Yesterday morning, I was hosting the morning news show at the radio
station where I work, WBAI, in New York City, along with my colleague
Leigh Ann Caldwell. It was a morning when everything had gone wrong.
The internet was out, the CD players were on the fritz, and we had
been having technical difficulties all morning. Towards the end of
our three hour show, we were slated to speak with Barbara Becnel, a
long-time advocate in the case of Stanley Tookie Williams, and a
frequent guest on our show.

As soon as Barbara joined us on the phone, she interrupted me. "Could
you guys – Literally, Stan is calling me," she said. "Can you hold
just a second? I'm sorry this is live radio but I didn't expect him
to call at his hour." It was about 5:30 in the morning in California.
Of course, we held on, talking about his case and the clemency
petition. Barbara rejoined us on the air, saying Stanley Williams was
on hold. We asked if we could speak with him, and after checking with
Stanley, she said he would speak with us for a few minutes. "When I
count to three, you'll be patched through to him," Barbara said.
"When I say three just start talking to him. Okay? One, two, three."

This is the conversation that followed.

Kat Aaron: Tookie Williams, we are speaking to you from death row.
What is your state of mind as you are facing – awaiting the decision
in your clemency petition?

Stanley Tookie Williams: Well, I feel good. And my redemption shines.
I got up this morning, I cleansed myself, I prayed, I exercised, and
now I'm talking to you. Prior to talking to you I was talking to my
mother and of course she's quite encouraging, spiritual, and so am I.
And my lack of fear for this barbaric methodology of death, I rely
upon my faith. It has nothing to do with machismo, with manhood, or
with some pseudo former gang street code. This is pure faith, and
predicated on my redemption. And therefore I stand strong, and
continue to tell you, your audience, and the world, that I am innocent
and yes, I've been a wretched person, but I've redeemed myself. And I
say to you, and all those who can listen and will listen, that
redemption is tailor-made for the wretched, and that's what I used to
be. So, I can answer one more before I go."

KA: There are millions of people all around the country and indeed the
world who are standing in support of you and doing everything that
they can to ensure that your life is spared. How would you like the
world to imagine your legacy, one that we all hope does not begin
tomorrow but begins many years from today?

STW: I appreciate you making that statement. I've been asked that
same query not too long ago and I said just one word, just one word
can sum it up, in a nutshell, and that is redemption. I can say it no
better than that. That's what I'd like the world to remember me.
That's what I'd like my legacy to be remembered as, a redemptive
transition. Something that I believe is not exclusive just for the
so-called sanctimonious, the elitist, and its not predicated on color
or race, social stratum or one's religious background. It's
accessible for everybody, that's the beauty about it. And whether
others choose to believe that I've redeemed myself or not, I worry
not, because I know, and God knows, and you can believe that all the
youths that I continue to help, they know too. So, with that, I'm
grateful. I thank you for the opportunity, and I say to you and
everyone else, god bless. So take care.

KA: And indeed you take care. We so much appreciate you being here
with us, and we hope that we are able to speak with you in weeks and
months and years to come.

STW: And I look forward to that as well, believe me. And my faith is
intransigent.

Leigh Ann Caldwell: You talk about redemption, and isn't that the
goal of all of us in our lives, no matter what we have lived though,
is daily redemption, to do better than we did before.

STW: Exactly. The thing is that as far as redemption is concerned
you never can reach a plateau or an acme. It's a continuous process.
Each day brings on a new challenge. So, for me, it's ongoing. It's
continuous. And I understand that. So, not only do I live it, but I
believe it. So it's a wonderful thing, and it's kept me strong all
this time. I have no complaints.

KA: And that redemption and sense of striving for redemption is
certainly something that you have inspired in thousands of people both
in Los Angeles and worldwide.

STW: I pray that it will continue to do so, and I'll be here to see
it. So I must go, so take care, and god bless.

Kat Aaron and Leigh Ann Caldwell are producers for Wakeup Call, the
morning news show at Pacifica station WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York. You
can listen to their interview with Stanley Tookie Williams at
www.wakeupcallradio.org.