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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: Civil Rights and Racial Profiling

Interview

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Joining me tonight is Reverend Jesse Jackson and New York Congressman
Gregory Meeks.

Gentlemen, great to have you with us tonight.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: Yes, sir.

SCHUTLZ: We could talk hours about this. I want to focus in if I can on what President Obama actually said on Friday and what impact could this have? Reverend Jackson, how big a moment was this?

JACKSON: It was a precious moment for him. We`ve learn to survive apart. Now, we must learn to live together under one big tent. We do it in the military, when (INAUDIBLE). We do it on the ball field, when (INAUDIBLE) playing, why can`t we choose direction over complexion? We do it then.

It`s interesting that when President Clinton reach out and formed the race study commission headed by the late John Hope Franklin, it was all right. If Clinton reached out to Arsenio Hall and played the saxophone, it was seen as expansive. When President Barack reached out, it was seen as divisive.

No one did better, frankly, I must tell that you, Lyndon Johnson. He spoke at Howard in 1965 and he said, blacks are unequal, it`s unfair. They`re not protected by law. So, we need freedom, dignity, equality and justice. Lyndon Johnson actually did it and it worked for all of Americas.

SCHULTZ: Well, it did. Civil rights legislation -- no president has had more civil rights legislation passed on his watch ever in the history of the country. So the conversation can work.

Congressman Meeks, what do we tell young men of color in this country in the wake of this decision, and in this week`s discussion?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: One of the things I think that this has again awakened young men, that we can make a difference. It cannot be just a series where people go out to rally. We`ve got to register and we`ve got to vote, because there are these laws that are on the books that stand your ground, that can be defeated at the polls.

And I think the conversation has to be -- has to happen as the president that, but it has to happen at every level. It has to start in families. The president was very courageous. I think he was a patriot. What he is trying to do is make this a more perfect union. Unless we talk about this, unless we focus on how African-American men are feeling, I know that I surely have experienced racial profiling. And here in New York City where
we have this huge debate because of the way the mayor has gone with racial profiling and talking to individuals, we`ve got to make sure that this conversation happens. We`ve got to make sure that we stay with it until such time that we get rid of those laws like stand your ground.

SCHULTZ: Reverend Jackson, how do we get rid of racial profiling? Or are we just stuck with it forever?

JACKSON: You have to make it illegal, number one. That`s Trayvon Martin situation, the prosecutors tried to avoid the discussion the jurors said they did not recognize it. And the defendant tried to delete it.

Can you imagine if you have a trial in Florida where you had six black jurors as opposed to six white jurors, the prosecutor would accept that arrangement? What makes us great that jurors should have been white, black, male and female, it was very unrepresentative. You have a conclusion that was just -- imagine again, an all black juror, would be accepted by the media, by the prosecutor?

SCHULTZ: Congressman, President Obama talked about personal experiences. How important is that? Do you think that the country can consume that as a positive? And I don`t know the experiences of a black man.

I can -- I can try to relate to them. But at the end of the day, in fact, I had a gentleman call me on my talk show this weekend -- Irwin from Chicago.

He said, "Ed, I`m a decorated combat veteran. I`m a graduate of Yale. I have three young black sons. No matter what say to them at the end of the day they`re still black. All we can do is try."

These personal experiences and trying to explain what it is like to go through society when you are profiled or when there is discrimination -- this is part of the conversation I think some Americans shy away from. But how do we approach this in a positive to make sure that we don`t shy away from it, Congressman?

MEEKS: Well, I think what the president talked about. That we try to get other folks to understand the context from which African-Americans view what`s going. You know, I think it`s important. I sit as a member of Congress.

When I look at those TV hosts you showed earlier, once I go on one of those
shows, you should see the kind of mail that I get, or phone calls that I get --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MEEKS: -- as a member of Congress, African-American member of congress. It still exists in this country today. And when I looked at those shots, you see they are playing to those individuals who bring out the worst of Americans.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

JACKSON: You know, as a new south today, made possible by the walls coming down. You couldn`t have had the Carolina Panthers/Atlanta Falcons behind the curtain until we pulled the wall down. You couldn`t have had the big Alabama/LSU game, we pulled the curtain down.

SCHULTZ: We could talk for hours on this. Reverend Jackson, Congressman Gregory Meeks, I really appreciate you being part of the discussion tonight. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

JACKSON: Thank you very much.

MEEKS: Thank you, Ed.

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