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PoliticsNation, Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

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Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: July 2, 2015
Guest: Marq Claxton; Emanuel Cleaver; E.J. Dionne, Dana Milbank, Angela
Rye, Michelle Ebanks

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST, THE ED SHOW: That`s the "Ed Show." I`m Ed Schultz.
Have a great Fourth. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts
right now.

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on "Politics Nation," President
Obama slams the GOP hunger games, blasting Republican candidates on
everything from health care to minimum wage.

Also, prosecutors want to reconstruct the shooting of Tamir Rice. It took
1.8 seconds and it was caught on tape. What exactly is there to
reconstruct?

And is Donald Trump secretly a Democrat? I`m serious. How else do you
explain the huge political mess he`s created for GOP?

Welcome to "Politics Nation." We begin tonight outside Washington in
Lacrosse, Wisconsin where President Obama was greeted today by Governor
Scott Walker. Walker plans to announce a presidential run later this month
and his conservative economic policies will be at the center of his
campaign. But after the handshake, an energy and surging president made
the case that it is his agenda that has gotten our country on track.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Businesses created another
223,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate is now down to 5.3 percent.
Keep in mind when I came into office, it was hovering around 10 percent.
All told, we`ve now seen 64 straight months of private sector job growth,
which is a new record, a new record, 12.8 million new jobs all told. And
that`s good. But we`ve got more work to do because we have to get folks
wages and incomes to keep going up. We have to make sure folks feel like
the hard work is getting them somewhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But there`s still work to do. President Obama talked about
fighting to level the playing field.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Over the past couple years, 17 states, almost 30 cities, and
counties, have taken action to raise wages. Other cities and states have
started guaranteeing workers paid sick days and family leave. And just
this week, we took action to protect a worker`s right to overtime. Now,
it`s going to give 80,000 folks right here in Wisconsin the overtime
protection they deserve. It`s the right thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He is selling his new overtime plan to give five million
Americans a raise. Americans want to tackle this income inequality fight.
Sixty seven percent say the gap between the rich and the poor is getting
larger. But you don`t have to look at the numbers. Just look at the scene
last night in Wisconsin, 10,000 turned out to hear democratic presidential
candidate Bernie Sanders speak on what he called an immoral and grotesque
level of inequality.

There`s a hunger in this country to make our economic system more fair.
President Obama went right after Republicans, who are late to the game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: They talk the talk but don`t walk the walk. Their menu doesn`t
have a whole lot of options for the middle class. The one thing that the
bus full of people who are fighting to lead the Republican ticket all share
is they keep coming up with the same old trickle down you`re on your own
economics that helped bring about the crisis back in 2007, 2008 in the
first place. And I want to emphasize, I know some of them well. They`re
good people. It is just their ideas are bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So what can we do right now? Raise the minimum wage. Fix
unfair overtime rules. Get equal pay for women? The president is
confident we can do it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Battling back from recession has been hard. Fixing a broken health
care system has been hard. Making our economy more competitive for the
future, it`s hard. But the last seven years, shoot, the last seven days
should remind us, there is nothing America cannot do. There`s no challenge
we can`t solve. There are inspiring Americans who prove this every single
day. Nothing we can`t do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Let`s bring in Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and E.J. Dionne.
Thank you both for being here.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be here, Rev.

E.J. DIONNE, Good to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congressman, it is no coincidence the president went to
Wisconsin to reveal his overtime rule. What can Congress do right now to
tackle income inequality?

CLEAVER: Well, first of all, I think it would be helpful if we were able
to pass a minimum wage bill to raise to it $10.25. I think that would be
helpful. The other is to pass a highway bill, a transportation bill,
(INAUDIBLE) as this call, transportation and (INAUDIBLE) put together, so
that it will generate new jobs, a new high paying jobs. And those jobs
would go to working class people.

Now I think we also are doing fairly well in helping to equal things out
with the affordable care act. Because health bills were one of the number
one causes for bankruptcy. So if people can have healthcare, that`s going
to reduce the amount of money they would normally lose. Particularly if
they were just a woman.

SHARPTON: You know, E.J., the president talked about a quote remarkable
few weeks in America today. How important is the issue of fairness today?

DIONNE: Well, I think it is central to it. And what struck me listening
to him today is something he said when he was running for president back in
2007, 2008. He really talked about taking off from Ronald Reagan, trying
to change the country as much as Reagan did, but in the other direction.
And I think what he`s doing is he`s making the choice for the long term,
not only for the next two years, but for the next decade very clear.

The government is going to make the country more or less equal. It is
going to make us more or less fair. And there are steps that it can take
to make things more equal and fairer for a lot of people. His overtime
proposal today was one of them. The minimum wage is another. Getting the
healthcare expansion into all the states, the Medicaid expansion. He is
posting that against the other side`s ideals so that he really set off a
big philosophical and an electoral debate that has real purchase for all
Americans. It is going to affect who we are in the next decade or so.

SHARPTON: But congressman, even as the president is setting off this very
serious intellectual debate as E.J. talks about, he is also having fun. I
mean, like today, he talked about having a kooky uncle at a holiday dinner.
Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We`re all one American family. But we all go, thanksgiving and
Uncle Harry starts saying something and you say, Uncle Harry, that makes no
sense at all. You still love him. He is still a member of your family.
Right? But you have to correct him. You don`t want to put him in charge
of stuff.

Here are a few of the bad ideas. Eliminating taxes that the wealthiest
Americans pay on their investments while making you pay taxes on every dime
of your paycheck. That`s a bad idea. That`s a bad idea. Keeping the
minimum wage worth less than it was when Ronald Reagan took office, before
most of you were born, that`s a bad idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He`s joking, congressman, but he`s getting some serious stuff in
there.

CLEAVER: Well, look, as we would say with the Kansas City royals or the
Kansas City monarchs, the president is having a big inning. Make no
mistake about it. With the Supreme Court having ruled in favor of the
affordable care act, that it is in fact constitutional, that the
congressional intent does matter, when you look at the way in which he has
handled the crisis in Charleston, you look now at him dealing effectively,
I might add, with the whole issue of overtime and the nation is responding.
His numbers are rising. He is high stepping and he ought to be doing so
and the Republicans are stumbling over themselves.

And look. As we`re coming to the day of independence, it is
incomprehensible that we have people in the highest elected offices in the
land still trying to make sure people don`t have health care. And they`ll
try to go back years from now and tell their grandchildren that they were
on the right side of history where in fact they were standing on the way
with stop signs.

SHARPTON: You know, E.J., I mentioned Governor Walker meeting President
Obama on the tarmac today. But later on, the president went right after
Governor Walker`s policies. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Wisconsin is this extraordinary state filled with extraordinary
people. But if you end up having policies that cut education, helps folks
at the top, aren`t expanding opportunity, then it`s not going to work. We
need better policies. Because the bottom line is, top down economics
doesn`t work. Middle class economics works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Is he doing a little campaigning there, E.J., for the 22016
Democratic candidate?

DIONNE: I think that whole speech is going to help the 2016 Democratic
candidate. And I think it is really interesting to take Governor Walker.
Because a lot of people have looked at the comparison between Wisconsin and
Minnesota who took two states and took very different paths after the great
recession, or during the great recession. Wisconsin cut taxes, cut some
spending, went after the unions. Minnesota didn`t do those things. They
invested in things. And the Minnesota economy is doing much better than
Wisconsin. And there are a lot of other factors at stake here.

But if you want a test of two paths, two economic paths and two olds for
government, comparing those two states is pretty good. And you know,
Governor Walker seem to want to move to the right because he sees his
future in the Iowa caucuses. He just got to win the Iowa caucuses if he is
going to keep going. And so, I think he is going to continue to tack on
the right side of that Republican gang over there that you must fall as
President Obama put it.

SHARPTON: As E.J. talks about the right and governor Walker, congressman,
you have on the left Bernie Sanders. And as I stated earlier, he drew a
record crowd last night, almost 10,000 people. He was there last night in
Wisconsin with his huge crowd. Here`s what he said to the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This grotesque level of
inequality is immoral, it is bad economics, it is unsustainable and it is
not what the United States of America is supposed to be about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Isn`t this going to be the defining issue of 2016, congressman?

CLEAVER: No question about it. And Bernie Sanders is going to continue to
make that speech. He is going to -- because he believes it. I served in
the house with him. He believes it. He is going to say it everywhere.
The crowds will get larger.

Now, I don`t think that Senator Sanders is going to get the nomination, not
because he is a bad person. He is a very good person in my books. And I
believe in a lot of things he says. But the people who are out there, that
10,000 crowd, those people are going to go over to a democratic candidate.
Because they`re going to go with somebody who believed that we got to have
an economy that serves all of the people, as opposed to the way things are
going in my native state of Kansas where the richest people of the state
led by Republican governor just got a big tax cut and they are going to
continue to get them. And so, the methods of Bernie Sanders is laying out
for the country is one that most of the country will embrace.

SHARPTON: Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and E.J. Dionne, thank you for your
time tonight. And have a Happy Fourth of July.

CLEAVER: Reverend, I just have to tell you that you and I need to sue
President Obama for preaching without a license. He was masterful at that
funeral.

SHARPTON: Absolutely he was masterful. No doubt about it.

Still ahead, did you know you could buy a Trump brand mattress? Me
neither! But it`s the latest product to get dumped over. His continued
ranting about Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, somebody`s doing -- its
women being raped. Well, who is doing the raping? Who is doing the
raping?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Also, a strange twist in the Tamir Rice case. Why does the
prosecutor want to reconstruct the shooting?

Plus the final funeral for the beautiful nine and a surprise announcement
from Charleston.

And saying goodbye to a TV icon. Maria from Sesame Street is signing off
after inspiring generations of children.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today officials in Charleston announced the Reverend Pinckney
scholarship fund which will help the families of the victims of the mother
Emanuel massacre. Anonymous donors have already raised over $3 million for
the fund. And earlier today, the last of the beautiful nine was laid to
rest.

Reverend Daniel Simmons, he was remembered as a driving force in the
community, serving at eight different churches across the state. His
family is in our thoughts and prayers tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Developing news and a twist in the investigation into the
shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. A Cleveland proffer shot and
killed him more than seven months ago. The officer apparently thought the
apparent gun Tamir was holding was a real gun. Now prosecutors are trying
to decide whether he should be charged. And tonight, we`re hearing that
the prosecutor is going to bring in the state highway patrol to reconstruct
the entire thing.

It`s not exactly clear what the reconstruction holds their key. We do know
that the video of the incident exists and it shows the shooting lasted less
than two seconds. We reached out to the prosecutor`s office today. They
confirmed the reconstruction was happening, but had no further comment.

Joining me now is Marq Claxton, former New York police officer and director
of black law enforcement alliance. Thank you for being here tonight, Marq.

MARQ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: What do you think about this reconstruction they want to do?

CLAXTON: It really is a baffling move by a prosecutor`s office at this
stage of the game itself. I mean, it is actually in incongruous to a
prosecutor who is looking to perceive with any possible charges against
these police officers. And also, there`s another thing that is pretty
confusing. There were several months ago, and I don`t know if you remember
this. The Ohio bureau criminal investigations had indicated that they did
a reconstruction using all of this high-tech 3D technology, et cetera.

SHARPTON: Well, the sheriff`s office gave its investigation to the
prosecutor. It did its own detailed re-creation. Now the prosecutor`s
office wants a second one? They already have one from the sheriff`s
office.

CLAXTON: Yes. And the danger here is that you have a prosecutor`s office
who is now creating additional evidence that really is like throwing meat
to a lion, that the defense will now have additional items, additional
evidence, additional video, additional documentation to somehow establish
or create some reasonable doubt. It seems unnecessary and quite illogical
as far as prosecution is concerned.

SHARPTON: But a TV station in Cleveland is reported this about the
investigation. Quote, "the office will also enlist experts including a use
of force expert in the investigation." What will a use of force expert
look at, Marq?

CLAXTON: What is strange about that is, it appears as if, we`ve seen this
in other cases, too, where you have a prosecution. And this pertains to
police involved shootings or crime. You have a prosecutor`s office who
assumes the position of a defense where they bring in individuals or
experts that normally would be called by the defense as opposed to the
prosecutors.

So there really is a significant question about what value both this
reconstruction will bring or the use of force expert, examination of use of
force expert at this point. What value does it bring? It really is
baffling and illogical and as I said, it is incongruous. It just doesn`t
make really clear sense.

SHARPTON: Well, the other incongruity that graces in my mind, a grand jury
is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to go forward to
trial. Prima facie evidence. The grand jury doesn`t even look if there`s
reasonable doubt. That`s a trial jury. So, I mean, I don`t even
understand. Is there probable cause to go to trial? Is there probable
cause to say that a crime could have been committed here? That`s what a
grand jury does. When you look at the length of time here and compare it
to like Fred Gray`s case in Baltimore. How do you feel in seven months,
how do you feel how long this has taken? And now, we`re hearing all the
new things they want to submit to the grand jury.

CLAXTON: It is painful. In reality, a slap in the face of justice, Rev.
I mean, you know, justice delayed is justice denied. And for this seven-
month period, we`ve been waiting, the family has had to endure, the
community has had to endure. Unbearable and unspeakable pain while it
appears the prosecutor`s office is dragging its feet. And keep in mind, we
are not even at a prosecution state at this point because there has not
been an indication by the prosecutor`s office. They are willing to engage
the prosecution. No presentation to a grand jury. And according to the
statement, we`re several months out from even that move being made.

SHARPTON: Marq Claxton, thank you for your time tonight.

CLAXTON: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Donald Trump might be making party leaders cry this
week. But the late night comedians are loving it.

As we celebrate and get ready to celebrate or independence, we look at a
country crying to live up to its cede since 1776.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In addition to the fireworks, in addition to the food, there is a
chance to celebrate a bed rock principle so deep that generations of
Americans have been willing to risk everything to declare it. The idea
that all of us are created equal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Donald Trump has been dominating the news since he announced he
was running for president, starting with his rambling entry into the 2016
race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: How stupid are our leaders? I like China. I just sold an
apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. I`m really rich. So
just to sum up, I would do various things very quickly. And I promise I
will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And for late night comedians, it`s the gift that keeps on
giving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Donald Trump`s derogatory comments about
immigrants, that`s right, NBC has officially canceled celebrity apprentice.
Think about it. Donald Trump isn`t even president yet, he has already made
America a better place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say they will not carry Trump`s Miss USA or Miss
Universe pageants on their air because of what he said about Mexicans. And
not, they want to make this very clear, not because these pageants treat
women like cattle at the state fair. It was Mexicans thing that upset
them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. Trump is running for president and he
wasting no time getting down to business. Just after his announcement he
demanded to see Jeb Bush`s birth certificate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Donald Trump, for making my last six weeks,
my best six weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But you know who is not laughing? The Republican Party. Today
new concerns he is hurting the Republican brand. So what happens now?
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It will go down as the week Trump mania took over the GOP. Day
after day. He has been surging in the polls and he`s been grabbing
headlines. Standing by his controversial comments about Mexican
immigrants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Mexico sends its people,
they`re not sending their best.

They`re bringing drugs, they`re bringing crime, they`re rapists.

You have people coming in, and I`m not just saying Mexicans. I`m talking
about people from all over that are killers and rapists. They`re coming
into this country.

No, there is no apology. Because what I said is right. I mean, what I
said is 100 percent right.

It`s totally accurate. The border is a disaster, Bill. People are pouring
in and I mean illegal people. Illegal immigrants and they are pouring in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is insulting and is factually wrong. And companies are
feeling the heat from people`s response. They`re fleeing from him. Today,
a new one. The largest U.S. mattress manufacturer, Serta, is ending its
relationship. Who even knew Trump had a mattress deal? But go ahead. Add
it to the list. Right now some of the right, they seem unsure whether to
take all this seriously. We see headlines like this one. The GOP fears
Trump hurting brand. And on the other hand, republican strategists say
Trump poll numbers will drop. But my opinion is they`re right to worry.
He will not back down. And last night, he did it again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything,
coming in illegally into this country, they`re mind-boggling. I mean,
somebody`s doing -- it`s women being raped. Well, who is doing the raping?
Who is doing the raping?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, Dana Milbank and Angela Rye, thank you both for
being here.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you, Rev.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Dana, how can they not be worried when he`s saying things like
that, that he said last night?

MILBANK: Well, I don`t see how they can`t be worried, Reverend. Because
he is basically exploiting the system they created. You know, he knows
what hot buttons to hit to fire up that Republican electorate. He has no
background so he can say whatever it is he wants. He knows exactly what to
say. So, in the sense, he is making a mockery of the whole republican
primary system. And the other thing is he has got a ton of money so that
he is capable of putting the ads out there. He`s got a ton of name
recognition which is why you`re seeing him basically in second place. Only
the Jeb Bush in the polls. So there is many reasons to be concerned.
Donald Trump is not going to be the President but he can make them
miserable for a very long time.

SHARPTON: Angela, on a scale of one to 10, how badly was the GOP damaged
this week by Trump?

RYE: Eleven. Is eleven an option?

(LAUGHTER)

Reverend, when I think about it again. We talk about this so many times.
The fact that the GOP actually spent real money in figuring out how they
could stop the bleed with minority voters, with women, with young people.
And the fact that Donald Trump has almost single handedly this week undone
all of that work. Of course we know that they haven`t made substantial
investments. But what we have seen is the Republican Party`s true colors.
The fact that very few of the candidates, and really none of the
candidates, have said much worth its salt in terms of holding him
accountable on. Businesses -- businesses have stepped up --

SHARPTON: Yes.

RYE: In a larger way to hold him accountable than his counter parts. I
don`t understand why it is just Hillary Clinton calling him to the carpet
on this and talking about how horrible these comments are. We`re talking
about a community in this country. The Hispanic buying power Rev is that
1.3 trillion just last year.

SHARPTON: Yes.

RYE: Imagine the impact of their votes and the fact that their votes are a
large part of what helped carry Obama in 2012.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s part of what they were reaching out to.

RYE: That`s right.

SHARPTON: One candidate did hold him in check. I want to come right back
to that, Angela. But another candidate who did disagree was Jeb Bush data,
and yet, we see that Trump has been constantly attacking Trump as well.
Last night he did it again. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I`m not a Bush fan and I say the last thing we need is another
Bush. The Bush family should rest and relax and go back to, you know,
sitting on boards and picking up checks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

TRUMP: Because this guy will never be able to make our country great. He
doesn`t have the energy. He doesn`t have what it takes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How big a problem is this for the Republicans for him to
constantly keep attacking Jeb Bush, the frontrunner?

MILBANK: Right. You see, once again, look, he`s read the polls, he knows
the pulse of the primary electorate. He knows what he has to do to draw a
blood. And because he has so much attention and because he has so much
name recognition, it really works. And you see Jeb Bush, particularly and
the other candidates trying to ignore him like he`s not there. But it is
pretty hard to ignore this enormous mega phone that is Donald Trump. So,
you know, this is going to continue. He is presumably if he continues to
poll this way, going to be there on the debate stage and he`s going to make
a mockery of this primary season for the Republicans.

SHARPTON: Angela, as I said, I would give back -- one candidate did come
out today, Chris Christie and he rejected Trump`s comments about Mexican
immigrants and more. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The comments were inappropriate and
they have no place in the race. I think it has been well documented over
time that there have been certain elements of our party that have been
unfriendly to elements of our population, including the Latino community
and we need to change that. Because we need to broaden our party to create
a coalition that`s going to be able to win national elections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, go back to the debate stage Dana just talked about. Jeb
Bush has said he disagrees with Donald Trump. Now Chris Christie has come
in. Christie is known as the guy that will get in your face. Could he be
the guy on the debate stage to take Donald Trump on, Angela?

RYE: He could but he won`t. And let`s talk about why. Let`s dissect what
he just. He said that he doesn`t agree with him and it doesn`t have a
place in their party. Why he doesn`t have a place in their party, Rev?
Because they`re trying to grow the base. How disingenuous is that. He
doesn`t say this is racist, this is prejudice rhetoric that doesn`t have
any place here. He doesn`t say that the people that were at Trump`s rally
the other day in New Hampshire saying we like this guy because he is
talking about taking our country back. That very racially charged rhetoric
we saw in 2010 grow with the Tea Party resurgent. He is not really serious
about a diverse Republican Party. He is serious about trying to win. And
I hope that people will see just what he said.

SHARPTON: Dana, I have to say this. When you mentioned the debate. There
are now 14 candidates. And President Obama had a little fun with that
today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We`ve got some healthy competition
in the Democratic Party. But I`ve lost count of how many Republicans are
running for this guy. They`ll have enough for an actual hunger games.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Dana, it is going to be a lot of confusion. It will be
interesting to watch.

MILBANK: Yes. To get them all on stage, they`ll have to be on piggy back
or something. Maybe they can solve this by having chicken fights on the
debate.

SHARPTON: Angela Rye and Dana Milbank, thank you for your time tonight.
Have a great Fourth of July weekend.

RYE: You too, Reverend.

MILBANK: Thank you, Rev. You too.

SHARPTON: From 1776 to 2015, the long march towards justice and equality
in America. How the last week has pushed America forward.

Also, the year in social justice is shaping this weekend`s big essence
festival in New Orleans. And saying goodbye to Maria from Sesame Street.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course I know the difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The 21st annual Essence fast kicks off tonight in New Orleans.
It has always been a party with a purpose and this is the first festival
since the Charleston tragedy and a year filled with high profile police
shootings. I recently sat down with the President of Essence
Communications, Michelle Ebanks and asked her about how Essence will tackle
the big issues facing our community.

MICHELLE EBANKS, PRESIDENT, ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS: And that was the
design from the very beginning. To have a great party. But the larger
idea is community building, empowerment, to have discussions around the
issues of the day, to have our leaders, our community leaders such as
yourself, Marc Morial, the National Urban League, mayors from around the
country, we`ll have our inspirational leaders, Deepak Chopra. You know, we
will have --

SHARPTON: That`s going to be big. Chopra, this is the first year he`s
done.

EBANKS: The first year he`s done it. We have 150 speakers throughout four
days who will be talking about the issues of the day. We will have Sybrina
Fulton will be with us again.

SHARPTON: Mother of Trayvon Martin.

EBANKS: That`s right. Nicole Paultre Bell. You know, mothers who have
experienced this, you know, violence in their own lives. And so this will
be an incredible gathering of the community around these issues.

SHARPTON: And people need to know, people come out. I mean, you have the
super dome packed at night for the entertainment. Mary J. Blige and others
that want to get to that. But thousands come out to these sessions to hear
the panels, to hear those of us that are speakers. I`ve been there 20, it
will be my 21st year.

EBANKS: The daytime is the largest part of the festival. Over 100,000
people a day come through a half million square feet in the Ernest N.
Morial Convention Center. It is the most important part of the festival.

SHARPTON: Another thing that is interesting is that, this is also the
tenth anniversary this summer of Katrina.

EBANKS: Yes.

SHARPTON: And the only time that the festival had to move out of New
Orleans is for Katrina. And I know Marc Morial and I in our speeches and
the other panels are going to talk about ten years since Katrina.

EBANKS: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: And what`s happening. It`s amazing.

EBANKS: It`s amazing. And when you think back to the devastation that
Katrina caused, where an entire community practically was underwater. So
many lives were lost. And you know, if you remember what happened in the
super dome.

SHARPTON: Right.

EBANKS: In the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. We will be back ten
years later in those venues. We must acknowledge, commemorate the lives
that were lost, celebrate the heroes who came and put that community back
together. And as a national community, we will commemorate the resilience
of New Orleans.

SHARPTON: Now, one of the things is that we are entering the political
season.

EBANKS: Yes.

SHARPTON: 2016. And I remember in 2011 and 2007, Essence sort of sets the
pace to start getting people ready for the vote next year.

EBANKS: Yes.

SHARPTON: Because it is the largest gathering of blacks before the end of
the year. And by the next gathering in Essence, it is almost too late.
What kind of impact do you think black voters are going to have in 2016
particularly black women?

EBANKS: Well, black women have been the largest single group going to the
polls for the last presidential election. The last two presidential
elections. This community, this cohort has always been active in the polls
to make sure that the issues impacting the black community are on the minds
and the agendas of our politicians. And this year will be no different.
So all of those issues will be covered by our 150 speakers. And that will
inform people and inspire them to continue to be active at the polls.

SHARPTON: Now, let`s shift gears a minute. You always have the A-list in
entertainment. It is a party with a purpose.

EBANKS: Yes.

SHARPTON: But it is also a party. And you get the top names that come and
perform at night. Tell us as an example of who`s going to do the Essence
Festival this year.

EBANKS: Well, absolutely. We are so proud that artists, for artists, the
Essence Festival is coming home. So we will start off Thursday night with
Kevin Hart, with his what`s now tour.

SHARPTON: Wow!

EBANKS: He is the hottest --

SHARPTON: Yes. He is the hottest artist in the world.

EBANKS: Black, white or other. Or others.

SHARPTON: It doesn`t matter.

EBANKS: So, that`s going to kick off the weekend on Thursday night. And
then we`ll have everyone from usher, Missy Elliott, Charlie Wilson, Mace,
Mary J. Blige, Erick Cabaydo (ph), Common, Kendrick Lamar will clothes out
the festival on Sunday evening. And those are just a few of the 60 artists
we will have.

SHARPTON: And it is also multi, what I should say cross generational from
a Charlie Wilson to Kendrick Lamar.

EBANKS: Yes.

SHARPTON: Well, you have something for everybody. Usually on the same
show. I mean, you see the young folks getting it on with Charlie Wilson
and you see older people relating to the young artist. It`s really a
family affair

EBANKS: This is where we all come together. Our national, our global
community. This is where we come and we enjoy each other. We enjoy the
cuisine in New Orleans, the arts, the music across our generations. We are
all together. There are no divisions.

SHARPTON: Well, it is the Essence Music Festival. I`m excited that we are
upon that time again. And I`ll be there with bells on. And maybe some
nice outfits, too.

Michelle Ebanks, thank you for your time tonight. And I`ll see you in New
Orleans.

EBANKS: See you there. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, big news from Sesame Street. A TV icon is
saying farewell. And later as we get ready to celebrate Independence Day,
we look at how far we`ve come since 1776.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s take a walk around the neighborhood and see who
we meet today.

(Singing): Who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood,
in your neighborhood --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: After 45 years in the neighborhood on Sesame Street, Maria is
saying goodbye. Sonia Manzano, the 65-year-old actress who played Maria on
the show, announced her plans to retire this week. Back in the early `70s,
Manzano was one of the first Hispanics to appear on National TV. She grew
up in the South Bronx. And she was incredibly important to Hispanic kids
who saw her as someone who looked like them and who taught the value of
embracing other cultures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONIA MANZANO, ACTRESS: (Singing) Sometimes I say hola, sometimes I say
hello, sometimes I say vamos and sometime I say, let`s go

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We saw Manzano and her character Maria grow over those four
decades. She got married on Sesame Street just like in real life. And she
also had a baby on the show. Just like at home. She`s always been an
incredible performer featuring in some of the show`s most iconic segments,
including the famous Charlie Chapman skit in front of a fake mirror.

But most importantly, she taught kids the importance of friendship and
love.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANZANO: We can still love each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can? How?

MANZANO: As friends. Friends love each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Manzano has been around so long that kids watched her, grew up
to be adults and then had their own kids who watched her on Sesame Street.
She said that she hopes that her story will inspire others. I think that`s
already happened for generations of the young and the young in heart.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: This weekend America celebrates its 239th birthday and the start
of a long fight to live up to its creed. We hold these truths to be self-
evident, that all men are created equal. The man who wrote those words,
Thomas Jefferson, was a slave owner. Back then women couldn`t vote and gay
people were brutally punished, just for being who they were. But since
then, America has changed for the better. The slaves won their freedom in
the civil war and then women won the right to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A growing revolt of women against (INAUDIBLE) and for
the right to vote in particular.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The civil rights movement pushed America forward even more until
we saw progress that once seemed impossible. As Dr. King said, the arc of
the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. And we saw that
just last week when marriage equality became a reality and people burst
into a song on the steps of the Supreme Court.

(CROWD SINGING "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER")

Yes, we`ve come a long way. But there is a long way to go. President
Obama talked about that in his historic speech in Selma, Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: America is not some fragile thing.
We are large in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are
boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit.
Two hundred and thirty nine years after this nation`s founding, our union
is not yet perfect but we are getting closer. We know the march is not yet
over. We know the race is not yet won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The march is not yet over and the wounds from 1776 are still not
healed. The confederate flag still flies over the South Carolina capitol
and there`s work to do on inequality, poverty, voting, guns, and the
criminal justice system. And it is hard work and there`s going to be
disappointments. Most of my life I`ve been engaged in those fights.
Sometimes there have been some discouraging results. But when I think
about where we started, 239 years ago, and the only reason we`ve made
progress is because people didn`t give up. People didn`t succumb to their
worst fears. They didn`t cop out. We`ve come too far to turn around now
as we celebrate. Let us not forget, we have to move forward.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Have a great holiday weekend.
"HARDBALL" starts right now.


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