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PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton: 2/10/2017

Guests: Hakeem Jeffries, Maria Hinojosa, Randi Weingarten, Will Jawando; Dave Zirin

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: February 12, 2017 Guest: Hakeem Jeffries, Maria Hinojosa, Randi Weingarten, Will Jawando; Dave Zirin



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  They are mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, sons, and brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President?  Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The majority leader.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER:  Senator`s impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair.  Senator Warren said, "Senator Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.  "I call the Senator to order under the provisions of rule 19.

WARREN:  Mr. President, I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.  I ask leave of the Senate to continue my remarks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is there objection?


WARREN:  I appeal the ruling --

UNIDENDTIFIED MALE:  Objection is heard.  The Senator will take her seat.


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

Those were dramatic scenes on the Senate floor earlier this week after Senator Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate voted to silence Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.  She was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

That letter from 1986 was condemning Jeff Sessions, then the U.S. attorney from the southern district of Alabama, for using what she said was the power of his office to suppress votes by black citizens.  And here`s how Senator McConnell defended his action.


MCCONNELL:  Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech.  She had appeared to violate the rule.  She was warned.  She was giving an explanation.  Nevertheless, she persisted.


SHARPTON:  And she persisted, all right.  And so, with this week`s confirmation of Jeff Sessions to be our attorney general, all of that happening, of course, during Black History Month.  We ask ourselves, how concerned should we be about Jeff Sessions?

Joining me now is New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.  He`s a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and sits on the House judiciary committee.

Congressman, thanks for being with me this morning.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK:  Good morning, Rev.

SHARPTON:  We in the civil rights community oppose Jeff Sessions, though he called a few of us, three of us Friday, and I`ll talk about that later in the show.

But given his record, calling the voting rights act intrusive, being on record dealing with some of the most controversial and in the opinion of many of us, anti-civil rights measures.  Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who you know I worked with and was part of the generation she and others raised.  I grew up under them.

She writes a letter.  Elizabeth Warren silenced from reading the letter.  It was not put in the record when she wrote it in `86.  I mean, are we overreacting?  Or is there a real genuine concern?  And as a member of the House judiciary committee, what should be the legislative concerns?

JEFFRIES:  Well, there`s a real concern here.  First of all, Coretta Scott King is an iconic national figure.  Next to every great man is a great woman, and Coretta Scott King partnered with Dr. King to help change this nation.

SHARPTON:  No doubt about it.

JEFFRIES:  In a way that was phenomenal, and she sacrificed greatly.

SHARPTON:  And continuing it after he was assassinated.

JEFFRIES:  Absolutely, the legacy continued beyond Dr. King`s assassination in 1968 and she continued to carry the torch forward.  And so, the fact that her words would be deemed offensive in any way, shape or form, is shocking.

The second problem is that Elizabeth Warren is clearly being held to a double standard.  Senator Ted Cruz on the floor of the United States Senate called Mitch McConnell a liar.

SHARPTON:  On the floor?

JEFFRIES:  On the floor.

SHARPTON:  Did they call rule 19 when he called Senator McConnell a liar?

JEFFRIES:  Not at all.  He wasn`t sanctioned, he wasn`t disciplined.

SHARPTON:  Even McConnell didn`t call for rule 19 when he was himself attacked as a liar on the floor?

JEFFRIES:  Absolutely.  Apparently, the word liar is not a dirty word in the Republican dictionary, or there`s a double standard between Democrats and Republicans.  And the fact that Coretta Scott King`s words would be the basis of Senator Warren being silenced when Ted Cruz can call the Senate majority leader a liar shows what Washington Republicans are all about.

SHARPTON:  And then the next day, three male Senators read the actual letter that they silenced Elizabeth Warren for reading.  I mean, the exact letter, and no one silenced them.  So, it`s almost like, you know, whether we`re dealing with a different gender bias here, like you`re to be -- you can`t read a woman`s statement as a woman, but three men can.  Nobody raised objection.

But let me deal with the substance of Senator Sessions.  How do you see he in the justice department in terms of dealing with continuing any of the moves that we saw under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch as attorney generals in the areas of civil rights, criminal justice and all?  I mean, how do you see this from where you sit in the Congress?

JEFFRIES:  Well, it`s very deeply troubling.  House Democrats on the judiciary committee are concerned.  Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are concerned.  Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder did a tremendous job in moving this country forward over the last eight years.

It`s clear that Donald Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, would like to turn back the clock.  We can be hopeful that he will change course, but Jeff Sessions is a product of his environment.  He`s a good old boy from the segregated south.  And throughout his entire career, he`s been hostile to civil rights as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, as the Alabama attorney general, and subsequently as a United States Senator.

And if you think about, for instance, the area of criminal justice reform, where there has been a bipartisan effort -- Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives -- you`ve been part of this movement, Reverend Sharpton, to deal with our broken criminal justice system.  Jeff sessions has been an obstacle in that regard.

In some ways even opposing his own Republican Senators, like Rand Paul and Mike Lee from Utah.  He supports mass incarceration.  He supports unconstitutional practice of stop and frisk.  He supports the failed war on drugs, which has resulted in the United States becoming the country that incarcerates more individuals than any other country in the nation.

And it appears that he wants to continue these lock them up and throw away the key policies that have been bad not just for African-Americans but bad for the economic productivity of the entire nation. 

SHARPTON:  These are the concerns that were raised when we had the civil rights march January 14th leading into the inauguration because he`d already been nominated.  These are the concerns I know I raised with him on the phone on Friday.

The fact is, we`re talking about an actual seat change in terms of where criminal justice goes in this country.  President Obama commuted more low- level, nonviolent drug offenders than the last 11 presidents.  He said it on this show.

We certainly see the reverse of that being proposed now.  Police reform.  The president`s 21st-century police recommendations, what`s going to happen to that?  I mean, aside from the slogan and the protesting and all that I and others do, substantive issues that will be 180-degree turn is at stake here.

JEFFRIES:  That`s correct.  Here`s what we plan to do in the House, and I think there`ll be a parallel effort in the Senate -- on dealing with our mass incarcerations problem in the United States of America and we`re going to reach out to our Republican colleagues.  

SHARPTON:  What can you do?

JEFFRIES:  Well, we can introduce legislation that is similar to the bills that passed the House judiciary committee last year on sentencing reform, reducing mandatory minimums, trying to give judges more discretion and improve the compassion within the criminal justice system.

Where`s the criminal justice reform act?  What`s the progress or lack of progress on that?  We`ve been talking about that for over a year now.

JEFFRIES:  We were hopeful that we could get some bills to the president`s desk, our President Barack Obama, in the last session.  That got derailed as a result of politics connected to the election, but there are Democrats and Republicans who are committed to continuing that effort.  We`re going to jump start it in the next few months, and hopefully, we`ll get something to the president`s desk.  

SHARPTON:  Will he sign it? If you get the criminal justice reform act, which is a bipartisan act, but it deals with some of the issues you and I discussed this morning, will Donald Trump sign that bill?

JEFFRIES:  That`s the open question.  And we`re concerned that Jeff Sessions wouldn`t be a positive influence on the president.  He may be an obstacle.  That`s why we`re going to continue to keep the pressure on him as we move forward.

SHARPTON:  Well, thank you, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.  I know him as Hakeem from Brooklyn.  Grew up around the National Action Network, and I know you`ll keep the pressure on.

Coming up, President Trump is not backing down from his controversial immigration order even after a court order against it.  What will he do next?  We don`t know.  We`ll tell you, though, what we think when PoliticsNation returns.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You spoke about you`re going to win this court battle against the immigration and travel ban --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We`ll win that battle.  The unfortunate part is it`s non-statutorily, so they takes time.  We`ll win that battle.  But we have lots of other options, include just filing a brand-new order.


TRUMP:  Could very well be, but I like to keep you -- I`d like to surprise you.


SHARPTON:  That was President Trump hinting at what`s next for his controversial immigration order.  The White House said several options, including the case to the Supreme Court, was still on the table.

Meanwhile, U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half dozen states this week in a series of raids.

Also this week, an internal document from the department of homeland security shows the wall that President Trump has promised to build along the Mexican border will cost as much as $21.6 billion.  Much higher than the $12 billion Trump suggested.

With me here to discuss this is Attorney Raul Reyes, an MSNBC contributor, and Maria Hinojosa, host of "Latino USA" on National Public Radio.  Thank you both for being here.


MARIA HINOJOSA, NPR:  Good morning.

SHARPTON:  All options are on the table, Maria.  The president not showing his hand.  He could do a new executive order to get around the courts, but basically saying in substance the same things, they could go to the Supreme Court.  What do you think?

HINOJOSA:  I think that the question that the American people really need to be looking at is, should there be a next step in terms of this ban?

If the people have taken to the streets, if the courts have responded and said this is unconstitutional, this is not --this is not what we do, then I think the real question for the administration is are you going to continue to push this?  Because for someone who says that he is only a winner, I mean, he`s losing here.  And if everything goes forward, of course, with a divided supreme court, he will probably lose there.  It will be tight, and back to the appeals court.  Why does Donald Trump want to keep losing on something like this?

SHARPTON:  Well, I think Maria raises the question that for me, anyway, is not what will be the next step.  It`s why are we even having a next step here?

REYES:  Right.

SHARPTON:  Because if you`ve already had the ruling is unconstitutional, if a lot of the nations around the world are saying this is certainly something that they question, why won`t the president just say, OK, fine?

REYES:  Because that`s, unfortunately, who this president is.  And I would add to what you`re mentioning, is that we`ve had polling out this past week from PPP that shows I believe 53 percent of Americans call it a Muslim ban and are also against it.

So, it`s not supported by the public either.  But I think the way this administration rolls with Donald Trump and his Rasputin, Steve Bannon, they don`t play by the normal rules.  They don`t care, necessarily, about public opinion.  They don`t care, as you touched on, the un-justice of this order.

I think they`re going to probably try and rewrite it.  The problem they will have with rewriting it is that it can be crafted in a way perhaps to get around the Muslim ban.

But yet, they can`t erase the history that`s there of Donald Trump calling it a Muslim ban, of Donald Trump making the campaign speeches about a Muslim ban, of Rudy Giuliani referring to it that way.

So all of that history will still be brought in.  And there was one key finding in the court ruling in the 9th circuit where they found that the states did have standing.  Ordinarily, when you go forward with a court case, that`s a big hurdle to get through.

SHARPTON:  The standings in the court.

REYES:  Right, the right to bring this to the states.  They have already cleared that.  The 9th circuit quite said they are likely to succeed on the merits.  So, for Donald Trump and his DOJ, which is grossly understaffed, they`re facing a very uphill climb at this point.

SHARPTON:  Maria, that touches on and goes back to the segment I just had with Congressman Jefferies -- I have to try to make -- as I speak around the country.

We`re not just talking about some kind of charity act to people that are trying to come in the country.  We`re talking about the violation of due process.  Which becomes a threat to everybody whether you were born here or not, and if you allow for that to happen, it becomes that threat.

Explain to us as an attorney about -- and what`s going on right now with these raids.

REYES:  Right.  Well, what people very often forget is that they think the protections of our constitution, such as due process, equal protection, only apply to U.S. citizens.  That`s not true.  Our constitution is written so that it applies to all persons.

SHARPTON:  Exactly.

REYES:  So, when I.C.E. comes pounding on your door, you do not have to let them in without a warrant from a judge.  Usually what I.C.E. does is they get a warrant, an administrative warrant.  It`s not the same, but they take advantage of the fact that most undocumented people are scared, they don`t know all of the legal intricacies involved, so they let them in.  They conduct these house-to-house, what they call targeted individual enforcement actions.  That is a raid.

Now, on these raids, there`s been a lot of confusion about the scope of them, the scale of them, how many people are being swept up, and there is a reason for that.  The reason for that is the government, this administration`s I.C.E., DHS, has been very -- they have been very secretive about it, because I think that they know, the more that the public knows how counterproductive these raids are, the more the public is aware of the waste of resources, the more that the public is aware how inhumane this is to be breaking down people`s doors and separating parents from their children, that people will not like it.

And just on a broader scope, when you look -- when we look at polling, aside from the polling that shows people consistently want immigration reform, when you poll different people on different options for the undocumented, 79 percent of the public wants either a path to citizenship or some path to legalization.

SHARPTON:  Consistently we`ve seen this.

REYES:  Right.  There`s only a minority percentage, 19 percent in favors mass deportation, and that includes Republicans.  Only a minority of Republicans want what Trump is doing.

HINOJOSA:  Because ultimately, Reverend, you`re exactly right, when due process is denied to anyone in our country, it opens the door for due process to be denied to everyone in our country.  And that`s what we`re talking about.

So, to see people now out there looking at -- I mean, this is what Donald Trump has done.  He has, for example, a story that some of us have been reporting for many, many, many years he has put it front and center.  And so now people are watching about when they`re going to come to the raids, because by the way, they come at 5:00 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, when you`re sleeping.

REYES:  4:00 in the morning, correct.

HINOJOSA:  When you`re sleeping, you hear the banging on the door.  And what you do is just see somebody saying "police" and you open the door.

Again, immigrants are not opening the door to anyone, which is dangerous, because if there`s a fire, somebody`s knocking on your door, you need to open that door.  They will not.

REYES:  And the other danger in terms of civil rights violations, it`s not just the due process say of undocumented people, of people caught up in these raids, it`s actually on a widespread basis of Latinos because this type of targeted enforcement actions, they`re going to predominantly Latino neighborhoods.

SHARPTON:  Which is profiling.

REYES:  That means -- exactly, it opens the door to profiling.

SHARPTON:  And once you open the door to profiling, those who have fought profiling for many years it opens the door --

REYES:  exactly.  We have seen not only undocumented immigrants swept up in these raids, lawful permanent residents.  In fact even U.S. citizens.  Maybe they`re senior citizens --

SHARPTON:  No problem about it.  We`ve got to go, but I`m really going to stay on this.  Thank you, Raul.

REYES:  Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON:  Thank you, Maria.

Coming up, President Trump is blaming Democrats for an historic obstruction.  Could he possibly be right?  That`s next.


SHARPTON:  This week, President Donald Trump complained that he did not have his full cabinet appointments confirmed by the U.S. Senate and he was also very clear who was to blame.

He tweeted, "It is a disgrace that my full cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country.  Obstruction by Democrats!"

Well, let`s have a reality check.  Democrats have, indeed, slowed many of Mr. Trump`s presidential nominations, but the main reason for the hold were lateness of a few nominations and delays in submitting background check paperwork.

As for his claim, we checked it and found it to be absolutely false.  Bill Clinton didn`t have his final spot filled until March 11.  George H.W. Bush took until March 17.  Barack Obama holds the modern record as his last pick didn`t get her Senate vote until April 28.  Only George W. Bush had his full team in place within a few days of his inauguration on January 30.

As of the day of the tweet, Trump has had six of his 15 Cabinet selections comfirmed by the Senate, with several more awaiting final Senate approval.  So, yes, he has a ways to go before his full Cabinet is confirmed, but the longest wait in history?  Please, Mr. President.

We got you.


SHARPTON:  Another historic moment at the United States Senate this week when Vice President Mike Pence was called on to break the tie to confirm President Trump`s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

The first time that`s happened for a cabinet confirmation.  Two Republicans voted against DeVos, causing a 50-50 tie and requiring Pence to put DeVos over the top.  She was eventually confirmed, and we are left with the questions, what is her nomination and what does it mean for the future of public education and America`s diverse student population?

With me here to talk about that is Randi Weingarten, labor leader and president of the American Federation of Teachers.  And Will Jawando, a former aide at the Obama White House, previously worked as an official in the education department.

First of all, thank you both for joining me.



JAWANDO:  Hi, Randi.

SHARPTON:  You and I have worked together for many years around these issues, and the nomination of DeVos, you know, similar to what I talked to Congressman Jeffries about with Sessions, is almost the direct affront at a lot of the things that many in the civil rights community, the labor community all fought for, for the last 25 years. 

WEINGARTEN:  It`s as if you would have a pediatrician and kids walking into a pediatrician and the pediatrician putting a sign up saying, no, I`m not doing anything, or yes, you have a fever?  Just go home and deal with it.  Or worse, you know, maybe I`ll give you a medicine that`s the opposite of what you need.

And then it is the exact -- it is as if Donald Trump wants to prove to Americans that government doesn`t work.  It is destroying, undermining the mission of what they are supposed to do.

It`s really unfathomable.  There`s not ever been a Republican or Democratic president who has done this.  I`m sorry to wear the social studies hat, but it`s just there`s -- you know, they want to destroy and destruct.

And frankly, what we need to do is what Elizabeth Warren did, it is resist and, to borrow a word from Mitch McConnell, persist.


WEINGARTEN:  It is resist and persist, because it will become the will of the people being that check and balance.  And then when they do things that are so antithetical to what our values are, whether the values are public education, fighting bigotry and hate, pluralism democracy, or frankly, lifting up all Americans economically, we`re going to have to do that.

SHARPTON:  When we talk about public education, where we`re talking about the public, not just a select few, I think part of the concerns is that Betsy DeVos has said vouchers, has said charter schools, has campaigned on my allies in Michigan, she was the champion of campaigning against it.

How do you have someone over public education that has advocated policies that would at best -- and this is only at best -- educate a selective group of the public?

JAWANDO:  Well, you`re exactly right, Rev.  And hi, Randi.  This appointment is a disaster for at least two reasons, right?  One, you have someone who spent their whole professional career in their money working to divert, change laws and divert money away from public education.  Again, where 90 percent of our kids attend, right?

And then also, you combine that with the fact that she doesn`t know anything about education policy.


JAWANDO:  I mean, if you watched the hearing, it was an embarrassment.  She was talking about growth versus proficiency.  Senator Franken, which is a major debate in the education world for 10, 15 years, and she didn`t even know what it was about.  So, you know, it`s a combination of intentionality and ignorance.

She knows what she wants to do -- defund public education, so that`s her intention, and she`s ignorant of the education policy.  And so, what that means for our black and brown children, our low-income children across the country, it means that instead of investing billions of dollars in turning around and improving low-performing schools, which we did in the Obama administration, she wants to take $20 billion out of the public education system and put it into a voucher program.

So, it`s a historic failure and probably the worst pick of many bad picks from President Trump.

SHARPTON:  You know, and I really want a lot of our viewers to understand how really radical a change this is, because many did not agree with the Obama administration, but there were ways that everybody got a rule worked toward what will just talked about.

WEINGARTEN:  Right.  So, this is --

SHARPTON:  I would put Dr. Rudy Crew, one of the former chancellors who worked with your predecessor, they didn`t agree, but this is outside of the pail.  This is not even close to dealing with public education.

WEINGARTEN:  And in fact, what Rudy and I did when he was --

SHARPTON:  You`re talking about Rudy Crew.

WEINGARTEN:  Rudy Crew, not Rudy Giuliani.  What Crew and I did when we were in New York was we actually fixed schools that were struggling.

We actually put the investments in.  We changed the contract for those schools.  We put the investments in.  We extended time for professional development and for tutoring, and those schools turned around.  Because as Will said, it takes an investment.

So, this is what --

SHARPTON:  But here we`re talking about somebody that`s saying let`s take public funds, put them into charter schools, have vouchers.  

WEINGARTEN:  It`s even worse.

SHARPTON:  Use public schools to do it.

WEINGARTEN:  It`s even worse.  This is why she`s so out of the mainstream.  And Will touched on this.

Her whole record in Michigan was about defunding, destabilizing and eliminating public schools.  She used to say about the Detroit public schools and DPS, there was a group of people, Republicans and Democrats alike, who had a plan to rescue the schools, including making sure that charters had some accountability to children, meaning you couldn`t have a charter operator get the state money of which they got $1 billion, pocket that money and then close the school the next day, leaving parents scrambling.

And she refused to go along with it and she had the same power in the national government, meaning she gave $200 million to Republicans.  That was worth more than the five million people who called the switchboard to say don`t support her.  And what was the effect, Rev?  Michigan schools went from 27th in reading proficiency in 2003 to 41st --

SHARPTON:  27th to 41st.

WEINGARTEN:  That`s her policies.

SHARPTON:  Will, this is the fear that you and others that worked in the Obama administration in education have, I would imagine, is that it`s not just the politics of it, it is the achievement and the move toward really educating kids in basic things like reading, math and all, are now threatened if the investment is not there from the top in terms of Washington and the education department moving these states forward.

JAWANDO:  You`re exactly right.  And there`s reason for everyone to be fearful.  You have not only does she want to move this historic amount of money, over $20 billion, again, with a "b," out of the public education system to a national voucher program, she also wants to have different rules for charter schools.  Randi alluded to this. 

If you`re going to have charters, and charters can be good and bad, just like any other school, you`ve got to have the same set of rules.  You have to have accountability for charters.  They have to be meeting the same standards that our public schools and our great teachers that Randi represents, have to meet.

But then on the other side, you have to make sure you`re ensuring civil rights protections.  And when she was asked in her hearings about does she see an expanded role or an important role for the U.S. Department of Education civil rights department, she punted and wouldn`t answer that question.

And so, there`s a lot of concerns for our children, not just the money, but is she going to have an equal playing field for all types of schools, and is she going to enforce civil rights laws?

SHARPTON:  I`m going to have to take my break.  Thank you, Randi Weingarten for being here.  I know you will persist on this issue. 

I`m going to ask you, Will, to stay with us for a bit more.  I want to deal with an issue up next.

After one of the most political Super Bowls in recent history, some members of the winning team, the New England Patriots, are taking a strong political stand.  We`ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Elaborate just a little bit more about your decision not to go to the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right now, I`m just trying to enjoy it.  Right now I haven`t even thought about it.  But like I said, it is what it is.  People know how I feel about it.  Just follow me on Twitter.


SHARPTON:  Super Bowl 51 has been called one of the best in NFL history, but now six New England Patriot players say they will skip the traditional post-win meeting with President Trump at the White House, citing his stance on a range of issues.

It is not just football.  In the last month, NBA stars LeBron James and Steph Curry have voiced their concerns about Trump administration policies on immigration.

And this week, an Olympic fencer, the first Muslim athlete to win a medal for the U.S., said that she was detained by customs officials for no apparent reason while traveling a few weeks ago.

Yes, athletes everywhere are speaking out.

Joining me now is Dave Zirin, sports writer for "The Nation" magazine.  And back with us is Will Jawando, former White House aide under President Obama and a former college basketball player.

Let me go to you first, Dave.  The fact is, before people started reacting when now six players from the Patriots said they weren`t going, Tom Brady did not go with the team when they won and President Obama was in, and it was not a tact.

He was the big quarterback at the time.  He said, ah, I have a family matter, and he was photographed in New York shopping at an Apple store.

So I mean, what they are doing in this regard Brady did to President Obama.  What`s the outrage here?

DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS WRITER, THE NATION:  Well, the outrage and the difference is that the Patriots players are operating on a much higher level of political principle than Tom Brady.

Tom Brady clearly had problems with President Obama but did not stand on the political grounds for why he was not going to the White House.  And honestly, that`s been the pattern for athletes over the last 25 years, athletes who were not fans of who was in the White House just said no and did not show up.

What makes this instance so exceptional, and it reminds you of Craig Hodges in 1992, who showed up to the White House in a dashiki with a letter of protest when he played for the Chicago Bulls and handed it to George H.W. Bush about racism in the United States.  This is much more in that tradition as opposed to the Brady, oh, I`m going to the computer store tradition.

This is the tradition of six athletes, five of whom have made explicit political statements saying this is not my president, this is not my White House, this is my act of dissent, and I will not shame myself by being on a stage and being photographed with this man.

SHARPTON:  You know, Will, going back, using sports, or your sports platform to make a statement, I remember when I was 14 in `68 when at the Olympics the famous picture now that has become iconic of Tommie Smith and raising their hands, their fists up.

And as Dave just said, the letter of protest around racism to George bush, here we see in the year of Colin Kaepernick and others that people again coming out in that tradition, affirming a political stand.

JAWANDO:  Yes.  There`s a long tradition, and you mentioned part of it, of athletes, in particular black athletes, but all athletes standing up for what they believe is right politically.

One thing that`s often not known about that picture you`ve just shown is that the Australian athlete in that picture was wearing a button also speaking to the protest in solidarity with them.

SHARPTON:  That`s right.

JAWANDO:  And his life was ruined after that.  And I think in this situation, you have five black Patriots and one white Patriot who`s saying I`m not coming, and I think that`s a good thing, because you don`t check your first amendment rights when you put on your cleats or you put on your basketball shoes.

You have a duty and responsibility as a person who`s known and people who look up to you to speak your mind, and I think that`s what you`re seeing here.  And I would agree with Dave 100 percent that this is much more honorable and respectful of the office of the president when you say why you`re not coming as opposed to just kind of going to the Apple store like Tom Brady.

SHARPTON:  And again, when the controversies around all the way back from `68 to Craig day to Kaepernick, all of this I think does not really, really speak to the fact that a lot of people just want people to either be an entertainer or sports person and not a full person, and they`re saying I have the right to make my positions known.  I`m a full human being and I am a good athlete or and I`m a good entertainer.

ZIRIN:  Yes, the days of shut up and play are in the trash heap of history now with the betamax and disco music.  You can`t shut up and play anymore with all the things happening in this world, and athletes are acknowledging that.

And one thing I would say to folks out there who wish athletes would just entertain and be a vehicle for escape, I would say please think of this -- athletes are role models, whether we want them to be or not.  You can disagree with an athlete being a role model, but that`s like disagreeing with gravity when you fall out of an airplane.  It`s just is what it is.  So you have to ask yourself a question, what do you want athletes to model?  Do you want them to model, hey, you can be cool like me if you buy the right product or drink the right energy drink?  Or do you want them to model civic and political engagements?

SHARPTON:  Each on that point, Will, if you`re going to use athletes in commercials, you`re accepting that they`re role models.  Only reason that you would want them to endorse a product is they`re role models.

So when I see a Kaepernick -- I think I mispronounced it before -- but when I see him bowing and others joining him, when I see what they`re doing in terms of the Super Bowl, they are standing up for justice, fairness, anti- immigration bans, whatever the case, just as if they were selling a product.

You can`t say they have the right to sell a product but they don`t have a right to stand up for a cause.

JAWANDO:  That`s right.  And actually, what you`re seeing happen is the flipping of the old paradigm.  The old thought of don`t speak out because we`re going to take your endorsement deal, we`re going to take your money financially, you`re not going to get the contract -- even when Kaepernick started kneeling down, that was part of the discussion.

But this week when the Under Armour CEO made a statement, Steph Curry couldn`t get on Twitter quick enough to quote him and say take the take the EET off of that asset and that`s what Trump is, and he`s going to change the way that the company operates.

And so you`re seeing athletes with the power to change economically.  And that`s a paradigm shift that I think is a good one in addition to them being full people and be able to speak their mind.  

SHARPTON:  Dave, I think that this era of speaking their mind, particularly now, is warranted because we`re in a very, very serious sea change in American politics with the leaving of Barack Obama and the coming in of Donald Trump.  It is clear that we are looking at a sea change and the people that are on those seas need to take a stand one way or another.

Thank you, Dave Zirin and Will Jawando.

Coming up, my final thoughts.  I got a call from newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  What I told him, next.


SHARPTON:  Let me say that I received a call from the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, on Friday.  He had also called individually the president of the National Urban League, president of the NAACP.  And he called reaching out to the three of us who had opposed his confirmation based on our concerns about his record and about his past.

For me, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the letter that we referred to earlier in the show that Elizabeth Warren couldn`t read -- I knew Mrs. King.  I knew her well.  I was at 13 years old a youth director in New York of the organization her husband had founded and he had been killed that year.  And I worked with her as head of National Action Network, and she supported it, came to a lot of our events and worked with us along with her son, Martin III.

She was a very deliberate woman.  She was a very careful woman.  She would not have written a letter to the U.S. Senate because she was just some passionate, out-of-control activist.  She thought about what she did.  And I told Attorney General Sessions on the phone the gravity of our concern -- voting rights -- the gravity of our concern around voter I.D., around criminal justice reform, around President Obama`s 21st-century police commission recommendations, around the cases that are still before us from Walter Scott in North Charleston and Eric Garner`s investigation in New York.

We`re not just partisan people.  There`s a real problem.  I`m glad he called.  I`m thinking it`s the mature thing to reach out to people that be vehemently opposed to you.  But now what are we going to do?  And what we do is deeper than the politics of the moment.

That does it for me.  Thanks for watching.  Keep the conversation going.  Like us at, and follow us on Twitter, twitter@politicsnation.  I`ll see you back here next Sunday.