PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 11/13/2016
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: November 13, 2016
Guest: Jan Schakowsky, Clarence Page, Michelle Cottle, Michael Steele,
Henry Louis Gates Jr
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Trump era begins.
DONALD TRUMP, RESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to do some
absolutely spectacular things for the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk of unity in Washington.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Come together, work
TRUMP: It was a great opportunity meeting with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But clear signs of the fight ahead.
ELIZABETH WARREN, SENIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS: We will
stand up to bigotry. We will not give an inch on this. Not now. Not
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How will Trump attack the Obama legacy? How will
democrats respond? What about the Trump/Ryan feud? And who now is the
leader of the Democratic Party? A nation divided after a shocking
election. Millions of Americans living in fear. “PoliticsNation” starts
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton. Tomorrow
congress is back in session for the first time since the election. Will
lawmakers on both sides beginning to grapple with what a Trump presidency
will look like. Back in their home districts, millions of Americans are
nervous, especially those targeted by Trump`s rhetoric over the last year
and a half.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My eighth grader going to school cried on her way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s just been really disrespectful to a lot of the
minorities and a lot of the demographics and he`s about to represent us for
the next four years. It`s really unsettling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love this country and I just need that country to
love me back as much as I love it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m scared of the hate crimes that will start to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully it`s not – it doesn`t mean mass
deportations, separations of families, that`s what – that`s our biggest
fear right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just every interaction that they have might lead to
separation from their spouse, from their children.
SHARPTON: Already we`re hearing reports like these in communities across
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reports of charged racial scenes in schools after the
election. A video clip caught them chanting white power as they held up a
Trump campaign sign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vandals at a Twin Cities high school included the
president-elect`s name in racist graffiti in a bathroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Words written on a toilet paper dispenser and the
vandal using expletive with the N word and other racist terms on the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A group of community members spent their whole
morning today cleaning up a message that at one point said black lives
don`t matter and neither do your votes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are several kids chanting build that wall.
SHARPTON: So people have a right to be nervous and fearful. They heard
what Trump said during the campaign and are wondering if he`ll follow
through on his promises.
TRUMP: On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical,
tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall. I am going to create a new
special deportation task force.
Immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as ObamaCare.
I am putting pro-life justices on the court.
But Planned Parenthood does some very good work, but I would defund as long
as they`re doing abortions.
Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued
by President Obama.
I would do stop and frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York.
It worked incredibly well.
SHARPTON: We`re already seeing signs of resistance. Thousands of
protesters in the streets. Democrats promising, quote, total war over
ObamaCare. Progressive leaders refusing to back down. Senator Bernie
Sanders says he`ll be Trump`s worst nightmare if the president-elect
targets minorities and Senator Elizabeth Warren says the fight is on.
WARREN: We will stand up to bigotry. No compromises ever on this one.
Bigotry in all its forms, we will fight back against attacks on Latinos, on
african-american, on women, on Muslims, on immigrants, on disabled
Americans, on everyone. Whether Donald Trump sits in a glass tower or sits
in the White House, we will not give an inch on this. Not now. Not ever.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, democrat from Illinois.
Still a proud member of the Progressive Caucus. Thank you for being here,
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY, D-ILLINOIS: It`s my pleasure. Thank you.
SHARPTON: There`s real – there`s real hurt and fear out there. What are
you hearing from your constituents and what`s your message to them?
SCHAKOWSKY: The Wednesday after the election I stood with an immigrant
coalition and what I heard was fear and tears and determination. These are
people who are determined, one, to stick together, and, two, to be fearless
in fighting back.
We heard from a young woman, a dreamer, she came to this country when she
was six years old and she was so happy when the president made it possible
to have her driver`s license, to have a work permit, to be able to get a
scholarship, to a public university in Illinois. And now she and her
family are afraid.
But those people in that room from all ethnic backgrounds were determined
to stick together, not only with each other, Reverend Al, but with that
whole coalition that we heard from Elizabeth Warren, with people with
disabilities, with the women`s community, with Muslims, who were also at
that press conference, we are standing together against the – we aren`t
going to go back. That is the message. We will not go back.
SHARPTON: As we build and see this broad coalition and others are trying
to protect things that were done in civil rights and voting rights and a
lot of things that all of us are involved with, what can democrats do?
What can they do to stop the repeal of ObamaCare, to stop deportations?
What can be done when we don`t have a majority democratic congress or
senate? What can be done, congresswoman?
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, first of all, we can mobilize the majority of Americans
that voted for Hillary Clinton. And are still getting their, you know,
heads together, but tomorrow, on Monday, we all have to be ready to get to
work. I think there are a number of things that we can do. Is the
president of the United States and the republicans really going to say to
20 million Americans, you don`t have health insurance anymore, and women
with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer, oh, I`m sorry, you`re not
going to be able to get insurance anymore because of your pre-existing
condition. And all those kids that are on their parent`s policies, good
bye now, you`re on your own.
They have never, ever offered a real alternative and I think that many of
the people who voted for Donald Trump are not expecting to be left on the
sidelines with no options at all. And so I think they`re going to have one
heck of a time in repealing – in repealing ObamaCare. And Dodd-Frank for
that matter. Donald Trump talked about how we`re going to take on Wall
Street. Oh, really? Now he says he wants to participate in repealing the
law that actually stopped the abuses of Wall Street?
You know, he`s bumping up against reality, and he`s bumping up against the
majority of the American voters who did not go to the polls and support
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, are there areas that democrats can find
common ground with Trump, like infrastructure, for example, he talked about
– are there things that can be worked together, because I heard Senator
Sanders and Warren and others say that they would look to work with him
where possible. But they`re not going to back down on other things. What
are the possible areas if any that can be common ground with president-
SCHAKOWSKY: I think you – I think you said the big one, infrastructure,
which really translates into jobs, improving our local economies, making
sure that our bridges aren`t falling down. So it`s good work, good jobs,
good pay, in our communities. These are not jobs that can go overseas. So
we`ll be happy to work with them on that.
But what we need to see from Donald Trump is that he really does believe
what he said, that he wants to be the president for all Americans. We are
seeing so much fear right now and so much bullying going on. He has to
make sure that he explains to his supporters, the people who did vote for
him, there is no place for that in a Trump America or any America.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, thank you for your time.
SCHAKOWSKY: My pleasure, Reverend Al, glad to be back with you.
SHARPTON: Now let`s bring in Clarence Page, columnist for “The Chicago
Tribune,” and Michelle Cottle from “The Atlantic.” Thanks to both of you
for being here.
CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE COLUMNIST: Thank you, Reverend.
MICHELLE COTTLE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AT THE ATLANTIC: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Clarence, how do democrats oppose Trump`s policies without
becoming the party of no that republicans were in the Obama years?
PAGE: Well, the republicans didn`t become the Party of No, remember, until
they started to have something to object to. So I think what we`re going
to see is, as Bernie Sanders illustrated, they`re going to put out the
olive branches of peace and see if there are areas that they can work
together on. But there are some areas where they`re going to have stiff
opposition and maybe the only thing they can do is in the senate to use the
filibuster or in the house to bottle things up as –
SHARPTON: But even before they had something to oppose, republicans,
leaders, republican leaders met the night Barack Obama was inaugurated and
said in a three-hour meeting that they plan to block all of his legislation
and plan to make him a one-term president. They didn`t have any period,
they waited to become the Party of No. They planned that the night of his
PAGE: Well, the difference between one-term president Party of No, I don`t
think that democrats are going to go and declare that Donald Trump is going
to be one-term president. That`s like declaring war which was something
that the imprudent republicans did.
I don`t think the democrats will do that off the bat, but everybody can see
what they`re up against. I mean, let`s take specific issues like
ObamaCare, for example. Even Donald Trump just at a – at a Wall Street
Journal interview that hasn`t aired yet, has indicated that there are some
parts of ObamaCare he may keep.
SHARPTON: Yes, he seems to be backtracking a little Michael Jackson moon
PAGE: That`s right.
SHARPTON: Michelle, let me ask you. You heard Congresswoman Schakowsky
this morning. Do you think because Hillary Clinton did get the majority of
the popular vote that democrats feel that they have to rally and stand on
those issues that frankly most American voters did vote for in terms of the
COTTLE: Well, look, I`m sure that the Democratic Party is going to bring
that up a lot. And I`m sure that the Republican Party is pretty much going
to ignore it. You know, George W. Bush didn`t win the popular vote either.
It happens. But republicans have finally got control of both the White
House and both chambers of congress and they are going to move full steam
ahead to try to do exactly what they`ve been promising their voters to do.
Now, the question is, they don`t know anything about the president-elect.
None of us know anything about what Donald Trump really cares about, what
his ideology is, what his politics are. That`s not what he was elected on.
So not even republicans know what they`re dealing with in the White House.
SHARPTON: Clarence, the Supreme Court selection. We saw this week
democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, he said that there needs to be a vote on
President Obama`s Supreme Court nominee. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF MERKLEY, JUNIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM OREGON: We really have to
pay attention to the Supreme Court seat. The seat that is sitting empty is
being stolen. It`s being stolen from the Obama administration, and the
construct of our constitution and it`s being delivered to an administration
that has no right to fill it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So if the republicans block president Obama`s choice of Judge
Merrick Garland, will the democrats then filibuster whoever the republicans
nominate to fill that still open seat, Clarence?
PAGE: Well, that`s their right and we may see a serious clash here because
Donald Trump is determined to get not just any conservative, but to get
another Scalia conservative. That means a pretty hard core. I doubt that
Chuck Schumer and other democrats are going to go along with that. This
reminds me of the Robert Bork hearings. We may see that sort of thing
coming up again where they said, well, you know, we`ll approve a
republican, but not that republican. He`s too conservative. So much so
that it begins to challenge the constitution as democrats interpret it. So
I can see that possibly happening. At least they will moderate the pick.
But I think Merrick Garland is probably toast right now as my point
SHARPTON: Yes, we`re in a crisis there. But let`s go back to something
you said, Michelle, about republicans, nor democrats, we really don`t know
what Donald Trump believes and I`ve known – interacted with Donald Trump
for 30 years, nothing really close just sporadically, and I have no idea
what he always stood for or believe, but we know what he says and we know
the bombast that he is represented. What do you expect to happen in the
first 100 days?
COTTLE: I think he will kind of do a continuation of his acceptance
speech, where he comes out and he says I want to be the president for all
Americans, he`s, you know, kind of moderating his harsh tone. I mean, this
is a guy who will say anything on the campaign trail, but that doesn`t
necessarily mean that he`ll start out like that.
Now, what happens, though, is when he starts clashing with either
republicans or democrats in congress or anyone else who doesn`t want to
follow what his particular priorities are, then things will likely get
super ugly again. But I think he starts out knowing he`s got people
watching him, and knowing that people are nervous, and until he has a
reason to clash with folks, I think he`s going to try to moderate a little
SHARPTON: But it may come down also to temperament and that temperament
and reason might be different for some people than they are for others.
Clarence, Michelle, stay with me. Lots more ahead.
Straight ahead, how Donald Trump`s transition team doesn`t square with his
promise to drain the swamp. We`ll talk to the former head of the
Republican National Committee. Also, how democrats plan to regroup and
recharge. And Henry Louis Gates on how a Trump presidency isn`t all that
surprising if you know your American history. Stay with us.
PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I don`t worry
about intraparty issues. I feel very good with where we are. Donald and I
have had fantastic conversations just in the last – in the last, you know,
18 hours. I`m very excited about our ability to work together.
SHARPTON: A change of tone from House Speaker Paul Ryan this week as he
congratulated Donald Trump on his win. Of course, during the election,
they clashed repeatedly.
TRUMP: Wouldn`t you think that Paul Ryan would call and say, good going?
But there is a whole sinister deal going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it`s a good idea for Donald Trump to
release his tax returns?
RYAN: I released mine. I think we should release his.
TRUMP: I wouldn`t want to be in a foxhole with a lot of these people,
including Ryan, especially Ryan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) can do the job because of the racist –
sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comments?
RYAN: I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country`s interest.
TRUMP: We don`t get the support from guys like Paul Ryan. Look, I don`t
want his support. I don`t care about his support.
SHARPTON: A mix of insults and real policy disagreements, over social
security, free trade deals, and whether to deport undocumented immigrants
or give them legal status.
Right now, Trump and republicans are making a show of unity and they agree
on some things like repealing ObamaCare. But what happens when things get
hard? What happens if Trump names this guy his chief of staff? Steve
Bannon, the former head of Breitbart, who once called Paul Ryan the enemy.
What happens the first time Trump doesn`t get his way?
Joining me now is Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst and former RNC
chairman. Thank you for being with me this morning, Mike.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to be with you as always.
SHARPTON: Republican leaders and Trump are all smiles right now. Is this
really a lasting peace in your opinion?
STEELE: I say right through the inauguration everybody is going to be
feeling each other out here, it`s a whole new regime that`s coming to
Washington. I mean, typically in these transitions, whether it`s democrat
or republican, there are a lot of familiar faces that come back into town.
Some that are already here, are sort of brought into the administration.
You`re going to see some of that, but not a lot of it. There`ll be a lot
of new faces, less political in their orientation, more of the world, more
out of the business world if you will. So there`s going be to be
adjustments on both sides. But between the speaker and the president, and
the majority leader and the president, that trifecta, that relationship has
got to develop and has got to be tight. It`s going to be tested. It`s
going to be tested early. Donald Trump is a big thinker. He`s going to be
a big doer. He`s going to do programs.
SHARPTON: But let me push you – let me push you right there, because what
happens if then President Trump decides to ban Muslims or deport millions
of people. What happens then?
STEELE: Well, first off, I don`t think that`s going to happen. I think
you saw at the end of the campaign that the rhetoric on that shift. And
shifts significantly and as the polls – exit polls showed that, you know,
his supporters never took that seriously. The press took it literally.
They never took it seriously. And I don`t think that`s going to be part of
the agenda. But I`ll go with that. If that`s the type of legislation that
comes out of the west wing, and presented to the congress, yes, there are
going to be some really strong thought lines drawn there and some pushback.
But I don`t think the administration is going to proceed down that
I really believe, Reverend, that you`re going to see Donald Trump govern as
a pragmatic populist. He recognizes he`s in the best spot any president
has been in in a generation and which he`s not beholden to democrats,
because he`s not a democrat and he`s not beholden to republicans because
he`s not really a republican.
SHARPTON: But let me throw one name at you. Steve Bannon has been
throated around as a possible chief of staff. He called Paul Ryan, Speaker
Ryan, the enemy. If he is appointed chief of staff or plays a key role in
the Trump white house, which he`s expected to, what does that do to the
trust of Speaker Ryan, this late trust he`s displayed in Donald Trump?
STEELE: Well, it goes back to the – you know, you want to talk about
trust, what was said by the Clinton campaign about Barack Obama in 2008?
Yet they found a way to get around those – that hot rhetoric, particularly
from the former president, Bill Clinton, during that campaign in places
like South Carolina. The racist undertones of the comments that he was
making at that time about Barack Obama.
What Joe Biden said about Barack Obama and, you know, being well-dressed
and articulate and all of that. In politics as in business, you find a way
to get along. You get over those hurdles, so I suspect, Reverend, with
Steve Bannon, if he comes into the administration in any way, Paul Ryan and
Steve Bannon will work together because the president will want them to.
SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, I have to ask you this before I let you go,
we`ve seen a lot of names floated around. Let me give you some. Former
house speaker Newt Gingrich may be a candidate for secretary of state.
Treasury secretary, may be a Goldman Sachs banker and congressman.
Secretary of defense, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Attorney general
former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. What happened to this whole idea
of, quote, “draining the swamp” and putting in some fresh faces? These do
not look like fresh faces to me.
STEELE: Well, as I said at the beginning, there will be some familiar
names and faces that will be part of the mix. But that`s –
SHARPTON: Low in the mix though.
STEELE: Well, but that`s a small portion of the overall cabinet and
administration of the Trump government. So, let`s wait to see, first off,
if any of these people land the kind of positions that are being touted
right now. The one thing you know, Reverend and I know that in this
transition period, a lot of names will float. Why are they floating? To
see how people respond to them, to see what the trial balloon tells them
about that particular person and that particular position.
A lot of these names are not going to wind up in the jobs that they`re
being touted for. Some of them will have a different role in the Trump
orbit. We`ll wait and see. But if they are at the table, that still
doesn`t mean that Donald Trump`s overall effort will be to drain the swamp.
SHARPTON: All right. Michael Steel, thank you for your time this morning.
STEELE: You got it, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Still ahead. Still ahead, we`ll look at why Trump may not have
the mandate that republicans claim and we`ll dart into the search for new
leadership in the Democratic Party. Who should set the party`s agenda?
All that plus some historical perspective from Dr. Henry Louis Gates. Stay
RYAN: What Donald Trump just pulled off is an enormous political feat.
It`s an enormous feat and that he heard those voices that were out there
that other people weren`t hearing and he just turned a mandate and we now
just have a unified republican government.
SHARPTON: Speaker Paul Ryan claiming that president-elect Trump has a
mandate to pass his agenda. But, of course, Ryan had a different view four
years ago about President Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president wins 330 some electoral votes, every
battleground state with the exception of North Carolina. Does Barack Obama
now have a mandate?
RYAN: I don`t think so because they also re-elected the house republicans.
SHARPTON: So it`s a mandate for Trump now, but not a mandate for Obama
back then. Even though Obama won by a much larger margin. Folks, here`s
what we know about the will of the American people. More Americans voted
for Hillary Clinton than voted for Trump. Period. Trump won because of
the Electoral College. And you know what he said about that four years
ago, quote, “the Electoral College is a disaster for democracy.” That`s
what Trump tweeted after Obama`s re-election. The thousands of Americans
who marched in the streets after the election night this week may agree
And look at this, Trump actually got fewer votes than Mitt Romney did when
he lost the election in 2012. Trump in that race would have been the
loser, not the winner. These are all facts for democrats to think about as
they face the road ahead. What are the right lessons to take from this
election and what are the wrong lessons? Who is now the leader of the
Democratic Party? We`ll talk about that next.
SHARPTON: Democrats enter the Trump era facing some tough questions.
They`re a party out of power, with no clear sense of who`s in charge. But
before they chart a way forward, they need to understand how they got here
on Election Day. The democratic base did not turn out. Hillary Clinton`s
share of black vote was down from 2012. Her share of Latino vote down.
Her share of young vote down. Her share of the union vote down. That
might have been a key factor in Rust Belt states like Michigan and
So democrats have a tough job ahead. They need to expand the party and
regain the trust of working class white voters. But they also need to
regain and re-energize the Obama coalition. Let`s bring back Michelle
Cottle and Clarence Page.
Michelle, democrats need to find a way forward into Trump era. They can`t
blame the minority vote that was there, wasn`t it Obama, nobody was there.
But many women, whites, came and did not vote for Mrs. Clinton. How do
they re-energize their base white vote, white working vote, and energize
the minorities at the same time?
MICHELLE COTTLE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AT THE ATLANTIC: Well, just on that
point exactly, white women usually don`t vote for the democrat. White
women usually break for the republican, so –
SHARPTON: Even when it`s a woman candidate that`s going to break the glass
COTTLE: Even when it`s a woman candidate, women don`t vote with the block.
SHARPTON: And you have a candidate on the Republican Party that had done
things that many women consider offensive? Even –
COTTLE: Exactly. It is surprising what people will put up with from their
team`s standard bearer. So going forward, though, the problem was Hillary
Clinton was never an inspirational candidate. She never motivated people
the way Barack Obama did with that kind of gut level hope, change, feeling
that she could make a big difference. She was a workhorse candidate, she
was highly experienced, highly qualified, but when people are voting for
president, it`s going to be the person who moves them with a message, more
often than not, and it just wasn`t what she did.
SHARPTON: Well, Clarence, so let`s talk about – let`s talk about that
message, because people want change. We have heard it, we have seen it,
many of us have been fighting for it a long time. Listen to what Elizabeth
Warren said they need to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH WARREN, SENIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS: This
political system is working for a slice of those at the top. And shutting
everybody else out. The American people want to see change. Our job now
is to try to give some direction to that change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Is she right, Clarence?
CLARENCE PAGE, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, every election is about change
versus more of the same. And this was certainly a year where you wanted to
be on the side of change. Hillary Clinton was just stuck, because she`s so
familiar and she could not get a really winning and engaging and
inspirational theme like Barack Obama had with his hope and change themes.
So that it really prevented her from having more of – more victories among
By the way, I think Michelle would agree with me that while married women
tend to vote republican, single women tend to vote democrat and this year
especially educated women with higher degrees and all turned out in larger
numbers than before.
And I just point that out because the funny thing was Trump, as you
mentioned, got fewer votes turning out than Mitt Romney did, but he had a
different constituency. A lot of the voters have turned out for Mitt
Romney didn`t show up this time and others who didn`t vote before did show
up and they were much more conservative.
SHARPTON: And therein lies the problem. But let`s get to the leadership
question of who`s going to lead the Democratic Party, Michelle? We`re
hearing names floated like Howard Dean, Congressman Keith Ellison. We`re
hearing mister former governor O`Malley and others. We even hearing Thomas
Perez. Will the fight really be about the future of the direction of the
party and that determine the chair person?
COTTLE: I think a lot of people are going to be looking back to the
Elizabeth Warren more populist version of this and saying, you know, maybe
it`s time we too go in this direction. And I think that`s kind of the big
split that they`re going to have to figure out. And I think Elizabeth
Warren in the senate will be a very big voice, you know, pushing in that
SHARPTON: Michelle Cottle, Clarence Page, thank you for your time this
PAGE: Thank you, Reverend.
COTTLE: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Up next, presidential history made this week, but not the type
many were expecting. Renowned historian Henry Louis Gates helps us put it
all in perspective after the break.
SHARPTON: If you look at the backlash after the great society, and of a
lot of the unrest, that is what defeated Hubert Humphrey and brought in
Richard Nixon. He did all of the dog whistles. This is not Bernie Sanders
populism. This is George Wallace populism that he`s doing.
Five hours after Donald Trump declared victory, I was on the air trying to
make sense of what it meant. After the civil rights progress of the 1960s,
we got Richard Nixon. After the nation`s first black president, we got
Donald Trump. There were a lot of factors, voter suppression, inequality,
apathy and working class anger. All issues we must confront in the years
Joining me now is Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard professor, and the
creative force behind the new documentary, “Black America Since MLK, And
Still I rise.” Thanks for being here, Dr. Gates.
DR. HENRY LOUIS GATES JR, HARVARD PROFESSOR: Thank you, Reverend. Thanks
for having me on your show.
SHARPTON: Put this election in context for us. How are you thinking of it
from a historical perspective?
GATES: 1876, the Hayes/Tilden compromise, the end of reconstruction. To
me, it`s a perfect analog. The greatest time for, in the history of
African-Americans right after the civil war was reconstruction. We had
more power, we showed that we were human beings, that we were equal,
elected senators, elected members of the House of Representatives. We ran
in the labor force. Ten years, boom, the door is slammed shut. And what
happened? The period called redemption. Who was redeemed? The south. It
was the birth of Jim Crow, segregation, starting in the 1890s, separate car
act in Louisiana, the proliferation of racist images about black people,
reducing the complexity of our humanity to ciphers, to Sambo imagery,
culminating 1915 with what birth of a nation, shown where? The White
House. By whom? The president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson.
SHARPTON: So we`ve always had these heights and then it`s immediately
followed by these great depths.
GATES: Absolutely. Except you and I, anyone in our generation, thought
that this cycle was over. That it would be impossible to repeat it.
Particularly after the election and re-election of the first black man in
the White House. I don`t know about you, Reverend, but I was totally
SHARPTON: No, I was – I was shocked and at the same time I was challenged
because this will change things one way or another and maybe energize
people. But let me ask you directly how will President Trump change the
life of the average person of color in this country?
GATES: Well, I have no idea. But I`m more concerned – well, right now,
the first thing I want to talk to you about was how he`s going to affect
the legacy of a man you and I both love and admire, Barack Hussein Obama.
GATES: You know, there was a black pharaoh, the 25th dynasty in Egypt was
the Nubian pharaohs, right? And they ruled all of Egypt. And the greatest
of the pharaohs was a name Taharqa. If you Google him, he`s in the book
Isiah. When he lost his throne, they chiseled his name off monuments.
GATES: And that`s the analogy. I keep waiting up and thinking of Barack
and Taharqa. And this is what at least president-elect Trump, candidate
Trump, more or less, pledges himself to. And it worries me, the Supreme
Court, ObamaCare, the image of diversity and openness.
SHARPTON: Criminal justice reform. I mean, all of these things are at
stake. But let me go to your documentary, because it`s important to me.
Your documentary focuses on the last 50 years of black history. Here`s
part of the trailer. Let me show that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My grandparents were colored. My parents were Negros
and, me, I`m black.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From I have a dream to I can`t breathe. From straight
out of Compton to the White House, black history is American history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must not surrender people for lies.
SHARPTON: What lessons should the younger generation learn from this
GATES: Well, the conceit of the series is this. Imagine Martin Luther
King woke up and said, Al, what`s happened since I`ve been gone? What
would you tell him? You`d say on the one hand, Reverend, it`s the best of
times for our people. The black middle class doubled since 1970, black
upper middle class tripled. Why? Because of something called affirmative
We have the biggest black middleclass in history, we have a black
president, we have more black elected officials, over 40 black people in
the black caucus. What is the black caucus? You know, we have so many
congress people and they have an organization. You say, wow, what
happened? Was there a revolution? You say, well, in a sense there was.
He`d say, well, that means poverty was obliterated, right? Because
remember, he died and poor people – well, Rev, afraid it didn`t happen
that way. So, Al, how did it happen? How many black poor? You say, well,
when you died, 41 percent of all black children are living at or beneath
the poverty line. What is it today? Thirty-eight percent. What`s
We have a class gap. The biggest class gap among the following three
groups. white Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African-Americans, we
within our own people, within the race, have the largest class gap. It`s
called the gene co-efficient. Because affirmative action open up the doors
of power and historically white institutions for some of us and then
slammed shut. And then it slammed and shot, it left people in a self-
perpetuating cycle of poverty.
The prison – look at the growth of the prison – Martin Luther King
couldn`t believe that, over 800,000 black men in the prison system, a huge
percentage of the prison population, black men are 6.5 percent of the
population, and 33 percent of the incarcerated.
SHARPTON: President Obama was just beginning to make some inroads in.
GATES: Absolutely. A black man has a one in three chance of going to
prison. One in three. Think about how many black men you know and just do
the math. What`s it for a white man? One in 17. So it`s the best of
times, it`s the worst of times.
SHARPTON: So throughout the documentary, you really talk about the
successes and the setbacks. Is that how we should view this election this
GATES: Yes, I think so. I think, well, I think that we – what we have to
do is mobilize as you indicated. We have to anticipate, and mobilize. I
think that we became complacent, not enough of us voted. None of us could
actually believe the outcome of this election was possible. I think that
we thought now that we crossed this ultimate barrier, and remember the joy
that we had, eight years ago, when Barack was elected that it was
impossible to go back and it certainly is possible to go back.
Like I said, nobody in reconstruction thought it was possible to go back to
slavery. They didn`t go back to slavery, they went to neo slavery. They
replaced slavery with sharecropping. They disenfranchised black men.
Remember on men could vote. It was horrible.
SHARPTON: And they re-enslaved slavery by another name. I think black
SHARPTON: Dr. Gates, thank you for your time this morning and be sure to
catch his documentary “Black America Since MLK and still I Rise, premiering
this Tuesday on PBS.
GATES: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
Up next, what President Obama told me about a Trump presidency before the
election. And what you can do about it now.
SHARPTON: I mean, can you imagine how you would feel standing on the steps
of the capitol having to hand over the power and watch him put his hand on
that bible and become your successor after saying you weren`t even a U.S.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, the thing is I
don`t take any of this personally because he is not somebody who`s fit to
be president in any circumstances. I would feel deeply frustrated not
because anything he said about me, but because I would fear for the future
of our country.
SHARPTON: My interview with President Obama just days before the election,
asking about what then seemed unimaginable. This week, we saw the
president shake hands with the man who denied he was a U.S. citizen, over
Trump`s shoulder was a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. If that image angers
you, then do something about it. Look at this. Nearly half of the
eligible Americans didn`t vote. That means Trump supporters, just 26
percent of the whole, made the decision for the other three-quarters of the
This is not how democracy supposed to work. So if you didn`t vote, vote
next time. If you did vote, then get more involved. Attend the rally,
march in a protest, volunteer to help immigrants or the poor. It`s time to
pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get busy. When I saw Dr. King`s
bust, it reminded me, had they given up? Had they just winning the pity
parties? Had they just said it`s worth in this? We would have never had
the right to vote. We would have never had a Barack Obama. We must
protect it. Many of us are mobilizing in many ways to do that, not to be
against somebody but to be for something.
We`re going to culminate King`s day and King`s name, so that bust would not
just be a statue but it will be the values that we continue to aspire in
this country. That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you
back here next Sunday.
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