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Posted at 01:00 AM ET, 06/03/2011

Sister Souljah’s transformation from lightning rod to author

Sister Souljah at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April. (David Livingston/ Getty)

Sister Souljah: Bestselling author?

Hard to believe it’s been almost two decades since the little-known hip-hop artist shot to infamy after just one interview.

“I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” she told Washington Post reporter David Mills in 1992 shortly after the L.A. riots. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton denounced her. Predictably, all hell broke loose.

Two decades later, Souljah has transformed herself into an author, penning a memoir and a couple of well-received urban novels. On Thursday, she turned up at Martin Luther King Jr. Library to flack her newest book, “Midnight and the Meaning of Love,” with a reading and a one-hour Q&A, reports our colleague Aaron Leitko.

The reading was brief, and fans — about 100 people — began shuffling up to the mic. The vibe was mellow, like you could ask her anything, really. “Don’t worry about disagreeing with me, that’s cool,” she explained. “I’m a student of debate.”

One guy wanted to know if she was still considered herself a rapper. Indeed she does. “I think I’ll always be affiliated with hip-hop, because I’m part of hip-hop history,” Souljah told him. Another asked if she was still co-producing a film version of her first novel, “The Coldest Winter Ever,” with Jada Pinkett Smith? On hold, for the time being.

Then, the biggie. “I saw you on Phil Donahue,” said a woman in a pink top. “I think you said, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you thought there weren’t any good white people.”

It was a racially charged environment back then, Souljah explained calmly. She was just trying to emulate Malcolm X. And, she reminded the woman, that was a long time ago.

“As far as my videos that you see or that you YouTubed or whatever, I think it’s really interesting that people are watching videos from 22 or 25 years ago and coming to me as if these things happened just yesterday,” she said. “Oprah just retired. Oprah replaced Phil Donahue.”

By  |  01:00 AM ET, 06/03/2011

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