Morello says his mother, now a retired teacher, was always involved with civil rights and anti-censorship issues. She founded Parents for Rock and Rap before Rage formed. In fact, she helped shape her son’s first political action before he started grade school after an older white girl spewed racial taunts at him on the playground.
“I’d come home crying about the latest incident and my mom would talk to me about Malcolm X, and how I could respond to it,” Morello recalls. “My mom said, ‘Whenever somebody says that N-word’—and she gave me a list of some others—‘never let them get away with it. When she does that tomorrow, I want you to make a little fist and slug her.’
"And I went: ‘Slug her?’ ”
“She said: ‘Slug her.’
"The next day I went to the playground, and I was very nervous because I figured it was coming. This kid was mean. I got name-called, and I slugged her, and a little riot ensued in the day-care center. But her mother came, and I stood there, with arms crossed beaming from ear to ear as I watched her mom wash her mouth out with soap. And that was the last time that I had an incident.”