Video: Race and Katrina
updated 9/12/2005 10:48:54 AM ET 2005-09-12T14:48:54

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has been involved in evacuating people from New Orleans and has called the federal response unacceptable.  He believes race is partly to blame.  On Thursday, he took an aerial tour of New Orleans and joins us now from the relief command center in Baton Rouge.
Later in the day, he joined MSNBC's Chris Matthews to discuss relief efforts and the situation in Louisiana.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below, to watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Reverend Jackson, what story is this going to be?  Ten years from now, what are we going to be saying about what happened in New Orleans the last two weeks? 

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION:  You know, I think, while there is a story to be made about race, poverty, class, the biggest story is, we had days of preparation, and no mass rescue, no mass relief, no mass relocation and no mass reconstructions for Americans. 

We have been left vulnerable as Americans, with no plan of mass rescue.  We had emergency planning, but no planning for the emergency. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you make of the fact that all those people were told to go to that Superdome in New Orleans, rather than being bused out of town? 

JACKSON:  Well, more mass bad planning, because if they gone to the Superdome in big numbers, if a (category 5) hurricane had hit New Orleans, they would all have drowned in the Superdome, for example. 

And the fact is, in this state, without sending people all over America, you could use the military bases, England Air Force Base up in Alexandria, 3,000 acres, with houses and barracks and swimming pools and schools and hospitals, the Belle Chasse base in New Orleans.  Between those military bases, state and federal parks in this state, you can house people right here in this state. 

And they should be closer to home, because when the reconstruction starts, they should have the first option on jobs and contracts in their own home state. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you think that they will have a better opportunity for those union jobs, those construction jobs if they are within commuting distance? 

JACKSON:  Well, they ought to.

But, you know, the president put forth a deal of $50 billion Marshall Plan idea.  But they tried to exempt enforcement for small businesses and those who had been disadvantaged.  And so, the bill must be challenged until those who have been most displaced, they have first priority on jobs, contract, reconstruction and family reunification. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of George W. Bush, the president's performance in this effort?

JACKSON:  Well, he never came to New Orleans.  His Cabinet member never came to New Orleans.  The Red Cross never came to New Orleans.  They were told by Homeland Security, don't come.   

They say it's dangerous.  He went to Iraq.  In two days, he was at 9/11 holding up the arms of fireman and police, which he should have done.  But the firemen of New Orleans deserve their arms held up as well.  It seems to me that his leadership was vital and missed in a time when it should-I think it really should have been present.

Watch 'Hardball' each weeknight at 5 p.m and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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