Letters: French Riots, Stepin Fetchit

Host Neal Conan reads from listener letters on Muslims in France, Stepin Fetchit, and vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock.

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Coming up in a few minutes, we'll talk with Liberia's president-elect, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

But first, it's Monday, the day we read from your e-mails.

Our show about riots in France prompted many of our listeners who spend time in that country to write. Not surprisingly, views were varied. Daniel Fitch(ph) wrote, `I am a black man born in Paris. My parents came there from Ivory Coast. After I finished university in the United Kingdom, I returned to Paris to live with my family and find work because I'm a citizen of France. My family has always been Christian, but I was seen as Muslim and as trouble by the French. I was never able to find a job, and for this reason I came to America. I have been here now for three years and have a very good job.'

Cyrstelle Jelane(ph) had a very different view. She writes, `I'm French, born and raised and, for the moment, in California. I lived in the suburbs concerned. I would like to say that it is very simple and false to say that the French government is doing nothing about integration. Many programs exist now and have for a long time. The problem in the suburbs is that there is no authority, not enough to discipline the young people to respect the law. Bring back discipline and making them realize that violence will be severely punished will force them to find other solutions.'

Last week the female a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock performed live in our studio, and prompted many of you to write. Jeanine Arnold(ph), a marketing administrator in Iowa, told us about an up-close encounter she had with the group. `The first time I heard Sweet Honey in the Rock was in the 1970s on a late-night television program,' she wrote. `I was transfixed. Years later. they were scheduled to perform near my home but I could not attend the concert because of an early flight to Washington, DC, the following morning. I was crushed. As I settled in to my seat on the plane, I saw them come aboard and was thrilled just to be in their presence. When there was turbulence later in the flight, one by one they softly began to sing. I felt closer to God and thought that if we go down, it will be with the sound of angels all around.'

And Carol, another fan of Sweet Honey in the Rock who lives in Tempe, Arizona, wrote, `I want them to know how important their music has been to me. I used their songs to accompany a slide presentation on my trip to Sarejavo on the first anniversary of the peace accords. Another song opened the service at my mother's funeral, and when I can't sleep it's their music that soothes me to sleep.

If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail. The address is totn@npr.org. Please tell us where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

(Soundbite of music)

SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: (Singing) ...from heaven. Sweet, sweet, sweet honey, honey from heaven.

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