today offer enormous potential in regards to public safety and emergency preparedness, but current infrastructure and systems present substantial challenges as well. The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy have launched an initiative to research these issues, explore solutions and define minimum capabilities of cell phones for health care, public safety and other public services.

On Sunday and Monday, 20 high-level government officials, top mobile technology industry professionals, public advocates and entrepreneurs attended an event hosted by CCLP in Washington, DC. The event, entitled “Mobile Phones for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness,” was the second meeting on the subject as part of the Mobile Phones for Public Service initiative.

The meeting was organized by Sunnylands president and CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan and senior fellow Adam Clayton Powell III. Attendees included Google vice president and “father of the Internet” Vint Cerf, Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and representatives from T-MobileEmmis CommunicationsMobile CommonsAMG CommunicationsRand CorporationNational Institute of JusticeFood and Drug Administration and Sprint Nextel.

Clyburn and Smulyan.jpg
Mignon Clyburn and Jeff Smulyan

“These CCLP meetings show how industry, government, entrepreneurs and researchers can come together to reach consensus on improving public services — in this case, using cell phones as platforms for public safety and emergency preparedness,” said Powell.

The group focused on four primary issues: the Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA); Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911); FM radio chip activation; and the FCC’s Lifeline program, and developed a series of next steps and action items.

Cerf and Pendleton.jpg
Vint Cerf and George Pendleton

Expanding WEA
Dr. Daniel Gonzales, senior physical scientist at the Rand Corporation, presented on findings of the WEA Mobile Penetration Study, as well as ongoing research for the Department of Homeland Security. The group discussed cooperation between government and private industry on improving alerts-testing, geo-targeting, message length and other issues. They also discussed what it would take to get to universal WEA capability and how to get mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) on board with WEA.

Locating 9-1-1 calls from cell phones
Next Generation 9-1-1 is an initiative aimed at updating the 9-1-1 service infrastructure. At the event, the group examined the challenge of locating people after they’ve dialed 9-1-1, as most calls are now made on mobile phones rather than easily locatable landlines. In April, the Washington Post reported that “an alarming proportion of 9-1-1 calls go unfulfilled because wireless technology fails to help locate victims in time.” Many industry and government researchers are already working to address this challenge, and their work was analyzed at the CCLP meeting.

Activating the FM radio in your phone
Almost all US smartphones have FM radio chips, but most carriers don’t activate them. That is starting to change: Jeff Smulyan, CEO of Emmis Broadcasting, showed meeting participants a new, free app that his company has helped to develop that will unlock FM receivers on many Android cell phones, allowing them to receive limited radio listening for free. Backed by a “billion-dollar” ad campaign, the app will be rolled out publicly next month. Read more in Powell’s article on NextRadio here.

Radio chips are particularly important in times of natural disaster, such as the recent blizzard and state of emergency on the East Coast, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and terrorist attacks. The group talked about a possible compromise: getting mobile service carriers to agree on activating the radio chips in emergency situations. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, recently identified how important this is.

Reforming Lifeline
Lifeline is a government benefit program that provides discounts on monthly telephone service for eligible low-income subscribers to help ensure they can connect to basic services. Lifeline is supported by the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which was created by Congress in 1934. Millions of Americans receive the subsidized mobile phone service, which is politically vulnerable because it’s seen by some as a form of welfare.

CCLP is drafting a report on the Lifeline program for the FCC that may include recommendations for improving public safety.

The mobile carriers that participate in Lifeline vary widely by state, and some carriers (including AT&TVerizon, and T-Mobile) only provide voice service through Lifeline subsidies, while Sprint – through a program with Virgin Mobile and Assurance Wireless – provides more flexible Lifeline plans that do appear to provide a texting and data option. One question addressed at the event was whether text messages and/or data are essential for public safety and emergency preparedness, and whether Lifeline providers should be encouraged to provide such services with their plans.

Group photo.jpg

CCLP research fellows Skye Featherstone and Ev Boyle conducted interviews with participants at the event. These interviews will be the basis for a short video to highlight key issues discussed as relevant to the meeting.

Senior fellow publishing new book on California as she wraps up CIR project on armed security guards


As project editor on a two-month long assignment with the Center for Investigative Reporting, CCLP senior fellow Narda Zacchino oversaw reporter Shoshana Walter’s and others’ six part series “Hired Guns.” The team reported on armed security guards across the country who endanger public safety through a haphazard system of lax laws, minimal oversight and almost no accountability. The project includes a graphic novel and an interactive map.

Zacchino and Walter are hoping that the series will raise awareness about this issue and change policies across the country. CNN teamed up with CIR and featured two segments on the story, which will be sent to hundreds of key legislators in policy making positions.

“There is a bill in Congress now, by Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, that would make FBI background checks available to security companies that want them,” said Zacchino. “Right now that’s not the case. We hope our series will enlighten people about the extent of the problem in the security industry and will get that bill passed. Certainly more needs to be done.”

Zacchino has also written a new book about California, which she has been working on for several years. The book will finally be published this year by Thomas Dunn Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.

The untitled book, now in the final editing stages, demonstrates that “government” and “regulation” are not dirty words, and that “freedom from environmental and workplace regulation and from taxes to benefit the wealthy class is not conducive to progress as a nation, or democracy for that matter.”

The book’s thesis stems from the “debate over the neoliberal model of Texas and Kansas, which endorses privatization, deregulation, reductions in government spending, eschewing subsidies, having minimal government ‘interference’ in business and a tax system that favors the wealthy, versus the pragmatic liberal model of Jerry Brown’s California: raising taxes on those with incomes over $250,000 to help fund education, shifting money toward the schools of poor children, making alliances with other states and countries to counter climate change, rejecting military solutions to the problems posed by illegal immigration, raising the minimum wage and strengthening workers’ rights.”

Zacchino served as a top editor at the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle. She has co-authored three books and co-founded Time Capsule Press, whose inaugural book, The LA Lakers: 50 Amazing Years in the City of Angels, was published in October 2009. She is an editorial and business consultant at the daily news website Truthdig. As a senior fellow, Zacchino works on programs exploring the role of media in democracy with a focus on state government financial crises.

Hundreds gather in Annenberg Hall to watch President Obama’s penultimate State of the Union address

On Tuesday night about 250 people packed the new Wallis Annenberg Hall to watch President Obama’s sixth State of the Union address, the Republican response by Sen. Joni Ernst and a panel discussion that included two CCLP senior fellows. The event, which according to CCLP senior fellow Dan Schnur had the largest on-campus turnout for a political event since the 2012 election night viewing, was co-sponsored by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy and the Unruh Institute of Politics.

crowd 1.jpg

See more event photos in our Flickr album and watch the video by KTLA 5 News

The politically diverse audience included USC students, high school students, professors, College Democrats and College Republicans, who gathered in the Annenberg communications and journalism building to watch the speeches on a large screen in the lobby. The event was covered by KTLA, CBS, Daily Trojan and USC News.

Schnur, who also serves as executive director of the Unruh Institute, moderated the panel, which included CCLP visiting fellow and former CNN White House correspondent Jessica Yellin, USC professor Bob Shrum, Daily Trojan assistant city editor Sarah Dhanaphatana and former Daily Trojan managing editor Daniel Rothberg. CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan welcomed the audience and introduced the panelists.

cowan crowd.jpg

During his second to last State of the Union address, President Obama declared that the “shadow of crisis has passed and the state of the union is strong.” He said that despite the challenges of the past 15 years it is time to “turn the page” on recession and war. He touted the recovered economy, middle class economics and other policies that have worked and “will continue to work as long as politics don’t get in the way.” His speech called for paid sick leave, a minimum wage hike, equal pay for equal work for women, an end to the Cuban embargo, authorization for use of force against ISIL, free community college and more, and both called for bipartisan cooperation and issued veto threats for bills he disagrees with.


The panel discussed how Obama delivered the speech as well as the content, with several panelists noting the president’s seemingly renewed energy and confidence despite his party’s “shellacking” at the polls in November. The panel talked about the politics of neck ties, the lack of mention of national debt, partisan gridlock, immigration, Obama’s veto threats, the role of social media, the 2016 presidential election and women’s rights.

From left to right: Bob Shrum, Daniel Rothberg, Jessica Yellin, Sarah Dhanaphatana, Dan Schnur

Several audience members asked the panelists questions, including one student who noticed that the several news outlets playing on the large screen behind the panel were not covering the women’s rights issues that Obama talked about in his speech. Yellin suggested that the lack of coverage was due to the male-dominated management of media companies, and not necessarily the media itself.

“There’s a false perception that viewers won’t care or find it interesting,” said Yellin.


Photos by CCLP web & IT coordinator Liz Krane.

Intertwined narratives tell of adventures in Africa

Reviewed by Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews, 1/16/2015

Justin Chapman’s travel memoir Saturnalia tells two intertwined stories. One is the travelogue of a young American writer venturing alone through several southern African nations; the other is a memoir of a drug addict starting to relapse while abroad. The former is the stronger of the two plot lines, but both are told in conversational prose that generally works at conveying the ups and downs of the author’s untethered existence while in Africa.

Starting in Cape Town, Chapman journeys through other parts of South Africa before he visits Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Rwanda, and stays for an extended period in Uganda. He relates experiences that will be familiar to backpackers, from the way those sharing a hostel become important friends for just a few days to how something as minor as needing to buy camera batteries can become a complex ordeal. But he also memorably tells of dealing with corrupt police who demand bribes, interacting with annoying fellow expats, and surviving genuine danger in unfamiliar environs.

One notable anecdote involves the author covering a village’s traditional investigation into charges of using witchcraft, journalistically detailing the procedure while skeptically criticizing the superstitions behind it. Another describes having a train-trip discussion about depression interrupted by a spectacular view of giraffes feeding. Chapman sometimes comes off poorly in his own narrative, seeming snarky or even petulant, but this provides a different take on a travel-narrative protagonist, and hints at a self-destructive side that gradually dominates the book.

The drug-addict storyline is always present, as Chapman speaks frankly about the Africa trip being partly a way to quit heroin. He never goes long without popping Xanax or getting high with other travelers. Because relapse seems inevitable, this aspect of the book isn’t quite as compelling as the rest. Still, Chapman is aware of the travel experiences he passes up by allotting time and resources to the quest for a fix, which adds a layer of melancholy on top of the more obvious effects of his drug habit.

Overall, Saturnalia does a nice job capturing the angst of a young writer trying to experience a different life while struggling to avoid the pull of his old one. Whether emotionally affected by a Rwandan genocide memorial or physically impacted by a sudden car crash in Zimbabwe, Chapman comes away from his African journey with some interesting stories, and he shares them in an open and often engaging manner.
There was standing room only at the launch event at Vroman's Bookstore on January 13. Special thanks to everyone who came out to support this book. Vroman's staff had to ask the publisher to go out to his car and get more books, because the 40 they ordered weren't enough! Vroman's also said it was the largest turnout they've had in quite awhile, and told Justin he could come back any time.

Art Aids Art had a table at the event selling art from the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa. Tom Harding spoke about that organization and how Justin came to visit them in Cape Town. Then Pasadena Weekly deputy editor Andre Coleman introduced Justin, who showed photos and told stories about his three-month trip through Africa, read a chapter from Saturnalia, and signed copies for those standing in a line that wrapped around the room.

Here are some photos of the event:

LA Progressive Live! — Quest for Self-Discovery in Africa: Watch Now

By Dick Price and Sharon Kyle, LA Progressive, JANUARY 12, 2015

The LA Progressive is streaming live!! Don’t miss its weekly broadcast—devoted to progressive politics and social justice.

Tune in today, Monday, January 12th, at 3 p.m. PST right here for the next installment of “LA Progressive LIVE!” You’ll find us streaming at—and we’ll archive the 1-hour show.

Your hosts Dick and Sharon will be talking about our freedom of the press in light of the murders at the hands of two Muslim extremists of a dozen cartoonists, affiliated staff, guards and a visitor at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Will this tragedy spawn further racial and religious hatred, ratchet up calls for further oppression, or will the world now have enough of such violence? Join us to discuss.

Saturnalia Justin ChapmanJoining us will be journalist Justin Chapman, who will discuss his just released book, “Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia,” that is both a fascinating travelogue of his three-month tour through Africa, and is especially a journey of self-healing and self-discovery.

“I had no idea what cities or even countries I was going to visit, or how I’d get there,” Chapman has reported. “I figured out my trip as I went, and after a couple of weeks in Cape Town, I decided to go to Johannesburg and stayed in a hostel before heading into Zimbabwe. I mapped it out as it happened.”

Can a short, white guy from California, as Justin describes himself, kick his devils and find love in the heart of Africa? Join us to find out.

And be sure to catch Justin here: Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia

Dick Price & Sharon Kyle

LA Progressive Editor & Publisher 

Justin will have a booth featuring his book Saturnalia at this year's Get Healthy Pasadena, an annual health conference hosted by Men Educating Men About Health (MEMAH) and Pasadena City College (PCC). Justin is the Secretary of MEMAH's board of directors. The event offers FREE health screenings for men and women over 18.

In addition to screenings for diabetes, prostate, BMI, hearing, vision, dental, blood pressure, cholesterol, and stroke, for the first time Get Healthy will feature three additional screenings:

  • SureTouch, a non-invasive, radiation-free breast screening (B. Smith L.Ac. - Pasadena Breast Wellness Center; Sponsored by Women Educating Women About Health)
  • Ultrasound for liver and kidney, with a liver specialist on hand to provide analysis and advice based on your ultrasound (Dr. Shafiei - West Coast Ultrasound Institute; Dr. Mena - Huntington Medical Research Institutes)
  • PULS test, which detects the #1 cause of heart attacks: unstable cardiac lesion ruptures (G. McLane - GD Biosciences; Dr. Jacobi - Healthy Living Medical)

In addition to the great local restaurants who have provided food at Get Healthy in previous years and will be returning - such as Whole Foods, The Corner Bakery, Buca di Beppo, Stonefire Grill, Heirloom, Bristol Farms, Robin’s Woodfire BBQ and more - this year’s Get Healthy food court will include local favorite Tender Greens and a cooking demo by California Pizza Kitchen. Lunch will be provided, courtesy of the Food Court, to participants who complete 5 or more screenings.

Get Healthy’s Speaker Series includes 3 seminars this year. A men’s only talk on Prostate & Sexuality will begin at 9 a.m. At 10, top medical doctors who are also on MEMAH’s board of directors (including Jerome Lisk, MD, Joshua Jacobi, MD, and Mauro Zappaterra, MD) and the Women’s Advisory Board (Beauty Swe, MD) will discuss Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the heart, pain and “Improving a Healthy Attitude”. The final seminar on domestic violence begins at 11, with a panel including Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez, Ahmad Elhan of the Allstate Foundation, Tara N. Thacker, MD, of Kaiser Permanente, Sandra Abarca, MS, of Planned Parenthood, and Linda Offray, Founder of Sheppard’s Door. The invited moderator for the domestic violence seminar is Beverly White of NBC.

For more information or to make a screening appointment, call (626) 389‐2759 or visit

Photo by Mercedes Blackehart

Quest for self

Saturnalia author Justin Chapman recounts his adventures in Africa Tuesday at Vroman’s Bookstore

By Carl Kozlowski, Pasadena Weekly, 1/08/2015

After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2009, Justin Chapman could have been like millions of other American millennials, with a lack of job prospects limiting his vision for his life. But Chapman stands out in a crowd, having been elected to the Altadena Town Council at age 19, as well as establishing himself as a top freelance writer for Pasadena Weekly long before he finished his education at the prestigious university.

Instead of taking a dead-end job or an internship, Chapman earned the money to follow his lifelong dream of traveling in Africa. The riveting blog that he created along the way of his three-month adventure in the summer of 2012 has now morphed into the travel memoir Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia, and he will be discussing and signing the tome Tuesday at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.

“The idea was to do as much writing as possible, and the fact that it’s now turned into my first published book is the cherry on top of the cake,” says Chapman, 29. “It worked out beyond what I thought it could have. I had already done travel writing in Thailand, Europe and China and this was to see whether I could put my money where my mouth was and do a full book on travel writing.”

Chapman says he had wanted to visit Africa “since I was a little kid,” and had already been to 18 other countries before he embarked upon his journey to that continent, figuring that “it seemed the grandest adventure I could think of.” He teamed up with Art Aids Art, a charity organization he had previously profiled in the Weekly due to its work in helping impoverished African women find American markets for their art, and went along in 2012 on one of the group’s “jungle justice” trips to Cape Town, South Africa.

Aside from his connection with that charity, Chapman also received help from a priest his mother knew in Uganda, who agreed to shelter the young traveler when he passed through his area. Since the priest lived 3,000 miles from Cape Town and Chapman wanted to see that vast expanse of land up close, he rode buses and trains between the destinations.

“I had no idea what cities or even countries I was going to visit, or how I’d get there,” recalls Chapman. “I figured out my trip as I went, and after a couple of weeks in Cape Town, I decided to go to Johannesburg and stayed in a hostel before heading into Zimbabwe. I mapped it out as it happened.”

That fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach resulted in a series of memorable adventures, including a 30-hour “bus ride from hell,” a massive car crash without any available seatbelts, an encounter with a pygmy tribe that grew massive amounts of marijuana and opium, and a facedown with a bogus witch doctor. He fell in love with life there so much that he took the exam required for consideration of employment in the US Foreign Service in Africa.

“I really loved Africa, and when I was there I wanted to be a diplomat of some kind,” he explains. “I passed the first test, which only 3,000 of 20,000 applicants pass every year, but didn’t pass the second exam. I would have tried again if I hadn’t met Mercedes, my fiancée, soon after returning here.”

Indeed, out of all that Chapman learned in his travels, the most important was that he was ready to find love. His fiancée, Mercedes Blackehart, helped him design the book and by extension, “changed my life around, by being this rock for me.”

Now working as a project fellow, researcher and writer for the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, in addition to serving as the secretary for three boards of directors, Chapman clearly is not ready to slow down.

Saturnalia sports a glowing endorsement from Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh: “The best and most arresting travel books are the ones that also take us on the author’s inner journey. Justin Chapman’s memoir is a perfect metaphor for contemporary American youth, painfully trying to work through its own baggage, and openly and sincerely seeking to engage with the world beyond the USA’s established physical and cultural borders. Don’t miss this one.”

“I’m advocating adventure for adventure’s sake, getting out and seeing the world, a living-in-the-moment approach to life,” Chapman said.

Justin Chapman will discuss and sign Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Call (626) 449-5320 or visit 

The more things change…

Pasadena’s mayor apologizes for city’s racial slight nearly six decades ago, and Joan Williams finally gets to ride in the Rose Parade, but both she and her story were mostly ignored during live broadcasts

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 1/8/2015

It was a moment 56 years in the making, not to mention a rare opportunity for everyone to learn from the mistakes of the past. But instead of doing the right thing, KTLA Channel 5 and other TV stations chose to do something else: they made no mention of Williams or why she was sitting on the lead float in last week’s Rose Parade.


In a statement to the Pasadena Weekly, Andrea Fox, manager of public relations for the Tournament of Roses Association, said Williams’ presence in the parade was not in the $10 parade guide, which is published months in advance of the event. But it was known to most reporters covering the parade, including those with TV.


“Joan Williams was mentioned in the [Tournament of Roses] media guide,” Fox wrote in an email. “As you know, we do not control the on-air broadcasts.”


“We’re pleased to have Mrs. Williams riding in the Rose Parade,” Tournament of Roses Executive Director Bill Flinn told the Weekly. 


Just a few hours prior to the parade, Forbes Magazine reported in its online edition that another long-awaited event occurred, albeit quietly: Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard apologized on behalf of the city for the way Williams, Miss Crown City of 1958, was treated by public officials after it was learned by a local mainstream newspaper of the time that she was African American.


On New Year’s Eve, Bogaard finally delivered a formal letter of apology to Williams written on the mayor’s official city letterhead.


“Dear Mrs. Williams,” the letter begins, “It was a pleasure to talk with you today and to wish you a Happy New Year. Thank you for your good wishes to me. I just heard your interview on KPCC about riding in the Rose Parade. I consider it a privilege to have made your acquaintance and extend my friendship to you. I am truly pleased that you will be in the parade this year, and I am extremely sorry that this opportunity was not made available to you in 1958. You have kindly said that the Tournament’s invitation to you represents a new commitment in Pasadena to our efforts to embrace differences and welcome all members of the community. I share that view with you,” the mayor wrote.


“As Mayor, I hereby apologize to you for the experience you had as Miss Crown City in 1958 and I thank you for accepting this year’s invitation and for the friendship you have expressed for Pasadena,” wrote Bogaard. 


As Miss Crown City, Williams was supposed to ride on the city’s float in the 1959 Rose Parade and attend various city functions, such as ribbon cuttings and dinners. But she was also denied these honors after her heritage became an issue. 


This year, the Tournament of Roses, after first learning about the story in the Thanksgiving Day 2013 edition of the Pasadena Weekly in a story titled “Beauty and the Beasts” and subsequent reports, offered Williams a spot on the leading theme banner float.


Williams’ story gained international attention in the days leading up to the parade, with coverage by Forbes, the Washington Post, some Chinese- and Spanish-language newspapers and a host of other publications and news outlets — including KTLA. As a result, many have been left wondering why Williams was excluded from the parade broadcast. Most of the cameras showed Williams for about two seconds, but her face was hidden in the shadows of the theme float. The theme of this year’s Rose Parade, which featured family members standing in for Grand Marshal, Olympic athlete, World War II prisoner of war and inspirational speaker Louis Zamperini, who died at age 97 in July, was “Inspiring Stories.”


It appears the only television station to pick up the story during the parade broadcast was Spanish-language Univision.


Following a barrage of comments on its Twitter feed, KTLA aired a post-parade interview with the 83-year-old Williams. KTLA, which also interviewed Williams prior to the parade, did not respond to requests for comment.


“People all over the country woke up early to view the parade, specifically because, having seen the many news articles and interviews on TV, they wanted to witness ‘history’ and the reconciliation that was due my mother,” wrote Williams’ son, Chip, in an email to this reporter. “But it didn’t happen. Her ‘Inspiring Story’ was not told. So what happened? We are all wondering.”


Mrs. Williams, the widow of celebrated former Tuskegee Airman Bob Williams, who co-wrote and co-executive produced the award-winning movie of the same name starring Laurence Fishburne, said she had a great time riding in the parade. She said the most important thing to her was the community showing her kindness and appreciation along the route. She heard from people all across the country who were excited to tune in and watch Miss Crown City finally riding in the parade.


“I was disappointed for the people in TV land, who had been so moved by [the Weekly’s original] story that they weren’t able to get that final satisfaction of a few words at the actual parade. The feeling was that it was just completely ignored because the cameraman just skimmed over that float. But the parade is about festivities, so I have mixed emotions about it,” Mrs. Williams said. “I’m just sorry that all those people out there who were moved by the story, who were all glued to the TV and then got nothing. So that was unfortunate.”