On Saturday, 23-year-old Sarra Tekola was visiting family in Los Angeles. At a restaurant in Watts, Tekola ran into former president Bill Clinton, who was campaigning for his wife. She promptly cursed him out for the 1994 crime bill, which helped establish America's racist mass incarceration system. CBS captured Tekola's broadside against the former president and broadcast it nationally:
Tekola was making good on the name of the organization she belongs to: Women of Color Speak Out. In recent years in Seattle, she's been a fixture in environmental and racial justice demonstrations. Last month, she camped out on a railroad in Anacortes to shut down oil refineries. She's repeatedly marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, and in return, Seattle's largest police union, SPOG, has blocked her on Twitter. Former Mike McGinn interviewed her at length about her activism on his podcast. Ana Sofia Knauf has written about her father, a "climate refugee" who came to Seattle from Ethiopia.
Tekola studied climate science at UW and is about to enter a Ph.D. program at Arizona State University. She attended the Paris climate talks last year, defying a ban on demonstrations and warning that unchecked global warming will mean "genocide for black lives."
"I would have stayed if I had more time," she said of her moment with Clinton. "He's no friend of ours, but when he comes to our community, people want to cape for him."
Tekola speaks for a generation of young people (among them, the students who launched a sit-in at Seattle University) who believe strongly in anti-racism and don't feel an allegiance to major liberal institutions.
She plans to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and rattles off the reasons why she won't support the Clintons: "There was the crime bill. He cut welfare. He repealed the Glass Steagall act, which led to the recession. The recession hurt black women the most. [As Secretary of State,] she's been bombing black and brown folks. "
The video of her confrontation with Clinton has racked up more than one million views on Facebook and World Star Hip Hop.
This post has been updated since its original publication.