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PoliticsNation, Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Read the transcript from the Thursday show

Guests: Sheldon Whitehouse, Nia-Malika Henderson, Michael Isikoff, Michael
Gruber, Harry Johnson Sr

AL SHARPTON, HOST: Hey, Republicans, 14 million Americans are
desperate for work, and you`re forcing a vote on abortion?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s this kind of myth that this will prevent
woman from having abortions.


SHARPTON: The do-nothing Congress finally goes to war. Not on
unemployment, but on women`s health. Tonight, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
on Republican Party`s outrageous priorities.




SHARPTON: And watch out, seniors.


CAIN: The 9-9-9 plan.


SHARPTON: The leading Republican`s plan is called 9-9-9, but it would
deep-six Social Security.

And, Willard "Mitt" Romney wants to deep-six his health care plan.
We`ll hear from the adviser who met with President Obama.

Sorry, Willard, we won`t forget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those of us who are civil rights movement, as we
grew older, I think we blinked.


SHARPTON: Plus, the icon.


SHARPTON: You never stopped that activism. Why?

HARRY BELAFONTE, SOCIAL ACTIVIST: I don`t like to give up fun.


SHARPTON: My interview with the great Harry Belafonte, who still
won`t give up the quest for justice in this country.

POLITICS NATION starts right now.


SHARPTON: Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton, live from Las

Tonight`s lead: Republicans in Congress just plain outrageous. Again
today, President Obama challenged the GOP to put forth a jobs plan.


jobs plan that independent economists would indicate would actually put
people back to work. I haven`t yet seen it.


SHARPTON: Wait, Mr. President. You haven`t seen it?

Let me show you, Republicans in the House, today, fighting hard for


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must prevent taxpayers dollars from being
used to fund abortions.


SHARPTON: There`s a good jobs plan -- attacking women`s rights.
They`re minutes away from passing a bill restricting abortion rights, and
this is their grand compromise on jobs?

Democrats called them out on it today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Under this bill, when the
Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women
can die on the floor and health care providers do not have to intervene.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: I was pregnant, I was
miscarrying, I was bleeding. If I had to go from one hospital to the next
trying to finds one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I
would even be here today.


SHARPTON: This is not a political gain. This is people`s lives.
This bill allows hospitals to refuse abortions even for a pregnant woman
with a life-threatening complication. Planned Parenthood is calling it,
quote, "A demolition derby for women`s health care."

And so, while the House is offering up that job solution, here`s the
jobs plan Republicans are offering in the Senate.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to have a reduction in
corporate taxes from 35 to 25.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make it easier and cheaper for the private sector.

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Based on free enterprise

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Repeal the Obamacare, repeal Dodd/Frank, repeal
these harmful regulations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Regulating too much, impacting too much.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Lowering tax rates can create an
economic boom.


SHARPTON: Wow. Who saw that coming? A jobs agenda built around more
tax cuts and less regulations.

And get this one. They`re referring to it as the "Real American Jobs"
plan, because nothing says real American jobs plan like tax breaks for the

At the end of the day, I`m with you, President Obama. I haven`t seen
a Republican jobs plan, either -- at least not a serious one.

Joining me now is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from Rhode

Senator, thanks for coming on the show tonight.

Reverend. Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Senator, the other side of the aisle is clearly not focused
on jobs.


SHARPTON: And they are -- let me just ask this -- are they trying to
just hurt the economy on purpose?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I think the president has said that they would
rather see him fail than get the economy back on its feet. And if you look
at the vote that they just took in the Senate the other day, we tried to
move to proceed to the president`s jobs bill.

Once we`ve moved to proceed, they could have offered any amendment
they wanted. We would have had a discussion about it. We would have begun
the legislative process about jobs in America.

They wouldn`t open the door to that discussion. They slammed the door
shut. They said no, we`re not going to discuss it.

And as you saw, they moved immediately into the House to an attack on
women`s health rights.

So, trying to get them to focus on jobs in a real way is proving to be
a challenge.

SHARPTON: So you`re saying that after the vote the other night, if
their objection was the president`s plan, they could have moved back in and
started dealing with alternative plans or parts of the bill or whatever
they wanted to do, rather than do that, the House Republicans went toward
women`s rights and abortion, and the Republicans in the Senate have gone to
the same old "let`s take care of the rich," tax cuts for the rich and

So, there`s no serious attempt at all by Republicans to come with a
jobs plan?

WHITEHOUSE: Not that I can see. So far, there is no jobs plan,
there`s nothing that any independent economist has looked at and said this
would actually create jobs. They`re talking about now maybe trying to get
one together, but the president has one that would create nearly 2 million
jobs according to the economist who used to work for John McCain.

Isn`t that good enough to start the discussion at least? Not for
them. They shut us down.

SHARPTON: Well, let me tell you -- they say all politician is local.
People may think you`re being partisan as a Democrat.

But let`s look at your own state, Rhode Island. What would have
happened had this bill passed in Rhode Island? It would have support 2,100
construction jobs, 1,100 education jobs, 1,100 school infrastructure jobs,
31,000 jobs for long-term unemployed.

Can your state and your constituents in the state afford to lose all
of this, Senator?

WHITEHOUSE: No, Al. And behind those numbers, there are real stories
of real Americans. I do a tele-town hall pretty regularly.

On my last one, a lady called in. Her name is Diane, and she was
talking about her husband. They have three kids.

Her husband was a heavy equipment operator, lost his job. Retrained
himself as a welder, lost his jobs -- through no fault of their own,
because of the economy. Now they`re struggling, they don`t know what
they`re going to do. They don`t know if they can keep their home with
three children in it.

You can put people to work in this country right away with the kind of
infrastructure investment that this bill would create.

So the numbers that you used, Reverend, are big numbers. But what`s
important is behind each of those numbers is a family that is suffering
because of this tsunami of catastrophe that came out of Wall Street and has
knocked the middle class down. And we`re trying to give people a chance to
get back on their feet, and Republicans filibuster just the effort to get
on a jobs bill.

This wasn`t even a vote another jobs bill. This was just a vote to
get on the job bills and start having amendments and talking about it.

SHARPTON: You used the term tsunami. What really alarms me is in the
face of that, look at what Rand Paul is saying. I mean, it`s like done in
another planet. Look at his statement.


PAUL: It is patently false. It doesn`t further the debate to run
around saying the rich are not paying their fair share. The income tax is
paid by 53 percent of the people, the top 53 percent of the people.


SHARPTON: I mean, are they crazy? And if that`s not bad enough,
Marco Rubio says he`s going to introduce this bill. Look at this. He`s
proposing a bill that would cut back by 10 percent the federal workforce,
it would cut 440,000 jobs. They`re actually talking about cutting jobs
while we`re trying to get a jobs plan to provide jobs. This is outrageous.

WHITEHOUSE: Well, as you know, there`s been a study done that if we
went for all the wild ideas that the Republicans -- particularly that the
Republican House has supported would cost, it would cost 6 millions.
They`re not about building jobs. They`re out there with legislation that
would actually destroy jobs.

And when you look at things that seems to be on their face to be
reasonable, regulatory reform or reducing spending. As soon as you talk
about reducing spending with them, they want to kill Medicare. As soon, as
you want to talk about regulatory reform with them, they want to gut the
clean air act.

As soon as you pull back the curtain on any of their ideas, there`s a
corporate Rottweiler behind the curtain. And we need to defend the
American public from that.

We`re willing to talk about spending. We`re willing to talk about
regulatory reform. But all they want to talk about is killing Medicare,
which the Republican House budget did and gutting the clean air act, which
they`re trying to do.

Those are things that America doesn`t support and that are wrong for
this country.

SHARPTON: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you for your fight -- the
fight you`re making and thank you for being here with me tonight.

WHITEHOUSE: Good to be with you, Reverend. Thanks for the

SHARPTON: We just talk about jobs. Now, let`s talk about justice.

This weekend, I`m marching for jobs and justice in Washington, D.C.
I`m doing it because there`s an incredible amount of injustice in this
country. So, Americans are desperate for jobs and the Republicans just
don`t seem to have any urgency about it.

Just look at the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. These people are
fighting for fairness, this inequality shouldn`t continue, not here in

This has become much more than just a march on Wall Street. It`s hit
a nerve and spread to more than 1,400 American cities, and they`re doing it
because they want a level playing field.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The financial system is tilted, skewed toward the

CROWD: We are the 99 percent. We are the 99 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most people in America know that the economic
situation is unfair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Social justice, financial justice. You know,
Jesus` stuff that the GOP really isn`t getting these days.


SHARPTON: Republicans, do you hear that? Americans are in the
streets saying your party doesn`t get it.

What don`t you get? Is that a quarter of the millionaires in this
country pay taxes at a lower rate than the middle class? That`s right.
Millionaires, paying a smaller share than working-class Americans.

What you also don`t get is that the top 1 percent controls a quarter
of the wealth in this country, and what you really don`t get is that all of
this is happens white more than 46 million are living in poverty.

Republicans, you called these people mobs. You demonized them. But
whatever you think, 54 percent of this country thinks this movement is
right. Americans are on the side of equality, and so am I.

We`ll be making ourselves heard at the march this Saturday.

The question for you, Republicans -- will you finally listen to


SHARPTON: Coming up, I`m calling 911 on Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 plan.
Seniors, it`s a disaster for you. That`s next.


SHARPTON: We`re back with 4-1-1 on Herman Cain`s 9-9-9 plan. There`s
a big reason he`s surging in the polls and it says a lot about where the
Republican Party is these days.

The plan is just about all Herman Cain talks about.


CAIN: And 9-9-9 means jobs, jobs, jobs.

Someone once said simplicity is genius. I believe that was why I was
attacked so much.

That allows the free market system to pick the winners and losers.


SHARPTON: Sorry, Mr. Cain, but you`re the one picking winners and
losers. All the experts agree, former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett, says
the plan is, quote, a huge tax cut for the wealthy.

"The Washington Post" calls it deceptive and unfair. And the Center
for American Progress said it would, quote, "bankrupt the country."

But that must be why Republicans love it. Cain delivers big for the
top 1 percent. His plan raises taxes on the poor, lowers taxes on the
rich, and adds to the deficit. Herman also has some bad ideas for Medicare
and Social Security.

He says, quote, "Get the federal government out of the way. This will
allow states, cities, churches and charities, and businesses to offering a
helping hand instead of a handout." Translation: in the safety net as we
know it.

Joining me now, NBC analyst Alex Wagner, and Nia-Malika Henderson,
political reporter for "The Washington Post."

Alex, isn`t this a classic GOP -- a GOP classic plan, take from the
poor and give to the rich?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANALYST: It`s something else -- I`ll say that,
Reverend. There are solid mathematics to back the assertion this would
absolutely raise taxes on the poor, shift the burden to them. The rich
don`t spend as much of their income as the poor do. This is going to give
them a break.

But at the end of the day, this is in line with the party balking at a
payroll tax cut because why? Because it`s not a long term enough solution.
The GOP has really found itself on the side of the top 1 percent. And
that`s one of the reasons you`re seeing is the outcry in the streets all
over the country.

The fact that Herman Cain is standing firmly behind this plan I think
is, you know, it`s a testament to his belief, fundamentally that people
will opt for simplicity over a nuance and more feasible prescription for

SHARPTON: But, Nia, let me show this morning, Nia, and I want you to

Vice President Biden said on "Good Morning America" this about the


consistent with Republican philosophy, that what you continue to do is
continue to cut taxes for the millionaires and billionaires, and continue
to add a burden on the middle class.


SHARPTON: Nia, can they win? Can the Republicans expect to win the
White House with this kind of plan?

they can when -- with this sort of plan. You saw Paul Ryan, for instance,
came out today. He`s a real hero, beloved by the grassroots and Tea Party
folks. He came to say this was a bold idea, and something that people
should take a look at.

I mean, it`s unclear whether or not this thing is going to have
staying power. We see Herman Cain at the top of the polls. You guys just
had a poll out, and he`s ahead of Mitt Romney in that poll.

A lot of folks that you talk to on the ground and some of these early
states really look at those polls and say, wait a minute, Cain isn`t in any
of these early states. He doesn`t have much of a grassroots presence, much
of a ground game in any of these states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South
Carolina. He`s on a book tour, I think he`s in Ohio today.

And so they look at that and they say these polls aren`t necessarily
correct. And with scrutiny, we`ll see probably the same kind of thing we
saw with Rick Perry, which was a real downgrading over the last couple

SHARPTON: But, Alex, not only does he not super a ground game on some
key states, I don`t think he has a sound game in policy. If you look at
when he was questioned about the details of his plan, because we started
raising questions, he said take him seriously. So, we did.

And questions were raised about 9 percent in terms of sales tax. Are
you talking about food?

WAGNER: Right.

SHARPTON: Are you talking about goods?

Let me show you what Herman Cain said about the explaining of his own
plan and the impact on consumers and working-class people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Explain why we should be paying more for milk,
for a loaf of bread and beer?

CAIN: They have the flexibility to decide on how much they want to
spend on new goods, how much they want to spend on used goods.

If you go and look at how much they would probably spend on sales
taxes for new goods, not used, used goods, they don`t pay a sales tax, they
are still going to have money left over.


SHARPTON: So we`re talking about 9 percent sales tax.

WAGNER: Right.

SHARPTON: I mean, do you understand what that means? I mean, because
he was like all over the place. They would decide. I mean, what does that

WAGNER: Well, let`s keep it in mind, I was in New Hampshire a few
days ago, and Herman Cain was in New Hampshire talking about the sales of
this 9-9-9 plan. He apparently did not know that there is no sales tax in
New Hampshire, and so, a 9 percent sales tax is, in fact, a 9 percent tax

Look, this is someone that specializes in slogans. And perhaps in a
lot of fields, a lot of professions, that`s not necessarily a bad thing.

But when you are actually president of the United States, slogan-
eering isn`t going to work. I mean, there has got to be a real policy
development and Herman Cain has shown no proclivity for that sort of thing.
He has one apparently unknown Wells Fargo economics guy that his financial
and policy guru.

I think when -- you know, when he is tested and asked really specific
questions about this plan, he just basically withers. I mean, the platform
is being attacked as you said, on both the right and the left.

SHARPTON: But, Nia, I mean, I give him credit. He did well for
himself. We`re proud to see him lift himself up by his bootstraps.

But when you`re talking about putting a 9 percent sales tax across the
board, can`t clarify whether you`re talking about single mothers buying
milk and bread, we don`t know what that means, we do know if it goes across
the board, people buying things every day are paying a higher tax, and then
paying income tax. Wealthy people don`t do that. I mean, how does anyone
lift themselves up when they`re being charged more than the people who are
in the top 1 percent, who get a free ride almost on this.

HENDERSON: Right. And let`s not forget -- I mean, this 9-9-9 plan is
not only a way station to a bigger tax, which will be 23 percent on goods
and services. And that`s where the working class, the middle class, and
lower income folks, that`s where they spend much of their money. And they
wouldn`t even get deductions, you know, for earned income tax credits or
anything like that.

I think -- you know, in some ways, Herman Cain revels in this whole
idea of simplicity. If you look at his book, his section on -- his
doctrine, his foreign policy doctrine in nine pages, coincidentally, and
he`s sort of revels in this idea that I don`t have an Afghanistan plan yet,
but I would develop one once I got into the Oval Office. And I think we`re
going to hear him with this.

I mean, it`s all -- I don`t want to call it willful ignorance, but in
some ways, it is. And he sort of says people find that refreshing. That
he says he doesn`t exactly know all of what he would do with this tax plan
or even with foreign policy.

SHARPTON: He doesn`t.

WAGNER: Reverend, I wanted to add, my favorite Herman Cain quote and
there have been so many, is: I`ve got to prove to the American people
there`s more between my ears than just pizza -- pepperoni and pizza sauce.

And, you know, we`re looking for that, and I don`t think we`re finding
a lot thus far.

SHARPTON: Well, I mean, he doesn`t not only lack an Afghanistan plan,
he lacks an Illinois and Ohio and Florida plan. I mean, we don`t
understand how you don`t know where your sales tax is going to start. We
know it will increase taxes for the working class, but I mean, it`s just
absolutely just slogan-eering.

Alex Wagner, Nia-Malika Henderson, thanks and have a great night.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: They said Mr. Cain likes simplicity, he says take him
seriously, don`t just call him names, which I agree we shouldn`t. So, Mr.
Cain, your plan simply doesn`t make sense.

Ahead, the Boehner camp to jobs agenda is on full display right now --
attack women`s rights.

Plus, Willard`s health care past won`t go away. And it just got
worse. The tape you need to see.

And Rush Limbaugh takes on Mitt Romney. Wait until you hear what he
said today.


SHARPTON: Hey, did you know some of Willard`s top advisers met with
the President Obama about health care? That`s right. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Willard Mitt Romney better asking his corporation friends
for some advice. His health care problem is getting worse. Today this
video from the 2006 signing ceremony in Massachusetts went viral.


we pitched the secretaries on our vision to ensure all our citizens. His
work in Washington and behind the scenes on Beacon Hill was absolutely
essential. It`s now my pleasure to introduce my collaborator and friend,
Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator.



SHARPTON: Yes, Ted Kennedy was Romney`s collaborator. This Ted Kennedy.


health insurance and universal coverage. It has been the passion of my
life. It has been the passion of my life. And it has been the passion of
my life since the earliest days of my life.


SHARPTON: This comes just days after NBC`s Michael Isikoff found a
smoking gun linking Romney`s plan to President Obama`s. Three architects
of Romney-care met a dozen times with senior Obama officials in 2009,
including President Obama, helping to shape the new law step by step. Have
fun explaining this one to the Tea Party.

With me now, one of those Romney-care architects Jonathan Gruber, now
a professor of economics at MIT, and Michael Isikoff, NBC News national
investigative correspondent. The man who broke the story about Romney-care
at the White House. Michael, let me start with you. The Romney camp has
always tried to act like there was no kind of interaction at all, no
intersection at all with what he did in Massachusetts and what the
president proposed to the country. Your story seems to blow that wide

I think that the president and the White House officials have said before
that the -- that the Romney bill passed in Massachusetts in 2006 was the
inspiration for the affordable care act. And I think what we were able to
show goes a bit beyond that, showing it was more like the blueprint,
meeting with people like Jonathan, with Jon Kingsdale, appointed by the
Romney administration to actually implement the health reform law there.
And John McDonough, who was a stakeholder in the negotiations over the
affordable act, but I think over the Romney law. So I think when you put
it all together, it`s pretty clear, and I think the records show that they
were consulting and relying very heavily on the Massachusetts experience in
the drafting of the affordable care act.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, you were one of the architects of Romney-care,
you were in the meetings at the White House, what is it that the White
House and the president wanted to know?

to know how we made it work in Massachusetts. They were ready to take a
bold step forward with health insurance coverage. We had run the expert in
Massachusetts. It had been successful. They wanted to know how we did it
and how we could base the national law on the lessons we learned in

SHARPTON: So, Jonathan, are you surprised when you hear that Romney -
- Mr. Governor Romney says that his plan is totally different from the
president`s plan, and that they have no kind of similarities at all? Are
you surprised when you hear him say that?

GRUBER: Well, it`s completely incorrect if he says that. He knows
that is incorrect. The big distinction he`s drawing is that President
Obama`s plan has now taxes to pay for it, and his didn`t. But that`s
really just dishonest. Because he did not have to raise taxes, because the
federal government picked up half the cost, and because there was already
tax sitting around that Governor Dukakis had put in. That Romney just
grabbed and we dedicate the first purposes. So, the only difference is
that Romney wasn`t forced to raise taxes, to pay first coverage, Obama did
have to do so. But otherwise, the plans are really the same.

SHARPTON: Now, you were an adviser on this plan while he was
governor, and you were advising him and those that shaped Romney-care,

GRUBER Yes, I was a consultant to his administration. I helped him in
the early stages in his bill, then helped the legislature write the bill.
And I was appointed by Governor Romney to the connector board, the board
that actually implement the law in Massachusetts, starting in 2006.

SHARPTON: So, Michael, I went to public schools in Brooklyn, New
York, but one plus one equals two when I went to school. Here you have
someone that was there that was in the meetings that`s saying what
happened. I mean, how does Willard now come and try to rewrite history?

ISIKOFF: Well, I think what he says is look, it was right for
Massachusetts, I don`t walk away from what I did in Massachusetts, but one
size doesn`t fit all. What`s right for Massachusetts is not right for
Texas, is not necessarily right for the rest of the country. But look,
he`s appealing to two different constituencies. Since he was governor of
Massachusetts, he was in a state that obviously has a long history of
voting democratic. He was dealing with a democratic legislature. And he
was trying to be the pragmatic moderate governor that most people saw him
during his time as governor of Massachusetts.

Now, he`s running for president in republican primary with a very
conservative electorate, and one which views Obama-care as one of the great
black marks of this administration. So, he`s got to thread the needle and
emphasize the distinctions between what he did in Massachusetts and what he
wants to do now. And, you know, at times the records of showing what took
place at the White House and how affordable care act came to be crafted are
a bit inconvenient for that message.

SHARPTON: Well, let me make another suggestion as well. It`s
probably political, because he knows, as running for president, as you just
said, Michael, that Republicans don`t like this plan. Look at the polls of
where Republicans stand on this plan. And then he also knows that he
becomes the target of some of those that are the most bombastic in the
republican right. Look and listen to what Rush Limbaugh had to say about


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Romney is not a conservative. I
like him very much. I`ve spent some social time with him. He`s a fine
guy. A very nice gentleman. He is a gentleman. But he`s not a


SHARPTON: Well you heard it. That was today, Rush Limbaugh.
Jonathan Gruber and Michael Isikoff, thank you both for being with me
tonight. And Willard, you`ve got a lot of explaining to do -- not to me,
but to the Tea Party.

My interview with Harry Belafonte, the actor, singer, and activist,
speaks out on Occupy Wall Street, and the president`s leadership, next.


SHARPTON: Officials in Madison held a mock election this week to test
Wisconsin`s new voter ID law. And the results are in -- fail. They
Appleton Post-Crescent reports that new voter ID procedures, quote, "led to
lines so long, some voters abandoned the effort." Lines long enough to
make people give up their right to vote, just to solve a non-existing
voting fraud problem. It`s shameful.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to the show. Actor, singer, humanitarian,
activist. It`s hard to put just one label on Harry Belafonte. Over half a
century, Belafonte has broken through social and racial barriers in every
aspect of his work, and he`s fought tirelessly for civil rights, justice
and equality around the world. Now, at 84, he`s releasing his
autobiography called "My Song." And next Monday HBO will premiere a new
documentary about his life called "Sing your Song." I recently sat down
with him to talk protests, the president and the future of America.


SHARPTON: It is indeed an honor for me to have on the show one of the
men I most admire, Harry Belafonte.

HARRY BELAFONTE, AUTHOR, "MY SONG": It is great to be with you,
Reverend, in your new incarnation. You wear it well.

SHARPTON: Since you brought me through several of my incarnations.
Let me start by talking about the book and the documentary. You say in
your book that you learned -- let me put up this quote which you learned as
a little boy, "I see the little boy I was in all his complexities, angry
and hurt, almost always alone, yet why this little boy among all others
should use his anger to push himself up, make a name for himself." What do
you think it was that pushed you and made you be different than one would
think given the environment and given your social isolation?

BELAFONTE: I would say that the first, in human form, was my mother.
Her immigrant life, her own view of the world in which he brought us into,
was consistently challenging to her, and she built up this resistance to
oppression. The other factor was just poverty. The experience of poverty
I think shapes a lot in one`s character. You can go wrong or go right.
I`m not making moral statements, I`m just saying that path. And for me,
fortunately, there were enough mentors, enough people out doing the thing,
there was the boys, there was Eleanor Roosevelt, in our community was
Langston Hughes and (INAUDIBLE). And there were just a lot of folks who
took the challenge. And then, by the time the Second World War came and I
got involved with that, that rounded out the picture for me from a
universal perspective. I saw our human commonality with the events that
unfolded during that war. When I came back to America, expecting that all
the things that we had preached about that war, for democracy, to end
racism, to have no superior race, but all people come together in a social
harmony just was denied black people en masse. And we had a choice to give
into that or to rebel against it. And many of us took the road of

SHARPTON: Let me show you a clip that is important to me. Because
you became a megastar before we even used the term, but you also sacrificed
a lot and risk a lot. Here`s a clip of you talking with President John
Kennedy during the civil rights era, a time when people, particularly black
artists, but any artist, was honored to be talking to a president. And you
talked to him. Let me show the clip.


BELAFONTE: As a Negro and as an American, I have many questions, and
I`m sure everyone does.

JOHN KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I want to make it very clear, on
this question of equal opportunity for all Americans, whether in the field
of civil rights, better minimum wages, better housing, better working
conditions, jobs, I stand for these things.

BELAFONTE: I thought Kennedy should be taking a look at the movement,
which he did not know too much about.


SHARPTON: He`s getting ready to run for president, challenging the
democratic nominee presumed, who later became president on civil rights,
you helped to really be the backbone to Dr. King, and to Nelson Mandela. I
remember when I went over as an election observer for the elections in
South Africa, they said we would have never down apartheid without Harry

BELAFONTE: I think that statement carries more generosity than
actuality. I think that we did a great deal. A lot of us did here in
America, on the antiapartheid movement. Thousands of young people were
engaged like they are engaged today. A lot of people sought to dismiss
them as irrelevant, and that we were just bleeding hearts. Well, you know,
a bleeding heart has been America`s number one tool for goodness. Sitting
with John Kennedy, he needed to be prodded, he needed to be led. He needed
to be awakened to the issues of our day that he was not as in depth
familiar with as he should have been. Just as I believe now is the only
thing that I find missing from Barack Obama is a nation that`s at his back.

The Tea Party is there, a lot of people making a lot of noise, but he
did not have and does not have, and will have -- I predict it`s here and
it`s coming. He will have what you see on Wall Street is that a martyr
that is on its way to let the world know that there`s an America that`s
awake, and an America that`s thirsty for truth and an American that demands
on having things in another way and is that way in a lot of places here in
America. And a lot people said to us in the beginning with Rosa Parks,
those unlikely things, when a black woman`s feet hurt on a bus on one -- is
a start of your movement? What are you smoking? You know, get out of here
and go find life. We said we found a life, we`re going to show you one.
And from that little humble beginning, we changed the future of America.
And I think exactly the same thing is happening now.

SHARPTON: So, when you see things like Occupy Wall Street and others,
giving what you`ve seen movements before grow and become history-changing
movements, you don`t discount things, because you`ve seen things come from
the bottom up and really change governments.

BELAFONTE: I not only don`t discount it, but I recognize the fact
that when things happen, that`s the only way they happen, coming from the
bottom up.

SHARPTON: You waited a long time to write your memoirs and to allow
this film to be done, and you worked meticulously at it. What do you want
generations from now to know about Harry Belafonte? What is the legacy you
want to live?

BELAFONTE: There`s no condition too severe and no opportunity missing
where you cannot on all conditions make a difference. It`s just how you
choose to do it, and are you committed to truly wanting to make a


SHARPTON: We`ll show part two of my interview with Harry Belafonte on
tomorrow night`s show. Truly a moving man and a truly a moving interview.

Ahead, at a time of division over jobs and justice, we need a moment
to come together. The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, and why his message
is needed now, more than ever, next.


SHARPTON: As I`ve been saying on Saturday, we will be marching in
Washington for jobs and justice, but on Sunday, the nation will pause to
honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., with the official dedication
of his memorial in Washington, D.C. It`s a monument to the man and to his
work, and to the work yet to be done and the fight for justice and civil
rights for all Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s just a dream come true for all of us and
America to be able to have such a tribute to him.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s really cool to learn more about someone who
really inspired a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In my mind, he is probably one of the greatest
Americans that`s ever lived. And, so to have this monument here is just


SHARPTON: Too long, overdue distinction is a as a result of more than
25 years of work by members of King`s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha to honor
the great civil rights leader. And in no small measure, it was spearheaded
and led by another southerner, the man who led this effort and made it
happen, and we`ll be marking him on that day, Harry Johnson, Sr., the
president and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr., national memorial project

Harry, the memorial has been open to the public for a few weeks now.
What has been the reaction?

been wonderful, Reverend. I mean, I think the parks service has said about
1.5 million people thus far have come to visit this wonderful memorial.

SHARPTON: Now, what gave you this passion? I would see you in
cities, in airports. I mean, you were up at dawn and up to dawn again
raising money. Why was this such a personal kind of commitment to that
evolved from you to make this happen?

JOHNSON: Dr. King was not just an American hero, Dr. King was an
international hero, and failure was not an option for any of us. So
raising the funds -- something I took on as a personal passion to assure
the Dr. King`s memorial is here, not just for me or my kids, but indeed the
world to see into the future.

SHARPTON: Now, one of the things people need to understand, and I saw
that as people started from all over the world, from all kinds of
backgrounds, nationalities, even people that don`t speak the English
language, coming to this memorial that you and the alphas made sure
happened. Dr. King would fight a contemporary and local battle with a much
bigger meaning. Let me show you something he said.



MARTIN LUTHER KING, 1929-1968: The struggle now is not just to
integrate a lunch counter or to guarantee the right to vote. We have had
magnificent struggles and watershed movements in seeking to make these
rights a reality, but now the struggle is for genuine equality.


SHARPTON: That was in 1967. Dr. King saw the fight for -- against
segregation and against those who would stop voting rights as a bigger
universal fight. And that`s what you`ve been able to capture with this
memorial for everybody in the world to see.

JOHNSON: There`s no question, Dr. King was not just an African-
American hero, nor he just an American hero. Dr. King was an international
hero that changed the world. And that`s what we wanted people to see, that
Dr. King was indeed a contemporary hero that we also look forward. And
Reverend, for the first time in our country`s history, people would come to
the mall see a more diversified mall with the first man of color, first man
of peace situated on the mall.

SHARPTON: Now, a few weeks ago when we had to postpone the official
dedication because of the hurricane, the Alphas did have their dedication,
and we all were there. I was the only non-Alpha you let speak that day.
What`s going to happen Sunday?

JOHNSON: On Sunday, we expect the president of the United States.
I`m told that the vice president of the United States will be there. Other
dignitaries, as we officially turn this over to the United States for all
to see. Stevie Wonder will be with us along with other dignitaries.
Mayors from across the country, a lot of civil rights heroes from the past
and present will be with us, including yourself.

SHARPTON: Well, I`ll tell you something, Harry, all of the
dignitaries will be there, and all of us will be there, but I really want
to say this to the nation, none of us would be there if it wasn`t for your
effort and the effort of the Alphas. We should never forget that his
fraternity would not let the world forget the legacy of Dr. King. Harry
Johnson Sr., thank you so much for being with us tonight, and thank you for
giving this nation and the world a gift to put this memory and legacy in

Working people, regular people, black and white, way before we had a
president, we had a king, and he made us all understand we`re royalty.
That`s why we`re going to march Saturday and we`re going to pause and hold
hands on Sunday. We`re going to make the dream a reality, a reality for
working class, unemployed, the people Dr. King gave his life for. And
we`ll going to pause in prayer on Sunday, and thank God for Martin Luther

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


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