Skip navigation

PoliticsNation, Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

POLITICS NATION
June 12, 2013

Guests: Melissa Gomez; Faith Jenkins; Sheila Jackson Lee, Joy Reid, Myrlie Evers-Williams


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, George Zimmerman questioned in court today. In day
three of the murder trial, the defendant himself George Zimmerman faced
questions in open court by the judge. We`ll show you that.

This as jury selection continued and at one point tempers flared
between the lawyers. We`ll show you that too.

Also we heard from several potential jurors familiar with key pieces
of evidence in the case. But who said they still would be fair and
impartial?

But we start with Mr. Zimmerman himself. This morning, the judge
asked him a series of questions about his defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBRA NELSON, JUDGE: Mr. Zimmerman, if I could have a moment to ask
you questions about the jury selection or the jury process yesterday.
Again, yesterday you had the opportunity to review the questionnaires with
your attorneys for the new group of people?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, SUSPECT IN TRAYVON MARTIN`S KILLING: Yes, your
honor.

NELSON: And did you have an opportunity to discuss with your
attorneys how you felt about the responses to those questionnaires?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: And you were here listening to each one of the people being
individually questioned about them?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: OK. And your attorneys made some decisions about some
potential jurors. Did they discuss those with you?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: And are you satisfied with those decisions?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, your honor.

NELSON: Thank you very much. You could be seated.

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Today, lawyers for both sides questioned another ten
jurors. So far at least 71 jurors have been excluded from serving. We
expect to get updated numbers on that any moment now.

Today, lawyers actually stopped questioning one of the jurors shortly
after he gave this response to the prosecution that seems to reject a claim
of self-defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t have an actual opinion about this actual
case, but I do have an opinion about murder. Murder is murder no matter
what.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So you believe murder is murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Murder is murder even if you are in self-defense.
It still doesn`t make it right to kill somebody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Of course Mr. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claims
he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

Mr. Martin`s parents were sitting in court for all of the these and
all of the questioning. And just moments ago they spoke to the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRACEY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: As we sit through jury
selection, we are encouraged that the jurors that have been questioned, we
are encouraged that we as a family can get justice for our son Trayvon.
And we ask that the public continue to come forth and be honest as
potential jurors. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now is legal analyst and former criminal
prosecutor Faith Jenkins. And jury consultant Melissa Gomez.

Thank you both for being here tonight.

FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Thank you.

MELISSA GOMEZ, JURY CONSULTANT: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: Faith, let me start with you. Let me start with Mr.
Zimmerman being questioned by the judge. Why did that happen? Is that
unusual at this point?

JENKINS: The judge is trying to put everything she can On the Record
about this case. And Zimmerman`s participation in jury selection process.
She wants him to state On the Record that he understands what`s going on.
Every defendant has a right to participate in selecting jurors in their
case and she`s making sure the communication is open between Zimmerman and
his attorney. Because remember, it wasn`t that long ago there was a bond
hearing where O`Mara stood up and said Zimmerman was indigent when he, in
fact, wasn`t. He was sitting right next to his attorney and didn`t say a
word. So she remembers that. And she remembered how he allowed O`Mara to
get up on and that day in court and make that statement in court.

SHARPTON: But there was even some misrepresentation, I believe, with
Mrs. Zimmerman and some moneys and something.

JENKINS: Yes. And now Mrs. Zimmerman is actually under state
prosecution because of that. So, this judge is aware of that. So, she is
questioning him. She is getting these things On the Record because she
wants to make sure he can`t come back later and say, well, my attorney made
all these decisions on my behalf and I didn`t agree with them. But, I just
let him take a rein and go forward with the case.

SHARPTON: Now, Melissa, it got a little heated between lawyers on
both sides on how the defense was asking questions about the public
relations to Trayvon Martin`s death. Listen to this.

GOMEZ: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you read anything or hear anything on TV about
any demonstration --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection.

NELSON: Sustained. You can ask him what he has heard or read or what
he knows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you heard or read anything related to
demonstrations or protests? Do you remember hearing anything about this
case in the news that suggested there may be racially --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your honor, objection.

NELSON: Counsel, approach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, Zimmerman`s lawyer raised the question about protest
demonstrations that was objected to by the prosecution. The judge said you
can ask what he heard. You can`t ask about demonstrations. He went right
back and asked again. Then he brought up racial questions.

Is the prosecution here right to object, Melissa? And is the defense
purposely trying to just throw this out in the atmosphere even though he
knows that the judge has sustained an objection to him doing it?

GOMEZ: Well, I think I can understand the reason they want to asked
those questions. I mean, this case embodies so many relevant social
issues. And for many jurors race maybe one of the, So, it depends on the
perspective of the juror and what are the relevant issues that are
important to them in this case?

So, I can see why those questions want to be asked in order to
determined whether jurors see this as a racially charged case if race is
really an issue in this case. Because that`s the way they`re going to be
viewing the case facts as whether this was a racially motivated target of
Trayvon Martin.

SHARPTON: But Faith, why would you pursue it if the judge has told
you no, don`t ask that. Ask this. And you ask the same thing.

JENKINS: So here`s what`s happened here. They have an agreement this
first phase is going to be about their exposure to the media. I ask the
jurors a leading question about race or demonstration. You`re supposed to
ask them what they heard and then go from there.

At some point as much as the defense doesn`t want this case to be
about race, both of the attorneys will address that head on with the
jurors. I think they have to. I think it`s what part of what makes this
case unique. But now is not the time to ask those leading questions when
they have an agreement in place that it`s going to be about the media and
what they`ve been exposed to and go from there.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, Melissa. On a broader picture, you
are on expert with juries, where do you see this case today in terms of the
jury selection? Give me a big picture of where you see this at this point.

GOMEZ: A big picture review is that both sides are looking at this
case in terms of the -- not only the media exposure, but the social issues
that are important in this case. And it might be different for different
people. Is it a gun control case, is it race relation case, is it a civil
rights case, is it a case about teenagers and parenthood?

So, what each side is trying to do is question these jurors to find
out what is that person`s perspective. How are they going to see this case
and are they able to get through whatever their perspective is and what
socially relevant topics are most important to them. And judging this case
for what it is opposed to the broader social issues that are so inherent in
this case. And I think that`s part of the reason why they`re having such a
difficult time.

There is not only intense media exposure about the Zimmerman case in
general and people may have opinions of that. But these hot topic issues
that are an embodiment within this case are also going to be reasons why
jurors can say they might have difficulty being fair and impartial. And I
think that`s why this is going to be a jury selection process that`s going
to continue for quite a while.

SHARPTON: Faith, is this not why this can become complicated for the
judge in this sense? When you say race is involved, many of the
demonstrators and leaders, I know I can speak for me, was concerned about
the Sanford police and their reaction with race, not Zimmerman.

So, when you start raising these issues, are you getting into complex
areas here that really have nothing to do with the facts of Zimmerman and
the case because many of the people that were protesting were protesting
that he was not arrested, not protesting that he himself might have had a
bias.

JENKINS: But for many of these jurors, perspective is their reality.
And now, as the case has gone forward and so much information has been
disseminated in the media --

SHARPTON: Some wrongly.

JENKINS: -- some wrongly, but a lot of people have perceived it as
race is an essential part of it. In the jury selection process, the
lawyers cannot ignore that. If the jurors take that into the deliberation
room with them, they want to know that in advance.

You`re looking for jurors. You want to know about their life
experiences. There are no right or wrong answers here, but you have to ask
questions. Because at the end of the day the jurors are going to bring
their life experiences into their deliberation room with them. Whether you
like it or not, it`s best you know in advance to try to get the best jury
possible to persuade the jurors that your arguments are the ones to take
into consideration.

SHARPTON: Now, Melissa, we had the lawyers of both sides ask about
the hoodie Trayvon Martin wore the night he was killed and what it meant to
them. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you place a significance on the fact that he
was wearing a hoodie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have an 18-year-old that lives in one. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It did not have an impact on you whatsoever?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. In fact, you are wearing a hoodie is because
you`re cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us what you thought about the picture you saw
with the solidarity photograph about Trayvon Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those ones I thought were just a little bit
ridiculous. To then turn around and say black people are being victimized
or he was targeted because he was looking shady or something like that. I
thought it was a little, I guess, overwhelming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What do we get from that back and forward, Melissa, between
the potential jurors and the lawyers over the wearing of hoodies and
Arizona iced tea and all that?

GOMEZ: Well, I think asking about the solidarity and the comment
about whether or not African-Americans were being targeted, I think what
you`re hearing is another way that that attorney is trying to ask about
race. So, if I`m not allowed to ask about it this way, I`m going to find
another way because this is -- they feel this is relevant enough and they
want to know what perceptions are in there in the jury, enough that they`re
going to find a way to ask those questions.

JENKINS: And for many people, the hoodie became a symbol of
solidarity or symbol of prejudice. And so, these attorneys are asking them
what do you think about it? Because for many people they came forward and
say, well, Trayvon should not have been wearing a hoodie. That to me is
like equating a rape victim with what she was wearing or how was she
dressed when she was rape. And so, there`s the division there and the
attorneys want to explore that as well.

SHARPTON: All right, I`m going to have to leave it there.

Faith Jenkins and Melissa Gomez, thank you both for your time tonight.

And in full disclosure in court George Zimmerman has sued NBC
Universal for defamation and the company has strongly denied his
allegations.

We will be watching this to see what all of these issues and all of
the back and forward. Can we get a fair jury that will listen impartially
to the evidence. And whether the judge will allow distortions and
distractions to get in the way of justice. We`re going to be watching. We
wanted a trial. Now we want a fair trial.

When will they learn? Another Republican congressman is talking about
rape today. Unbelievable.

Plus, Senator Ted Cruz is bragging about having Obama-phobia.
President Obama said something today that should have him scared.

And 50 years ago today America lost one of the best civil rights
leaders ever in this country when we lost Medgar Evers. Medgar Evers was
murders tonight, 50 years later, his widow Myrlie Evers-Williams joins me
on his life, his legacy and what she has done to carry on his legacy.

And I want to know from you, friend or foe, e-mail your questions.
"Reply Al" is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will.

Today, so many in our facebook family were honoring and remembering
Medgar Evers on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Lolita says, I will never forget. I lived a few blocks from this
family when I was 13.

Sathanuman says, his wife is a hero for keeping his memory alive and
fighting to find and convict his murder.

Yes, she is a hero.

And Gerald says as elders, we need to expose our kids as well as our
grand kids to our history and not let it be told by someone else.

Coming up, we will talk to Medgar`s widow Myrlie Evers-Williams about
her husband`s legacy and what she thinks about the state of human rights
today. You don`t want to miss this.

But first, we want to hear your thoughts. Please head over to
facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation
that keeps going long after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Here`s a picture that may be worth more than a thousand
words. What does everyone in this picture have in common? Anyone ever
guess? If you said they`re all men, you are correct. Now, what`s the last
thing these men should be doing? Creating laws about a woman`s body.
Right? Yet that`s exactly what they did today.

One Democrat joined 19 Republicans in passing a bill out of the
Judiciary Committee that would ban abortions nationwide at 20 weeks. It
gets taken up by the house for a full vote next week. Is this amazing?
They never learn. And then it happened again. They went there again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before when my friends on the left side of the
aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject, because, you know,
the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Bringing up rape again? Sounds like he`s been taking
science lessons from this man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD AKIN, FORMER MISSOURI CONGRESSMAN: If it`s a legitimate rape,
the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, what doesn`t the GOP understand? There`s a
problem with the GOP when it starts with this picture. Twenty men deciding
what millions of women can do with their bodies.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat from
Texas. She`s a member of the committee that debated the abortion bill
today.

Congresswoman, first of all, thanks for your time this evening.

Good to be with you, Reverend. How are you this evening?

SHARPTON: All right. But another Republican talking about rape
today. I mean, what`s your response to this?

LEE: Reverend, unfortunately we could not shut this thing down today,
and no matter how many amendments or counterarguments that we made to
challenge our colleagues as to whether or not they have ever in the shoes
of someone who had been raped, whether they understood a woman when she was
raped, what her condition was, and whether or not they understood the law.

The constitutional law of Roe V. Wade that indicates that abortion is
legal. Not random, reckless decisions, but decisions made quietly and
prayerfully with the woman`s medical adviser. But in this instance, the
amendment being offered for this ban on abortions that might have been
driven by a woman`s being a victim of rape or incest, they could not
understand the connection. And that was what was so enormously
disappointing.

And this particular sentence that pregnancy due to rape is very low.
I didn`t see one medical documentation that was utilized by the opposition.
And the amendment was rejected on that premise. When, Reverend, there are
studies, St. Lawrenceville university study that indicates that pregnancy
pursuant to rape is significantly higher than in other instances. Or the
San Francisco state report that says that pregnancies in Columbia women
victims of sexual violence is very high. Where do they get their stats?

SHARPTON: Well, that`s a good question.

But, let me put this picture back up a minute. They`re talking about
getting government out of everything except when it comes to women`s
bodies. I mean, what`s your response to today`s vote?

LEE: Well, my response is it is another attempt as a siege on women.
Just a few weeks ago, a committee held a hearing to eliminate all abortions
or the right to an abortion in the district of Columbia. It is a constant
repeated repetitive effort to tell women what their bodies can and cannot
do.

And literally the women that were in that room today, Democratic
women, were outraged but really we were saddened. It was an emotional
time. Because this is a debate that has happened over and over again.
Many of us obviously are mothers. We`ve given birth. Some of us have
daughters. One of the biggest fears of women is rape, a violent sexual
attack. And the premise of our amendments was to suggest to Mr. Franks
that the woman might have to come in with a medical procedure based on her
doctor`s counsel and advice when she has been raped or the victim of incest
and it might be at a later time. We only wanted an exemption on exception
to protect the life of the mother.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you f your time
this evening.

LEE: Thank you.

My salute to the Medgar Evers family for their sacrifice and
contribution to this nation.

SHARPTON: Yes, ma`am.

LEE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP`s got a new illness, Obamaphobia. They
haven`t even gotten over romneyism (ph) yet or romnesia (ph) either.

But first, Darrell Issa is flipping and flopping all over the place
trying to link these so-called scandals to the president. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: California congressman Darrell Issa is trying to link the
White House to charges the IRS targeted tea party groups. He only released
snippets of interviews with IRS employees to back up his claims. Ten days
ago he was asked about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Your critics say
that Republicans and you in particular sort of cherry pick information that
go to your fore gone conclusion. And so, what worries us to kind of put
this kind of stuff out, can you not put the whole transcript out?

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: The whole
transcript will be put out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The whole transcript will be put out. Great. Because
Congressman Elijah Cummings says the interviews show a conservative
Republican IRS manager started the targeting of the tea party groups. And
that the White House wasn`t even involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I want those transcripts to be
released, but he`s the chairman of the committee. We`re not in power.
Now, if he does not release them, I will. Period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Get everything out in the open. Shouldn`t be a problem,
right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Can you not put the whole transcript out?

ISSA: The whole transcript will be put out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But guess what he`s saying now. Quote, "your push to
release entire transcripts for witness interviews while the investigation
remains active was reckless and threatened to undermine the integrity of
the committee`s investigation."

So now, it would be reckless to release these transcripts. What are
you hiding, Mr. Issa? It`s reckless to release select parts of the
transcripts.

Did congressman Issa think we wouldn`t notice his shameless hypocrisy?

Nice try, but here`s a transcript for everybody. We got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: You got to hand it to the Republicans. They know how to
stay on message. Scandal, scandal, scandal is all you hear from the right.
But today President Obama called them out for standing in the way of
progress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Some Republicans may be
rethinking the stances that they took in the past. That`s the good news.
We want to encourage that. But the fact of the matter is there are a whole
bunch of Republicans out there are not interested in getting things done.
And what`s holding us back right now is inaction in Washington. Gridlock
in Washington. Too many folks in Washington who are putting the next
election ahead of the next generation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s talking about republican Senator Ted Cruz. The guy
who once called President Obama the most radical president we`ve ever seen.
He tweeted, "If supporting real immigration reform, not path to
citizenship, is Obama-phobia, guilty as charged. Re-tweet it if you`re a
fellow Obama-phobic."

Bragging about, Obama-phobic. Now, I know he was responding to a
democratic senator, but the fact is that this is who they are. They are
scared because the party is built on fear and obstruction. And no matter
how hard they try, it`s not working.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Businesses have created nearly seven million new jobs over the
last 39 months.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

We`ve produced more of our own energy than any time in years and we
consume less from other countries than we have in decades. Deficits are
shrinking. The cost of health care is slowing down. The housing market is
rebounding. The American auto industry is bouncing back. We are moving
forward.

(END VIEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president is cutting through the noise. America is
moving forward. Apparently without republicans. Joining me now is Joy
Reid. Joy, thanks for coming on the show.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM MANAGING EDITOR: Anytime.

SHARPTON: Senator Cruz is bragging about being Obama-phobic. But the
president doesn`t seem to care.

REID: Yes. It`s interesting, Rev. First of all, that guy went to
Harvard. So, for him to say re-tweet if you`re a real Obama-phobic, the
correct will be Obama-phobia. So, I suspect he spells better than that.
Maybe he`s just playing to his Tea Party base because you know, spelling in
the -- kind of their thing. But, you know, Ted Cruz is interesting.
Because he plays a very sort of singular role right now in Washington. On
the one hand, his goal is stop Marco Rubio. Any time Marco Rubio looks
like he has any chance of pulling the Republican Party back to the center
on immigration, Ted Cruz pops up to stop him.

SHARPTON: Right.

REID: He is there -- immigration reform. But the second thing is
that there`s no proactive part of Ted Cruz`s agenda. He is our real
legislator. I wouldn`t expect him to have some great piece of grand
legislation going through the Senate. He`s only there to sort of play the
talk radio role in the Senate. He`s not there to legislate. He`s there to
blow things up and he`s doing a good job at that.

SHARPTON: Now, the president recently appears to be using tougher
language with Republicans. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There`s no good reason to play procedural games or engage in
obstruction. I will not negotiate around the debt ceiling. But they will
not collect our ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.
Ordinary folks may do their jobs. The notion that our elected leadership
can`t do the same thing is mind boggling to them. It needs to stop. It`s
not fair. It`s not right. The American people don`t it`s fair. Everybody
here understands this. I mean, this is not a complicated concept.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And he`s talking tougher, and I suppose you run out of
patience when you hear like today Congressman Steve Stockman today called
President Obama`s election a scam. He was on a right wing radio show.
Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Scamnesty. Where we at with that right now?

REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: Which one? Which scam? You mean his
election?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Nice.

STOCKMAN: Is that what you`re talking about when he had 120 percent
people voting in the primary? Just very patriotic precincts?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this is a congressman, Joy, saying that a 120 percent
turnout. The president scammed the election. This is a sitting member of
Congress.

REID: Yes. I mean, but it all goes part and parcel with where the
Republican Party is now. Right? There is this inability on the right to
accept the fact that the majority of Americans rejected their candidate in
2008 and then in 2012. And really reject their ideas. So republicans
because they are in this bubble, they`ve decided that every time they lose,
they really won. There was just fraud.

SHARPTON: Right.

REID: They really won in `08 but ACORN stole it. They really won in
2012 but there were all these phantom voters. It`s a way to not ever have
to deal with the unpopularity of their own ideas. And the only thing that
surprising about that being a congressman talking like that is that he`s
not in the Senate. Because at this point the clown card that were not used
to in the House has rolled on over into the Senate.

And now we have neither branch of the sort of the sort of legislation
bodies in government able to function because there`s Tea Parties to the
left and there`s Tea Partiers to the right of me. Now nothing gets done.
I think the president has finally figured out there`s no point trying to
negotiate with these people. They`re not there to make laws except laws
that have to do with abortion.

SHARPTON: But there`s someone else that has figured something out.
And that`s Vice President Biden. He`s talking about how we can fight back
by voting. Yesterday he urged Democrats to get to the polls in 2014. Let
me show you what he said. He said the last thing in the world we need now
is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted
Cruz. Support the new Senator from Kentucky Ron Paul or the old senator
from Kentucky Mitch McConnell. It`s about the vote according to the vice
president.

REID: No, actually. You know, the reason that we are here is that in
2010 people on the left decided not to vote in the same numbers as the
people on the right. We got all these Tea Parties in. Now they`re there,
they`re imbedded and Democrats just have to decide if you want them out,
you have to vote. It`s the only way.

SHARPTON: Joy Reid, thanks for your time tonight.

REID: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the assassination of Medgar Evers 50 years ago
tonight. A tragedy that shocked the nation and put a widow`s grief on
newsstands across America. My interview with Myrlie Evers-Williams is
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The widow of Medgar Evers 50 years to the day of his death
tells us what happened and where we are now. That`s next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today we remember a tragedy that changed American history.
On this day 50 years ago, one of the most powerful voices of the civil
rights movement was silenced forever. Thirty seven year old Medgar Evers,
the NAACP`s first field secretary in Mississippi was assassinated outside
his home in Jackson, Mississippi, by a white supremacist in the early
morning hours of this day in 1963.

Just hours after he watched President Kennedy deliver a historic civil
rights speech from the Oval Office, Medgar Evers spent life trying to
change this country. After fighting for his country in World War II, he
came home to fight for justice here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEDGAR EVERS, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: For many of us
who`ve gone overseas and fought for this country, we`ve fought for
Mississippi, we`ve fought for Alabama, we`ve fought for North Carolina,
we`ve fought for Illinois, and we`ve fought for every state in this union.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He became a tireless fighter for the right to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EVERS: We`re not just interested in voting so that conditions will be
improved for Negros. We want conditions improved for everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The irony is that Medgar Evers` murder did the opposite of
what the racist hoped. It inspires thousands of Americans to join the
struggle for civil rights. And his death gave a powerful push to the civil
rights movement. Leading to the march on Washington two months later.
Reverend Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders flocked to
Jackson for Evers` memorial service. Thousands of mourners marched through
the streets. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full
military honors.

And later that month, millions of Americans saw the cover of "Life"
magazine showing his widow Myrlie comforting their young son at the
funeral. Myrlie Evers took it upon herself to continue her husband`s
legacy. She went on to become the chair of the NAACP and a constant force
in the civil rights movement. Earlier this year she delivered the
invocation at President Obama`s inauguration. And last week she met with
the president to commemorate the legacy of her husband 50 years after he
was assassinated.

Joining me now is the widow of Medgar Evers and a civil rights leader
in her own right, Myrlie Evers-Williams. It`s an honor to have you here
tonight.

MYRLIE EVERS-WILLIAMS, WIDOW OF MEDGAR EVERS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: You know, 50 years later we hear all about the celebration
to the march on Washington.

WILLIAMS: Uh-huh.

SHARPTON: But a lot of people don`t understand the impetus to that
march was what happened 50 years ago to your husband, the assassination of
Medgar Evers really fueled the movement at that time. And even Dr. King in
the march in Detroit about a week or so after the assassination of your
husband paid tribute to him, I want you to watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., SOCIAL ACTIVIST: Before the victory for
brotherhood is won, some will have to get scarred up a bit. Before the
victory is won, some more will be thrown into jail. Before the victory is
won, some like Medgar Evers may have to face physical death. I have a
dream this afternoon that there will be a day that we will no longer face
the atrocities that Emmett Till had to face or Medgar Evers had to face.
That all men can live with dignity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: People today don`t seem to understand the fear and the
depth and what people went through 50 years ago and what you had to witness
with your husband killed right there in the driveway of your home. But it
spurred a movement that no one could have imagined. And 50 years later,
how do you see the progress? How do you assess how far we`ve come?

WILLIAMS: I`m not sure if I can put numbers there on that assessment.
Certainly we have moved forward in this country, but if we stop for a
moment and look at where we are and look at some of the racist things that
are still happening in America, for instance when Obama was -- President
Obama was re-elected, there was rioting at the University of Mississippi.
Because of that. There are still deaths that take place. We look at those
things that have happened to keep people from voting.

So, you know, it`s still there. I don`t think these negatives are not
as pronounced as they were in the `50s and `60s because we don`t have
people in the streets marching today. So we don`t have that attention
brought to it, but that`s serious. I hear too many young people say that
was then. We don`t have to be concerned about that now. I beg to
disagree. And I beg to say that Jim Crowe is alive, and it`s dressed in a
brooks brother suit, my friend, instead of a white robe.

SHARPTON: You told me you met Medgar Evers the first day on campus in
college, first hour.

WILLIAMS: That`s correct.

SHARPTON: And he told you not long after that that you were going to
be the mother of his children. Did you ever once you were married and
started bearing children, did you ever dream you`d have to live under that
kind of fear? What gave you the strength to live under that climate of
constant threat and constant any day could be his or your last day.

WILLIAMS: That`s true. Simple. Love. I loved and respected Medgar
tremendously. And even though I was very young, I was 18 when I married
him. He knew who he was. His determination to do whatever he could
register people, get them to vote, challenge the systems of education, and
so many other things that needed attention. I came along with the job. It
was just as plain and simple as that. And I hate to say it, but I must. I
wasn`t always there with him. I challenged that because we knew being born
and living in Mississippi that you didn`t challenge such a system without
some kind of retaliation. And I knew that was coming.

SHARPTON: So you knew it was coming. How did you feel challenging
him? What would happen in those kinds of conversations?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think most married couples have points in life
where they challenge each other about the direction that they should go.
As a matter of fact, I felt rather strong in being able to say I`m afraid
for you. I don`t want you to do this. And I`ll get to the point. We
reached a point in our marriage where I challenged to Medgar about what he
was doing. And he replied to me either you are with me or you aren`t.
That`s your decision to make. So often I have read in books and talked to
people who romanticize a civil rights movement.

SHARPTON: Right.

WILLIAMS: It was not all nice and easy and cozy and lovely dovey. We
had serious conversations not about issues but about keeping our family
together and growing that family. And Medgar did a marvelous job in
working with our children, telling them stories and where the safest place
in the house was. And that`s exactly what they did when that shot rang out
that took Medgar`s life.

SHARPTON: He pulls up in the driveway and had you heard the car pull
up?

WILLIAMS: Yes. And the children had as well. They were up late that
night because they had watched per their daddy`s wishes, President
Kennedy`s address.

SHARPTON: OK.

WILLIAMS: So they were still up.

SHARPTON: And then you expected him to come in and then you hear the
shot?

WILLIAMS: That`s exactly what happened. He pulled into the driveway,
got out with white t-shirts on a moon-lit night. And the t-shirt say Jim
Crowe must go. And then this powerful sound of the rifle. And our
children did exactly what he taught them to do. Fall to the floor and go
to the safest place in the house, which they had determined was the
bathroom and in the bathtub. I ran to the front door screaming, opened the
door.

The force of the bullet had pushed him forward beyond my car. He had
fallen and was strong enough to pull himself around the car with his keys
in his hand. And that`s what I saw. And that`s what my children saw.

SHARPTON: You`ve also continued in the movement.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I have.

SHARPTON: You ended up chairing the NAACP`s board. And the world
will remember you and your regal bearing at the president`s second
inauguration.

WILLIAMS: That`s kind of you.

SHARPTON: And I mean, what you`ve done is remarkable in your own
right.

WILLIAMS: Well, thank you. It has not been easy, but doing the
things that I have done helped to dismiss the hatred that I had. And I
don`t say that proudly. It`s honest. I still get angry. I saw an exhibit
in Jackson, Mississippi, about Medgar, but it included the rifle that
killed him. And it stopped me in the door as I looked upon this weapon of
destruction. And I looked at the trigger, and I could just see Medgar`s
body lying there. But something miraculous happened. I saw something
else.

And that was in my imagination I saw the fire that would come from
that bullet and to me interestingly enough, it said peace. And it said
progress. So from being hurt, being angry, being vindictive of having
multiple personalities around all of the working so hard to see the justice
prevailed in the killing of Medgar, to see that he was not forgotten. And
that`s been so important to me. We`ve come a long way in that. And 50
years later, I might be a little tired, might be a little weary, but I
can`t stop. Because there`s too much at stake.

SHARPTON: Well, I can say this 50 years later. Medgar Evers
certainly chose the right woman to marry and bear his children. And all of
us see that. And 50 years later, you`ve made sure this world did not
forget Medgar Evers.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams, thank you so much for your time
tonight.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. My pleasure.

SHARPTON: For more of my interview with Myrlie Evers-Williams, go to
Facebook.com/POLITICSNATION. We posted the full length interview there.
We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Now it`s time for reply Al. And your e-mails are rolling
in. It`s great to hear from so many of you.

Denise writes, "Why are the Republicans up in arms over Benghazi but
not cuts in Medicare and Social Security? "

Well, we should be concerned about what happened in Benghazi, not
distorted. But it`s partisan when you`re only concerned about some things
and not concerned about Medicare and Social Security and other things that
are crises in this country. We should not have republican crisis,
democratic crisis. We should have crisis for the country that we all deal
with.

Suzanne writes, "I`ve not heard any MSNBC anchor help me understand
why President Obama has not put forward a detailed jobs plan. That is why
he is not proposed legislation that a willing senator can introduce. Just
what is President Obama waiting for?"

Hold one second, Suzanne. President Obama does have a jobs plan.
It`s called the American jobs act. Introduced in 2011. The plan`s filled
with bipartisan ideas like tax cuts and infrastructure projects. But the
House Republicans blocked it. Eric Cantor said, the House would not even
bring it up for a -- bring the plan up for a vote. So there has been a
plan. It was stopped. And we need a plan now, and we need to bring it
forward in the Senate and the House so people can go to work and have jobs.
That`s a priority in this country.

As I said earlier, this is the 50th anniversary of the assassination
of Medgar Evers. When you see people that will stand for something and
even lose their lives, these are the kinds of people that make the
sacrifice that all of us live on the prerogatives of. Whether your
politics are right or left, whether your party`s republican or democrat, we
should remember people shed blood to give all Americans the right to vote.

People lost their lives in their youth, left their families, left
their children to make it a better America. We ought not be so caught up
in our own myopic views that we forget that we live a better life because
others lost their lives. In the name of Medgar Evers and Viola Liuzzo and
others, let`s protect the vote. Let`s protect people`s rights. Some of us
will never forget we didn`t get here by ourselves.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2013 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Transcription Copyright 2013 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
litigation.>


Sponsored links

Resource guide