Nshira Turkson

Nshira Turkson is a former editorial fellow at The Atlantic.
  • Track of the Day: 'Fa La La'

    Tis the season to drown in holiday music (check out our “12 Days of Christmas Songs” series), but legends must be paid respect. And the one true and pure Christmas carol is, of course, “Fa La La” by Justin Bieber featuring Boys II Men. This song is sacred and does not need defending, but for the non-believers:

    • Jeff Roberson / AP

      The Necessary Recklessness of Campus Protests

      Progress against racial injustice is stagnant, yet the demands of student activists are still widely dismissed.

    • Pearl Harbor, Seven Years Later

      The magazine of the USS Shaw exploding in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. (Wikimedia)

      This morning, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack, Adrienne quoted two former U.S. senators who witnessed the bombings firsthand. In 1948, the official in charge of the Military Information Division on that fateful day in December 1941, Sherman Miles, wrote his own retrospective in The Atlantic. Miles reflected not on that day, but all that led up to it:

      The last twenty-four hours in Washington before the bombs fell have come in for much scrutiny. Why did the President, with most of the Japanese final answer before him, conclude that it meant war and then, after a fitful attempt to reach Admiral Stark by telephone, quietly go to bed? Why was he in seclusion the following morning? Why was no action taken on the Japanese reply by the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy when they met on that Sunday morning? Why did they not consult the President, or he send for them? Where was everybody, including my humble self?

      Why, in short, didn’t someone stage a last-minute rescue, in good Western style?

      He tackles those questions here.

    • Remembering Rosa Parks

      Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1955 (Ebony Magazine via Wikimedia)

      For most of elementary school I learned about Rosa Parks as if she only existed on December 1, 1955. Every February in some Black History Month poster or presentation: Parks sitting on a bus, alongside MLK’s dream and George Washington Carver’s peanuts. Her life cooled into one day. Rather, one moment: the passive and accidental revolution in Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man because she was too tired to stand. Pictures of her mugshot and fingerprints from an arrest were mummified with her day-long life, along with that shot of her staring out of bus window. I remember it all collected into her very quiet rebellion.

      Jeanne Theoharis contends with this collective misremembering in The Washington Post today, on the anniversary of Parks’s 1955 arrest. Theoharis, a Parks biographer, describes how that tired refusal on the bus 60 years ago was not an incongruous burst in the life of a meek Parks.

    • AP

      The Jeep: A Visual History of America’s 'Mighty Midget'

      Wars, dolls, and presidents

    • Negroes in the Neighborhood

      In 1961 Georgia, to have negroes in your neighborhood was cause enough to cuss out your white neighbor who invited them in:

      I was ordered from the yard and called a “Communist nigger-lovin’ son of a bitch”

      assault him action-movie style,

      the man of the house, planting his hands on his porch posts, kicked me in the chest

      drive his family out of town,

      my wife went with the children to her mother’s for a couple of weeks to escape the turmoil

      and threaten to destroy his home, possessions, and even the lives of his wife and three small children,

      our landlady was reporting a bomb threat we had received.

      Fifty-four years ago in The Atlantic Monthly, Pastor J. McRee Elrod reflected on the violent repercussions of committing the unforgivable sin: inviting a group of black churchgoers to his home for a potluck.

    • Bill Gates's First Job

      Lakeside School Archives

      Our November issue features a lengthy interview with Bill Gates, who discusses with James Bennet the future of clean energy and his hopes for human innovation. In this portion of the interview we printed as a sidebar, the wealthiest human on the planet discusses his first job:

      My first job—other than being a page in Congress, which isn’t a real job—was doing a computer-software project for Bonneville Power Administration, which is a quasi-governmental entity that controls the power grid in the Northwest. We were computerizing the power grid. And the company that BPA had contracted with, TRW, was behind, so the people there scoured the country to see who really knew how to do a certain type of programming, and they found me, because I was sort of infamous as a boy wonder of a certain type of programming.

      They said, “Have we hired everybody who’s really good at this stuff?” and somebody said, “Well, we haven’t hired Gates.” “Wait, there’s a guy we haven’t hired? Gates? Go get him!” And they said, “Well, nobody’s ever met him. They say he’s quite young.” And the boss says, “Go get him!”

      So I go down for this interview—and I did not look 16 when I was 16; I looked 12 when I was 16.  My parents drove me down. I didn’t have my driver’s license. And so they were like, “God, we are really in desperate straits. We are hiring children.”

      It was a seminal experience for me, because TRW had brought its very best programmers to program there. So I came in and got assigned this stuff, and people saw that I was willing to work 18 hours a day and do hard stuff. So I would write code and these super-smart guys would look it over and tell me, “Hey, this isn’t very good, this isn’t very good,” so my whole programming skill during the year I was there went a whole notch up.

      And they were so nice to me. I mean, they got a kick out of my energy. The only problem was, they got it into my head that I should skip undergraduate and go straight to graduate school, which my parents vetoed.

    • Can Love Be an Answer to Terrorism?

      Fourteen years ago in The Atlantic, and three months after the September 11 attacks, Bruce Hoffman wrote on terrorism and love. He tells the story of a former senior commander of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, tasked with dismantling the Black September terrorist group. The commander’s tactic? Marriage:

      They traveled to Palestinian refugee camps, to PLO offices and associated organizations, and to the capitals of all Middle Eastern countries with large Palestinian communities. Systematically identifying the most attractive young Palestinian women they could find, they put before these women what they hoped would be an irresistible proposition: Your fatherland needs you. Will you accept a critical mission of the utmost importance to the Palestinian people? Will you come to Beirut, for a reason to be disclosed upon your arrival, but one decreed by no higher authority than Chairman Arafat himself? How could a true patriot refuse?

      So approximately a hundred of these beautiful young women were brought to Beirut.