A Love Song for Latasha (2019) Movie Script

WOMAN: It was the summer of my sixth-grade year.
I was in the pool.
I couldn't swim, but it was hot.
You know, I was trying to figure it out.
And these kids, they looked over at me,
and they like, "Oh, we from nine-o."
I wasn't into none of that,
wasn't thinking about anything,
and I'm still trying
to paddle up against the wall. [LAUGHS]
And I guess they figure,
"Okay, we can take advantage of her."
Kid kept coming back,
kept splashing water on me.
One of them come up from behind,
and he holds my head underneath the water.
I'm scratching and pulling him,
but he had me underneath the water.
And the next thing I know,
I hear this one little boy screaming.
Even though I have water in my ears,
I can hear him screaming.
I felt the pressure lift off of my neck,
and she pulled me up out of the water.
She got clothes on still.
She had a skirt on.
She literally dropped her bags
when she saw what they were doing.
So she hopped the fence.
She got into the pool
right where I was at.
"You better leave her alone!"
One of them, he had a busted lip.
So she got me out of the water,
and she said,
"Man, you lucky I was walking by,
and I just happened to see that."
And her brother was with her,
and she gets him to get her a towel.
Put her towel over me. She needed
the towel, but she's, "No, I'll dry off."
And we go to the swings and sit down,
so I can just catch my breath.
She's like, "You know what? You little.
You need somebody to watch you.
We about the same age.
I done seen you around here a few times.
What you doing tomorrow?"
"Coming back outside,
but I'm not coming back to the pool."
She's like, "You don't gotta worry
about it. I'll be with you."
SHINESE: Latasha's mother passed at 1985.
She was shot in the torso at a club.
My grandmother couldn't
let them go in the system.
So my grandmother's main focus
was just to raise her kids,
and that's exactly what she did.
She had to step in and step up
to raise and do what she had to do,
especially for Christina,
Vester, and Latasha.
I was the only child.
My mom was in Orange County,
and they were out here.
I wanted to be with them
'cause they were having more fun.
Christina, Vester, and Latasha
was my life,
my brother and sisters,
so I ain't have nobody but them...
and her, and that's it.
Latasha was more responsible.
She used to do Christina's hair,
walk Trell to the park or to the store,
so she stepped up
and helped my grandmother out so much
with her brother and sister.
Double double ditch ditch
Double double ditch dat
Double ditch, double dat
Double double ditch dat
SHINESE: We got to get up so early.
We got to leave at a certain time
to catch the Manchester bus
all the way out toWestchester,
where, after school,
buses be full,
everybody in the back of the bus
- talking smack.
And it made our ride a little bit quicker.
We used to get off on Figueroa,
and we stopped
at Tam's Burger right there.
My grandmother would give us
two to three dollars a day.
So we'd hold onto
that two to three dollars a day
until after school.
Back in the day,
they had the little... little jukeboxes
that sit on each table
that you could play.
Our favorite song was "Stand by Me."
- Stand by me
- That song right there, right?
We used to save our quarter
for that song every day.
That was our song every day,
and we'd get our fries.
And we'd walk down Figueroa
all the way home, every day.
No, I won't be afraid
No, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me...
SHINESE: She wanted to be a lawyer,
so that's what she was aiming for,
to get good grades,
to help her grandmother out
as much as she can when she did make it.
She had all A's.
Popping out them A's.
You'd think, like,
her mother passed six years prior,
where's her mind at?
'Course she talked about her mom,
but I think she blocked it out
in so many ways
by keeping busy,
by concentrating on school.
She just tried a little bit harder.
She just didn't want to end up a statistic.
TY: She would talk about her mom.
She missed her mom.
She missed her mom a lot,
and she just told me, "You know,
I remember my mom would pick me up
and give me the...
give me, like, the biggest hug.
That's what I remember most about her.
How she would hug me
and the way she smelled."
Latasha would always talk about,
"When we got older,
okay, here goes the plan.
We could still be lawyers.
That could be our day job,
and we could own businesses,
because every time we go into a store,
they either following us,
giving us dirty looks, disrespecting us.
Don't... don't you want to have
something of your own?
We need, like, programs. We need something
where the kids that's outside,
they can have something to do or somewhere
to go, and we could start up tournaments
and basketball,"
'cause she loved basketball.
I used to just go to the park sometimes,
and I would watch her play.
And she would be
the only girl on the court
playing basketball
with these Hoovers, these big OGs.
And we'd play games with the kids
that were younger than us sometimes,
and we would just have fun.
A lot of younger kids, they looked at her
almost like the neighborhood big sister.
I know my body's fragile
Know it's made from clay
But if I have to go
I pray my soul is still eternal
And my momma don't forget about me...
SHINESE: I wanna say it was a Saturday.
My grandmother asked Trell
to get the orange juice.
He didn't want to go,
because we just woke up.
I was up, ready to go
to the movies with Tasha,
but she was already gone.
My grandmother asked me
to go get some orange juice.
Told her, "I don't wanna
get no orange juice.
Tell Trell or Nookie
to get the orange juice."
But I wish I had would have went.
I think Latasha passed
in the morning hours,
'cause it was breakfast time,
but the detectives didn't get
to our grandmother's house
until the afternoon.
I remember they came.
I was dressed. Christina was at the house.
Trell was at the park,
so my grandmother told me
to go run and get Trell.
He was in the gym playing basketball,
and I remember walking up to him.
I was like, "Man, they killed her."
I remember pulling him, talking about,
"Let's go! Something happened! Let's go!"
We both ran back home.
All hell broke loose then.
Word got around that a young Black girl
got shot over $1.79 of orange juice.
Everybody just broke down.
TY: Went to the store.
It was hot that day.
I got something to drink.
I had left my bag on the side.
I said,
"Okay, y'all ain't got to shoot me.
I'm just coming in
to get this and get out,"
and the lady looked at me, she said,
"Oh, you heard about what happened
to the little girl?"
And I'm like, "Yeah."
Didn't know it was my friend yet.
However, my parents knew.
I didn't know that it was her,
'cause I had saw her
probably the day before,
'cause she was excited
they were going to the movies.
Go to the park.
I see Trell, and he's crying.
He's got tears down his face,
and he's got Latasha's jacket on,
holding a candle.
And I thought,
"She don't let him wear
her gangster jacket.What's up with that?"
And he looked at me, looked up,
but he was so hurt,
he kept doing what he was doing.
So I didn't pay him no mind.
"I'm not gonna bother him.
I'm just gonna go home."
Got home, in my own little world,
and my dad comes in.
He said,
"I know you heard about
the young lady that got shot over...
over an orange juice."
He said, "Well, at this point,
it's all over the news.
I can't hide that from you any longer,
because this is something
where it's going to get out of hand,
and it's gonna get out of hand
before anybody
can get a real good hold on it."
So, as he's talking to me, it comes on TV.
I'm sorry.
And I saw it.
I never knew what terror was...
until I saw it.
And they kept playing that video...
and over.
And I can only think to myself,
there was an incident...
a few months prior where... [SNIFFLES]
...I went into the store with my mom.
My mother had paid for some candy bars,
and she said,
"Okay, I'm gonna go back outside.
I need you to go back in there
and get your brother a candy bar."
And so I go back into the store.
I had the bag.
The receipt was in the bag.
I get the candy,
and I have my head down
'cause I'm...
I'm counting my money.
There was... a hooker in the store,
and she's yelling, "Uh-uh!Uh-uh!
Hold on, hold on, hold on.
Her momma outside.
I'm gonna go get her momma."
I look up,
and the lady got the gun cocked.
And I'm looking down this barrel.
My mom runs into the store,
and she said, "Uh-uh, she paid for this.
Here's the receipt.
Here's the money for this candy bar.
Tybie, let's go.
You tell your friends
do not come back to this store,
'cause this woman's gonna kill somebody."
This was something that we got used to.
Youget used to it,
and what people don't realize is
that wasn't the first time
that lady tried to pull something
on one of the kids in that neighborhood.
And I remember telling Tasha
a few days later,
I said, "Yeah,
my mom said don't go back to that store.
You know, she pulled that gun out again,"
and Tasha was all, "You know, she always
doing that, but she don't never...
She's never pulled the trigger.
So don't trip.
She just do that to scare us."
So I didn't think about it.
But when I saw what I saw on TV...
I felt bad'cause I was like...
[VOICE CRACKING] "I told her.
Why didn't she listen?"
[CRIES] I had that bad feeling
like something...
This lady's gonna do something.
I just don't know what it is.
Every time we would go into that store,
whether it's me,
whether it was her,
whether it was Shinese,
whether it was any of the other kids
in this neighborhood,
we always had to go in there and like,
"Okay. Just be prepared.
You gonna get hit with something.
It's just what?
They're gonna call us monkeys this time,
or they gonna follow us around the store,
or they gonna just put us out
just because?"
But I saw that, and I just... I don't...
I shut down.
[CRIES] I shut down for a long time.
TY: Sometimes I think,
"How did I get this far,
and she's not here?"
I know she'd be married by now.
She loved the fellas.
She probably would have three...
two, three kids by now
and would be riding 'em,
especially if she had a daughter.
She'd be an awesome mother.
Had she been here...
yeah, I'd probably be a lawyer.
Actually, no,
I would be a lawyer right now.
We would own some businesses.
We would have some activities for the kids
that's in this neighborhood
to go somewhere, to do something.
"'Latasha's Shield.'
I am very reliable
and trustworthy, honest.
I like that I am confident about myself.
I have a lot of talent, and I know
whatever I set my mind on something,
I'm going to accomplish it.
I show people that I care
by giving what I have to people
who actually need it.
I also show I care
by showing respect to all adults
and ones my age and younger.
I know I care.
What I want most in life is
to fulfill my goal to be an attorney
and to also graduate from high school...
...and also to graduate from high school
with an almost perfect GPA
to go to college.
The most important thing to me
is my family is always protected
by a shield,
so that...
so they won't be...
harmed by dangerous,
ruthless, uncaring people.
If I had one wish,
it would be to get my mother back to me.
Three descriptive words
my friends would say and probably give me
are caring, sharing,
and very polite to others.
Latasha Harlins, February 6th, 1991."
DIRECTOR: What do you think
about that poem, Shinese?
What I think about the poem? It's her.
It's everything that I just had said.
It's clarif--
it's clarification what I just...
had talked about.
You know, who she was.
That's what that poem is.
And I haven't read that poem...
in such a long time
that I even forgot that,
you know, it was valid. It was here.
I totally forgot that... [SNIFFLES]
...she wrote it.
SHINESE: People don't know that.
They just know
that she was just a young Black girl
who was worth $1.79.
They don't know
who she was as an individual.
They don't know.
I'm gonnaalways remember
some of the conversations we had.
Some I'm gonna forget,
but I'm trying my best to hold on to them.
I pushed so much out
because it was painful
to see one of my best friends
leave so soon.
She was a loving person.
I still appreciate her
for being who she was back then.
SHINESE: She was aware of her color
and accepted it.
"We queens." "I ain't no queen.
I got no damn crown on my head."
She's like,
"No, stupid. We queens.
The only way we gonna get treated
like we're queens
is if we carry ourselves that way.
There's nothing that I can't do
once I put my mind to it.
My mother would tell me that,
so I believe that."
And just, that was her drive.
That's what kept her going.
You're so strong.
Where did that strength come from?
And again, we're kids. We're children.
I know everyone goes some day
I know my body's fragile
Know it's made from clay
But if I have to go
I pray my soul is still eternal
And my momma don't forget about me
I pray my momma don't forget about me
I pray my granny don't forget about me
I know everyone goes some day
I know my body's fragile...