Compton to Carson: Jason Frierson’s historic path to power

It was the summer Jason Frierson graduated high school that N.W.A. dropped its debut album, “Straight Outta Compton.”

It detailed, in visceral terms, life in a part of Los Angeles where gangs, drugs and violence ruled the streets. When an 18-year-old Frierson set foot on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno in the summer of 1988 for his first day of classes, Compton was the town he left behind.

Nearly three decades have come and gone, and Frierson, now 46, is poised to take office next month as the first African-American speaker of the Nevada Assembly.

“I remember this very office,” Frierson said in a recent interview in the speaker’s office at the Legislature, reminiscing on a meeting with Democratic Speaker Barbara Buckley in 2007. “I sat in here and I was speechless, I didn’t even know what to say. I was like, ‘I’m sitting in the speaker’s office and I, I really don’t even know what to say. I just wanted to meet her on a one-on-one — and I’d met her before, but in this capacity…”

He paused, struggling with his words.

“It’s a little surreal,” he said.

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