Politics Nation, Transcript 6/25/2017
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: June 25, 2017
Guest: Eugene O`Donnell, Marquez Claxton; Michelle Ebanks, Clarence Page,
Natalie Azar, Atul Gawande; Gregory Meeks
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning and welcome to “PoliticsNation.”
This week, a series of no convictions in fatal shootings of black men
reignited outrage over police brutality. I have strong opinions on the
matter and we`ll get to that later in the show.
But first, republicans unveiled their healthcare bill this week and it
seems that it is already on life support. As some republicans are not in
favor of the bill. So what is the future of the GOP`s plan to repeal
Joining us is Clarence page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist
for the “Chicago Tribune.” NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar
from NYU Medical Center and Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and
Women`s Hospital and a Harvard professor.
Let me go to you first, Clarence. The fact that the ObamaCare or the
Affordable Care Act that they have promised throughout the campaign, “they”
being the republicans and President Trump, that they would repeal and
replace, actually the Affordable Care Act, as you wrote, has gotten more
popular and what they`ve introduced has gotten less popular.
Give me the politics of what we`re looking at in terms of this vote that
they want to try to make happen before July 4th.
CLARENCE PAGE, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, you`re
certainly quoting me correctly there, Reverend. I think it was a short-
coming of the Obama administration that after they got the ACA passed, they
moved on to other matters and didn`t really do that much to promote it or
sell it to the American public. As a result a lot of a lot of
misunderstandings occurred and polls showed like by the beginning of this
year that a substantial number of people thought that ACA and ObamaCare
were two different things. They didn`t realize they were the same program
but all they knew was ACA is good because it`s helping me and my family and
neighbors, ObamaCare is bad because those commentators on TV tell me or
As a result now, people have learned more through the debate and also seen
what republicans are offering. ObamaCare itself has become more popular
and as a number of moderates have warned, if you take it away, people are
going to remember who did that and they`re going to retaliate at the polls.
SHARPTON: Now, Dr. Gawande, one of the things that was interesting to me
that was released in light of that of Clarence talking about the politics.
You came out this morning – we received this morning the New England
Journal of Medicine reviewing the most rigorous research in the last 10
years that the conclusion is coverage expansion has made people healthier
and helped tens of thousands of people live longer per year.
So taking away the politics, you`re saying that this study has concluded
that when people are covered more, they live longer and are healthier.
Explain how that is – how that occurs and why that is true.
ATUL GAWANDE, SURGEON, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN`S HOSPITAL: Well, so we studied -
- we looked at more than 40 studies that have been done since 2009. And
here`s the bottom line, coverage expansions have given people – they`re
more likely to have a regular source of care, they`re more likely to be
able to afford needed care.
The result that we see is not just the people are getting more emergency
care, they`re getting more preventive and primary care. They`re getting
more chronic illness treatment including mental health and physical health.
The result to that is that people`s overall health is better, individual
indicators like depression, certain kinds of chronic physical illnesses are
Overall, health then results in reductions in mortality. We saw, for
example, that looking at Medicaid expansions, you know, Medicaid is often
criticized, oh, it doesn`t work. We found clear evidence that Medicaid
does work. You had Medicaid expansions at about five years. You see a six
percent reduction in deaths. And that`s for real. So the consequence
might be where you take a trillion dollars out of healthcare coverage.
It`s going to weaken the entire health system, it will mean increased
medical debts, untreated sickness and deaths.
SHARPTON: So, Dr. Azar, I saw you nodding all the way through Dr.
Gawande`s assessment of this report. So aside from the politics, you know,
I have an opinion, people know that I`m not quiet about it, but you as a
medical expert looking at this objectively, if, in fact, a trillion dollars
is taken out of Medicaid, if in fact medical coverage is not expanded, just
from a pure medical point of view and I would say the senate bill does
both, it does not expand coverage and it does take a trillion dollars out
of healthcare, from a pure medical point of view this could affect people`s
lives in terms of length of life and in terms of how they view their health
and really deal with their health.
NATALIE AZAR, MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR, NBC NEWS: Absolutely, yes. I was
nodding because I actually referenced Dr. Gawande`s report last week and I
found it really rife with such important information about the policy
discussion surrounding healthcare coverage. You know, you have to sort of
agree with the premise that coverage improves health outcomes by improving
care and, again, we get – had a discussion a little while back about the
semantics of access as opposed to actually delivering good quality care.
And as Dr. Gawande was saying, they were looking from the last 10 years not
only the ACA in and of itself, but Medicaid expansion as well as the
experience in Massachusetts when they passed their healthcare act in 2006
and it was very clear that things like preventive care, access to
screening, access to, you know, checking your cholesterol and cancer
prevention and those kinds of things actually did translate into a
meaningful reduction in mortality.
And another point that I think is important to make, too, the psychological
impact for people. People don`t understand sometimes that not having
health insurance carries probably the riskiest financial burden that you
can bring upon yourself.
And one more note I would like to make, too, is that you have to think
about it that expanding health insurance is probably a more cost effective
intervention than – I think Dr. Gawande says this in his report – than
other things that we do like environmental safety and work safety.
So it`s never going to be cost saving, per se, it`s always going to be an
outward expenditure. But I think the reward will come in, you know, the
population itself having preventive care, you know, leading to reduction in
mortality down the line.
SHARPTON: And certainly reduction in stress. Clarence, hearing what the
two experts have said, medical – in the medical field, the politics of it,
I don`t know that that is what the opposition, the democrats or those that
oppose have tried to sell this and there are four GOP senators that have
said they will not vote for the bill. But wouldn`t that be in your
estimate a better sales in terms of those that want to sell opposing this
bill, that we`re actually talking not about Obama against Trump, ObamaCare
against Trumpcare. We`re talking about what`s going to really preserve
people`s lives and preserve their health. Isn`t that a better kind of
argument to make to the American public?
PAGE: I would say if you`re really interested in improving the health of
the American public and providing better healthcare, yes, but our debate
has become so polarized, this is not a new debate, it`s 100 years old.
Teddy Roosevelt was trying to get something like this passed a century ago.
Now, we find that the democrats are determined to follow the tradition of
LBJ who created Medicare and Medicaid in expanding care to cover everybody
or as many Americans as possible, while the republicans are more interested
in cutting taxes. This alternative –
SHARPTON: Which their bill does cut taxes, the bill they`re proposing cuts
taxes for the rich.
PAGE: That`s the primary purpose of it really is to not only cut taxes and
reduce the size of government but also prepare for a big tax code change
that the republicans would like to pass. It`s a top priority of theirs.
And the whole idea of replacing ObamaCare came late, you know, initially
the whole idea was just to repeal it, but then they realized politically
they had to come up with something to replace it. Now we have a very
ObamaCare-light, even critics on the right have called it that. I think
it`s not a bad description because it purports to do what ObamaCare does,
but it costs more and it provides less service for almost everybody, except
there will be tax breaks as you mentioned for upper income folks. But in
subsidies for lower income people are going to be quite an inadequate and
it also reduces service.
SHARPTON: But, Dr. Azar, I would be more inclined tight than called it
Obama like. I would call it Obama light rather, I would call it knock off
if Obama. It`s like a knock off of Obama. It`s like having a phony
designer bag on Times Square. It may look like the real thing and has some
of that. But it`s a phony because you really are cutting taxes, ending the
mandate and you`re really shrinking Medicaid and giving the states, the
room to decide things even like preexisting conditions.
So, it may look like Gucci but it`s really Pucci.
AZAR: It`s not. Really, there`s nothing in the bill that the health
policy experts have had a chance to read it and interpret that look likes
it`s expanding coverage. That doesn`t appear to be any protections for
people of lower income and it certainly doesn`t look like it`s providing
It`s not providing adequate – honestly it`s not really providing adequate
access. They like to use the term access but as we all know you can go
into Saks Fifth Avenue but if you don`t have the money to buy your Gucci
bag, you`re not going to buy it.
SHARPTON: And if somebody tells you, Dr. Gawande that this is Saks Fifth
Avenue and you find out that it`s Jack`s Broadway, you just went an
interest mongrel. You are also have been in many ways conned.
GAWANDE: This is really important to understand. This is in many ways a
repealing Medicaid bill masquerading as an ObamaCare repeal bill.
GAWANDE: For people who are getting healthcare through the exchanges or
through Medicaid, it makes deep cuts. And so Medicaid goes backwards. The
cuts not only roll back the expansions that currently exist on Medicaid,
they take it – they take it farther than if ObamaCare didn`t exist. And
that`s really important. So Center for Budget Policy Priorities looked at
the tax cuts under this and basically there`s $33 billion goes to the top
400 richest people in the country.
And in order to provide that $33 billion in tax cuts to them it will take
three-quarters of a million people out of Medicaid or exchange coverage.
That is – that is the choice.
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. But I think we put a lot
out there this morning. Thank you Clarence Page, Dr. Natalie Azar and Dr.
Coming up, the growing contention between President Trump and the
Congressional Black Caucus. I`ll ask one member of that caucus if that
will ever change.
And later, more deadly confrontations between police and people of color
that produce no police convictions. Will we see a change in the national
conversation? This is “PoliticsNation” on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Earlier this week, we learned that the Congressional Black
Caucus declined an invitation from the White House to meet with President
Trump in the near-term. The invitation issued by the, quote, honorable
Omarosa Manigault. But President Trump also in charge of black community
outreach, was extended to all 49 CBC members, but the group is reported as
being reluctant to participate in a photo op that the president could use
to show solidarity with black voters. Their policy interests such as
voting rights have been either ignored or in the case of criminal justice
reform rejected by the White House since first meeting with the CBC in
Joining me now is democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York.
Congressman, three weeks after the election then President-elect Trump
called me and said he wanted to get together, we`ve debated and fought for
30 years here in New York and I said only if he would meet with all the
civil rights leaders. Never heard back from him since the honorable Miss
Manigault to our convention. But it seems like they wanted to really talk
to all these wonder photo op. But I wouldn`t do it.
The caucus said the executive committee they had an extensive thing they
laid out when they met saying you said during the campaign, President
Trump, that black Americans had nothing to lose, here is what we had to
lose, he has not responded. And now you get this invitation, the caucus
does, for all 49 members to meet with him and there`s reluctance.
I just wanted our viewers to have the context of his engaging both elected
black leadership and civil rights leadership and where this reluctance if
not outright rejection by the caucus has a context.
GREGORY NEEKS, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: And it does. Look at his budget.
Look at his proposals. Look at what he`s talked about and how it affects
the communities in which we represent. And basically what he wants to do
is to have us come for a reception to celebrate what? What we want is to
make sure that we have access to the secretaries of which he has denied us
so that we can sit down and talk about the issues that are affecting us,
whether it`s criminal justice reform –
SHARPTON: So he didn`t each invite you to a meeting, Roosevelt room, let`s
sit down and really deal with some of the issues that you raise. He
invited the caucus to a reception.
MEEKS: That`s basically what he wants to do. That`s why initially we only
said the executive committee because we want the focus on issues and the
way the Congressional Black Caucus works is we then ask secretaries to come
to our weekly meetings so that we can talk about the issues that are
important to us and our communities in their particular areas, whether it`s
criminal justice reform, we want the secretary of – Secretary Sessions to
SHARPTON: Right. Attorney general.
MEEKS: Attorney general to come in. If it`s HUD, we want the secretary of
HUD to come in. If it`s dealing with as we`re fighting now, you know, even
with the state department we have the pickering and the wrangle fellows.
Here are people of color that come into the state department. And he`s
cutting back on that.
So we want to deal with special issues that are tremendously important to
the communities that we represent. We want those secretaries to be
accessible to us so that we can talk about our principles and we don`t want
a photo op and just something that is going to – I mean, what he did even
with the executive committee when they were there is don`t you want to take
a picture with me and tried to get them to come around him, sitting at the
– his desk in the oval office.
We`re not about playing that game. Too much is at stake for the
communities that we represent. We`ve got to deal with real issues that
could make a difference.
SHARPTON: And he does this with other areas. I mean, people need to
understand he sits with business leaders and talks substantive issues,
brings secretaries, he sits with other constituents to invite the
Congressional Black Caucus in anything less than that kind of climate is
really insulting to black voters.
MEEKS: Well, it is. And remember how he started as you indicated, Rev, as
president elect, he didn`t offer to talk about issues then, he wanted to
meet with individuals who primarily were entertainers or others who had
nothing to do with policy.
MEEKS: We`re not there for that. We`re there to deal with policy and it
seems as though that everything that he`s done, everything that he`s done
of substance, you know, talking about what did he have to lose, look at
what you have to lose based upon the budget. Let`s just look at this
healthcare bill that`s devastating that he says he`s supporting. First, he
celebrated when it passed the house, then he said it was a mean spirited
bill, and now he says he`s behind this bill that is being put forth next
week by the senate when as your very informative segment before this
indicated it is devastating – it will be devastating to Medicaid which
will be devastating to not own African-Americans but poor people.
MEEKS: All over America.
SHARPTON: It also when you deal with – I`m going to talk about this in a
minute in the show, the convictions, not one, in three police shootings. I
couldn`t imagine the Black Caucus meeting with him and not dealing with
police reform when Attorney General Sessions met with four or five of us
that lead national civil rights group, me represent National Action
Network, couldn`t even answer that. We met on the Garner case in your
state. This week, the Garner family and I met with DOJ people.
How do you and members of the caucus meet with the president and not deal
with these issues and come back to the people that elected you with any
level of credibility and respect.
MEEKS: We would lose all credibility. I mean, we`re going back to
mandatory minimums when you`re talking about just incarcerating individuals
for non-violent crimes. You hear what`s coming out of this administration,
private prisons, you know, they`re on the rise, more people are investing
in private prisons again based upon the proposals that are being put in
place by this president.
So therefore it shows already that proposal is the prison industrial system
where they plan to incarcerate us on minor affairs and no one wants to talk
about that from the administration. We cannot allow that to happen, we
will not allow that to happen. And with all this other conversation that`s
going on, even when you`re talking about Russia, we want to talk about the
issues that are affecting our people on a day to day basis.
SHARPTON: Well, thank you very much, Congressman Gregory Meeks, you made
Up next, how a tennis star is turning a negative moment into a positive
show of force. That`s coming up.
SHARPTON: We`re doing something a little different for this week. In lieu
of the got you, we`d like to try a praise you. Trust me, you`ll like it.
But first a refresher, in September of 2015 retired tennis pro James Blake
was tackled to the ground outside of a Manhattan hotel. The undercover
NYPD officer seen here mistaking Blake for a suspect in a credit card theft
ring. The arrest was not reported, violating basic police protocol.
This week Blake and his legal team reached an agreement with the city of
New York, dropping Blake`s claim of excessive force in exchange for a new
legal fellowship launched in his name. The fellow will join the city`s
civilian complaint review board for a two-year stint assisting those
pursuing complaints against police with a specific focused on poor
neighborhoods outside of Manhattan where complaints are highest.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lauded the fellowship as a step to boost
police transparency. Let`s hope he`s right because as we saw this weekend
we`ll address later in this show the relationship between national law
enforcement and minority community needs all the reconciliation and reform
it can get.
But back to Mr. Blake who is fully aware that many people of color do not
have the same access to power his name provides. According to his lawyer,
it was this privilege that compelled him to, quote, use this fortuitous
event to make a real difference. So, Mr. Blake, for empowering vulnerable
New Yorkers to seek justice from those slated to protect and serve them,
for using your position to attack a pervasive problem when money would have
sufficed for many, and for being an all-around class act when class wasn`t
shown to you at all, for all of this I praise you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: What you have seen around this country for the
last three years, the first case was Eric Garner. The nation is watching
this case because this case was the beginning of a wave of a call for
justice and this should end this wave of letting police walk away with no
charges, no convictions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: On Wednesday, I joined the family of the late Eric Garner as
they met with the justice department officials to discuss the ongoing
federal investigation into his death. The meeting came amid several
developments this week in the ongoing debate about race and policing.
We saw graphic dash cam footage of motorist Philando Castile`s final
moments, just days after a jury acquitted the Minnesota police officer that
We heard police audio of the fatal encounter between Seattle law
enforcement and Charlene Lyles a pregnant single mother struggling with
mental health issues.
We learned that the parents of Michael Brown, the Missouri teenager who`s
August 2014 death sparked days of iconic unrest reached an undisclosed
settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson.
And we saw an Ohio judge declaring a mistrial in the case of former
Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing who in 2015 shot and killed Samuel
DuBose, an incident that was captured on body camera video.
Even as deadly confrontations between police of color and law enforcement
continue to be recorded they also continue to produce no police convictions
and black civilians must continue to keep faith that justice for all is
more than a phrase.
Joining me now is Eugene O`Donnell, he is a professor of law and police
studies at John J. College of criminal justice. Marquez Claxton a retired
New York City police detective and now director of the Black Law
Let me go to you, Marq, first. All this week also in Milwaukee, a
policeman acquitted. No convictions of police. We struggle and you know
from back in the day when you were on the force, I was one of those
beginning these last rounds of struggles around police accountability that
we had to first struggle to even get into a court. Now we are in court and
you`re not seeing convictions, but people forget that we weren`t even
getting trials a few years ago. We had to march to get even Zimmermann in
the Trayvon Martin case a trial to see what a jury was going to say even
though he was a make believe cop in his own mind, but it just brings to
mind this has been a process that has always had an uphill struggle.
MARQUEZ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Yes, I think
it`s part of this ongoing process as we make the calls and people around
the nation are making calls for overall criminal justice reform and police
reform more specifically. But in regards to overall criminal justice
reform, I think it`s important for us to examine prosecutorial strategies
when you`re talking about prosecuting a police officer.
I think time and time again based on the results that we`re receiving,
there needs to be a deeper examination as to how these cases are being
prosecuted. I`m no attorney, but quite clearly, I think there`s overall
focus on whether or not the police officer feared for their life. It seems
as if during the course of a trial the focus by prosecution and allowed by
the defense is whether a police officer feared for their life, not even
reasonably feared for their life.
And I think what happens is they are excluding all of the elements of
responsibility and culpability on the part of the police officer. We`re
ignoring that time and time again many of these cases involve officer-
created jeopardy. So as we have this discussion, we need to insist that
prosecution includes an examination of the deviations from police protocol,
from policy, from tactics, all those deviations when you add them up and
you examine them and you delve deeply into them will put the prosecution in
a position to establish some kind of criminal conduct. Up until now what
we have is an examination of the victim`s background in life and whether or
SHARPTON: Well, we put the victim on trial. We in many ways putting the
victims on trial.
Eugene, also, I like Marq am not a lawyer and I don`t play one on
television, but the fact is that the laws give too much room – I think one
of the things we raised in 2014 at the big march in Washington was dealing
with the federal laws on civil rights, I`m talking about National Action
Network, NAACP and others in the big march we had, and that the laws give
too much room to where you can interpret if a policeman was in fear.
Shouldn`t the laws be a little more defined than that because anybody can
say that I was afraid? And are we dangerously close to people being able
to say that just the presence of a black man is threatening to me?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROFESSOR, JOHN J. COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well,
the whole issue is the officer`s judgment and the officer has judgment
powers that are awesome, staggering, and in order to give somebody those
kind of powers, we as a society have to make sure we`re picking people very
selectively, that they have the wisdom, the prudence, the intellect to do
the work. And these are real issues and we have a new administration in
Washington and they could be very helpful with this.
We need – we have a recruitment crisis at the moment, fewer people wanted
to go into this profession and we need to – it would be a very good time
to talk about training and education, investing in –
SHARPTON: But we also need laws, Eugene, because I don`t care how much
training you have, if a man is telling you that you pulled over as in the
case of Philando Castile and he`s telling you I have a licensed gun and you
shoot seven times with his girlfriend sitting there and her young child
sitting in the back seat, that`s not a training problem that a jury let go.
There is too much room in the law that allows you to do something as
blatant as that yet they say it`s not against the law.
The laws need to be, in my opinion, to be refined and where there`s not
that much wiggle room to say, oh, I was just scared. Shot seven times?
Baby in the back seat of the car.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that might very well be true. The reality is that deadly
force should be exceptional. I think the officer in this case said this
was a robbery suspect in his mind, even if that`s true, overwhelmingly
people that are stopped, overwhelmingly people that are sought for robbery
don`t end up being shot and killed and that is where it should be. It
should be an absolute minimal number of cases of deadly force and the
reality is we`re not there and we`re not even close to being there at this
SHARPTON: Now, Marq, you mentioned prosecutorial. One of the things that
we have talked about for the last several years and finally got the
governor in New York to do an executive order but not by law, we`re
fighting now to see that by law in California with the assembly bill that
is headed to the senate there, special prosecutors because if you take it
outside of the local prosecutor`s politics who are usually elected and have
to play to dealing with police unions and all and who depend on the police
departments that they maybe prosecuting a member of, if you take it outside
the prosecutorial conduct or misconduct for that matter becomes another
issue and really takes it out of in many ways a subjective political
analysis toward an objective pursuit of justice.
CLAXTON: Yes. I think that special prosecutors would be helpful, but I
don`t believe it`s a panacea and I don`t believe that it is an answer in
dealing holistically with the issues that we face. I think it`s an
important step as we talk about reforming, you know, criminal justice
reform or even police reform, special prosecutors would be very helpful and
However, I think also that the strategies – one is we have to get to the
point where we`re comfortable enough with understanding or recognizing when
an officer creates the jeopardy situation that he finds himself in and we
have to have the tenacity as prosecutors, prosecutors have to have it, to
really vigorously put on a case that establishes on behalf of the people
that the police officer`s deviations away from tactics training,
professional education, et cetera, led to the fatal encounter.
And until we get to that point, whether it`d be a special prosecutor or
local prosecutor, we`ll still find the similar results. So it`s a useful
step forward, I`m supportive of it, but I understand that there needs to be
an overall holistic reform package of criminal justice reform, police
reform and really a different way of analyzing and deciding how to
prosecute these cases.
Until we get prosecution, there will be no significant changes in the
encounters these fatal encounters that we`re seeing across the nation.
SHARPTON: I agree. And we need good cops to start saying bad cops when
they are bad. Most cops are not bad, but good cops need to say, yup, this
was wrong. This is bad. And I`m not with that.
SHARPTON: Just like we as community citizens do to those that cross the
line in the community.
Thank you, Eugene O`Donnell. Thank you Marquez Claxton.
Up next, it`s time for the party with a purpose. I`m talking about the
upcoming Essence Festival in New Orleans. More details in a minute. We`ll
be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We must be determined that when President Obama and the Obama
family, the first black family leaves the White House, that black concerns
don`t leave with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: My message nearly one year ago at the annual Essence Festival.
Next week, I`ll be back in New Orleans along with the best and the
brightest from around the nation promoting music, empowerment and
community, and indeed it comes at a time when President Barack Obama is no
longer at the White House. Donald Trump is.
Joining me now is Michelle Ebanks, the president of Essence.
Michelle, this is the first huge gathering of blacks since President Trump
has been in office and you have your empowerment sessions. I spoke every
year for 22 years.
MICHELLE EBANKS, PRESIDENT, ESSENCE: Every year.
SHARPTON: But you have Congresswoman Maxine Waters all the way to Mary-Pat
Hector, 19-year-old youth leader and Ava –
EBANKS: Ava DuVernay. Yes.
SHARPTON: The sensational. But you also have the best in music. I mean,
the super every night has the top entertainers. I mean, tell us what`s
happening because hundreds of thousands of people come to this. This is
the biggest gathering of blacks in the year.
EBANKS: It is. It`s the largest gathering and the party, you said it,
party with a purpose. The party is at the Superdome at night and we kick
off on Friday night with Ms. Diana Ross.
EBANKS: Who will be there with John Legend and so many other artists.
Saturday, Mary J. Blige, will really tell us what it means to be a strength
of a woman. And so as Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Monica.
SHARPTON: All on one show?
EBANKS: All on one show. It`s the – it will be the first time in our
history we have had an all-female night on all five stages curated by Mary
SHARPTON: Is that right?
EBANKS: We are very excited about that. And Sunday, we`ll end the evening
with Chance the Rapper who will put on an amazing show. We will have
Master P., an incredible reunion, Trombone Shorty, Solange, over 50
artists. It`ll be a great party.
SHARPTON: And Chance the Rapper is quite an artist and a real fine young
EBANKS: A fine young man.
SHARPTON: As we deal with the entertainment and the party with a purpose
at night as we deal with the empowerment series, the fact that last year
was the last year of the Obama administration and I remember well when I
came out to speak and we were talking, some of us that were involved, no
one thought Donald Trump would be president and no one – in fact, many of
the women leaders that you have every year thought Hillary Clinton was
going to be president.
SHARPTON: So now we come back to have a party with a purpose, I think with
a new energy because the mayor there has dealt with confronting confederate
statues. I think Essence is probably more important this year, Essence
Music Festival, than it has been in the 22 years that you`ve had it.
EBANKS: Rev, more important than ever and the energy, the response, it`s
the biggest festival that we will probably have. The energy, the activism,
the need for people to gather and understand, how do we protect our
interests, our rights? Black women had the highest rate of voting in the
last presidential election.
And the organizers, women of color of the march on Washington. This is a
very active activist community of leaders, and it`s going to be an
important time to put the issues on the table and make sure we are fighting
for what`s right.
SHARPTON: And we can do that and enjoy ourselves. There`s never been a
EBANKS: Never a separation.
SHARPTON: Even when I was a kid watching Martin Luther King and then later
working with his wife and others as I joined, they always had the Mahalia
Jacksons and others, Sammy Davis, that was in the movement. There`s no
separation. Party with a purpose will be at New Orleans and I`ll be live
from there next Sunday morning.
Thank you, Michelle Ebanks.
Up next, my final thoughts of this ongoing debate about race and the
police. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: I exchanged text messages early this morning with Reverend
Joseph Lowry. I mentioned him last week as one of my fathers in the
movement. I exchanged text messages with him because after a week of
seeing no convictions in three cases in three different areas of the
country around policing, and with the shooting of a pregnant woman with
mental issue challenges, it`s the time where I start saying, what are we
looking at, and what do we do?
Of course, everybody who goes to court is not to be convicted. Everybody
who goes to court is not guilty. But when it seems like a pattern of
ignoring police reform and rights of civilians and the rights to question
policing, when it seems as if it is going the other way when during the
years of President Obama, many of us helped to push and cajole it into
finally going the way of accountability, it can get somewhat discouraging.
The reason I reached out to Reverend Joe Lowry is because he helped to
found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. He chaired the board for it and he later became president. And I
thought about if Joe Lowry and Martin Luther King and Wyatt Tee Walker
could keep fighting when their homes were bombed, keep fighting when, for
nine years between the Montgomery Bus Boycott, before they finally got a
civil rights act, nine years where different people were questioning them
and they were attacked by the right and attacked even in their community,
and there was always a difference of opinion. For every Martin there was a
Malcolm, and then there was the young members of snake and disagreed but
then you had the Julian bonds and the Jesse Jacksons that did agree.
There was also tension, also friction, yet they kept going. You are not
judged by your victories, you`re judged by if you keep fighting in the face
of defeat. If you keep fighting in the face of criticism. If you keep
fighting even when those on your side turn on you. That`s when we see who
the real activists, the real patriots, the real believers in reform is.
Yes, it`s been a tough week for those of us that believe in reform. That
means only the tough will get off the mat and keep fighting. The rest will
lay on the mat and start the blame game and start making excuses.
That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back here next
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