Ameena Matthews for President

In Steve James’ powerful documentary “The Interrupters,” that debuted on “Frontline” tonight, a star and leader and role model was introduced to the nation in the form of Ameena Matthews.

Her boss, Tio Hardman of the Chicago-based CeaseFire says, “I look at Ameena as the 21st century Harriet Tubman.”

But Matthews, speaking to reporters at the TV Critics’ winter press tour last month in California, said it’s only something she started five years ago.

“I was called by someone that I used to hustle with back in the day,” she says. “And he had asked me to help him with this conflict.”

A mother had called to say “My son is loading up the gun and he’s going to go up there and shoot these guys that beat up my other son,” she says.

“So got into the head of this little young guy and his mom, and we got the money and got him out of town. “

There was a happy ending. “He’s in Atlanta, in his third year in college at Morehouse,” Matthews says.

Soon after that, she was invited to join the team and has since found she could defuse potentially violent situations with her persuasive, and street-smart arguments.

“Everybody has different attributes, and mine is, I would say, communication,” Matthews says. But, she adds, “I did not know that I had that [skill] until recently. I just knew that something that needed to be done.

“And if I can stand up first and say, ‘Look, this is what I want, and this is what needs to happen, and you don’t have to kill anybody to resolve a conflict.’”

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