tv Politics Nation MSNBC January 15, 2022 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
literally on hold as they're going to be's senate majority leader chuck schumer was again forced to rescind a promise he and democrats could not keep because, in part, of other democrats unable to get two voting rights bills passed this week in advance of monday's observance of dr. martin luther king jr.'s life. schumer now insists that the debate on those bills will begin the next day, and that democrats will be able to maneuver past a republican filibuster with a simple majority. of course, one wonders if democrat holdouts joe manchin and kyrsten sinema will take to the floor again as sinema did this week to tell black voters that, while she idolized the late john lewis, an all-out assault on the franchise was somehow easier to make peace with than even amending the
filibuster to pass the legislation that bears lewis' name. the vote is front and center on "politicsnation" tonight. we also have new details on just how much donald trump and house minority leader kevin mccarthy spoke on january 6th as a newly unearthed radio interview with mccarthy revisits just how much of the blame the former president actually copped to as the u.s. capitol was being breached in his name. of course the house committee investigating those events would like to fill in the rest of those blanks as they mull how to get mccarthy to testify, along with other house republicans who continue to embrace the flag while thumbing their nose at what it stands for. breaking news we're
following out of texas, where officials in the town of colleyville have confirmed that police are conducting s.w.a.t. operations outside a synagogue. let's bring in richard lui with an update. >> thanks for that. we're watching this breaking news news story on msnbc. for those just joining us here on the network, we have the latest right now. authorities say there in colleyville, that's a suburb of dallas-fort worth, are working with federal authorities to respond to a hostage situation at the congregation beth israel synagogue. we have new information in just this hour. three senior law enforcement officials briefed on the situation telling nbc news a man is holding a rabbi and potentially others hostage. we heard some of that before, but he is demanding the release of a woman named aafia siddiqui. that's the new part we're just learning. a federal prisoner, aafia siddiqui is, convicted of attempting to kill u.s. officers
in afghanistan. now, the fort worth star telegram reports also that authorities are negotiating with this suspect. we're learning the service was being live streamed on facebook and the recording tong capture muffled audio of what sounds like police and the suspect. this is, of course, before the video was taken down. residents in the immediate area are being evacuated. it's unclear how many people were inside the building at the time the incident started or whether anyone was armed. in the past hour, the white house issued a statement that they were closely monitoring the situation. no injuries have been reported so far. we will continue to monitor the situation throughout this evening. we also want to get you this piece of information. clint watts is with us, national security analyst. this bag day of worship most likely, going back to the new piece of information about aafia
siddiqui, how does this complicate what law enforcement has to do? >> yeah, that's right. aafia siddiqui was a major terrorism case over a decade ago. someone that was sought out from the u.s. for many years and then captured in afghanistan. there were also ties to pakistan and one of the master minds of the 9/11 attack. with that, this is not just any convicted terrorist that's gone to prison. this is one that actually got into a standoff after being captured with her interrogators, grabbed a rifle, tried to engage them. this was tied to both dirty bombs, biological attacks, threats against many major u.s. targets. i think for the negotiators, it's going to be a very complicated process because it's not likely they're going to negotiate for the release of a
terrorist. at the same time they have hostages that are in this location they need to make sure they bring out alive. so this has international dimensions now in terms of terrorism and the fbi is on the scene and the ones who will have to work through this complicated process. >> clint watts, thank you for the latest and analysis in terms of aafia siddiqui and what that mean for it is case there. rev, we'll have more updates later for you. back to you for now. >> thank you, richard. stay close and let us know if there are updates and we'll be going back to you. joining me now is congresswoman is ayanna pressley, democrat of massachusetts. congresswoman pressley, great to have you with us. first of all, certainly we are all keeping our eyes on texas as we continue to talk about the impact of some of the things that i opened with that is going on in the congress and in the senate, or that is not going on.
long, brutal week for those of us who have to care about equal access to the franchise. i talked with president biden and vice president harris after their speeches in atlanta tuesday. then two days later i watched as the sun came up and water stayed wet because democratic senators manchin and sinema remained adamant that a rules change on the filibuster will empower congressional republicans to overturn whatever democrats pass in the future. with sinema taking it a step further on the floor thursday, claiming that filibuster reform would somehow be the thing that exacerbates our nation's divisions and not the national gop campaign to curtail voting rights state by state. that doesn't exacerbate the division. she thinks the filibuster does.
i mean, do you agree? let me say this. i took issue. sinema waited until the president was in the car headed to the capitol to meet with them to go on the floor and make this speech, was like thumbing her nose at the president's attempt. do you agree with any part of that argument, congresswoman? >> as my grandmother would say, just triflein'. this is simply shameful and outraged. you know, look, i voted with my colleagues in the house to advance the john lewis voting rights advancement act and the freedom to vote act. leader schumer is going to take this up in the senate, and we should have a vote, and these 100 senators have an opportunity to go on record and let us know what side are you on? >> right. >> are you on the side of inaction, inertia, and insurrection? or are you on the side of justice and democracy?
this is a defining moment for you and a defining moment for our country. if you choose wrong after you have gone on the record, then the electorate should put these senators on notice. we're putting you on the record, and if you choose wrong, the electorate should put you on notice. and in the meantime, please keep martin, john, and coretta's names out of your mouth. we're not interested in your convenient allyship in the form of hashtags and t-shirts. we want law change. so which side are you on? the filibuster, the jim crow filibuster is obstructing progress and justice at every turn, just as dr. king said that it was many decades ago. >> that's right. >> and you should not be fighting to preserve the jim crow filibuster over democracy. >> and, you know, even in the
'60s, some who had supported the filibuster initially voted for the voting rights act. i mean, this is outrageous. but, you know, i was pleased because i've been very much part of the crowd that was trying to push joe biden as president to address the filibuster months ago, but i was pleased to be there and see him not mince his words at all in laying out how much of our national condition at donald trump's feet he laid it. i'm referring, again, of course, to his speech this week in atlanta. and he tweeted this, president biden, just a few hours ago ing a saying, quote, history has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters' rights, and it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion. while i agree with the president on that point and won't reduce him to a tweet, i can tell him
there's someone watching this show who would say that history is written by the winners. take reconstruction, for example, and how the so-called lost cause has endured within our culture even to this day. fast forward to 2022 where we're seeing both the ballot box and the classroom targeted by the right wing. are you, congresswoman, optimistic that our democracy will endure in the way that history, and i'm putting that in quotes, the way the president is referring to will even matter to people, congresswoman? >> rev, i want president biden to keep up the pressure and using the full weight of his presidency to get voting rights across the finish line and using a carveout of the filibuster. i believe we should be abolishing the filibuster outright because it's obstructing progress and change. many people have been remarking
about the docuseries on emmett till. we don't have an anti-lynching act because of the filibuster. so what the president is saying in his tweet and his speeches and in leaning on these senators, the contrast and the choice is a very clear one. as for our chances in the midterms, ultimately the greatest persuasion tool, rev, is impact. and that's exactly why we have to ensure we get voting rights across the finish line, but also why we need to abolish this filibuster so that we can get direct relief and sweeping transformational change for people in the form of the build back better act. that's the ultimate persuasion. >> before i lose you on that, because i was going to go there, you might be the most ardent voice in congress in favor of student debt cancellation.
and not to be cynical about crushing debt, specifically for black students. i talked to those students at national action network and elsewhere. i wonder if democrats are missing a potentially significant pet campaign issue here paired with voting rights affecting americans across a broad spectrum. this holds the can we have student loans and student debt and bbb. are the democrats missing this? >> rev, student debt cancellation is good, sound policy, and it is good politics. this is a nearly $2 trillion crisis burdening people from every walk of life, disproportionately black and brown borrowers. and this is an economic justice issue and an effective strategy to jump start the economy to ensure robust recovery. it is a racial justice issue. you've seen hbcu using arpa
funds to cancel student debt because this is a racial justice issue. black borrowers who 85% borrow. we're five times more likely to default. the president has the authority given to him by congress, by the stroke of a pen with executive action, he can cancel broad-based student debt at $50,000 and he needs to do it. we need to deliver and alleviate this hardship for people. that has been game changing for families and also for forgiving student debt for veterans, for disabled borrowers, for those participating in the public service loan forgiveness program. we're very close to getting this thing done. just do it. and rev, it's a great honor on dr. king's birthday to be with a righteous troublemaker like you. >> i like that, righteous
troublemaker. thanks for the plug. thank you, as always, congresswoman ayanna pressley. >> joining me is attorney general keith ellison because of the prosecution of former police officers derek chauvin for the murder of george floyd and kim potter's manslaughter conviction for the death of daunte wright. i was in the middle of both of those situations. it's only fair for viewers to ask, if you feel the needle moving at all in the direction of something resembling reform in minnesota's courtrooms with regards to police use of deadly force? i think he's on mute. >> you know, i'm sorry, rev. >> be careful. they've been trying to mute you
a long time so watch the mute button. >> you're right about that. but rev, reform can't hang on a personality, even if it's mine. we need institutional changes. hopefully we're setting a precedent for that. but what we're really looking for is things like passing the george floyd justice in policing act. other reforms locally and at the state level. it cannot simply be personnel, whether it's me or anybody else. we need institutional reforms to be able to depend on and rely on a systemic change. and so at this point i'm not prepared to say that we have reached an inflection point. i say we have some folks who are willing to fight for justice, and justice depends upon whether they stay or not. so we need institutional change. but, you know, i'm an optimistic guy, like you are, so, so we're going to continue to fight for it. >> it gave me some optimism when
i saw in both cases two mostly-white injuries convict people that have been in law enforcement but without real change you cannot see a movement. you just see a moment. and that leads us back to the federal component of the policing issue. nbc news is reporting that president biden plans to take some kind of executive action on police reform, getting back to promises he made to black voters specifically on this issue. no word on how it would differ from the no-knock warrants, restricting choke holds, what would be the most useful action for him to take where minnesota is concerned in your opinion, briefly. >> well, in my opinion, what we really need is to make it less difficult to do prosecutions where crimes are committed by people in law enforcement. right now it's a very difficult
burden we have to overcome. all these cases, whether you have video or not, are very, very hard. one of the things in the george floyd justice in policing act is changing the standard of proof threshold. that continues to be very important. we also need a national database so we can track officers who have a history of using excessive force. so these things would be very important. i hope the president will put it in there. that would be very much helpful. if i may say so, rev, it would be beneficial to average citizens, but it would be beneficial to the officers who go out there every day and try to do a good job but have to work side by side with people like derek chauvin who clearly don't respect the rule of law. he had over 18 excessive force complaints before he got convicted of the murder of george floyd. >> now, mr. elson, has more arrests are made and now these first conspiracy charges come
down in the january 6th investigation, the department of justice announced its new domestic terror unit, citing both the more than 700 arrests made since january 6th, not including the explosive growth of fbi domestic terror investigations even before the insurrection. does that help you as a state ag, especially since domestic terror suspects are often charged in state courts? and are you concerned about the dragnet widening to include nonviolent groups, specifically civil rights and anti-racist networks? >> i am concerned about that, but i'm more concerned about people being killed in mosques, synagogues, and churches because of who they are. i'm mostly concerned about, like, the crisis unfolding right now in texas. but also we had a mosque here in minnesota where there was a bomb
attack in bloomington, minnesota, and of course you and i will never forget mother emanuel, the attack that happened there. the bottom line is, domestic terrorism is a very serious crisis. it is getting worse. when you look at some of the people recently indicted because of january 6th, these people were promising violence. they had cachets of weapons stored. they're getting more aggressive and they believe they have a righteous cause because they're afraid that multiracial america is somehow not going to be leave them with their privileges intact. so, i mean, that's just the way that it is. we've got as a state, as a country understand there are people who try to take power by violence. it cannot be tolerated. but at the same time, as you say, we got to safeguard first amendment activity and make sure people are not arrested and prosecuted for what they believe in, but for what they actually do, and that's an important
distinction. >> before we let you go, i read this week a minnesota state judge in one of your largest counties ruled that absentee drop boxes are not allowed under your state law, siding with the conservative law firm in its suit against the state election commission. reading that and thinking about your current office and your previous one as a u.s. congressman, i wonder what goes through your mind as you watch voting rights in peril, not just from republican action, but democratic inaction. your brief response. >> right. my brief response is that we have got to be on the alert to protect voting rights. we've got to combat and confront any attempt to weak continue right to vote. we got to stop this wave. i think it wasle 2013, shelby v. holder, we've seen a steady wave of efforts to curtail people's
right to vote. this is making america less democratic and we have got stand up in front of it. i got to tell you, democratic ags across the country are fighting this fight. nevada and tish james in new york. we talk, we confer, and we're resolute in your unity to stand for voting rights. we'll do our part at the state level. anyone who wants to undermine voting rights, we'll take them to court. but we need people to turn out the vote and we need congress to act all at the same time. and i want to say thank you to you again for always being there for voting rights, standing there, pushing the president as an ally of the president, but not just an ally, but an ally that's pushing the president to do what's better for the sake of his presidency and the american people. >> well, thank you for saying that. attorney general keith ellison of minnesota, thank you for being here. it's been 50 years since dr. king called on congress to give us the ballot, but the
fight continues. how we can rise up to the american ideals of democracy ahead. later, donald trump rallies in arizona as americans give president biden dismal approval ratings. my political panel discusses how that might impact democrats in the midterms. but i first, richard lui with today's top stories. >> i want to start with an update on the breaking news story out of texas. we're following that report coming out of dallas-fort worth, a s.w.a.t. team and federal authorities on the scene of a hostage situation at congregation beth israel synagogue. three senior law enforcement officials briefed on the situation telling nbc news that a man is holding a rabbi and potentially others hostage there. he is demanding the release of a woman named aafia siddiqui, a federal prisoner convicted of attempting to kill u.s. officers
in afghanistan. siddiqui for the better part of a decade has been known as lady al qaeda by counterterrorism insiders because of her historic and deep terrorism ties. we'll have more details later on this breaking story as we get them both on all of the names i just mentioned. to the covid front now. free at-home covid-19 tests from the federal government will be available this wednesday. each household will be able to request four at-home tests through a government-run website. that is covidtest.gov. a tsunami advisory was issued for parts of the american west coast, including alaska, california, oregon, and washington, setting off this advisory. there was an undersea volcano that erupted in the tonga islands earlier today. hawaii did report nearly three-foot waves, but no widespread damage. more "politicsnation" with reverend al sharpton right after this break. this break
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want to honor the legacy of dr. martin luther king jr. today he would have been 93 years old. many things have changed since martin luther king rose to prominence, but in some ways, we're seeing history repeat itself. for decades we saw a concerted effort by black people, natural-born citizens, to earn their right to vote before the passage of the 1965 voting rights act. they were asked before that act to jump through hurdles like guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar, or how many bubbles in a bar of soap, or recite the constitution. while we're not seeing the same tactics as in the jim crow era, the forces that would deny us the vote have evolved. right now republican-led legislatures in 19 states have passed 33 new laws to restrict
voting all based on donald trump's big lie. the bills allow for racial gerrymandering, reduced polling sites in mostly black neighborhoods and on college campuses, and include stricter voter i.d. laws. coordinating vice news, national republicans are arguing that because turnout was so high in 2020, there's no need for federal legislation to protect voting. martin luther king jr. stood shoulder to shoulder with many freedom fighters to secure the right to vote. there were even people who gave their life for the right supposedly given to every sichltz let me be clear, voting is the foundation stone to political action, as said by mlk if he were alive today, he'd probably call out the senate for their failure to act on something so consequential.
he might even zero in on senators such as manchin and sinema who refuse to do away with the filibuster. how do you want to be remembered? in history, i believe he would ask, on the side of southern dixiecrats who told blacks folks repeatedly that they needed to wait for change? here we are in 2022, and we have no time to wait, not only are black people being disenfranchised from the right to vote, but also hispanics, the elderly, college students, and the poor. we can do much better than this. in the words of dr. martin luther king jr., i quote, the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. we all can rise up to ensuring
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welcome back. an update as we get back to "politicsnation" with reverend al sharpton, the latest on the hostage situation at the congregation beth israel synagogue in colleyville, texas, right now. three senior law enforcement officials briefed on the situation telling nbc news a man holding a rabbi and potentially others hostage now demanding the release of a woman named aafia siddiqui. she's a federal prisoner convicted of attempting to kill u.s. officers in afghanistan. counterterrorism experts believe she had historic ties to al qaeda. residents close to the hostage situation are being evacuated. it's not clear how many people were inside the building at the time the incident started or whether anyone was armed.
in the past hour the white house also issuing a statement that they were closely monitoring the situation. no injuries have been reported so far, and we'll continue to monitor this breaking story for you through it throughout this evening. for now, back to you, rev. we'll get more later. >> all right. thanks, richard. welcome back to "politicsnation." let's bring in my political panel. i'm joined by susan del percio, republican strategist, and juanita tolliver, democratic strategist. both are msnbc analysts. let me start with voting rights. juanita, i'll start with you. voting rights legislation will be brought to the senate floor next week. currently there is no republican support, and senators manchin and sinema have come out against changing the filibuster. which would allow the bills to pass in a simple majority vote. earlier today martin luther
king's family, martin luther king iii, and others, local groups mobilized in senator sinema's backyard, pushing for voting rights to pass. are you convinced the bills will fail? if so, what should happen next? >> look, rev, hopefully the gravity of this moments gets to these senators who will be voting. let's be real. posting about martin luther king on monday, that's something schumer and other democrats are holding hope for. but the reality is, as president biden said, it's unlikely to proceed. what comes next is democrats absolutely should keep pushing, though, because, while some may look at this vote as a futile exercise, i assure you voters are asking, did you give it everything you got? and democrats have to be able to answer "yes" to that, especially where voters are already demonstrating they expected more from this administration.
so democrats can't let up now. just as you see the advocates in arizona and on the ground in west virginia, the push must continue because letting up on this means you're letting up on voting rights for black and voters across the country who will bear the brunt of it, but also on our democracy, which has come under continuous attack from our republican-controlled state houses across the country. >> susan, in a few hours donald trump is holding his first rally of the midterm election year in arizona. he's expected to weigh in on the state's gubernatorial and senate races. how influential is a trump endorsement today? >> it is extremely influential when it comes to a primary race, rev. and that's the key. we know that you see candidates flipping over doing back flips trying to get trump's endorsement, which is forcing them -- some are true believers,
and then there are others who may not be, but they have to endorse all this crazy trump nonsense. and what's worse is that trump makes them talk about the 2020 election, so they have to try and go back in history instead of talking about what they want to go forward. where the trump endorsement will not help certain republican candidates are those who are in swing states or swing districts because they will likely be too extreme for those districts which can elect republicans or democrats, and that's a swing. that's actually one of the best hopes, frankly, that the democrats have to holding onto the house is that they get a lot of extremist republican candidates running in swing districts. >> now, juanita, let's turn now to the january 6th investigation. house minority leader kevin mccarthy was asked for an interview, but he says he will not cooperate with the panel. in a statement, the congressman said, in part, the committee wants to question him about,
quote, public statements that have been shared with the world and private conversations not remotely related to the violence that unfolded at the capitol. i have nothing else to add, end of quote. in a new "washington post" op-ed, the editorial board suggests the committee should subpoena kevin mccarthy. at this point, is the best course of action to subpoena him? i mean, what will it mean given that he's a sitting congressman? >> look, it is a big, unprecedented move that can come from the select committee, but they have to do it for the integrity of their investigation. here you have someone who, like kevin mccarthy and jim jordan and representative perry, who are key witnesses who may have had prior knowledge of the attack, and the fact they're walking around congress still to this day without any type of investigation on their individual behavior, without any type of responsibility or any
punishment for their individual behavior, it's ridiculous. and that sends a signal to trump, to the future authoritarians who might try the same thing that they can get away with it. absolutely the select committee needs to do that and they can do it with this group of three members who deserve to be investigated and come before the select committee to testify on what they knew because letting them go will be a green light for anybody who wants to try this again in the future. and we know trump has every intention of just that. >> yeah, and as i said earlier in the show, there's been a tape unearthed of mccarthy actually saying in an interview that trump told him he knew he was responsible or partially responsible. susan, the supreme court delivered a huge blow to president biden's covid recovery strategy. the justices blocked the biden administration from enforcing a vaccine or testing mandate for large employers. but they upheld vaccination
requirement for health care workers at facilities that receive federal money. how does this ruling affect biden's plans going forward? >> well, what it does is that it hurts our nation from hitting a maximum vaccination rate. this does not hurt biden, it hurts the country. we're going to see other variants and the best way to fight it is through vaccination. i look at the fact they held up the health care mandate was important. it shows that biden wasn't really out of step. so i don't think it hurts him politically that much. i think there are other issues, for example, i know he's going to give a press conference on wednesday, the same day that the website will go up for free covid tests. we know that website's going up that are going to have a lot of interest, tend to have a lot of problems.
so i'm a little -- i think it's going to be more problematic for the president than the supreme court ruling. >> juanita, a new quinnipiac poll finds that 57% of americans disprove of president biden's handling of the economy. we learned this week that inflation jumped 7% last year. what challenge does this present for democrats in the midterms? >> the midterms are all about how people feel in their day-to-day lives. it's all about how they're experiencing things in the moment. and this snapshot poll shows that they don't think that the economy is headed in the right direction, for all the stats, unemployment numbers the white house rolls out and the bureau of labor and statistics throws out, they're not feeling it. and that's going to be a major hurdle for democrats considering that there are two major pieces of legislation that have passed, the american rescue plan and the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which were all focused on improving people's lives throughout this pandemic, but also in the jobs and the economy. since people are saying i don't
feel any of that change or i'm not feeling enough of that tangible change, they're not going to be enthusiastic or incited to turn out the vote when democrats call upon them and say we have a midterm, we need you. that's going to be something that democrats are going to have to figure out the appropriate message for. they're taking congressional measures, but when you have things like the tax credit running out right now, these voters are saying we expected more, we expected to feel differently, and they're not feeling it right now. >> susan, the quinnipiac poll also found just 33% of americans approve of the job that president biden is doing. what's causing this decline, and how concerned should democrats be about these numbers? >> there's several factors that are leading to those numbers, and that is an outlier poll. for the average, most of biden's approval numbers are in the low
40s. but you hit it with juanita. the economy, now you add covid, he's not handling that well. people are upset on his foreign policy when it came to afghanistan. i think the president needs to do a reset. like when he gave his speech in georgia last week or early this week, he needs to get a little more political, and more than anything, the only tool he has at his advantage to get things done and get people motivated is executive order. it's not my favorite way of governing. i think is actually not good, but i think he could do things. there's talk about police reform coming down via executive order. those are things that he can do to rally the base. again, not ideal, but at least showing that he is fighting and doing something for the public. >> susan del percio and juanita tolliver, thank you both for stopping by "politicsnation." now to a local story out of
massachusetts that caught my attention. a boston church has come up with an original way to address racial reckoning, paying royalties for songs that have originally been composed by enslaved african people in america. who was the recipient of that money? let's find out. joining me now is susan deselms, and jerami flores, executive director of the hamilton garrett music and arts nonprofit. susan, let me start with you. your united parish church in brook line is predominantly white and have had a tradition of singing songs that have originally been composed by enslaved african people. so tell us briefly about this royalty program and the conversations that led up to creating it. >> so yes, i mean, we are
predominantly white, but that's -- we're also a pretty diverse congregation as well. not completely white for sure. but we have struggled -- i have struggled with using spirituals for many, many years because, well, first of all they're incredibly wonderful music and i want to use them and i want to sing them with both the choirs and the congregation. but there's a lot of political baggage around that and a lot of feelings that need to be addressed. it was complicated. what kind of gave us the final push was when george floyd was murdered. we were taking a moment of silence in our moment of prayer, and i wanted to play a spiritual i had recorded a couple years ago with cello and violin, and it created a bit of a stir in the congregation, not whole congregation, but a few people that felt like it was
inappropriate use an african spiritual. so that got me to really thinking because i was trying to string together, you know, the violence of, you know, the enslaved people and their enslavers, and string that to the current history, which is, you know, resulted in george floyd's death. and it was -- it made me think. so i just kept thinking and thinking, and as i was starting to pay my c cli license, which is church music copy right licensing program that allows you to use music online, i started to think, well, you know, if i could just pay royalties for these spirituals it would be less complicated. >> and these spirituals have been used over and over again, and no one got royalties. you know, jeremy, the original
composers for this music have never been compensated for their art. so now susan's church is donating to your nonprofit a youth music program called hamilton garrett music and arts. what did what did you first think about this initiative, and can you tell us about the impact these donations have had so far? >> yes, absolutely. and thank you, reverend sharpton, for having us this evening. when susan first reached out to me and talked to me about this idea, this project, being an initiative to repay royalties and they would do it through giving to our organization, as first i was excited, but also nervous. didn't know how realistic or how this project could have a sense of sustainability or how far the congregation would go in making
sure that our organization receives these royalties and support. but after conversations with susan, it became a very inspiring initiative. i can say that as of today the hamilton garrett music and arts academy, the majority of students in our after-school program cannot afford to attend our program without financial assistance. these royalties not only are providing scholarships and aid for our students to continue, but it's also, in addition, continuing to help us push the celebration of black music forward, and the majority of the students are descendants of these enslaved africans. so the royalties are going to the next generation of musicians within their lineage. >> you told npr that it's important to call this music,
quote, negro spirituals. explain to me, briefly, why you said that. >> yes, i think that it's important for us as americans, particularly thinking about other ethnic groups that are singing this music, to put a face to the music and to the history. removing negro from the title negro spirituals also washes away the historic impact of how this music was even created. we know that it is a very uncomfortable conversation to have and uncomfortable history to look at, it also shows the preservation and the strength of a people that were able to use this music as a way to remain faithful, not only in their faith, but also in the power that they have as a people to continue to push forward and to fight for our own rights,
justices, and where we are today, even with our generation. so it's really important that we do not remove it. >> i'm out of town, but i want to ask one last question. npr reported that this model is also taking place at a church in denver. how do you see this framework running around the country? i'm out of time, but answer that briefly for me. >> briefly, i'll just say i really hope it does. i think there's many ways to translate the program for different areas. i would love to see music publishers pick it up as well, because i think a lot of possibility sits right there. and so much could be done. but i think it's just a way that people did little by little, and person by person, a collective way that we can all take part in racial justice that is really needing our help and hopefully -- >> all right, excusen and gerami, many thanks to both of you for being here tonight. up next, my final thoughts.
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93 years ago today martin luther king jr. was born in atlanta, georgia, at a time of strict segregation and enforcement of strict jim crow laws. he spent his life and helped to lead a movement that broke those laws down, including the right to vote being protected from those excluded, public accommodations and dealing with the issue of poverty. he showed courage, stood up against the one vietnam, when even his allies in the civil rights movement condemned him for doing so. and was called names by those that were more militant and disagreeable with his advocacy of nonviolence. but he was effective, he got
things done. that is why he's honored with a national holiday on monday. when i was 13 years old, i became appointed youth director of his new york bread basket under jesse jackson. i only saw him twice when i was a youngster, but i got to know his widow and co-partner and worked very closely with his son martin luther king iii. he was a true champion for justice and we must remember, because of that commitment, we have a better country, which is why i wrote this book about people that never got the limelight, that dr. king always would give credit to, "righteous troublemakers". it's in stores now. i write about foot soldiers' stories in this book, a good way to celebrate king holiday is read about righteous
troublemakers by al sharpton. that does it for me. thanks for watching. i'll see you back here tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. eastern for another live hour of "politics nation." alicia mendez picks up our coverage now. >> thank you so much. this is "american voices". we continue to track the latest from texas where a hostage situation is under way at a synagogue in the city of colleyville, texas, about 30 minutes northwest of dallas. this hour, nbc news can confirm the fbi and atf are on the scene. a man is holding a rabbi and potentially others hostage. the suspect is demanded the release of a federal inmate. that inmate, often called by the terrorist world lady al qaeda. a short time ago the white house confirming the president is aware and monitoring the situation. let's bring in