tv Juan Williams What the Hell Do You Have to Lose CSPAN December 29, 2018 10:15am-11:27am EST
immigrants helped change what it means to be american" talk about the political power of immigrants. that's a look ahead at the next three programs on book tv on c-span 2. starting now, here's juan williams on the trump administration's policies on civil rights. [ applause ] >> good evening. welcome to the center for thought and culture. i'm kelley girod, program consultant. i am particularly excited to be presenting this evening's event with juan williams as his work has been incredibly influential in my life. as a college student, juan
williams' "eyes on the prize" changed my life by exposing me to the complete history of america's struggle towards equality, a history i simply didn't get exposed to in my majority white high school. mr. williams' latest book "what the hell do you have to lose, trump's war on civil rights" is equally compelling. it reminds us of the hard-won civil rights catalog in "eyes on the prize" and reveals the daily threat to those civil rights under our current administration and the very specific voting, educational, housing, employment and public accommodation policy that turned those threats into action. lastly, it calls us, all americans, to be vigilant. juan williams currently serves as co-host of fox news channel's "the five" and appears as a political analyst on "fox news sunday" and "special report." he joined the network in 1997. in addition to his more than ten-year career with npr, where he served as senior national correspondent and news analyst,
williams spent 23 years at "the washington post." during his tenure, he covered every major political campaign from 1980 to 2000 as national correspondent and political columnist. you can also read his column every monday on the hill website. he has also interviewed numerous influential people and presidents over the course of his career, including barack obama, george w. bush, bill clinton, george h.w. bush and ronald reagan. williams' career in the media spans several decades across many platforms. a recipient of many awards for his writing and investigative journalism, he's won an emmy award for television documentary writing and received widespread krit c critical acclaim for numerous projects, including "politics the new black power." additionally, he's the author of six books including "eyes on the prize, america's civil rights years 1964 to 1965" and thurgood
marshall, american revolutionary which landed on book bub's 30 best biographies of all time. he's contributed to many national magazines including "time," "fortune," "the atlantic," "ebony" and "gq." ladies and gentlemen, mr. juan williams. [ applause ] >> kelley, thank you so much. that was a wonderful introduction. it's nice to know that the written word still has power and can affect people's lives. thank you for that very special introduction. thank you all for being here tonight, friday night. this is my hometown, new york city. my mom brought three kids from pan mama to brooklyn when i was years old. i grew up in brooklyn and i knew this neighborhood of lower manhattan because i think some of the biggest dollar basketball games i ever competed in were not in high school or college, but at a cage basketball court
on west fourth street. i know this neighborhood and thank you all, and thanks to the sheen center for hosting this event tonight and to c-span for covering it. i want to just give a shout-out to josh bucheizer, my writing assistant, researcher friend and helped so much with this project. normally, i start speeches by trying to relate to my audience, telling a joke, but i don't think it's appropriate here because to talk about president trump and race is no joke. to tell you the way i feel, i never imagined having to write this book. certainly not ten years, ten years after america elected a black president. i thought we were headed in a much different trajectory with regard to race in our society. but there's no getting away from the reality that today, the
current president is dividing us by race, exciting white nationalists and putting down blacks, latinos and immigrants with foul language from the biggest bully pulpit in the world, the white house. as halloween approaches, i can tell you, i am more scared of the fright provided by president trump than anything else. do you remember charles dickens' description of life in the 18th century after the french revolution? he wrote it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. in my lifetime, i think to myself this is a good description of life as a black man in america in 2018. why do i say that? because i stand before you, i'm 64 years old, in my lifetime i have seen the first black secretary of state. i have seen the first black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. i have seen the first black president of the usa.
i have seen musicians from michael jackson to kendrick lamar rise to the top of popular culture. i have seen black athletes from shaq to stefan curry to colin kaepernick, even the controversial colin kaepernick, all over tv advertising products, and i have seen black actors like denzel washington and jennifer hudson win academy awards. i can keep going on this way. i mean, it's just an incredible record of achievement in my lifetime. more blacks and latinos today serve in the congress than ever before. black high school graduation rates at an all-time high and more african-americans getting college degrees. it's all the best of times. but then there's this. scratch the surface and you find something all together different, a nation recoiling, just last year, at watching kkk and neonazis march in public,
appalled that black people still have to remind everyone in the wake of deadly police shootings that black lives matter. so in 2018, 2018, today, 64% of americans tell nbc polling that racism is a major problem in american life. 77% of african-americans tell pollsters they have a negative view of race relations. that's a sharp rise, by the way, sharp rise. in 2014, only 44%, that was previously the high, 44% said they had a negative view of race relations. we have gone from 44% in 2014 to 77% today. why are people so troubled by race relations at this moment? how did a country that made so much progress on race so recently fall so quickly into such a deep hole of racial division and regret? all of you sitting in this room
at the sheen center, i think you know the answer. it's the rise of donald trump. he's the one who built his political career by trashing the first black president, barack obama. he even questioned whether obama was an american citizen. trump followed on the so-called birther movement by stating that his residential -- starting his presidential campaign, i should say, by calling mexicans criminals and racists. he's attacked an american judge born of mexican parents as being unable to deliver justice because of his mexican heritage. the speaker of the house, paul ryan, a fellow republican, said that was an explicit example of racism. and it was trump, of course, who recommended that all muslims be temporarily banned from entering the country. i don't have to remind you, and you know, it grieves me to go through this litany but he
called nfl players sons of bitches for kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality. he tweeted that a black woman was acting like a dog and he responded to the terrifying display of white supremacy in charlottesville by saying that quote, fine people were on both sides, end quote, of that tragedy. this is just what comes out of the president. i think that's why a fox poll last month found 58% of americans disapprove of trump's handling of race. a political poll done in august had a similar result, 55% said race relations are worse under president trump. and here's the closer. a quinnipiac poll done this summer said 49% of americans believe that trump is racist. yet trump, with tone of mockery for black people, asked his white supporters, this is the title of my book, what the hell
do you have to lose by voting for him. he first used that phrase at a campaign rally before a nearly all white audience in michigan. he described blacks as people unable to see their own best interests, and that by giving their votes to democrats, they ended up with trash-filled neighborhoods filled with crime, bad schools and no jobs. now, it's obvious to me that this is a wildly inaccurate portrait of how most black people live in america today. contrary to trump's dire assessment, the reality is that most black people today are in the middle class. today, 40% of black american households earn between $35,000 and $100,000. an additional 12%, so i'm adding 40 plus 12, an additional 12% earn between $100,000 and
$200,000. so i'm talking about a majority of black americans being in the middle class or beyond, or beyond, and what an amazing achievement this is. if you stop and think about it, we have gone to a point, and i think it's one of the great achievements of the american civil rights movement. kelley mentioned i wrote "eyes on the prize." one of the great achievements of the american civil rights movement is the growth and stability of a black middle class in the united states today. black men and women have led some of america's most successful companies. mcdonald's, xerox, time warner, merrill lynch. this is astounding. just astounding. you stop and think about the presence of black billionaires in our society today, people like bob johnson or oprah winfrey. this is uncharted territory in terms of black economic growth
in the united states. but trump only wants to talk about poor black people and i think he wants to talk about poverty and 20% of black america is in poverty, disproportionately young people, oftentimes children from single parent families and the like, and that's what he wants to talk about, but he doesn't talk about them in any kind of compassionate way. he talks about them in terms of being a threat to white people. he doesn't want to talk about latinos and especially latino immigrants, as people willing to do two and three jobs in order to try to move up and attain their american dream. he only wants to talk about latinos and immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, as gang members, ms13 members, perpetrating horrific crimes, murdering white people in specific seems to be his point
of interest, and he has no interest in an accurate picture, therefore, of life in minority america. that's why you have to remember that when trump declared that black people have nothing to lose by voting for him, he wasn't talking to a black audience. he was playing on working class white racial anxiety and to my mind, he was igniting fear about poor black people just as he sparks latinos and immigrants of color are all a threat to move into a white neighborhood, to take a job, to drive up taxes by adding to the burden of social welfare programs. for white audiences, candidate trump made himself the hero, standing in the breach, holding back the barbarian, willing to speak the truth and willing to say that he was going to stand with the forgotten man and not with these newcomers.
these insults fit with trump's campaign slogan, by the way, make america great again. now, there's a line that i think was an attempt to create white nostalgia for a 1950s social hierarchy, white men at the top, women, people of color, all below. blacks and latinos fit into trump's 1950s picture as happy-go-lucky folks, dancing, singing along, content even as they lived in segregated neighborhoods, even if they sent their children to broken down, segregated schools, even if they had no voting rights, even if they were kept out of whites-only unions and had absolutely no political power. that's why make america great again remains a slogan that is social dynamite in a more diverse america. it's celebrated by david duke, the former kkk leader. it's celebrated by alt-white
supremacists and white nationalists. it's a symbol of resentment towards this nation's racial progress over the last 70 years. again, just to sort of bring it home for all of you, on this friday night, i mentioned earlier that i'm 64. president trump is 72. we're about the same age, eight years' difference. nothing grand in terms of the scale of difference in age. but the progress in race relations that i have been describing to you earlier, especially the formation of that black middle class and the heightened black political voice, is the story of my lifetime. my dad's education, his housing, his jobs, were all limited by the color of his skin. my dad was born in 1902 and then here i am, born 1954, and if my
dad came back to life in 2018 and he saw that i live in an integrated neighborhood, he would say son, that's a different world. and fe sif he saw my daughter's georgetown law degree, he would say wait a minute, georgetown doesn't accept black students, not in the '60s. i would say no, dad, they accept black students and black women and he would say son, that's a different world. if he saw me at the white house having lunch and he looked across the table and said who's that black guy, and i said oh, that's the president, that's barack obama, he would say different world, that's a different universe. i couldn't have dreamed of something like that. all that change took place not just in my lifetime, but in president trump's lifetime. so keep in mind he has had a front row seat as a businessman,
as a tv personality and now as a politician, to see the amazing progress minorities have made at great sacrifice in their striving to achieve equality and the american dream. yet he talks down to blacks and other people of color when he tells his white audiences that blacks have nothing to lose by voting for him. in the world according to trump, the success of minorities in america is just added to the working class white man's burden, what he calls the forgotten men. trump claims to speak for these people, especially those over the age of 65, who tell pollsters the country's changing too quickly, increasing numbers of black and brown people are really unsettling them, and of course, not to mention the fastest growing group at the moment, asian americans. trump's words are explicit calls to white identity politics.
his logic is based on historical distortions of america as a country made only great by one group of people, white protestants. now those good white people in trump's opinion are burdened by the poor, the uneducated, the criminal blacks and latinos. trump's words especially after the white supremacist march in charlottesville have made for a simple-minded question in a world that i live in, cable news. on tv, people will hear some trump comment, he will tweet out that omarosa's a dog and someone will say oh, does that mean trump's a racist and someone else will say oh, no, he says those nasty things about everybody. and the question also comes up because it's not just someone like omarosa that he derides. remember, he said lebron james is dumb. in fact, he said lebron james is so dumb that someone he had previously called dumb, don
lemon, looks smart. he said that the majority of immigrants coming to the u.s., people from africa, the caribbean, latin america, are people coming from s-hole countries. he said congresswoman maxine waters, a frequent trump critic, is someone with extraordinarily low iq. another congresswoman who questioned his handling of the widow of the slain american soldier, he said that congresswoman wilson was quote, a wacky liar and of course, as i mentioned before, nfl players, gee, they're not patriots, not patriotic, and they are s.o.b.s who should be fired. latinos, well, latinos are all, as i mentioned, ms13 but in his language, animals, that's a quote, and represent the idea that the country is being overrun by criminal immigrants, indiscriminately killing whites. by the way, on this topic, the
other day i couldn't help but notice that donald trump had something to say about africa. this was the first time he had ever had something to say about africa. well, what did he have to say? he said that south africans, white south africans, were having their properties confiscated and they were being killed in record numbers by black south africans. by the way, this is not true. it's fake news. but it served to win acclaim from right wing conspiracy theorists because it fit with trump's claim that there is an ongoing war on white men in america. but you know, for all the ease with which we get locked into the latest tweet and then the latest cable news preoccupation with is trump a racist, i find that whole conversation counterproductive, because i think it shuts down people's interest in a real conversation about what's going on because
they think i feel uncomfortable calling anybody a racist, i don't want to be called a racist and i think it just makes us all more overly sensitive on a very sensitive topic, race. so i don't find it productive. i guess people who are tv producers find it productive because it's so explosive. i have often joked in the past, i think the perfect cable news tv panel might be something like david duke on this side, and louis farrakhan on that side. it's not a productive conversation. there's no real exchange of ideas. there's no searching for truth there. it's just explosion and rage. well, i don't think that's a productive racial conversation. so i don't want to have labels interfere with our ability to talk to each other across the racial divide, seeing our common destiny as americans. the bigger debate i want to focus on is trump's impact on a nation that's growing more
diverse by the day and trying to cope with the rise of 21st century style racism. this book, "what the hell do you have to lose, trump's war on civil rights" is a flashing red light that asks us to stop, stop and see the very real threat that president trump poses to racial progress in nearly every area of american life from education to the justice system to fair elections, elections that include protections for voting rights, and even in terms of housing. when trump said what the hell do you have to lose, he was asking his audience, in my mind, to forget about martyrs like dr. king. he wants everyone to forget about white people, black people, men, women, people of all religion, catholics and jews who risked their lives in this country for racial progress in the civil rights movement.
that part of american history seems lost on our president. so let me -- and here, i'm speaking to people who i think are very much aware of this, that's why i appreciate your coming here tonight. but let me just say, from this city, new york city, a kid in harlem goes south in the early '60s. again, does president trump know about bob moses? does he know that someone would dedicate their life not to making money, but to going into mississippi to defy a racist white power structure? moses helped to register black people to vote at a time when the political establishment there was putting up every possible barrier to silence their political voice, asking questions like how many bubbles are in a bar of soap, how many jelly beans are in this jar, in order to vote at that time, it wasn't just answering impossibly
difficult and stupid questions. the old system even used violence to intimidate, to intimidate black people to keep them out and away from the political structure. and by the way, you know, there are so many ironies, so many twists and turns in this story, but the reality is of course the reason segregationists were so intent on keeping black people bereft of political power is that the whole structure of the south's wealth, its power, was built on free labor or what you and i might call slave labor, and the high percentage of people living there, former slaves, were black and they didn't want them post-civil war and the segregationist reality of legal segregation, they didn't want all of those structures to break down because it was a direct threat to them.
you know, even today, there's so many people in this country who want to minimize that history of free, exploitative labor known as slave labor. when michelle obama spoke at the 2016 democratic national convention, she was criticized for pointing out that as first lady of the united states, she lived in a building, the white house, built by slave labor. her critics said those slaves, here i'm quoting, were well-fed and had decent lodging, as if that excused keeping people in chains, breaking apart families, denying them economic opportunity and of course, shutting them away from education. that's incredible. the truth about race in america is just the start of what black people have to lose with trump in the white house. the same denial of blatant
racism attaches to efforts to suppress the black vote. here again, i come to people who know something about new york, people who came from new york but who made a difference. i'm talking about james cheney who was from mississippi but also andy goodman and mickey scherner. these three young men, two of them white men, were shot, killed and buried in an earthen dam at the start of the 1964 freedom summer, killed by klansmen and the local police in mississippi. and in keeping with the denial of harsh racial realities, there's a recording of a white mississippi senator, some of you may know his name, jim eastland, telling president lyndon johnson that the triple murder was nothing but a quote, publicity stunt. it's just some northern troublemakers come down here trying to stir things up, he told him. now, that horrific tale is part
of the dramatic story again of black people and again, bob moses, your son here in new york, he's still alive, really trying to register black people bereft of understanding that black people were not going to be simply subject to violence, but they were going to be evicted from their homes, have their mortgages undone by the white-controlled banks, understand that their businesses might be shut or burned down by violent people and understanding that at night, there might be crosses burned on their lawns and that there would be night riders with guns firing at their homes. so remember, it was in this violent environment that the naacp's leader in mississippi shortly thereafter, 1963, medgar evers, was killed by a klansman. again, when trump asks what black people have to lose, keep
in mind that in the decades since all the sacrifice i just laid out for you, america has seen generations of black mayors, record numbers of black people in congress and the first black president. how can you ask what do you have to lose if i come in and engage in divisive, troublesome racial rhetoric? that's a lot to lose. and let me just add one more thought on this. what about education? blacks and latinos have a lot to lose when it comes to education. there's 150 years of struggle before brown v board of education's decision ending legally protected and inferior segregated schools in this country. the old confederate states of the south responded to the '54 decision with massive resistance. that was the term used to describe efforts to resist the brown decision. for example, it took 1,000
members of the 101st airborne sent by a republican president, president eisenhower, to protect nine black children who wanted to attend central high school in little rock, arkansas in 1957. again, on the education front, in 1962, james meredith, an air force veteran, had to face down hundreds of white supremacists to enroll in the previously segregated university of mississippi. the federal marshals protected him were attacked with bricks, with guns, even toxic chemicals stolen out of the labs at the school. a journalist covering the event was shot and killed from a bullet to the heart. so, too, was a young white jukebox repairman who was shot in the forehead as he was trying to escape the mayhem down there. i'm always reminded when i think of that situation that there was a navy veteran who had been at pearl harbor in hawaii when the japanese attacked, and he later
told reporters that he had never seen violence of the kind that he saw that night in mississippi, and he said nothing that he saw at pearl harbor was anything close to the devastation that he saw in oxford. again, the sacrifices, these sacrifices to push us along as a nation, it seems to me that you have to understand that they have had real and positive consequence. for example, meredith and the university of mississippi. one man, federal troops, chaos, rioting, he gets into school, he graduates. does it have a larger lesson for us? well, today, 13.4% of ole miss' undergraduate population is black. so what do you have to lose? how about this. i was up at harvard earlier today giving a talk. 14.6% of harvard university's
freshman class last year was african-american. what the hell do you have to lose, mr. president? what the hell do you have to lose with you in the white house? apparently we have people who would lose their memory of how far we've come. my point is to stress that real people, black, white, male, female, northerners, southerners, lost their lives. but again, that growing black middle class, that growing black political voice, and the promise of equal rights for all, is not the story that president trump relates to. it's a story that to him, is somewhere off to the side when it comes to american history. again, it doesn't fit into his set of what i think of in this era as his alternative facts. he says race has nothing to do with attempts to impose new laws
intended to oppress, i should say suppress, voter fraud. lot of minority voters might be impacted but no, it's all about voter fraud, because he still believes that he should have won the popular vote in the 2016 electi election. he lost the popular vote, for those of you who might not recall, by about three million. but he feels no, no, that can't be, and says that it was the fraudulent votes cast illegally that deny him that popular vote win. so what does he do when he comes into office? he creates a voter fraud commission led by chris kobach, the kansas secretary of state, who promotes conspiracy theories like barack obama ordered the justice department to never prosecute black criminals. another lie. then when the commission searches, they can't find any evidence of voter fraud.
no widespread voter fraud, certainly not three million votes, so they have to be disbanded. but that doesn't stop recently in georgia, and in other states, with republican majority legislatures, what you see is attempts to close polling places in minority districts. what you see is constraint in terms of the days available for voting. constraint with regard to the hours for voting. and these things pass and people say well, gosh, you got to have good i.d. to get a check in the bank or to walk through the airport, to walk into the sheen center so what's the big deal. hold on, nobody's saying you don't have to have i.d. to register to vote. nobody's saying that. we're just saying there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud. and these steps are doing nothing but disenfranchising
people that i think president trump and many republicans believe would be democratic voters. so it becomes a matter of political strategy but at what cost? at a tremendous cost to all of us in terms of our shared promise, our constitutional right that we have the right to vote in this country. to me, this is a tragedy. so when trump again asks what the hell do you have to lose, i think he's turning his back on one of the central accomplishments of the modern civil rights movement and he's showing again exactly what america has to lose by voting for him. his intentional blindness to all these sacrifices made in the name of racial equality i think is also evident when you think about education, and educational opportunity in this country. you know, this president, i find this so distressing because i'm a father, i'm a grandfather.
when i think about him ending programs like opening doors for educational opportunities, something meant to allow young people of color, but especially poor young people of any color, any immigration status, to go to more diverse schools, i think why are you doing that, mr. president? when i think of what happened after parkland, the shootings down in florida, and understand that he then uses that as a way to suggest that we should have different disciplinary efforts, even arming school guards, that would add to the high rate of suspensions and dropouts among minority kids in this country, i think why are you doing that, mr. president? i guess you must be afraid of those kids rather than see them as part of america's future. you know, in a now infamous
meeting a few weeks after he became president, trump brought black college presidents to the oval office and he promised to increase federal support for historically black colleges and universities. by the way, this was a real contrast, because a lot of the hbcu presidents were not happy with what president obama had done for them. they thought he should have been more invested in helping their schools. here comes president trump and he's going to show up obama by delivering and he gets the black college presidents there on the thought that oh, my gosh, we're in for some kind of windfall. well, they get a picture, a picture in the oval office, president trump there, the famous aside is kellyanne conway with her legs up on the couch, if you'll recall. but the reality is fake news again. his budget so far has failed to give additional funding to black
colleges and universities. no delivery on the promise. in fact, trump is shrinking the budget for the education departme department, in trumpian style he's making disadvantaged students the target of his administration, blaming them for political correctness at colleges and universities, speaking in the voice of white nationalists, he argued that diversity efforts on college campuses have led them to be overtaken by leftists and anti-white professors. he attacks affirmative action, supposedly because of disadvantages to asian american students, but i think it's pretty clear, he's after all affirmative action. he doesn't want any special effort for people who have a history of disadvantage in american society. you know, since i'm in new york, let me say that you can't get away from trump history right
here, right here. this week, i don't know if you saw it, but in the "new york times" there was a story about trump and his father and the kind of money that was put into trump's hands, possibly illegally, avoiding taxes, but money in the millions, tens of millions, while trump often brags of himself as a great businessman, he said my dad might have given me a million. but here are tens of millions that were put into his hands. but you should know that father trump himself became rich developing apartment buildings in new york in some of the outer boroughs at first, and he didn't let black people move into those properties. the man who once reportedly marched with the kkk in queens and then it was about catholics, it was about catholics becoming too large a group here in new
york, always answering to the pope, again a threat to white protestants, that brought the kkk to new york city. but for trump, the real threat was the presence of blacks in his apartments and apartment building neighborhoods. he saw that as driving down property values but again, it perpetrated racism in terms of housing. fred trump paid no attention, no compassion for the blatant injustice of segregated housing and the consequences it has for our society in terms of education, in terms of race relations. even in terms of racially restrictive housing covenants. all of that which made for shoddy housing in ghettos and made home ownership impossible for so many people, again, exacerbated racial difference,
economic difference in our society. trump doesn't seem to understand what his own father was up to, but during the very same years that his father was teaching him that the family business was all about keeping certain people at a distance, you should know that there was a brilliant black economist named robert weaver rising through the federal government who was fighting for housing rights on an equal basis. when the first public housing projects were built, it was weaver who ensured that there would at least be space for some black tenants, even on a segregated basis, that there would be housing assigned for them. later, he worked on the supreme court cases that made racially restrictive housing covenants illegal in the united states, and he goes on, robert weaver, to serve as the first secretary of the department of housing and urban development, where he pushed famously for the fair housing act of 1968. so i'm telling you weaver's
story because it's such a contrast to fred trump's story, and it has consequence just like fred trump's but in a different direction, and again, we lose not only the history, but we lose a sense of the consequence of racial residential segregation when we don't understand how we have come to this moment in 2018. in fact, again, i feel like i'm preeti i repeating myself because you're new yorkers, but you should know, especially the c-span audience, the trump family business was sued successfully by the justice department for housing discrimination, and they had to settle. he was forced to advertise rentals in black newspapers and inform civil rights groups when an apartment opened. this is all part of the record. it's not as if i'm inventing this. and thus far, i think he's run
his administration in similar fashion. in 2015, when president obama initiated a policy requiring districts that receive block grants from hud to do assessments on how they can better promote fair housing, trump disagreed. in hyper segregated cities like chicago or detroit, he said that fighting over this would mean depreciation of property values and certain people, here i suggest whites, being hurt. so president trump since coming into office has delayed that obama era initiative. he's recommended eliminating community development block grants, eliminating home investment partnership programs in choice neighborhoods. all of these programs designed to improve housing and encourage business growth in previously neglected black and latino neighborhoods.
since the 2016 election, there's a lot of talk about what happened, why did people vote for trump, especially people who once voted for obama, then voted for trump in states like michigan, wisconsin, pennsylvania. people also discuss america's growing frustration with the political elite, the establishment. this describes the feeling of many people who sense that the country may be getting away from them. we're at a high point now in terms of more foreign nationals living in the united states. but trump has made this into undeserving and unworthy people coming into the country, people who don't share our american values and sense of american dream. instead he talks about closed-down factories and fears the jobs are going to undocumented immigrants from south of the border, and of course, then there are the post-9/11 fears. very real as i speak to you in lower manhattan. but you know what strikes me is
that huh, black people, latino people, asian people, we have these fears, too. so if you're reaching out, wouldn't you think that that kind of populist energy or appeal would be across racial lines? guess what, lots of people feel alienated and feel angry at the establishment in this country. lots of bernie sanders supporters feel angry and alienated. yet trump separates out this anger along racial lines. so for me, it seems to be the case that we have to speak up, not be intimidated, in order to protect and preserve the hard-fought victories of the civil rights era. we need to know where to put our efforts because unfortunately, as president trump says, what the hell do you have to lose as if we have no answer. as if we are incapable of
responding to the rhetoric and slogans of that kind. well, my answer is dangerously simple. i think we have to lose far more than you will ever know, donald trump. apparently you are out of touch with this part of american history and out of touch with the notion of compassion, understanding and uplift, striving, that's so central to these key accomplishments of the civil rights era. ... i heard kelly talk about my first book "eyes on the prize" and kelly, you should know, one
of the most frequent questions i get about that book, which by the way was published 30 years ago this year. that book has been in print for 30 years. it's amazing to me. one of the questions i get most often is, juan, where did you get the title of that book. i say to people, and i can be a wise guy in my mind if not to my mouth, i have a little bit better impulse control then somebody we know. i say to myself, if you went to church once in a while you might have noticed in the hymnal there is a him about keep your hand on the plow, keep working, keep going forward. it's the basis for the song "keep your eyes on the prize" the telling verse there goes, to keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on, i know the one thing i did right was the day i started to fight, hold on. what i'm saying to all of you
at the sheen center tonight is that you have to understand we are in an ongoing fight for equal rights, for civil rights, for justice across racial lines. for a diverse welcoming america in this era. the people who might look back and say, the civil rights movement is long done, those things are achieved, look at what's happened, look at the first black president, look at this, look at that, i think they are missing out on an idea this is an ongoing movement. and that we are being challenged in a very threatening and quite specific way at this moment. as we move forward. do we in fact continue to grow on the achievements of the past or do we allow ourselves to regress to become more racially divided, to be at each other's throats, to see each other as a threat to our success, to our families, thriving. to me that would be the greatest loss and mr. president, that's exactly what we have to lose with you in the white house. thank you very much.
[applause] thank you. [applause] kelly told me i could take some questions from the audience for a few minutes. >> hello, i'm going to sit over here while i take your questions. >> thanks so much, juan, that was fabulous. >> thank you. >> i'm curious when you're here last time with ed henry, an amazing night about jackie robinson, it occurred to me that with your contacts in washington how nice it would be if you and mr. henry might be able to have an audience with the president and asked him questions you posed to him
tonight directly. as you think there's any chance in hell you might have that? >> no i don't. i think this is not a topic he embraces. he does not see the political advantage in the conversation. so much of any presidents media time committee people they choose to talk to to be interviewed by committee interviewed in front of is about building constituency heading into vertical basis. at the moment with the midterms approaching with all the drama we've seen in the last few days over judge kavanaugh, i don't think he is about trying to expand or repair damage done. i think he's about cementing and exciting his political base at this moment. one of the things that the kavanaugh nomination has done, in fact, is drive up republican interest in the upcoming midterms. so i think you can see the political strategy, stir anger, angry voters are more likely to get out and vote and in midterm elections turnout is key. and the fact that democrats, at least until this point, have enjoyed an advantage in terms of likely turnout. it's something that was troubling trump. i don't think he wants to have a conversation about how can we
in fact give democrats or especially minorities, a greater sense of belonging and involvement and reason to go out and vote. >> related question, other than ed henry at fox, what kind of reactions have you gotten from your colleagues at fox about this book? >> i think people are pretty nice to me. and one of their colleagues. but the difficulty for me is in trying to raise awareness of this book, a lot of people in the box audience don't want to have a conversation. i will be invited on shows because i'm their colleague and they will show the cover of the book but then they don't want to ask questions about race relations. the whole idea makes certain segments, especially people who are pro-trump, very uncomfortable.they rather not deal with it. and they don't have to.
it's not a function of any bad treatment at the hands of my colleagues or friends. that's not the case at all. >> thank you very much. >> you are welcome. >> will i want to thank you again for all of your work. i got extremely emotional toward the end when you talked about eyes on the prize because i grew up with that song in my head. the one thing when i was reading this book 2 huge things came to mind, number one the need to constantly tell history over and over again. and the other thing that you mentioned in the book about this gap have now in our country where we are not really talking to each other. and you know, i think that for me eyes on the prize was so influential because growing up i think that the history that we did get about civil rights or anything that had to do with anyone of color in america, is always relegated to black
history month. because it's never seen as all of our history. it's seen ãbthat's part of the division is that there is our history and then there is your history, and we all suffer from that because we don't all know the history and so we keep repeating it. i promise you i'm getting to a question. so the question for me is that when you are putting this together, did you think of how you would impact the people on the other side of the aisle who need to hear this, or how you get through to people on the other side of the aisle when we are at a time we are so divided and we don't really want to listen to each other, we want to listen to our point of view and just keep hearing that? >> you are so right, again, i work in american media and today so much of american media is about affirming people's pre-existing attitudes, political opinions, political
allegiances, so often times people who might be watching msnbc don't even know fox exists or they don't want to watch. or people who watch fox don't listen to people on the liberal side. i sometimes call it brain mapping because i run into people who always want to tell me what i should be saying on tv. at some point i will say where you get your information from? and some people will say, the new york times, npr, they love bill marr on a friday night, that kind of thing. then i run into people who say oh no, i read the wall street journal editorial page i listen to rush limbaugh and i watch fox news. i understand where you're coming from because they are coming from different silos in terms of the american media landscape. in this to me is one of the great dangers of our time. that the common story, the common experience of daily events, current events, is being lost as people choose their own news.
i find this, i've been on a book tour for "what the hell do you have to lose?" and the just this week i had an experience of people coming over to me when i was traveling because i was not in the position to read all the news and they said did you hear what happened to president trump at the un? the world was laughing at him. i said no i didn't what happened? then the conservatives would come over to me and say, what was that about someone laughing, why these liberals always picking on president trump, i said they were talking about what happened at the un and they say what happened at the un. they had no idea the story. it's as if people are in two different silos, their own bubbles, and there is no interaction. no shared experience. when you ask about repairing this breach, how do we talk to each other, how we get people to talk to each other, one of the purposes of this book is not to call anybody out, it's not to embarrass people or make people uncomfortable, it's to say that we have this tremendous history that is american history, to your point
kelly, it is about who we are as american people. and how we have dealt with what so many call america's original sin, slavery, and its consequences, even 200 years plus in 2018. and then we make progress, and that we are a country that believes ãbi think this is something that makes us so special in all the world that people can come and people and their children, their grandchildren can become steve jobs. that they can become the people who found google. that they can become the people who run our great institutions. they can become our great artists and our great thinkers. and that's who we are. we are not people who would have met with automatic weapons and tiki torches standing outside of a synagogue in charlottesville on a friday night forcing the congregants to exit through backdoors. and then have the president of the united states say that they are fine people. on both sides.
that's crazy, that's not who we are. this book is an attempt to say to everyone, hey, tune into this history. that's why i tell the story about moses, that's why i tell the story of robert weaver, telling the story of philip randolph breaking down segregation and the trade unions, tell the story of james baldwin another new yorker who was able to get the attention of the kennedy administration in the 60s in the midst of the civil rights era and influence their thinking. there is nobody like a james baldwin as a leading black intellectual with access to top people in the trump administration. it's a reminder of how we traveled this road and the great success we've had, how it is american history. it's central to american history. and it's a reminder that we can come in our ongoing efforts, make such history again. >> thank you. >> you are welcome.
>> i just wanted to ask a question about ãbit seems pretty pessimistic some of the things you are saying, what are your thoughts of the future has to hold. i have a couple kids who are in their 30s, both successful, college-educated, and they seem so depressed, and doubt about america. that i feel bad and wonder what i should tell them. they both become politically active recently. and i just wonder what the future holds and what you think the next five or 10 years are going to bring to america? >> well ãbso, by the way, it worries me that we are having these feelings of depression and heightened anxiety, and i
think it's reflected in the poll numbers i was reciting to earlier just on the racial issue. and how many americans think right now race relations are in a trough. that we are in a bad place. i'm reminded of how many people have lost faith in major american institutions, the ratings of approval for the congress is like 12 percent. it's unbelievable. and of course trust in everything from our banks, to wall street, to our major institutions, to the church, and on and on, very low at this moment. now the supreme court i think in the aftermath of the kavanaugh episode, i think trust in that court is going to decline. so you are right, but this book is not intended as a downer. i was hoping that people would read it and i'm still hoping that, i have every reason to hope, they will be inspired by stories of courage, sacrifice, for the greater good, for the common destiny of our country and helping us to grow as an example of the power of diversity in american society. so when you asked me about what
to say to your kids, it's much along the lines of what i say to my children, and no grandchildren, which is i think that there may be twists and turns on the road. but you look at the power of the fact that we are a growing population here in the united states. you look at the fact that we are growing in terms of not only minority presence, blacks are no longer the major minority group, latinos are now the major minority group. you look at the increasing power of american women in our political life, in our economic, in our business community, you can see that the demographics, the culture are changing, and in fact i believe may be leading indicators into where our politics are going. even as you have these moments,
almost like a spasm, where you think what happened? why are we on this awful road? you have to believe in the larger power of us as american people, despite the feelings, intentional or not, of any one political leader. my thinking is that maybe not, i think we will see a greater divide after the midterms because odds are the democrats to capture the house. i don't think they get the senate. but i could be wrong. but it's going to lead to really a congregation, they will have the power to check president trump more aggressively than he's been able to being checked by the republicans in the house of representatives. questions him about some of his activities, and of course we got the 2020 elections looming. you are going to get all the negative advertising and the attack ads in the attack rhetoric that's going to gear up to make every democrat into
pro-immigrant, no walls, pro-crime, socialist, all of that is is about to pop out of the box. it's going to be high level political attacks for the next two years. i can't say oh, please tell your kids everything is going to be fine and dandy in the short run. i think we are going to have a little bit of hell. but we have got to have a higher horizon because morning is coming. and i think we are going to get through this. the question is, what comes next? that i can't predict. i don't know but i do know as i was saying to kelly earlier, i think the demographics in the culture are pushing us forward and i think the sense of decency that we have as americans, i bet that's why your children have become more politically active, they see that there is a threat and they want to have something to say about what we are becoming as americans. >> thank you. >> thank you.
>> thank you for being here. >> thank you for coming. >> i am quite perplexed by which voice of black identity has the ear of the presidency. i'm considering from martin to omarosa. i'm considering the death of aretha franklin, she worked for me versus and she is now going to seeing at the inauguration of presidencies. so, and i keep saying it's not a trump thing, it's where we are. how did we get to black identity being in the white house, in the voice of omarosa, versus the voice of martin? i know that's insanely difficult question. >> but i think it's on target
and this is something i addressed in the book. that if you look at the presidents top-level advisors, there is a shocking absence on people of color. and that if you look back, historically, president eisenhower had a black man right there in the white house, e frederick morrow, advising him in the midst of brown brown versus board. there is cliff alexander, whose daughter michelle and alexander wrote the book about the new jim crow. you look president reagan, president nixon, people like bob brown, right there. and of course you look at president clinton, he had a record number of minorities in his cabinet and in the white house. these are voices of people who were black policymakers, black politicians, people who were black intellectuals who would
come in and then you look at the trump white house and you're struck that these folks are absence. like seven there there was a blackout, or a white out in this picture. what's going on? and then you mentioned omarosa. now, exactly without being derisive, what policy experience, what intellectual credential, what political prudential did she bring to that picture? i think what she brought was absolute loyalty to president trump, someone he felt comfortable with, apparently. she said that all of us should bow down to trump. that's a quote. but then she turned on him, and i guess, again, i think of her as a celebrity. i think she saw celebrity opportunity and of dollars in condemning trump and even talking about trump using the and word and the like.
and it got her great attention. i don't know what's next for her. but my point is, i don't see black intelligence, black political activist, black civil rights activists, anywhere near this president. so when you asked me, how do i account for it? i think it's quite a result unintentional result of someone who doesn't want those voices. it's not like they are absent, even if you were to say he wants black conservative voices, i would say, okay so how come someone like colin powell says this man is dangerous? where is tom soul? where is someone like ãbrice. i don't see those people in this orbit. don't see them at all. and i think it tells us all something's wrong. >> i should say i think in general, we as a society are
experiencing a great deal of anxiety, and malaise with under this president. i have to think it's good for the psychiatric community. [laughter] i think they are doing well. and something that struck me, i have three 23-year-olds and i work with young people. i produce and direct theater with young people. i'm very struck by their enthusiasm for social change. i'm very quieted by the millennial's. i think they have a lot to bring to us, and that's where i find my hope and there's sometimes i feel absolute despair when barack obama was elected i was so thrilled. i thought our country was going in a good direction. when hillary clinton was running for office i was thrilled, and then vary of course depressed.
but i have hope. hope for our country. because of the rule of law. and for the wonderful system of government that we have, i think that will stand us in time. in the millennial's, have faith in millennial's, so thank you for your wonderful talk, and for your wonderful book. >> you are very kind, thank you. and i think that lots of people are going through the experience you are, which is wow, what's going on in this country? you know, and sometimes people say things that i think are offputting, this isn't my president, and what is america today and all of this. but all of us are living as americans in this country, we have to believe in the tendons that have brought us this far. i think we have some historical trouble on our hands when you realize one of the most incredible statistics to me is
that the majority of the same accented that just confirmed kavanaugh, represents only 18 percent of the people in the country. to me this is craziness. this is like to me the craziness of the electoral college that has someone win the popular vote but lose the white house. to me, given the fact that people are moving to cities that people live in big cities on the coast or in chicago, houston. the fact that people living in smaller parts of the country with less population have as much representation ãbin fact disproportionately more, produces some really twisted results. because it's not representative government. and so i worry about this, and i think that, again, what it
requires, and i say this as we approach ãbwe are about a month from the midterms, it produces a requirement that we all become active. if you can't sit on your hands complacency, or just bemoaning the condition of the country it's no longer acceptable. it's no longer acceptable to say, i'm going to vote for some third party candidate because i don't like either party. i think you can see the consequences of that kind of action. i have a friend in north carolina who told me i didn't vote for hillary or trump, i decided i would just cast a vote for the green party. i said what? less than one percent difference and you through your boat away? how can that be? it cost me a friend, but to me, this is a wake-up call for us all. you got to get involved. we had a question earlier someone said their children are going to get involved this time. i think that's great news. and i hope this book contributes to that sense of moment that this is a historic moment and we as the american
people have to put our hands on the wheel. we have to pray. but we have to plow ahead. kelly, i think i've worn them out. >> thank you so much. >> thank you all for coming. [applause] you're watching book tv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. book tv, television for serious readers. it's another holiday weekend with four days of book tv. from now until wednesday at 8:00 a.m. eastern, it's 96 hours of nonfiction authors and books here on c-span2. some of the programs you will see include "after words" with economist stephen moore on the economic policies of the trump
administration. guardian journalist chris mcgreal reports on the opioid epidemic in america. and pulitzer prize winner author jack maus discusses the god of islam, the world's second-largest religion. all of that and more on this four-day holiday weekend on book tv. television for serious readers. visit book tv .org for a complete schedule. >> the national press club holds an annual book fair in this yearbook tv attended and spoke with various nonfiction authors.former hillary clinton for president campaign aide jennifer palmieri book about her book "dear madam president". >> "dear madam president" is the name of the book. jennifer palmieri is the author. where did you get the insight to write this book? >> while working on the clinton campaign i was hillary clinton's communications