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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/27/21

Guests: Chris Van Hollen, Kristi Williams, Scott Ellsworth


Soon, Senate to vote on 1/6 commission. GOP senators to use filibuster to torpedo 1/6 commission. Biden says, can`t imagine voting against 1/6 commission. Mother of Capitol police officer who died after riot urges GOP to support 1/6 commission. Next week marks 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre destroyed what was known as Black Wall Street.



ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for watching THE BEAT. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Ari, really appreciate you. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and a long weekend so enjoy.

MELBER: You as well. Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you very much. All right, good evening, everyone. We do begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the cowardice of Senate Republicans. As we speak, they`re planning to block the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th attack on our Capitol and our democracy. And that vote could take place at any moment.

For the first time in his legislative session Republicans are set to deploy the legislative filibuster, the Jim Crow era rule that allows the minority party to obstruct the will of the majority, requiring 60 votes rather than 51. It`s the clearest signal yet that Republicans have no interest in getting to the bottom of the siege that nearly decapitated our government, even as the number of people charged in that attack now approaches 500. As President Biden suggested earlier today, the Republican opposition has no credible explanation.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I can`t imagine anyone voting against the establishment of a commission on the greatest assault since the civil war on the Capitol.


REID: I should note that Republicans are willing to block this commission despite the sacrifices of the three officers who died after defending them that day, Brian Sicknick, who lay in state with honor in that very Capitol, as well as two others who took their own lives after the MAGA insurrection. In fact, Republicans heard today from Sicknick`s mom and his longtime partner, among others, who personally lobbied them to vote yes.


REPORTER: Does it anger you, Mrs. Sicknick, to hear senators who do not support this commission, and what emotions do you feel when you`re confronted with that?

GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF BRIAN SICKNICK: This is why I`m here today. You know, usually I`m stay in the background, and I just couldn`t stay quiet anymore.

SANDRA GARZA, BRIAN SICKNICK`S GIRLFRIEND: I think it`s very disturbing that anyone would not want to support this. I mean, why would they not want to get to the bottom of such horrific violence?

It doesn`t matter that Brian`s cause of death was natural. He still died defending them that day. And Officer Liebengood and Officer Smith, they died as a result of the trauma that day.

REID: Republicans won`t just be ignoring the trauma of those officers, their vote against the commission will also be an affront to the staffers, including in their own offices, who lived through the violence of that day. As Roll Call reports some congressional employees are shaken by what they see as whitewashing of the attack by Republican lawmakers. One even said that when I see those members in the hallway or in the basement, I think to myself that they wouldn`t care if I was dead.

This comes as a new Quinnipiac poll today found a majority of Americans, 55 percent say that the events on January 6th were an attack on democracy that should never be forgotten. That seems to be a pretty obvious reason to support a commission. However, 39 percent say it`s time to move on and that clearly is what Republicans, like Mitch McConnell, wanted to do. McConnell admitted that he doesn`t want to be talking about the insurrection by the time the midterms roll around next year.

And here`s what he said about those who support the commission on Tuesday.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They would like to continue to debate things that occurred in the past. They`d like to continue to litigate the former president into the future. We think the American people going forward and in the fall of `22 ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country.


REID: According to Politico, McConnell was even more blunt in a closed-door meeting where he warned Republicans that approving the commission could hurt the party`s midterm election message. In other words, Mitch McConnell knows the results of a bipartisan commission would make Trump and the Republicans like himself look bad.

And given the 35 Republicans in the House passed the bill over the objections of Kevin and other members of the GOP leadership last week, Mitch is desperate to keep his caucus in line. In fact, CNN reported that McConnell has even made the unusual move of asking wavering senators to support filibustering the bill as a personal favor to him.

Perhaps most disingenuous, however, was McConnell`s laughable assertion that he doesn`t want to focus on, quote, things that occurred in the past. He actually said that with a straight face. Even as the MAGA base of his party and the state party obsessed over trying to overturn the long ago completed presidential election in Arizona and other states.

And that brings us to the real reason, many rank and file Republicans don`t want to probe into the insurrection. That`s because they`re too busy defending and profiting off the big lie that inspired it.

Here`s Senator Ron Johnson just this morning.


LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, MSNBC CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think Biden, did he legitimately win the election?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Well, he certainly is president of the United States.

CALDWELL: So, you don`t think that Biden legitimately won the election?

JOHNSON: I`m saying he`s the legitimate president of United States. Yes, he`s the president of the United States.

CALDWELL: But see, that`s the fundamental problem.

JOHNSON: I don`t, I don`t know what all happened. I don`t know the effect in these coal states. I don`t know, I don`t know.

CALDWELL: Would a commission help?

JOHNSON: Not this commission, no.


REID: With me now is Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. And Senator Van Hollen, you know, we get the Republican playbook here. They want to move onto attacking the Biden administration and pretending the Biden administration are a bunch of communists. They wanted that messaging. They don`t want to talk about this. But we`re going to keep talking about this because this was an attack on our country. So I get what they`re coming from.

What I don`t really get to be honest with you is where your fellow Democrats is coming from, Joe Manchin. I want to read this to you. This is Joe Manchin criticizing Republicans for opposing the commission. This was just this morning. He said, there`s no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats are agreed to everything they asked for. Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They don`t believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear. That sounded pretty good.

And then he said this later today.


REPORTER: Would you be willing to break the filibuster in order to get this passed? The family is pleading.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I`m not ready to destroy our government. I`m not ready destroying our government. No. I think that they will come together. Perhaps you have to have faith there`s ten good people.


REID: Senator, that seems laughable to me. What -- the attempt to destroy our government happened on January 6th. You had a conversation with Joe Manchin and what is his deal?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, Joy, I have about the filibuster. But, first, when Joe Manchin said that Mitch McConnell, Republicans were essentially engaging in a dereliction of duty for refusing to support this January 6th commission, he`s right. And we should remember that because later this evening, it will, if things don`t change, mean that all of those appeals that Brian Sicknick`s mother made to Republican senators today -- and, by the way, also appeals made by some current Capitol Hill officers today directly to those senators will have fallen on deaf ears. So, Joe Manchin is absolutely right about that.

He and I disagree when it comes to the issue of the filibuster because I believe the filibuster needs to be gotten rid of. I do think right now it is standing in the way of protecting our democracy, especially the importance of passing HR-1 and S-1. And we`re going to have that continuing conversation in the Democratic caucus, you know, and I hope we will build momentum to ensure that we stop those state legislatures who are trying to put up those roadblocks to our democracy.

But I will say for this evening he and I are on the same page on this issue.

REID: Well, not really though, because, I mean, the thing is I guess what worries a lot of rank-and-file Democrats and even non-Democrats there are a lot of sort of old school versions of Republicans were worried too, that our democracy is on a razor`s edge. And rather than focus on saving our democracy from what these extremists that now form the base of the Republican Party are doing, and what people like Ron Johnson are trying to do to our democracy, they`re setting up to potentially steal future elections.

People like Joe Manchin are casually talking about preserving the artifacts of the Senate from the Jim Crow era. He seems more fixated on holding on to Jim Crow era rules in the Senate than in saving our democracy. Is there enough urgency in your caucus to save our democracy from what Republicans are trying to do with it?

VAN HOLLEN: Joy, I think there is. We just had a Senate Democratic Caucus discussion this week devoted to exactly this issue. Now, the first thing to do is to get all 50 Democratic senators onboard. S-1, For the People Act, in order to establish those nationwide minimum standards to protect the right to vote, that`s step number one.

Step number two, is to make sure that we have all 50 Democratic senators recognizing that saving our democracy is more important than a Senate rule that, frankly, is blocking democracy. And, in fact, in itself is an anti- Democratic provision of the Senate rules.

And so this is a process. I agree with you about the urgency of the process because there are state legislatures, they`re going forward. And I also completely agree that what Republicans are doing tonight in blocking this bipartisan commission is clear evidence of their dereliction of duty and the fact that they will go to all lengths to prevent the truth from coming out.

This is cynical ploy by Mitch McConnell, as you said, to take attention away from what Donald Trump, Republicans and others have done. And they`re violating their oath to the constitution, they`re violating their obligations to Brian Sicknick`s mother and to all the other officers and they`re betraying the country. So this should be a moment when all Americans including all senators recognize the deaths to which Mitch McConnell and Republicans will go for political purposes. And we do need to summon the will to take that on.

REID: Absolutely. I will not argue with a word of that. Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you very much. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

VAN HOLLEN: It will be pleasure, thank you.

REID: Thank you and joining me now is Jason Johnson -- cheers -- Jason Johnson, Contributor for the Greo and Professor at Morgan State University, and Republican Strategist Susan Del Percio. And, Jason, my friend, you know, I -- Senator Chris Van Hollen is obviously very sincere in what he was saying and that they have to get Democrats and all the 50 Democrats onboard to make sure that we defend our democracy.

Here`s my challenge. If you can`t get -- Susan Collins put out her little amendment, if you cannot get Republicans, ten Republicans even, to agree that you should investigate the attempt to hang Mike Pence, decapitate our government and threaten even their own staffers to the point where their own staffers are saying, I`m not sure these people care if I live or die, if they won`t be on the side of Capitol police, there is no bipartisanship. Isn`t this a dead argument?

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It`s a dead argument. And I want people to understand also, Joy, that the context here for Joe Manchin and what this really may be about because he said he can`t take the heat and he doesn`t want to destroy the government, Joe Manchin is not getting re-elected. Okay, he`s not. The guy got elected by 49 percent of the vote in 2018. He`s not going to keep his job. He`s going to get knocked out next time.

So, what we`re dealing with here is someone who is primarily concerned with their own legacy and their own reputation because the electoral consequences are moot. He`s not going to get re-elected. That the first thing the Democrats might need to do is convince him, hey, dude, just do the this for legacy`s sake because you`re not going to win back in West Virginia.

But I will say this, Joy, and this is an actual change. I believed though all along that Joe Manchin is roughly like the Susan Collins of the Democratic Party, that, eventually, he will change his mind and I still think he might do that when it comes to HB-1, when it comes to the Senate Bill 1, when it comes to the For the People Act. But the idea that he will still spout this nonsense in the face of an attempt to murder him and everybody with a D in their name is disturbing to me.

And I don`t see the value, honestly, at this point in Democrats treating him with kid gloves. Personally, if I were a Senator Van Hollen, if I were a senator, I would say, look, if you aren`t in favor of this commission then you want me dead as much as some of the Republicans do.

That`s how I`d be talking about at this point because I don`t understand the recalcitrant on the part of one or two senators against simply getting rid of the filibuster in this particular instance to do something, because I promise you and this is not because we want this to happen, you can ask anybody, you can Malcolm Nance, you can ask any security expert, it`s going to happen again.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: The people who did this will simply try again, and this commission`s the only way to possibly prevent it.

REID: Well, they`ll try again, Susan, and next time they might succeed because they`re setting up in the states to make it, so that they can just outright steal elections and only Republicans decide who wins.

Senator Mitt Romney made a suggestion that I think should be obvious. You`re a political strategist, my friend. Senator Mitt Romeny suggested that opposing this commission is bad politics. You think, Willard? I think of the perception is on the part of the public the January 6th commission is just trying to get to the truth of what happened. And the Republicans would be seen as not wanting to let the truth come out. Yes, no S Sherlock.

I don`t understand how Mitch McConnell and friends think that they are going to just get the silence of what every Capitol Police officer, every staffer. They`re going to need a lot of people to not talk about January 6th in order for his strategy to work and to move on saying Biden is a commie, which no one is going to believe. Why do you supposed that Mitch has decided that he think he can survive the ads that, in theory, even Democrats can figure out that they should run?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It all comes back to the source. It comes back to Donald Trump. I think there is only so much he was going to go against him, and now he`s falling in line with everyone else.

And just to follow up on what Jason said, you know, Joe Manchin, if you can`t get bipartisanship on protecting our democracy, you`re not getting it for anything, and you should use this as the reason, and it will be -- make sense to everybody why we must get rid of the filibuster because there`s literally no chance of anything else happening.

REID: There`s no chance --

DEL PERCIO: I`m sorry.

REID: Go on. No you go.

DEL PERCIO: It was, there`s also one other thing that`s been on my mind lately is Mitch McConnell is out there, and he is moving his conference. He is speaking as if he was still majority leader. I am wondering where is Chuck Schumer`s voice. Where is the insistence, the urgency? I mean, I can ask you guys. I just don`t understand for a man who wanted that position for so long why he is laying low.

And I do believe it`s just because the administration says, oh, let this play out. There`s a reason. I`m not sure what it is, but he`s got to get onboard, and he`s got to start using his voice. He`s the majority leader of the United States Senate, and we have heard boo.

REID: Well, and, Jason, there is a sense that Manchin is also out of control and think he`s the majority leader. Manchin is exercising control as if he`s in charge of the Senate. Doesn`t that have to stop?

JOHNSON: Yes, this flex that he`s going on here, it`s not impressive. It`s not making anybody happy. It`s not him, it`s not his drip, whatever. And, quite frankly, just on some ego-level stuff, if I were Chuck Schumer, I would be angry about the fact that more people are asking Joe Manchin what he thinks than what I thinks. I`m supposed to be the majority leader. Why don`t you act like you`re the boss? Face cause.

But here`s, again, I think the larger issue here. The Democrats have this conflict between what they think is supposed to be that way government works and what the people actually want. The American people want an answer. The American people want to feel safe.

If Joe Biden can go out and say, hey, look, there are a lot of Republicans running on this recovery act that they voted against, I don`t know why Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren and all the leadership aren`t running around the country saying the Republican Party wants you to die. They don`t even want you to get money for COVID and they want your whole government to be decapitated.

That should be the answer out of Chuck Schumer`s mouth every single minute of every single day over as supposed to some variation of Susan Collins saying. So I`m concerned that the party that`s been acting the same way for the last 35 years continues to act that way.

REID: This is a party of seduction, violence, white nationalism, and what we`re hearing from even the president is we`re going to work with them. Really? Because they literally were going to allow the government to be decapitated even if they themselves were going to be killed and Mike Pence to be hung. That`s what you all should be talking about. I don`t get it. Jason and Susan --

DEL PERCIO: I think they don`t want to work with him.

REID: They don`t.

DEL PERCIO: I mean how many times has they said no.

REID: And the message they want to pivot to is that Biden is a communist and that all of his policies are communist. That`s what he wants to do. Anyway, Jason and Susan are staying right with me. It`s a hostage situation.

Up next on THE REIDOUT Margie Q. Greene pushes back against her party`s nominal House Leader Puppet Kevin because she knows, she knows, that she speaks for the base of the base of the Republican Party, and he does not.

And as we near the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre we`re going to talk about history and the importance of being honest about all of it, including the evil many that on the right want to conceal.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): It`s unfortunate that he took this route. And he didn`t even text me or call me, which is really a shame.

And then, sadly, Elise Stefanik, our new GOP chair, followed suit, of course, right along, and then I think Steve Scalise and others. And they shouldn`t have done that.


REID: It doesn`t look like the QAnon Barbie is getting sent to the principal`s office in the Trump haunted Republican dream house anytime soon.

And even if she was, what would puppet Kevin even do? He seems at a complete loss for how to even handle Margie Q, who, like her mentor, Donald Trump, has a way of throwing gasoline on conspiracy theories, while adding heaping piles of racism and Islamophobia and anti-Semitism on top, only to light them on fire with apocalyptic nonsense, which her base gobbles up like barbecue.

And just like with Trump, puppet Kevin and the GOP can`t seem to do anything about it, which explains their silence -- shh, shh, shh, shh -- which only emboldens her, but also because they created her.

That is who Marjorie Taylor Greene is. She is their Frankenstein`s monster, made up of the parts of far right-wing ideology that we should have buried a long time ago, and whose sole job, as a professional troll, is clearly gaining results.

One Axios poll showed that 23 percent of Republicans -- that`s nearly one in five -- now believe -- OK, brace for this -- that the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan- worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.

That`s right. Almost a quarter of Republicans are QAnon cult believers. So, maybe puppet Kevin doesn`t have a Margie Q. Greene problem. He`s got a whacked out dangerous Republican base problem.

And that base, let`s face it, will never see him as their leader.

Back with me are Jason Johnson and Susan Del Percio.

Susan, you have been -- you have worked for politicians. Since when does the House minority leader have to call you, Marge? She thinks, well, he should have called me, like she`s his boss.

I have to ask you about the Republican base. You and I have known each other for a long time. We used to debate back when there was a semi-normal Republican Party. We used to debate about tax policy. People will never believe that.


REID: Look it up. We`re on -- it`s all over YouTube.

Now, this is a poll by the -- by my friends at the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core. And here`s -- "Do you agree with this statement: Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country?"

Twenty-eight percent, that`s nearly a quarter -- more than a quarter of Republicans believe that. They`re QAnon supporters. They`re in a completely crazy cult, Susan. What happened to your party?

DEL PERCIO: Well, what happened was is, Donald Trump was the least of the problems.

Trumpism and what it represents is what has seeped into the Republican Party, at the state level especially. And that`s who`s putting up these candidates. It`s the state parties who are going for these kooky QAnon and others. And they win primaries.

But here, as a strategist, I will give Kevin my free advice. This is a perfect time for him and the conference to turn on her, and turn on her heart, because at least they can look like they`re fighting something bad, and it doesn`t have anything to do with Donald Trump.

It`s not Matt Gaetz and being Trump`s boy. This is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is all on her own island, as far as I`m concerned. And that`s when they should really -- they should push for a censure. I think it would be a smart move for them, because it would also help them with their own fund- raising, which they`re getting killed on by corporate donors.

They are losing mainstream corporate money. Get -- by getting rid of her -- you can`t get rid of Trump. I get that. Well, I don`t, but I get it. But by going and turning on her, it does give a little bit of an out to say there is a point we will not cross, as long as it`s not Donald Trump...


REID: First of all -- no, first of all, Kevin doesn`t have the range. He`s not going to do it.

JOHNSON: Right. Right.

REID: Because, at the end of the day, the -- A, the Tea Party wasn`t any better, OK? They were also loony -- doing all these loony things, hanging Donald -- President Obama in effigy.

Axios/Ipsos poll this week: "Do you agree with this statement: The U.S. has made enough change to give black Americans equal rights with white Americans?"

Among white Americans. 48 percent agree with that. The Tea Party had a very big base, as you know, Jason, in the freak-out over a black president.


REID: Marjorie Taylor Greene also has a bunch of racist stuff that she believes, the QAnon thing.

There -- the problem is that you have a certain percentage of white America that cannot accept that it can lose elections, that black people can win elections.


REID: I don`t see how you fix that.


REID: It ain`t about Trump and it ain`t about Margie.

JOHNSON: You can`t -- you can`t fix that. You can`t strategize against it.

Now, look, Marjorie Taylor Greene is just like a mixture of like Sarah Palin and Stacy Flick.


JOHNSON: Like, we knew this was going to happen. It`s not that hard to predict, right?

And so the real issue is not what the Republican Party needs to do about her. It`s, honestly, how Democrats need to respond to her.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: It`s the fact that people need to stop tweeting her. People need to stop tweeting -- treating her as if she`s competent.

If she wants to run around Georgia right now with Matt Gaetz and maybe hang out with him and some of his friends after they`re done with the rally, then that`s perfectly fine. But she doesn`t need to get as much attention as she gets.

And the second thing they need to do, if I were Nancy Pelosi, if I were Chuck Schumer, is get together and tell the sergeant at arms and say, follow her every single place she goes in Congress, because what you can`t do, when she`s not spending time causing chaos at her local L.A. Fitness, she`s running around and terrorizing people in Congress.

And that`s how she draws attention to herself. Let her be one of 435 people who don`t get anything done in Congress, but don`t make her out to be a superstar, when she can`t pass legislation, she can`t raise money, and she`s not going to save her party.

REID: I am going to...


REID: This is a rare thing. I`m going to disagree with you.

DEL PERCIO: Hold on.

REID: I completely disagree with you. And I`m going to let Susan get in here.

I don`t agree with you on this, Jason. E.J. Dionne has a great tweet out now where he`s tweeting out an article that talks about Republicans spent the majority of their money in the last election calling Democrats extremists.

Most of their ads had the words AOC or the Squad in them. They nailed Democrats to these people, who are actually really great young legislators who have a lot of important policy ideas. They`re not nutsy cuckoo like Marjorie Taylor Greene.


REID: I say paste her on every single one of them. She is they boss, because they can`t move without her.

Paul Ryan`s going to come out and try to criticize Trump, but he can`t say his name. They`re afraid of her. She is the boss. She is the party. I totally disagree. The base of the party are QAnon.

Susan, your ball. Go for it.

DEL PERCIO: Well, I -- just one thing with Jason. She raised $3 million in the first quarter, an obscene amount of money.


DEL PERCIO: She can raise money, I mean, bar none. So, that`s what, actually, I think scares Kevin McCarthy about her.

But I agree. If I were the Democrats, I would make every Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, without a doubt.

REID: Every one of them has to own her, and Ron Johnson.

DEL PERCIO: And -- right.

REID: Because you know what? I`m sorry to interrupt you.


REID: Because they are more representative of the base of the Republican Party than Kevin.

If you showed a picture of Kevin McCarthy to 100 people on a street, don`t nobody know who he is. He is a nobody.

JOHNSON: Know who he is, yes.

REID: And the bottom line is, the party are QAnon. They have gone full- tilt, man.

I don`t know how you ignore that. If you`re the Democrats, you need to say that every day.

DEL PERCIO: Well, and if I was -- the one I appreciate about, Jason, though...

JOHNSON: Because here`s the thing.


DEL PERCIO: Jason, I think you make a really good point, if this was a sane society we were living in and sharing and...



DEL PERCIO: So, I think that would be a great point not to give her the oxygen.

But I do -- I agree.


DEL PERCIO: I mean, I would (AUDIO GAP) every single one of them.

That`s why I suggested, like, throwing her out, like censoring her. The Republicans should take action against her, because she`s going to be way more worse for Republicans than AOC ever was for Democrats.

REID: Jason, go ahead. Last word.

JOHNSON: Every single Republican right here, right now, you can -- every single Republican right here and right now, when you show Mitch McConnell`s face, when you run against everybody, you have a morph that turns from their face to Donald Trump to the insurrection.

That`s what you need to do. You don`t need to create more bad guys. She`s already a bad guy. But if you ask your average person who`s not politically involved, who`s living in Austin, Texas, who`s living in Cleveland, who is living in -- outside of the major cities throughout California and Colorado, they don`t necessarily care about Marjorie Taylor Greene.

But they know Trump is evil. They know Mitch is evil. And they know who sent them checks.

REID: And they know she`s his girl.

JOHNSON: And they know who tried to overtake the government.

REID: And she`s carrying his cape.

JOHNSON: Yes, but...

REID: She and the teeny...


REID: ... dater, the kids your kids, hide your wife kid, what`s his name, Matt Gaetz, all of them are carrying Trump`s cape around, carrying...



REID: ... putting Trump masks on their face. The only reason they exist is because of him. They are the party.


REID: Sorry, but Mitch McConnell and them, you all ain`t the party. These people are the party. That`s what I`m saying.

But, anyway, we can debate that on Twitter later.

Jason Johnson, Susan Del Percio, have a great Memorial Day weekend.


REID: Thank you guys both very much.

One hundred years after the Tulsa race massacre, we are now debating whether or not to teach our children the true, unvarnished history of the United States. Should history studies be about learning from the past or just about making some people feel a little less racist?

We will be right back.


REID: We`re in America are having this big debate right now about history.

And fundamental to that debate is a question: What is history for? What is its purpose? The answer is that it depends.

History, as Jon Meacham has said on this show, can either be a bedtime story meant to buck up your patriotism and make you feel good, or it can be a lesson, a caution, and an instruction on how to avoid the perils of the past and how to achieve repair.

When it comes to the racial history of this country, there`s a real fight going on. Lots of Americans, particularly on the right, want the bedtime story. They`re insisting on it. And so they`re in a knock-down/drag-out fight to shut down intellectual pursuits, like critical race theory, which simply asks how our racial history intersects with the construction of our laws, or journalistic historical reckonings like The 1619 Project.

Too many people want to keep Americans blindly numb to the raw racial violence in our collective past. They want Americans to just shut up and feel good about America`s founding and sing from the hymnal, so they don`t even have to think about dealing with the repercussions of our true history and the need for repair.

They want to keep comfortably living off the profits of what Ta-Nehisi Coates rightly calls piracy, with no one ever asking to examine the contents of the loot box.

But the past just won`t die, no matter how hard the Daughters of the Confederacy fight to rewrite slavery as happy blacks singing in the fields in our textbooks, or how persistent the gauzy myths about the slaveholding founding fathers remain. History keeps punching through.

Many Americans needed "The Watchmen" to teach them about the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in which white -- a white mob burned, shot and used military planes to firebomb the Greenwood district, where black families had created a successful, comfortable little community decades after enslavement.

"The New York Times" did an incredible visual that shows how profound the loss was, the theater, the barbershops, the bakeries, the stately homes and stores that were burned to the ground because white Tulsans hated the fact that black people had built something of their own.

They used the same lie that launched more than 4,000 lynchings in that era, accusing a black man of assaulting a white woman as an excuse to wage war on an American town.

Now, if the massacre that wiped out the community nicknamed Black Wall Street was just a one-off, it would be tragic. But it wasn`t a one-off. Tulsa was one of dozens of similar atrocities across this country in the decades after the Civil War and the collapse of Reconstruction.

In Memphis, Tennessee, in 1866, some black families burned to death in their homes because the racist mobs who attacked them wouldn`t let them run outside after setting them on fire.

In New Orleans that same year, black freedmen attempting a peaceful March were met by a mob of former Confederate soldiers, and dozens were killed. The spark for the Wilmington, North Carolina, race massacre in 1898 was the creation of a white-black fusion government, which was violently cut down.

The early decades of the 20th century were an era of pure racial mayhem, as war was waged on the formerly enslaved and their children and their grandchildren in the South and in Northern cities, where blacks were fleeing and seeking work and a decent life.

Four years before Tulsa, there was a series of race massacres in East St. Louis, Illinois, in July of 1917, in which more than 100 blacks were being, shot and lynched by white mobs angry over labor competition.

1919 was a particularly hellish year, with black men, women and children mass-murdered in Chicago, Illinois, in Washington, D.C., and in Elaine, Arkansas, where black sharecroppers were massacred for daring to try to unionize. Two years after Tulsa, in 1923, came the race massacre that wiped out Rosewood, Florida.

And that`s just some of the history. There are dozens more of these that I can tell you about. And you have probably never heard of any of them, because Americans don`t do history. We do bedtime stories. And that`s why we don`t really understand why we are the way we are, the gun violence that`s unique in the Western world, the racial mistrust, the poverty that breaks down along racial lines, the persistence of violent white nationalism that today threatens our national security.

These things have deep, ugly roots, inextricably tied to slavery and its aftermath. And we`d be better off just unearthing it and airing it out, if we really want repair.

And coming up next, we will talk about Tulsa with my friend Tiffany Cross and a descendant of one of the Greenwood families.


REID: Next week marks 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre destroyed what was known as Black Wall Street. Last week, the three remaining survivors of that massacre testified on Capitol Hill calling for justice.


LESSIE BENNINGFIELD RANDLE, 1921 TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVOR: I was so scared, I didn`t think we could make it out alive.

HUGHES VAN ELLIS, 1921 TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVOR: Because of the massacre my family was driven out of our home. We were left with nothing. We were made refugee in our country (ph).

VIOLA FLETCHER, 1921 TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVOR: We lost everything that day, our homes, our churches, our newspapers, our theaters, our lives. No one cared about us for almost 100 years. We and our history have been forgotten, washed away. This Congress must recognize us.


REID: Joining me now is Tiffany Cross, host of the "CROSS CONNECTION" right here on MSNBC. Kristi Williams, a Tulsa massacre descendant, activist and chair of the Greater Tulsa African-American affairs commission. And Scott Ellsworth, author of "The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice".

Thank you all for being here.

Tiffany, I want to go to you first. We have this breaking news this evening. The Department of Homeland Security has issued some warnings about safety and security that have caused the Remember and Rise event that was supposed to feature John Legend and Stacey Abrams to be canceled.

So, I want to get your -- what we know about just for our audience I want to read this. In a memo the Department of Homeland Security says they haven`t seen any credible threats that a current homeland security threat environment remains heightened and also says white supremacists historically view simple tactics such as vehicle ramming, small arms, edged weapons and rudimentary explosive devices to target individuals perceived as having ideologically opposing views, racial minorities or law enforcement at mass gatherings or crowded public spaces.

What do we know about -- what was -- what prompted the commission to cancel?

TIFFANY CROSS, MSNBC HOST, "THE CROSS CONNECTION": You know, there are a lot of things, Joy. The commission is not a part of the community of Greenwood. The descendants and survivors are not closely affiliated with what`s happening with the commission. The commission is run by a bunch of white conservative Republicans who have raised $30 million and how much of that $30 million they`ve offered to the actual descendants and survivors be rolled out?

So, I want to be very clear with the American people watching right now, the commemoration continues with Justice for Greenwood. These are the descendants of Greenwood, these are the survivors of Greenwood. Doctors (INAUDIBLE), the brother of (INAUDIBLE) the lawyers (INAUDIBLE) panels and events. So, this is not, you know, a major cause of celebration.

And there was a lot of concern and even outside of the homeland security threat, there was a lot of concern about how this commission was coming together. So people who had contributed money to this commission started asking questions, well, wait a second we didn`t know. We thought this was going to the descendants, they`re going to benefit to people.

Nobody wants this to be a Disneyland-themed park here to commemorate a violent atrocity that happened in this country. So, what they`re asking of the commission was, while they`re being sued, is direct payment to the people who are actively were impacted by this tragedy. And so, as those companies started asking questions, as the people who were they inviting to participate started asking questions, then the commission started wavering and now they say because of a homeland security threat, it`s canceled.

I don`t know if you can see, but there`s not a tear shedding on the face that it`s cancelled. I`ll be here with members of the community, bringing the "CROSS CONNECTION" to you live, talking to the actual descendants and survivors of what happened here in Greenwood.

REID: And thank you for that clarification.

And we do have Kristi Williams and you`re a descendant of survivors as well.

I want to play -- Tiffany did an interview with Tiffany Crutcher, who you just mentioned and talked about this issue of generational wealth. Let me play that clip really quickly. This is cut three for my producers.


TIFFANY CRUTCHER, TULSA MASSACRE DESCENDANT: Descendants, what would our lives have been if we weren`t robbed off our generational wealth? You know, I often sit back and ponder about that. I ponder about Laurel Strafford (ph) with her great grandfather having the nicest hotel as a black man in the world. He could have been a Hilton. He could have been a Marriott.


REID: So -- and also Leslie Bedingfield Randall who testified before Congress. She said I live much of my life poor. My opportunities are taken from me. They raised more than $30 million as she mentioned and refused to share any with me or the survivors.

So, is that accurate then, Kristi, canceling this sort of big event with John Legend, et cetera, that`s not going to impact the community and it wasn`t so much about safety, it`s more about I guess theft?

KRISTI WILLIAMS, 1921 TULSA RACE MASSACRE DESCENDANT: You know, Tiffany Cross, was right. The community is supporting the legacy fest. Our only black city councilman, Vanessa Hall Harford (ph), is supporting the legacy fest.

This community has been -- we haven`t been connected with the Centennial Commission and its effort. So, we are -- we kind of never planned to be a part of those events in the first place. But our honoring our ancestors and our legacy and our history will continue with the black legacy fest.

REID: Let me play another piece here. This is Tiffany`s interview with Nehemiah Frank who`s a founder of "The Black Wall Street Times" on just the fact people don`t even seem in Tulsa to know about the massacre. Take a listen.


NEHEMIAH FRANK, THE BLACK WALL STREET TIMES FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: I had not learned about the massacre I will I was in college.

CROSS: Why do you think you never learned about it?

FRANK: I think the reason we never learned about it is because why would our enemies want -- why would our enemies want to teach the children of greatness, right? Why would they want to teach them how great they could become once again?


REID: Scott Ellsworth, it is -- it is a conundrum, right? You have this commission that is essentially white Tulsa saying we`re going to raise all this money and do some of our own commemoration that then winds up being canceled but there seems to be disconnect because it doesn`t seem white Tulsans are addressing the actual history here. It`s not even taught in the schools apparently. We talk to you about this before. People don`t even know about it who live in the community.

What do you make of what`s going on?

SCOTT ELLSWORTH, AUTHOR, "THE GROUND BREAKING": Well, I think we`re at a point now, a new inflection point to see what`s going to happen. But I think, you know, the real reason when Nehemiah was speaking about why he didn`t learn about it, the real reason was that the story of the race massacre and the story of Greenwood prior to race massacre was actively suppressed for 50 years in this city. Official records were stolen and destroyed, articles were cut out of newspapers.

The Tulsa`s white daily newspapers refused to write about it for more than a half century. People researching it had their lives and their livelihoods threatened. So, it`s been a long -- for 50 years, it was buried and it`s taken another 50 years to get this story out.

REID: Yeah, and, Tiffany, I know you interviewed the 107-year-old Viola Fletcher, who just seemed so lovely and gave her testimony. She`s the oldest living survivor. She was like 7 years old when this happened.

Were you able to talk to any white descendants? Because the thing is that the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the people who burned Greenwood to the ground, presumably some of them are still around, some of them are still alive. They must know in their own families that they were a part of this.

CROSS: Joy, that`s the crazy part. I have to tell you seeing what happened here on ground in Tulsa -- so north Tulsa as Kristi can tell you is predominantly black. And the way the black Tulsans here live, it is a stark contrast. It`s (INAUDIBLE). It`s still, you know, dilapidated. There`s so much investment that could happen there that doesn`t.

So, I`ve asked -- well, I`ve heard from a lot of black people, I do want to hear from the white people. Where do they stand on this? And unfortunately, a lot of that evidence has been destroyed, and so the descendants of the people who did this are still in power. They still run the city of Tulsa.

So, ostensibly, the black residents here work, live, eat alongside the descendants of their murderers, the people who snatched their lives and livelihoods still control the pact to the ballot box, economic power, still controls political power.

So it`s really a testament to what black people survive, the trauma that we normalize and the fact people can be here and not randomly, you know, confront some of these people that they know have a direct connection to the devastation of their lives that (INAUDIBLE) still continues to impact their life today.

So the short answer of it is, Joy, no, I`ve not talked to the white descendants of the people who did this because no one wants to come forward. Evidence has been destroyed. I do have an interesting interview with the mayor, G.T. Bynum, who`s adamantly against reparations, a Trump acolyte, but wants, you know, this big celebration because, you know, trying to uncover mass graves.

And on Saturday, I will talk to the defendant of white people who enslaved people, and they weren`t Tulsans, but they will talk about confronting their own history. So I think white people can have an important role in this provision.

REID: And, Kristi, you are a descendant. So, I mean, what do you make of that? I mean, the fact is you`re living among people who did this to your community and they have all the power still.

WILLIAMS: Yes, they still have all the power. And even Scott Ellsworth on this panel tonight, and no offense but he`s done some great research about the history of Greenwood and has written many books. So you see a lot of white people who still profit from our pain and oppression.

And I serve on the mass graves committee, mass graves investigation committee with Scott Ellsworth, they listen to him more than they listen to us. So it is still those white people who are in power, and it`s important that we control our own history, we tell our own history, and that, you know, we have to make it clear that what we want for our community.

And as we honor our ancestors, we have this greenwood rising history center coming up. But they never did engage with the community on what kind of history is in that museum. Our museum has always been the Greenwood Cultural Center, and that has been taken from us. And the community feels really slighted on this.

And then, you know, I`m also a Creek Freedmen descendant. And so, you know, the Creek Nation kicked the black people out of the tribes in 1979. My family had over 460 acres of land and we lost that when Oklahoma became a state. And the first law was Jim Crow and they lorded white guardians over our property.

REID: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: So, you know, it`s a double-edged sword for a descendant like me and for a lot of descendants in Tulsa and these stories are just not being told.

REID: Yeah, what are your thoughts on that Mr. Ellsworth because that`s -- I mean, that`s just sort of real talk. But what do you have to say about that?

ELLSWORTH: Well, I mean, you know, I know Kristi. Kristi is a member of the public oversight committee who actually directs my committee and the work that our scientists are doing. So, you know, she speaks often at the meetings. It`s always welcome to hear from her.

The idea that just because I`m somebody who`s written about this that I have some larger sway, I mean, that`s an issue for your group.

But, look, I think there`s a couple things here. First of all, there`s no question whites in Tulsa don`t want to discuss this. That`s been the case. I`ve been writing and researching about this for 45 years. That`s the simple fact of the matter.

REID: Yeah.

ELLSWORTH: But the other issue here is that the Tulsa race massacre is the part of American history. It is not just a black story. It`s a white story as well.

REID: Absolutely.

ELLSWORTH: And that`s why it`s a part of all of our pasts.

REID: Absolutely. And it`s just one many of these massacres around the country, in our history.

Tiffany Cross, Kristi Williams, Scott Ellsworth, thank you very much. And be sure to catch Tiffany`s special on Saturday at 10:00 a.m.

We`ll be back after this.


REID: That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.