Politics Nation, Transcript 7/2/2017
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: July 2, 2017
Guest: Vann Newkirk II, Yamiche Alcindor, Paul Butler
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning and welcome to “PoliticsNation.”
I`m down in New Orleans for the annual Essence Music Festival. And we will
be talking shortly with the mayor of the whole city, Mayor Mitch Landrieu,
about many things including him being one of the leading figures against
President Trump`s policies.
But first, as we continue to see republicans are still stuck in this health
care bill crisis and negotiations over health care, moderates and
conservatives still battling on which sides they`re on on various parts of
We`re going to at “PoliticsNation” look at it from another angle that has
not been too often discussed. And that is how this health care bill and
health care generally may lead to further racial inequality.
Yes, it does, argues Vann Newkirk II. And Van Newkirk II is joining me now
as well as Yamiche Alcindor, a national reporter with the “New York Times”
and an MSNBC contributor.
Yamiche, let me go to you first. Give us the latest on where we are with
the health care debate. We understand that over the last 24 hours that
Majority Leader McConnell has said he`s trying to put all the pieces
together to get to 50. Not there yet. Even have some on the right in the
senate saying he should cancel the August recess. Where are we at in this
health care debate?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Essentially,
republicans are still scrambling to put together a bill that will satisfy
both factions of the republican party. Those factions really be the
moderates, the people in the middle and then the moderates who are really
concerned about cuts to Medicaid and cuts to Planned Parenthood.
There are some people who have already started talking about just repealing
ObamaCare altogether. So you have the senator from Nevada who wrote a
letter to the president saying, hey, you should just – let`s just get rid
of the bill completely. The president has also now tweeted that he would be
OK with that.
So you would really see republicans getting desperate to just be able to
have some sort of a win to be able to hand to their president. But I
shouldn`t say that most republicans, I don`t think that would be able to
actually vote for a bill that just completely repeals ObamaCare without
replacing it because that would cause so many people, something like 32
million people, to lose health care instantly which would really hurt the
republican party, especially when it comes to the midterms.
SHARPTON: Now let me go to you, Mr. Newkirk. I looked at your article with
some great interest, obviously when you raised the issue that health care
has always been about civil rights and I`ve spending my life in civil
rights really caught – I was really captured by the argument title the
fight for health care is essentially a fight about civil rights.
Explain what you mean because obviously a lot of people going to say, oh,
here they are again talking just race. What is the basis of you making that
VANN NEWKIRK II, WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I start with the fact that if
you look at any system – can you think of any system that is less
compatible with Jim Crow 20th century America than universal health care?
I think as the world moved in the 20th century towards universal health
care as modern medicine advanced, America wasn`t ready for that. It`s
proven by all the records, by looking at the past of doctors, of black
doctors of how segregated medicine in America came about.
And I looked it at the civil rights movement and black activism as a
converse to that. They moved and pushed for universal health care before
any other medical associations in America were thinking about it. And they
SHARPTON: Now why is that? Let me push you a little there.
NEWKIRK II: OK.
SHARPTON: Because you detail that with historic references in the article.
Why is it in your opinion what civil rights advocates pushing for universal
health care before anyone in the nation? Was it because of the dire needs
and neglect of health care in African-American and other communities of
color? Or was it that they were progressive or both?
NEWKIRK II: I think it was both. I think what they saw, and you see with
these interracial groups that were down in freedom summer, they saw you had
to be able to provide health care for black people, especially in the south
for any of these other civil rights victories to matter, in the first
What does it matter if you had education if people die when they`re 50? And
I think it was also because they were progressive as well. So they saw that
the means and the way forward for America was pushing back against
conservative structures that said, OK, we`re going to go with the markets
here. And I think those two things are pretty intertwined in American
SHARPTON: And when you deal with the fact, Yamiche, that you`re dealing
with segregation as well where blacks just a generation, a generation and a
half ago, could not use certain health facilities, clearly the only way to
equalize that was to give universal health care and at the same time break
down the Jim Crow Laws that really stopped – blocks my mother in Alabama
from being able to just go to the local public hospital.
ALCINDOR: The idea that you had a system, a health care system that said
under a time we`re separate but equal was still the law of the land. And
then you go and look at the hospitals and realized that they could not
provide that. They could not provide both equal and separate institutions.
But I should say even in modern day America when you look at one of the
things I would talk to the Obama administration about right before when his
term was ending, people were asking what did Obama really do for African-
One of the chief things that the administration officials Valerie Jarrett
and others would point to is the ACA, the idea that there were millions of
African-Americans that didn`t have health insurance that didn`t got on it.
So it was a bill that while it wasn`t targeting only blacks, it benefited
blacks overwhelmingly because so many people did not have health care. So
many people could not afford health care. And I think that I should say
that when you think about the polarization of what became ObamaCare, the
fact that we call it ObamaCare, the title alone.
I`ve interviewed so many Trump supporters that in some ways – there are
people who obviously have real policy issues with Barack Obama who didn`t
like the politics of the man. And then there are some who didn`t like the
fact that this was a law passed by a black man who is telling you that you
had to buy health insurance.
And the idea that that`s part of that, that that`s layered in these
people`s response to ObamaCare is something that we should not, and I don`t
think ever will, ignore.
SHARPTON: No, well, when you look at the fact, Mr. Newkirk, that blacks
disproportionately did not have health care and a lot of it based on the
fact that we disproportionately had to deal with generations of Jim Crow,
then dealing with the fact that we were doubly unemployed and therefore the
income level affected the cost of health care.
When you look at all of that combined what President Obama did with the
support of many of us that were attacked for being close to him was huge in
terms of what he did for African-Americans. I always considered it just
people trying to get their own personal agendas out because you couldn`t
seriously say that didn`t impact in a significant way black America.
But let me ask you about this particular health care debate now. How can
that bring either continued progress or be regressive towards blacks if we
see the senate pass, at least we`re looking in terms of the first draft of
that bill because doesn`t that dial back a lot of the opening of the
ability to get health care coverage for a lot of people of color that for
the first time had that under the Affordable Care Act?
NEWKIRK II: Right. When I talked to public health officials almost to a
person, they described the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, as a stepping
stone for racial equality. Because coverage is a one thing, right? Coverage
is important. And then one of the things that`s been lacking.
But we know from all of our studies, from our experience with a couple
years of ObamaCare now the coverage is not quite equal access and that
coverage didn`t apply to everybody. It didn`t go to all the states that
decided not to expand Medicaid and actually the number one predictor of the
state`s decision not to expand Medicaid is its percentage of the
So we look at that and I think ObamaCare didn`t even quite get us to the
level where coverage is not an issue. And then you move down the road and
people will think, OK, we have ObamaCare as a scaffold.
And you can talk about now people being able to access physicians, doctors,
hospitals, for the first time in their lives and then I think people are
looking 10, 15 years down the road, maybe even a generation down the road,
and saying, OK, now these people who were born under Jim Crow can finally
go to the hospital.
They can finally build healthy lifestyles and a life of health that`s
passed on generationally to their children, their grandchildren, and maybe
a generation or two with ObamaCare, with more policies that expands
coverage universally, that expand access universally. They`ll be able to
see their kids have health care. But instead of going that direction the
senate is going the other way.
SHARPTON: Yamiche, that is what I think a lot of people don`t understand,
and I brought it up here in my address at Essence. And I know a thousand
ministers walking in Washington marching on – anniversary march on
Washington around this.
You really have people that never had in our communities` access to health
care at all and that went from generation to generation hoping for the
best, wishing nothing happens catastrophic because they had no coverage.
They had no access. That for the first time have it now.
And this senate bill, this debate, something that was already passed in the
house threatens all of that. I mean, this is a state of emergency in many
African-American and Latino communities, and I don`t think anyone`s talking
about the dire consequences in communities that will really not be able to
sustain health for their families. It doesn`t get more serious than that.
ALCINDOR: Well, frankly, that is part of the reason why the republicans are
having such a problem passing this bill. When you look at the states that
expanded Medicaid, Ohio and other places where people got health care where
now white families are looking at their kids who are drug addicted and
saying that this Medicaid is how I`m paying for my child`s drug treatment,
that this Medicaid is how I`m paying for my grandmother`s nursing home
So as much as this is an African-American issue, that fact that you have
these senators who are looking at their states and looking at their
constituents and saying, I can`t just take away health care for millions of
people in my state. That`s why the republicans are having such a big
problem with it.
But I will go back to the fact that I interviewed Maxine Waters this week,
and she was telling me about the fact that she grew up with no health care.
That when she had a toothache, she was tying a string to her tooth and then
slamming a door and having to pull out her teeth that way, that she had all
these old remedies of things that she would do. She remembers rubbing down
her grandmother with something like Bengay because she was in such pain but
no access to health care.
So there are people sitting, even lawmakers sitting in the capitol who
understands what that means and not have health care and then that`s going
to be – that`s going to be taken away from people. But the republicans ran
on promising that they were going to take away people`s health care and
Donald Trump was elected on the promise that they were going to take away
So in some ways, as much as people are surprised and it`s going to be
upsetting, the republican voters looked at the republicans and said, I want
to you take away my health care.
SHARPTON: Well, I think that a lot of republican voters didn`t think that
they were talking about I`m going to take away your health care, and a lot
of them when it`s coming home that`s why these town halls are becoming so
fiery. They thought they were talking about somebody else`s health care not
No, you`re going to have to lose yours, too, or you`re going to have to
join the fight to maintain it. Yamiche Alcindor, thank you so much. And of
course, Vann Newkirk II, we`re very happy to have had you this morning.
Coming up, will there ever be peace between black people and the police?
We`re going to talk about in Chicago and other reaction. We`ll talk about
that right after the break here on “PoliticsNation.”
SHARPTON: Welcome back. This week in Chicago three police officers were
indicted by a grand jury over the death of a black teenager. Dash cam video
from two years ago recorded the moment Laquan McDonald was walking away
from police and then shot 16 times.
The officer who pulled the trigger is currently on trial for murder. But
the three officers indicted face questions of a cover-up that include
conspiracy, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice.
There`s a new book that deals with police brutality called “Chokehold:
Policing Black Men.” And it argues that there has never been peace between
black people and the police.
Paul Butler wrote the book and he joins me now. He`s a professor at the
Georgetown University Law Center, a former federal prosecutor, and now
Paul, let me start with – I looked and read most of your book on my way
down to New Orleans, a very good book. Now you grew up in law, aspiring
legal career that took you in the prosecutor`s office. I grew up in the
civil rights movement, post-King civil rights movement, where policing has
been a dominant issue in our involvement.
So we approached this issue from two sides but end up in the same place and
that is there is this seemingly unending battle between how we get police
and the black community and even other communities of color on the same
page and you offer some remedies for that in this book.
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I do, Reverend. So I went into the
prosecutor`s office as an undercover brother growing up, a young black man
in Chicago, had so many unpleasant experiences with the cops. And then even
when I became a prosecutor, I was still a black man, which means I got
stopped and frisked and even got arrested for a crime that I didn`t commit.
SHARPTON: Even as a prosecutor?
BUTLER: As a prosecutor, working at the Department of Justice. And here`s
the thing, Reverend, I had skills. I had legal skills. I had standing. I
had enough money to hire the best lawyer in town. So I went to trial, got
acquitted in less than five minutes. One of my favorite chapters in this
book “Chokehold” is a how-to guide for brothers, African-American men who
are in the criminal justice system.
I beat my case and I want other folks to know how you do it because the
system is biased against us. When folks say police and prosecutors are out
to get African-American men, Reverend, that`s the truth.
SHARPTON: Stop right there because we have thousands of people watching
this morning. Many of them not black. Many of them had no idea of that
life. We`re approaching the birthday of this nation.
So they expect maybe civil rights guys like Al Sharpton saying this but you
were a federal prosecutor and you`re saying that that did not give you a
pass at all and this is a way of life for blacks.
How do you make people that are white and have never lived under that
existence that are not anti-black, not the bigots at all? They just don`t
get it. How do you make them understand that problem?
BUTLER: You break it down, Reverend, you tell them the truth, which is that
a white woman has a much better threat of being a victim of violence from a
white person, especially a white man, one in five chance of being raped by
a white person. Less than one in 500 chance of being the victim of a
violent crime by an African-American.
Folks are scared of us, Reverend. We make people anxious and chokehold. I
look at all these studies that showed that literally there`s a physical
reaction that white folks have when they see an unfamiliar black male face.
But I think people, it`s not about racism, it`s about not understanding us.
Another fact I talk about in the book most white people have one black
friend. So if the only exposure you have to brothers is seeing us on the
daily news, no wonder you`re scared of us.
SHARPTON: Now, you know, one of the things that is so frustrating to me,
we`ve been able to make some movement during the Obama years. And you know
I`ve been involved in a lot of that, in a lot of these issues from Eric
Garner`s in New York working with his family, which “Chokehold” certainly
symbolizes and on and on and on, Ferguson and all was on the front lines.
But I`m looking today the data shows there was as many police shootings
this year, the first six months, as it was last the two years. So even as
we move forward we`re moving backwards, and now you have an attorney
general saying that the moves that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and
Attorney General Eric Holder started moving in this area in terms of
consent decrees and cameras on police, he`s saying, oh, no, we`re not going
to move forward on that. In fact, we`re going to reverse that.
BUTLER: The attorney general who did not read the justice department`s
Ferguson report. He just wasn`t that interested. An attorney general who
wants to bring back the failed war on drugs. And, Reverend, as you say, who
wants to stop looking at police departments.
President Trump says he wants to bring back stop and frisk which already is
the law in many jurisdictions. Folks know that a judge in New York said the
way that the NYPD was doing it was unconstitutional.
Reverend, Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the police are all about stop
and frisk and what we know is that it doesn`t make communities safer. The
reason why we have these results like Laquan McDonald, officer going on
trial, chances are he`s not going to be convicted.
When you look at what happens in these cases, when the rare times that they
actually are prosecuted and brought to trial, often there`s a not guilty.
So in “Chokehold,” I have a couple of suggestions or ways to make the
police better, startling suggestions, half of cops should be women. Women
officers are much less likely to shoot people than African-Americans. Very
good at public safety, very good at working things out, but not as trigger-
happy as a lot of cops.
Also, if cops have college degrees, they`re much less likely to shoot
unarmed people. So there are things that we can do that will make our
communities safer and help African-Americans have better outcomes.
But as you know, Reverend, President Trump is not about those methods. He`s
about stop and frisk which we know doesn`t work.
SHARPTON: Well, that`s why we`re going to have to keep the pressure on not
because we just like keeping pressure on but because our communities cannot
continue to operate like this.
Thank you so much, Paul. Great book, by the way. I don`t endorse books but
it`s a great book.
BUTLER: I appreciate that.
SHARPTON: And the book is “Chokehold” by Paul Butler.
Coming up, outspoken mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu. His thoughts on
why the new health care plan is bad for the poor and how to improve race
relations in this country, Mayor Landrieu with Al Sharpton. We`ll be right
SHARPTON: Up next, my conversation with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
What he tells me about the unique challenges southern mayors face when it
comes to climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU, NEW ORLEANS: We will no longer allow the confederacy
to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city. The removal of
these statutes sends a clear message, an unequivocal message to the people
of New Orleans and to the people of our nation that New Orleans celebrates
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back. He`s one of the nation`s most
outspoken men, Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He has been un-customarily vocal about
issues that others won`t touch. He`s not one to hold back his opinion.
But this democrat drew national attention when he slammed the legacy of the
confederacy and ordered the removal of civil war statues from his city.
He`s now the head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is not shy about
expressing his opinions against President Trump`s agenda.
I sat down with him to talk about these and other matters and challenges
facing southern mayors around climate change.
Mitch Landrieu was very candid as we had this discussion.
LANDRIEU: Well, Reverend, first of all, thank you for having me. And it`s a
great question. I mean, it`s clear to everybody in the country for those
who supported the president even those who don`t. That his comments in
temperate and it takes our eyes off of the ball of the things that mayors
We have a lot of cities, large and small, that run by republican and
democratic mayors. And you`ve been in cities, you feed it on the ground all
the time. We`ve got a lot of stuff that we really have to worry about in
real time. And we govern in reality. We don`t spend a lot of time talking.
So as the president talks and he tweets and congress get stuck, mayors
across America are just blowing it on. We`re moving forward.
I mean cities across America, contrary to what the president has said many
times, are not dark places. They`re places of light. I mean, you`ve seen
New Orleans this weekend being the host of the Essence Music Festival. It`s
the largest gathering of sports entertainment, cultural, business leaders.
I mean, we`re just getting the work of living done every day. And so mayors
are just blowing by. And I can tell you, I hear this from republican mayors
and democratic mayors. Whether it`s healthcare reform, global warming,
infrastructure, whatever issue it is, criminal justice reform. We got our
heads down and we`re doing our job.
We want Washington to be where it`s supposed to be and help us. But if
they`re going to be there, they need to get out of the way, get their foot
off our throats and let us do the jobs that our constituents and our
customers and our neighbors need us to do.
SHARPTON: Now, right in line with that, this health care bill, we`ve seen
the senate now delay it until after the fourth. We hear the CBO is saying
it can cost 22 million people their health care.
We see there are all kinds of debates back and forth from the moderates to
the conservatives in the U.S. Senate. But you run a city and, again, you`re
the head of the National Conference of Mayors.
What will this health care bill mean if the U.S. Senate passes their bill?
What will it mean on the ground in cities around this country?
LANDRIEU: Well, that`s a great – that`s a great question. So let me put a
face on it for you. Because that`s what mayors do. Because of course we see
the faces every day.
Right down the street from where the Essence Music festival has meeting at
the convention center and then by the Superdome, there is a place called
the Mary Buck or the St. Thomas Health Clinic.
Before the Affordable Care Act went into play that health care clinic did
not exist. All of the workers in New Orleans used to have to go to the
emergency room to get preventative care either for acute care for breast
cancer or if the kid had an ear ache and of course if you`re a daily worker
or hourly worker, you would have to sit there 13 hours, get triaged and
basically lose your job.
After the Affordable Care Act in New Orleans, we were able to construct
about 80 primary health care clinics. And by the way, one clinic just a
mile away from here, 300 women, working class women, are able to have early
detection for mammograms and make sure that they don`t have cancer, and if
they do, get the right treatment for it.
So in many ways, this particular bill that`s before congress, the one
that`s there, is really in some ways really, really bad for the people of
America. The working class people that are trying to go to work every day.
You can`t be happy or proud, if you pass a piece of legislation that takes
health care away from 22 million Americans.
The president, this president, it was really clear. He said, we`re going to
repeal and replace ObamaCare and we`re going to construct something that
provides more and better health care to more people for less money. That`s
what he said.
This bill doesn`t do that. And so I think what mayors are saying,
forgetting about the philosophy of it, that on the ground that has real
life impacts and you`re going to really, not only hurt one-sixth of the
economy, you`re going to hurt these particular individuals that have real
faces, real names, real jobs, real families to take care of and it`s a real
SHARPTON: Now, we also see that mayors have to deal with the question of
crime and policing. I remember two or three years ago during a special,
here on MSNBC, about crime. We walked the streets here in New Orleans.
You`re very concerned about gun violence, you`re very concerned about the
shootings. And at the same time, we`ve had the issue that I`ve been out
front with others on around police abuse, police brutality.
How do you grapple with dealing with real problems of crime where you`ve
been one of the mayors who say that people just seem to not care about the
lives of young black men in terms of crime and at the same time, deal with
policing to make sure that the lives of young black men or young anybody,
or old anybody, is protected by the police and not violated by the police?
How do you get that balance, Mayor Landrieu?
LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, it`s a very hard balance to find. And I`m not
sure any of us really know how to do it well. We`re seeing an uptick and
violent crime in neighborhoods across America in the last couple of years
and that`s not a good trajectory. We want to go into different trajectory.
One of the things that we`ve all saw, unfortunately, and we saw this in New
Orleans right after Katrina, was a very bad relationship between the police
and the community. The federal government came in. We have a consent
decree. We`re working through hiring correctly, training correctly,
supervising correctly, and organizing the criminal justice system in a way
that sees people as individuals, not – and treats them based on their
behavior not the color of the skin.
We`re asking people to do that with police officers too. And that takes a
lot - a lot of work. You`ve got to build of trust in the community. We`re
working through that. And actually, our police department is doing fairly
But simultaneously, we are seeing a lot of young men getting hurt on the
streets of America. We`re seeing young men who know each other, shooting
each other. We`re seeing neighborhoods really being torn apart.
All of these neighborhoods have a lot in common. There`s a lot of poverty.
There`s a lot of joblessness. There is generally infusion of drugs in those
communities. We have a lot of wealth that has been lost over the years. And
we have to look at these things both as a public safety threat.
In other words, we have to tell these young men you have to stop hurting
each other because if you`re not, we have to find a way to protect you and
to protect other people. But simultaneously, we have to give them
opportunities so that they can make good choices.
Now, this is a very tough issue for the country to talk about. It`s not one
that we should shy away from. Because we want to make sure everybody is
safe, no matter what they look like, no matter how hold they are, no matter
what neighborhood they live in.
And I don`t think that we do a good job in this country talking about it
because it`s either a law and order discussion or it`s a public health
discussion and it`s never both of them at the same time. So I would like to
call the nation and a purpose on this particular issue.
And you cannot solve this just with more police and more jails. That`s not
the answer. It might be a part of it but there`s a much, much bigger
picture here that we have to think about and talk about in a more
thoughtful way where we each have respect to each other and trust.
SHARPTON: Now, I`ve got to ask you and I want to get to the Essence
Festival. But I got to ask you about sanctuary cities. Wes aw this week the
Supreme Court let part of the Trump travel ban go into effect.
As mayor, as the head of the Conference of Mayors nationwide, sanctuary
cities, how do we deal with that given this new administrative thrust to –
and ban people and to really have people out of the country that don`t fit
a certain criteria?
LANDRIEU: Well, again, I`m going to make a broad statement about this. If
we would stop judging people on the color of their skin and their race or
their ethnicity or what country they come from and judge them based on
their behavior, we would be able to find out who the bad guys are,
quote/unquote, and make sure we do what is necessary to protect the
country. It`s when we start labeling people based on their religion, their
race, their creed, their color, their sexual orientation, where we get into
And as it relates to sanctuary cities, that term is not even defined in the
law which is one of the reason why mayors said, listen, we`re an opening
and welcoming city.
When we have a Hispanic brothers and sisters in our city, if the first
thing that we do is turn our police departments away from fighting the
crime on the streets of America, and actually going into on behalf of the
united States government and becoming the forward immigration force, we`re
never ever going to be able to get into the neighborhoods because they
won`t even trust us to talk to them.
Let me give you a very specific example that our police chiefs – now these
our generals on the ground have warned us about. Let`s say the police
department gets a call for a domestic violence or a sexual assault or rape
and they show up at the scene and it`s a Hispanic woman who was the victim,
if the first thing they do is ask her immigration status, she`s going to
think, well, wait a minute. I`m the victim here. I`m not the perpetrator
and now I`m going to get deported, then they don`t call.
Then nobody helps find the violent criminals and it`s going to make the
streets less safe. Now, all we have said is we`re not going to become the
federal government`s deportation force for them. We`re not going to violate
the law. We`re going to help them but they should listen as many president
say to the generals on the ground about how to secure the streets of
America. And by the way, and I`m sure this is going to hurt people`s
When you look it at the statistics, the people that are committing crimes
in this country are not necessarily the undocumented immigrants. It`s not
the refugees. It`s our neighbors. It`s people in our communities. And
that`s a tough issue that we have to deal with, as you and I were talking
about it a little bit earlier.
And our police department have to build trust in the community. And then
all of us have to do a lot of other stuff to make sure that people have
what is necessary so they can make the good choices and then when they
don`t, that the consequences are fair and just and based on people`s
behavior and not the color of their skin.
SHARPTON: More with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in just a moment. I`ll
ask him about his decision to remove confederate statues from his city and
SHARPTON: Welcome back. In late May, confederate statues, some more than
100 years old, were removed from public display in public places here in
New Orleans. The man giving that order was Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
LANDRIEU: The civil war continues to be re-litigated over time. I don`t
understand why we continue to re-litigate it.
Historically, the confederacy, which was never a formal governmental
entity, fought to destroy the United States of America over the issue of
slavery. That is a historical fact that we now need to confront and to
We also can clearly say now that we`re so far removed from it that the
south – I mean, the confederacy was on the wrong side of history because
the cause of the civil war was to deny the humanity to millions of our
brothers and sisters who were African-American.
And I just wanted as the leader of a southern city, a modern southern city
in 2018 that`s getting ready to celebrate their 300th anniversary who was
really thinking about what kind of symbols that we had in our city and ask
whether or not that reflected the totality of who we are, these confederate
monuments in prominent places of reference.
I mean in our most prominent spaces, were really kind of an affront to our
identity and really was a historic misrepresentation and then finally
crowded out all of the other history that we had that we`ve never really
So the Essence Music Festival, for example, really celebrates an entire
another part of our history. We sold more people into slavery in New
Orleans than anywhere else in the country. But there are no slave ship
monuments here, there are no slave blocks that people were sold off of.
There are no nooses that reflect where the lynchings were.
And so I accuse the, quote/unquote, historians of historic malfeasance
because they just forgot to tell the whole story and then they co-opted a
piece of land that was owned by the public. That seemed, to me, to be
LANDRIEU: It seemed to be unjust to ask after African-American citizens, 67
percent of whom who make the majority of our city to walk by pieces of
property that they own and ostensibly be forced to genuflect before a
statute that was put up to say that they were less than human.
Now, I just don`t find what`s so cataclysmic about that in 2018 and it`s
sad that the response mostly from people outside of New Orleans was so
threatening. But they engaged in actions that in my opinion would
tantamount to burning across on people`s lawns to intimidate them into not
telling the true story and our true history.
And I just believe that we`re better together than we are apart. And I
think that we should be looking forward not back. But you cannot look
forward unless we acknowledge what we did wrong, unless people accept an
open and honest apology, and until they forgive.
You can`t have reconciliation unless you have that. And I don`t think that
should be so hard for us now in the dawning of the 21st century.
SHARPTON: You know, it leads to you talking about the future. I was reading
a study this week, Mr. Mayor, with the debate around climate change and
this president pulling out of the Paris Accord that southern cities will
suffer more than anyone – any particular locations in this country if we
don`t do something about climate change, a city that you`re a mayor of
would be a case in point.
LANDRIEU: Well, let me again take you back to which you asked me about the
Conference of Mayors and how we respond to this president`s denial of facts
Well, first of all, just because the president pulled out of the Paris
Accord, doesn`t mean that the nation has to stop. As my kids used to say to
me before I punished them, you`re not the boss of me. And I said, well.
The mayors of America, if acing in unison, locally, at the same time, we
can actually act locally and create a national policy, a national
consequence. So most mayors in America republican and democrat know the
climate change is real.
We completely accept that man contributes to it and it`s going to have
catastrophic consequences that a slow moving but they`re absolutely going
to happen in my city, as much as Miami and every other coastal city which
is most of us in America and absolutely all of the cities along the deep
south are going to suffer dramatically from a couple of things.
In Louisiana, we have coastal erosion. We have the land that`s subsiding
and then we have the sea that`s rising. What that means is it ain`t going
to be there no more. That`s essentially what that means unless we do
something dramatically to reduce our carbon footprint and take some other
Denying it is just a recipe for having to move in a couple of years in the
city that we know actually not being here. And this is true about Miami
which is where the Conference of Mayors was. And Mayor Levine is doing an
incredible job there as well.
So mayors are not going to wait on Washington. We`re going to protect our
people because that`s our job.
SHARPTON: Essence Music Festival going into its 23rd year. I`ve spoken to
every one of them and it`s enormous and it had to leave one year because of
the Hurricane Katrina and what it had done to the city and you helped to
bring it right back to New Orleans. You`ve been here as Lieutenant
Governor, you`ve been here your whole term as mayor and you`ve got
everybody here, hundreds of thousands of people and it brings $200 million
into the city.
LANDRIEU: Yes, it`s great.
SHARPTON: The empowerment sessions, hearing the speeches and the top
entertainers and getting out to hang up backstage I did with people like
Halle Berry. I mean, there`s nothing like this in the country.
LANDRIEU: No, New Orleans has always been a great sports entertainment
town, we host some of the biggest conventions and it produces a lot of
jobs. In the city of New Orleans, there are 80,000 people and a $5 billion
part of our economy that surrounds major events like this coming in.
And Essence Festival is at the top. This is 500,000 person event. As I
said, it brings in $200,000 million of economic impact. Puts a lot of our
culture economy workers to work.
If you were backstage, the back of the house side of Essence is as exciting
as the front of the house side.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
LANDRIEU: All the technicians. All of the folks that manufacture the
products. All of the different sponsors. And so for the people of New
Orleans, Essence has been a great partner.
But it`s actually more value been added because they call it a party with a
purpose. And aside from all of the great entertainers from Diana Ross to
Mary J. Blige and John Legend and Jill Scott, and all of the people that
were there this weekend, what you also see is really tough issues being
dealt with during the day at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center where
we are talking about issues that really affect all people of America and
particularly people of color and then that subset women and about issues
that confront them. And they come out of it with a much deeper
So if you compare it to what goes on in Davos, for example, with all the
CEOs from all around the world, the intellectual capital and content of
what goes on in Essence matches any other event like this in America. And
of course, we`re thrilled to have them. And we thank that New Orleans and
Essence are tied at the hip.
SHARPTON: Well, it certainly has been that way since they started, as I say
I am a witness. Mr. Mayor, I would say because you elect a new mayor in
October here that we`ll miss you. But I don`t think we`ll miss you because
the people in New Orleans made it loud and clear, they`re not going to let
Thank you for being with me.
LANDRIEU: Reverend Sharpton, when you come back, I`m going to be sitting in
the front row with you, so I`ll be there. I`m not going anywhere.
SHARPTON: That`s the deal. Thank you.
LANDRIEU: Thank you. All righty.
SHARPTON: Up next, my final thoughts on the Fourth of July weekend and what
it should mean and will mean.
SHARPTON: On this Tuesday, we stop and pause to celebrate the birthday of
this nation. Many of us look at it differently. As I stood on the platform
yesterday to speak at Essence, A mile away from where the statue of General
Robert E. Lee, the confederate general had been taken down.
I thought about how Robert E. Lee fought for the right to own my people.
But I also have thought about how three generations later, I sat on the
platform and watched a black man Barack Obama put his hand on the bible to
become the president of the United States.
That showed me the ugliness of our past but the possibilities if we fight.
Young people have started a slogan that we`ve all adopted stay woke– stay
woke is a good slogan. Because if we wake up then let`s go to work, woke
without work is meaningless. Some people work, that`s why we made advances.
And we have to keep working even through the present setbacks, celebrate
America by staying woke but going to work after you woke.
That does it for me. “PoliticsNation” will be back next Sunday morning,
same time, have a happy Fourth. Stay woke and go to work.
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