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tv   Here and Now  ABC  August 7, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm EDT

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>> "here and now," the program featuring the news and interests of the african-american community. here's your host, sandra bookman. >> coming up, reaction to the resignation of new york city police commissioner bill bratton. how will new leadership affect the strained relationship between the nypd and the black community? and the new book, "nobody: casualties of america's war on we'll talk with its author, marc lamont hill. later, operation backpack, providing much needed school supplies to thousands of children in new york city shelters. plus, tony award-winning actor and singer leslie odom jr. what's next after the broadway hit "hamilton"? that's all ahead on
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>> nypd commissioner bill bratton's resignation comes at a time when the rift between police officers and the public, especially communities of color, is wider and deeper than ever. will his departure ease the tension and provide an opportunity for a real shift in police-community relations? joining us today, tamika mallory, recognized as one of the next generation of civil rights leaders. she serves on the board of the gathering for justice, a social-justice organization. also with us, noel leader,
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thank you both for being with us this afternoon. >> thank you for having us. >> i want each of you to answer this question. tamika, i'll start with you. bratton's resignation -- a good thing? >> absolutely. definitely a good thing for those of us who know that he shouldn't have been hired in the first place. but, you know, now it's a personnel change, and we still have policy changes that have to actually be put into effect. so, it's good that he's gone, but there's so much more work to do that we really can only let that be a one-day story. you had concerns, as tamika mentioned, about his hiring from the start. >> yes, first, he shouldn't have been hired. he's the architect of the abusive "stop, question, and frisk." when he came to new york city police department, don't forget, he manipulated out the two hires, black and latino chiefs in the department, pi?eiro and banks. don't forget, also, his record of hiring african-american police officers in the academy is the lowest it's been in administrations. and when asked why is he hiring so few african-americans in the
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they have criminal records." >> absolutely. >> he called rappers thugs. he said that individuals in the black lives matter movement were bigots. this is the individual who promoted the officer that was involved in the most horrific police killing, amadou diallo, to the rank of sergeant. this police commissioner. to the rank of sergeant. this police commissioner. so, clearly, this -- him saying that he's attempting to repair relations, if you look at this actions or his history as police commissioner, he definitely day, it's an answer to our prayers that he's living. >> right, right. >> and the hope is that he will retire and so will "broken windows" policing -- the theory of broken windows -- so will quotas, which still exist. i don't care how many times they tell you that that quota system has been eliminated from the police department. it has not, and the proof of that is at the nypd 12, which are 12 -- one lady and 11 gentlemen -- who are suing their current police officers, on the
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discriminatory practices. and you actually have to go to court to fight against that in this day and age. >> so, bratton's walked out of the picture. enter the new police commissioner, a lifelong new yorker, career police officer, james o'neill. talk about that choice. are you encouraged by it? >> well, i know chief o'neill. i think chief o'neill, on the surface, is a very nice guy. i do have to question how decision. why is it that we live in a city that is overwhelmingly diverse and we still have a white man who has been appointed to this position? who else was in the running for this position? and how did he make the decision? who did he talk to? and, again, when you look at -- and i know noel can speak to this much better. when you look at all the other law-enforcement commissionerships in this city, everyone is white -- white males, for the most part.
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not choose someone who reflects most of the people who even got you elected on an issue that you said you were going to fix? >> one of the things i noticed yesterday, when they were making the announcement, chief o'neill was very careful and emphatic about pointing out who his big -- his top-level staff would be, and chief banks, i think, was -- chief banks was brought up. and then there was chief gomez. am i saying his name right? >> yeah, uh-huh. >> so, they seem to know that that question was coming. >> right. >> besides that concern that perhaps was they're not a person of color that could've been appointed to that position, do you feel like there is an opportunity with his appointment to work with him, to have someone really address this divide? you know, he talked a lot about
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some people have said, "well, that's old. it's played out." what are your feelings about that? >> we make a distinction from being a staff member to being the actual commissioner. you know, we want african-americans to be in that top position so perhaps he could be one of their staff members. there's always hope when you have somebody who's appointed in a very important and decision-making position that you'll be able to work with him. but once again, we're shunned by this mayor, who received an overwhelmingly majority of votes from the african-american all studies say that when you want to have a good police department, it should be reflective of the community that it's serving, and in this administration, it hasn't been, and it continues not to be. >> right. and, i mean, i think you were speaking of ben tucker. >> thank you. >> and why wasn't he considered? >> exactly. >> you were supposed to be helping me. [ laughter ] you said banks. it was stuck in my head, but yes. >> but at the end of the day, the issue is that you cannot retrain racism. >> right.
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bobo the clown is the commissioner. we just want to see that there's punishment and accountability for officers who do wrong in our communities. once that happens, whoever is the leadership, if that is the type of pressure that they're pushing down on their rank-and-file, we believe that the challenges will, in fact, be decreased. you're never going to be able to get everyone to do the right thing, but there can't be this sense of, "i throw somebody up against a wall and break their arm for no reason, nothing happens to me," and the department actll behavior. "i choke eric garner to death," daniel pantaleo still has his job. "i kick in the door of ramarley graham and shoot him and kill him in front of his elderly grandmother and his 6-year-old brother," nothing happens. and then you look at it in the national context, we could go on with all the cases. why would a police officer feel that they had any obligation to the community if they don't see their brother or sister in the department being challenged and held accountable?
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that o'neill needs to do when he becomes commissioner to say to the community, "i heard you, and we're gonna start..." now, what does he need -- because he's walking into the job, we're all skeptical. >> he should fire daniel pantaleo and richard haste, both of the officers who i just mentioned in the cases that i spoke about. that's the first thing. and we understand that individuals -- just firing an individual is not gonna change everything, but it certainly sends a message to other not be tolerated. you cannot work here and practice biased policing at all. >> right. >> that is what we want to see -- real action. the neighborhood policing model, we believe it can work. we talk about community policing all the time. so perhaps there is a way to make that model work for us. but if we notice what happened with assemblyman michael blake just this last saturday, he was thrown against a fence by a police officer, and the only reason why we believe the issue
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someone else there noticed him as an assemblyman and asked him to back off. well, the officer who made that quick reaction and threw him against the gate was an nco, the new neighborhood police off-- neighborhood community officer, i believe, is the way you describe it. so, already, the question has to be, why did that person -- who should know who his elected officials are, also, if you're a neighborhood police officer -- but why are using the same excessive force that we're trying to get away from? have the head man, the commissioner, reflecting the community, because i'm not too impressed with the individuals. i mean, o'neill, he's been with kelly for generations. i mean, they go back to the compstat days. he's in his inner circle. that's why when you had this big corruption scandal, he wasn't touched. he flew up in the ranks. so you have qualified african-americans who've been two-star chiefs over 25 years who are always shunned, and
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problem. and since everyone is allegedly so concerned about bridging the gap between the african-american community and police officers, you know, it's hypocritical -- hypocritical to me -- that we never get those decision-making policies. 'cause as she stated, the solution to these problems, when an officer acts inappropriately, either they should be punished or terminated, and that's not what's happening in the bratton administration. >> okay. so, barring the firing of these police officers, where do we start? i guess my question is, we have had this conversation -- i said i first met you at a march. you said, "which one?" >> right. >> and it took us a while to remember, "okay, which one was it? what was it about?" you know, "what had happened before?" instead of being in this circle all the time and for people to not feel like they have to keep screaming and banging down the door. and do you think that has made a difference and made an impression? >> well, i know that you had -- well, first of all, yes.
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to stop marching. if they didn't, they wouldn't be saying things like, "the black lives matter movement is leaderless." they're trying to be divisive, and the commissioner specifically used that language. >> now, o'neill did yesterday say -- one of the first things he said -- and i was surprised, because it came relatively early in his conversation. he said, "i recognize the right of people to march. that's part of their right as american citizens, to march and protest." >> right. but he also brought that up in the s killed. >> right. >> and that is, they're two totally separate issues, and so, when he said that, i started getting the calls immediately with people saying, "there he is, comparing the two things." we don't want anyone to die. we just want black people and brown people in this city to be safe, as well. but when you say, "what are some of the steps?" i mean, right now, you have the right to know act and also the right to record, which are two pieces of legislation that the city council was trying to get passed, but there's been a backroom deal cut between bratton and melissa viverito,
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right to know act is going to become an "administrative process" where we hope that those things go into the handbook, and the handbook will therefore sort of direct police officers on what they should be doing. the same handbook says that you can't choke someone to death, but eric garner died, so we don' believe that. we believe it has to be real legislation. >> and that's why i always go back to who the commissioner is, because you set the precedent. you set the tone and tenor of the department. so you can have all of these laws, you can have all these rules, you can have community policing but if the commissioner is not sending the right message that, "this is how i want my police officers and the community to interact, then it's gonna just be political theater," and that's what we have a lot of -- individuals saying things that are -- i mean, that's easy for them to say. everyone believes that the people have a right to march and protest, but how are you gonna administrate the police department, especially when officers act inappropriately? >> so it circles back to the mayor, does it not? >> oh, yes. >> yes. >> the buck stops with him. and he's told me that, you know, personally -- "it stops with
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this decision, and then, "let's see how this works out." because we've got a year and some change to make a decision about whether or not we will elect him again to run this city, because this particular issue is the issue that he ran on in the beginning, and it is an issue that still exists within our communities today, so you will not be able to skirt around it just because bratton decided to resign. >> okay. all right. thank you both for being with us. this conversation i it before -- it is going to continue. let's hope that the next time, there's a little bit more progress. >> absolutely. >> and thank you. >> thank you both. when we come back, journalist dr. marc lamont hill talks about his new book that explores the intersection of race, class and public policy.
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? ? >> police shootings of unarmed minorities, mass incarceration, and tainted drinking water in flint, michigan, are some of the issues explored in the new book, "nobody: casualties of america's war on the vulnerable, from
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chronicle of historical events and the influence of class, race, gender, and public policy. here today is journalist and author marc lamont hill. so nice to finally meet you. >> you too. i'm excited to be here. >> i'm a big fan. >> i'm a big fan of you and the show. >> and you are very kind. and now i love you even more. >> [ chuckles ] >> and this book is not exactly something that you should be reading at night before you go to bed. >> that's probably right. >> okay. because i -- first of all, i couldn't put a mind. and i was so impressed just with how quickly you were able to marshal your thoughts and, in a sense, connect the dots. >> yeah. >> which, i think, a lot of us sometimes have a problem doing. you know, we see things as individual events instead of the broader context. i'm gonna ask you first, the title -- "nobody" -- where did that come from? >> i was in ferguson august 10, 2014, the day after mike brown
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who were sort of telling their stories of what it meant to see mike brown laying there for four hours. >> mm-hmm. >> i mean, he was there for four hours, and keisha, one of the residents, talked about this. she said, "he was there for four hours." she described to me what it meant to watch this kid who she knew and had grown up around and little kids, 8 years old, 6 years old, watched him laying on the ground, adults who would send him to the store for cigarettes or candy -- they all saw this baby laying on the ground for four hours, no sheet of that time, blood going through the cracks in the concrete, 95 degrees, and you could kind of smell the heat and the death in the air. this sort of trauma. and she said, "they left him out there like he ain't belong to nobody." "like he ain't belong to nobody." and that sense of nobodyness lingered with me, 'cause i thought, "who should he belong to?" then i looked and saw that the normandy school district, one of the worst in the country, had failed him. and emerson electric, the local factory, which provided jobs for most people in ferguson, had
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pruitt-igoe, in st. louis, had really failed as a project, and as a result, people didn't have access to good housing. and so all the institutions that are supposed to protect us and make life easier were absent for him. and so, in many ways, he was treated like nobody long before he met darren wilson at canfield green. >> so, using that title suggests, in a sense, a lot of the people -- we know their names now and many we don't, whether it's trayvon or >> ...that the system has kind of treated them like nobody. >> that's exactly right. there's this weird thing about being black in america. on the one hand, you're invisible, right? you're not seen. your plight, your misery, your suffering is not seen. if you're in flint, michigan, and you have lead in your water, it's because people can't see you. >> mm-hmm. >> you're invisible to politicians. they say you don't vote enough or you're invisible to people because you don't spend enough or because -- you know, whatever the issue might be, you're invisible. and on the other hand, you're hyper-visible. you walk down the street, just
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columbia university do, but when you wear that hoodie... >> yeah. >> ...it's dangerous. you're hyper-visible. they can't avoid you. and so it's this weird tension of being black in america, male or female, trans or cis, straight or gay, we all are wrestling with this stuff. >> you know, your book kind of seems to me to take the point that the system is almost designed to make the plight of certain people -- the most vulnerable, which tends to be their circumstances worse. you know, is it your feeling that it's deliberate, or is it just that -- i think -- what do you call it? you call it the sort of intersectionality, where it's, you know, maybe racism and sexism and elitism is so ingrained, these tendencies are so ingrained that -- it's not like everybody had a conversation. but everybody's kind of feeling
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multiple forms of oppression coming at you at the same time. >> that's exactly right. and it's important to think about it in that way, as a systemic problem. too often, we talk about good apples and bad apples, good people and bad people. and that almost is beside the point. even people who have the best of intentions, they can only do so much. with law enforcement, we seem to have some discomfort doing that. but if we were talking about another institution, say education, we would all concede, based on everything we can see, that public education isn't working, right? we want it to work. but the system right now, the education system isn't working. doesn't mean we hate all teachers. doesn't mean that all teachers don't care. doesn't mean the teachers do a bad job. it means that the system is designed in such a way that even at their best, they're not able to serve the people in the way that we want. i'm simply saying that the same thing exists for law enforcement. and when we look at all of these systems, they're all part of a bigger american project. and america itself is founded on exploitation of labor. it's founded on the white supremacist logic that says
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all of these things are baked into the system. and so it's comforting at night to say, "the system is broken. we can fix this thing, though." but the truth is, the system's not broken. the system is working exactly the way it's designed to do. so instead of saying, "the system is broken, and let's make it work," let's say, "the system is working. let's break it." and that's what i'm trying to do. i'm trying to give us the intellectual ammunition to understand how we got here so that we can figure a way out of this thing. >> and that's why, in the book, with recent events. >> absolutely. >> that these aren't just accidents. >> yeah. you have to do that, you know, because otherwise, particularly this generation of young people, if it's disconnected from the history, they'll think that mike brown was the first person to be killed or trayvon martin or sean bell or whomever. but august 28, 1955, emmett till is killed in mississippi. and his mama is screaming. she had an open-casket funeral so the world could see what they
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dealing with right now in ferguson or the same thing we're dealing with literally this week in baltimore again with korryn may. we're dealing with people who keep dying at the hands of state violence, and we're dealing with a black community that is trying to marshal the moral courage and the political energy to make a difference. and we always fight, and we will this battle, but it takes a considerable amount of energy and strength and planning and intellectual ammunition. and that's what i'm trying to give in this book. >> what happens if we don't get it? i can't imagine a world outside of resistance and struggle because we've always struggled, we've always resisted. at every moment where somebody said we were nobody, we've always said, "no." "ain't i a woman?" -- sojourner truth. "i am somebody." -- jesse jackson. "i am a man," civil rights leaders. "we are men." >> black lives matter. >> black lives matter. all of these things are our way of asserting our humanity against the backdrop of a world that says we're not human.
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violence. we will continue to die, poor people will continue to suffer unless we resist. it's important for me to note that the state violence i'm talking about isn't just police shooting us. it's also flint. you know, state violence happens in the most ordinary of ways. when you have a town of people whose water is poisoned with lead for a year -- >> and people knew. >> and people knew. and it's not just there. you go to baltimore. long before he got killed by police, freddie gray was getting lead checks. there was lead in the environment. and one of the police who contributed to freddie gray's death -- >> the same poisoning. >> same poisoning, same neighborhood. so all of us are caught up in the muck and mire of daily life. and all of us have to find a way to get out of it. >> do you see any reason for optimism? >> optimism, no. hope, yes. you know, optimism is this belief that everything's gonna be all right. it's just gonna work. and it's not. you can look at the political season and say, "there's no reason, looking at our choices, to say everything's just gonna be all right." you can look at war. you can look at violence. you can look at poverty.
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but hope says that despite the odds, maybe even because of them, depending on your faith tradition, we can win. that there is redemption in suffering. that there is possibility in trauma, that we can turn pain into power. i believe that fully, because at every historical moment, we've done it. part of the reason william bratton has resigned is because we resisted and we fought. but we don't just want a new driver. we want a new direction. so we have to keep pushing for legislation. we have to push for a new dream, as robin kelly would say. >> and is it incumbent upon the vulnerable to do that? or do they need the help of others? >> that's a great question. everyone should struggle for justice and freedom because it's the right thing to do. but no lesson from history would suggest that the powerful are gonna give up their power to the powerless. so i always assume that the vulnerable, that those catching hell, that those at the bottom of the well, to borrow
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resistance, who create the peace, who call for justice. black folk have always been doing that in america. poor people have always been doing that in america. and this is an opportunity once again to make change and create justice. but again, we need the ammunition, we need the insight. and it's not just me, not just my book, but i do think i made a contribution here. >> you do make a contribution. and the book is "nobody: casualties of america's war on the vulnerable, ferguson to flint and beyond." you need to pick it up. marc lamont hill, thank you so much for being with us. still ahead, h difference in the lives of youngsters in the new york city
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hello! it's our new intern, bart's first week here at td bank, he's a robot from one of those other banks. we're training him to bank human. i am banking assistance & registration technology. wait, wait, wait. but you can call me, banking assistance & registration technology. hi amy. thank you. thank you. that is not protocol manager jenna. at td bank we do things differently, like having the longest hours of any bank. don't just bank. bank human. >> thanks to operation backpack, more than 20,000 children living in new york city homeless shelters and domestic-violence shelters will have the school supplies that they need to succeed. the volunteers of america greater new york program provides students with the basic necessities to carry them through the school year. with us today is rachel weinstein, the founder of
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the organization. thank you both for being with us this afternoon. it's one of those things you just go, "it's such a no-brainer," you know? >> yeah. >> every kid needs a backpack, and that's extra money that a lot of parents can't afford. >> well, that's the big thing. you know, when i heard you say, "provide these kids with the supplies they need to get through the year," the thing that's so special about operation backpack as a program is that we provide them with a brand-new backpack with brand-new school supplies that's so these kids not only have the supplies they need, but they look and feel just like their other classmates going in on the first day of school. which instills in them the most important aspect of what we provide, which is confidence and the ability to believe that they can do it. we have a lot of children who say that they felt more -- they felt more special as a child and they believed that they could achieve in school because, basically, by us giving them the backpack, we're saying to them, "you can do it, and you're worth it."
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the school year when i was a kid all those years ago, just having all those new pencils and the new notebooks and the new -- you were ready to go. and it's such an intangible thing that's actually tangible, i guess. >> yeah, exactly. so you hit the nail on the head. so, two things -- i think one reason it's so successful and why the new york community gets on board and just is so generous around this is 'cause we can all identify with exactly the memory >> the first day of school, the smell of the backpacks. >> and getting them. getting the stuff. >> yeah. >> yeah, and i'm sure you had some trepidation. like, it was exciting, but it's also nerve-racking. so imagine for these children, living in a homeless shelter, so they're already stigmatized, and then on top of that, the stress of going to school. and who knows what shape their parents are in, struggling as they are. so these kids are just so burdened. so if we can relieve them of one tremendous stress, relieve them of one tremendous worry, it's
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contributing to this. >> and, i mean, what you need people to do, really, is to help you purchase these supplies, 'cause it doesn't come cheap. >> no, in fact, a high-school backpack is over $100 once you fill it with, you know, scientific calculators and dictionaries and thesauruses and all these things -- usb drives -- all these things that the kids need. we do everything from pre-k all the way up to 12th grade, and we have a head count of every child who's within our shelter system in the greater new york area, so but they're very expensive. i mean, even a pre-k/k backpack runs about what? >> it's about $46. [ laughing ] about $46. >> and the older grades, it just gets more and more and more. and for these children, you know, like rachel was saying, the financial burden that their parents feel kind of becomes their burden, as well. if they're looking to just have enough food and to get by day to day, $100 worth of supplies to
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seem as important when you haven't eaten. but of course, the fastest and most efficient way to break the cycle of poverty is through education. so if these kids don't go to school, or they feel uncomfortable at school, or they don't want to thrive in school... >> it affects their learning. >> ...then they never have a chance. it affects everything. >> and how much -- so, where does your support come from? is it just donations? do you get any corporate help? >> yeah, so, good question. so, this is not a funded program. volunteers of america -- volunteers of america is the nonprofit that created this campaign many, many years ago. and it's not a funded program like the rest of our -- we run -- volunteers of america runs some of the city's homeless shelters, domestic-violence shelters. we have preschools for children with developmental delays. we have residences for people living with hiv/aids, people with mental illness. we're one of the largest providers of supportive housing for veterans in the city, the only shelter for women veterans and their children. so volunteers of america, you
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one thing that we happen to do. it's a community service campaign. so we have shelters for families, and we're always trying to normalize life for the children while they're living with us. so that means we celebrate their birthdays. when school is out, we have a whole recreation program. every day after school, the kids come to us -- recreation we call it, but we're there giving homework help. >> and all that is extra. all that's extra, so in order to provide that, none of that fu government or your tax dollars. that's all stuff that we have to generate. we have to generate those funds. so we do a gala like everybody else does, and we reach out to hundreds of corporate partners who help us. and they do their own school supply drives at their offices. and fedex actually donates the trucks and drivers donate their time to go around and pick up all that stuff to bring to our sort space so we can eventually deliver it to the children. so it's all the corporate
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this comes in. that's where interviews like this come in, to let the public know that they can go to operationbackpackny.org and actually make a donation. you know, right now, we're in the throes of sort week. the actual tangible collecting is kind of over. and now we're looking toward the end of this time of sorting these backpacks and delivering them. and we know, as always, this always happens -- for 12 years this happens -- we run out of supplies. >> yeah, so you need those supplies. >> cash. at this point, we need cash because we have negotiated the best prices, and we have vendors standing ready. 'cause they know we're gonna run out. this week, now going into this week, we're sorting, as paige said. we're preparing all the backpacks. we're doing quality control, making sure everything's in there. >> making sure that every child for each grade gets the same thing. that's also very important. and they get what they need. grade specific, of course. >> i just -- i love the whole idea of this. we do something similar here at work with the disney program. >> a lot of people do, but ours
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>> it's 20,000 backpacks. >> but you know what's unique about it, i think, sandra? one thing that i feel very proud of is that we put the backpan -- backpans. we put the backpacks into the hands of the children before school starts. so rather than a child going to school and a kind teacher seeing that the child is in need, and then of course the classmates see the same thing, that there's a needy child, these children march in proud, excited to show off their backpacks before school starts. and that's the sort of unique gets into the hands of children who truly are homeless before they enter school for the first time. >> it all comes from the idea of normalizing everything for the kids. it all goes back to the same point. you know, the typical child gets to walk into school on the first day with the supplies already in hand. and, you know, we think about that from literally the ground up. so even when, say, the backpacks are being filled with all of the supplies and we're getting ready to hand them out, we've had to,
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working down at the sort space, 'cause they want to open the packages of glue sticks and the pencils and put it in the, you know, pencil box. like, "stop that, stop that! the kids want to open those things." you know, they so rarely get something new. >> so you want to give them the full experience. >> that's right. >> exactly. >> and it's operationbackpacknyc.org. >> that's right. and there will be a big square... >> that says "donate." >> ...rectangle that you can donate now. >> 'cause i went on this morning to walk myself through it. >> something that rachel said i you know, those cash donations that are gonna come in to us, you know, today and over the next few days, we can make so much more of each dollar than you could on your own because we have negotiated with vendors that we already work with who they're doing their pro-bono work in that they're giving us this stuff at cost. and they're standing by and they're ready to -- "oh, my gosh, what do we need this year? this year, we need notebooks. what do we need? this year, we need erasers." or "this year, we need watercolors." or "this year, we need" whatever
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>> all right, operationbackpacknyc.org. >> thank you. >> great work you guys are doing. so nice to meet both of you. and hopefully we'll see you again. you got a long list of programs there. i'm sure we're gonna see you again. >> good, good. and come to sort week. come pack some backpacks or just witness it. >> so i can feel like a kid again. >> witness the mass that is 20,000 backpacks. >> all right, thank you both. >> thanks, sandra. >> when we come back, a new jersey group that's on a worldwide mission providing eyeglasses for tho w them but can't afford them.
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>> more than 3 billion people around the world have poor vision but can't get the eyeglasses they need to correct their eyesight. focus-on-vision usa, based in clifton, new jersey, is simply helping the world see. and here today from focus-on-vision, bill pluta, the secretary/treasurer, and two volunteers, emma vargas and zachary daly. welcome to all of you. >> same here. >> now, focus on vision, it's kind of been your baby. tell us a little bit about how you got involved with it. >> i got involved with a friend of mine who i met back in the early '80s in the netherlands. i represented a company that he belonged to, so we did some traveling in europe and in this country. through the years, it became a good friendship. in about 2002, 2004 time period, he started telling me about his idea that -- actually, his son, frederik van asbeck, came up
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the original guy was -- i mean the guy that really helped with setting this up is jan in 't veld. both of these people are in the netherlands, so focus-on-vision actually started in the netherlands. and if you've seen some of the tapes that you can see on our website, how we do the manufacturing of the glasses and everything else. the important thing i wanted to bring up about this, too, is we're all volunteers. i'm not on the payroll, all right? even jan and his cohorts are all volunteers. so none of the money goes to us. it all goes to helping these glasses. >> and the g neat thing about them. they're adjustable? >> they're adjustable, right? so you can adjust for your eyesight. if one is stronger than the other, you can correct for that. and we've done this throughout many countries through the world. we're in 45 different countries. we've distributed over 350,000 glasses worldwide already. starting focus-on-vision usa was to get the glasses into america -- north america, south america, down into the caribbean, also. and i've been working with
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we rely on people like this. 'cause we don't have a distribution network set up. we rely on other people doing other ministries in the world, and these folks can actually tell you where they came into play in this whole game here. >> so, emma, how did you get involved with it? and i know you just returned from africa. >> yes, so, i got involved through my school, gordon college. i had heard that they were having a missions trip to swazil to go to india, but i heard about swaziland, and i went to an information meeting, and they talked about it, and i fell in love with the mission that bulembu, which is where we were, had, and i was like, "i have to go here." and so that's how i got involved. >> mm-hmm. and once you got there, what did you find? how did people react to your being there and being able to get something that they could really use and could change their lives?
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excited. it was really -- it was a beautiful thing, because all the kids, they were so nice. like, they didn't even know us. that was the first time they had seen us. and they would all run up to us and give us a hug, like, the first day. and so that was amazing. but also we volunteered in the clinic, and dr. wiseman, which is the doctor in the town, when we gave him the glasses, he was so excited because he actually wanted to have the glasses and he had seen them online, but they didn't have the funding to get th. just so excited. so we got to see how we could impact them in practical way. >> okay, now, and i know you also went. >> i did, yes. >> and did you find it as -- 'cause she's enchanted. [ laughter ] and you said to me, you know, somebody can tell you about a place, but you don't know until you get there. >> exactly. when i was there, i was amazed at how the clinic was made of
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parts in africa. even the teachers as well. so they all really came together from africa, and they were volunteering at this clinic because it served the private village that takes care of the orphanage and runs the orphanage. so there's about 450 orphans there, and then there's about 1,200 people in the town that take care of the orphans. it's really amazing to see how the clinic comes together. i don't know if you mentioned, but it used to be an old mining town. >> mm-hmm. >> so they're kind of reclaiming all the buildings. hospital, and it closed down like 15 years ago. so now they're slowly reclaiming the rooms. and it's amazing to see them -- a person donated a dentist room, and so they were able to put in a dentist. and then so with these glasses, now they're able to put a portion of the clinic that -- it's already built, they just have to fix up the rooms. now make it an eye clinic. so that if this child's having a problem in school, send them to the clinic, which is right down the road.
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a -- they see, "oh, he needs to have his glasses adjusted to this type of level." >> mm-hmm. >> so it's amazing to see how the glasses are perfect for this type of setting, where they can just manually adjust them and help the child see and do better in school. >> yeah, they wouldn't even -- first of all, they didn't have access to an eye doctor or eyeglasses. and now, because of focus-on-vision, the glasses are there, and it's something that -- you know, it's not just -- 'cause we have a tenden, changed. put those in the drawer. i'll use something else." this can kind of grow with them. >> exactly. and we're doing a thing in ghana for cocoa farmers there, all right? and these farmers, they couldn't tell the difference between a weed and their actual plant. >> because they needed glasses? >> 'cause they needed glasses, so we helped them. we have an ongoing thing right now. we're looking to do 100 villages in ghana, all right, over the
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they seen how these glasses have helped people, all right? with weaving -- emily's seen the mosaics, they put the mosaics together. and putting the mosaics together, they sell these to help fund what they're doing at their school or the orphanage there. so we'll help there. >> so, how much -- how much does a pair of glasses cost to manufacture, to make? don't sell them to the general public. >> yes, i know. >> there is actually someone who is authorized to sell in the united states the glasses. he has his own website. it's focusspecs.com. if you wanted a pair, you can get a pair there. the nice thing about it, if you buy a pair from him, he gives us a pair to give to somebody else. >> okay, so that's perfect. >> that's exactly it. >> all right, so you're giving even when you don't know you're giving.
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that's imported into this country, all duties paid, all right? and that's all we charge other groups. now, i'm not gonna sell one glass for $7.50, right? >> yeah. >> usually, they're getting 50 to 100 of these things. and a lot of these church groups out of the south who go down to haiti and south america and stuff, that's what they buy. and you spread them around that way, also. >> so, if i wanted to donate to focus-on-vision, what do i need >> go to focus-on-vision.org. there's two paypal buttons there, all right? one you can actually do it in euros, if you're viewing this from out of the country. and in the usa, there's a button for usa, all right? and you can donate in dollars. either way. >> and you talked about these farmers in ghana. i know that one of the biggest places you've had an impact is also in kenya. >> yes. we're working with
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10,000 in that area. now, the other thing that we do, you know, we do have doctors that work with us, all right? there's a doctor in south africa, burt kosi -- k-o-s-i -- who's been a big help to us in getting into these different villages and everything else, all right? and he's helping us with the sos children's movement there. and what we do is to go in and we set up what we call vision guardians. course to teach people what to look for in eye care. 'cause some people might have cataracts, some other things. and, you know, we're not making them doctors. but we're giving them, "hey, look for this, look for that." and then we give them a certificate saying "you're now a vision guardian for focus-on-vision." so we did that in kenya with the sos. so we're starting to distribute those glasses there with the help of people within kenya. the big thing is that we need support from the people in the
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contacts. we have contacts. somebody's got to lead you around if you've never been to the country. you know, where's the best restaurant to go to, right? [ laughter ] >> of course, that's not what you're looking for. you're looking for the people that need the most help, right? >> correct, yeah. >> and i have to ask you two before we go -- this experience, it makes you want to volunteer more and maybe not only continue with focus-on-vision but see what else good you can do in the world? >> yes, of course. so, our school has a lot of missions opportunities. swaziland is just one of the few. and i'm really inspired to go back maybe to even swaziland, but maybe to another country. but i think that i probably want to go back to swaziland because it's just such a beautiful, amazing place with beautiful, amazing, hardworking people. >> and did it make you also grateful for all the things that we take for granted here? >> yes, definitely. and also, as we're thinking
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while i'm studying, this motivates me to think, "well, when i do become whatever i want to become, i can then go into these types of countries and help out." or just in our own community. help down the road. say, "oh, who doesn't have access to this type of medicine or this type of healthcare?" and then to help them out as well. >> okay, focus-on-vision.org, right? >> yes. you got it. >> thank you for being with us this afternoon. what a great program. and like i said, it's a >> if you got a book, you need glasses to read it. >> okay. thank you so much. >> thank you.
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job as a hotel clerk just a few years ago. but finally, fame found him in "hamilton." entertainment reporter sandy kenyon sat down with him just days after his last performance in the hit show. >> i haven't really had any time to process what's happened over the last couple years because we had a job to do. ? i want to be in the room where it happens ? ? room where it happens ? >> the final performance by the leslie odom jr. >> it was really beautiful. and i have to say on the other side of it, like, i'm so excited to -- i'm actually really excited to put aaron burr down. my body is excited to put aaron burr down. because it was rough on my body, for sure. i've longed to be in the room where it happened my whole life, and this is the room. >> the room where the "hamilton" album was recorded is where leslie is now planning his solo
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you are meeting everyone that you could every want to meet as a performer. it took me a little while. i'm not a kid, as you know. and so it's been sort of 15 or so years of bumming around and making a living as an artist, which is sometimes all you can ask for. but nothing like this. you know, nothing that really breaks you and makes people come to you and say, "hey, what do you want to work on?" and "hamilton" was that thing. "hamilton" was that thing that made people call us up and say, "hey, what do you want to do?" and so in thinking about that, do you want to do a tv show or a movie, you know, what do you want to pursue next, this was the most logical thing to me. because in some ways, i knew that i wouldn't have been able to give the performance that i was giving if it hadn't been for the work that i'd done in the
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voice, my authentic voice as an artist, as a performer. and so it felt fitting to return to it after all that i'd learned, all that i'd done over the past couple years with "hamilton." it's taught me so much. so now to take that back into the studio and to record again and to perform live again as a solo artist was the only thing that i wanted to do. ? when you're down and out ? >> the words of the song have a special resonance for the man whose stardom was 15 years in the making. i was very surprised to learn that it was not too long ago that you thought about applying for a job as a hotel clerk. do i have that right? >> oh, yeah. >> when was that? what were the circumstances? and how did you get out of it? >> it was right before i turned 30, and, you know, this business
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and those peaks are high, and those valleys are low. and i just couldn't quite wrap my head around how you make -- how you really make a life in this business. how do you mature? how do you decide to have children, or, you know, just to go to that next level of life that a lot of people take for granted when you have a regular job, a regular 9:00 to 5:00. >> the uncertainty. >> the uncertainty. uncertainty. and, yeah, so i was looking for -- the hotel clerk, to be fair, was just a transition point for me. and then i also want to say, because i love what martin luther king says about, you know, "there is no such thing as menial labor," that all labor has dignity. the only thing menial is the pay, right, from time to time. and so it's not that i want to down hotel clerks. >> mm-hmm. i understand that. right, right.
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it felt like a midway point, maybe. it felt like something that i could get a check every week and that i could possibly, you know, be -- here's what i also want to say. what i realized a long time ago was the reason why i'm in this business is because i like to connect with people. and so i was looking for a job that i could still do the thing that i like to do, that i could people and connecting to people. and i thought a hotel clerk would meet a lot of people, and, you know, maybe i could make a living that way. >> and then you really pursued "hamilton," didn't you? you knew what that was. you said this was a part you'd been waiting for your whole life. >> yeah. well, part of the coming back from that, part of making the decision to stay in the business after the detour, was one of the things i realized was that i
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was that i had to -- you know, i had a mantra for myself for a while. i had to come rushing forward when i came into meetings. i had to come rushing forward. there was no sitting back. there was no waiting for people. there was no... sitting back and... letting people wonder how i felt about something or letting people wonder if i wanted to be involved. i had to let people know that i desperately wanted involved. and if they wanted to come back my way, then we'd do business together. ? might strange, but ? ? without a doubt ? ? nobody knows you ? ? when you're down and out ? i wanted to be sure to hold that moment close in the eye of this hurricane.
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what it felt like to be down and out in the middle of all this, because you never know when you're gonna have to go back for whatever reason. and really, it's okay. i'm so grateful to see the other side of the coin in such a full and complete way as i've gotten, you know, with this "hamilton" experience. but, yeah, the song, singing it, you know, it administers to me even now. about life after "hamilton"? and how did your thinking lead back to the studio? >> i was learning in that room. i was growing in that room. this material was fashioning me into the artist that i'd always dreamed of being. ? i've got to be ? ? i've got to be ? coming to the end of a contract when you kind of feel like, "i could stay here.
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time to try something new and take a chance. ? please don't be offended ? after all that i'd learned, all that i'd done over the past couple of years with "hamilton," it's taught me so much. now to take that back into the studio and to record again and to perform live again as a solo artist was the only thing that i wanted to do. [ singing indistinctly ] >> sandra bookman and back. hi guys! got the birthday girl a drum set. drum set? he's kidding! [laughs]
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? ? ? >> thanks for joining us on "here and now." if you missed any portion of today's show, you can watch at
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share your story, e-mail us at abc7ny or follow us on facebook and twitter. i'm sandra bookman.
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?? ?? ?? welcome to an all-new episode of "our world with black enterprise." i'm your host. up first, football hall of famer and major league football star deio s family and fatherhood. >> we have to stop playing and get in the game as father, man, because if we get in the game as fathers and start raising these kids and being there for these kids and chastising these kids and channeling these kids and provoking change in these kids. >> our entrepreneur of the week is survivor in africa to successful businesswoman in africa with the successful

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