Politics Nation, Transcript 7/2/2017

Guests: Vann Newkirk II, Yamiche Alcindor, Paul Butler

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 it.

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 claim?

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 pushed --

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 place.

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 racial history.

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- Americans.

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 population.

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 bills.

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 health care.

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 theirs.

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."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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 MSNBC contributor.

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 back.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(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 our diversity.

(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.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 care about.

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 problem.

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 well.

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 trouble.

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 feeling.

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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 the reactions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 accept.

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 celebrated.

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 wrong.

SHARPTON: Wow.

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 and science.

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 drastic actions.

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 understanding.

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 you go.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

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