Next 1/6 Committee hearing will focus on pressure campaign to convince state officials to overturn election. Trump attacks pence for not rejecting electing electoral votes. Former Trump WH Official Navarro pleads not guilty to contempt of Congress. White House releases Juneteenth proclamation. The attack on voting rights in America. Companies cash in on Juneteenth holiday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So how have you managed being in that line of fire and handle it with such grace and success?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that keeps coming to my mind is like, I just wish that there was a world in which, you know, everything that a black woman did. Someone wasn`t coming to dim that light or blow it out. Like I wish that there was someone there fanning our flames.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: You can watch The Culture Is, Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC. The 11th Hour starts now.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. Tonight, we were at the end of a dramatic week in the January 6 investigation and on the verge of another week of potentially explosive hearings. We`re going to get into all of that now. But I want you to stick around for something special, a little later in the hour, something we don`t think you`ll see anywhere else tonight.
But first, let`s talk about these hearings. The Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot holds its next public hearing Tuesday at 1 p.m. Eastern. It`ll focus on former President Trump`s efforts to push key officials in several states to change their 2020 election results. Georgia`s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his Deputy Gabriel Sterling are both expected to testify.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN, (D) CALIFORNIA JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE MEMBER: We`ve all heard the infamous phone call where then President Trump was trying to force Raffensperger to find votes essentially just make stuff up so he could become the president again. But we`ll go through a variety of issues that we think will be revealing not everything has been out in the public so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: We also know the Justice Department is paying close attention to the House investigation. Today the Committee said it`s cooperating with the DOJ request for transcripts of the interviews with their witnesses. The Department made its first request back in April, but the panel wanted to wait until its investigation was over.
Well, on Wednesday, DOJ ramped up the pressure with a letter warning that the delay was holding up criminal cases tied to the insurrection. The Committee spent the past week tying Trump and his team`s actions to that very attack.
On Monday, it was testimony about Trump ignoring advisors who told him over and over that he lost the election. Yesterday how he and his lawyer John Eastman tried to push Mike Pence to block certification of the vote.
Well, today Trump fired back during his speech in Nashville, Tennessee after rallying against the hearings, he came pretty darn close to flat out admitting that he had pressured Pence and then he went after him again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: One guy got up and said that he heard me calling Mike Pence a wimp. Now, and honestly, I`m the President of the United States. You know, sitting I think they said like this guy, he`s a wimp. How many people listened to me, it`s like, I don`t even know who these people are. But I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never call him a wimp. Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be frankly historic. Mike Pence had absolutely no choice. But to be a human conveyor belt, Mike did not have the courage to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: What Mike Pence did was follow the law. And as for pence himself, he has been talking to the Wall Street Journal. He says he has not spoken to Trump in about a year and that he is not interested in revisiting the 2020 election. He also told the paper he will make a decision about a presidential run for himself in early 2023.
There`s also news about another former Trump official targeted by the 1/6 committee, former trade adviser Peter Navarro. You remember him Trump found him from an Amazon search. He pleaded not guilty today to contempt of Congress. After defying a committee subpoena. He will face a jury in November.
With that let`s get smarter with the help of our leadoff panel tonight, Jelani Cobb joins us, Dean of the Columbia Journalism School. He`s also a staff writer for The New Yorker and an MSNBC Political Contributor. Harry Litman joins us, former U.S. attorney and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and our dear friend Professor Eddie Glaude, the Chair of the Department of African American studies at Princeton University and MSNBC contributor whose brand new podcast, History is Us, an audio documentary that looks at our past to try to make sense of the present and future through the lens of race and history.
We`ll get an all-star lineup on this Friday night. Mr. Litman, I turn to you first. These hearings were major. What was your biggest takeaway from the committee?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I guess two things with both the big lie and the hang Mike Pence, the apps that we had seen it in sort of broad strokes, but the vivid details that made clear that in each case both on the facts of the big lie and the legal position underpinning the hang Mike Pence, it wasn`t far-fetched a sort of 2% thing there was nothing, zero zip. There never was. So it was completely out of whole cloth though it was brazened and ruthless. That`s point one.
And point two is in both of these cases. And I think we`re going to see two more next week. We came pretty close. There were alternate universes where Mike Pence is torn limb from limb. That`s what a confidential informant has now told the Department of Justice, if he had turned left instead of right, it could have been the most wrenching scene in democratic history. And the big lie itself was -- and you`re seeing the gallows here. So it`s just the close scrape, which we might have known about in the abstract, but hearing in vivid detail was really sort of blood draining to me.
RUHLE: Eddie, in the weeks leading up to the hearings, we kept caring people aren`t going to care. This thing is hyper partisan. But then the hearing started and they got huge viewership and the witnesses, almost all of them were either Trump appointees, employees, or career highly respected Republicans. Do you think the content is getting through?
EDDIE GLAUDE, AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES DEPT. CHAIR AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I actually do, Stephanie. And it has everything to do with the kind of overarching narrative that the 1/6 committee is putting forward. They`re connecting dots. There is the drama of the testimonies as it were, of the witnesses. And I think the seriousness of what Jan. 6 represented that the scale of the threat is coming into view. Not only did we hear about the Proud Boys informant talking about quartering, Mike Pence, Mike Pence refusing to get in the car with the Secret Service.
But we saw that Trump knew that he was lying that Trump knew what he was doing was illegal and that he didn`t give a damn. As I`ve said before, he didn`t care. He didn`t care enough that he would throw bodies under the bus in the name of his pursuit of power. So I think the drama of it all is really important is grabbed the attention of many Americans who haven`t settled on sides, but who are really trying to find the truth.
RUHLE: OK, those are Americans who haven`t settled on sides. So those are independents. But let`s talk about GOP voters, Jelani, because there are some that are calling this "impeachment three." You saw that clip before, Trump speaking in Nashville, he basically came right up to the edge of admitting that they pressured Trump -- that they pressured Pence, if that`s the case, and people don`t care, then does anything matter, right? It was the NBA finals this week. And you can love the Celtics, or you could love the Warriors. But at the end of the day, you want to make sure the Reps do their job. If we don`t care about that, what does that say about America?
JELANI COBB, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL INCOMING DEAN: Well, it means that we`re in jeopardy, you know, and this is one quick aside, I`m the incoming being at Columbia. Not quite --
RUHLE: Incoming, oh -- well, then guess what? Then let`s just take a moment to congratulate Jelani on his new job. There you go, incoming Dean, September, here we come, incoming.
COBB: So -- but the point --
RUHLE: The current dean is watching and going what the?
COBB: Exactly. But on a more serious note, though, the problem here and this has been the problem from the gate with all of these elements of Trumpism is that there isn`t any recognition of the import of self- preservation. That means self-preservation in the collective sense. If you --
RUHLE: You`re going to have to speak English for me here.
COBB: No, let`s say if you take a wrecking ball to the edifice of democracy in you destroy people`s faith in free and fair elections, that rebounds against you eventually, no one can trust anything, you get chaos and bedlam. And that`s been the thing that I`ve -- it`s been -- I`ve been waiting for people to make that kind of recognition, that mob that runs into the halls of Congress can go after anyone. That`s a very unpredictable force, and no one seems to be aware of it.
RUHLE: Well, that`s basically what Michael Luttig said, right? Career Republican, retired judge was talking about preserving America, our democracy here.
COBB: Yeah, I mean, I think he`s been a kind of uncommon voice. And that`s been the refrain that you`ve heard. You know, you`ve heard that from Cheney. You`ve heard that from Kinzinger. You`ve heard this from the various elements of the Republican Party that have criticized Trump and Trumpism. But it`s all been from the idea of self-interest. Like, look, this is not good for us in the long run.
RUHLE: Harry, the committee is now sending its interview transcripts over to the Justice Department. And I want to share with committee member Zoe Lofgren said about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOFGREN: We`re going to provide what we can that`s necessary for them. I just makes me wonder, though, what have they been doing over there? I mean, they have a much easier way to compel testimony under their subpoenas that we do under ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: You`re our legal mind here, Harry, can you explain that, why does the DOJ need the Committee to help them, isn`t this what
Then we do under hours. Your legal mind here. How can you explain that? Why does the DOJ need the committee to help them? Isn`t this what the Department of Justice does?
LITMAN: Maybe. Look, first of all, they`ve had over 1000. And they have had a big head start, the grand jury that`s been sitting on officials and stuff has only been going for a couple months. But it`s more complicated to try to speak to suspects and targets of investigations. Here`s why DOJ wants these transcripts, it`s for the -- on the -- the robber has really hit the road, because it has to do with the Proud Boys prosecution that`s about to go to trial. There are five defendants there. DOJ wants to be able to do two things, make comparative evaluations and figure out who to put pressure on to try to turn against the top dog. So you need to know who are the top dogs. So these long transcripts will help.
And second, if they don`t get them now, they`re going to fall in the middle of trial. There could be exculpatory information there and it could really mess up the trial as it`s going on, then it`s not a simple thing. And I`m - - and Zoe, I would think knows this to simply you can`t say please show up and start talking to people who are going to be charged in a grand jury, but they have spoken at length to the committee and that is -- those transcripts going to be very valuable for at least two reasons. And again, it`s happening now, these are cases they`re putting together having indicted and are set for trial in a couple of months.
RUHLE: The New York Times is actually doing some excellent investigative reporting specifically on the Proud Boys and their involvement in the insurrection. They released this video today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The group was among hundreds of rioters who stormed the capitol that day, our analysis shows for the first time how central they were to the Capitol attack again and again, they instigated critical breakthroughs around the Capitol, by repeating the same tactics, target and access point, rile up the crowd. Join the violence and reassess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Does this get the government closer to time team Trump to the insurrection, Harris?
LITMAN: The short answer I think is, no. You still need to make the tie. They`ve got a lot of things they can indict Trump for tomorrow. Don`t get me wrong, that there`s a consideration. But in fact -- in terms of actually tying him to this seditious conspiracy, you still need that agreement. And there we still need someone that he has agreed with. It does show, however, the Proud Boys were making plans and it wasn`t just spontaneous as of January 6. Enrique Tarrio, in fact, that head guy wasn`t even there. And he`s been indicted for seditious conspiracy.
So we know that plans were going on. And we do know generally if plans were going on since November, Trump was generally all over them. But the specific agreement to have joined extradition conspiracy, we`re going to need DOJ, I think to stitch that up, if the committee had that we would know already.
RUHLE: And quick reminder in a presidential debate when Pres -- former President Trump was asked what is his message to the Proud Boys? What did he say? Stand by and stand back.
Eddie -- Professor Eddie, give us a history lesson because today`s the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break in which was obviously a test of our nation. But back then there was not any dread or question over whether our democracy would survive. Talk to us about how dangerous the point we`re at right now is, half a century later?
GLAUDE: Well, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the institutions of our democracy seem to be on shaky ground. We have a gerrymandered house. We have a dysfunctional Senate. We have a politicized court. We have the imperial presidency run amok. The fourth estate has been complicated by Fox prop, you know, by, you know, Fox News and what it is -- what it does, and what it has done. We have hyper partisanship, which has divided the country in very specific sorts of ways that such that you can`t have a kind of deliberative public engaged in the democratic process.
So it seems like every element beyond the corruption of particular elements, it seems as if every element of our democracy is teetering on a knife`s edge, and it`s the confluence of those factors on top of the corruption and grift of Donald Trump and his minions that seem to throw us in crisis. So Watergate is like, how can we put it it`s like Atari, compared to Xbox 364 generations later. So that`s the difference in my view, and I just dated myself, I know Xbox 364 is old now.
RUHLE: You sure did. You shared -- well, as soon as you just referenced Atari, you certainly did.
Jelani, people are talking obviously a lot about Liz Cheney and her position here. I mean she could lose her next race because of this and she`s willing to do so.
But I want to ask you for a minute about the Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson. And this is personal for him. I want to share something he said, his opening statement in the first hearing. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON, (D) MISSISSIPPI JAN.6 SELECT COMMITTEE CHAIR: I`m from a part of the country where people justify the actions of slavery, the Klu Klux Klan and Lynching and reminded of that dark history, as I hear voices today, try and justify the actions of the insurrectionists on January 6, 2021.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: What kind of impact of the Chairman having?
COBB: You know, I mean, for people who understand this, you know, that is a five alarm fire right there. If someone does say that, and make that reference, he`s from Mississippi, and that is a state that ratified the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1995. He understands exactly how deeply entrenched and how disastrous these kinds of forces can be. And for that matter, when the forces of the retrograde reactionary forces of those politics at the end of the Civil War, were not prosecuted, and they came back to power a decade and some change later. And he understands that precedent, and I think that`s something we should all be very concerned about.
RUHLE: People who understand this and those who don`t need to be reminded. I know I`m out of time, but Harry Litman cannot leave the show without having the opportunity to talk about Ginni Thomas because I know he wants to. You clerked for the Supreme Court the Committee is now requesting to speak to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas`s wife about her connection to all of this. Explain to us what must be going on inside the Supreme Court given this is happening?
LITMAN: Well, we know from -- for many this is happening, the leak has happened. The total Jetson sharks new court majority is happening. The complete mistrust is happening. The court is -- the court is a train wreck now and it`s sad for anyone who has been there.
Ginni Thomas, I think to date when we heard about unseemly stuff, we thought, well, what does this mean for Clarence Thomas? I think she`s now distinguished herself. She`s out front as a co-conspirator potentially in her own right. She says she`s going to come to the committee and clear it up. Maybe she will. And she`s got a lot you can tell them about, for instance, Eastman and the light. But this court is really roiled as I think it hasn`t been for at least about 80 years. And of course, the big showdown is coming because within two weeks, what`s going to happen to that elite draft of in the Mississippi case, how will it end up? Well, they try to put it over. The court is daily, I think getting shocks after shocks and it functions on trust and collegiality, and it just seems blown to smithereens.
RUHLE: Trust and collegiality, the highest court in the land. Harry Litman, thank you for joining us, Eddie, Jelani, you are staying with us for something really special tonight. We`re talking Juneteenth. It is the country`s oldest celebration of the end of slavery. But what exactly does the holiday mean? And how should it be marked?
And later, corporations want to cash in on the celebrations that some of them are getting it very, very wrong. This special edition of THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Friday night.
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICSNATION: I think if we look at Juneteenth in the perspective of what we`re fighting for right now is to preserve one union that would be able to protect all citizens. And I think that is why all Americans can celebrate Juneteenth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: One year after signing the bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. President Biden released a proclamation today to commemorate the day and remind us of its history. On June 19, 1865, over two years after President Lincoln declared all enslaved persons free. Major General Gordon Granger and Union Army troops marched to Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved black Americans in Texas.
Let`s discuss, Jelani Cobb and Eddie Glaude still with us, and we welcome Janell Ross, Senior Correspondent at Time, and an MSNBC Contributor.
Professor Glaude, I wanted to do this tonight because I want to get smarter about it. Oftentimes, people that look and sound like me say Juneteenth I know it`s important, but what is it? And sometimes people are afraid to ask or they say it`s a black thing. Explain it.
GLAUDE: Well, I think Juneteenth represents two things at once, right? One, it gives us the complicated history of freedom in the country. As you rightly note it you know, these are formerly enslaved people in Texas, who -- in Galveston, Texas, who find out that they`re free two years late. They find out their free month -- just a few months after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, just a few months before the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
And so we get a sense that freedom is not an end. It`s a practice, and we could talk a little bit more about that. So even with the Emancipation Proclamation 1863, even with the end of slavery in 1865, we still don`t get in some fully articulated way a notion of freedom. We`re still fighting for that freedom. So that`s one sense of Juneteenth.
The other thing, Stephanie, that I really want to emphasize is the importance of resilience and grit in the face of recalcitrance, in the face of those forces that deny freedom. So here you have black people, even though they have been denied their freedom, even though they have been subjected to brutal domination, still imagining themselves in the most expansive of terms placing crowns above their babies heads, right? Imagining themselves in terms other than what their relationship of domination suggests they are. So it`s a story of resilience and grit. At the same time, that is a story of delayed freedom. So I think in that the combination of those two offers really important lessons for our current moment.
RUHLE: Janell, your family history takes us back to Galveston, Texas. Is this a celebration, or a commemoration?
JANELL ROSS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, TIME: I tend to think of it as both in a very real way, as I understand it, the day that the Union troops arrived, they sail into Galveston Harbor. Among the soldiers that are with Granger that day is a unit of colored troops. One of the soldiers was actually a person who Lincoln had played a role in emancipating when he was an infant in Illinois. So you know, there are all kinds of unusual coincidences, and they make this pronouncement and people immediately begin to celebrate.
You can imagine that if someone told you, you are no longer a piece of property, that you would certainly have a lot to celebrate, people immediately began to celebrate, but there also were almost immediate incidences of backlash, physical abuse. If you take a look at what was written in the newspaper in the days immediately after Granger makes his announcement by June 21, the Galveston newspaper is declaring how essential it is to make it clear to black people that they are not actually free, and that they will not in fact, enjoy all of the rights and benefits of citizenship. They will not be the equals of white people and anything short of that will be ruinous for the country.
RUHLE: Jelani, critical race theory has become this enormous, distorted rallying cry to the far right, we hear about teachers that are afraid to even acknowledge race. But now here we have Juneteenth a federal holiday. How do we teach this to our kids, given the political climate, it`s not something that should divide us, June 5 -- Juneteenth should not be divisionary, it should be something that unites us?
COBB: The only way we can teach this is directly and honestly, and we have to forthrightly confront the tangled history of this country. If we can celebrate the Fourth of July, in which the nation declared independence, while simultaneously holding people in slavery then, you cannot be politicized to say that you recognize the belated long delayed emancipation of people who never should have been enslaved in the first place. And so those two things are equally conjoined if we`re going to be having an honest assessment of our history. But what we`re talking about in these attacks on what`s called Critical Race Theory was not actually critical race theory is the attempt to use history as nothing more than a resume. It`s a litany of your best accomplishments. But the whole utility of history is that we learned what we did wrong. I tell my students all the time, teams watch their game tape to understand what they got wrong, not what they got right. And that`s the same reason that we pursue our understanding of history.
RUHLE: Eddie, today is also the seventh anniversary of the awful, heinous horrible church shooting down in Charleston, racially motivated just a few weeks ago, another racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, you know, there have been so many more, can federal holidays like this be a way to help stop this type of targeted violence? Or could it actually do the reverse and only get those on one side more fired up?
GLAUDE: Well, I think, you know, I -- it`s hard for me to imagine federal holidays stopping political violence has been such a part of American political life in history. I can see how it can further inflame certain kinds of prejudices, of course, I mean, one of the interesting things about Juneteenth you think about, it`s June 9 -- June 19,1865, right? And you think about what follows, you think about the violence in Memphis, the violence in New Orleans, I mean massacres, Stephanie. You think about the way in which the confederacy in some ways is still fighting the war. You think about the violence that defines the collapse of radical reconstruction
By 1890s, over 53,000 black folk have been killed, who not just in these wild spectacles, spectacle murders or mass murders, but in the attack on poll workers, in the attack on black folk who work for Republican parties in the Coos that took place across the south, right? So political violence has been as -- as American as apple pie and Buffalo grass. So a holiday isn`t going to stop it. But it could create the occasion for us to understand it, and perhaps imagine ourselves differently.
RUHLE: All right, then please stay with us, Jelani, Janell, Eddie, you gave me the chills, Mr. Glaude, you do every time this day is about defending democracy. It`s also why a lot of communities mark Juneteenth with voter registration drives. Why that may be more important this year than ever before. Stick around, THE 11TH HOUR has a lot more to cover tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, (D) GEORGIA: We came to the Senate on the wave of a multiracial coalition, I think the future of the country. Then on January 6, we saw this violent attack on the Capitol driven by the big lie, and the not so subtle premise that certain voices and votes don`t count, you don`t get to determine the future of the country. And so we`re at this inflection point, and we`ve got to decide, are we the America of January 5, or the America of January 6?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: And the answer to that question has a whole lot to do with voting rights. Since 2021, at least 18 different states have passed 34 restrictive voting laws. So here`s a timely reminder. Many community groups will be celebrating Juneteenth this long weekend by signing people up to vote. Jelani, Janell, and Eddie back with us. And I want to ask all of you that question, are we, the America of January 5, or January 6, Janell?
ROSS: I think you can never not be what you have already expressed. We are unfortunately the America of January 6, we`ll have to decide if we want to find our way back to something like January 5, you can`t unsee those people attacking the Capitol. You can`t unhear the former president doing everything possible to delegitimize the votes of people who happen to be people who live in communities that are primarily people of color, every single one of those cities, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, you -- there is no way to unknow that, to unsee that that is our reality. And we might be better off facing that.
RUHLE: Except there are people all across this country that have chosen to unsee it. People who saw it, who experienced tour in the building, who then say, oh, it`s just another tourist day. So who are we?
COBB: I mean I think we`re both of those and it`s always been, you know, what the battle of this country, like are we the country that believes in Juneteenth, you know, are we the country that believes in the horrors that made Juneteenth necessary in the first place? Like, we`re both of those things, and I think that the struggle that Senator Warnock talks about, is particularly heightened in Georgia.
When we see that, you know, the attempts to delegitimize voters in Atlanta, in Fulton County with the overwhelming African American preponderance of voters were in Georgia in that election. And that goes back to the exact reasons why black people were given the vote at the end of the Civil War in the first place.
RUHLE: What rationale, Eddie, is given when these restrictive voting laws are put in place in the last five years or so? How do they pass? What -- publicly, why do they say they`re doing it?
GLAUDE: Well, they`re -- it`s a feature of the stop the steal, a claim around election fraud. The idea that our election process has been compromised by forces who aim to steal power. It`s Freudian projection in so many ways, and it`s also an echo of the past when we saw the disenfranchisement of black men. Remember, black women didn`t get the vote with the 15th Amendment. But when we saw the disenfranchisement of black men at the collapse of radical reconstruction, some of the same arguments were being made, some of the same arguments were being made. So this -- we need to understand voter suppression, voter nullification, all the stuff we`re seeing now, as an extension of Jan. 6.
Remember, Judge Luttig there`s an ongoing revolution within a constitutional crisis that is taking place now, that part of that is, in fact, this attack, this assault on voting. And so we need to see it for what it is. It`s part of this claim, Stephanie, that this nation must remain a White nation in the vein of Old Europe. These people refuse to embrace the idea that ours is a multiracial democracy. They rejected out of hand.
RUHLE: Is there -- and just bear with me for a moment, Janell, is there any -- and I`m not even saying middle ground, but is there any ground to give? When one gives the argument, why not have to show your I.D., why not have to show your license when you go to vote, you have to show your license for all sorts of things. Explain why that`s not something that should even be on the table?
ROSS: Fundamentally, the --
RUHLE: You go to dinner parties around the country, people will say that.
ROSS: Sure, sure. And it`s certainly something I`ve heard many times before in my travels as a reporter. Fundamentally, the right to vote is far more important than your ability to get on a plane, you`re at the end of the day, it truly is -- your ability to vote and participate fully as a citizen and as an equal citizen, is really what defines whether or not we have a functional democracy or not, whether or not we really have the multicultural democracy, that that our country is meant to be. This is who lives in the United States, anything short of that, any effort to fundamentally make it more and more difficult for people to participate, begins to erode the very idea of democracy. That is not what happens if the TSA tells you that you cannot get on a plane.
COBB: Can I add something to that too.
COBB: One other thing that I think is crucial to point out here is that it hasn`t simply been the imposition of voting of I.D. requirements.
RUHLE: No, no, of course, it`s so much more than that.
COBB: No, no, but in addition to this, in places where people have imposed these I.D. requirements, they`ve also made it more difficult for people to get I.D.
RUHLE: Ah, explain this to us.
COBB: Removing DMVs or the number of DMVs in particular locales, where communities of color tend to be in the preponderance. And so you find that pattern again and again and again. So you can say in theory, show your driver`s license, and then we`re just going to make it much more difficult for you to actually get a driver`s license, and thereby less likely that you`ll be able to vote.
RUHLE: Eddie, what is it say that Texas where we are going to see huge voter drives this weekend? The place where Juneteenth was born, is the same state that has these huge restrictive voting laws?
GLAUDE: It says how deeply tragic and flawed this experiment actually is. I think, going back to the quote of Senator Warnock, are we Jan. 5 or Jan. 6, and echoing Dean or the future Dean Cobb, that we`re both. It`s certainly the case to me and to my mind, that that contradiction in Texas suggest that there`s a world that`s desperately trying to be coming, visit America, that`s desperately trying to come into being an America -- and an America that`s clinging to life. And every time a new America is trying to come into existence, Stephanie, the umbilical cord of white supremacy has been wrapped around the baby`s neck choking the life out of it. We have to be better midwives if a new Americans to be born because what we`re experiencing now is an old, old and familiar heart. And we have to acknowledge it as such.
RUHLE: All right then, we will, our guests are sticking around a bit longer. When we come back, Monday, as we`ve talked about is a federal holiday. So some businesses are closed, while others are trying to capitalize. What more can be done to get Juneteenth right, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: Still with us, Jelani, Janell, and Edie. It`s no surprise businesses are eager to cash in on Juneteenth now that it`s a national holiday, Walmart Dollar General Party City selling Juneteenth party plates, vinyl tablecloths, napkins, but some other companies getting big backlash for what they`re doing. Walmart for their Juneteenth themed ice cream. And there`s a few other marketing missteps too.
But here`s the thing, guys, it is complicated, right? When you think about Memorial Day, for example, lots of people in this country, what do they associate Memorial Day with, sales to get really cheap outdoor furniture, going to a barbecue and opening your pool? So how do you find the right lane here?
COBB: Yeah, I just think that ice cream is not going to --
RUHLE: OK, that one is a really bad one, yes.
COBB: But ice cream and slavery just don`t really go too well.
RUHLE: Yes, yes.
COBB: And so I think that one of the things with this is that we have traditionally done the American thing, which is commercialized things, we went out and buy things and we like feel better about ourselves. So whatever it is. I think that Martin Luther King Day, though, has been a good example. That has been -- the model has been a day of service, that you don`t go out and buy things you go out and, you know, commit yourself to doing something in your community, you know, contributing your time or your talent in some way that that helps someone else. And so I think that that`s really a good model, that if that`s the day of service, Juneteenth should be our day of learning. That should be a day in which we grapple with the complicated, thorny, and often ugly history of this nation in an effort to create a path toward a better future for ourselves.
RUHLE: That`s a great model. And I know it`s not an excuse, and it shouldn`t be the black community`s responsibility. But what does one do? What do we as a country do to make Juneteenth a day that matters to all Americans in a way that MLK does?
ROSS: That`s an excellent question.
RUHLE: And again, it is not the black community`s responsibility. It`s our country`s.
ROSS: I say this as a person who grew up in Texas and while Juneteenth has long been a recognized holiday in Texas my entire -- an officially recognized holiday in Texas, my -- almost my entire life, it still was a holiday that was primarily recognized and celebrated by black people. There have always been all of my life very large public events at parks and so forth, that are largely attended by black people. And that is something that has begun to change a bit in the last two years in ways that as I understand it, as my relatives told me, is very noticeable.
I think that it is certainly welcome. But there is some trepidation about what it means for such a sacred and important occasion to possibly be polluted with the sale of, you know, T-shirts and ice cream, right? So I think -- I very much have to sanction, Jelani`s idea of perhaps trying to give the holiday its own specific purpose, and really pushing hard in that direction. Because the truth is, there are also Martin Luther King, there`s Martin Luther King merch, right? It is available. It`s simply not widely acceptable as a way to recognize the holiday.
RUHLE: Let`s be clear, there`s merch for absolutely everything at this point, right? Beyonce is selling invisible merch and people cannot. I mean, that`s my favorite that we don`t even know what we`re buying of hers. And we`re buying it today. And I would by the way, all day, every day and tomorrow.
Eddie, what do you think?
GLAUDE: Well, I mean, the commercialization is going to happen. I mean, you know, and you know, people have barbecues and they bake red velvet cake and folk dancing and having -- they`re celebrating, that`s happened. I think what we have to do is understand that these moments on the celebratory calendar for the nation, affords us an opportunity to tell a different story about the niche, even though commercialization will happen. So even though some folk will be selling Neapolitan Juneteenth ice cream or whatever the hell it is, there will still be other folks having this kind of conversation, having programming, right? In schools, or we can open up the African American Museum and the Smithsonian, right? We can do something to have this kind of national conversation. And that`s why it`s important on the national calendar, because it affords us an opportunity to tell a different story, even though commercializing process -- you know, forces will be at work, as they always are.
COBB: Can I add one thing to that?
COBB: To Eddie`s really salient point?
RUHLE: Don`t say it means we`re going to extend the school calendar, but kids are not going back to school for -- just for this --
COBB: Definitely not that. But I do think that it`s important that we look at Juneteenth as a way to mark the moral maturation of the society, that we don`t simply say that this is, I mean, really, the people who are enslaved are celebrating about their own fortunes, that they`re not being subjected to the same sort of brutality every day. But we should really invest in the idea of saying, this is the point at which our nation reached a new milestone, and had rid ourselves of that troublesome millstone around our necks of slavery, which was a horror inflicted upon black people. But it was a moral stain on the entire nation. And we should celebrate that collectively we can actually celebrate that collective well.
RUHLE: I want to thank you all so much for doing this tonight. I -- you made us our goal with this show always is to get smarter and better. And tonight`s show I know that exactly that. Janell, Jelani, Professor Glaude, thank you all for staying up late with us.
When we come back, she is considered the grandmother of this country`s newest federal holiday. Do not go anywhere, at 95, she is not done yet. When THE 11TH HOUR continues, we`re not done either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPAL LEE, THE GRANDMOTHER OF JUNETEENTH: This is the pen that President Biden used to sign Juneteenth into law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: I need a deep breath for this one. The last thing before we go tonight, a long, long journey. One year ago, then 94-year-old Opal Lee joined President Biden as he made Juneteenth a federal holiday. Her lifetime of advocacy finally paid off. At 89, she started walking two and a half miles a day to mark the two and a half years that passed between the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and June 19, 1865. The day that slaves in Texas learned they had been fried. She started getting some attention for that and was invited to head 2.5 mile marches at Juneteenth celebrations around the country, which led to her embarking on a 1400 mile journey on foot from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington D.C. in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: I thought there was something else up to be doing.
DIONE SIMS, OPAL LEE`S GRANDDAUGHTER: We finished 2016 June 10 and she tells me that --
LEE: If a little lead in tennis shoes walk from Fort Worth to Washington, somebody would take notes.
SIMS: She wants to walk to Washington D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: And she sure did. Lee explained last year that gaining national recognition for Juneteenth had become an obsession of hers, saying, "we celebrate the Fourth of July but we weren`t free on the Fourth of July and 1776. I want everyone to be aware that freedom is for everybody, not just for a few. And I`ll be stressing that as long as I got a little breath left in me.
And tomorrow, the grandmother of Juneteenth will commemorate this new federal holiday by going on, you guessed it, a nice walk. Two and a half miles to her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.
And on that very beautiful and very important note, I wish you all a very good night. From all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thanks for staying up late with us. I will see you at the end of Monday.