Chris Darden’s Daughter: Yep, My Grandpa Told My Dad Not to Take the O.J. Case

Malcolm Jamal Warner did his thing in
Bronco chase scenes as Al Cowlings.
Source: FX 
By Jenee Darden

The Bronco chase in The People vs. O.J. Simpson was something else! I don’t know about you but I was on the edge of my seat thinking "dayummmmm "while watching episode 2 of The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Everyone remembers where they were that Friday, June 17, 1994. It was exactly one month to my 15th birthday. I lived in Oakland with mother and my father lived in LA. Knowing me I was probably writing in my journal or doing homework while the NBA Finals were playing in the background. I do remember my mother being sucked into the coverage and saying, “Ooooh I gotta call Chris.” We always called my dad for the 411 on celebrity, legal drama. No way in the world I thought this would affect my father’s life and my life. Here’s my breakdown for this episode:

In the beginning you see my dad’s boss, the Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti popping off at Robert Shapiro. I met Gil Garcetti during the trial. The man was sharp, but that’s not conveyed in the show. Garcetti wore the nicest suit I had ever seen on a man. We were in his office, which had an amazing view of the city. He was tall, friendly, but you could feel the power he carried. I ran into him about 13 years later in LA. His vibe totally changed. I’ll tell you about that in a later post.

You see my father driving an old Toyota and pulling into my grandparents’ home. First, my father is serious about his cars looking fly. I’ve always known him to drive nicer looking cars. They may not have been luxury cars all of the time, but his ride always sparkled. But a few relatives reminded me that he was actually driving a Benz around that time. Second, although that house looks more to me like a Southern California neighborhood, that’s supposed to be up north in Richmond, Calif. The actor playing my grandpa doesn’t look like him, but he has Grandpa’s no nonsense, straight-forward attitude.

My grandparents who just celebrated their 64th wedding
anniversary. Can't you tell my grandpa don't play?
My grandpa is a retired Army veteran from Texas who grew up in the segregated South. He jumped out of planes for sport, before it became a cool thing to do. And he raised nine kids. Grandpa don’t play. The paparazzi learned Grandpa don’t play when they came snooping around my grandparents.

There’s a scene at the end where Grandpa tells my father to “stay the hell away from this” case. That’s pretty true. My grandfather told my dad not to take the  O.J. case. He thought they wouldn’t win with O.J.’s star power and racial tensions at that time. He was right.

Contrary to what you saw in the show, my father was in LA during the Bronco chase, not the Bay Area.

The miniseries gets it right about my father’s views on O.J. He was a fan of O.J. as an athlete. He also said that O.J. hardly gave back to the black community once he became famous. O.J. grew up in the projects in San Francisco. My father grew up about 30 minutes away in a tough, Richmond neighborhood. Two black men from similar neighborhoods who made it out, going against each other. It was deep.

There are scenes with the Kardashian kids watching the Bronco chase. Some people complain showing them is getting to be too much, The scene where they were chanting the Kardashian name was cheesy. However, younger people who weren’t around during this time need to know that the name Kardashian was famous before Kim. I don’t know if Kim Kardashian’s sex tape with Ray J would’ve been popular if we had never heard of Robert Kardashian Sr. Their father played a major role in them becoming famous.

Speaking of Robert Kardashian, wouldn’t you want a friend like him? He held O.J. down until the end! The same goes with Al “A.C.” Cowlings. Can you imagine being chased by the cops, while your friend has a gun to his head? You’re trying to save your life and your friend’s life. Crazy. Malcolm Jamal Warner was AWESOME as A.C. Those scenes took some serious, emotional energy. Cowlings has gone under the radar since the trial. Warner said he auditioned to play my dad. Hmmm…I wonder.

What fascinates me most about this episode is how we see race, class and celebrity play out. O.J. had a gun. But the highway patrolmen who caught them on the freeway said they would need permission to shoot him. While Cochran talks about the family of a black man he represented. He was shot and killed by the police while speeding to take the mother of his unborn baby to the delivery room. I always wonder does class and celebrity trump race. If O.J. was Oscar Jenkins from Compton, on the run after being the suspect of a double homicide with a GUN, the police would’ve shot him and his driver.

Did you notice how Cuba Gooding’s O.J. character uses his celebrity charm to ease the police while on the car phone during the chase? It seems he may not choose suicide once he sees fans on the highway cheering him on. Somebody please just give Cuba Gooding Jr. his Emmy now.

A major character in this film is THE MEDIA. The media blew this story up. They interrupted the NBA Finals to show the Bronco case. O.J. Simpson was more important than the NBA Finals. O.J. Simpson was more important the deaths of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown.

Sadly this became much more than a murder trial.



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