Discussing Racial Inequality with Philadelphia lawyer Michael Coard in the True Philadelphia Podcast

Matt O'Donnell Image
Monday, July 13, 2020
Prominent Philadelphia defense attorney joins Matt O'Donnell for True Philadelphia Podcast
Prominent Philadelphia defense attorney joins Matt O'Donnell for True Philadelphia Podcast

When you ask Michael Coard what he thinks about anything, he will give you an answer - unfiltered.

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The longtime Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer has been talking for decades about racial issues that we now see at the forefront today: inequities in how African-Americans are treated in the judicial system, by police, in the workplace and with history.

Coard joked that as fewer and fewer people see him as a "radical" maybe he needs to start acting crazier. Throughout our conversation, he gave thoughtful answers and powerful metaphors to express what it is like to be a Black man in America and why everyone needs to work together to reform our society.

Not only a veteran lawyer and civil rights activist, Coard is also a journalist, a radio host and a teacher.

We spoke via Zoom on July 6, 2020. In this podcast:

Coard reveals what he would have told himself if he could go back to December of last year (1:25).

What he thinks lit the spark among Americans to take an honest look at our country's race relations (2:00).

If he was a radical before, what is he now? (2:45).

Why he "plays the race card" when fighting for equal rights (4:03).

Coard presents a hypothetical situation that brings clarity to the struggles of African-Americans in the criminal justice system (4:25).

If the "Angriest Black Man in America" is still angry (5:30).

The story behind acknowledging the fact that President George Washington kept slaves at his house in Philadelphia (7:50).

The poignant speech Coard gave at the opening of the President's House Memorial at Independence Mall in 2010 (11:10).

Why Coard is hopeful but also not naive about the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement (13:10).

If a re-examining of the Founding Fathers, particularly those who owned slaves (which includes 10 of the first 12 presidents) is next (14:30).

When America will be ready to move forward and put our dark history of slavery behind us (17:30).

What Coard wants from Philadelphia's mayor and police commissioner over the tear-gassing of protesters on the Vine Street Expressway (18:10).

How to balance police reform with protecting citizens from crime (20:00).

The story of why Coard believes he became a successful man and how luck plays into our success (20:56).

The commonalities he sees in the thousands of Black men accused of crimes he has represented over the years (22:14).

How Coard wants to reimagine the Martin Luther King Day of Service (24:50).

His response to the phrase "All Lives Matter" (27:30).

Where he thinks this country will be in a few years (30:05).

How we can get people to listen to each other (32:10).

The problem with echo chambers (36:00).

Why he thinks it's ridiculous when people tell protestors to stop "yelling and screaming" (37:55).

What he has learned during the pandemic (39:45).