Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 08/01/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, what do
millennial voters really want?
Plus, a new journey for justice 50 years after the Voting Rights Act. And
the state accused of illegally segregating thousands of students. But
first, yet another video, yet another death at the hands of police.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry, and we begin today with the death
of Samuel Dubose. You can be forgiven if you haven`t been following all
the details of his story, if you couldn`t bring yourself to watch the
recording of the moment he died. Yet this week it all felt like too much.
After all, it was just a week ago we were here talking about Sandra Bland,
just a week ago there was another video, another minor traffic violation
that ended not with a ticket, but with a death.
The director of the Texas Department of Safety acknowledged it was the
officer`s responsibility to prevent the escalation of the encounter, and
the circumstances surrounding Sandra Bland`s death inside a jail cell are
still being investigated today. Another family burying a loved one and
struggling to make sense of it all. Maybe this week, in this moment, you
But Samuel Dubose`s life matters, and so does the story of how his life
came to an end. Samuel Dubose is an African American man who was unarmed
when she was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer
during a traffic stop on July 19, and this week, a grand jury indicted Ray
Tensing on charges of murder and manslaughter in Dubose`s death, after
spending all day on Monday reviewing evidence that included video of the
incident that was recorded on Tensing`s body cam.
Prosecutors in Hamilton County, which include the city of Cincinnati, made
the video available to the public during an announcement of the indictment
on Wednesday, and we`re going to pause the video before the shot is fired.
But I want to warn you, some viewers may still find it disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how it is going, man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how is it going.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Tensing. UC police. You have your license on
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, what happened, (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this your car?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s coming back to a female, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s my wife, her name is Sandra Beasley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. You don`t have a front license plate on the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it`s in my glove box, I have it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. That`s got to go where the front plate is
supposed to go. You don`t have to reach for it. It`s okay. Do you have a
license on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s that bottle on the floor there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a bottle of air freshener.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smell it, it`s air freshener.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Do you your license on you? Okay. Do you know
– (inaudible) – or what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. I`m going to ask you again, do you have your
license on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have my license. You can run my name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you do not have your license on you? I`m asking you
a direct question, do you have your license on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I did. Why did you pull me over for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, the front tag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not illegal not to have a front tag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Actually it is. I`m going to ask you again, do
you have a license on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a license. You can run my name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Is that not on you, then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think I have it on me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be straight up with me, are you suspended?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I`m not suspended.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then why don`t you have your license on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don`t, I`m sorry for that. I`m fixing to go in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Where do you stay at? Down here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right around the corner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I still haven`t figured out if you have a license
or not. Go ahead and take your seat belt off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and take your seat belt off. Stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Just moments later Tensing fired a shot, hitting Dubose in
the head. At some point, the car accelerates forward. Another officer who
arrived on the scene after the shooting wrote in the police report about
Tensing`s account of what happened. “Officer Tensing said that he was
almost run over by the driver of the Honda Accord and was forced to shoot
the driver with his duty weapon. Officer Tensing stated that he fired a
single shot. Officer Tensing repeated that he was being dragged by the
vehicle and had to fire his weapon.”
While the tape does not show him being dragged, additional video from body
cams worn by two other officers who responded to the scene, shows both
officers appearing to corroborate Tensing`s account of what happened, but
in a series of strongly worded statements during the announcement of
charges, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters, who told the Cincinnati
Enquirer he would personally prosecute the case, argued that video told a
very different story and refuted Tensing`s version of the events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE DETERS, HAMILTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: This is the most asinine act I`ve
seen a police officer make. Totally unwarranted. In the vernacular, a
pretty chicken crap stop, all right? And I could use harsher words, but
nonetheless, if he`s starting to roll away, just seriously let him go. He
didn`t do anything violent towards the officer. He wasn`t dragging him.
And he pulled out his gun and intentionally shot him in the head. This
office has probably reviewed upwards of 100 police shootings, and this is
the first time that we thought this is without question a murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: On Wednesday, Tensing turned himself in for arrest. The
University of Cincinnati after initially placing him on administrative
leave following the shooting, announced that he`d been fired. The union
representing the UC police have since filed a grievance demanding his job
back on the grounds he was fired without due process, and Tensing appeared
Thursday in a Hamilton County court in Cincinnati, where he was arraigned
before a judge who set bail at $1 million. Tensing`s attorney entered a
plea of not guilty on his behalf, and he later reiterated Tensing`s claim
of what happened during the encounter with Dubose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM S. MATTHEWS II, ATTORNEY FOR TENSING: His interpretation from the
crime that`s happened is that he was dragged by that car and thrown off it,
and I believe that once we get witnesses or get some – get an expert to
evaluate that tape, we will be able to substantiate that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was in fear for his life at the time–
MATTHEWS: Absolutely, he was. He thought he was going to die. He thought
he would be sucked under that car and run over as it was pulling away from
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that`s why he fired?
MATTHEWS: That`s why he fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: On Thursday, Tensing, who had been held in a protective unit
on suicide watch, was released after he posted bond, and according to the
Cincinnati Enquirer, court records indicate his father posted just over
$100,000 to get his son out of jail. Tensing is the first officer in
Cincinnati to face a charge for murder for killing someone in the line of
duty. If convicted of murdering Samuel Dubose, he could face life in
Here with me today is Jon Shane, associate professor of criminal justice at
John Jay College and retired captain of the New York Police Department.
Jamelle Bouie, staff writer at Slate, and Alicia Garza, co-creator of the
hashtag black lives matter.
And joining me from Cincinnati is Ohio State Senator and former Cincinnati
police officer Cecil Thomas. Mr. Thomas, I wanted to start with you. You
spent 27 years on the Cincinnati police force, what do you see when you
watch the Dubose video?
CECIL THOMAS, FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR AND FORMER POLICE OFFICER: Well,
obviously, what I saw was clearly a miscarriage of justice. But I want to
preface that with the fact that this is an untreated cancer that has been
going on in America ever since we had modern policing. Fortunately now,
we`re beginning to see simply because of the techniques, I should say the
technology that we have today, cameras are capturing all of these
incidents. The minority communities, as well as folks that are poor, have
been screaming this kind of violence going on for a long time within those
communities. It went unabated, and now we`re beginning to see with our own
eyes, thanks to cameras, body cameras and things of that nature. What I
saw was an officer obviously making serious tactical mistakes. He
HARRIS-PERRY: So one of the things, let me come for a minute to another
guest, Jon Shane, because I think the point that the state senator is
making is one we`ve heard from many people. Now we have cameras and now we
have them, this kind of clear evidence, but that has not been true across
the question of indictment, we do in fact sometimes have things on camera
and yet people see them differently. I want to ask you the same question I
asked the state senator, John. When you see that video, what do you see?
JON SHANE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CRIMINAL JUSTICE: There is a couple of
things. First, I do not see probable cause to use deadly force. I looked
at that video a number of different times, shorter versions, longer
versions. He does not have probable cause to use deadly force as the law`s
written and from a policy perspective. That`s absolutely unequivocally
clear to me. However, there are some mitigating circumstances that you
have to look closely for, and some micro movements and things to listen for
that won`t sustain a charge of murder. Perhaps they are going to get
manslaughter, and if the defense crafts something very, very, very well
about some tactical issues, they can perhaps put forward a real good
defense, but I don`t see a charge of murder.
You can see Dubose begin to resist a little bit. The officer has some
reasonable suspicion in terms of the stop. He begins to close the door on
himself at the same time he starts the car, tells him he`s not going to get
out of the car. Those are some mitigating circumstances that will weigh in
favor of reducing the charge.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before we come back to you, State Senator, because I think
for many of us who watched this video, particularly in the context of all
these videos we have been seeing, it`s hard to hear from Jon Shane on this,
not that we shouldn`t, we absolutely should, but it`s hard to hear that our
legal system might in fact look at this video and see mitigating
circumstances, because what I see is someone who ended up shot in the head
when they were stopped for a front license plate, and I think – I guess
part of what I`m trying to figure out is there any policy in the end that
keeps something like this from happening? Are there policing practices
that create a situation where someone can be stopped for something this
small and not end up killed?
THOMAS: Well, obviously, training is the most important factor here.
Especially when it comes to a citizen acting in the way the gentleman
acted. We have de-escalation skills training that easily could have
addressed that problem had the officer used those de-escalation skills.
Instead the officer chose to use improper police policies and procedures by
reaching into the vehicle. That was an immediate mistake.
I just think that when you watch that video, you clearly see tactical
errors. We have a culture of policing that once you hit the street, you
start to forget your training. You start utilizing your own techniques,
not only do you endanger yourself but you endanger the citizens, and you
end up with the kind of results we have facing us now.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you this.
THOMAS: My most important –
HARRIS-PERRY: How common do you think those supposed tactical errors are
in just the routine daily practice of policing?
THOMAS: Well, it`s very common, and that`s what, if you look at most
incidents involving officer-involved shootings, you would notice that there
were very tactical errors on many occasions. That incident in Texas, that
officer lost control of the situation, simply by losing control of himself.
He allowed the other individual to control him, and when he lost control,
all those other things happened. He could have easily de-escalated that
situation, but instead he tried to extract the individual from the vehicle.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to come back to the exactly this idea, Jon, quick
on this, because the other thing that happens is at the end of the tape we
can then hear these two other campus police officers in conversation. It
sounds like what is happening is they are corroborating a story, that
again, for many of us that`s not what we see when we look at the video.
Neither of those police officers right now have been charged by the grand
jury. If you listen to the end of the Sandra Bland video, it sounds like
you have an officer who is calling in and talking with their supervisor
about how to tell the story about what`s happened here. In addition to the
individual officer making these choices, I guess part of what I`m asking
is, is there evidence in either of these videos of systematic attempts to
cover up what has happened?
SHANE: Not necessarily. We certainly don`t have all the facts on how these
other officers came to play. I don`t see them presented in the video at
the scene in any way, so my question is where do they come into play as
corroborating the officer`s story? Where were they at the moment the shots
were fired? I don`t see them anyplace. They show up later on, and they
want to talk about the scene. Are they just parroting what the officer was
saying, or are they actually saying I have factual knowledge that this
occurred? There is a big difference. They may just be saying this is what
so and so was telling me. I don`t know. I`m here to protect the crime
scene, but I don`t see where they were at the moment the shots were fired.
HARRIS-PERRY: Everybody, stick with me. When we come back, I want to get
a couple more voices in on this and also ask you all what you`re seeing in
that video, but also up next, why police reforms were not enough to save
Samuel Dubose`s life.
HARRIS-PERRY: This was the scene in Cincinnati in April of 2001. Days of
protest and unrest after an unarmed black teenager was killed by a police
officer. 14 years later, the Cincinnati police department has emerged as a
national model for community policing, and that is due in large part to a
policy put in place following a Department of Justice probe and under a
unique collaborative agreement between the police force and community
leaders in Cincinnati in the wake of the unrest. But those reforms did not
save Samuel Dubose. He was killed not by a member of the Cincinnati police
department, but an officer with the University of Cincinnati police, a
distinction that Ohio prosecutor Joe Deters makes all the difference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DETERS: I graduated from U.C. twice. It`s a wonderful university. I love
their president. But they are not cops. And we have a great police
department in Cincinnati, probably the best in Ohio, and I talked to the
chief about it today, and I said, you know, you guys should be doing this
stuff. Being police officers is – shouldn`t be the role of this
university. I don`t think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: U.C. officers receive the same training and certifications
as Cincinnati city officers, and under a mutual aid agreement with the
city, they have the authority to police communities surrounding the campus,
but the university police have not been a part of this collaborative
policing agreement. Now, that may be about to change, as the University of
Cincinnati begins reconsidering their policing policies, including possibly
signing onto the agreement that changed the city`s approach to policing
over a decade ago.
Jamelle, I want to come to you on this, because it feels like it`s about
those multiple layers of policing that occur often on black bodies. Here
on the one hand, you have the Cincinnati police, held up as a national
model, but this young man shot and killed by somebody under that purview
but different, and I just kept thinking about Marcus Johnson (ph) and the
ABC police at the University of Virginia, and thinking about the gentlemen
who was shot to death by the ride-along, Robert Bates in Tulsa. How many
layers of policing do we have to get to before we get to some level of
JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE: That`s a really (inaudible) question, I don`t know
how many layers we have to change and modify before you get to a good full
spectrum solution. I will say that I think part of the issue – and this
is especially true in university towns – is you do have these entirely
separate institutional cultures. Right? The Cincinnati police department
may be a model and it may have developed great practices in concert with
the Justice Department, but the university police not a part of that, and
moreover, the entire institution of the university, the universities do
maintain some sort of exclusivity. There are people who are part of the
university and people who are not. So if you are tasked with policing
those boundaries, and university police officers often are, that, I think,
that in itself creates a recipe for these kinds of interactions.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you see policing those boundaries, that feels
critically important to me, because it does feel like what is happening is
policing of boundaries, not of crime. What is the crime on college
campuses? There is crime on college campuses, primarily property crime.
Mostly your bike may get stolen, your car may get broken into, and of
course campus sexual assault. But almost none of that has anything to do
with the kind of traffic stop that we saw here.
ALICIA GARZA, CO-CREATOR, BLACKLIVESMATTER: That`s right. Most of the
time what you also see in these types of climates is decision making about
who belongs there and who doesn`t. So I think what we saw here was a real
level of discomfort around what are you actually doing here? Do you
actually have a license?
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
GARZA: Even though he said very clearly, I do have a license, you can run
my name, I just don`t have it on me.
HARRIS-PERRY: How many of us have walked out – I just want to pause, how
many of us walked out of our home and don`t happen to have your license on
you? One should not be killed for that.
GARZA: I do it all the time. To be honest, we also see in the video is
Dubose is starting to become terrified, and because there is this national
attention around police murders, you see him actually try to, it seems like
he`s trying to protect himself. He says this is not going well, and I got
to get out of here, and to be quite honest with you, I don`t blame him.
HARRIS-PERRY: This point feels critical to me. Let me go back to you,
State Senator. You sponsored the Senate bill 23, which in many ways looks
like this model of Cincinnati policing we have talked about, creating
mechanisms for data collection, de-escalation techniques which you talked
about in the last segment, cultural sensitivity. But I got to tell you,
part of what I see when I look at the video is we consistently think it is
reasonable for armed officers to be afraid of ordinary unarmed citizens,
who happen to be in black bodies, but we don`t seem to think it`s
reasonable for unarmed ordinary black citizens to be afraid of police
officers, who are armed, and when we know what the cultural space is that
we`re in now and until we make some room for the fear that so many of us
feel in a moment like that?
THOMAS: Well, absolutely. The issue, the bottom line issue – I should
say the solution is a culture of accountability that has to be established
from the top down involving law enforcement. That culture of
accountability has not been there throughout my 27-year career. It really
wasn`t there, simply because of the subculture of policing that pretty much
drives a lot of the cultures within police departments.
The body cameras are now beginning to be a mechanism by which you begin to
establish a thought of well, maybe we need to have more oversight of what
is going on out there with those officers on the streets. As we see in
South Carolina, where the gentleman, the officer shot the gentleman in the
back, picked up the taser, walked it over to the gentleman and dropped it
down. My understanding that he had already been exonerated by his own
police department. Had it not been for that video camera, that officer
would have continued on doing his job as usual. Other officers around,
these officers that indicated that the officer was, they saw the officer
being dragged, there is a huge question not just with the officer that
commits the offense.
THOMAS: There are other officers around that see and say nothing. That`s
where the real problem is. So how do we establish a culture of
HARRIS-PERRY: And thank you so much, State Senator Cecil Thomas in
Cincinnati, Ohio, both for your continued work on policing there in
Cincinnati, but also on taking us to precisely the place where we will go
in our next block, which is about those remaining questions about the
arrest and death of Sandra Bland. And we will talk more about whether or
not there is a culture of accountability.
HARRIS-PERRY: In January, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof offered
advice to #blacklivesmatter activists, via a tweet saying activists perhaps
should focus less on Michael Brown and more on shooting of 12-year-old
Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Kristof was roundly criticized for the
implication of his advice. I even sent a letter to him on this program,
because the implication seemed to be that the only way to make victims of
police violence worthy of justice was by erasing any traces of fallible
humanity in their lives. Maybe in the case of Sandra Bland, even in their
deaths. Last week, the vacuum of unanswered questions about what exactly
happened to Sandra Bland was filled with unsubstantiated conspiracy
theories, among them the suggestion that her death was the direct result of
someone else`s actions rather than by her own doing, as the medical
We don`t know yet whether the results of the investigation will agree with
the autopsy results about how she died, but even if Sandra Bland`s death
turns out not to fit the perfect narrative of how police violence claims
black lives, it would make her no less the victim of an imperfect and
Joining me now from Cleveland, Ohio, is former State Senator Nina Turner.
And I wanted to ask you about this a bit, because it feels like we`re still
looking for perfect victims, and I just want to be able to say, if Sandra
Bland died even at her own hand, the system is still culpable, responsible
for her death.
NINA TURNER, FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: Professor, there are no perfect
people, all of sin and come short of the glory of God, all may not have
been caught or revealed. And so it abysmal that anybody would try to
victimize the victim by trying to pull up her record or any history she may
I would encourage anyone who has not looked at sister Sandra Bland`s
January 14 Facebook video, Professor, where she speaks in her words and she
talks about her relationship with God, she talks about wanting to help the
children, and she also talks about making sure that young people understand
the relationship that they have, and I think she said with some of the most
important people to our survival. She was talking about police officers.
In her Sandy speaks, she was speaking the words of what she thought her
mission was to be on this earth. She said I`m here to make history, and my
God, is she even making history in the grave. But it is unconscionable for
anybody to try to blame the victim, and only black folks and poor folks and
other people of color, do we have to have a pristine background in order
for us to get some justice. It is wrong in every single way, Professor.
HARRIS-PERRY: Part of what I want to draw is this idea that again,
whatever we learn about the last moments of her life, I guess I worry, I
hear from Nina Turner there like the power of who this woman was, and even
if in the end, as a result of these interactions, she ends up dead in her
own hands, that is nonetheless a stripping out of the black life, even if
she`s not the perfect strong black woman who could withstand all things.
GARZA: I think that`s right. What I think we see happening here is a
justified reaction to what are questionable circumstances around her arrest
and then her subsequent jailing and then her subsequent death. And so to
me, it`s less a question of whether she did or didn`t take her life by her
own hands, but why was she there in the first place?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Why three days later, Jon Shane, I want to come to
you on this, why three days later is someone who is pulled over for an
illegal lane change in custody?
SHANE: That seems to be some sort of a procedural flaw. Especially – I
am basing this now on my experience from different states. You don`t have
the right to keep somebody in custody beyond the time that you can get them
bail, and to wait three days to get somebody bail sounds like something
broke down somewhere. I mean, it doesn`t negate the probable cause that
the officer had to make the arrest, however, why she remained in custody
for three days is perplexing to me, especially for something so trivial.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nina Turner, I want to come back to you on that, I suppose -
- We heard calls in New York City and across the country for bail reform as
a result of Kalif Broader`s (ph) suicide, that occurred after he spent
three years without actually being convicted of a crime there in Rikers.
Is it also time, if we are censuring black women`s vulnerability to
violence in the black lives matter movement, to also now talk about bail
reform at another level? Again, the idea she would need to have be bailed?
TURNER: We have to lift that voice. You know, when I was at the Netroots
conference when the mamas took over, and we talked a few months ago during
Mother`s Day about the mama`s movement. The mamas took over that netroots.
I was right there in the moment. Can`t nobody speak the truth like the
mamas, and I don`t mean mama in the sense they birthed a child in the
world, but the strength and the power and the passion and the authority
that comes from women, and these women, young women from the African
American community, saying say her name. We don`t talk enough about what
is happening in terms of violence against African American women. We march
in the street for our men, and my God, we should, but it`s time also to
rise up for the sisters, and that`s what say her name is all about.
Professor, every fiber of our being should ache. This is not just an
African American problem, this is an American problem, and it doesn`t start
or end with law enforcement officers, who are really a reflection of the
racism, institutional racism in the United States of America. Sandra Bland
was somebody`s baby, somebody`s friend, somebody`s aunt, a person who loved
and cried, had feelings like everybody from the richest person to the
poorest person. All of us have feelings and never should a victim`s
feeling rise to the top in terms of trying to critique whether or not they
deserve justice or not.
HARRIS-PERRY: Indeed. Thank you to Nina Turner for as always bringing all
the fire and analysis from Cleveland, Ohio this morning. Thank you for
TURNER: Thank you, Professor.
HARRIS-PERRY: Also, thank you to Jon Shane. Jamelle and Alicia are
Up next, the black lives matter movement and the ballot. You just heard
from Nina Turner that they made it happen at Netroots. Can their message
resonate and will it impact the 2016 campaign?
HARRIS-PERRY: Black lives matter, and in 2016 so, too, will black votes
matter, which means this year`s crop of presidential contenders in both
political parties are learning they must contend with the growing influence
of a social movement focused on creating accountability and equity within
the American criminal justice system. Two weeks after black lives matter
activists confronted candidates at a Netroots Nation conference, it appears
the Democratic candidates have realized they will have to grapple with
race, reform, and organizers directly. Hillary Clinton spoke yesterday at
the National Urban League`s conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Young people have taken to the
streets, dignified and determined, urging us to affirm the basic fact that
black lives matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And here is Senator Bernie Sanders at the same conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNARD SANDERS, I-VT.: Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric
Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Samuel Dubose – we know
their names. Each of them died unarmed at the hands of police officers or
in police custody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley also invoked black lives
matter in his National Urban League speech. He also unveiled a new
criminal justice reform plan that pledges to change sentencing laws and
require racial bias training for police officers.
One thing is clear, black lives matter as a movement is capable of setting
the agenda, changing the discourse, and as we move headlong into the
presidential election cycle, just how will black lives matter as a movement
engage the challenge of electoral politics? Joining my panel now, Kristen
Soltis Anderson, who is co-founder of Echelon Insights, a public opinion
and data analytics firm, and contributor for the Daily Beast. And Julian
Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.
Julian, I thought maybe you could set this thing in a historical context
for us just a tad. I hear the kind of discourse here about black lives
matter, and I`m not sure if I buy yet that these these candidates are
actually engaged with it, or if they just figured out, uh-oh, we`re not
going to really be able to run for president without talking about this.
JULIAN ZELIZER, PRINCETON: Yes, I mean, look, shallow engagement is still
worth something, meaning what the movement has done in remarkable fashion
with the clips is to put this issue on the agenda, to force the
conversation, and now you`re seeing the candidates are starting to react.
But you`re right, it`s just a beginning, and we saw this in the early `60s,
in the 1960 election, there was already discussion of civil rights. There
was in `56, but now kind of the push is to get to the next stage where
there`s going to be engagement in policy both in the election and what
comes after the election.
HARRIS-PERRY: We talk about the black lives matter movement as though it`s
a single entity, and it clearly isn`t. And I`m wondering the extent to
which there are debates about the value and efficacy of electoral politics
in general, about whether or not one should even seek to push a Bernie
Sanders or a Hillary Clinton to say these names.
GARZA: Sure, and I think black lives matter as a network is a part of a
broader movement for black lives in this country that doesn`t necessarily
have uniformity around the relationship that there should or could be to
What I do think is clear to everyone, is that we need to develop a strategy
that builds power, to be the able to change the conditions in our
communities, and that there are many different paths to building power, but
certainly, we have an opportunity in front of us with the 2016 elections,
where it`s incumbent upon us to force people who would seek our vote to
actually speak to our issues, rather than handing us a prepackaged list of
things that they think we care about. It`s important for them to engage
with our communities, to know more about what we care about and what we
want to see them do.
HARRIS-PERRY: So that does to me seem to be deeply important. And yet,
Jamelle, when I hear Hillary Clinton do her, the simple fact that black
lives matter, I just feel like oh, man, every time this happens, the stark
contrast between her and President Obama just reemerges. And obviously,
President Obama is not on the ticket again, although he indicated while in
Kenya he could probably win again if he wanted to, that there is this way
that I wonder if it, if in the end listening to them be flat in their
tonality around black lives matter, just makes you feel like you know what,
never mind, black lives may matter, but this election doesn`t.
BOUIE: I totally feel that, especially since Hillary Clinton in the
university of political speakers is not terribly thrilling.
HARRIS-PERRY: Man, that was a nice way of putting it. Yes.
BOUIE: But I`m with Julian here, even shallow commitments are very
important, and they do, you know, they do provide leverage for later on.
So the more Hillary Clinton talks about this, the more Bernie Sanders talks
about this, if President Hillary Clinton in 2017, is building – when she`s
building a domestic policy agenda, those statements are hook for activists
to be able to hold her accountable. And I`ll say I do expect her to talk
more about this, because the numbers just kind of require both parties to
actually vie for black votes. On the Democratic side, you look at
President Obama`s margins in 2012, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin,
Michigan are states he does not win, but have high black turnout, and for
the Republicans, if they can just get back to where W was in 2004, that`s
the election, that`s Ohio, that`s Florida.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, and not only could they get there by getting back to
those percentages of black voters, they could also just have black voters
not show up as much, and like this is not just about Democrats being
responsive, we`ve seen Republicans feeling like they need to talk about
this, as well.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, AUTHOR: You saw Jeb Bush come down to the
National Urban League meeting this week. I think Republicans are
understanding, especially in the wake of this debate that happened over the
confederate flag and the tragedy in Charleston, I think that was a really
big wakeup moment for a lot of Republicans who previously thought, I don`t
know that I`m comfortable weighing in on these issues, I don`t know that
these are the issues I should be talking about, especially given that I`m
focused on this primary. I think that was a real wakeup moment for some of
them. But I think on the other hand, they look and they see Bernie Sanders
gets sort of he has to walk off the stage. If Bernie Sanders can`t get it
right, what hope do we have? And I think there are a lot of Republicans
who, I don`t know if they even know how to begin trying to engage with the
movement or what that should look like, because of the fear if Democrats
can`t even do it right, what hope do we have?
HARRIS-PERRY: Martin O`Malley, no, the answer to black lives matter is not
white lives matter. That`s not, wrong answer. So whatever you do,
Democrat, Republican, that`s not the right answer. Julian, Jamelle and
Kristen are going to return later in the program. Thank you to Alicia
Garza, who I hope will come back again. And still to come, can the
Republican Party convince millennials to vote for them?
HARRIS-PERRY: Headlines this morning. California Governor Jerry Brown has
declared a state of emergency for counties in northern California hit by
raging wildfires. And a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service has died
while on the front lines of this firefight. More than a dozen wildfires
are burning across the state of California.
Also, a piece of plane debris believed to be from the Malaysia Airlines
flight that vanished 16 months ago was flown to Paris today for analysis.
The wing fragment washed up on the Indian Ocean Island of Reunion this
week. Investigators are hoping it will reveal clues as to what happened to
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and the 239 people on board.
Coming up, millennials and the ballot box, what the candidates should
consider when courting what our next guest calls the selfie vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: Who is afraid of millennials? Well, the GOP, for one, at
least they should be. Among young voters, they don`t exactly have a great
rep. One survey showed a group of young previous Obama voters considered
winnable by Republicans associated the party with words like close-minded,
racist, rigid, and old-fashioned. And by the way, there are a lot of those
young people, 87 million to be exact. By 2016, they will make up 36
percent of eligible voters. By 2020, that figure is expected to go up to
39 percent. In the past two elections, they voted overwhelmingly for
President Obama over the Republican challengers. And it would be unwise
for Democrats to take however their vote for granted. According to a
Fusion poll from January, more millennials identified as independents than
as members of either party. And a new book argues unaffiliated young
voters could be up for grabs for the GOP, as long as the Republicans play
their cards right.
Back with us is Kristen Soltis Anderson, author of “The Selfie Vote: Where
Millennials are Leading America and how Republicans Can Keep Up.” My
political science side says, unaffiliated doesn`t mean they are really up
for grabs, it means they are just not going to show up to vote, and that`s
bad for American democracy to have a whole generation of people who are
like on both parties.
ANDERSON: It`s bad that so many young voters feel like participating in
the process won`t mean anything for them, one way or the other. It doesn`t
really matter if I turn out to vote, that`s really depressing,
disheartening, but I think part of the reason why a lot of young voters are
choosing not to affiliate with a party is also that they don`t just like
labels, that they don`t like the baggage that they think comes certainly
with the Republican Party, but they don`t necessarily agree with 100
percent of the Democratic Party. The weird analogy I`ve used before, you
don`t have to buy a whole album anymore on iTunes. You can just pick and
choose a couple of songs here and there and make a playlist, and so a lot
HARRIS-PERRY: You don`t even have to buy them anymore.
ANDERSON: So for a lot of young voters, they may say well, I agree with
Republicans on some issues, but I can`t get over the gay marriage thing,
and so I don`t want to call myself a Republican. So I think figuring out
what to do with these voters that have rejected party labels is really
important for Republicans, because party ID, what label you wear really is
the best predictor of who you will vote for. So if these voters don`t have
the Democratic label on, there is a chance Republicans can begin to roll
back these really horrible margins they have seen among young voters in the
last two presidential elections.
HARRIS-PERRY: You talk about marriage equality, as the key issue, it`s one
of the ones that we can see is really not ideological, really is
generational, but the other thing about millennials is it`s one thing to
think about them as the college kids on campus, but the millennials are in
fact a generation that grows up with these wide economic disparities. They
are the most racially diverse generation to come into kind of American
political maturity. And if words like racist and old-fashioned are the
words they are associating with the Republican Party, even if they don`t
like labels, both seem like labels that are pretty hard for Republicans to
ANDERSON: Very much so. And consider that you can`t really separate the
diversity of this generation from Republican struggles with them. So if
you look at the exit polls, Mitt Romney won young white voters, white
millennials, Romney wins them, but he loses the youth vote by 23 points
overall, because this is such a diverse generation. So oftentimes when you
hear the Republican Party needs to work on its problems with – and you
talk about these different buckets of voters – this is all intertwined,
these are all related issues.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This is also true of their gender gap, which is
actually a gap driven by women of color, because in fact Mitt Romney also
wins white women and married women. Talk to me about Jeb Bush and Marco
Rubio. You say those are the two Republicans you think have a real chance
of drawing in these voters.
ANDERSON: I think in one sense, because both of them, they speak Spanish
fluently, I think at times they have tried to have maybe the softest
rhetoric on the immigration issue. I think that`s part of their potential
appeal. You`ve seen Marco Rubio very explicitly make this generational
argument, that he wants a new American century and he`s very young in the
race. So I think that`s why he has some potential. I think the reason Jeb
Bush has potential is that he is clearly, I mean, he was the one Republican
to show up at the National Urban League. I think he understands the
challenges the party and the party brand faces maybe better than any other
candidate, and also, he does things like when Hillary Clinton gives a
speech where she`s skeptical of Uber, Jeb Bush goes and gets in Uber in San
Francisco. So I think part of it is just showing up, and those are the two
candidates at the moment who are doing the best job of at least trying to
HARRIS-PERRY: So I have a quick hypothesis to run by you. I am maybe a
little less likely than some of my colleagues to think Hillary Clinton is a
really strong general election candidate, but the one population that I`m
convinced she might have a stronger shot with than even I expect, is with
young people, because it turns out my students, they don`t have – I`m
still mad with Hillary Clinton from the `90s, right, and they don`t have
any residual angst about her as a candidate. Is it possible that while
there is room for the Republicans, that actually she is the one – that for
Hillary Clinton, the millennials are the only group to which she could
actually be introducing herself?
ANDERSON: She certainly is introducing herself to this generation. Most
millennials, again this is folks who were born between 1980 and 1999, they
were in elementary or middle school during the Clinton administration, and
all of the baggage that came with that. But I do think that as she`s
introducing herself, this trustworthiness thing is going to be a big issue,
because so many millennials are both optimistic and cynical at the same
ANDERSON: They don`t feel like they can trust their political leaders, so
to the extent that they see somebody as maybe being kind of shifty or maybe
you can`t really trust them, I think that`s a big knock against them, and
it will be a big hurdle Hillary Clinton will have to overcome.
HARRIS-PERRY: Kristen will be back in our next hour.
And coming up, a Southern state accused of segregating some of its most
vulnerable students. Plus, why the president is putting children`s books
in barbershops, and as marchers prepare to gather at Edmund Pettus Bridge
this morning, why they and we as a nation are still fighting for the
ballot. More Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And this morning,
protesters are preparing to gather at the foot of the Edmon bridge in
Selma, Alabama and preparing to march once again for racial justice.
Fifty years ago, a group of activist were beaten and tear gassed, driven
off the same bridge * the man right to vote for African-Americans. It was
the images from that day half a century ago, bloody Sunday that changed a
political landscape in Washington D.C. and across the country and enabled
the passage of the voting right act less than six months later.
Today, protesters are striking out on another march also starting in Selma.
In 1965 marchers were walking to Montgomery 50 miles away. Today`s
protesters planned to go much further by a combination of walking and
riding buses, they will travel 860 miles arriving in Washington D.C. in six
They will expand their calls far beyond voting right in each state. They
will focus on a different social justice issue, economic inequality in
Alabama, education reform in Georgia. Criminal justice reform in South
Carolina, voting rights in North Carolina.
It`s in North Carolina where a federal court is right now hearing a
challenge the state`s worst in the nation, voter suppression law. That law
was the first passed after the Supreme Court got the voting right act and
allowed states like North Carolina to pass new voting laws without the
approval of a federal government.
After the stop in North Carolina and a youth rally in Virginia, the
marchers will then arrive in Washington D.C. when congress will have
reconvened after the August recess. It will bring their full list of
demands to the a day of lobbying in Capitol Hill.
And like the Moral Mondays movement launched in North Carolina, the
activist will try to bring all these issues together, part of a
comprehensive they called fusion movement but the key remains the right to
For all the recent rhetoric about racial unity in the face of violence and
confederate flags coming down, there is one clear thing that needs to be
done. We need congress to write a new formula for the Voting Rights Act.
One more time. We`re going to need a new formula for the Voting Rights Act
that was signed 50 years ago this week. We need the federal government to
stop states from suppressing the vote before the damage is done.
Here at the table, Kristen Soltis Anderson, author of the (INAUDIBLE).
Jamelle Bouie staff writer at “Slate” and Julian Zelizer and author of “The
Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for
Society” and Myrna Perez . And joining me know from Selma, Alabama is
representative Terri Sewell, Democrat in Alabama sponsoring a key bill. So
nice to have you, Representative Sewell. So why we`re back in Selma?
REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), ALIABAMA: Here to start the NAACP`s journey to
justice March. As you know, they will start it here in Selma, Alabama
today in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the civil
rights, I mean, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They are here to remind us
that we still have modern day efforts to restrict the right to vote and as
long as there is a need to protect vulnerable communities, the seniors,
disabled, poor, we need to restore the Voting Rights Act and as you said,
it`s on us, congress to come up with a modern day formula.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, the last time we were there was 50 years and
commemorating marking bloody Sunday but everyone in that moment said this
is not just a commemoration and celebration of look how far we`ve come but
the launching of a new movement. So how does this movement reflect it from
50 years ago?
SEWELL: Well, I think that old battles have become new again, a renewed
assault on voting rights and as you`ve so rightly pointed out, the supreme
court issued a challenge to congress to come up with a modern day formula.
I know that I have worked very hard with civil rights groups, as well as
with senators to restore the voting rights preclearance protections and so
I think it`s really important we learn the lessons of the past and we
mobilize folks to really demand that congress act on restoring the Voting
HARRIS-PERRY: So stick with us Representative Sewell, but I love that
Representative Sewell put this in a positive context. Talk about the
beholder, was a positive challenge issued by the Supreme Court to the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A devastating decision. We had the supreme court
upholding the Voting Rights Act and what we`re talking about is a
particular provision called the preclearance provision that freezes in time
an election system in a jurisdiction unless a potential change is able to
be shown to not be discriminatory and problematic and it had been upheld by
numerous supreme courts and it decided it need to be refreshed, something
that caused incredible devastation in the field and had not only the North
Carolina case was mentioned the at the opening but other laws went into
effect. We got an active lawsuit in Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which has been challenged now twice under a federal
court trying to make sure that the people of Texas are able to vote without
discriminatory barriers and how many courts have to decide a law like the
Texas law is problematic and makes it hard for people to vote
HARRIS-PERRY: You talk about the way that congress and President Johnson
are able in part because they are being pushed by the social movement from
the outside to make changes that some of them wanted to make, some of them
didn`t but nonetheless, the landscape change and I got to say between the
50th commemoration, between the ongoing marches in moral Mondays and
national NAACP moving forward in this way and quite frankly, over the dead
bodies of nine martyrs in Charleston do we finally have what`s necessary to
get a formula based on what made it possible?
ZELIZER: Well, I`m not sure because there is another part of the story and
a movement trying to dismantle this voting rights bill. Part of it is a
judicial movement and it starts in the 1980s with the court and culminates
in the Supreme Court case and part of it in republican to overturn it. The
move the doesn`t work in favor of vote rights as this moment so there has
to be a contest. It was crucial in march of `65 that the movement forced
the hands of Lyndon Johnson and members of congress who wanted voting
rights but were tepid about moving forward and have to be connected to the
their issues like policing. That`s the story activists need to tell.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Jamelle, help me to think through this a bit. Given
where we are, if nothing changes, will the existing realities on the ground
affect the outcome of the election by encouraging people to show up because
they feel surprised as we saw in 2012 or suppressing the vote?
JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE: I think both will happen. In 2012 you seen people
turn out or stay in long for a long time in part because it was a
historical election, reelection campaign for vice president and in part
because of defiance, you`re not going to keep me from the polls.
At the same time, there is evidence that these laws did suppress the vote,
there were fewer people at the polls who would have been under a more open
voting system. Maybe they will cancel each other out, which is a loss,
HARRIS-PERRY: Instead of making progress forward.
SLATE: Yes, part of why I`m very pessimistic about the process for a new
formula is back in the 60s, voting rights cut across partisan lines. This
was in a sectional issue…
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, I was going to say because democrats in the south
didn`t decide they were republicans yet.
SLATE: Very much a sectional issue but tension around openness to the
voting system and it`s kind of falling down partisan lines now and as long
as that`s the case, I don`t imagine that being bridged.
HARRIS-PERRY: Representative Sewell, let me ask you this, you know the
inside of congress in ways none of the rest of us do sitting here at the
table. Can you get it done before 2016? Will we have a new formula?
SEWELL: Well, listen, I think that the only way that we`re going to get a
new formula and get a bill on the floor of the house is if the people
demand that we get a bill and restore the Voting Rights Act. I`m happy to
be here with the NAACP. It`s important that any movement to try to restore
the act is grass roots up. It won`t start in congress. As you know, just
in March, I had 100 members of congress here, republicans and democrats to
commemorate the March. We, it was a great moment and the only way that we
can actually get action is if the people demand action.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, one of the things that`s important is congress is not
the only game in town. We got the courts, congress but people moving in
the states, progressive legislation. We`re seeing exciting things
happening in a bunch of places. Tell me one place.
SEWELL: For example, Oregon, Oregon passed a piece of legislation that
would put the burden on the government to register voters. People get
automatically registered when they go to the DMV unless they don`t want to
register to vote. Law passed in New Jersey, hopefully Governor Christie
won`t veto it. We need to make sure we put pressure on congress and make
sure the state houses are making sure elections are free, fair and
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. Up next, the reason why you never want to
receive a 21-page letter from the justice department.
HARRIS-PERRY: In Georgia, disabilities like autism are segregated. It`s a
violation of federal law. The claims sound like they should belong in
another century. When Georgia students with these disabilities share a
school with the general populace, they are kept apart from other students.
Separate entrances, separatists rooms, separate launch punch periods. They
described it as quote located in the basement of a general education school
with the own separate entrance.
The students never leave the basement or interact with any other students
during the school day. There is a large sign hanging on the front of this
classroom that says detention because the classroom is also used for
detention outside regular school hours. Most of these students go to
school in entirely separate buildings and in some cases, the exact same
crumbling structures where black students are segregated during Jim Crow.
Students with disabilities in what`s known as the program are denied basic
school amenities like playgrounds, gyms, libraries, extracurricular
activities and taught computer-based lessons with no actual certified
teacher. One mother told the DOJ her daughter desperately wishes to have
her picture taken and included in the yearbook as all her friends in
general education schools do.
The Justice Department claims these circumstances violate the Americans
with disabilities act and demanded the changes be made. Georgia officials
told us they have no comment except to confirm that they received the
letter and are in contact with the DOJ. I read that letter it`s a lot.
Joining me now is Leslie. I really did, I read every word of that letter
and it is pretty damming. Are you surprised by the DOJ`s findings?
LESLIE LIPSON, ATTORNEY: We are not surprised at all and we have been
waiting for this day. It is skating.
HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me. What kind of harm does the this segregation
impose? I mean, what difference does it make if students are in separate
spaces or not?
LIPSON: It has enormous harm for these students. They are kept separate
and away from their peers, siblings, kids in the neighborhood from as you
mentioned these very inferior types of buildings and from quality teachers
and I had to go back to the peer piece again because we learned to be cool
and to be in the community from other kids around our age.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us for a second. I want to come to you. We were
talking upstairs with the producers this morning and I felt like saying,
didn`t we decide segregation is bad? Just sort of full stop that it is
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, certainly. There is a great number of cases
on this issue that is something we don`t want as a country, part of the
promise to the our citizens or that we are equal and when you see this kind
of treatment in so many areas of the law, it really causes some Soul
searching. We see it happening in the fight over voting rights, what
country are we going to be and the criminal justice system and we see how
we treat, you know, students with disabilities. This is something that`s a
problem and I`m glad the department of justice is looking into.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to think about structure, and happens in part because
there is a simultaneous pressure to educate all children and pressure to
get test scores to a certain place. What they do is create dual tracks or
is this just like base level nasty segregation based on discriminatory
believes and feelings?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are all sorts of shenanigans schools do to hide
test scores. I think we see that throughout the world within. For kids
with disabilities, this is even more of an issue where kids aren`t even
given the opportunity to access the general curriculum as other kids, whose
test scores may be hidden but at least accessing parts of the general
HARRIS-PERRY: Part of the reason I wanted you here is it feels to me like
one of these, if we think about sort of the bridge building possibilities
or the moments when republicans could make something their issue, like this
feels like hello, especially generationally, many of us who came up in a
time post Americans with disability act in schools that were public schools
where we had people with a variety of different ability and skill levels
this to be core nauseating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just celebrated the 25th anniversary, was it, of
the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is a heartbreaking story to come
on this key anniversary and I think when you look at issues around
education reform and structural problems, you see these interesting
coalitions come together that don`t fit along stonormal party lines with
civil rights groups walking hand and hand with folks technology CEOs,
walking hand and hand with folks that are moderate republican politicians
because it`s not the usual right back and forth. It`s not about politics.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jamelle, who this are kids are. There is undoubtedly
intersections here with rural and urban identity. Kids are catching a
particularly bad claim on this and we know that Black students with
disabilities are more likely to find themselves in the segregated settings
than White students. It`s multiple levels of privilege intersect.
BOUIE: There is a well-recognized finding students of color are more
classified as put into classes for students with disabilities, kind of not
regardless of the about the the – abilities but he seems to be on the
edge, we`ll put him there and in Georgia the segregation of disabled kids,
what that looks like in a lot of school districts, Black and Latino kids
being put in extremely underserved classrooms and I`ll say, you know, my
partner is a teacher. She teaches in an integrated classroom so some kids
have disabilities and the idea you segregate kids like that actually like
really offends me. It`s…
HARRIS-PERRY: There is a kind of core response to it. Let me give you one
last word on this and that is, I like to beat up on Georgia because one of
my producers is from Atlanta but is Georgia unique or are we likely looking
at this with the DOJ see this in a lot of different states?
LIPSON: So, one way we`re unique is when you talk about structure and you
like to think about that infrastructure and scaffolding, it is inherently
separated from the department of education and I think that is what helped
the DOJ to Georgia and makes us extra special.
HARRIS-PERRY: In the case of Georgia, you can shut down that separate
LIPSON: We are all after that.
LIPSON: And then I do absolutely agree with you on a national perspective,
once people are less than, people would be segregated socially and
distanced from good things going on in the community. We see that
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Leslie in Charleston, South Carolina. Thank
you for taking time from your vacation to talk with us about this.
LIPSON: My pleasure.
HARRIS-PERRY: About this important story. Thank you, professor. Here in
New York, thank you to my guests. Still to come, the Obama
administration`s latest bold move on criminal justice reversing a 20-year-
old really bad policy.
HARRIS-PERRY: There could finally be answers in the mystery of Malaysia
Airlines 370. A piece of aircraft was found and arrived in France where
investigators will analyze it to determine if it is a piece of the missing
plane. NBC news has the latest from the island of Reunion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right, Melissa. That piece of suspected debris
from MH 370 will be in France but here, there is excitement that more
debris could turn up on the shores, just a few miles from the coastline
turned into beach commas looking for other pieces that could hold clues to
end one of the greatest aviation mysteries of our time.
If and when more fragments turn up and it could hold the key to closure for
the 289 people on board. Despite the anxiousness around the world, there
will be several days before there is confirmation what is found is of
significant. Those investigators won`t look at the fragment until
Wednesday and it could take some time before the forensic analysis comes
back so they know it could be a matter of time.
Meanwhile, some 4,000 miles away hidden from here where ocean vessels are
searching the sea floor for the wreckage of that Boeing 777, those in
charge of that operation say it could take another year to pinpoint the
wreckage on the ocean floor and finally, to bring all this investigation to
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you from the island of Reunion. The White House bold
initiative for second chances.
HARRIS-PERRY: Increasingly candidates and activists from across the
political spectrum are calling for meaningful reform. This reduces the
number of people sent to prison and improve conditions of confinement and
govern the lives of individuals after they served sentences. Today state
laws barred 6 million people with felony conditioning from voting, 36
states have a full or partial ban on people with benefits and 32 states
have full or partial ban on food stamps. Drug offenders are not eligible
for public housing but tide may be shifting.
President Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison
and called to reforms like banning the box on job applications and
yesterday, his administration unveil add program that could be a real game
changer. And I`m joined now by two of the people who were there for the
announcement, the Reverend Vivian Nixon, college fellowship that gives
opportunities and Glen Martin helping to aim to cut the U.S. prison
population in half.
Reverend Nixon, what is it – the president, by the way, tweeted yesterday
in his tweet launching a pilot program to help students in prison pay for
college because everyone willing to work for it deserves a second chance.
So what exactly is this policy the president was tweeting about?
REV. VIVIAN NIXON, ASCEND: Well, there is a clause in the higher education
act that permits the Department of Education to initiate a request for
applications for experimental site initiatives. These experimental sites
are run by institutions of higher education and could do something that
would not normally be allowed to be done under the higher education act.
One of the things that`s banned according to the higher education act is
giving Pell grants, which is tuition assistance to students in prison. The
government is saying we are welcoming experimental site applications from
colleges who want to teach students in prison and we will provide Pell
grants to pay for the tuition.
HARRIS-PERRY: Pell grants are tuition support for those with the very
HARRIS-PERRY: So Glenn, what difference does that make? Because I have to
say, I`m sure there are some people who think students in prison, that`s
not even a thing to be said. That`s not everyone a phrase. What
difference does it make for Pell grants to be available?
GLENN MARTIN, JUSTLEADERSHIPUSA: As someone that went to college in prison
and earn add two-year liberal arts degree is huge. In prison we lock up
some of America`s best and brightest. That may not be the narrative but
that`s not what I experienced. When I went to college, there were many men
there in the program but it was a skeleton of what it used to be before
President Clinton in congress took it away in 1994.
There were about 35, 40 people when at the height of the program just
before it was taken away, there were a couple hundred people in the program
and it was constantly a flow of people in the facility who would take the
test to go to college but not able to get in because of lack of space in
HARRIS-PERRY: So this point, I think, and in part how you frame it, right,
this isn`t even what we think we mean, I just have to say, I love how you
frame for us DOE is doing, department of education. They would ban the
idea and some would call it federal over reach and the discourse, kids
before cons, no students in prison clearly seems to be at the core of it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Go ahead.
MARTIN: Maybe it should be kids before congress because my 4-year-old can
figure out if you can invest less money and have better outcomes, then you
should be doing it. Government has responsibility to do more of what works
and less of what doesn`t. A small investment in the education of people in
prison yields huge outcomes, according to the ram corporation, their
research says that you get a 45 percent reduction for people who have
access to higher education in prison.
NIXON: So yes, these experimental sites do take advantage of what they are
calling a loophole in the law but experimental sites had been run every,
almost every year before just in a different area. In 2014, experimental
sites were run to look at prior learning experiences and how to gather
information from adult students who have had prior experience and give them
credit for that. So there is many, many experimental sites that had been
done and congress was never bothered by those experiments so why this one?
HARRIS-PERRY: I also love, so Glenn, you kind of put a finger on research
and using the language of experimental sites as part of the legislative
language. I want to point out Attorney General Lynch said we know from
research incarcerated individuals that participate in correctional
education including remedial and post-secondary programs are more likely to
stay out of prison and gain employment and more likely to remain crime
In each of the cases, we`re talking about gathering evidence, gathering
data, not making public policy just based on kind of the whims of the
moment or the or our sense of disgust. Instead, let`s actually look at
what works to make meaningful social policy.
MARTIN: You know, the fact that the administration is doing this, first of
all, doesn`t preclude congress from having a discussion about bringing back
full eligibility to have access to Pell grants and second of all, a huge
portion of smaller government and guess what? One of the biggest
expenditures on budget is prison.
HARRIS-PERRY: That point suddenly you end up with an actual, I want to say
I know you guy haves been working on this, it was so nice to see
administration be able to announce that this work that you two have both
been doing for so long is part of the public policy landscape. So thank
you for joining us, reverend, Vivian Nixon and Glenn Martin.
Up next, why your barbershop may be the best place to look to find a book
and before we go to break, one of the favorite crossword puzzle clues. Did
you get number ten down in Thursday`s New York Times crossword puzzle? The
right answer is right in front of you. We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a place when you leave you know you`re fresh, where you
get your fade tightened up and the nice, close shave. The barbershop in
African American communities is the living heartbeat of community and find
everyday talk and neighborhood gossip. It`s also where young boys follow
in the footsteps of men, of their fathers, brothers, uncles, mentors to get
haircuts and life lessons and some are becoming a space for these young men
to brush up on their reading skills.
In the Adams Morgan neighborhood, Eddies Hair Design has a small children`s
library thanks to donations from non-profits and the collaboration with the
Obama Administration. As an offshoot of the My Brother`s Keeper
initiative, the Department of Education is working with at least 20
barbershops nationwide and joining me is John King, deputy of education and
Eugene, a former elementary school principal that supervises principals in
the schools. Why barbershops?
JOHN KING, DEPUTY OF EDUCATION: We know barbershops are a place where
you`re going to find kids, boys, girls there with their fathers and uncles
and grandfathers and they may be sitting there looking for something to do,
it`s a great place to have a book and do summer reading. We certainly
worry in the summertime that students lose academic ground and this is a
way to make sure students reading everywhere.
HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me about your experience as a principal and what
this kind of effort tells you or what you see in this effort that is
EUGENE: Well, both as a principal and as a parent, it`s really important
we seize these opportunities when we`re with our children outside of school
to continue reading and learning. It`s been exciting to work with the
department on read where you are because it`s an extension of what we`re
doing with DCPS passing out 80,000 books that kids could take home with
them because when they are at the barbershop or on a road trip or sitting
at home, we want them to be engaged and exciting and enriching activities
that keep their brains growing.
HARRIS-PERRY: So John, I`m wondering if you had a chance to actually any
of this happening and sort of not only how the boys and girls, the young
people in the barbershops respond but how the adults in the barbershop
respond to the books.
KING: Gene and I were at a barbershop on Wednesday reading with students
and giving out books and what was great was the kids were so excited to be
read to at barbershop but so excited about the books they got and after we
left, we were standing out in front of the barbershop and kids were coming
in and picking up books and diving into reading and it`s what I remember
doing as a kid when I would go to barbershops.
This is an opportunity to make sure all kids are reading and barbershops
and hair salons and places where there is opportunity to make books
HARRIS-PERRY: There are earlier attempts and some of them are still
existing to the use barbershops and beauty salons as a place for health
decimation like breast cancer and prostate cancer, maybe you can tell us if
I have viewers watching, why barbershops and beauty salons, why this place
is so much more than a place of grooming.
KING: We had a group of barbers join us here in D.C. for a hair battle and
hair battle convention and they came and met with our staff the at the
Department and one of the things that was striking was that barbers, hair
salon owners aridity and excited about this event and told us about things
they do to support the community, whether it`s offering free cuts to kids
who get good grades in school to organizing neighborhood activities on
their block and in their community. So I think these are a community
institution that for a long time in the African American community played a
critical role and we`re honored to partner with folks.
HARRIS-PERRY: If I am watching this in a city where we don`t have this,
what can principals and educators in the last few weeks of the summer but
going into fall and winter can do?
EUGENE: I have a friend who with her church group does reading like the
this at their local Laundromat. So it`s just seizing every opportunity
that you have with the child to keep them engaged in reading and learning.
My 5-year-old is asking me questions and he said to me the other day,
daddy, questions are how children learn their lives.
And so what I would ask is that anybody has the opportunity to work with
their any local community organization come to the school and be a mentor
and find the core and engage them and bring them into the things you find
fun about learning. Teach them to ask questions and we`re not going to
close the opportunity gap if we`re just doing it in the schools. It really
has to be a broader effort.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Eugene and deputy secretary John King. Before
the break, I want to tell a little story about what happens when you
encourage kids to think critically ask a tickly and ask questions. I had a
chance to participate on Friday, young adults from around the country were
invited to the White House to participate in the youth leadership and
policy Hack Athlon and I travelled with four fellows of wake forest
They joined 80 other young leaders from across the country and spent the
day tackling tough issues like campus sexual assault, the school to prison
pipeline and increasing diversity in STEM fields, along with developing
their the leadership skills, they had a chance to make recommendations
about federal policies and present them to senior members of the Obama
These young leaders were clear, forceful and brilliant as they layout frame
work for more inclusive and equitable America. I got to say, thank
goodness and thanks to the leadership they will continue to provide in
coming decades, our future is bright. It was an honor to watch them work.
Congratulations to everyone who was part of it.
Up next, she`s a cheerleader, coder and a really good keynote speaker and
she`s just 13. Our foot soldier joins me next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Women in this country fill nearly half of all jobs but they
hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. We`re talking here about work
within science, technology, engineering and math fields. In middle school,
74 percent of girls are interested in STEM subjects but when it comes time
to choose a college major less than 1 percent of high school girls choose
computer science. This week`s foot soldier has been blogging since she was
six, coding since she was 11 and has given tech talks in the U.S. and in
Canada. But it`s her message that she calls indefinable me that really
caught our attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, my dad and I were talking about this topic, we
came up with this quote and I think it should relate to everybody because
it`s really encouraging. It says what you see on the outside looking at me
and what I see on the outside looking at you is not what you really are.
Joining me in being an indefinable you. Because really what I think about
is we`re all put into a skin that we have no control of so it really –
your job and mission is to show everybody what`s inside of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was 13-year-old Los Angeles native Keila Banks speaking
in Portland at the O`Reilly Open Source Convention last week. Right now
she joins us from L.A. It`s so nice to see you this morning, Keila.
KEILA BANKS, 13-YEAR-OLD: Hi, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tell me about when you first got interested in computers.
BANKS: Well, I first got interested in computers when I was three growing
up, really, and I always used to play games on different web sites like
shock wave, just any game I could get my hands on.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s one thing to go from kind of being interested in
computers and playing games to coding. Can you tell me about your first
BANKS: My first coding conference was scale, which stands for Southern
California Linux Expo. It`s my favorite conference to go to every year. I
really look forward to it and, like, I just – yes, I started in 2013
because my dad persuaded me to talk there and then I just went on from
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me about the fact that you actually give public
lectures to big audience and crowds. Do you find it easy to do that or is
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, actually, the bigger the crowd it`s easier. At
O`Riley when I gave my talk it was a really big crowd, 4,000 people, but I
could barely see them so it was easy for me to talk to them but when I`m at
Scale and the audiences are smaller, it`s a little harder to look at them
but it`s still easy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Keila, while we were preparing for this segment and
conversation with you, my producer was writing down notes, apparently she`s
thinking I know nothing about computer languages and she was explaining the
difference between back end and front end and the different things computer
languages do. Can you take a minute and explain to our audience what does
it mean to say you code? What do you do when you`re coding?
BANKS: Most people don`t know when there`s a web site or app or anything
behind that there`s a whole line of geeky computer code like when you see
on a TV show and there`s a nerd hacking and then there`s a whole bunch of
so, yes, that`s what I do. And there`s different languages for code that
do different things, like the one I`m programming in, Ruby Python, that`s
more for back end and front end. There`s lots of ways to use them
HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about coding and you say it`s one of the
things you do, you do other things. This is what makes you as you call it
an indefinable me. What else do you love to do?
BANKS: Well, I really like to edit images, I like to edit videos, i like
to play games a lot like Simms and just a whole bunch of stuff I like to do
and I also like to cook.
HARRIS-PERRY: What do you cook?
BANKS: What do I cook? Oh, anything I can find on Pinterest.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do you particularly love sweets or do you mostly cook savory
BANKS: I mostly cook savory foods like on the stove top.
HARRIS-PERRY: I was at the White House and talking about increasing
diversity in STEM fields. Is there anything you would say in particular to
girls about computers and coding?
Well, my words of advice are three words – just do it. Because, like,
it`s so easy to do. Well, it might not be easy for everybody but once you
jump into it, it`s easier than people make it out to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much to Keila Banks in Los Angeles, California.
I think you made my whole day today. Thank you.
Thank you. That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching.
I`ll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern. We`ll talk about the
killing of Cecil the lion, why it`s outrage so many and what it tells us
about the continuing relationship between the United States and the
continent of Africa. But right now, it`s time for a preview of weekends
with Alex Wit.
Was in my ear when you were calling her out on TV. So she`s getting a
double am withy. We`re going to talk about the outrage of the killing of
an African lion. I`ll talk with Jeff Corwin about how common recreational
hunting is and why more is not being done to ban it. Also a new
documentary on the televised debates that got really ugly in 1968. The
stories behind the best of enemies when I talk to the film`s co-director.
Plus Jon Stewart is about to end his run on “The Daily Show.”
Why his show has resonated with so many of us. Plus, a clip from his first
episode so don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
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