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Politics Nation, Transcript 8/6/2017

Guests: Jason Johnson, Elise Jordan, Tara Dowdell, K.W. Tullos, Jonah Pesner, April Reign, Rebecca Theodore-Vachon, Michael Eric Dyson

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: August 6, 2017 Guest: Jason Johnson, Elise Jordan, Tara Dowdell, K.W. Tullos, Jonah Pesner, April Reign, Rebecca Theodore-Vachon, Michael Eric Dyson

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

Lots to talk about this morning on the state of our civil rights under President Trump as we`re just three weeks away from our march for justice in Washington, D.C. marking the 54th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King`s "I have a Dream" speech.

This week, the Trump administration has taken more steps against immigration, affirmative action and police accountability. More on that, though, in a moment.

Also, tensions were already high between the black community and police in Detroit on a hot summer night in 1967. We`ll take a look at a new historical thriller out this week telling that story, it`s called "Detroit."

But we start with the latest in the investigation into Russia`s involvement in the 2016 elections. Joining me now is Jason Johnson, political editor of "The Root" and professor at Morgan State University.

Jason, a lot of talk this week about leaks, the attorney general going very high profile and aggressive in announcing we are going after the leaks, that this is, quote, a culture of leaks and they won`t tolerate it, even suggesting that they wanted to look again at how and what they can do to media people or people in the press that talk to people that provide them with leaks. I mean, what are we looking at here this week and where are we in this investigation?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL EDITOR, THE ROOT: Well, we`re looking at the continuing march forward of an attempted authoritarian regime.

You know, rev, the only thing that we can be comfortable with as Americans is the shear incompetence of this administration that they haven`t been more effective in implementing the sort of bit by bit destruction of democracy that people like Steve Bannon are seeking and people like Jeff Sessions are complaisant in attempting to create.

The leaks, as to what or how that information got out about President Trump and his conversations. We have absolutely no idea. And the administration has every right to be curious about those things.

But they`re so hypocritical when it comes to leaks that it`s hard to take their threats, it`s hard to take their concerns as anything other than a shadow attempt to suppress the press.

When leaks help the Trump campaign in 2016, he had no problem with it. When leaks now reveal the cracks within his administration and their inability to handle even the most basic of tasks, suddenly they`re a problem.

It`s those very same leaks that might lead us to one day understand what role, if any, Russia had in implementing this administration and helping it to continue.

SHARPTON: Those are the two things that cause the most concern to me. One, of course, the hypocrisy because they had no problem with leaks as you clearly stated when it benefited their particular politics and agenda.

But secondly, what is being leaked they`re not addressing? We are talking about undermining voting in this country and voters with misinformation. And rather than seeming to be concerned that people are being unfairly and in many ways duped with misinformation, which should be an outrage to all of us, they`re more worried about who told than what is being told and what may have transpired.

JOHNSON: And, rev, I`ll add to that. You know, part of what makes this problematic and Russia and then sort of the behavior of this administration in some respects are two different things.

Look, Mueller put together a grand jury because obviously they think that something wrong has happened, whether it has to do with President Trump himself or it has to do with his children or has to do with associates. This investigation has been going on since 2015, so that`s going to continue.

But this notion of leaks and how they want to connect that to Russia, the issue is we already know that the Trump administration itself has attempted to leak information, false information in the past, and attempt to trap the press.

So it`s extremely troubling that we have an administration that is so incapable of doing the basic running of the government that they`re concerned with beating up the press, putting out some sort of false narrative rather than pushing forth the agenda that the minority of the country that put them into office claims that they want.

SHARPTON: Well, pardon me, maybe I`m mistaken, but isn`t this also where there were meetings with people that told them on e-mails to Donald Trump junior we will give you information from Russians themselves about Hillary Clinton?

I mean, and you`re going to cry about leaks when you were seeking to meet with people from the adversarial country that promised you information? But why clutter the issue with facts? Thank you, Jason Johnson.

To continue this discussion, I want to bring in MSNBC political analyst Elise Jordan, a former adviser to Senator Rand Paul`s campaign and columnist for "Time." And of course Tara Dowdell a democratic strategist and former "Apprentice" contestant.

Elise, how do we really get all hyped up and all out of ourselves with concern when we`re being told by people who on the record sought information by leaks from people from Russia, whatever other means, that now all of a sudden they want to come down on the culture of leaks?

I mean, can we really understand why a lot of American people are saying, well, wait a minute now, you can`t have it both ways?

ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s incredibly hypocritical, but are we really surprised? This was -- the president asked in a press conference last summer, he said, please, give me Russia, give me Hillary Clinton`s missing e-mails. So really the behavior isn`t a surprise at all.

What I`m most interested in was the Friday report from "The New York Times" saying that Mueller was looking into former national security adviser shortest tenure in 24 days, Mike Flynn`s financial dealings with the Turkish government.

That is really a significant development that they are actually getting documents from the White House and looking into specific wrongdoing.

And this investigation is going to go on for a while, but it certainly seems like there is something there given the team that Mueller has assembled.

SHARPTON: Now, Tara, the politics of this, clearly we don`t know where the investigation will go, you can have long investigations that go nowhere, you can have long investigations that go somewhere. We`ll see.

But the politics of this, we see the president went to west Virginia, we see his base being rallied to support him, and a lot of what the Attorney General Sessions says is really more toward the politics of the base than really having any legal bearing because I don`t know what they would do more about trying to find out who the leaks are and how far they could really go in trying to stifle the press in reality.

Is this more about just trying to galvanize your base and keep them intact because there`s been some erosion in the polls with some of the white male vote that was with President Trump.

TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, there are a few things going on. Number one, to your point, Jeff Sessions is playing politics and one of the main reasons is because he had fallen out of Donald Trump`s good graces.

So he saw this sort of rhetoric around I`m going to crack down on these leaks as a mechanism or a means to get back into the good graces --

SHARPTON: An audience of one, Donald Trump.

DOWDELL: Exactly. An audience of one, Donald Trump. Because what he doesn`t want is for Donald Trump to keep taking shots at him on Twitter and diminishing him publicly, which Donald Trump was doing.

So as you can see when he announced this sort of crackdown on leaks, when he announced the affirmative action he`s going to pursue cases of discrimination against white people, when he announced those things Trump responded positively to those.

Secondarily to your point, the base. The base wants to hear these things because Donald Trump has done an amazing job of playing into this sort of victim mentality that many in the base have, that they are the true victims and they are aggrieved and they need to be made whole. So that`s number one.

The other piece of that is the base really, really -- you know, responded to anything that was geared towards attacking minorities. So for some in the base, a big part of it is just pure racism, right?

SHARPTON: Well, that`s what he ran on.


SHARPTON: Elise, he ran with dog whistles. You are not doing what you could be doing. You are not living at the level that you could. Your dreams could come true if it wasn`t for them. They`re taking your jobs, they`re coming across the border dealing with the things you should have.

It was the birth of whole politics that he emerged from. That is Donald Trump`s political mantra is them, they, they, they, those over there, and that`s what they played this week.

JORDAN: Well, rev, I mean, you certainly know as well as anyone this is not new territory for Donald Trump.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

JORDAN: You look at the 1980s and he took out a full page ad in "The New York Times" of accusing five young men of murder and saying that they should be executed.

I mean, this is not someone who has any moral high ground when it comes to just basic issues of human decency.

SHARPTON: I had marches on his office about that.

I think people don`t understand, Elise, what you just said, and Tara, he comes out of a lot of the racial tone of New York. You`ve got to study the `80s and`90s in New York to understand the tone that he nationalized.

People think the movement was just in the `60s. New York and the northern movement is where you got Donald Trump from learning how to play dog whistles.

I`ve got to go. Thank you both. Elise Jordan and Tara Dowdell.

Coming up, marching for justice in our nation`s capital, this time, religious leaders of all faiths are talking and taking the lead. Some of them join me next, right here on "PoliticsNation."


SHARPTON: Welcome back. On August 28th, just three weeks away, I`ll be marching in Washington, D.C. with several other ministers in a march for justice marking the 54th anniversary of Dr. King`s "I Have a Dream" speech, and taking the Trump administration to task for endangering that dream.

To register, visit, sign up and stand up.

Among those thousand ministers marching joining me now is the Reverend K.W. Tullos, pastor of the Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. And Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Let me go to you first, Rabbi. One of the striking things about 54 years ago when Dr. King and others marched is it was interdenominational, it was interracial. You and I talked by phone.

I remember as a kid, I was too young to go to the march, I was about nine years old. But as a kid when I did become involved in the movement at 13, I met Rabbi Abraham Heschel who marched with Dr. King in Selma.

So when we have this march today raising issues about maintaining the dream across the board, it`s very important as we do that across denominational, religious and even ethnic lines as you and others are coming on board saying the dream has nothing to do with how one practices their faith, it`s the moral code that we need to emphasize for the whole country.

JONAH PESNER, DIRECTOR, RELIGIOUS ACTION CENTER OF REFORM JUDAISM: That`s right, Reverend Al. Thanks so much for having me. I`m going to be honored to be marching with you to commemorate the "I Have a Dream speech.

What Rabbi Heschel said when he came back from Selma with Dr. King was that it was as if he was praying with his legs.

So, Reverend Sharpton, you and I and the other ministers and the imams and the rabbis, we will be marching and praying with our legs. Because this is not a nostalgia march, right? We are marching to protect, to defend the dream which for too many dream has become a nightmare with mass incarceration, with voter suppression, with people afraid of losing their health care benefits.

So it`s important that we march, but that we march for the dream, getting protected for the future, not just nostalgia for the past.

SHARPTON: Reverend Tullos, it is not a nostalgia march because we saw when President Trump came in office, President Obama had put the bust of Dr. King in the oval office, President Trump said I`m going to keep the bust in, but I`m adding Winston Churchill, but did he put the dream out?

Because in the dream of Dr. King, he talked about voting rights, which is now under siege. He talked about poverty which we are really clearly dealing with as the rabbi just referred to, rather. And he talked about criminal justice reform. He talked about the idea of health care.

Dr. King said that in the speech. All of this is in danger right now, so this thousand ministers march is to say, wait a minute, you can`t commemorate the dreamer and kill the dream.


Again, August 28th countless ministers are coming beyond the walls of the church to really, really focus on the needs of our community.

These last seven months has been dismal. Many of our -- many of the policies that are being proposed are aimed at cutting the -- cutting down on the backs of our members.

And it`s very important, again, for us as religious leaders to reach out beyond the walls and the press and to make this administration know that our members are at stake. This is why we`re here. We`re there representing our people. We are there to let the folks know that we are there with them and we want this administration to take notice that, hey, this is important.

You are messing with people`s lives and we recognize that everything is at stake and that`s what we plan to do August 28th.

SHARPTON: You know, rabbi, when I look at the fact that you referred to mass incarceration, when I look at when we see the continued cases of police brutality that all of us support good policing, but that we are not dealing with the bad police as well as the fact that this attorney general has said I`m even questioning consent decrees.

I look at our colleagues in the NAACP this week talking about a travel warning for the state of Missouri because of any number of situations with black motorists in the state of Missouri. And yet in the midst of all of this, I look one morning and ministers are in the oval office laying hands on President Trump and praying and saying God bless him and strengthen him in what he`s doing without questioning what he`s doing.

That`s why I think some other faith leaders need to come and say we`re not here to condemn the president, but we`re here to uplift justice and fairness while y`all are blessing this -- is going on.

PESNER: That`s right. And I would say first of all, as you know, I`m a proud board member of the NAACP, which is the oldest and the largest civil rights organization in America, and with a long history of Jewish involvement.

And we all ought to be concerned when the NAACP state conference in Missouri issues a travel warning. This is a state where 75 percent more likely to be pulled over by law enforcement if you`re black than if you`re white.

And, you know, we need to be concerned. We need to be concerned that we have 2.3 million souls incarcerated in America, more than any other country in the world. And if you are a black man, you have a one in three chance of going to prison, whereas if you are a white man you have a one in seventeen chance. That is an inequality and an enduring racism that must be addressed.

So when we march on August 28th, we`re going to be truly marching for that dream and to hold our elected officials accountable, as you said.

By the way, I have great hope because we proved over the last few weeks with health care access, when folks across lines of difference, people of faith, Muslims, Christians, Jews, civil rights advocates, health care advocates, when we mobilized and organized across the country in all 50 states and put pressure on the United States senate, we protected and defended health care access for millions of Americans. So we can do this, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Reverend Tullos, you`ve been on the front line with me and others from Staten Island with Eric Garner case to Ferguson to voting rights, in Selma commemorating that and fighting these voter ID laws, you worked with what I call the coming new guard of National Action Network and other legacy organizations.

At this point, the critical issues have not really been tackled by the faith community, the faith leaders and we`ve seen it appear that the evangelicals who are more to the right have spoken for the church.

Will August 28th begin to change that and really raise the profile of those in the faith community that a more progressive and more in line with the teachings of a Dr. Martin Luther King or Dr. Ralph Abernathy.

TULLOS: I really believe, rev, this march on August 28th will in deed do that.

Again, when we talk about many of the civil rights challenges of our time from health care to income equality to poverty, again, who are speaking for our community?

And it`s up to us as faith religious leaders to continue to press and to continue to stress the importance of the community.

Again, it seemed like so many of the policies that are being implemented and proposed is not of our community. And again, who better to speak to these issues than us as faith and community leaders. And we`re looking to do that August the 28th.

SHARPTON: Rabbi, I think also what`s important there is beyond the politics, because we made this clear this is not partisan, is the morality. When we`re talking about a health care proposal, which was proposed in the senate, that would cost up to 34 million people their health insurance, you`re talking about people watching me right now with preexisting conditions, talking about people right now that need their medicine, it is immoral to play with people`s health care and lives.

You`re talking about people sitting in jail that did nothing wrong, some that did a minor offense that will lose their many years of their lives. That`s immoral. I mean, I think that we have taken the morality out and the sensitivity out of a lot of the issues and just looked at what side we`re on rather than what do we stand for as a nation.

PESNER: That`s right, Reverend Al. I think the faith community, the ministers, the rabbis, the imams, and other faith leaders, we have a unique role to play in proclaiming that prophetic voice.

What God calls us to do is to pursue justice to love mercy and walk humbly with God, so we will be walking humbly but marching proudly on August 28th and we`ll be lifting up that moral voice.

I`m very proud that it was in the offices of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. that the voting rights act of 1965 was drafted and the civil rights act of `64.

But those acts are under siege now. The voting rights act, as you know, was eviscerated in a Supreme Court case in Shelby in 2012.

As you referenced a moment ago, we have voter suppression laws all across the country, one in North Carolina that was called racist with surgical precision by a federal appeals court when it got thrown out. So we need to lift the moral voice but we also need to organize and mobilize at the grassroots level as you`re doing on August 28th.

SHARPTON: Well, I thank you both very much, Reverend K.W. Tullos and Rabbi Jonah Pesner.

Up next, could smoking marijuana lead to the destruction of this country? Stay tuned.


SHARPTON: And now for this week`s gotcha.

It may still surprise some of you that as a minister I am an avid proponent for the legalization of marijuana. No, I still don`t light up myself, minus a cigar or two, but I`m still for all the reasonable drug policies that doesn`t treat marijuana like heroin and non-violent users like cartel kingpins.

While I don`t endorse cannabis use in every instance, say, behind the wheel, driving, I also acknowledge that some of the smartest people in modern history have admitted to smoking weed.

We`ll get to that in a minute. Because one of the dumbest things a conservative outside of Washington said this week came courtesy of professional provocateur Ann Coulter.


ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No one gets arrested and tried for a possession of marijuana. Marijuana makes people retarded. Especially when they`re young. We`ve got enough busboys, we`re bringing in busboys by the million through our immigration policy. We do not need a country of busboys. We`re destroying the country.


SHARPTON: I apologize, folks. I meant the dumbest and meanest. Let`s start with the meanness. First, because in 2016 retarded when used in this manner is widely considered to be hate speech that belong in the past with the "N" word and other outdated insults.

Maybe that`s why on behalf of a mentally disabled girl seen here President Obama signed a law removing the term from federal language. Oh, and no one gets arrested for pot? Tell that to the more than seven million people arrested on weed charges for 2001 to 2010.

They weren`t all busboys. But here is a little exercise for you, Ms. Coulter, a game called guess who`s smoked weed and is smarter than you. From the top, human economy, Bill Gates. Late inventor of everything, Steve Jobs. And queen of all things, Oprah Winfrey. And of course President Barack Obama who you famously referred to as a retard in 2012.

All of them have admitted to smoking pot and none of them have destroyed the country. Quite the opposite. And believe me when I say that. I`d rather hold my breath to hang with any of them than take a single deep breath of your hot air.

Ms. Coulter, take a page from the `60s and mellow out. But remember this when you come down, I gotcha.


SHARPTON: Minority filmgoers account for nearly half of Hollywood`s box office receipts, despite the documented absence of faces of color on screen and in leadership roles behind the scenes. It`s not complicated.

Fans of color support content that speaks to them, regardless of the complexions depicted. Case in point, HBO`s mega hit series "Game of Thrones" while it centers on a fictionalized myth in Europe, black viewers have embraced the show`s mix of high fantasy and high drama as their own.

And so naturally black social media was inflamed by the news that the show`s main producers in choosing the premise for their next HBO project had decided on an alternative history, an alternate history, in which the confederacy won the civil war and African-Americans remained enslaved into the present day.

It even has an easy to remember name, "confederate."

The fallout has had HBO doing damage control for the last week and a new campaign from the woman behind the #Oscarsowhite has been picking up traction from television.

Also in answer mega producer Will Packer and master satirist Aaron McGruder announced this week that their Amazon studios project in which freed slaves created a thriving nation in the Postwar South is in, quote, very, very active development.

I think my guests and I can relate a bit more to the title of this collaboration, the duo is called "Black America."

Joining me now from Washington is April Reign, creator of the No Confederate and #Oscarsowhite campaign hashtags on social media, and here in New York, we have filmmaker Rebecca Theodore -Vachon, co-host of the Cinema In Noir radio show. Thank you both for being with me.

APRIL REIGN, CREATOR, NO CONFEDERATE: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: April, let me go to you. You have been out there really active on social media, Oscars so white which many of us were in the streets complimenting what you had done with hashtag, now you are I can`t say beating the drums, let me say hitting your laptop and putting the pressure on around the confederate. Why -- what is your fear, what is your warning here?

REIGN: Our concern here is that the commodification of black pain for others enjoyment must stop. This can`t be an alternate history when we have people like Dylann Roof who is a confederate flag waver, walking into a house of peace and killing nine black people in cold blood.

When we have the textbooks in the state of Texas literally rewriting history so that Africans and African-Americans were no longer enslaved people in this country but merely servants as if they were just waiting for a better job on LinkedIn.

HBO can do a much better job than this particular show and we would like to see them open this up to other opportunities for marginalized communities to have their stories told.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Rebecca, we have on one side the confederate that we don`t know when it will show, I understand they haven`t even started writing but it`s certainly slated, and you have on the other side "Black America" on the Amazon series which is going to show blacks controlling their own country.

Are we seeing flipsides of the same kinds of things or are we seeing again because of the domination of whites behind the cameras in an executive positions that there`s an unfair depiction of blacks and every once in a while something like "Black America" has put in to try to calm the waters in terms of the broader media world?

REBECCA THEODORE-VACHON, RADIO HOST: Right. I think we need to look at and interrogate where these stories are coming from. As far as "Black America" these are black creators, this is Aaron McGruder, this is Will Packer.

On the other hand, we have the two white creators of "Game of Thrones" who -- if you watch "Game of Thrones" in the past seven seasons, their depiction of people of color are usually slaves or they`re under the order of a white woman, the Daenerys character. I think people really need to interrogate that.

To what I understand, the two creators of "Game of Thrones" have never chimed in on the current state of black America.

Yes, they have signed Michelle and Malcom`s filming who are the two black executive producers and writers, you know. They`ve gone on NPR and said that they are not the patsies, they`re not --they are fully partners in this creation, but that doesn`t alleviate my fear because, you know, they`re saying that they`re equal partners which means that they`re equally complicit, which means that they didn`t challenge the two white creators on "Game of Thrones" on what their premise was.

The premise is it`s an alt history. It`s not alt history. As Bree Newsome said, how can you create an alt history when people don`t even know the real history?

SHARPTON: April, you know, one of the things that you alluded to was given opportunities to others in terms of people of color because there has been a shutout of a lot of creative, talented people being able to get access to a lot of the airwaves, a lot of the projects that should be financed and all.

So we`re talking about a community that provides half of the moviegoers, half of a lot of the viewership, but nowhere near that in terms of getting a lot of their talent and a lot of their creative work out there.

And when people like my group, National Action Network or others come and raise that, oh, you all are shaking us down, when, in fact, they`re shaking down the consumers by enjoying their support, getting advertising dollars from it, but not letting those same communities creative artists have access to be able to expose and give the public the benefit of their talent.

REIGN: That`s exactly right, Reverend Al. What I have always said with Oscar so white is that the moviegoers, the people who pay their hard-earned money every day to sit in that darkened theater should be able to see themselves on screen.

And that`s regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, ability or disability or first nation status. So what Benioff and Weiss, the producers of "Game of Thrones" could have done and can still do is to use their significant leverage with HBO and open up the process to traditionally underrepresented communities, to allow other stories could be told rather than this alt history of their own.

One in fact wonders when this show was green lit how many people of color, how many people of the marginalized communities were in the room? Because that`s important.

We need to start from the script stage, from the pitch idea stage all the way to what is seen onscreen.

SHARPTON: Who is making the decisions, Rebecca, is part of the problem. We went through this with Sony a few years ago with Amy Pascal.

Who is in the room making the decisions April`s raising which I have to say is something we all have agreed to and have for some time.

THEODORE-VACHON: Right. If you look at "Game of Thrones" track record -- and this is the thing, everybody is saying that they want to give this show a chance. But again, we have to go back to "Game of Thrones," right? Which is their first and most successful show.

To my knowledge, not one black director has ever directed an episode of "Game of Thrones." And in front of the camera and behind the camera as well. Are there any black writers of "Game of Thrones?" It seems to me that it`s very interesting that the onetime that Benioff and Weiss have actually reached out to black creators is when they want to do a show that shows a alt history of black people still being oppressed in present day, which is really an insult to our culture and also to our talent.

SHARPTON: Well, I`ve got to leave it there. Thank you both. Always good to talk to you, April Reign and Rebecca Theodore-Vachon. Glad to have you with us.

Up next, shedding light on the rioting and civil unrest in the Motor City 50 years ago. Based on a new historic thriller film "Detroit." We`ll be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just starts racism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Detroit is setting a war, the violence continues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever we can do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m just going to assume you`re all criminals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t talk about this to anyone ever.


SHARPTON: Within the many touchstones of the civil rights era are countless stories that the wider public does not know and does not hear.

In late July of 1967 in the middle of the long hot summer that saw dozens of race riots and rebellions erupt nationwide, the city of Detroit was rocked by four days of domestic unrest unmatched since the civil war.

In the midst of the chaos was the tragedy at the Algiers Motel in which several black occupants and two young white women were beaten, tortured and killed by law enforcement.

It was this untold story that Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow brings to pulse pounding life in her feature "Detroit."

Joining me now is a native of Detroit, the one and only Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. He`s a professor at Georgetown University and author of the book "Tears We Cannot Atop, A Sermon to White America."

Thank you for being with me, Dr. Dyson.


SHARPTON: When I watched this the other night, I hosted one of the screenings. I thought of you because you`re from Detroit.

DYSON: Right.

SHARPTON: You more than anyone in academia have interpreted this problem of policing today. Looking back 50 years when you were a kid, I was a kid.

DYSON: Right.

SHARPTON: But I remember I was maybe 12, I remember the riots in Detroit but this is the first time we`ve seen in a thriller the story told, the viciousness and the context of why people erupted in the violence. Martin Luther King used to say that the riots are the voice of the unheard.

DYSON: That`s right. No, that`s a brilliant summary and you`re absolutely right that this film, for the first time, shows a spotlight not only on the urban rebellion in `67, but a specifically tragic incident where three black teens lost their lives at the hand of vicious police.

Now, we know that these police weren`t extraordinary that is to say that the system itself produced the kind of pathology that demonized black people that led to their deaths.

But the reality is that we`ve rarely seen, as you said a movie, a thriller, a non-fiction -- a fictional attempt here to come to grips with the truth of that went on here and I think Kathryn Bigelow trains her powerful lens on this incident to show us that if you think what`s gone on 50 years ago has gone away, we know Philando Castile was here, we know Eric Garner is still here, we know Sandra Bland is still here and Tamir Rice and time and again we see this repeated.

The reality is that it makes us feel that we`re not crazy because it can`t be black people`s fault if it happened 50 years ago and is still happening 50 years later, there must be something about the police department itself, the police culture that really produces this kind of stigma on young, black people.

I think this film is such a powerful avocation to that. As you said, I was eight years old. I remember the trailer smoke in the sky and asking my mother what this was and she told me something about a blind pig. I didn`t know what a blind pig was. I said, what does a sightless mammal have to do with his -- right, but I found out later that this after hours` club is what sparked off the whole thing.

And, again, two returning soldiers from Vietnam who were being celebrated and the police coming in to really devastate us. That`s the story that you have helped put on the front pages, as well.

SHARPTON: Well, here`s it could have illustrating how the Detroit police approached the investigation after the incident.

DYSON: Right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we have these conversations, we do them in stages. OK. Stage one, witnesses. Stage two, suspects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What stage are we in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t know what stage we`re in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, could you specify it for me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we`re in stage two. You`re a suspect.


SHARPTON: You know, I was reading your op-ed in this morning`s "New York Times." One of the things you talk about is you not only talk about this is still happening and why and why people like me get involved.

You talk about how Bigelow put a human face on it. Because I think sometimes people just see the issues. Those of us that are public figures and don`t realize these are human beings. When you see the fear and terror that these ordinary people in this motel was two white girls people start saying, wait a minute, maybe they, as you stated clearly, are not crazy.

DYSON: That`s it. That`s a very powerful point.

I think one of the advantages that Bigelow gives to us and one of the advantage she`s working within is to humanize these people and even to the degree that is possible to humanize the opposition, though she shows that it grows out of not only personal hatred, but a systemic and institutional problem that really is perpetuated regardless of what these people think.

But you`re so right in terms of humanizing them and giving them a face and a voice. Looking at the family and the aftermath. Somebody`s family is hurt and pained and grieved. After their child goes down and after their daughter dies, there is something of the human toll. The psychic toll that black and other people endure.

We see in Minnesota when the white woman dies, the police chief resigns. When the black man Philando Castile dies, there`s only handwringing and nothing else going on.

So sometimes, a white body on a black problem illuminates the human depth of it and what Kathryn Bigelow has done is brought her female privileges as a female director to bare. I know some black people are saying, well, she`s a white director.

Look, we demand that white people wrestle with and grapple with the problem of race themselves. Don`t just leave it to black and brown people. What she has bravely and courageously done here is attacked this problem head on and looked at it with stilly determination to say what happened here was wrong and evil and problematic and it must never happen again. This film reminds us of the human toll that that particular tragedy --

SHARPTON: Well, some of us still finding it right now and I`m very glad she put it on the screens so people could see why.

Thank you, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Always honored to have you with us.

We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: Once again, I`ll be marching in Washington, D.C. on August 28 with several others and the 1,000 ministers march for justice marking the 54th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King`s "I Have a Dream" speech. To register, visit Sign up, stand up. Keep the dream alive.

That does it for me. Thanks for watching and to keep the conversation going, like us at And follow us on Twitter @politicsnation.

I`ll see you back here next Sunday.