Alex Witt   |  June 22, 2013

Steele explains challenges of being African-American in the GOP

In Part II of "Office Politics," Alex Witt sits down with MSNBC analyst and card-carrying member of the GOP, Michael Steele. They discuss how his mother, Mae Bell, influenced his life and how she embodies the American Dream. Michael explains the challenges of being an African-American in the Republican Party and what he was thinking when he became the first African-American elected to statewide office in Maryland.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> analysts and former gop chair michael steel . he tells me why his mother is the most powerful woman in the world and what he was thinking when he became the first african-american elected to statewide office in maryland. first i asked him about the challenges of being black and republican.

>> where to begin? you have a couch? it is a very, very daunting, challenging opportunity, responsibility. you get within your own community you're not trusted because you're a republican. you're an uncle tom , you're a sell out. you have whites who look at you inside and outside the republican party , democrats included, look at you suspiciously. what i've learned to do is just be me. i'm the same guy today as i was in high school . sometimes it's better to to not be pushy. i've always felt the sense of urgency when it comes to my politics.

>> what did it mean to you to be the first statewide african-american elected to office.

>> i'm standing on the capital steps overlooking a sea of folks, this grand building, historic building and right behind me down at the port, literally behind me kunta kinte was sold into slavery. i'm going i'm now part of this legacy. this is the continuation of his story in so many ways. the continuation of so many african-americans who died, who struggled, who were successful, who failed. i'm standing on their shoulders on this step.

>> i want to talk about you and your childhood. you were born at andrews air force base and you were adopted. what do you know about, if anything, your bilogical family?

>> nothing. the system is designed not to let me anything. i don't know my medical history . i don't know anything about my parents other than they were coeds at catholic university and that my mother, my birth mother was convinced by one of the sisters who worked at st. ann's infant home to give me up for adoption as opposed to making a different choice. people understand why i'm pro-life, now you know.

>> your adoptive mother, your mother --

>> most powerful woman in the world.

>> she brought you up by herself after her husband died when you were about three years old.

>> my mother is just one of these people that is giving and selfless but strong and stern and she's just a power house and an example of the american dream because the american dream is in many respects not so much what you get but what you give. when you have someone who has very little and they give it all, wow. that's a very powerful lesson.