The latest episode of Pushback, the podcast co-produced by Philly Mag and WURD, is now available. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or check it out below.
Larry Krasner, the Democratic nominee for district attorney of Philadelphia, has a higher profile today than he’s ever had. The New York Times, Atlantic, Slate, The Nation and Fusion are just a handful of the national media outlets that have profiled the criminal defense attorney who sued the city government and its police department more than 70 times. Most of the recent articles about Krasner have centered on politics and not his personhood, which, in an election cycle, kind of makes sense. But who he is and what informs his unique theories on justice — the backstory of an unlikely political heavyweight, should he prevail in the November 7th general election — has largely flown under the radar. At least until now.
In the latest episode of Pushback — a collaborative podcast (produced by WURD Radio and Philadelphia magazine and hosted by Malcolm Burnley and I that profiles those in Philadelphia and beyond who go against the grain in pursuit of fairness, equality and justice — Krasner is profiled in his most human form (he showed up wearing A Tribe Called Quest-inspired socks). Politics is certainly discussed, but the conversation is largely dominated by his personal history.To get know to Krasner better, you’ll need to listen to the entire podcast. But for a snapshot, here are five things you likely didn’t know about him:
- He Was a Spanish Language Major in College and Used That Skill on the Campaign Trail: Voters were impressed by Krasner when during the campaign he provided answers to questions germane to immigration enforcement in Spanish as well as in English (Krasner’s grandfather, who was born in Russia, spoke four languages). As to why he pursued Spanish as a bachelor’s degree decades ago, Krasner said he loved the language and literature but also knew there’d be a lot of people speaking Spanish in the future. In the general election, the Krasner campaign will likely print campaign literature in both English and Spanish.
- All of His Uncles, and His Father, Served in War: Krasner’s father, who was born Mr. William Krasner in 1917, was of Russian-Jewish heritage and volunteered for Pearl Harbor after the bombing. In fact, all of Krasner’s uncles served overseas, either in Germany, Europe or the Pacific, and some never made it back home (they were buried with medals and an American flag on their coffins). His father, one of the Krasners who did make it back home, used the GI Bill to get a college education. Krasner’s father obtained a degree in creative writing and went on to produce journalism, books, government reports and television.
- He Considered Following in His Mother’s Footsteps and Going to Divinity School: Krasner’s mother, born in 1922 to a farming family in Troy, Missouri, graduated high school at 16 years of age. Post-graduation, she became a tent-preacher and later went to God’s Bible College and Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Krasner had considered going to divinity school, but was persuaded by his brother to become a lawyer because he liked to argue. “I kinda like a showdown about something that matters to me,” Krasner, who did some debating in junior high, said.
- He Thinks Lynne Abraham was Worse Than Seth Williams: Seth Williams, the former Philadelphia district attorney who’s now in a federal detention center awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to corruption, couldn’t count Krasner among his supporters. When campaigning, Krasner rarely, if ever, spoke favorably about the DA’s office or the man he hopes to succeed. But as a terrible as Williams was, Krasner thinks Lynne Abraham, who preceded Williams, was far worse. “You want to find the bottom of the barrel, that’s where the bottom of the barrel is,” he said of Abraham, who, due to her penchant for the death penalty, was coined “America’s deadliest DA” by the New York Times.
- He Wasn’t Always Against the Death Penalty: Never pursuing the death penalty was one of Krasner’s top campaign promises. He’s opposed to it, and has been for more than 30 years. But there was a time when he felt as though it could perhaps be appropriate, depending on the crime. However, after serving on a jury in a high-profile murder case and then finishing law school, he forever felt drastically different.