In 2020, we are witnessing an uprising from Black America in the form of Black Lives Matter protests and riots as the country gripes with the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

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The outpour of anger for many became reminiscent of 1992 after the Los Angeles police officers who assaulted Rodney King were acquitted and riots ensued in the southland.

Last week, the New York Times Popcast spoke with former The Source Senior Editor James Bernard and former Music Editor Reginald Dennis about how the pioneering hip-hop mag covered the riots.


“All the coverage was about this thing sort of being lawless and sort of random, Bernard told the Popcast host Jon Caramanica. According to Bernard, The Source Magazine’s clout in these disgruntled neighborhoods allowed for a different type of access.

The two former editors make the point that mainstream outlets had covered the riots as a “random” stream of violence in L.A. but The Source dove deeper into the affected neighborhoods and saw that there was an “intelligence” into what rioters were doing and what businesses were being targeted.

“I think that people were thoughtful about what they were doing. We can sort of disagree with the whole idea of looting, that’s fair. But in this instance people were making a statement about who they wanted in their communities and who they didn’t want in their community,” Bernard said.

“By the time James [Bernard] got to the office he had already booked his flight and that afternoon I interviewed MC Ren. I had a phoner with him and the next morning I flew out to Oakland to interview Too Short. So, we were all just sort of gravitating toward the epicenter of the conflict which no one else was really doing at that time.,” Dennis said.

Too Short would grace the cover of the magazine that month, but the big story in the issue was about Los Angeles, a piece titled “The L.A. Rebellion: The Message Behind The Madness.”

You can listen to the full episode here.