IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton: 4/9/2017

Guests: Sherrilyn Ifill, Mary-Pat Hector, Malcolm Nance, Brendan Boyle, Gabrielle Levy


AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST:  Good morning.  And welcome to PoliticsNation.

President Donald Trump`s order this week to strike Syria may represent a break with his nonintervention foreign policy.  Here`s Trump on Tuesday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m not, and I don`t want to be the president of the world.  I`m the president of the United States.  And from now on, it`s going to be America first.


SHARPTON:  And here is the president two days later on Thursday. 


TRUMP:  Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.  And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.


SHARPTON:  So, OK.  We figured there must be some politics behind this Syria strike.  Let`s ask Congressman Brendan Boyle, a democrat from Pennsylvania.  He sits on the foreign affairs committee.  And MSNBC analyst, Malcolm Nance, who is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. intelligence community.

Let me go to the congressman second, but let me ask you, Malcolm, we`ve hear all kinds of things since the attack, theories that this is all some kind of understood back and forward with Russia to cover things.  This is something necessary in that the president was genuinely moved when he saw the pictures of the victims of the chemical weapons attack by Assad.

I mean, from your intelligence background, what does this attack, the air strike, by the President Trump.  What does it really mean from a military standpoint?

MALCOM NANCE, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, it was very clearly a demonstration of fire power.  And that`s what the president intended to project, which is a demonstration that the United States has the ability to strike at any place and time.

Unfortunately for President Trump is he doesn`t realize.  We`ve been demonstrating that every day since 9/11.  I mean, we`ve done over 7,000 air strikes.  Unfortunately, in order to get his message across, he also pulled his punch.  He struck an airfield, he blew up a few revetments and some aircraft.  But he left the runway completely intact and most --

SHARPTON:  He`s running again the same --

NANCE:  It was a running within the same hour.

SHARPTON:  So then what`s the point?

NANCE:  Well, even worse, he did not strike any of the chemical weapons on the facility.

SHARPTON:  So he struck none of the chemical weapons?


SHARPTON:  Didn`t have that airport in any way down but for maybe an hour?

NANCE:  Right.

SHARPTON:  So, congressman, what is the politics here?  Is this some politics here?  Are we playing optics?  How do you read this?  You`re on foreign affairs committee.  What does this really mean, if anything, other than the theater of we`re going to play tough?

BRENDAN BOYLE, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, first it`s great to be with you.  And I have to say trying to interpret or figure out the Trump administration and Donald Trump`s is a constant guessing game.  No one really seems to know for sure including people who serve in his administration.  Just at the beginning of this week, we had the Trump administration saying that it was no longer U.S. policy to remove Assad.  Those were the words from the secretary of state of the United States.


BOYLE:  And then by Thursday night we were launching 59 missiles into Syria, although, as our fellow guest just pointed out, it appears that militarily that strike achieved next to nothing and now the airport is back and running.

So the politics of it, I think that clearly Trump just wanted to send a message, but the only thing worse than not responding is responding in such a weak way as it appears that we`ve now done.

I also, one thing that I do want to point out is the tremendous hypocrisy from a number of republicans in congress who four years ago vociferously opposed any intervention, any action by President Obama.  Some of those same folks such as Mitch McConnell are the loudest voices today praising what Trump did and calling President Obama weak.  So the hypocrisy is astounding.

SHARPTON:  Well, not only was Senator McConnell opposed to it.  Donald Trump was opposed to president Obama doing exactly what Donald Trump did as president.  But let me ask you this, Malcolm, touching on what the congressman said.  I saw a front page story in the New York Times this morning.  That the Trump doctrine may be no doctrine.  I mean, when the congressman said, it runs contrary to what even a lot of people in his administration were expecting saying.  It is appearing that his doctrine is no doctrine, like we just don`t know what he`s going to do.

NANCE:  Well, we don`t know what he`s going to do, because he has no strategy.  And that`s part of the doctrine, right?  What is his core value with regards to the application or force and diplomacy?  But when you get that core value, you actually have to lay it out, you have to map this stuff out.

It doesn`t appear he`s doing that.  He seems to have been running on emotion.  Second to what the congressman said, last week we had the secretary of state, Tillerson, saying no involvement in Syria.  Than an air strike.  Now we have Nikki Haley saying this morning, regime change is on the table.

One of these things can`t stand.  They`re going to have to --

SHARPTON:  One or the other.

NANCE:  One or the other.  But it will cause -- right now, we did a sanitized strike.  Didn`t cost any American airmen or sailors their lives, but from this point on out, it could.

SHARPTON:  Congressman, when you think of the fact that this week Tuesday, Secretary of State Tillerson is going to be in Moscow, and he`s going to be there engaging with the Russians, a lot of people are saying, well, this may have been something like a wink, wink between the Russians and President Trump to make them look like they are not in collusion together.

What will you be looking for in terms of Tillerson`s trip to indicate to you whether or not there`s a real bond here or whether, in fact, there`s been some division on the policy in Syria and others?  Because as Malcolm just said, if you have Tillerson saying no engagement, now Haley even bringing up regime change, what about this trip is going to give clarity in many areas, some of which I raised and this question that Malcolm raised.  What do you as a member of the foreign affairs committee going to be looking for to gain clarity?

BOYLE:  Well, I`m not sure that we`ll get much clarity, frankly, from Rex Tillerson`s trip over there just because kind of what Malcolm was saying before.  Donald Trump really has no ideological rooting.  I mean, I`ve said before not just on foreign policy, but on domestic policy as well, Trump is really not a conservative, he`s not a liberal, he`s not a republican, he`s not a democrat.  He`s a Trumpist. 

And his ideology, if he has one, is to do whatever is in the best interest of Donald Trump at all times, and consistency be damned.  It`s not beyond Donald Trump for Rex Tillerson to go to Russia this week.  Perhaps he will, and I hope he will, say the right things, especially as it comes to not just Syria but when it comes to standing by our NATO allies such as Ukraine and our other European allies.  At the same time, Rex Tillerson could then come back to the U.S. and Donald Trump say something that completely contradicts exactly what the secretary of state said.  That is the kind of world that we`re living in now in the Trump administration.  It`s really unlike any other previous administration either republican or democrat.

SHARPTON:  Well, you mean Secretary Tillerson will be lucky if Mr. Trump waits for him to come back before he says something.

BOYLE:  That`s a good point.

SHARPTON:  But, Malcolm, let me -- you brought up Ambassador Nikki Haley.  Let`s look at what she said on Friday.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS:  It could be that Russia is knowingly allowing chemical weapons to remain in Syria.  It could be that Russia has been incompetent in its efforts to remove the chemical weapons.  Or it could be that the Assad regime is playing the Russians for fools.

The world is waiting for Russia to reconsider its misplaced alliance with Bashar Assad.  The United States will no longer wait for Assad to use chemical weapons without any consequences.  Those days are over.


SHARPTON:  So we hear some pretty strong language from Ambassador Haley about what Assad is doing.  No news to the world, but strong language.  And a direct hit at Russia.  Something that many of us are saying are they playing a script here with Russia, or is this real?  And we`ll see where it goes.

NANCE:  Well, it`s quite a challenge to answer that question.  Because Nikki Haley is playing very strong role as U.N. ambassador to the United Nations -- U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  Very strong role.  Her script is very good.  And what`s very interesting about it is, it`s a very old script.  It`s the same script we`ve been saying about Russia for almost 70 years.

However, Secretary of State Tillerson who is supposed to be the point man for diplomacy, doesn`t even appear to be on the stage, and then we get all these other mixed signals from within the White House that perhaps this is going to be Russia will come in and intervene and that they will eventually reward Russia with the lifting of the sanctions if Russia does something about this chemical weapons issue.  And it does appear to be a form of kabuki.  Because one side is showing one thing and then all the back channels are showing another thing and the air strikes showed something very definite.  We have power but we won`t really hurt you.

SHARPTON:  Congressman, as you go forward serving in foreign affairs in the foreign affairs committee and serving your constituents and we look at what is going on in Syria and all of us outraged, all of us horrified by what we see, the issue becomes if Assad who`s already back attacking in the very same area, using the same airfield, what is the next step?  Do we get more and more involved, or do we just leave it where it is and basically a next to nothing attack, because we`re afraid we`ll get involved like Libya and there`s no way out or like Iraq where you are in the whole quagmire there?

I mean, what do we do or what don`t we do as one sitting there in the congress that ultimately you`re going to have to weigh in on this?

BOYLE:  Well, as you mentioned, I serve on the foreign affairs committee as well as the Middle East subcommittee.  And so having had a number of hearings into this issue, I can tell you that the statistics are horrific.  Over the last four or five years as part of the Syrian civil war, we`ve had over 500,000 people killed, many of them innocent civilians.

We`ve had over 12 million Syrians displaced, become refugees.  Twelve million.  That`s slightly more than half of the population of the country.  And it`s had an enormously destabilizing effect on the politics of most European countries.  Indeed, I would question and argue that you probably don`t have a President Trump if you didn`t have the terrorist attacks that we saw in Paris and in Belgium and the whole rise of the refugee issue.

So I -- clearly we`ve had no policy toward Syria.  That has been kind of -- and by the way, no one has been the bigger culprit in that than congress over the last four or five years.  When President Obama wanted congress to rise to the occasion completely ducked the issue because of difficulties.  The time for ducking is over.  And I really think specifically on one potential solution, even though all the options are ranging from bad to worse, I really think we should now explore finally the safe zone option.  This is something that Secretary Gates and Secretary Hillary Clinton argued for within the Obama administration about four years ago.  They were rejected.  President Obama decided not to go in that direction.

But as we move forward recognizing that there`s going to be no end in sight to the Syrian civil war --

SHARPTON:  And I think that`s the problem.  I`m going to have to cut you off, because I`m out of time.  I think that`s the problem.  There`s no end in sight and there`s no real doctrine.  And when you look at the fact that as you say, the refugee crisis there in the Middle East, and in Syria, but then you match it up with the president now saying he was horrified by what he sees, but no Syrians come here, because my immigration policy doesn`t match my humanitarian feelings, it doesn`t look like there`s going to be a resolve to this that makes a lot of sense.  At least in terms of consistency.

Thank you, Congressman Boyle and Malcolm Nance.

BOYLE:  Thank you.

SHARPTON:  Coming up, it took 14 months since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.  Now the United States Supreme Court is back to nine members.  But republicans had to change senate rules to confirm him.  Will that come back to haunt them?  That`s next on PoliticsNation.



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  On this vote, the ayes are 54.  The nays are 45.  The nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch of Colorado to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed.


SHARPTON:  Welcome back to "PoliticsNation".  The U.S. attack in Syria got us all distracted for a couple of days while some of the major news happen this week.  The confirmation of Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch.  The jobs report for March, and what seems to be serious infighting among White House staff.  Just to name a few of the stories that have been kind of not center staged.

Joining me now is Gabrielle Levy of the U.S. News and World Report.

Let me start with Gorsuch, Gabrielle.  The senate actually changed the senate rules in order to confirm him.  He will be the only one of the 1999 sitting on the Supreme Court that did not get 60 votes.  What are the implications of that?

GABRIELLE LEVY, POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, it`s actually not true.  Clarence Thomas who was confirmed by a narrower margin, but we all know that there were some more complicated things going on with that.  But the nuclear option --

SHARPTON:  What was Clarence Thomas`s margin?

LEVY:  52-48.  So a couple it`s a couple votes narrower.  But that had to do with the scandal around the elected sexual harassment of Anita Hill.  Yes, right.

But with Gorsuch, this was all politics.  Because you have on the one hand, republicans saying that this is somebody who is a mainstream jurist.  He is very much in the mold of Justice Scalia who he is going to be replacing.  And democrats on the other hand going, this guy is super far right, and the seat was stolen from Merrick Garland and from President Obama.

And so it`s not that there were real issues on Neil Gorsuch himself and it comes down to the fact that republicans basically sold everything out to get a republican elected last year so they could have this seat.

SHARPTON:  See?  I think that`s the real issue, and I raised it on this show, and other of my work about Gorsuch`s vote around supporting big business, dealing with a specific case of a driver that was fired, but I had some problems with this and questions around his legal history.

But the real problem for a lot of us is this is the senate just openly defying a sitting president in Barack Obama`s nomination, stalling it for a year, not even giving him a hearing, and now changing the senate rules of the 60 votes to put in who they want.  I think that`s the real issue here, and clearly an affront to a lot of people in this country, including me.

LEVY:  Well, they blame Harry Reid in 2013 for changing the rules for everybody but the Supreme Court.  And so it`s unclear whether or not this is basically going to really change the senate in a more serious way if they decide to then take the next step which would be to remove the filibuster altogether for everything, for legislation, and Nate Silver actually had an analysis of this this week.  It basically says that if the republicans end up losing the majority in the senate, they`re the ones who are more likely to, in the long run, lose out on not having a filibuster, because they`ve used it more effectively in the past.  They`ve blocked the public option under Obama and a number of other things, where they have really managed to use the filibuster in an effective way.  The democrats just haven`t done as soften.

SHARPTON:  Let me get because I`m going to run out of time, and I want to get to the infighting in the White House.  But I first want to get to something that got very little attention.  And that is the very weak job numbers.  Only 98,000 new jobs in the month of March.

Now, this is an administration that bragged about the first two months, many said but those were from the first one from the Obama presidency, the second, because the economy was doing well.  Now all of a sudden you`ve gone all the way down to less than 100,000 jobs that has really affected the unemployment number.  Here`s the president who`s saying I`m a job creator.  He`s gotten the worst job numbers we`ve seen in a long time.

LEVY:  He`s taken credit for a lot of the announcements of major companies like Ford and GM and even ExxonMobil which his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, spent 40 years there.  But ultimately, this is a big country with a big economy.  It takes a very, very long time for any policy changes to effect the economy.  So we`re seeing the really strong numbers coming out of President Obama`s administration, and the stock market showing a fair amount of confidence.  And it seems like for whatever reason, whether or not it`s Wall Street losing confidence in Trump`s ability to get done the things that he promised when it came to reducing regulations and cutting taxes.

These thing are -- I think we`re getting to the point where it`s starting to be more of a reflection on Trump`s presidency as opposed to hangover from the last administration.

SHARPTON:  We`re getting Trumped.  We are finally in the Trump era, and it seems like the picture is not what it was under President Obama.  I need to ask you quickly, we`re out of time.  The infighting.  We`re hearing Jared Kushner, the president`s son-in-law, is in this fight with Bannon, the archconservative.  They had a meeting to make up.  Are you hearing anything?  What`s going on?  Is it a truce?  Is it just cosmetic that they`re trying to make up?  What`s going on?

LEVY:  Well, it`s hard to know what`s true out of this administration, because sources tell one person one thing, and allies of another person tell another.  So we won`t really know for sure until something happens if Bannon leaves or if he doesn`t.  But what seems like has changed throughout the weekend is chief of staff Reince Priebus no longer seems like he`s on the way out the door, at least for the moment.

The White House is trying to make a play for looking like they`re going for compromise and more conciliation with the country as opposed to Bannon`s America first style.  So we`ll see whether or not it actually -- he ends up kicking him out.  But right now, we`ll just have to wait and see.

SHARPTON:  All right.  Thank you, Gabrielle Levy.

Up next, soda giant Pepsi was forced to can an ad that promoted forgiveness and camaraderie.  What is the lesson from this story?  That`s coming up.


SHARPTON:  Now for this week`s got you.  A little something different.  I started this week paying homage to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Junior on the 49th anniversary of his assassination.  But then a few days later, I caught wind of this.




SHARPTON:  So, yes, so the giant Pepsi tapped reality TV star and model Kendall Jenner for this ad in which a soda diffuses tensions between protesters and police.  Everyone cheers in the ad, but as you know by now, the real life reception was much different.

Now, I know the folks at Pepsi have apologized for the firestorm the ad caused.  So I won`t go in on them any further, but on this same week that we honored the late Dr. King, I couldn`t help but to wonder what his take might be.

Thankfully, Twitter was five steps ahead of me, and so here it is.  The top five Twitter responses to the Pepsi ad as told by Dr. King.  Number five, now wait just one second, officer.  I have a Pepsi.  Number four.  I tell Jesse to get a six-pack of Pepsi and bring it to Selma.  I`ll explain later.  Number three, I`ve been to the mountain top, there`s a Pepsi

Number two from Dr. King`s wife, Coretta.  I told you to take that Pepsi instead of a Coca-Cola, but you didn`t want to listen from Dr. King.  And number one, this might drop from Dr. King`s own daughter, Bernice.  If only daddy had known about the power of Pepsi.

So the next time you want to use the struggle as a backdrop to hawk your products.  Make sure that those most affected by that struggle are in the pitch meeting.  Who are your advertising agents?  Because they may just save you some time.  They might just save you some money.  And they might just save you a gotcha.



KEVIN DAVIS, POLICE COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE:  I want to say to the community in particular that the police department is absolutely dedicated to the consent to consent decree process.  I want this for centigrade.  And I know the mayor wants this as well.  It`ll make us better, make the city better and will make our relationships with the community that better.  The policies and the procedures, they guide their conduct and guide their decisions, have to be sound enough so that 23-year-old police officer at 2:00 in the morning is making the right decisions on behalf of the community and on behalf of our profession and organization.


SHARPTON:  Earlier this week I wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post criticizing the Attorney General Jeff Sessions` recent decision to subject 14 police reforms agreements consent decrees to review by the department of justice.  The decision threatens a key aim of the Obama administration, so reform discriminatory police practices in the aftermath of the unrest we`ve seen recently in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland.

Joining me now is Sherrilyn Ifill, head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who had a lot to do, as I can tell you in all of those meetings, with moving the Obama administration forward on many of these issues.  She`s live with me today from Baltimore.  Sherrilyn, thank you for being with us this morning.


SHARPTON:  Give us your assessment of what this means for the attorney general to now order review of consent decrees, and of police reform that many of us helped to work with and even push the Obama administration to begin.

IFILL:  Thanks, Reverend Al.  It has to be put in context.  You and I know what`s happened over the last few years, and the way in which an issue that has long been living within the African-American community has come to the front of American life.  And that`s the important issue of unconstitutional policing, police brutality and the need for police reform.

And that conversation has really moved to the forefront, and reform is taking place in a number of places.  Key to that reform has been the role of the department of justice, and investigating unconstitutional policing, as you say, in places like Ferguson, in Baltimore, and Chicago.  Releasing findings about unconstitutional policing, and in case of some of these jurisdictions, entering into consent decrees which are essentially agreements that are judicially enforced that require police departments to make certain kinds of changes to ensure that they are engaged in constitutional policing. 

What the Attorney General Jeff Sessions has done is in the middle of this momentum towards policing reform, he has dropped into it with the kind of retro 1980s perspective about policing and crime, and he`s determined, essentially, to pull the department of justice out of the form and the momentum of the reform effort.

SHARPTON:  Now, I think part of the thing that I want our viewers to understand is that when we get consent decrees in a Ferguson or Baltimore, there is an investigation by justice, and they find that there is a history, a pattern and practice of discrimination.  That`s not just somebody just making an accusation.  They look and find out there is a history here, and it is a violation of law to have a discriminatory practice here.  So what he`s really reviewing is the findings of his own justice department, that was of course the justice department before he was in charge.  Their finding of illegal targeting, and he says no, let`s hold back and review this.  I mean, this is really, really a deep thing he`s doing here.

IFILL:  Reverend Sharpton, you`ve hit the nail on the head.  And I`ve been really trying to push this as well.  This is not about policy or opinion.  This is about the obligation of the attorney general under the law enforcement misconduct statute.  The statute that has you know was passed as part of the 1994 crime act in response to the assault on Rodney King and the unrest that resulted from that result and from the original acquittal of the police officers.

So this statute was created to give the department of justice, the attorney general, the authority to investigate unconstitutional policing, misconduct by law enforcement and to sue local police departments for those constitutional violations and then to engage in consent decrees to resolve those disputes.  This is a legal obligation.  This is not about the policy of Mr. Trump, the president, or the opinion about crime fighting by Attorney General Sessions.  The statute, 42 USC 14141, is the law enforcement misconduct statute.  And that`s what it`s focused on.  It`s not focused on violent crime, it`s not focused on illegal immigration, it`s not focused drug trafficking.  It`s specially designed to address the issue of unconstitutional policing.

So when Attorney General Sessions turns away from this and says he wants to investigate consent decrees and says that he believes that the Baltimore consent decree one is not really one that he thinks is sound, he`s essentially walking away from his legal obligation as the attorney general to protect communities against unconstitutional policing.

SHARPTON:  And the evidence that uncovered by the justice department.

IFILL:  Yes.  By the justice department, their own findings.

SHARPTON:  Their own findings and you and I were among the few civil rights leaders that led with him.  We were not surprised at this.  But I think that the glaring stepping aside from the findings of the justice department needs to be pointed out.  It`s also interesting to me that some of us that worked with the Obama administration in pushing these things took a lot of flak, Obama and then are not doing anything.  Now that Sessions and them are undoing it, you can`t undo what wasn`t done.  Maybe at least people will understand how far we were able to push the ball now that it`s being pushed back.

But let me go back to another issue, I have to ask you.  Because you are the legal mind to me, of the civil rights community.  And that is Gorsuch.  You did an extensive report as did the lawyers` committee on Gorsuch.  The -- a lot of people are saying well, and I had a guest on saying it was not Gorsuch history as much as it was politics and what was done in terms of disregarding Garland and all that was the sticking point.  But you`ve pointed that there are some real red flags in Gorsuch`s history.

IFILL:  Well, no question about it, Reverend Al.  And I`m so glad you`ve come back to that.  It`s very convenient for people to say that it`s all politics.

We took quite a bit of time, weeks, months, more than a month, so to the review extensively his record and to present a report on his civil rights record which you can find on our website,  And that record concerned us.  You talk about red flags.  Absolutely.  I think you`re going to see after Judge Gorsuch is sworn in and becomes Justice Gorsuch, you can see very soon who he is.

He is, as he has been billed, as conservative as Justice Scalia, and in some areas more conservative than Justice Scalia.  You and I were just talking about policing reform.  One of the things that troubled us in Judge Gorsuch`s record is his willingness to grant and to support qualified immunity.  Immunity for police officers who have engaged in excessive force, including one police officer who killed a 22-year-old man by tasering him in the head even though this man was running away from him, was unarmed, and was only believed to have been growing marijuana.

There was another case in which Judge Gorsuch granted immunity to a police officer who broke the collarbone of a nine-year-old in a school.  So we`re going to find out very soon what this means for the court, but from our perspective, this was really about Judge Gorsuch`s record, and not just about the politics of it.  Of course, there`s no way you can forget what was done with regard to Judge Garland and President Obama`s ability to pick a Supreme Court justice, but his record is troubling.

And in the coming weeks and months, I think we`re going to have an opportunity to see what precisely this does to the Supreme Court and what this does to interpretations about critical civil rights issues that we care about.

SHARPTON:  Thank you so much for joining us today, Sherrilyn Ifill.  I know you`re going to Palm Sunday, so I appreciate you stopping by.

IFILL:  I am.

SHARPTON:  A quick update.  Last week we interviewed Ella Jones, a councilwoman in Ferguson, Missouri, who was running for mayor.  On Tuesday, she lost.  Mayor Knowles was reelected with 57% percent of the vote compared to Jones` 43 percent.  But voters also approved a proposal to add strict police body camera requirements to the city charter.  Let`s hope the town of Ferguson continues to recover from the trauma three years ago of the killing of Michael Brown and some form of justice comes to that family.

Coming up, she`s still young, and she`s still in college, but is running for public office.  That`s next on PoliticsNation.


SHARPTON:  Welcome back.  We`re less than three weeks from the National Action Network`s annual convention, and we`re pleased that among the speakers will be a young woman who cut her teeth working with our organization when she was only in high school.  19-year-old Spelman College student Mary-Pat Hector whose bid for the city council in the Georgia City of Stonecrest, has made her one of the youngest public office seekers in the state.

She`ll compete in a runoff election next.  Her activism began in childhood, and as youth director for the National Action Network, she was honored by none other than President Barack Obama himself.

Joining me now is activist and aspiring public servant, Mary-Pat Hector.  Good morning, Mary-Pat.

MARY-PAT HECTOR, ACTIVIST:  Good morning, Reverend Sharpton.  How are you?

SHARPTON:  I`m great.

Now, one of the things that we keep hearing around the country is that young people are not getting involved.  Many are disillusioned.  But you`re 19.  You`re running for the city council in Stonecrest.  In fact, your opponent had tried to challenge and say you were too young to be on the ballot.  You fought and got the decision that you could run and you have convinced enough of the voters that you`ve made the runoff.  You came ahead of two other candidates.

And there are young people all over the country that are running.  Many of them you`re having at National Action Network`s convention, to show that many in the civil rights community have in fact started organizing, and actually, young people are engaged in the system.

HECTOR:  Yes, Reverend Sharpton.  I mean, you look at the different people even within our organization like Carlos Chaverst, who`s 23 years old running for mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.  Aretha Karanian, who is running for city council at 20 years old in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Young people want to be involved in politics.  They want to see a change within their community, but I think the political climate that we`re seeing currently in our country has really pushed them to do just that.  And I believe that young people just need more support from seasoned leaders and others in the community to really say that you can do this.

I`m happy to say that that`s working in my community.  I`ve made the runoff for city council, but now it`s more than just that, ensuring that more young people get involved.  Because we don`t have a choice.  We can`t afford them not to.

SHARPTON:  That`s what excites me about you and others running.  Not because you all come with National Action Network, but because it`s counterculture would even a lot of young people that we`re meeting from other groups or they had no groups that is counter what is being said, young people are just angry and dropping out but they`re really -- you`re still a teenager.  They`re really saying, no, we can lead.  We can govern.

Now you started at 11 years old fighting gun violence, and you`ve gone all the way to being praised by President Obama.  You built our youth department.  I mean, there`s no comparison between anyone that led our youth department before you came on.  You`ve actually organized real young people in scores of cities, so you`ve proven leadership ability.

How do you sell to people older, vote for me, I can govern, I know what I`m talking about.  How do you sell that at a young age?

HECTOR:  The truth is, Reverend Sharpton, you cannot continue to really associate age with experience.  I`ve been very open with the voters within my community and informing them that I am the only person in my race that had the opportunity to sit at the table with President Obama and discuss criminal justice reform.

I`m the only person in my race that had the opportunity to work with Cities United and the National League of Cities which is an organization composed with mayors all across the country that really worked towards creating legislation programs for black male achievement and communities of color.

And so when you think of young people, it`s really important not to associate age with experience.  And that`s something that I`m also really encouraging young people all across the country to really do.  And once you look back through history, it`s the young people and the seasoned leaders that really work together to impact change in our community.   And that`s what I`ve been pushing the voters to really understand my community and to really encourage them.

SHARPTON:  Well, we`re going to be watching.  Thank you so much Mary-Pat Hector for joining us.  And she`ll join us here in New York for our first national convention and first national gathering in the era of President Trump.  We`re featuring the best of civil rights leaders, elected officials, business executives, activists, clergy.  Senator Bernie Sanders is speaking, Eric Holder is speaking and more.  Go sign up, it`s free at

Up next, my Palm Sunday message.


SHARPTON:  Today, Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, and certainly as a Baptist minister it has special meaning to me.  We also pray for those attacks on the churches in Egypt that were the victims of an assault and what appears to be a terrorist attack this morning, but the message of Palm Sunday can be something used by people whether they`re Christian or not.

The story that we believe is Jesus rode in on a donkey and the crowds were praising him and laying palms yelling hosanna, hosanna and celebrating him and uplifting him, but that same crowd in a few days turned on him and called for him to be crucified.  But then a few days after that we believe he rose again.

The message for you on Palm Sunday, whether you Christian or not, is don`t get too intoxicated with praise and good days and when you`re on the up because use a good day, use a day of praise to prepare you for a day that`s coming where it`s not going to be that good and where the same people will turn on you but don`t give up there because you`ll rise again if you stand for something and believe in something.  Behind every crucifixion can be a resurrection if you don`t get smothered with the palms on a good day.

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END