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tv   State Innovation Exchange Legislator Conference Panel on Countering Racism  CSPAN  October 10, 2017 3:01am-4:33am EDT

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policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, los angeles times'brian bennett, on the priorities of the white house, in exchange for allowing dreamers allowed to into the u.s.. then, dr. david hemingway discusses the mass shooting in las vegas, and how gun violence should be -- dr. david hemenwa y. and, a former cia deputy chief for korea talks about outreach for him and other republican foreign policy experts in effort to gain insight into president trump thinking into north korea. watch these bands washington journal live at 7:00 eastern this morning. join the discussion. ♪ legislatorsocratic around the country talk about efforts to counter racism.
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as part of the conference in washington is about 90 minutes. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] 90 minutes. >> let's get ready for this next panel which i am excited about. first, i want to introduce our next speaker. my good friend. almostknown bonita for 20 years now. for every step of her career, fighting at the wrongful defense fund, fighting in texas, fighting for immigrant rights, andng mass incarceration running the most active and effective civil rights division in modern history is the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, to now be head of the leadership conference on civil and human rights, she has always been guided by her sense of justice
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and she always leads with her heart and her values. she's one of my closest and dearest friends. she's also someone i look up to and consider a hero. i'm so very, very proud of her and i love for her to join me on the stage right now. thank you. [applause] >> hi. good morning, everyone. a very warm welcome from my dear friend, nick. i am so glad to see everyone here today. i know the panelists are joining us on the stage right now. i just wanted to open up with a couple of framing remarks about the incredibly extraordinary time that we are in and i don't mean that in a great way. this is -- i think it's so important that all of you are gathered here this morning. this is an extraordinary time in
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our country and it's a time when baseline norms are being turned on their head and when we're reminded, really on a daily basis, the extent to which we cannot take our institutions or our core values for granted. it's at a time when the federal government and this administration here in washington, d.c., are turning back the clock on almost every area of progress from racial progress to lgbt rights to women's rights to you name it. they're increasing tensions and divisions as part of an electoral strategy that speaks to a part of their base that really amplifies and inflames the rhetoric. and it is more important than ever that in the face of what's happening here and getting pushed out of washington, d.c., that state and local officials are standing up clearly for the values of inclusion and justice. but not just in words. in policies too. and we need to be messaging these values out everywhere we go in a way that lifts all communities and doesn't sink
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into a zero-sum game or a zero-sum rhetoric or get tarnished as identity policies -- politics. the only time identity politics gets invoked is when folks talk about communities of color. that white identity is something that's get masked as neutral. the 2016 election, the disparagement of the latino federal judge, the anti-muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-lgbt rhetoric, the glorification of sexual assault and attacks on women's health and bodies, all of this has laid the groundwork for some of what we've been seeing the last nine months. we also have a president and vice president this weekend who engaged in a political stunt and who have been tweeting ad nauseum about the nfl players who are taking a knee in protest of police brutality. but also out of love of country, being tarnished as unpatriotic. you know, don't make any mistake about this. there are deep racial overtones to all of this.
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this is a time of deep, deep polarization. it's a time when the administration, as i said, has been praying -- preying on the divisions as part of this electoral strategy and a time when alt-right activists like steve bannon spent the first nine months of the administration just outside of the oval office, pushing an agenda. in april of 2017, just months after i stepped down from the justice department, i testified at a senate judiciary committee hearing on the rise and hate violence and the real concern that hate was becoming increasingly legitimatized and normalized. and i spoke about how during my final year at the justice department, we in the f.b.i. had in thed that significant increase in hate violence and hate allegations. while the civil rights division prosecutes hate crimes, we were also part then of a justice department that was fully invested in providing training and technical assistance to local law enforcement about detecting and preventing hate crimes, about aggressively
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enforcing civil rights laws, to combat racial and other discrimination. and now we have a justice department that, while it may be continuing to prosecute some hate crimes, has a decidedly anti-civil rights agenda on almost every front. an agenda that is harming real vulnerable communities around the country and an attorney general who is intent on using his pulpit to polarize our country. the past is prologue and we all know the history of this country and the flavor of jim crow. but i want to remind us that the events in charlottesville back in august and followed up by a march this past weekend were horrific for other reasons too. we've all seen white supremacists and hate on march in rallies before. but what i think shook us and by that i don't just mean us civil rights lawyers and leaders and advocate, but really so many of us in this country, was the president of the united states' reaction over the course of a few days to such violent extremism that resulted in
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heggetter higher's murder -- heather hires '-- heather heyer's murder. during these events president trump for fitted any claims to the moral leadership that a president must command. [applause] his facts were wrong, his moral compass was missing, and his continued refusal to recognize an un-- and unequivocally call out evil and hate was a disgrace to our nation and was deeply painful to so many of our communities in this country. more than ever, 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. because the president proved that he would not. and we all need you more than ever, the role of progressive state elected officials i think has never been more important than it is right now. in the aftermath there were a lot of bipartisan tweets, there
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were statements by federal officials, and we were grateful for those statements. but you know and we know that talk is cheap. that some of those very same officials that were busy tweeting out condemnations that even president trump could not, they were in essence, though, pushing divisive policies, policies in washington of exclusion and marginalization and degradation. we know that condemnation by tweets is not enough. and that officials have to recognize and reject policies that foment exclusion. since the days of the charlottesville incident back in august, we've had the decision to rescind daca and leave 800,000 young people vulnerable. people who have known this country, many of whom have only known this country as their home, and are now looking down at the barrel of possible deportation to countries that they have been a part of. they are living in fear. last night the white house released cruel immigration
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principles, principles to guide negotiations for the dreamers, essentially using them as bargaining chips to have cruel immigration policies put in place. the media reports these were likely crafted by attorney general jeff sessions and steven miller, who have long had an extreme anti-immigrant agenda. so we have a lot of work to do and we're relying on you and we want to work with you to help push back this agenda that divides rather than unite us. there are specific things that we need to do in the area of hate crimes and know this panel's going to be going into a lot more detail on that. groups like the southern poverty law center and the anti-defamation league and muslim advocates and the naacp and others, all these groups are part of the leadership conference's 200-plus organization coalitions. they've been working for a long time to focus public officials on the problem of hate groups and racism in our communities. 46 states actually have a hate crime statute that cover race, religion and ethnicity, but not
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all of them protect disability, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity status. we also have some states that have separate statutes that cover data collection and police training, institutional vandalism, cross burning and allow for civil actions. we think states should have laws in these areas that cover all of these things. there's work to be done in schools about teaching our kids tolerance and messaging out the kinds of values that we want the next generation to have. there's been a lot of concern about the law enforcement response in charlottesville and the failure to keep the neo-nazi protesters separate from the counteranti-racism protesters. we need to look at the training of policing during those protests. we need to be concerned about laws that protect people who use their cars as weapons. but we also have to fight white supremacist policies that embody exclusion and marginalization, including voter suppression. [applause] including the retreat, the distinct and acute retreat from police reform and criminal justice reform here in
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washington, d.c. we need to look at the anti-immigrant fervor that is expressed in anti-sanctuary city policies and promotion of a deportation force. the leadership conference, which as i said is a coalition of 200-plus national organizations, big and small, know that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. there is a moment for solidarity and they spoke to this on the previous panel. our members are mobilizing across issues, across communities. they are building power locally to push on these fights because this is not just about one community, this is about who we are as a country and who we want to be. on voting rights, there's been a vicious attack on voting rights for the last several years. at least 10 federal courts in the last few years have found that states have engaged in intentional racial discrimination in trying to enact laws that prevent black and brown folks from voting. we've got -- that is i will say very clearly, that is a white supremacy agenda at work.
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we've got to call that out for what it is. right now we are alarmed about the prospects of mass voter purging from coming out of decisions and enforcement decisions from the justice department, coming out of the pence-could he back commission. i down -- i don't need to go into that so much more. we know that state-based legislation, there's an affirmative agenda that we need to you push and there's been bipartisan support for it, for automatic voter registration, for increasing early voting, for same-day registration. we need states to enact statutes that empower state attorneys general in the face of an attorney general who i said has been so intent on keeping us back and returning us back to 1980's criminal justice policy. we need state attorney generals to fill this breach. they need to be able to engage in investigations of systemic police misconduct, the way that the civil rights division has been able to do in administrations that supported this. we know that police chiefs all over the country are even opposing some of what's coming out of this justice department. they know that officers need to
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have the trust of the communities that they serve in order to create public safety in their communities. states need to lead the way and continue to lead the way to advance criminal justice reform. you all are the hope and we will work with you to do whatever we can to support that. use your bully pulpit to speak out on the -- against the anti-immigrant fervor that is unleashed right now. we need elected officials to reject the -- and stop and push back on that us versus them rhetoric and to understand, of course, that we need to be emgracing -- embracing economic solutions for all who are hurting and feeling left out of this country's economy. there's no silver bullet to ending extremism and violence and bigotry. it's going to take all of us. but we need to recognize that hate and exclusion and polarization are not just fomented by white supremacists who are marching in the street alone and increasingly without hoods, i may say. but also in policy agendas that are having a real impact on real communities. i'll just close out by saying that it's often in times of cry
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says that we find our strongest -- crisis that we find our strongest voice, our solidarity, our power to fight most effectively to protect the vulnerable and to make justice real. we are fighting for the soul of our country right now. and it has to be understood that this isn't just about the symbolism of the marchers in charlottesville. this truly is about the kinds of policies we set and the kind of country that we want to be. so thank you all for fighting for justice, fairness and inclusion. and hope you have a great, terrific day. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. good morning, everyone. my name is ashley. i also work at the leadership conference. i get to be one of the advisors and i'm really excited to be here so thank you for the conference for letting me moderate this panel. i was going to set the stage but i think vanita did a pretty good job at doing that so i'm going
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to jump in so we can get to question for our panelists and then we'll have time at the end to make sure you all have some questions and i won't hold you too long before your lunch. so let's get started. today we're talking about charlottesville and beyond. facing off against racism in a time of trump. it's probably a question that many people are asking every day and particularly for the positions you hold. so we're going to jump right in it and turn to our first panelist, dr. west bellamy, who is the vice mayor of charlottesville, virginia, and the youngest individual ever to be elected to the charlottesville city council. he currently serves on the charlottesville redevelopment and housing authority board and the charlottesville police-citizen advisory panel. so, you know, 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 a little bit about, one, how the city has been able to rebound from the
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activities that happened a couple months ago? and honestly from the activities that happened over this weekend. because we saw some of the -- i call them the tiki torchmen, the white supremacists, in the streets yet again. how has the city been able to rebound from that? and what have you been able it to do as a city government official to help in the healing process? >> sure so thank you and first and foremost i'd like it thank all of you for having me. i'd be remissify did not acknowledge the six as well as this wonderful conference for allowing me to be able to come and join you and i also must say i am rather giddy, if you will, to be sitting next to my shero, ms. jennifer from virginia. this woman right here literally always answers the call, stands up, not only rejects the notions of white supremacy from a state government perspective, but also whenever we see instances of injustice, she always stands up and i think it is really important that we acknowledge that, if we can give her a round f aplalls.
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so to answer your question, it's a great question indeed, the city of charlottesville, we are, in my opinion, one of the most resilient and courageous places in the united states of america. and i think it's also important for us to also knowtate that white supremacy did not start with the -- creating the decisions to remove the statues of robert e. lee and the jackson statues in our parks. we've had issues of systemic injustice and oppression 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're also the place in which we decimated and tore down an entire african-american neighborhood, vinegar hill, during urban renewal in the late 1950's, early 1960's. so we've had these underlying issues for a long time. people have chosen not to always acknowledge them, and we've been a place in which we sweep things under the rug or we don't want to talk about some of our dirty little secrets.
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we'd rather talk about how great the university of virginia, is thomas jefferson or how we'd like to run on trails and so on and so forth. [laughter] however, however, we have been talking about equity and not equality, because those are two different things for some time now. [applause] i think i want you all to understand. equity means that everyone gets what they need in order to be successful. so while jennifer and i may need a glass of water, the lovely ladies down there may be able to just shoot from the hip and not take any drinks. but equality means that everyone gets the same thing. what we need as a community is equity and not equality. so i really would like to encourage all of to you stop ution the word equality. because that may have really got use in some serious trouble. equity is what we need. when we look at the tiki torch bandits and those who wanted to get carmel top tiki torches from wal-mart, richard spencer and his minions, who chose to come to charlottesville on august 12 and before that time in which
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they have clearly stated that they have felt empowered and emboldened by 45, david duke the leader of the cue clucks clowns, came and specifically said, we came to charlottesville to fulfill the promise of our president. so they were very clear in what they wanted to do. but what i think they did had the opposite effect. because we've seen our community become a lot more stronger, a lot more unified, and a lot more together based off of what transpired. we've been putting in several different equitable practices, we passed the equity package earlier this year which was nearly $4.5 million to underserved communities. when i fleeped legislation, my colleagues on council accepted it and voted for it 5-0. and after the aftermath we've been doing a great job or we've 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 12. from all of the events that have taken place. and because of such, we are now in a position in which we can
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listen to the members of our community, charlottesville's one the only places or excuse me, i'm not going to say, that but we're a city in which i'm only the seventh african-american ever elected to our city council. we've been in existence for over 260-some-odd years and you've only had seven black people? i'm youngest ever elected. we've had those issues but now we're finally addressing them. it's not always going to be pretty. for that i am proud that we are truly dealing with them and that makes me proud of the great city of charlottesville. [applause] >> let's build on that a little bit. we have senator jennifer mcclellan who was elected to the senate of virginia in january of 2017. senator mcclellan chairs the dr. martin luther king jr. memorial commission and serves on the virginia indian commemorative commission and the task force on the preservation of the history
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of former enslaved african-americans. she co-chairs the capital region caucus and is a member of the virginia legislative black caucus, rural caucus, woman's health care caucus, and the fire and e.m.s. caucus. >> told y'all she's a shero. >> so senator mcclellan, as a state senator, we've heard about the aftermath in charlottesville and really what was happening before charlottesville. can you share with your colleagues what important lessons you've learned through these events and what people can start to do to build community outside of charlottesville in their respective places? because a lot of times people just want to go to the place where it happened and don't want to acknowledge that it's happening everywhere, we just got the news story in that place. >> so, it's not so much what i learned, it was what was reinforced. prior to being elected to the senate i served 11 years in the house delegate.
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and i want to start with a story. in 2009, governor mcdonald, every goranner has legislative black caucus over for dinner and the first time he had us over, this was also the beginning of the celebration of the civil war . actually i guess it was 2010. we walk in the door and there are gigantic portraits of robert e. lee and stonewall jackson. like, mm-kay. i'm like -- unlike other governors, he had eight legislators from other states who were black who supported schools. ok. so i sat next to governor mcdonald and he asked me, so, jennifer, how do you think we're doing with race relations? [laughter] this is 2010.
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or 2011. they all run together after a while. and i said, well, governor, we've obviously come a long way. the biggest danger, though, is not over racism. it's implicit bias, ignore arns --ing norse and -- ignorance and how many people were born after jim crow who don't understand the long-lasting effects of slavery and jim crow on communities of color today. he said, all right, give me an example. so i had just two weeks prior to that killed on the house floor with a speech the first government-issued photo i.d. bill that made it to the house floor. [applause] thank you. and i did it by telling another story about my great-grandfather 1908, 90-whatever,
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maybe, went to register it vote, knew he was going to be give an literacy test, got all of the questions right, and the registrar looks to his assistant and said, i need more questions because this anythinger got them all right -- this nigger got them all right. he and he the next set of questions and he was told he had to have three white people vouch for him. he went to a man who actually he grew up with, was born on a plantation owned by his father, and said, you've known me all my life, will you vouch for me? and after some convincing he did. and told that on the house floor to explain why voting is so important to communities of color. and the governor said, shouldn't we want to fight voter fraud think? said, well, ok, let's set aside the fact fleece -- there's no evidence of a rash of people voting claiming to be they're somebody they're not. what do you need to get a government-issued photo i.d.? he said, well, need a birth
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certificate. i said, do you know there are people in virginia born as late as 1940 who don't have a birth certificate? , no i didn't know that. why not? i said, well, governor, there's the racial integrity active 1924 was passed in virginia, it was the first time births were recorded. and you had to record your race. and the first director of the bureau of vital statistics was a white supremacist. and on the application you had two choices. white or colored. and if you didn't check colored and he thought you were, you didn't get a birth certificate. and he said, i had no idea. and i thought, well, of course you didn't. you are a middle-aged white man who grew up in fairfax. why would you know that? because you're not being taught t in school. [applause] so that is part of the problem. it's, yes, white supremacists are bad. yes, we have a president and an
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administration that are pushing forward a white supremacist agenda. but the bigger danger are those who aren't overtly racist who think they're woke, who think -- and i'm not just talking republicans. let's be hovente. [applause] let's be hovente. -- let's be honest. 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. so 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 are some concrete things we can do and our governor in the aftermath of charlottesville put a task force on racial reconciliation that's looking at all of our laws and policies and trying to figure
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out where is there systemic racism, looking at how can we have these conversations about confederate monuments and is going to make recommendations. but it starts really at home and in the schools. and, yes, our superintendent sent a letter on first day of school to all of the local school divisions with resources that teachers, parent, community leaders could use to talk about what napped charlottesville and racism and creating a community where all feel valued. but the first step is talking about it. because our problem in virginia and my guess is every other 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
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emabs pated -- emans pated by the 13th -- emans pated by the 13th amendment, there's been a rise of political power among first blacks and then communities of 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 legislators. -- legislatures. constitutional conventions. and then the minute reconstruction ended, jim crow went into effect. and then you had the civil rights movement and the gains there and brown vs. board of 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.
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and if we don't recognize that pattern and understand our history and recognize the signs, it's going to happen again. [applause] >> told y'all. [laughter] told y'all. >> i mean, there was a whole lot in there. and i'm not going to pretend to be that good of a moderater to dissect everything that you just said. , so do i want to go to our next panelist. we'll come back to some of what you said. because there were a lot of solutions we'ved in throughout your piece -- weaved in throughout your piece. but oftentimes in the moment of a national crisis, people feel
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like, so, lisa, this is the first time i'm going off script, so just roll with me. [laughter] so oftentimes in a national risis, we almost want to reinvent fire again. so we try and find solutions to problems that might already exist in other pockets. 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, postconviction pra particular -- 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 soufplgt so when we find ourselves in a national crisis after the election where it's clear that someone who time-outs white supremacists -- white supremacist ideology and policies, and then in the
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aftermath of charlottesville, oftentimes people in positions of leadership are looking for resources, help, so that they can still do their job, but also navigate these complicated conversations. can you talk a little bit about what your work, how you focus your work and what resources are available through the southern poverty law center so these -- that these folks in the room can turn to immediately to start navigating these issues in their communities? >> absolutely. hi, everyone. gork -- good morning. my name's lisa. i'm a deputy legal director at southern poverty law center. senator mcclellan, that is an impossible act to follow. i'm very honored to sit here with my co-panelists. and i thank you all for the invitation to be here. the southern poverty law center, for folks who don't nork the organization was found in 1971. our headquarters are in montgomery, alabama. we have offices in louisiana, where i happen to sit, and in jackson, mississippi, and atlanta, georgia, and two in florida and tallahassee and
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miami. and some people say we might need more. everyone who doesn't fit into the box of white privilege that has been part of this country since the day its current iteration began and continues to be one of the pieces of work splc does is monitor hate groups. if you go to the website and "hate maps" you will
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see what we are monitoring. we were monitoring before donald trump but we are still monitoring today. some will be comforted. only in the south. they are as far northeast as main and as far northwest as washington state. they are throughout the country. all of us have the obligation and responsibility to identify those groups, to be wary of their activities, and to stand up and speak out not just when things happen like charlottesville but all of the time, right? we define a hate organization as an organization that waste on its principles, leaders, or turnedies have
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jurisdiction that melania others because of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. there are 917 of them operating right now in the united states. what can state legislators do? more partnering more and with state legislators in our own states and across the aisle looking for places on the then diagram where our values and those of others overlap, particularly for republicans. in my area that particularly includes criminal justice reform. future, facing the landscape we confront, connect first i understanding the law and the basis for it. there is often frustration against the first amendment after it events like charlottesville but we have to remember the same law that protects the nationalist right
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to organize is the same law that protects the right to peacefully protest and it is a foundational right that must be respected. understandcal to laws and officials obligation, which is to provide a safe space to speak out. you can act. your hands are not tied. you do not have to sit silent. we urge you to stand up and speak out. a 10-ways to fight hate guide intended for constituents. .he first principle is to act the first is to join forces. right? leaders, law enforcement, pta members, everybody who can
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agree these are not the values our country -- well, they are some of the values our country is founded on quite frankly, i cannot say they are not at these are the night is wafted change. i know they are not the values we share and we have to work harder to broaden the circle and bring our communities and and that does include educating. we need to support victims who are targeted when events like those in charlottesville occur. we need to educate ourselves and our communities. they start at the earliest level of education. that is one of the reasons splc has a teaching tolerance program that provides free education materials to any teacher across the country. we encourage you to ask your teachers to reach out. some of these conversations are hard and teachers are scared.
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they can be anxious. in my opinion, the worst thing you can do is shut down those conversations happening in kindergarten or fifth grade, right? kids might need to understand why the viruses they are picking up maybe not even at home but to the media and public dialogue need to have the conversation about what values mean, what tolerances, and why it is important. those are hard conversations but the materials we have can help teachers navigate. if you know a hate group is coming to town, what gives them the media is when everyone shows ?p to protest, right creating another bigger, louder, more hopeful, more optimistic event somewhere else is a great way to attract the attention away from them that they seek.
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those of us that live in places and i'm sure all of you have colleagues who do not share your right? it is up to us to pressure those that leaders and force them to come out and unequivocally denunciation hatred and intolerance. staying engaged, teaching tolerance, and digging deeper because this is a long i'd as senator mcclellan noted. we're in it for the long haul. the issues i work on the reflect a structural racism that have been embedded in this society right?s creation, the issues that lead to mass incarceration, disenfranchisement. these are issues many of you are fighting right now. looking deeper into right?torial policies, really pushing for accountability and transparency
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in the elected officials that serve in your community. these are ways we can work with you to push back and prepare ourselves when the cycle rolls again and we are in a position to keep pushing forward. thank you. thank you. >> you talked a little bit about working with people you don't agree with. a great example is state representative johnny turner who was appointed to complete the term for house district 85 in 2010 after larry turners death.y representative turner is a retired educator of memphis city's and executive director on leave of the memphis branch of the naacp. representative turner, you are was, in a time when it first in the state of tennessee,
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in the south and not always as aggressive as we would hope, but in a time that was so polarizing as a country and it is like a acid against them all the time. you were able to find a path forward in get a piece of legislation passed that opened from the civil rights movement. can you talk about how you were able to navigate that path to get that legislation passed, but also shares some of the best practices and why it is important to reopen cases from the civil rights movement that of now become cold? tracks first of all, i want to >> first of all, i want to thank six. conferencefavorite because i know there are others who think as i do. todayorning, the usa
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title says "white nationalists have rallies across the usa." i am here is a black representative to present a hate for counteracting rallies across the usa. [cheers and applause] boils downat it all dave.senator mcclellan example when the governor said -- you shallow if know the truth and the truth shall set you free. >> that's right! pass the collection point in a minute! >> first of all, i am just delighted to be here.
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everyd not tell you but march dr. king led during the sanitation strike in memphis, i was there. gave his famous "i have been to the mountaintop" speech, i was there. 1968hen he gave the , "ierpiece on brotherhood have a dream" -- i was right there. so, what i am talking about, what i live by, and what guides me in the legislature in the south are the experiences that i have had and how i have brought those experiences to each issue where i can get them in because if you should know the truth, if you do not know when i've gone through, if you do not know what my parents have gone through, when you judge me by what you have and that is the problem what45, he has not known
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poverty is. but anyways, that is another speech. laughter] >> i am still catching myself by getting that bill passed. i wake up, you did not do that. you could not do that! legislature where there weren't before democrats and 75 republicans. you did not do that. you could not do that in a senate that had five democrats and create republicans! you did not do that. oh, yes i did. oh, yes i did! applause] >> and you know what? [applause] >> and the reason i could do
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story toecause i had a tell. you have heard the expression ," wellis an app for that the situation is -- i have a story or that. in to 10,one year -- one year after coming to the state legislature, representative approached me and you like to carry this bill? and i looked at it and i said, "unsolved civil rights cold cases of the civil rights --." nt and how that was right up my alley. i said yes, i want it. to get it years
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passed. i did not know at the time that representative hardaway had carried it for six years. he never told me. he just gave it to move. and i was so happy to get it because it was just like it was made for me. it had my name all over it. then it took me from the 10-to 2010-2017et that -- to get it passed. it.rsonalized i could have been an unsolved cold case of the civil rights era. i told my story. i did the story during the 1960's after the movement had subsided. they said the buses per integrated. a college onnt at scholarship. i did not have it at my home. to get my work i had to stay at
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the library. i did not have a computer. i had the last bus. i had to catch the number for which service the black community. they sat wherever they wanted on that bus. then i transferred to the number nine, we moved a lot. we had moved from east of memphis, the borderline separating the african-american community from the right community. right community. community.e teach,old i would never but i am here. so when i get on the number nine bus i said, i have made too many sacrifices to get to this time and place. the laws as i can said anywhere i want to and i would get and said right behind the driver. it was all well and good until the black folks got off.
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the bus was coming from downtown, the maids and cooks and those 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 10 white women. white women did not work back then. these 10 men in blue and black suits be sitting around me, all of the blacks in the back. and i would just sit there like i did not see them. well, that was well and good until i got -- until all the blacks got up. i could've gotten off the bus and walk the rest of the way home but i refused. i said, i have as much right to sit here as anybody else. in tonight after night, they called me every name under the sun is except a child of god.
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on two occasions, once by a drunk, they are almost pulled my arm out of the socket. i was so afraid. i said, lord please. i cannot fight back because of fight fight back i will be another dead black girl. it will be their word. i would not be around. i would not even be around. and every night, i said -- i here. great to sit my forebears have given up all they have had. they have been treated as second-class citizens. this bus.oing to ride sometimes the driver would go right past my stop and take me community and if i try to get off the bus he would try to get my coat stuck in the drawer. i have a repertoire of the incidents that happen to me.
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it is set spirit that led me to stand before the committee and tell that story. i printed for seven years. -- i told that story for seven years. it never got out of subcommittee but laster, not bishop, 2016, it -- out of the subcommittee -- ofver got out notommittee but last year, it got out of6, the subcommittee. having sick of it. i had intervention.
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he was there for me. our maker. he was -- me get to the got out of his sick man, heu tell me, that killed my bill. year.l fell that do itsaid, hey, if i can subcommittee, i can do it again. guess what happened? he got defeated! he got defeated!
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full committee, it got out. now can you believe, we have passed it in the house 79-0. ] heers] and applause [applause] >> now, let me give you the resolution very quickly. if i can do it, you can do it. you shall know that you send that you shall set you free. it was that. it was personalized. it was someone who had gone to all of this. believestrong in my because i wanted my brothers and sisters to also have the same opportunity and now let me say, i have these pieces of paper. 6, 2017,ill on june bill --r, governor
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hb-1306-senate bill 1279, getting a special joint legislative committee which i now chair. !ivine intervention there is not a black chair of anything over there, but -- ] -- hter >> there is not a black chair of anything except this one. divine intervention. i now chair cold cases from the civil war. section one, paragraph d of the act requires that all appropriate state agencies shall provide assistance to the special joint committee upon amuest of the chair and i
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about to report to the chair sent out letters about two weeks ago to the tennessee bureau of investigation, the state chair association, the dea conference, the public defenders conference, the tendency bar association, examiners,medical the human rights commission, the fbi -- it goes on. [laughter] applause] >> now i have to tell you about, we have an amazing support crew in terms of this bill. emerson, a powerful lawyer out of the state of jackson, tennessee, has done this on his own. he has -- i have attended three events where he is at an event to -- where someone who was killed -- the story would be
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here all day and you would not leave because they are so horrible. you would not leave if you knew in 1940 one, edward williams was the president of the and aa cp first one who tried to register to vote. he went to the courthouse. that night he they came by night and took him from his family. it midnight. they found his body several days later sank. the coroner ruled he died by drowning. they do not even know where his grave was. 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 probably in an unmarked grave somewhere in a huge cemetery. those are the kind of things that were happening. simply because he wanted the right to vote. could tell our children
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all of the sacrifices that have been made. if we could tell those who don't you used to be able to have to tell the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. but anyways -- >> i want to talk a little bit about the voting piece here. >> all night. [laughter] >> i will give you 30 more seconds. i think what you're saying is super important because we have to hear the stories of what you went through to get your cross the line to success but so often those do not want to hear stories. they do not understand how it directly connects to them today. so senator, also we are coming to the end of our time so the microphones are in the audience and folks of questions. you can prepare yourself for that. but young people are not voting. they did not vote in this last election. communities of color showed up
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sometimes but in 2018 it is hard to turn out communities and off -year and often times people only guide to those communities the week before for get out the vote to engage the electorate. little bitter about this and some of the other solutions but i will open this up to all of the panelists. how do we start to connect the dots between the story that representative turner is telling, the success she was able to have bite unanimous vote to get something so significant to our country's history, too connected to the millennials up-to-date who do not realize how important it each of their social change? >> well i think, speaking as a millennial, we do understand helper needed is to vote but the thing is -- i'm going to be honest and blunt, democrat specifically, sometimes i am
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rather ashamed because we often realoliticians and not people. from a millennial perspective in the age of social media and the way we like to interact, as you alluded to that same game plan of coming around only when it is election time two weeks before, the younger folks, we would like rather than beat one. i don't want to vote for a or an individual build himself to be this or that and i only see what election time. you never come back. you present yourself in a way in which you believe you are the atiscient, know it all, be all, you are the savior with all of the answers, that will not make me vote for you. nor will it make me want to go to the polls to vote for you. >> so what will? >> it will make me believe the system is only what it is, what it has always been. when you ask what it is, think
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left him away from running candidates who perceive themselves to be perfect. at one people and encourage individuals who may not have past. had the best i had to go through it myself. tweets. up old you want to talk to individuals you say, well if you have not always been squeaky clean your not the person to run. no, those are the individuals we need to begin running in these elections because they know exactly what is going on in our community. they can assess and identify with those who are not always been perfect. they actually care. i heard a speech in michigan and from a brother here speaking fort how important it is 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 down there, that would make me go vote does i can hear my
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grandmother, my end, my sister in that. when i heard sister jennifer talking earlier that would make me go vote because i can identify. i feel it in my bones. and if you come to me as a perfect person, i am not going to vote for you. i rather go play the xbox 360 or a tweet. >> i do not disagree with that but i cannot help but think, do you think when my great grandfather went to go vote in 1920 whatever he had a candidate that would be perfect and always thinking about the black community? no? but they understood your vote is your voice. politicians, at the end of the day, want to get elected. we did they listen to the most? the people who show up and vote and the people who participate.
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we were talking about gun violence. people don't vote because they are living in despair, they have no hope, they feel their votes do not matter. people outside the community say, here is what we think you need. rather than coming into the community and saying, tell us you need. we as elected representatives have a responsibility to get out. as in the session is out, i am in every neighborhood association in my district and that includes the housing projects. i do not expect them to just come to me. here is my advice for millennials. you cannot have these
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conversations and 140 characters or with an instagram picture. get out behind the community. get off your phone. two people in person. it is a two-way street. people in person. it is tough. you have to start face-to-face. if you're not looking them in the eye, if you're hiding behind your phone, you are not listening to each other. partycted officials, leaders, whatever, we 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 around. >> are there questions? do you need a microphone? if you could raise your hand high, they will make their way. first one? >> go ahead. go ahead.
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yes, ma'am. >> ok. since the last panel -- andan you say your name where you're from? >> vivian flowers from the great state of arkansas. since the last panel and on this one, i have heard about so many issues and so critical to those issues being advance, 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 touch back against her bill for years, lost. so then when i hear about the dnc and all these things must do and overcome, i cannot help but stateabout our local
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parties a hand our county party committees as being the infrastructure through which can make the change because you do not have time in many states, in many states we do not have funding and resources to get to where we need to be in this next election and the following election. i am wondering, for the panelists, we could talk all day we knowut problems and racism, institutional racism, overt racism, is something live have heard that has been occurring for generations. i have stories. my grandpa and sob stories. my parents have stories. we know what state legislatures can do. what role can need legislature play, especially in states where change needs to occur because there is no gop money coming to
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arkansas. we do not have many more gop money coming to arkansas. in 2010, out of six congressional leaders, five were democrats. today there are zero. in 2010, all of our statewide elected officials would immigrants. today there are zero. our highest level elected official is a state senator who 10 probably served less than years. >> at sign psych you are asked skiing how do you build political power in places that might not be as democratic as you would like them to be under on to it,going to add because i do, every question will not be able to be asked here, but also a little bit what i am 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 -- i mean, mike first question was about
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voting. does everything going to be solved through an election, he and of not, how else can things be solved? >> no, that is not my question. >> i know it is not. i was adding on so everyone can respond to each piece. >> soberly, but, i really think community outreach, grassroots community outreach is the key and everybody thinks barack obama invented it. and he did not. it was just the best at it. it is getting out. a lot of people are not going to come to the local democratic committee meeting but you probably have a black caucus. you probably have a young democrat. you probably have an algae bt caucus. caucus. make sure each one is reaching out to the community
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organizations that serve those constituencies, have a list of every community event a have as you show up. talk to you about why they should care about the elections. your candidates are. the party is. round.that all year we have elections every year in virginia and too often weekly but they with the -- don't go away after election day. they are still having events, conversations, and the party needs to break into that and not think of itself as a silo where they have to come to you. and, care is if it is just a state senator? i am the westernmost black senator in the state and i am in richmond. i am the northernmost lack senator in the state.
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i do not just confined myself to the ninth senate district. if anybody wants me to come out and talk, i would talk in any community. i come in them. yes, you can use social media and technology but if you're not in those communities, if you're not present in those communities in person, you are never going to build those relationships. for the skin and comments. in my 14 years, as executive director of the members branch 10 of thosech for years we were the largest branch those 14tion, in years, voter registration and education were paramount. thethe naacp had one of best training workshops. that time.n place at
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we would go to huge and places like that. it worked every time. don't you want a better life for your child? it may have been a child. it may have been you are detected, he or she did not have a job. you talked about how you elected people who are going to make life better for you. agreer thing, i wholeheartedly, go where you can. developed, one i
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of the curriculum we developed was the power of the vote and importance of the law. i translated that and took that into workshops that dealt with --. this is a way goes, i said "loge rise code your eyes. happened, the bed clothing on your bed, when you said on the floor, there was a law that told him exactly what the dimension should be, how it was to be devised, whatever. you went to the restroom. there was a law that regulated the amount of toothpaste, whatever. you get into the car. that car had to follow certain stipulations. traffic light.
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you could not run because there was a law. in each of the instances, you could've been a part of that by electing people who could respond to your needs." if you're like bill is getting cut off and you do not think it is right, that person was appointed by the mayor. mayorve got to get the and show how it connected to every day life. that was the best time in terms of voter registration and getting people to understand the political process. you had to deal with those things, you know your neighborhood. you know the issues. show them the relationship. our people think the only time we are supposed to turn out big is when there is a presidential
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race. there is more to life than the presidential race. [applause] >> thank you. let me think my colleague, representative donnie turner. i represent the north part of the setting. i want to address some of the things she said i agree with 100%. on of the things we have done is great a culture in the part of the district i represent of electing individuals that come from the ground up first. these individuals have plowed communitynto the before they were elected. when will we call these strangers in the land shop running your vote, the first question that you come out of your mouth is -- what have you done for me lately >> we want to be sure you ask a question here. >> yes. thank you. i got redirected. so here is my question.
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here's my question, kind of a question-comment. laughter] >> i am in a room of the officials. i know what i am working with. >> thank you. i believe we should meet these millennials and individuals where they are. if they are on instagram or twitter, they have moved away from facebook for you later folks. here is the thing. used instagramy to create uprisings in every mall almost across the country. that was young people through their instagram pages. if they can harness and energy to do that, we can help them direct that energy into areas of policy and getting the right people elected. thank you. >> i don't know if you want
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response. >> and you want to know if we can get people to do that in other places? >> right here from the georgia house. the term "domestic terrorism" is used by both sides supporting and not. us.s used by us and against we were able to humanize a white man who committed mass murder. i guess to us, georgia republicans pushed a domestic terrorism bill that included limiting blocking a sidewalk, which is protesting. what resources are there for us to actually strengthen our messaging on what domestic terrorism means? so, specifically for charlottesville, just yesterday
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-- saturday night after richard spencer decided to come back to whatever,ville for they decided to come back sunday night or excuse me, sunday morning, i called on our commonwealth attorney to invoke a state statute we currently have that was put in place to kkk fromly stop the having a open gatherings and burning torches hand crosses on people's lawns. what we have said is we want to use that same statute or create a variance of one in which we will call on our state representatives to not allow anyone to have open torches or spaces.ches in public when we talk about, how do we find resources, think that is where it comes for us to work with people like the southern poverty law center or the aclu or local legal aides to be
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creative and proactive as opposed to reactivate on the way legislation.great i am a local elected official, not statewide. we have to go through the state but we can be very good at. i talked to a lot of my friends on instagram and twitter and ask them, how can we be creative in completing local policy that thatfit in that will pass, the state legislature will allow us to do. that is where we can use our resources. there is a wealth of information out there that we can use. the other point, i will be great but i want you to understand this. we have to be bold. we cannot just not make decisions because we're afraid reelected or we are worried about what someone else may or may not say about us because we decide to make a decision or be paralyzed from doing anything in fear or in lieu of consequence. to hell with consequence.
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we talking about people who need us right now. today. that is where we have to get to a point in being. i am unapologetic in my blackness. i am unapologetic in the way i just people not look like me but all people. you have to be willing and show allou are willing to help people. i'm not going to apologize for that. as an elected official, i do not want you to apologize for being who you are because at the end of the day we're trying to help people. if you do nothing else, help people and don't be afraid to do it. >> lisa, do want to add anything on domestic terrorism and the work you do? >> i like the messages just made and want to reiterate how much splc supports that. now is a time for bravery and anyway we can support or endorse that we will. being educated is critical, right? knowing who those 917 hate groups are in monitoring this.
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i like the message of not just ?eing reactive, right being proactive. not waiting until the next event or casualty or news story but lifting up the stories that people in the community right now have who exemplify the values people on this panel are talking about. right? pushing those messages out there and highlighting the success stories and the hope of people in the communities that you represent and lifting them up and keeping the message lifted up and lifting the people who are not perfect. i love that message, right? owning that narrative and saying, yes this is who we are. this is our community, our values, this is who we want to awaysent us and not shying from that. being proactive is just as important as being prepared to be reactive. >> you just kind of have to call it when you see it and there are double standards in the media and how they talk about issues and you having a platform, even
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this incident of paint or violence happening in your community, you can still talk about it. it is your responsibility to use the platform you have to talk about it. will be our last question. >> very quickly, to truly have these conversations, though, all bad, need to be heard. because when you just shut it down and it goes under the rug, it does not go away. there is a whole lot of people in between white supremacists or 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 are not always going to think or say the most
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enlightened thing. you need to give them a safe space to hear them and then explained -- here is a different point of view. there was a minister who told a story about how, yes, you have heard us about our pain. well, there are also people in the civil war whose great-grandparents or whoever a font for the confederacy. may have been killed. they had a great great grandmother who had to raise children as a single parent. they were poor. whatever. they had pain, too. your pain is as important to you as their pain is to them and if you do not give them space to talk about their pain, they will never listen to you about yours and that is a very difficult thing to do but we will never truly reconcile as a country everyone are giving the ability to express haveelves honestly and we
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an honest conversation, not just two people shouting back and forth at each other. -- very briefly, i thank you for ringing that up the cousin if to mind an withent who happened representative parkinson. we were talking about the black caucus in tennessee and what they had done and we went to a small town and the minute we walked into the room i noticed all these white folks. most time we did not get the whites to come. into the african-americans, will be competition of the city was far a he caucasians outnumber the blacks but at the end of the session, this african-american lady who was very, very assertive talked about all of the bad things that were happening to blacks and this white man got up and he
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well, i have a side to tell, too. and he told his side and when he told his side i said, oh my god. what are we in for? how are we going to get out of here? this man is mad. i told him some of the things that happened during the 1960's when memphis, after dr. king was assassinated, was torn apart. a group of african-americans and white leaders started talking about what you just said. because it each side had a story. it worked. i told the gentleman the same thing, i said -- we need -- i know you have a point of view and others have a point of view, toewhere in here you need find out and understand what
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each side. you need to know my pain and i will know yours. representative parkinson went home and i said, lord i got through that one. after was over, representative parkinson said, the man with the cast on his arm, he got his arm broken and shot himself and the other man had acid all over's body. i said, my god. thank you for helping me come up with the blessed answer. that is, there will be two sides. in memphis, we have our problems like everybody else but those groups coming together, those groups and leadership, understanding the pain of each one of them, came to reconcile we are going to have to do. we're going -- not have to give it anything, we just have to listen to each other.
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you shall love the truth and the truth of set you free. >> well, the millennials have started talking. i want to be very honest. this is a comment but -- >> down-to-earth. >> we won action. some kind of tangible result that is going to have someone somewhere a result in which you can say, listen, because of all of the dialogue that is taken place for 50 or 60 years, this is what is come up with and right now what is making a lot of us feel disenfranchised and why we don't even want to participate in the processes because we do not see any of the fruit of the dialogue that has transpired for so long and that makes me not want to participate. >> can i ask a question? when we take your questions that you have been patient. thank you. go ahead and ask your question and we can weave it into the next one. >> i am from iowa, wanted to ask the panel about their comments about confrontation versus manying, particularly when
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have been emboldened to not only spin things one way but to actually lie or deny things. denial of climate change. conspiracies that american islam is all part of the terrorist plot. and, that guns do not kill people. i want to share with you something i got from a colleague , when of the legislators sent me this. i like to quote. centerthern poverty law has been totally discredited, as they have engaged in irresponsible and reckless labeling of legitimate organizations as a groups. they have also been linked to a mystic terrorism and even under the obama administration, the department of the 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? you, what a way go with
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lisa. >> i think i missed the very end of the question. well enough to summarize? >> the question basically was, the southern poverty center has been discredited. lies,ave been saying basically. what you do to counter that? is that correct, sir? >> yes. do you confront them publicly, privately, or do you ignore them because of the outright lies? combination of all of the above, you know? we put our standards in the measurement of how we define hate organizations. we are. we do not try to hide it. with not popular everybody. a lot of folks criticize that list. we stand by and and answer questions about it. .e do confront when questions are asked, we answer them.
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right? hopefully their aston dialogue, we answer and dialogue. in accusation,d we respond with truth. i am happy to represent an organization that is part of that and i welcome the disagreement when it comes and use it as an opportunity to educate. i hope that addressed the question. time.ortunately whereat i try to say at the beginning i did not think we would solve the issue of white supremacy and a 45-minute session. i think i held up to that promise at least. been said it is the continuation of a conversation. you are here because you do not want to be passive in the moment we are in in this country. you ran from his because you believe in this country and the hope and potential that could manifest because of the work you do across the isle with each
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other. been in one million of these conversations, moderated, been on panels, sometimes you will leave feeling a little deflated because you are like -- what did we get out of this? the only thing you get out of it is you take it and do something when you get home. you can sit in a conference, mix and mingle, but if you do not take action when you go back, it does not have to be action that will break through the narrative nationally, it can be a small conversation with someone in your state house that you do not ever talk to because you do not have agreeing views. that is an active engagement, active change. i encourage you to do that work. thank you for listening to the panel. thank you to the panelists for all you had to share. you will be able to get contact information. thank you. [appthis runs one hour.
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applause] >> good morning. thank you for coming out to perhaps the most timely and serious and important session you will hear at the seventh annual texas tribune festival and of course, by this i mean the deadly serious topic


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