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Remembering Ruth Pearl, Mother Of Slain Journalist Daniel Pearl


Now to the story of a life marked by resilience, the life of Ruth Pearl.


Pearl died last month. Nineteen years ago, her family suffered a horrific loss when her son, Daniel, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was murdered in Pakistan.


AMY GOODMAN: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is dead. The news came yesterday afternoon as several U.S. officials and the Pakistani police confirmed that a videotape had been found...

SHAPIRO: Daniel Pearl, who was Jewish, was reporting on the roots of terrorism when he was kidnapped and eventually beheaded. Ruth Pearl spent almost two decades transforming her grief into something positive.

KELLY: With her husband, she started the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which brought journalists from Muslim-majority countries to work in the U.S. As she told the University of Southern California in 2014, dehumanizing people is the first step on inviting violence.


RUTH PEARL: I'm sure the killers of Danny didn't have any sense of identifying with the humanity that connects us. For them, Daniel was an object. Humanizing people, just seeing the common humanity will be effective. The question - how do you achieve it?

SHAPIRO: One way she sought to achieve humanity was through a meal. Often journalists participating in the fellowship named for her son would visit Los Angeles and share a meal at the Pearls' home.

KELLY: One of those fellows was Amal Khan. She wrote last year in Arab News Pakistan that, with her husband, Ruth Pearl opened her home and, quote, "allowed me to become a part of their lives." And she added that Ruth Pearl, quote, "drove far too fast, was opinionated and strong, and would stop at nothing to tell the story of her son's life."

SHAPIRO: Daniel Pearl was also an accomplished musician. And Ruth Pearl kept his memory alive through music as well. In 2004, she spoke to NPR about the creation of an international concert series called the Daniel Pearl Music Day on what would have been his 39th birthday.


PEARL: Danny's passion for music and the power of music to bring hope out of despair led us to believe some good might come out of our private pain.

KELLY: Ruth Pearl was 85 when she died on July 20 at her home in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.