PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, transcript 3/5/2017

Guests:
Michael Lomax, Stanley Nelson, Matt Welch, Joe Madison, Luis Gutierrez, Jesse Jackson
Transcript:

Show: POLITICS NATION

Date: March 5, 2017

Guest: Michael Lomax, Stanley Nelson, Matt Welch, Joe Madison, Luis Gutierrez, Jesse Jackson

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Education is the civil

rights issue of our time.  I am calling upon members of both parties to

pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth,

including millions of African-American and Latino children.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST:  Good morning, and welcome to POLITICS NATION.

 

President Trump has consistently presented himself as a friend to the

African-American community.  And earlier this week, he met with the heads

of many historically black colleges and university before signing an

executive order making them a White House priority.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Historically, black colleges and universities are incredibly

important institutions woven into the fabric of our history, just about

like no other.  HBCUs have been really pillars of the African-American

community for more than 150 years.  Amazing job. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  Now social media was already preoccupied with this photo of

White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway with her feet on the Oval Office couch

during the HBCU meeting.

 

But for me and many others, the bigger story came in a written statement by

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, when she released this hours after the

Monday listening session with those same educators, calling HBCUs

“pioneers” when it comes to school choice.

 

Critics were quick to point out that HBCUs were a direct response to

segregation and by no means a choice.  Is this yet another instance of

conservatives exploiting black history for political cover?

 

Joining me now is Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro

College Fund, who was at the White House for the signing, and Stanley

Nelson, award-winning filmmaker whose latest work is “Tell Them We Are

Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and University.”

 

Let me go to you first, Dr. Lomax.  You were in the meeting with the

president when he signed the proclamation.  There have been some that have

raised issues with it.  Some of the students.  I don`t know how widespread

it is.  But it really wasn`t a meeting.  It was more of a photo op and the

reading of a proclamation, isn`t that right?

 

MICHAEL LOMAX, PRESIDENT, UNITED NEGRO COLLEGE FUND:  Yes, that was really

the executive order being signed.  And all of the meetings, Reverend

Sharpton, really had occurred prior to that.  The United Negro Fund, the

Thurgood Marshall Fund, we`ve been meeting with White House staff, people

from the domestic policy team, really giving them our advice and counsel on

what needed to go into the executive order. 

 

You know, every president since Jimmy Carter has issued an executive order

creating a White House initiative.  But I would characterize the White

House initiative in the past as being a toothless tiger.  It had a roar,

but it didn`t have a bite.

 

SHARPTON:  Does this one have a bite?  What makes this –

 

LOMAX:  Well, so, so, this one, we said we`ve got to put some teeth into

this White House initiative.  We want it to be in the White House.  We

don`t want it to be lost in the bowels of the department of education.  It

is going to be in the White House.

 

We want it to have an executive director who is able to designate

departments of the federal government that will be asked to develop plans. 

The plans must be developed within 90 days of that designation.  There must

be annual reports.

 

We also did want some percentages put in there.  We wanted to see grants

going up to five percent and contracts up to 10 percent.  That wasn`t put

in it.  So, the question is –

 

SHARPTON:  So, we`ve got – in the White House, we`ve got a percentage, but

we don`t have the grants, we don`t have a dollar figure, so we may have

had, rather than having some teeth, some dentures that could come out if

there`s no money here.

 

LOMAX:  Well, the money side of this will be a part – we`ll see about the

money in the president`s budget.  Because that`s where –

 

SHARPTON:  By and by when the morning comes, maybe we`ll see, maybe we

won`t.

 

LOMAX:  Well –

 

SHARPTON:  Let me ask this question of Stanley Nelson and then I`ll come

back to you, Dr. Lomax.

 

LOMAX:  OK.

 

SHARPTON:  I think that Americans need to understand the importance of

historical – historic black colleges and universities.  And you`ve done a

documentary.  I want to show a little part of it, because I think a lot of

people who didn`t understand the history, particularly when you had this

distortion from the education secretary about pro-choice, the history is

very significant.

 

STANLEY NELSON, AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER:  Yes.  I think that it`s really

important that we understand the history, that we understand the

traditional role that black colleges and universities have served in our

community.

 

There seems to be kind of a disconnect a lot of times with the White House

from history, and I think it`s really important that we understand the

history.

 

SHARPTON:  Stanley, here`s a short clip from your new documentary, “Tell

Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historical Black Colleges and

Universities.”

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Despite the violence and intimidation, the shortage of

teachers and resources, the black colleges in the south survived, and they

began to produce their first graduates.

 

Many of whom were formerly enslaved.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  So, Dr. Lomax, no one has done better work than United Negro

College Fund in trying to fund these colleges and trying to keep them

going, and they are absolutely part of the fabric of black America and

therefore America.

 

But again, there are those that are saying that Mr. Trump, the president,

got away with a photo-op, there`s no real dollar commitment.  Some people

are calling some of the college president`s sellouts.  And it`s even worse

to sell out and you didn`t get anything.

 

LOMAX:  Well, I think it`s too soon to tell whether we achieved a goal or

whether the goal is going to be elusive.  Certainly we got the nation`s

attention about the importance of historically black colleges, the

importance of issuing an executive order, the importance that these

institutions play.

 

Now we`re going to find out, are they going to put their money where their

mouth is?  Are there going to be teeth?  Is there going to be enforcement

capability with respect to the executive order when it sets goals and

demands equitable treatment of HBCUs, which is the language of the

executive order in terms of federal funding.

 

So, this president has to submit a budget.  Is he going to put $1 billion

in title three?  Is he going to make – is he going to extend the $85

million a year in additional funds that President Obama put into that?  Is

he going to make year-round Pell Grants available to all students?  Is he

going to clean up the loan programs?  Is he going – if he has a trillion-

dollar public works program, can some of that money be spent on HBCU

campuses?

 

SHARPTON:  That`s the kinds of things that we really need to hold their

feet to the fire and press for.

 

You know, Stanley, I don`t know that there is a real understanding with

many Americans of how important historically black colleges and

universities are.  I know even me personally, who didn`t go – my daughter,

my youngest daughter, Ashley, went to Hampton, and I received an honorary

degree from Bethune-Cookman College.  In fact, it was the first time my

father went with me.  He had left when I was a kid one day when I graduated

high school from Virginia Union University.

 

So, all of us have these personal stories.

 

NELSON:  Right.

 

SHARPTON:  But it was because these colleges were forced – were not

forced, they were founded because we were forced out of the mainstream of

education, so there`s no black family this didn`t touch.  That affects even

now because I`m only a generation away from my mother not being able to go

to school where she was born and raised.

 

NELSON:  Right.  I think it`s really important that we understand that

historically black colleges were probably the biggest engine of black

people getting into the middle class that we`ve ever had in this country,

that, you know, from 1865, when the civil war ended, to 1965, we`re talking

about 100 years, basically, African-Americans could not go to schools other

than black colleges.

 

So, 90 percent of black people who went to college went to historically

black colleges and universities.  My father and mother both went to

historically black colleges and afforded me, you know, and my siblings, the

life that I have and then my kids the life that they have, all coming out

of historically black colleges and universities.

 

And I think it`s really important that we understand that history and

understand that this was not a choice.  There was no place else you could

go.  And historically black colleges were formed mainly by African-

Americans to fill that need, because this was the only place that we could

go, and we believed in education.

 

SHARPTON:  Right.

 

NELSON:  We believed education was the way out.

 

SHARPTON:  Dr. Lomax, do you get a sense from your conversations with the

Trump administration that they understand the significance that Stanley

Nelson just brought and that you`ve given your life to in terms of the

importance of these institutions, even going forward?  Because when you see

the tweet by the Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, it`s almost like they

really don`t even understand the history, aside from the insult saying it

was school choice, they don`t even understand the history, and that there

wasn`t a real meeting or exchange with the president who does know some

blacks.

 

I mean, I`ve known the president for the last 30 years.  We`ve fought,

argued, and even agreed on some things when he supported some democratic

mayoral candidates, but I don`t know that he and them understand the depths

of what historical black colleges and university really mean to this

country as they weigh the budget and the things that you raise.

 

LOMAX:  Well, I think they`ve learned some talking points.  The question is

have they really absorbed the history behind these institutions?  And you

know, that`s yet to be seen.

 

I mean, one of the things that did happen after Secretary DeVos made her

comments is a number of the institutions said, we want you to come to our

institutions, we want you to meet our students, we want you to learn our

history, we want you to walk across our campuses and experience what it`s

like to be at an HBCU.

 

And you know, what I would say to black college students at historically

black colleges around the country is we`ve got to educate this

administration, and we can`t sit on the sidelines.  We can`t marginalize

ourselves.  We can`t refuse to be engaged in this discussion and to make

the case for what is important to be invested in our institutions.

 

So, I welcome the chance to do that and to give a history lesson or

multiple history lessons to the secretary of education.

 

SHARPTON:  Stanley, the one thing that I think you wanted to do with the

documentary as part of really understanding for this country, of the

significance, the importance in the part of American history and the

bedrock of America in education of what these institutions represent.

 

Do you think coming out of this meeting, this can be something that leads

to that?  Is this just the president use some black faces for a photo op? 

Thank you, check that box, bye?

 

NELSON:  Frankly, I`m not sure.  But one of the things that I think that`s

really interesting is that in history, throughout history, black colleges

have been led by the students.  And so many times in the civil rights

movements, other places, the students were pulling the administrations of

black colleges forward.

 

So, I`m not sure that I think it`s such a bad thing.  You know when

students stand up, I`m always kind of feeling good, you know, because –

 

SHARPTON:  I feel bad when they don`t.

 

NELSON:  Yes.  There`s never been a change, there`s never been a revolution

by old people in the history of the world.  So, when young people stand up,

I think it`s a good thing.

 

SHARPTON:  Yep.  Thank you for that, Michael Lomax and Stanley Nelson.

 

Coming up, once again, President Trump goes on the attack, and once again

makes allegations without offering any proof to back them up.  Is this the

new normal?  We`ll be right back.  This is POLITICS NATION on MSNBC.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

SHARPTON:  Welcome back.  For a while, after his mild address to congress

Tuesday night, I began to wonder if Donald Trump is maybe turning a corner

into normalizing his presidency, but then the leader of the free world was

at it again.

 

Yesterday, Trump released a flurry of tweets shortly after dawn, accusing

former President Obama of spying on him.  One of Trump`s tweets read, “How

low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred

election process?  This is Nixon/Watergate bad,” or in parentheses, “or

sick guy.”

 

Obama`s spokesperson immediately responded with the statement, “Neither

President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on

any U.S. citizen.  Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

 

So, once again, Trump makes strong allegations without offering any

evidence or details.  Is this the new normal for this White House and for

the country?

 

Joining me now is Joe Madison, radio talk show host on Sirius XM, and Matt

Welch, editor at large of libertarian magazine “Reason.”

 

Let me go to you first, Joe.  You know, you and I and others from the

beginning have raised questions about Trump.  You co-hosted the civil

rights market we spearheaded the National Action Network, we raised real

questions the week he`s coming in, there`s been protests.  And then it

looked like on Tuesday night to most of the pundits and the talking heads

and the editorial writers he changed his tone.  Maybe he`s turning a

corner.

 

And even I, who`s seen him bob and weave for decades, said maybe he is

growing into the presidency.  And then this, Joe.  I mean, he just can`t

help it.

 

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, let`s deal with tone, and then

let`s be honest and deal with substance.

 

SHARPTON:  Well, the policy didn`t change.

 

MADISON:  That`s exactly right.  And one of the things I suggested to my

audience was here`s what you do.  Print out the speech and read the text. 

Any professor of political science, that`s one of the things you encourage

your students to do, so that you don`t get caught up in the style.

 

Number two, let`s understand something – him referring to Watergate.  The

fact that after Watergate it was codified that presidents cannot call for a

wiretap, so they didn`t even understand that history.

 

And then number three.  Let us keep in mind, where Donald Trump is getting

this is from the same talk show personalities that started this stuff that

President Obama was not a citizen.  So, this is just a continuation –

 

SHARPTON:  The whole birther movement.

 

MADISON:  Absolutely.

 

SHARPTON:  But Matt, the question of – there`s no question about all of us

say the policy didn`t change, if you listened to the content of the speech

or read it.  The volume and the delivery changed, but the content clearly

was the same.  He didn`t back up.  In fact, he dug in in some areas.

 

But the fact that many people wanted at least the tone and the imprimatur

of the president as a responsible, thoughtful person.  That was what I

think a lot of people looking for.  And then you see these kinds of tweets

yesterday, saying, no, wait a minute, he hasn`t grown in tone or hasn`t

become more thoughtful, look at this.

 

MATT WELCH, EDITOR IN LARGE, “REASON” MAGAZINE:  I think it says more about

the media, the pundits, even you, and the sense of dislocation that the

Trump candidacy and the Trump presidency has given to the nation`s

political class, this expression of relief.  It was temporary, because

obviously, it wasn`t going to last.

 

But on Tuesday night, everyone`s like, my God, finally, it happened.  All

these Trump critics, people who have been digging on him from left and

right were so relieved because he ran as an opponent to their world, not

just the world of politics and ideology, the world of manners, of morays,

of this is how the political class talks acceptably about stuff.  He has

talked unacceptably about stuff from the beginning.

 

So, for one speech – I was watching this speech and I was hearing not that

those tonal elements, I was hearing him make sort of heavy breathing

accusations about illegal immigrant criminality.  There`s a bunch of things

that he said in there that were flatly untrue, and then I go on Twitter and

see this reaction from –

 

SHARPTON:  Well, the civil rights is untrue.

 

WELCH:  Everyone talking about this, but this was an expression of relief

from a political class that wants their old world back.  They`re not going

to get it, ever.

 

SHARPTON:  But I don`t even – I disagree with that.  I don`t think that

it`s about, Joe, wanting the old world back in terms of our politics or our

policies.  I think just the fact that we all relate to young people, have

children, want to see a president that operates with manners that Matt

talks about.  That`s not trying to have your world back, that`s trying to

have some level of stability in the world.

 

MADISON:  And not to frighten young people.  I have a grandson who has a

name from his father, who by the way, is Kenyan.  And you know, he`s

scared.  You know, 11, 12-year-olds, younger children, they`re listening. 

They`re frightened.  You know, this is what most people – I don`t care if

it`s the barber shop, beauty shop, or the political class, almost everyone,

including republicans, are saying the same thing, that these folks are

really – they simply don`t know what they`re doing.

 

But let me say something real quick, Reverend Sharpton.  I think – and you

know Donald Trump, as you`ve pointed out – I think that he is one of the

slickest presidents we`ve ever had, because Jeff Sessions was the real

topic, the real headline this week.  And what Donald Trump is very capable

of doing is switching the narrative from Sessions to –

 

SHARPTON:  Oh, no doubt about it.

 

MADISON: – this discussion, and that I think was planned by him in the wee

hours of the morning.

 

SHARPTON:  No, well, I think the one thing that I keep telling people – I

do not think Donald Trump is in any way not one of the smarter in terms of

savvy, in terms of how to deal with media and all, and he`s a tough guy. 

Everybody`s saying, let`s have meetings with him.  Don`t think he`s agreed

afraid to disagree.

 

But what I think, Matt, that aside from the outrageous thing of raising

something like President Obama ordered my phones tapped without giving

evidence, without giving evidence, as outrageous as that is, and as much as

I may disagree with his policies and continue to protest and march and all

of that, I think that we all, conservative or republican – I`ve talked to

republicans on the hill that are very concerned about the tone and the

style of the presidency.

 

I talk to people as I travel around the country.  Young people are actually

frightened about their future because they feel he`s on the edge here. 

This has nothing to do with content.  We all agree the content – the

election we lost, we understand that.  We`ve lost elections before.  But

this kind of tone bordering on being out of control is scary for a lot of

us.

 

WELCH:  Go look at the statement that Senator Ben Sasse, republican from

Kansas – Kansas?  I think so – released yesterday.  He talked about how

we need to, because of these tweets, we need to get down to the bottom of

this accusation and have some –

 

SHARPTON:  Right.

 

WELCH: – and have some disclosures that come out of this, because right

now we are on – and I`m going to mangle this slightly – but a

civilizational, like a threatening sense of –

 

SHARPTON:  Like a crisis.

 

WELCH:  Of dislocation.

 

SHARPTON:  Right, right.

 

WELCH:  This is a conservative republican saying that.  There is a feeling

out there that he`s just rolling dice here in a reckless type of sense.

 

SHARPTON:  And, Joe, I think that even those of us that are in the anti-

Trump in terms of policy, those of us leading the protests and all that,

even we`ve tried to have a level of trying to communicate in a sane and

responsible way as we express our outrage. 

 

It seems like there is no rules to where he would go in terms of

allegations, statements, even the use of his language.

 

MADISON:  And that`s why it`s very un-American and why you have most

Americans that are either on the right or left that are very concerned, and

quite honestly, outraged.

 

And you know, the key word now is resist.  This is not difficult to get to

the bottom of.  Look, the Obama administration has made it clear, not only

was this – would have been a violation after what happened in Watergate,

but former President Obama`s record is very clear.  They would not allow a

single staff member to even suggest that this type of thing be done –

 

SHARPTON:  No.

 

MADISON:  And that`s on the record.

 

SHARPTON:  Well, I don`t even think that they have to go as far as

defending it.  I would say there`s no evidence there.  You can`t argue

against something –

 

MADISON:  None.

 

SHARPTON: – that somebody`s standing on a corner in Manhattan would just

scream, and you hate to think that kind of person or that style of person

is sitting in the Oval Office.

 

Thank you, Joe Madison.  Thank you, Matt Welch.

 

MADISON:  Thank you.

 

SHARPTON:  Coming up, some call this a case of environmental racism.  Our

“Gotcha” moment when we comeback.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

SHARPTON:  Buried in the craziness that was this weekend`s presidential

politics was this.  The Trump White House proposed budget for the next

fiscal year guts the environmental protection agency in both funding and

manpower.

 

This is no shock, considering the agency`s new head, Scott Pruitt, and his

known opposition to environmental regulation.  And we all know his new

boss`s views on the environment.

 

So, with this new team in the White House, it is not surprising that EPA

carbon reduction programs would be on the chopping block.  Tragic as it is. 

But there`s much more.

 

Also slated for cuts are public health initiatives that benefit low-income

and minority communities, including water improvement on Alaskan native

lands, grants for native American tribes to fight pollution, support for

minority-owned small businesses, funding for environmental justice

education, and grants to states that deal with lead cleanup, the same lead

that has been harming the people of Flint, Michigan.

 

So, to keep it real, the burden of these cuts will fall hardest on the

health of those already most at risk, and that is environmental injustice

in action, and that is why Scott Pruitt and Trump`s EPA, I gotcha.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

SHARPTON:  It was 100 years ago this week that President Woodrow Wilson

signed an act granting U.S. citizenship to people born on the island of

Puerto Rico.  That law started a debate that continues even today over what

exactly is the island`s relationship with the U.S. 

 

Puerto Ricans have a limited form of citizenship.  They have no

representation in congress and cannot vote for president, but they can

travel freely and work legally on American soil.

 

And this coming June, Puerto Ricans will go to the polls to choose between

two options, those who want to push for statehood and those who want to

keep its current U.S. commonwealth status.

 

Joining me now is Congressman Luis Gutierrez, democrat from Illinois.  Both

his parents migrated to Chicago from Puerto Rico, and he`s a member of the

immigration and border security subcommittee.  Thanks for being with me

this morning, congressman.

 

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS:  Good to be with you this Sunday

morning, Reverend.

 

SHARPTON:  Now, before I get into the 100-year anniversary and the vote in

June, you sit on the committee.  The president is supposed to come with his

travel ban and his immigration policy this week.  You also are the son of

two Puerto Rican parents who migrated here.  Many Puerto Ricans – I live

in New York, travel a lot and meet people that are Puerto Rican descent and

have done activism there.

 

Many are swept up in this whole anti-immigration fervor, and many people

think that if you`re attacking Mexicans, that`s all Latinos, and how does a

policeman or a immigration officer know the difference between a Mexican

and a Puerto Rican?

 

Isn`t this, as you deal with citizenship, isn`t this whole profiling of

people that are Latino something that is front and center in the Puerto

Rican community?

 

GUTIERREZ:  Absolutely.  And if you look at those who support comprehensive

immigration reform and those that have stood steadfast and in the forefront

of the fight for a better immigration system, a fair immigration system,

one that really protects families, and the fight against deportations.  You

see the Puerto Rican community together and united with the Latino and the

immigrant community.

 

Yes, you are absolutely right, Reverend, my mom and dad came here as

migrants from Puerto Rico.  They came as citizens of the United States. 

Yet, they confronted the same discrimination, the same bigotry, that every

– remember, when they got here, it was 1952, so separate but equal was the

law of the land.

 

SHARPTON:  Right.

 

GUTIERREZ:  And I assure you, there was a colored place to drink water and

a white, you know which one they had to drink from.  So, they`ve

experienced the same discrimination here, and they understand.

 

And you`re very correct.  So, when Trump says Mexicans are murderers,

rapists, drug dealers, the impact is on the totality of the Latino

community.

 

As a matter of fact, in modern American parlance, Mexican is a catch-all

phrase for Latinos.  At least, when he speaks to his audience and he says

Mexicans, I assure you that people who see me on the news think of me in

that category.

 

SHARPTON:  And I think that a lot of people don`t understand this, which is

why in my judgment it is basically bigoted, racist.  I mean, because you`re

broad-painting a whole nationality of people, origin of people, and it goes

into race as well, because when I went out marching in Arizona around

Sheriff Arpaio, what is the difference between Latinos and blacks and

somebody from Trinidad or Barbados if you`re pulling somebody over?  It`s

about they`re different.  They`re not one of us, us being white, male

Americans.

 

And I mean, this is the root of why many of us are so outraged with these

policies they`re talking about around immigration.

 

GUTIERREZ:  Two things I`d like to share with you, Rev.  Number one, it is

almost a rite of passage for Puerto Ricans, those of us born here in the

United States and on the island of Puerto Rico, to be told go back where

you came from when the opposition cannot win the argument any other way.

 

And second, I want to recall to everybody that in 1984, in the city of

Chicago, we established the first kind of sanctuary under then mayor Harold

Washington, the first african-american mayor.

 

His director of employment opportunities was asked by immigration agents to

prove her citizenship and her legality, and he passed an executive order

back in 1984.  So, city of Chicago`s been a forefront.

 

SHARPTON:  Yes.

 

GUTIERREZ:  Who was the first person confronted?  It was a Puerto Rican

woman working for the then mayor of the city of Chicago, so, that`s – it`s

clearly established that the impact is on all of us.

 

SHARPTON:  Now, congressman, you`ve put up a bill dealing with this whole

question of statehood and citizenship.  There`s a vote in June.  Tell us

what this means and tell us what you`re trying to do.

 

GUTIERREZ:  Well, so, the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico, a member of

the Republican Party, has proposed statehood-only admission bill before the

congress of the United States.

 

That is not what the plebiscite in Puerto Rico is going to reflect.  In

Puerto Rico, it`s going to say you can vote for statehood, you can vote for

independence, or you can vote to have a continuing relationship with the

United States but in which your nationhood or nationality is preserved.

 

So, given the fact that those are the three that are being voted on in the

plebiscite on June 11th, I thought that the congress of the United States

should have a playing field in which the members of congress understand

what it is the people of Puerto Rico are going to be voting on.

 

So, free association with the United States, it`s kind of – like, think of

a treaty between the United States and the people of Puerto Rico governing

each one but in which the people of Puerto Rico and their nationhood is one

that is recognized independence and statehood.

 

And look, I don`t think it`s fair that before the congress of the United

States, months before there`s a plebiscite being held in Puerto Rico, that

you only have one solution being presented before the members of the

congress of the United States.

 

SHARPTON:  All right.  I`m going to have to hold it there.  Thank you for

being with us, Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

 

Up next, we`ll go live to Selma, Alabama, where 52 years ago African-

Americans marched to demand equal voting rights, and now Attorney General

Jeff Sessions is messing up with those rights.  Details when we come back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black

History Month, we are reminded of our nation`s path towards civil rights

and the work that still remains to be done.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

SHARPTON:  Welcome back.  This week marks the 52nd anniversary of the

Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights.  Selma marked the turning

point for the civil rights movement as it emboldened President Johnson to

push congress on the legislation that would become the Voting Rights Act.

 

But this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions` justice department announced

that it would not continue an Obama-era lawsuit against the state of Texas

over a controversial voter I.D. law, laws that these have long been a focus

of activists like myself, as they have been found to specifically curtail

minority voting, threatening the gains that brave folks at Selma risked

their lives for all those years ago. 

 

I`ve joined the movement when I was a preteenager, and I was taught about

the fights in Selma.  I was eight years old when the march happened.  I was

taught among others by Reverend Jesse Jackson, who as a student went to

Selma after the beating on the bridge called by Dr. Martin Luther King. 

He`s joining me live from Selma this morning.

 

Reverend Jackson, this is not only historic recognition for you and the

generation that you have come out of of student leaders in the late `50s

and `60s, but it`s nostalgia for you.  This is where you really hooked into

the King movement.

 

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  Well, it really is.  I came

here as a similar student in 1965, and I speak again today 52 years later.

 

What`s critical about Selma, Brother Al, is that we`ve been denied the

protected right to vote for 85 years.  When they removed the troops in

1880, they removed protections.  And during that season, we were 5,000

lynching between 1880 and 1950, denying the right to vote, denying the

right to access.

 

Selma`s turning point was it brought in federal protections, federal

oversight, and Jefferson Davis, Jefferson Davis Sessions made the case that

it was wrong that the federal protection was intrusion on the state of

Alabama.  He still holds that position.

 

So, by the time it got to Shelby, Judge Roberts and the Sessions ideology

prevailed.  And now the protection had been removed, and therefore, you see

massive retreat on the Voting Rights Act today.  

 

SHARPTON:  And that impacted this last election.  I remember sitting in the

courtroom during the argument, and when Justice Scalia talked about voting

rights as a racial entitlement, and I was sitting there with Martin Luther

King III, and we looked over at you and John Lewis and others of the

generation preceding us and those that were younger than us, and this is

going to impact all of us, and it already is.

 

JACKSON:  Well, it is, because Al, the voting rights act of 1965, African-

Americans couldn`t vitamin, but white women couldn`t serve on jurors, 18-

year-olds couldn`t vote, serving in Vietnam.  You couldn`t vote on college

campuses.  You couldn`t vitamin bilingual, you could not vote

proportionality.

 

So, it took us 25 years to get from the right to vote to the protected

right to vote with enforcement.  And they used schemes like gerrymandering

and role purging.  All of these schemes were used.

 

And so, while we fight wars for democracy, we`re declaring a war on many

Americans, denying them access to voting today.  And so, today the march is

as relevant as ever before.

 

SHARPTON:  All right, well, I wanted to go back in my own history, because

you and Reverend Bill Jones and others raised us knowing the importance of

Selma, which is why many of us go every year, even though we weren`t there

in the beginning.  And you were there as a young man who then raised me as

a young man to understand it.  So, I`m respecting my elders this morning.

 

Thank you for joining me from Selma.

 

JACKSON:  The irony of this, I`m admitting you`re older than me, Al.

 

SHARPTON:  Up next, my final thoughts on the line that connects me, the

Selma march, and Jeff sessions.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

SHARPTON:  I remember in 1965 when the Edmund Pettus Bridge became the

scene of troopers stomping and beating marchers on that bridge.  I was not

even 10 years old, and I remember the vivid pictures.

 

I remember my mother being so rattled by it because she was born and raised

in Dothan, Alabama, and she knew firsthand what it meant in Selma, Alabama. 

And she would tell me how she couldn`t vote in her home state.  I was born

and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  I learned the direct impact of being

denied the right to vote from my own mother, not from history books, which

is why many years later, as I had come into my own adulthood, one of the

proudest moments of my life was on the 50th anniversary of that march

across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I marched over the shoulder of the first

African-American president of the United States as he stood next to John

Lewis, who was beaten on the bridge that day my mother talked to me about,

and holding hands with the woman who was tear-gassed there.

 

And as I marched across that bridge, I thought about my mother and the

millions of other mothers who were denied the right to vote, who were now

protected by the Voting Rights Act.

 

That brings me to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, ironically, was born

in Selma, Alabama.  He`s meeting with civil rights leaders, including me,

this week.  And front and center in the agenda of that meeting must be the

opposition to their continuing to fight the voter I.D. laws in Texas, some

of the strongest, and in my opinion, some of the most reactionary laws in

the country.  Their opposition to the continuation of the Voting Rights Act

as we know it. 

 

Attorney General Sessions needs to be able to be challenged and have to

explain why in a time that we have seen courts certify and make it clear

that many of these laws are discriminatory, that the impact is basically

more on people of color, and specifically blacks than others, and yet, they

are dropping this from the pursuit of justice.  They will not fight against

the Texas I.D. laws as discrimination, and their attitude of that voting

rights around the country.

 

So, 52 years later, we are back with a native of Selma that sits in a

position saying, no, I`m not moving forward.  I`m saying that we went

across that bridge 52 years ago, and we got a Voting Rights Act.  Our

voting rights are still now being jeopardized with new laws, from Jim Crow

to James Crow Jr, Esquire.

 

I understand that we will discuss his view as attorney general.  He must

understand our view as those that have had to fight for a right we should

have gotten upon our birth and have had to fight to protect it because

people gave their lives to get it to us and to give it to us.

 

That does it for me.  Thanks for watching.  And to keep the conversation

going, like us at facebook.com/politicsnation, and follow us on Twitter,

@politicsnation.

 

I`ll see you back here next Sunday.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

 

 

 

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