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tv   Panel on Countering Racism  CSPAN  November 20, 2017 11:09am-12:40pm EST

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not a joke. not a joke. that's what people are thinking. violating the norms of personal conduct generates more anxiety and fear than any policy prescription that this president has enunciated. >> you can watch the entire discussion tomorrow night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. coming up next, a panel of state and local elected officials discuss efforts to counter racism and related protests in their jurisdictions and the lessons they learned to pass onto others around the country. this is part of the annual state innovation exchange conference here in washington, d.c. featuring democratic legislators from around the country. this is just under 90 minutes. 50 years ago, the united
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states was at war in vietnam, and this veterans day weekend, >> let's get ready for this next panel which i'm really excited about. first i want to introduce our next speaker and my good friend to the stage. i have known her for almost 20 years now. whether fighting for the defense fund to fighting for immigrant rights ending mass incarceration [ applause ] >> hi. good morning everyone. she is one of my closest and dearest friends. she is also someone i look up to and consider a hero.
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i'm so very very proud of her and i'd love for her to join me on the stage now. thank you. [ applause ] >> hi. good morning everyone. that is a warm welcome from my dear friend nick. i am so glad to see everyone here. the panelists are joining us on the stage right now. i wanted to open up with a few remarks about the incredibly extraordinary time that we are in. i don't mean that in a great way. i think it's so important that all of you are gathered here this morning. this is an extraordinary time in our country. it is a time when they are being turned on their head and when we are reminded on a daily basis the extent to which we cannot take our core values for granted. it is when they are turns back the clock on almost every area of progress to womens rights to
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you name it. they are increasing tensions and divisions that speaks to part of their ways that really amplifies and inflames the rhetoric. it is more important than ever it gets tarnished. we all know the only time identity politics gets invoked is some how white identity is masked as something that is neutral. the 2016 election with invocation and disparagement, the anti muslim and rhetoric they have been tweeting about the nfl players that are taking a knee and also out of love of country being tarnished as unpatriotic. don't make any mistake about it. there are deep racial overtones. it is a time of deep polarization. it has been preying on the divisions as part of this strategy at a time when they spent the first nine months outside of the oval office pushing on agenda. in april of 2017 just months after i stepped down i testified at a judiciary hearing and the
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corn that hate was becoming legitimized and normalized. it was about aggressively enforcing civil rights laws to combat racial and other discrimination. now we have a justice department that has a decidedly anti civil rights agenda on almost every front. it is harming real vulnerable communities around the country, an attorney general that is intent to using to our country. we all know the history of this country and the slavery but look, i want to remind us that the events in charlottesville back in august and followed up on in march were horrific for other reasons too.
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it was about aggressively enforcing civil rights laws to combat racial and other discrimination. now we have a justice department that has a decidedly anti civil rights agenda on almost every front. it is harming real vulnerable
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communities around the country, an attorney general that is intent to using to our country. we all know the history of this country and the slavery but look, i want to remind us that the events in charlottesville back in august and followed up on in march were horrific for other reasons too. what i think shook us is the president's result that resulted in heather hires murder. president trump forfeited any claim to the moerl leadership that a president must command. [ applause ] . it was deeply pain. to so many of our communities. more than ever it was clear that it would fall to the rest of us, to all of you in this room to uphold america's ideals of fairness, justice and inclusion. the president proved he would not.
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we all need you more than ever. the role of state and elected officials i think is more important than it is right now. we know that talk is cheap. some of those same officials that have been busy they were in essence pushing devicive policies in washington since the days back in august we have had the pardon of arpiao and leaving people vulnerable, people who have only known this country as
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their home and are looking at possible deportation. they are living in fear. last night the white house released cruel immigration principals to guide negotiations for the dreamers using them as bargaining chips to have cruel immigration policies in place. there are specific things we need to do. i know the panel will be going into more detail on that. groups like the anti defamation league and naacp and others. they are part of leadership conferences 200 plus organization coalition. they have been working to focus public officials on the problem of hate groups and racism in our communities. 46 states have a statute that cover race, religion. not all of them present gender and gender identity status. some have separate statutes, constitutional vandalism and allow for civil actions. we think states should have laws in these areas that cover all of these things. there is work to be done in
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schools about teaching our kids tolerance and messaging out the values that we want the next generation to have. we need to be concerned about laws that use their cars about weapons. we also have to fight white supremacist policies including voter suppression. [ applause ] know that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. our members are mobilizing across communities. they are building power locally to push on fights because it is not just about one community. it is about who we are as a country and who we want to be. on voting rights, there has been a vicious attack on voting rights. at least ten federal courts have found states have engaged in racial discrimination that prevent black and brown folks from voting. we are alarmed about mass voter purging. we know fate-based legislation. there has been bipartisan support for same day registration, for early voting.
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we need state to empower statutes in the face of an attorney general who has been returning us back. we need state attorney generals to fill this breach. they need to engage the way the civil rights division has been able to do use your pulpit to speak out right now. we need elected officials to reject this and stop and push back on that us versus them rhetoric and understand that we need to be embracing economic solutions for all who are hurting and feeling left out of this country's economy. it is going to take all of us. we need to recognize that hate and exclusion are not just by white supremacists who are marching in the streets alone but also in policy agendas that are having a real impact on real communities. i'll close out by saying it's often in times of crisis that we find our strongest voice, our
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power to fight hardest and most effectively to protect the vulnerable and to make justice real. we are fighting for the soul of our country right now. it isn't just about the symbolism right now. it is about the kind of country that we want to be. thank you for fighting for justice, and inclusion. i hope you have a great terrific day. >> thank you. thank you for letting me moderate this panel. i was going to set the stage but i think she did a good job at doing that. i will just jump right in so we can get to questions i won't hold you too long before your lunch. today we are talking about facing off against racism in a time of trump. it is probably a question people are asking for the positions you hold. we'll turn to our first panelist who was the vice major of charlottesville, virginia. he currently serves on the charlottesville housing authority board and charlottesville police citizen
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advisory panel. almost two months ago everyone turned on their news and saw the tragedy that was going on in charlottesville and the hate that was in the streets. can you talk to us about how the city has been able to rebound from the activities that happened a couple of months ago and activities that happened this weekend. we saw some of the white supremacists in the streets yet again. how has the city been able to rebound from that and what have you been able to do to help in the healing process? >> thank you. i would like to thank all of you for having me. i would say i'm rather giddy to be sitting next to her from virginia. this woman right here literally always answers the call, stands up, rejects the notions from white supreme si and also when we see injustice she always stands up. if we request give her a round of applause. [ applause ] so the city of charlottesville,
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we are one of the most courage use. it is important for us to notate it did not start with creating the decision in our parts. we have had issues of systemic injustice and impression within our community for generations.
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we are fighting for the soul of our country right now. it isn't just about the symbolism right now. it is about the kind of country that we want to be. thank you for fighting for justice, and inclusion. i hope you have a great terrific day. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you for letting me moderate this panel. i was going to set the stage but i think she did a good job at doing that. i will just jump right in so we can get to questions i won't hold you too long before your lunch. today we are talking about facing off against racism in a time of trump. it is probably a question people
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are asking for the positions you hold. we'll turn to our first panelist who was the vice major of charlottesville, virginia. he currently serves on the charlottesville housing authority board and charlottesville police citizen advisory panel. almost two months ago everyone turned on their news and saw the tragedy that was going on in charlottesville and the hate that was in the streets. can you talk to us about how the city has been able to rebound from the activities that happened a couple of months ago and activities that happened this weekend. we saw some of the white supremacists in the streets yet again. how has the city been able to rebound from that and what have you been able to do to help in the healing process?
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>> thank you. i would like to thank all of you for having me. i would say i'm rather giddy to be sitting next to her from virginia. this woman right here literally always answers the call, stands up, rejects the notions from white supreme si and also when we see injustice she always stands up. if we request give her a round of applause. [ applause ] so the city of charlottesville, we are one of the most courage use. it is important for us to notate it did not start with creating the decision in our parts. we have had issues of systemic
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injustice and impression within our community for generations. charlottesville is the same place that chose to close down all of the schools during the massive resistance opposed to integrating. we also tore down an entire african american neighborhood during urban renewal. we have been talking about equity and not equality. i think i want you all to understand equity means that everyone gets what they need in order to be successful what we need is equity and not equality. i would like to encourage all of you to stop using the word equality. equity is what we need. when we look at the bandits and
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those that wanted to get those, richard and his minions. they said they felt empowered they the leader came and specifically said we came to charlottesville to full fulfill the promise of our president. i think it had the opposite effect. we have seen the community become a lot more together based off of what transpired. we passed the equity earlier this year. it is to underserve community. my colleagues accepted it and voted for it 5-0. after that we have been doing a great job -- or we have been doing a better job of listening to our community. people have been very upset. they are traumatized by what happened but not just from the events of august 12th. because of such we are now in a position in which we can listen
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to the members of our community. we are a city in which i'm only the 7th african american ever. we have been in existence for over 260 some odd years.
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i am proud that we are truly dealing with that. that makes me proud of the city of charlottesville. >> yes. >>. [ applause ] >> so let's build on that a little bit. we have senator jennifer who was elected to the senate in january of 2017. she shares the martin luther king memorial commission. she is a member of the virginia legislature womens health care caucus and the fire and ems caucus. >> i told you.
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is as a state senator we have heard about the aftermath in what was happening before charlottesville. can you share what important lessons you have learned and what people can start to do to built community outside of charlottesville? a lot of times people want to just go to the place and don't want to knowledge it is happening everywhere. we got the news story in that place. >> so it's not so much what i learned. it is what was reenforced. prior to being elected to the senate i served 11 years in the house of delegates. i -- i want to start with a story. in 2009 governor bob mcdonald, every governor has a black
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caucus over for dinner. the first time he had us over it was also the beginning of the celebration of the centennial of the civil war. actually i think it was 2010. we walk in the door and there are gigantic portraits of robert e. lee and jackson. unlike other governors he had eight ledge islators from other states. he said all right. i had just two weeks prior to that killed ton floor the first gof issued photo i.d. bill that made it to the house floor. [ applause ] and i did it by telling another story about my great grandfather who in 190 -- whatever -- 8 maybe. he knew he would be given a literacy test, got all of the questions right and this rej said i need more questions because he got them all right. he had to have three white
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people vouch for him. he went to a man who actually he and i did it by telling another story about my great grandfather who in 1908 maybe went to register to vote, new he was going to be given a literacy test, got all of the questions right and the registrar looks to his assistant and said, i need more questions because in nigger
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got them all right. he answered the next set of questions and he was told he had to have three white people vouch for him. he went to a man he actually grew up with, was born on a plantation and said will you vouch for me. after some convincing, he did. i told that on the house floor to explain why voting is so important to communities of color. the governor said, shouldn't we want to fight voter fraud? i said, let's set aside the fact there's no evidence of a rash of people voting claiming to be somebody they're not. what do you need to get a government issue photo id? he said well you need a birth certificate. i said well, governor, there are people in virginia born as late as 1940 who don't have a birth certificate. he said i didn't know that.
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why not? i said the racial integrity act was passed in virginia. it was the first time births were recorded and you had to record your race. the first director of the bureau of vital statistics was a white supremacist. on the application you had two choices, white or colored. if you didn't check colored and he thought you were, you didn't get a birth certificate. he said, i had no idea. i thought, of course you didn't. you're a middle-aged white man who grew up in fairfax. why are you not being taught that in school? that's part of the problem. yes, white supremacists are bad. yes, we have a president and administration who are pushing forward a white supremacist agenda, but the bigger danger are those who aren't overtly
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racist who think they're woke -- i'm not just talking republicans, let's be honest. [ applause ]. >> but they don't understand that you don't just repeal jim crow or in some cases fight it in the court system and then wave a magic wand and the effects are gone. part of what we have to do as state legislators, as a government is educate each other and take an honest look at the policies that we are putting in place. yes, there's some concrete things we can do. our governor in the aftermath of charlottesville put a task force on the reconciliation that's looking at all of our laws and policies and trying to figure out where is there systemic racism, looking at conversations about confederate monuments and is going to make recommendations. but it starts really at home and
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in the schools. and, yes, our superintendent sent a letter on the first day of school to all of the local school divisions with resources that teachers, parents, community leaders would use to talk about what happened in charlottesville and racism and creating a community where all feel valued. the first step is talking about it. our problem in virginia and my guess is every other state is after massive resistance we couldn't talk about race anymore. it was rude. couldn't talk about it. well, what you saw in charlottesville is not the first time. if you look back at the history of america from when slaves were emancipated by the 13th amendment, there has been a rise of political power among first blacks and then communities of
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color, maybe a 10-year period and then a swift backlash as soon as possible to put them back in their place. so you had after the civil war, you had african-americans elected to our state legislat e legislatur legislatures, constitutional conventions. and then the minute reconstruction ended, jim crow went into effect. and then you had the civil rights movement and the gangs there and brown versus board of edgucatio education. and then you had klan rallies and massive resistance. and then we elected the first african-american president of the united states and we made all kinds of progress for all communities of color. and then we got donald trump. this is a pattern. and if we don't recognize that pattern and understand our history and recognize the signs, it's going to happen again. [ applause ].
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>> told y'all. >> i mean, there was a whole lot in there. i'm not going to pretend to be that skilled of a moderator to dissect everything that you said. so i do want to go to our next panelist. and we'll come back to what you said because there were a lot of solutions also weaved in throughout your piece. but often times in the moment of a national crisis -- lisa, this is the first time i'm going off script, so just roll with me. often times in a national crisis, we almost want to
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reinvent fire again. so we try and find solutions to problems that might already exist in other pockets. and so your work at the southern poverty law center is focused on reversing the new jim crow and eliminating the structural racism entrenched in policing, sentencing, imprisonment, post-conviction practices of states in the deep south through litigation, legislation and public education. you do a lot of work in the deep south, but those issues don't just exist in the deep south. so when we find ourselves in a national crisis after the election where it's clear that someone touts white supremacists ideology and policies and then in the aftermath of charlottesville, often times people in positions of leadership are looking for resources, help so they can still do their job but also navigate these complicated
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conversations. can you talk about how you focus your work and what resources are available to the southern poverty law center that these folks can turn to immediately to start navigating some of the issues in their communities? >> absolutely. hi, everyone. i have to say to senator mccle mcclellen that is an impossible act to follow. i thank you all for the invitation to be here. the southern poverty law center was founded in 1971. our headquarters are in montgomery, alabama. we have offices in louisiana where i happen to sit. in jackson, mississippi, in georgia and two in florida in tallahassee and miami. and some people say we might need more and sometimes i think we do. the organization works through litigation, public policy,
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advocacy and education to basically protect the rights of society's most vulnerable. and that includes in these days people of color, immigrants, lgbtq individuals, disabled individuals and everyone else who doesn't fitd into the b-- fe box of white privilege. one of the pieces of work that splc does is to monitor hate groups in this country. if you go to splc website which is and click on hate map you will see the hate groups we are tracking in the united states today. we were tracking them before donald trump got elected and we continue tracking them now. i would point out that while there is a cluster in the deep south most definitely, none of
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you should be comforted by thinking these problems are isolated to the south. they are not. there are dots on that map in maine, california, throughout this country. so all of us have the obligation and the responsibility to identify those groups to be wary of their activities and monitor them and stand up and speak out not just when things happen like charlottesville but all of the time. we define a hate organization as an organization that based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders or activities has believes or practices that attack or align an entire class of people particularly for their immutable characteristics. there are 917 of them operating now in the united states. in terms of resources, what can state legislators do?
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first, splc is partnering more and more with state legislators including legislators in our own states looking across the aisle looking at places on the venn diagram where our values and others overlap, particularly republicans. for my area of work that particularly includes criminal justice reform. i think that state and local officials facing the future, facing the landscape that we confront right now can act first by understanding the law and the basis for it. there's often a lot of frustration against the first amendment after events like what happened in charlottesville. but we have to remember the same law that protects right nationalists right to protest -- understand the law and the basis for it is critical, but also understanding legislator's obligation.
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you can act. your hands are not tied. you do not have to stand by and sit silent. we urge you to stand up and speak out and urge your community members and constituents to do the same. also on our website we have a ten ways to fight hate guide. and the very first principle of that guide is to act. the second is to join forces with allied groups, maybe the obvious ones and maybe the less obvious ones. this includes everyone from faith leaders to law enforcement to pta members to just about whoerwho can agree these are not the values -- well they are some of the values our country is founded on, quite frankly. i can't say they aren't. but that's one of the things we have to change. those are the values we have to change. i know they're none of the
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values that anyone in this room share. we have to work hard to broaden our circle and bring communities in and that includes educating. we need to support the victims who are targeted when events like those in charlottesville occur. they start at the very earliest level of education with children, which is one of the reasons why splc has a teaching tolerance program that provides free education materials to anyone in public schools across the country. i invite you to encourage the schools and your communities to reach out. we will happily send the materials about how to have these conversations. teachers are scared. this stuff is volatile. in my opinion the worst thing you can do is shut down those conversations that are happening in kindergarten or fifth grade. kids need to understand why the biases they may be picking up, quite possibly not even at home,
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but through the media and through the public dialogue right now, not just squish down why those are wrong, but really have the conversation about what values mean and what tolerance is and why it's so important. those are hard conversations but the materials that we provide can help teachers navigate through that. creating an alternative event if you know that a hate group is coming to town. what gives them the media is when everybody shows up to protest against them. silencing them by simply creating another bigger, louder, better, more hopeful, optimistic event somewhere else is a great way to detract attention from them that they seek. pressuring leaders -- i know that none of y'all need that pressure but for those of us who live in places -- and all of you i'm sure have colleagues that don't share your values. it's on us to continue to pressure those leaders and force them to come out and
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unequivocally denunciate hatred and intolerance. staying engaged and digging deeper because this is a long fight and we're in it for the long haul. the issues that i work on that really reflect the structural racism that has been embedded in this society, the issues that lead to mass incarceration, that lead to felon disenfranchisement, these are issues that many of you are fighting in your states right now. looking deeper into prosecutorial policies, really pushing for accountability and transparency in the elected officials that you work with, that serve in your communities, those are all ways that y'all can work. and we hopefully can work with you to push back against this environment and to prepare ourselves for the future when the cycle rolls again and we're
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in a position to keep pushing forward. thank you. >> thank you. [ applause ]. >> lisa, you talked a little bit about working with people you don't agree with. and i think a great example of that is state representative john turner, who was appointed to complete the term of representing the house district 85 in january of 2010 after her husband state representative larry turner's untimely death. representative turner is a retired educator of the memphis city schools and is the executive director on leave of the memphis branch of the naacp. representative turner, you were able in a time when first in the state of tennessee which is in the south and not always as progressive as we would hope, but in a time that is so polarizing as a counted and it's like us against them all the time, you were able to find a path forward and get a piece of
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legislation passed that opened up cold cases from the civil rights movement. can you talk about how you were able to navigate that path to get that legislation passed? but also just air some of those best practices and why it's important to reopen cases from the civil rights movement that have now become cold. >> first of all, i want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. this is one of my favorite conferences, because i know i'll be with others who think as i do. this morning's usa title says, white nationalists seize model for rallies across the usa. i am here as a black representative to present a model for counteracting hate
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rallies across the usa. >>. [ applause ]. >> mcclellan gave that example when the governor said he did not know, it says you shall know the truth, and truth shall set you free. >> preach. >> pass the collection plate in a minute. [ laughter ] >> first of all, i'm just delighted to be with pal. i'm seasoned. she didn't tell you, but every march dr. king led during the sanitation strike in memphis, i was there. the night he gave his famous "i have been to the mountaintop" speech, i was there. when he gave the 1968
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masterpiece on brotherhood, i have a dream, i was right there. so what i'm talking about, what i live by, and what got me into the legislature and this house are the experiences that i have had and how i have brought those experiences to each issue where i can get them in, because you should know the truth. if you don't know what i've gone through, if you don't know what my parents have gone through, when you judge me by what you have and that's the problem with 45, he has not known what poverty is, but anyway, that's another speech. i'm still pinching myself about getting that bill passed. i wake up and say johnnie turner, you did not do that. you could not do that.
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in a legislature where there were 24 democrats and 75 republicans. you didn'tp do that. you didn't -- you couldn't do that. and the senate that had five democrats and 28 republicans. you didn't do that. oh, yes, i did. oh, yes, i did. [ applause ] and you know what. [ applause ] and the reason i can do that is because i had a story to tell. you heard the expression there's an app for that. every situation i have a story for that. in 2010, one year after coming
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to the state legislature a representative approached me and said, representative turner, would you like to carry this bill? i looked at it, and i said, unsolved civil rights cases, cold cases of the civil rights movement? my god. i felt like a burr rabbit in a briar patch. that was right up my alley. i said yes, i want this bill. and it took 18 years -- not 18, 14 years to get it passed. i didn't know at the time that representative hardaway had carried it for six years. he never told me. he just gave it to me. i was so happy to get it because it was just like, it was made for me. it had my name all over it.
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and then it took me from 2010 to 2017 to get that bill passed. and how did i do it? first of all, i personalized. see, i could have been an unsolved cold case of the civil rights era. i told my story. i told the story during the '60s, after the sit-in movement had subsided and things, the buses were integrated, and i was a student in college on scholarship. i didn't have insight. that means to get my work, i had to stay at the library, and i was always the last one to leave. when i would leave, i would catch the number four walker. it would service the black community, so they sat anywhere on the bus they wanted to. then i would transfer to the number nine norma, which we had moved -- we moved a lot. we moved out in eastern memphis,
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the borderline separating the african-american community from the white community. and the buses, because i had sat in, been arrested, jailed, told i would never teach in the memphis city school system because i was a jailbird. i would be a poor role model for the students, but i'm here. and so when i get on that number nine, i said i have made too many sacrifices to get to this time and this place. the law says i can sit anywhere i want to. and i would get to sit right behind the driver. now, that was all well and good until all the black folk got on. you see the bus was coming from downtown. and the mads and cooks and those who worked downtown would always go to the back, and i would always be the only one sitting at the front of that bus. and there were about ten white businessmen, white women didn't
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work back then, only the men. these ten men in blue and black suits would be sitting all around me, all the blacks in the back. and i was just sitting there like i didn't see them. well, that was well and good until i got -- all the blacks got off. i would have gotten off that bus and walked the rest of the way home. but i refused. i said i've got as much right to sit here as anybody else. and night after night, they called me every name under the sun but a child of god. and on two occasions, once by a drunk, they almost pulled my arms out of the sockets, and i was so afraid. and i said, lord, please. i can't fight back because if i fight back, i'll be another dead black girl, because it would be
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their word -- well, i wouldn't be around. i wouldn't have even been around. but every night, i said, i have a right to sit here. my poor parents have given up all that they have, they have been treated as second-class citizens, and i'm going to ride this bus. and some nights, the driver would wait past my stop and take me into the white community, and as i tried to get off the bus, he would try to catch my coat in the door. and i think about that. and i've got a whole repertory of the incidents that have happened to me. and it's that spiritt, it's that that led me to stand before the committee and tell that story. i told it for seven years. , itt that led me to stand before the committee and tell that story. i told it for seven years. last year and the last assembly, it never got out of subcommittee. but last year not this year, 2016, it got out of the
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subcommittee. god, i was -- i just couldn't believe it. i told my colleagues, you won't believe it, it made it out of the subcommittee. maybe they were tired of hearing my story, but it made it out. and then, the second thing, i won because i personalized it. the other thing i got is because i had independence. i had somebody greater than the rest of us, all of us, intervening. he was there for me. our maker. and he gave me this. it's like, well, let me get to the point. when it came to the committee, one person who was the strongest got out of his sick bed. now, don't you tell me, and that
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man, i mean, that man, he was a man, killed that bill. my bill failed last year. but i had the spirit. i can do this. if i got it out of subcommittee, i can do it out of the full committee. and we were right back again this year. guess what happened. divine intervention. he got defeated. he got defeated. let him work his words. and lord, the subcommittee, it got out. full committee, it got out. and y'all, would you believe that we have passed on the house 79-0. [ applause ]
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let me run through this bill very quickly. if i can do it, you can do it. you should know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. it was the truth. it was personalized. it was seeing somebody who had gone through all of this, and yet i stood strong in my belief because i wanted my brothers and sisters to also have that same opportunities. and now, let me say, i got a piece of the paper. and the bill on june 6th, 2017. this year, governor haslem signed into law hb-1306/senate bill 1279, creating a special jury to legislative committee which i now chair. guess what.
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divine intervention. there isn't a black chair of anything over there but this. there isn't another democratic chair of anything but this one. divine intervention. which i now chair to study tennessee civil rights cold crimes, cold cases, and report its findings and recommendations to the tennessee general assembly. section one paragraph d of the act requires that all appropriate state agencies shall provide assistance to the special joint committee upon requests of the chair. and i'm proud to report to you that the chair sent out letters two weeks ago to the tennessee bureau of investigations, the state chair's association, the d.a.'s conference, the public defenders conference, the tennessee bar association, the association of medical examiners, the human rights
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commission, fbi, and it goes on. yeah, we sent this letter. and now, the job of the special -- i have to tell you about, i have an amazing, we have an amazing support group in terms of this bill. attorney emerson, a powerful lawyer out of the state of jackson, tennessee, has done this on his own. i have attended three events where he has had an event where someone who was killed, the stories, we would be here all day, and you wouldn't believe because they're so horrible. you would not leave if you knew that in 1941, edward williams was the president of the naacp, the first one to try to register to vote. he went to the courthouse that night, they came at night and took him from his family at
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midnight. they found his body several days later in the river. and the coroner ruled he died by drowning. they don't even know where his grave is. when they pulled his body from the river, the family identified him, and they would not let the family have the body. so he is in an unmarked grave somewhere in a huge cemetery. those were the kinds of things that were happening. simply because he wanted the right to vote. if we could tell our children all the sacrifices that have been made, if we could tell those who don't go to vote that you used to have to be able to tell the number of bubbles in a bar of soap, but anyway. >> representative turner, i want to talk about the voting piece here. >> all right.
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>> i'll give you 30 more seconds because i actually think what you're saying is super important because we have to hear the stories of what you went through to get you across the finish line for success. but so often people don't want to hear those stories. they don't understand how it directly connects to them today. and so senator, i just spoke, we're coming somewhere to the end of our time, so if the microphones are in the audience, you can start preparing yourself for that. but young people aren't voting. they didn't vote in this last election. communities of color show up sometimes, but in the off years, 2018, it's hard to turn out communities, and oftentimes people only go out to those communities the week before to get out the vote to engage in the issues. you talked about those and other solutions, but i'll really open
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this up to all the panelists. how do we start to connect the dots between the story that representative turner is telling, the success she's able to have by unanimous vote to get something that's so significant to our country's history, but connect it to the millennials of today who don't realize how important each of their votes is in social change? >> i think speaking as a millennial, we do understand how important it is to vote, but the thing is, i'm just going to be very honest and very blunt. democrats specifically, i pride myself being a democrat and sometimes i'm ashamed because we often run politicians and not real people. so when you look at from a millennial perspective in the age of social media, in the way of which we like to interact, again as you alluded to, the same game plan of coming around only when it's election time two weeks before because you want to
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do tv, younger folks, we would like to see a sermon rather than you tell me one. i don't want to go and vote for a quote/unquote perfect person or this individual who has billed themselves to be this and that, and i only see you when it's election time. you never come back. you present yourself in a way in which you believe you are the know it all, be it all, and you're the savior for my community. you have all of the answers. that's not going to make me vote for you. nor is that going to make me want to go to the polls to vote for you. >> what will? >> what it's going to do is make me believe that the system is only what it is, what it has always been. when you ask what it is, i think we have to move away from running candidates who perceive themselves to be perfect, but run people, and also encourage individuals who may not have always had the best past. i have had to go through it myself, bringing up old tweets or you want to talk to individuals, and you say that, well, if you haven't always been
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squeaky clean, you're not the person we need to run. actually, those are the individuals who we need to begin running because they know exactly what's going on in our community. they can attest and identify with those who have not always been perfect. but they actually care. i heard a speech from brother connors from michigan, and also the brother here, brother bowing, sitting in the front. and i heard them both speak about how important it is for young people as well as older people to be able to relate, identify, but also not pretend to be perfect. that personal story i heard, that would make me vote because i can hear my grandmother, my aunt, even my sister in that. when i heard jennifer speaking earlier, that would make me vote because i feel it in my bones. if you come to me as a perfect person, i don't want to vote. i would rather play xbox 360 or
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tweet. i'm just being honest. >> i don't disagree with it, but i can't help but think, do you think when my great grandfather went to vote for the first time in 19 whatever, he had a candidate that was going to be perfect and always think about the black community? no. but they understood your vote is your voice. and politicians at the end of the day want to get elected. and who do they listen to the most? the people who show up and vote, and the people who participate in the process. now, wes is right. it's on us to get out in the community every day and tell these stories and talk to people where they live. i just had -- we had a community roundtable in richmond with some community activists talking about gun violence. and someone made a really good point. the reason people don't vote is they have been living in these particular neighborhoods in generational poverty and
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despair, and they have no hope, and they don't think their voice matters. and too many times, people from outside of the community say, well, here's what we think you need. rather than coming into the community and saying, you tell me what you need. so we as elected representatives have a responsibility to get out, whether it's i do the neighborhood association, as soon as session out, i'm in every neighborhood association in my district, that includes the tenet housing projects. i don't expect them to just come to me. this is my piece of advice for millennials. you cannot have these conversations in 140 characters. or with an instagram picture. get out from behind the community, get off your phone, and go talk to people in person. it is a two-way street. these conversations are hard. it takes time. but you've got to start face-to-face.
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because if you are not looking somebody in the eye and talking about these hard issues, if you're hiding behind your phone, you're not listening to each other. so we as elected officials, party leaders, whatever, have to get out and start those conversations in the community the day after election day. not two weeks before. and have them all year round. >> i'll let either of you answer. are there questions? you need a microphone? we won't be able to hear you. you can raise your hand high. they'll start to make their way. >> go ahead. >> hi. >> okay. >> since the last panel -- >> could you say your name and where you're from? >> yes, i'm sorry. vivian flowers from the great state of arkansas. since the last panel and on this one, i have heard about so many
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issues and so critical to those issues being advanced, particularly all across the progressive agenda, is based upon elections. based upon the numbers. even when we heard representative turner's story, we heard about the last election, the person who was making it his business to push back against her bill for years lost. and so then, when i hear about the dnc and hear about all of these things that we must do and overcome, i can't help but think about our local state parties and our county party committees as being the infrastructure through which we can make the change, because we don't have time in many states, we don't have funds and resources to get to where we need to be in this
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next election and the following election. so i'm wondering for the panelists, we could talk all day long about problems. and we know that racism, institutional racism, ove overt racism is something that we have heard that has been occurring for generations. i have storied, my grandparents have storied, my parents have stories. we know what policy can do as state legislatolegislators. what role can the state parties play, especially in the states where change needs to occur? because there's no g.o.p. money coming to arkansas. we don't have any more money coming to arkansas. in 2010, we had out of six congressional leaders, five of them were democrats. today, there's zero. in 2010, all of our state-wide elected officials were democrats. today, there's zero. our highest level elected official is a state senator who
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has probably served less than ten years. so this also sounds like you're asking how do you build political power in places that might not be as democratic as you would like them to be, and also, but also, i'm going to add on because there's like -- every question won't be able to be asked here. but also, a little bit what i'm hearing in here, and you all should respond directly to her question, too, is is everything going to be solved through an election? because we always go -- my first question after everyone had a chance to talk, was about voting. as people who are elected, is everything going to be solved through an election? if not, how else can things be solved? >> that's not my question. >> i know it's not your question. i know it's not. they heard your question. i'm just adding on to your question. so everyone can respond. >> really quickly, i really
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think community outreach, grassroots community outreach is the key. and everybody thinks that barack obama invented it, but he didn't. he was just the best at it. getting out -- a lot of people aren't going to come to the local democratic committee meetings, but you have a black caucus probably. you probably have a young democrats, you probably have an lgbt caucus, and each of them, you should have an outreach plan for each of your constituency group organizations are reaching out to the community organizations that serve those constituencies, have a list of every community event that they have, and you show up. and you talk to people about why they should care about the election, who your candidates are, who the party is, and you do that all year round. and then, now, we have elections every year in virginia.
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yet too often, we re-create the wheel with the women for and the lgbtq for, and whoever for, but those people don't go away after election day. they're still having their events. they're still having conversations. and the part is to break into it and not think of itself as a silo where they have to come to you. and who cares if it's just a state senator. you know, i'm the western most black senator in the state. i'm in richmond. i'm the northern most black senator in the state. i don't just confine myself to the ninth senate district. if anybody wants me to come out and talk to them, i have adopted all kinds of communities. and i come to them. and yes, that's where you can use social media and technology, but if you are not in those communities, if you're not present in those communities in
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person, you are never going to build those relationships. >> thank you for the question and for those comments. in my 14 years as executive director of the memphis branch naacp, which for ten of those years, we were the largest branch in the nation, and those 14 years, voter registration and voter education were paramount. and i drew, number one, the naacp had one of the best training workshops, and it worked because we put it in place at that time. dealing with, we would go to huge like picnics and places like that. and somebody says, i don't want to vote. it's not going to help me. if they had a child with them, you say, but what about your child? don't you want a better life for your child? and it works every time.
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you saw something you could personalize about that individual, it may have been a child. it may have been that you detect that perhaps he or she didn't have a job, and you talked about how you elect people who are going to make life better for you. and another thing. i agree wholeheartedly, go wherever you can, but a technique that i developed when i was a school teacher, i taught gifted students. well, i didn't start out, but i rose up the ranks and i was teaching gifted students. one of the classes we had the freedom to create our own curriculum, and one of the curriculum we developed was the power of the vote and the importance of the law. and i have translated that and took that into workshops, and this is the way it goes. i said close your eyes. i said, this morning, you woke up and you got out of your bed.
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you went to the restroom. then i tell them, i said, a law was in everything that happened. the covers that were on your bed. that was a law that stipulated what the products were, what could or could not be included. when you set your foot on that floor, there was a law that told them exactly what the dimensions should be, how it was to be devised, whatever. you went to the restroom, there was a law that regulated the amount of the toothpaste and all of that. then i said you go out and you get in the car. there's a law, that car had to follow certain stipulations. thennia get to the stop sign. you couldn't run the light because there was a law. i said in each one of those instances, you could have had a part or been a part of that by electing people who could respond to your needs. and i said that same thing. if your light bill is getting cut off and you don't think it's right, that person was director
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of the light company was appointed by the mayor. so if you want them to be better, you got to get the mayor. and show how it connected to their everyday life. that was the best time in terms of voter registration and getting people to understand the political process, and you just go all the way, deal with those things that you know your neighborhood, you know the issues. show them the relationship. our people think that the only time we're supposed to turn out big is when there's a presidential race. there is more to life than the presidential race. [ applause ] >> thank you. let me thank my colleague, representative johnnie turner. i'm state representative antonio parker of tennessee. i represent the north part of the city. and dr. bellamy, i wanted to
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address some of the things you said that i agree with 100%. we have created a culture in the part of the district that i represent of electing individuals that come from the ground up. first. these individuals have plowed and sowed into the communities before they were elected. what we tell people to do is when these strangers in the land show up wanting to be elected, asking for your vote, the first question that should come out of your mouth is what have you done for me lately? >> we want to make sure you ask a question here. >> okay. okay. yes, ma'am. thank you, ma'am. >> sorry. >> i got redirected. so here's my question. here's my question. kind of a question/comment. i think that -- i think that -- [ laughter ] >> thank you. thank you. i believe in my heart of hearts that we should meet these millennials and individuals where they are. and if they are on instagram and
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twitter, they moved away from facebook for you older folks. and they moved, you know, here's the thing. if you remember this time last year, they used instagram to create uprisings in every mall almost across the country. and that was young people who did that. go to their instagram pages. if they can harness that energy to do that, we can help them direct that energy into areas of policy and getting the right people elected. thank you, ma'am. thank you. >> i don't know if anyone wants to respond. >> the question may be how do we get people to do that in other places. >> we had a comment. that's fine. >> we have a question over here. >> okay. >> right here. >> from the georgia house. the term domestic terrorism is used by both sides supporting the oppressors and the oppressed. it's used by us and against us.
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an example of how it's used by us, we were able to humanize the white man who was an american, who committed mass murder. an example of how it's used against us is georgia republicans push a domestic terrorism bill that included limiting blocking a sidewalk which is protesting. so what resources are there for us to actually strengthen our messaging on what domestic terrorism means? >> so, specifically for charlottesville, just yesterday, as a matter of fact -- well, today, monday? saturday night, after richard spencer decided to come back to charlottesville with his whatever, they decided to come back. sunday night or excuse me, sunday morning, i called on our commonwealth attorney to invoke a state statute that we currently have that was put in place to essentially stop the
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klan, the kkk, from having open gatherings and burning torches and burning crosses on people's lawns. what we said, we want to use that same statute or if we have to create a variance of one which we'll be calling on our state representatives to not allow anyone to have the open torches or the tiki torches to be in public spaces. so when we talk about like how do we find resources? i think that's where it comes for us to work with either places like the southern poverty law center or working with the aclu or working with our local legal aid to be creative and also proactive opposed to reaccountive, in a way in which we create legislation. i'm a local elected official. i'm not state wide. individu virginia, we can be creative. i talk to my friends on instagram and twitter and ask how can we be creative in terms of creating local policy that
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will fit in, that will pass, or the state legislature will allow us to do. i think that's where we can use our resources. both points, there's a wealth of information out there that we can use. the other point, and i just want to be really brief, but i really want you to understand this. look, we have to be bold. we cannot just not make decisions because we're afraid of, a, re-election, not being ere-elected, or worried about what someone else may say or not say about us because we decided to make a decision, or lastly, be paralyzed from doing anything in fear or in lieu of consequence. the hell with consequence. we're talking about people who need us right now. they need us today. and that is where i think we have to get to a point in being. i'm unapologetic in my blackness. i'm unapologetic in the way in which i want to help not just people who look like me, but all people, but you have to be really willing for me to work with you, you have to be willing and show me you're willing to help all people.
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i'm not going to apologize for that. as you as elected officials, i don't want you to apologize for being who you are because at the end of day, we're trying to help people. if you do nothing else, help people and not be afraid to do it. >> do you want to add anything on the domestic terrorism and the work you all do? >> i really like the messages that were just stated, and i want to underscore those and reiterate how much i feel these supports that and supports speaking out and taking that action. is it time for bravery and any way we can support or endorse that, we certainly will. i think being educated is critical. knowing who the 1917 hate groups are and monitoring them, but i really like the message of not just being reactive. being proactive and lifting up the stories right now. right? not waiting until the next event or the next casualty. or the next news story. but lifting up the stories of the people in the community right now. who exemplify the values that the people on this panel are
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talking about and pushing those messages out there and highlighting the success stories and the power and hope of the people in the communities that y'all represent, and lifting them up and keeping that message. people are not perfect. i love that message. right? owning that narrative and saying yeah, this is who we are. this is our community. thesis are our values. this is who we want to represent us and not shying away from that. i think being proactive is just as important as being prepared to be reactive. >> i would also say to her, though, you have to call it when you see it, and there are double standards in the media and how they talk about certain issues. you having a platform, even the incident of hate or violence happening in your community, you can still talk about it. and it's your responsibility to use the platform you have to talk about it, and then we'll go back there, and that will have to be our last question. >> very quickly. to truly have these
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conversations, though, all sides, good and bad, need to be heard. because when you just shut it down and it goes under the rug, it does not go away. again, there's a whole lot of people in between white supremacists and, you know, not. or you know, there are a lot of people in the middle who are just now for the first time starting to even think about these, and they're not always going to think or say the most enlighten eed things. you need to give them a safe space to hear them and then explain, well, here's a different point of view. and there was a minister who told a story about how, yes, you have heard us about our pain. well, there are also people in
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the civil war whose parents, whoever, fought for the confederacy, may have been killed. they had a great great-grandmother who had to raise, you know, children as a single parent. they were poor, whatever. they have pain, too. and one pain is not more important. your pain is as important to you as their pain is to them. and if you don't give them space to talk about their pain, they will never listen to you about yours. that's a very difficult thing to do. but we will never truly reconcile as a country unless we are giving everyone the ability to express themselves honestly, and we have an honest conversation, not just two people shouting back and forth at each other. [ applause ] >> could i add to that? >> sure. >> very briefly. i thank you for bringing that up because it brought to mind an incident that happened this summer. representative parks who is seated here and i, as a part of
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the black caucus tour, could talk about what the black caucus in tennessee had done. we went to this small town, and the minute we walked in the room, i noticed all these white fo folks. most of the time we didn't get the whites to come. and the african-americans. well, the composition of the city was such that the caucasians far outnumbered the blacks, but at the end of the session, this -- an african-american lady who was very, very assertive, talked about all the bad things that were happening to blacks. and this white man got up, and he said, well, i've got a side to tell, too. and he told his side, and when he told his side, i said, oh, my god. what am i in for? how i am going to get out of here? this man is mad. i told him about some of the
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things that happened during the '60s and the strike in memphis, when memphis after dr. king was assassinated, was torn apart. a group of african-americans and white leaders formed -- started talking about what you just said. dialogue, because each side had a story. and it worked. so i told the gentleman the same thing. i said we need to -- i know you have a point of view. and others have a point of view. somewhere in here, you need to find out and understand what each side. you need to know my pain. and i'll know yours. well, the representative went on, and i said, lord, i got through that one. after it was over, representative said the man with the cast on his arm, he got his arm broken in charlottesville. and the other man had acid all
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over his body. i said, my god. thank you for coming and helping me to come up with the best answer. that is there are two sides, and memphis, we have our problems just like everybody else. but those groups coming together, those groups in leadership understanding the pain of each one of them came to reconcile, and that is what we are going to have to do. we don't have to give anything. we just need to listen to each other. the truth -- you should no the truth, and the truth shall set you free. >> millennials are tired of talking. >> quickly. >> this is a comment. >> what else? >> we want action. we have to have some kind of tangible result that's going to give someone somewhere a result in which you can say that,
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listen, because of all of the dialogue that has taken place for 50 or 60 years, this is what has come of it. right now, what's really making a lot of us feel disenfranchised and why we don't want to participate in the process is because we don't see any of the fruits of all of this dialogue that has transpired for so long. that makes me not want to participate. >> so can i ask a question? so why don't we take your question, and then because you have been standing for a while and been patient. thank you. go ahead and ask your question and maybe we can weave this into the next one. >> representative of our state from iowa. i want to ask the panel about their comments about the confrontation versus ignoring, particularly when many have been emboldened to not only spin things one way but to actually lie or deny things. denial of climate change, conspiracies of american islam is all part of the terrorist plot. and that guns don't kill people. i wanted to share with you
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something i got from a federal -- from a colleague, one of the legislators, sent me this. i would like to quote. the southern poverty law center has been totally discredited as they have engaged in irresponsible and reckless labeling of legitimate organizations as hate groups. they have also been linked to domestic terrorism and further even under the obama administration, the department of army and the department of justice have distanced themselves from that group. so help me. how do you respond to legislators who say those things? >> why don't we go with you? >> i think i missed the very end of the question. did you hear well enough to summarize the question? >> the question basically was, splc has been discredited, he's saying it's an elected official who is saying it's lies basically. what do you do to counter that.
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is that correct, sir? >> yes, how do you confront them? confront them publicly, privately? do you ignore them? because it's outright lies? >> i think it's some combination of all the above. we certainly put our standards and the measurement by which we define hate organizations is on our website. we're transparent about it. we don't try to hide it. we answer, and it is not popular with everybody, right? lots of folks criticize that list. we stand by it. and answer questions about it. we do confront, when questions are asked, we answer them. right? and hopefully, they're asked in dialogue, we answer them in dialogue. when it's confrontational, we respond with the truth. we invite the critics. again, that starts the conversation. and i'm happy to be part of that. and i'm happy to represent an organization that's part of that conversation. and welcome the disagreement
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when it comes. and use it as an opportunity to educate. i hope that addresses the question. >> so unfortunately, we are out of time. i tried to say in the beginning we didn't think we were going to solve the issue of white supremacy in this 45-minute session. >> really? >> i think i held up to that promise at least. and a lot has been said today. and it's just the continuation of a conversation. you all are here because you don't want to be passive in the moment we're in in this country. you ran for office because you believe in this country and that the hope and potential that could manifest because of the work that you do across the aisle with each other, and so while i have been in a million of these conversations, moderated, been on panels and sometimes leave feeling a little deflated because you're like, what did we get out of this, the only thing we get out is you take something and do something when you go home. you can sit in a conference. you can network, you can mix and mingle, but if you don't take
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the action when you go back, and it doesn't have to be action that will break through the national narrative. it can be as small as a conversation with someone in your state house that you don't ever talk to because you don't have agreeing views. that's an active resistance, an active engagement, an active change. i encourage you all to continue to do that work. thank you all for listening to the panel. thanks to the panelists for all you have to share. i think you'll be able to get contact information, but thank you. [ applause ] join us later today when we'll talk about recent trends in the global economy and ways the private sector can increase development initiatives. live coverage from the national press club starts at 1:00 p.m. eastern on our companion network, c-span. and coming up later today, the spanish ambassador to the u.s. will discuss u.s./spanish
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relations. live coverage from the potomac institute for policy studies will begin at 2:00 p.m. eastern. also on c-span. tonight, on the communicators, adam talks about his book, irresistible, the rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked. >> what they say is we know the dangers of technology. they don't say things like we have built in special mechanisms that are designed to hook people, therefore we don't want our kids hooked. but that's the sense you get. basically, never get high on your own supply. if you are creating something, you know what the dangers are, you want to make sure that other people who you love and you hold dear are not going to be affected by them. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. >> the c-span bus is traveling across the country on our 50 capitals tour. we recently stopped in austin, texas, asking folks what's the most important issue in their state. >> in texas, the most important
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thing to me is hoping that texas would get rid of unnecessary and burdensome occupational regulations. >> i believe the most important issue is tax reform. we have an outdated tax system and we need to get that changed so every american can have the best opportunity possible. >> i think one of the most important issues possibly the most important issue facing texans in washington is transparency in government. i don't think there can be enough of it, and i don't think that our leaders could ever do enough to be more transparent in terms of not only their own activities and behaviors but i think also the kinds of records that are used in government need to see the light of day and the decisions that the citizens of texas deserve to know what's going on in washington. >> the most important issue is educational choice. every parent has a right to
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direct their kid's education, and hopefully we get a bill passed next session. >> voices from the state on c-span. >> and now, the house transportation and infrastructure subcommittee on highways and transit hears from local stakeholders on transportation infrastructure investment. witnesses provide various proposals aimed to strengthen funding for transit projects including public/private opportunities and improvement to the highway trust fund. this is about two and a half hours. >> we'll call the subcommittee to order. first thing i'd like to ask umanmous consent that members who are not on the subcommittee be permitted to sit w


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