tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN November 22, 2016 5:30pm-7:31pm EST
talked about at first as president, that's a role of a president who is good at that can do very effectively and it comforts not just black people but it's not radical and wild and makes white people in other peoples of color to gray. that's what the speeches are about. they are not about policy is less policy isn't limited after that are before. the second thing is that what obama has done about, part of the problems we don't know enough history. they should be more history and policymaking here at the kennedy school and other places. ..
the pressure put on him that other presidents have had. when people have tried, some white women who are friends of mine have popped up to try to get him to do something they literally get us out. the public loves us. all the democrats love us, why don't you shut up. your job is to go and implement these changes. go over there and take care of all of these problems, you know, don't bother that president, so groups know we love obama and so if you had a white present in the white house and the unemployment rate was 16.9% and all of these other things you would have more people complaining than complain.
we just want him to get through the eight years and go home and be happy and life can go on. i mean, that. if he can just do that, we will be fine. >> questions over here? wait, we need a microphone. thank you. >> two things come i was struck that no one mentioned anything about foreign policy. >> we weren't asked. >> just too connected to this, most of the people that the us has killed, the hundreds of thousands of people have been up to learn around the. of the second is, the fact that this is maybe more of a comment -- >> please give me a question. >> no one has gone to prison, the wall street criminals, war criminals and police. >> who would like to respond? >> i would. first-- i will it respond to anything, as you have noticed. first of all, yes indeed. we were not asked about foreign
policy and one of the things i like about obama, i don't like all those people getting killed, but his four and a policy has been to not send a whole bunch of troops someplace fight and get killed or maimed, which is what they do now. they lose their limbs and come back as amputees, so i think that is good on the foreign policy side and as far as wall street, obviously since capitalism is intact, we don't expect to the justice the permit to go after those people to put them in jail because then wall street would be worried. wall street people, they don't care how much you find them. you can find them all you want to work they have enough money left after you find them. it's the going to jail that really bites. >> all the way over here. >> hello. you have an incident relationship with president obama and your husband talks
today about how he presented himself as a community organizer and he campaigned as a social movements pusher, i guess, and yet we see doctor fong pointed out there's been a lack of policies to support community organizing, community initiatives at the federal level. can you speak onto why you think there was a disconnect between president obama's organizing experience and his lack of policies that support community organizing? >> great question. a few things, one, i think one of the great failures of community organizing as it worth in the obama administration was the lack of transitioning of all that good will and all networks around the country and all that
enthusiasm after the 2008 election into a movement in 2009 and 2010. eight movement that could have helped sell healthcare reform and maybe past public option and so forth. the president, i think, has mentioned it that, but i think there was a significant gap there and much more could been done to keep democrats in office , congressional districts around the country, so i definitely think more could have been done him a dnc perspective, from leadership across government and all the mechanisms of the democratic party there. i would say there are few bright spots in terms of community organizing, both practical and more relational. one, on the practical side i mention prominent neighborhoods, but the president regularly engages with groups and brings them into the conversation about policy initiative. i was at the white house recently in the same room as
many who you heard from last night and these folks-- he is able to connect across generations and provoke a conversation about where we were with organizing civil rights movement, where we are now. the final thing i would say is that i don't think this is an achievement of the presidents per se, but of the moment we are in. i think the lm is the best thing that has happened in this country since that civil rights movement and that was in response to police violence and the issues that the young activists saw around the country. i don't think the president certainly did not create the black lives matter movement, but i think has pretty quickly after ferguson learned to be in conversation. there are a lot of black lives matter group leaders who say they do have a robust ongoing conversation with the white house over policy initiative and i think that in and of itself is
a unique thing. we had folks you heard from yesterday and other people around of the country who will say i him in a very real dialogue with the white house between community organizing and activists and the federal government. am i getting everything i'm asking for? no, but the conversation is being taken seriously. >> right here, sir. >> you mentioned that there was a lack of specific targeting in terms of the african-american community. but, obama's own mobilization team in terms of voting has been marked as revolutionary in its getting 20 to 34 -year-olds to the polls, so my question is why was that not implemented to actually encourage popular participation in policy implementation? >> well, i mean, i think the president brilliant on a political strategy and i have
worked three presidential candidates, all republicans and the rnc, we wish we could implement what president obama did in both terms as far as his ability to mobilize younger voters. i do think that if that same strategy was utilized as far as policy initiatives he could put pressure on members of congress and republicans to answer to some of these questions versus tabling an option you have note to respect to vote for it. they are getting thousands of calls a day-- trust me on seeing this on the other side. i've helped make some of these things happen and if you are getting thousands of calls a day they will say we can't table this end-- we cannot table lights this. >> it's also easier to promise things as a candidate than it is to either pass policy, which is, you know, the first year or so when obama had a super majority
in congress, if you can't get anything passed then it speaks to the complication of doing so and also speaks to political will. so, i think that that is part of the problem. people talk about all of the discussion about race and issues of criminal justice now and try to sort of attribute that solely to the presence of the president, that the black president has helped issues of race and inequality in unit-- bringing into everybody's living room. i think what is missing there is how it's the movement has actually forced the issues into the open in an unprecedented way and so we look at comic you know the different moments when this happens around the execution of troy davis in 2011, with
hundreds of black students of march around washington dc hoping to get the president to at least make a statement. no one was naïve enough to believe that he would intervene directly in georgia, but to at least make a statement that these were the reasons why we voted to have a black president in the white house in the first place and nothing happens with that work he had the press out the next day to say it's a state's right issue and even with trayvon martin it took the mobilization of people for fortified days to try to get the government arrested. that is what brought that issue into everyday people's living rooms and so the president has been reactive to these things, which speaks to probably his intelligence, you know, that you can't ignore these essential issues to black constituencies, but has not led for some of the reasons i think that doctor barry mentioned, which has to do with the constraints of the
democratic party, but i'm not sure they're completely interested in having a mobilized engaged outside of the four-year boating cycle in the midterm election. >> i see over there, but i'm going to go over here and then back to you. over here to the last. >> thank you very much. if i tell you i'm a dangerous driver in the right with me and we drive really fast you won't think he is driving so fast it's just part of my being a dangerous driver. now, we were told and very explicit ways from the inception of president obama's candidacy that he's very different and not like us and he's a different person. so much-- so, how much of the things he has done as president that were different and outstanding and outliers were overshadowed by what i would call this negative expectations
that were created, decorative a framework built around him from the very beginning. in other words how much that he's been able to achieve has been lost especially on whether it's young african-american voters or other communities of color, how much has been lost in the fact that we were told from the beginning he will be really different and for some people scary so when he does things it might be different or scary and they are not seen that way because he's living up to like i said negative expectations. hope that makes sense. >> i mean, i would say from what i understand of your question is that people make those determinations based on what changes in their lives. i don't think that people only form their political opinion based on the news media. there is some combination that has an impact, but it's also aced on your own experience and so if you look at chicago, for example, the president adopted hometown, the situation for
black millennial's in chicago is a disaster and a so there's no amounts of the political spin that can transform that reality and so that, i think, is what many ordinary people whether it's recorded in the polls are not are reacting to is what has actually changed in our day-to-day lives. we still have 40% of black children living in poverty. 47% of black men 20 to 24 in chicago are unemployed and out of school. so, not all of this can be laid at the doorstep of president obama, obviously, but when you are the leader of the free world, when you can direct drone strikes very precisely and in yemen and pakistan, but that raises the expectation of what you should be able to do in this country and we can suggest talk
about all of the complications in the political paralysis because we has seen the american government move quickly on a things that it has determined to push the and very sporadically on other issues particularly socialssues that had to do with poverty and inequality. >> i think people did carry into this administration a set of expectations, negative viewpoints, whatever the case may be and when those are born and i think they should be pointed out, but i think it's also really important to look at even marginal progress is progress that's important. 2015, was the largest decline in the poverty rate for african americans since 1999. among black children, dropped 4.2%, that 700,000 overall and 400,000 black children below the poverty line right now. that's important. it's not everything, not even close to everything, but it's important and some of that can
be traced back to very specific bureaucratic that progressive that president obama put in place to cross government and has moved forward on, so i think there is this-- there was this kind of broad expectation that it would get better and things would get better and not everything that better. in fact, some things have gotten more acutely-- more apparently worse or at least we can see the problems now and i agree it is not that president obama put those problems out on the table himself, but i think, the causal chain here was that a lot of white americans reted to the black president in office and then african-americans especially young activists mobilized to respond to that reaction. of the president had a role certainly in provoking the reaction the first place and has had a ongoing role of responding to it, but it's a big
environment created and now has the issue at the forefront and i think that's an important thing. the question is where do we go from here. what we do now that these issues are on the table and that's where accountability comes into play. >> this gentleman all the way on them back to them in here and then hang up here. >> quick question. what specific race related pieces of legislation would you like to have seen past in the past-- current administration and how likely do you think those would have been passed? >> michael. >> you know, that's a hard question considering-- no, no i did not say it was not a good question. it's a hard question. i'm not sure how much of the president would be able to get accomplished with partisanship in congress today. i think that-- i was texting a friend who works in the white
house, actually valerie jarrett before we came to the state and he was giving me pointers to make sure you boost the present and i was like i will try my best, lol. so, at any rate, i would have wanted to see the president focus a lot more on education specifically as it pertains to historical black colleges i think his focus on criminal justice reform should been more targeted versus having one big policy initiative. but, again under this congress and with the level of partisan-- partisanship that we see today i'm not a measure those things would have passed and i'm saying that as a republican. i'm not even sure. >> i think it's an excellent question, but it's the wrong question, your question. what specific legislation would i like to have seen past that would have affected positively the black folks on talking about
who are left out and did not have jobs and unemployment rate in all that? if you ask that question, for a long time i thought with some other people that what you need to do is propose a piece of legislation that targets resources in geographic areas where the highest poverty rates are and therefore, you would get the black folks who were in the area i'm talking about and by the way, josh, when you look at the poverty rate you have to look at where it started from like how high did it go up way back even before 1999, but anyway, so now i hear that there is a proposal from congressional black caucus that hillary clinton talks about in her campaign. you could have proposed that the first year that they were there and you would not have had to say race to get into all these
problems about is a poor black folks. stay away from black folks. justice say the areas where those rates existed and there are lots of legislation that you can draft that will have look at where the people are and with the data are on those groups and you can target to them without saying, i'm here today to talk about black folks. well, that's all i will say now. >> even to the professor's point, there are a lot of poor whites that vote republican who would benefit from the legislation. >> absolutely. >> i can to describe very specifically, but has some formulas, which he take many resources to the next level. >> the second year when the poverty rate from blacks and unemployment was 16.9% and for hillary clinton's campaign, ask yourself why there talking about
that. >> the first thing they did was a knock down drag out fight over the stimulus where republicans wanted it-- did want it all than they wanted 600 billion and then he fought for as much as he could. that took a whole lot of energy. and wish it were the case you could pass whatever you want, but you couldn't. second thing, he decided on going to move to healthcare and get the best possible health care bill i can do it by the time that's over we are at 2010, and then the political disaster or part of the democratic president is making by not selling the healthcare bill, mobilizing constituencies. this was a very relatively narrow. mac of time that started with economic recovery and moved it to healthcare we are at the midterm election in 2010. could he have made different decisions and put up comprehensive immigration reform, antipoverty strategy? yes, but we also had eight economy on the verge of the next
great depression, self you could critique decisions he made, but it's important to think that it would not have been a easy legislative fight. it was a very difficult fight. >> i know that. that's not the point. that's not the point, joshua. a joshua, that's not the point. the point is not that we should not have had stimulus. everyone knows we needed that there was a recession. the point is when you have control of the legislature and overwhelming majority and you can do what you want because you have a overwhelming majority, you make choices about things and among that grab bag of things that you make a choice is about, if there is something that is absolutely essential to your 90% electorate that voted for you and loves you, maybe you could take a look at it or at least mentioned or discuss it or see if someone else might agree with you. >> okay. right here.
>> one of the issues i'm concerned about is the devastating effect that foreclosures had on the black community and it affected everything else, displacement right now in many cities with many black families forced out of their traditional neighborhoods, forced out of the community and it affects educational achievement. it is linked to to just about every issue you can think about, mental health status and one of the things i'm really curious about and, of course, the facts have been able to strengthen their position and this is in the context of growing wealth and income inequality and so i want to knowrom you, what to do you see as opportunities that could have been taken care of because we talk about healthcare , but housing is set-- just eight central shelter and a central issue. what opportunities could of been addressed or could be addressed
now in terms of dealing with that issue because i still think we have not dealt with that issue in terms of the policy. >> i think once the overall critique of black accountability for wall street is something i would agree with. i think people should have gone to jail period. i think the department of housing and urban development has done important things particularly on the rental side and transitioning folks out of substandard public housing and moving them to more quality housing and so forth, but i think where possible they did everything they could between hud and treasury and the most urgent foreclosure cases, but i don't think there was a robust enough efforts-- i shouldn't say effort, i don't think there was a aggressive enough policy approach to address foreclosures >> 244,000 african-americans lost their homes. that is a result of the
fallout's of the recession in 2008. so, i think that the issues of debt forgiveness-- once it was discovered that many of the loans that had been made to african-americans, subprime loans that were often pushed and predatory fraudulent ways, that there ould have been some kind of debt forgiveness as a result of that, but these things in some ways when we just talk about the obama or obama administration, really tries to nearly fixate on what this or that individual could do when we are talking about huge systemic issues. of course, you know, when goldman sachs is running the treasury department it's very unlikely that goldman-- people
with goldman sachs and the financing industry will be put in jail and it's the same thing with the influence of the real estate industry and hud and all of the rules and laws and regulations that are twisted in such a way as to not be as beneficial as they could to ordinary citizens, but in fact are beneficial to business. this is not something that is pick you your, obviously, to the obama administration, in some ways shows the continuity with obama in previous administrations as much as people may want to talk about how different this administration is. i think with that housing crisis and the ticket we see eight vast amount of continuity and just how typical this administration reacted in terms of defending and deflecting for the financing sector, for the real estate industry and even for the debate themselves that were shown to
have engaged in practices that resulted in black people taking fraudulent loans. again, signs. you get some fines for the bank and no one is seriously punished and at the process begins to replicate itself in other ways, so wells fargo, which was implicated in baltimore for pushing quote unquote ghetto loans, now wells fargo has new issues and it's because none of these people are ever punished and they are not actually forced to account for their fraudulent sometimes illegal the pluck it is practices in the first place and so in that place-- respected the obama administration sort of fell in line with how most of these administrations operate. >> i think that is correct particularly in the first term especially the first part of the first term. i think it's important to at least mention that consumer
financial protection bureau. without the president that bureau would not be in place and we would not know about wells fargo skirt current issues if it were not for this and other interventions they have undertaken over the last two and half years, so again i don't think that is as important or as significant as some of the interventions on for a half of poor folks that should have taken place in 2009. it is important and so substantial that a federal judge just ruled that it has too much authority and now there's conversation about rolling it back and it's under attack from republicans since it's implementation. that's a real advocacy on behalf of consumers like holding wells fargo accountable. >> has anyone gone to jail? >> hopefully they will. i know they are trying. >> this woman right here.
>> that is the next great issue. my hope is that the conversation on criminal justice reform and police abuses continues and becomes a robust and important conclusions and at the same time we talk about black wealth, being able to pay teachers more, to focus on retirement, homeownership and i think that is missed in the conversation. >> the question was about black recovery. yes, right here. did you have your hand up? oh, i thought you did. >> i did not know if you are pointing to me. hello. my frame of reference is i'm a bilingual school psychologist and i'm now in a large urban district in massachusetts, where students are primarily undocumented immigrants, so i'm passionate about education policy and would like to be more involved. my question for you always do
you feel like president obama replacing no child left behind with every student succeeds act is an opportunity? was that in taking an opportunity or not? >> mayor francis barry. >> why did you have to ask me? i think that no child left behind where i was speaking about it some teachers got up and called it: kiss my behind. that's what they called it. of course, it was denounced by everyone everywhere. i think that the students succeed act seems to have, i think, he probably believes in his education policy people believe that they were making some progress but passing the student succeeds act, but i think the mere title of the act, my students tell me in my policy seminar tells me right away it's
not real because first of all not every student is going to succeed. every student isn't going to succeed by what happens in school. there still seems to be this belief, which is not shared by education policy people do not in the university where i teach or any of the other ones or even this one that in fact the only thing you need to worry about for kids in school is what happens in school. that's just not true. you need to worry about all of the structural issues that you are talking about, all of the social, economic issues, but this act starts with the premise that if every student does not succeed it's because something that did not happen at school. so, i think-- i also don't like the provisions of it that give opportunities to use public money to go to places where i don't think it should go because there are no studies that show
that it pays off. we have had for the last-- since bush, the first bush, we have had succession of education policies put into place without any kind of fundamental research reported by scholars who work on these matters. to say that we should do whatever it is and instead of doing as one of my kids it told me in my undergraduate seminar, why don't they do for poor kids what they-- what my parents did for me. he went to a fancy prep school and all. if they really want to help them why do they keep doing these things and putting all of these labels on them as if it going to school and what happens in school without giving them the opportunity that i even had a school is going to be enough for them and i said, well, it's a largely a matter of money. also, because we wish something would happen. so, starting with the title of it, starting with disconnecting
-- alec shanker was right about something and i used to fight with him about stuff all the time, but he is right i have to say now that he is dead. he used to say to me the reason why we don't want i department of education is because education is connected to health and everything else and it shouldst day in the department of education and welfare and i help jimmy carter get it out of the department of health education and welfare, but he was right and the more we do these things and disconnected from the idea of what kind of work do people have, what kind of parents, what kind of environment do they live in, what's going on in the communities and what additional resources you need in school to take care of the kids you have, not every student will succeed. >> that's à la shanker former head of the teachers union. >> with the events that took place with trayvon martin and
ferguson, and other places, has obama done anything in the field of executive action in scaling back the material given by the department of defense to police departments in order to cut down on what's going on? >> he did and then he didn't. >> yes. i don't know if you want to continue, but the answer is yes. he has made both funding available and threats to withdraw and pull back funding on the militarization aside and funding available on implicit biased training, as much as is possible-- i shouldn't say as much, but he has done something and the department of justice has done something when it comes to federal incentives for local
police departments. i think we need to have a much more robust conversation about how the president in combination with local communities can hold local police department's available-- accountable when he does not have ultimate authority over them. he has initiated a bunch of rigorous investigations, also. we see one mall most every other week where we seek justice officials and our black attorney generals are sending attorneys into the communities. the issues with police department in these communities and so i think that is another mechanism and the question is can the president do more to use federal authority, federal incentives to impact local police. i'm sure there's additional thinks he can do, but there are important local components to take into account as well and this i will say is a moment where sort of rhetoric meets action.
a lot of folks wanted him to go to dallas and not talk about policing because of the tragedy that happened there. he went to dallas. he also talked about policing and when he does something that's unexpected. it's much more robust than anyone expected. when he doesn't do something, i think that's what's mostly focused on. >> i think the reasons for that is because continued issues with not just police violence and abuse, but the lack of accountability for that, which, i think, was crystallized for many people in the movement particularly with the way that the death of freddy gray was handled and the fact that the medical examiner in baltimore can say that freddy gray's death was a homicide and yet all of
the officers who were involved with him, not a single one of them will be held accountable, so this is two years later. this is countless meetings in the white house. this is a commission. of this is several reports and investigations later and still the police officer who killed mike brown is not indicted. the police officer who choked eric garner to death was not indicted. the police officer who killed walter scott and south carolina, who had been held without bail had been given bail because the judge said he felt bad that this officer had been removed from his family for so long and so this is part of the frustration, i think, is that we can have lots of reports of these experiences of people who are
victimized by the police and quite accurately documented that illegal practices of police in any given city and yet nothing appears to have been that hatch-- actually has an impact on how police interact with the black and brown communities in this country. the last thing i will say is that in the heat of a social movement, president obama signed legislation to restrict the amount of military hardware that goes to local police departments, but then in the aftermath of dallas said that he wouldn't look back into that and see about allowing police departments, once again, to receive this kind of military hardware. so, this also contributes to the idea that there is a whole lot of talking and not a lot of action happening and so we can
go through all of the difficulties confrontations of the federal bureaucracy interfacing on a local level, but at the end of the day, when nothing happens to actually impede the ability of police to treat black people as second-class citizens in this country, then the frustration and anger, really, that exists and if it demonstrated every there is another police killing in the city in this country and will continue to bon display. >> i'm sorry, quickly. i think the president could have certainly pulled federal funding every state receives a couple billion dollars of federal funding that pertains to police departments. i think that funding could happen. i think the militarization of the police department across the country should be a concern to a lot of people and as a conservative i'm all for limited government, small government and
it bothers me significantly that there is a government entity that has this much power. i mean, theoretically let's say someone were to take over the government, for example. you have a military that can help power the people. i found it extremely perplexing that republicans have been relatively silent on this and so you have lots of police associations. >> it's not perplexing. >> you have a lot of police associations that will say, well, we are normally outnumbered, so it's a necessity if we were handing to white people the republicans would be all over this. it's happening to black people and they don't care. >> to finish my point and i don't want to get into that, just want to finish my point, the fact of the matter is there's lots of police associations that they wear outnumbered and we need those weapons, but to sickly it is not
happening every day where folks are walking down the street with m-16 rocket launchers. it's a rare occurrence, so that argument within itself doesn't hold a lot of water, so i think that's a threat to our civil liberties and something that conservatives should definitely be at the forefront of. you could say it's because of racial biases and there are a lot of variables i'm sure, but for me i think that is something that drastically concerns me and i have to say that i'm not proud that my party has not taken the right and step on that issue. >> walter scott was murdered in cold blood, no question about that whatsoever in my mind. walter scott's killer was also out on bail, but the space in between, particularly as we rigorously look at this issue demands of specificity and what is the president role in a veiled decision?
what is the president's role, even if he agrees he should not have bail, what-- not even the president, what is the federal role? that's an issue of races and. i agree with you completely. i don't think or anyone that connects the decisions that are made by local prosecutors and local courts to raise and bias in local communities. i think that is a accurate connection. the question is how can you impact that. there are some ways with levels of funding and training and i think those ways are sometimes with specificity more limited than we would like and maybe that's something that needs to be changed, but i think we are required to ask the question, what is our black president's role in these decisions. >> i'm leaving it there. we have to leave it there. that's a raise and justice in the age of obama. my guess our mary frances berry,
joshua debose-- [inaudible] [applause]. >> okay, so hello everyone. it's a real pleasure to be here and to introduce our next panel. i was so enthralled by everything that happened in the first two hours that i forgot i had a little part to play in this next session, so forgive me for this unplanned delay. i will reduce our moderator and let them take it from there. our moderator is douglas blackmon, a pulitzer prize-winning author. coexecutive producer of that acclaimed pbs documentary based on the same name. i will also add he is a friend and colleague. he is also a contributing
correspondent at the "washington post" and executive producer and host of the american form, a public affairs program produced by the university of virginia miller center and aired on-- airs on 100 public television affiliate across the united states in his book is an important book in helping to frame how we understand historically the long journey from the period to the great a pickup board's amend that raw materials did not make their way to detroit by osmosis, but in fact by the unfree labor of african-americans in private lease contracts. a story that is haunting and all too connected to our contemporary crisis of mass incarceration. there is a lot more to say about mr. blackman and it is wonderfully detailed here and if you want to know more i will share with you, but for now the interest of moving forward, greet his book, watch the
documentary and pay close attention to what everyone has to say now. thank you. [applause]. >> thank you. when we first met, interviews were done with a group of historians, some of which i did not participate in-- is that better? hope the battery does not die. i first met him by watching video of an interview that i did not conduct for the documentary and as i was watching this interview that had been done with him by my collaborator and i called semi then said who is this cat, this smart good-looking guy, brilliant,
brilliant voice that i did not know and ever since and i have been a gigantic-- gigantic fan. it's great to be here and great to be with such a terrific group of people on this panel and the one we just heard. lets me just quickly give short bios of the folks up here on the stage. for efficiency and will do it in the order that i have here. by the way, this panel as you can see in the program is a look at the state of civil right string the obama presidency and obama era and we will try to focus our conversation on that rather than the more expensive sort of questions at the previous panel engaged in, but appear with me we had assistant professor at the department of political science at washington, trained at princeton and specializes in the study of american politics, race, constitutional law, postwar civil war south, author of the civil rights in the making of
the modern american state and currently working on a project i'm interested to know more about, examining the rules of criminal justice system and rebuilding of southern political and economic power after the civil war, something closely did -- closely related. matthew pratt guterl, with a focus on us history from the civil war to the president's. he has written four books on race and the progressive era, southern slave holders in the caribbean, history of cultural context of racial profiling and on the life of the great josephine baker. we also have clarissa martinez de castro, deputy vice president in office of research and legislation at the national council, an expert on immigration policy, currently oversees the organizations work on immigration and efforts to
expand latino engagement in civil life and also a graduate of the kennedy school where we are. we also have ron sullivan leading in areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, trial, practice, faculty director of the harvard criminal justice institute and also serves as the first african-american master in harvard's history as master of winthrop house at harvard college and was a founding member and senior fellow of the jamestown project and heather anne thompson who i am known for many years now and is something of a emerging celebrity in american pop serious history, pop media and is crossing over all the boundaries. professor of history and the department of africa american african studies at the university of michigan and writes about history as well as
current crises of mass incarceration in her works have appeared in the "new york times" , atlanta, so long, npr and elsewhere and i referred to her recent book: blood in the water. the book has been something of a sensation this past year. i heard kurt laseak commiserating about it many times wondering as i once did if this thing would ever be done, so congratulations on the wonderful response you have gotten. with that why don't we quickly hear from the panelists on this topic and i will narrow it slightly, but we just heard a discussion that i would say is pretty critical, pretty harsh in some respects of the lost opportunities or limited successes as they were described of the obama administration in more general terms about issues
of race and broad questions of opportunity. so, how would we compare your assessments of civil rights more specifically in the obama era against the backdrop of a sense of some lack of fulfillment in terms of the broader questions. not to say that lack of fulfillment is the ultimate summary, but just impose your view of progress on civil rights versus the critique we just heard and white we just start at the very end. >> well, the interesting thing to me is that the question itself makes-- relayed back to the previous panel about whether the areas undo expectations of the first african-american president to deliver on progress on civil rights or other issues than would be completely unrealistic to expect of anyone else.
on the questioning of civil rights, i think it's similar to just in general the expectations of this president coming and given the state of the country at the time. i remember thinking, you know, this president is sort of like when you get a new car. it starts devaluing the moment you drive it off the lot because the expectations were just so incredible and so unrealistic. with that said, our organization, which is the largest latino civil rights organization in the country, we were critical of the president's on many counts. i think probably making stick although we were not the originators of the title of d porter in chief, which i understand the president to this day is very sensitive about, but it's factual. so, what i would say that the same way people have said in the
past, it was a democrat that could have taken welfare reform like bill clinton did. however, you may agree or disagree with what he actually did and we certainly had a number of disagreements on that or, you know, a republican is best efficient to move immigration reform and unfortunately bush did a push for it, but did not get their. in some ways it's the reverse of that; right next with president obama because i think immediately there was an attack that he would be a president only of black americans that he was very measured and how he would engage issues of race and sometimes openly and aggressively of the civil rights. it's sort of like you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. a little bit of that, no question about it. the other side of the coin is
that in some ways he also accepted certain frames that were part of narratives that have been there for a very long time. so, on immigration, which is an issue i have worked on for a long time the notion of border security and enforcement and the necessity of leading with enforcement i have redeemed that frankly has seen nothing but in the last decade and part of it was a strategy. republicans keep talking about the border is not secure and that they cannot trust the democratic president to enforce the laws, so i will do that to show them and then they can play i think there was a lot of skepticism about whether that is what would get people to play, so where we end up is having the president who has deported more immigrants than any previous president and republicans still say he is not enforcing the law, which i think many of us thought
that has been the mantra among some republicans for the last year and would continue to be. again, still trying to figure out how to overcome it, but accepting those. i think that applies in a couple of other areas as well. now, there were things that although not advanced under a civil right frame, nevertheless, how does kind of impacts. latinos and african-americans had severe unemployment rates of the recession and loss of wealth and those unemployment rates have gone down. there has been more recently a move by the department of justice to reject the use of private prisons and that is very significant because as we know in prison the human being is a huge moneymaker proposition and interestingly enough when you started moving from the three
strikes you're out policy you saw the increase criminalization of immigrants to keep feeding machine and keep that money making venture going. i mean, it is a beautiful business strategy when you think about it. you have created it. it keeps private and in some cases private-- public. it's like when you have a hotel in your city passes a law that says, you know, x amount of that have to be filled and paid for and by the way the government will pay for this, so imagine the scandal that would be in any other circumstance. so, there's that piece, which is important, that recent movement, but we should also not forget that the department of homeland security is actually the largest law enforcement entity in the country and for whom rules apply as weekly as they may to some
police departments. they don't even apply to the department of homeland security, so we have seen that enforcement machine grow. anyway, i was talking about the positive, so healthcare coverage is up significantly in addition to better unemployment rates down, the use of private prisons i think there have been sentencing reforms and on immigration let's not forget about the program that defers action for childhood arrivals. now, in the previous panel people mentioned that often cited with many presidents who have moved on to do significant pieces of legislation that lately the conversation have had and i think it's a way i feel a part of the conversation here is what he should have done on his own, but i think that that's kind of the wrong context. i don't care how
well-intentioned a politician is it's always part of the equation and there has certainly been a lot of make me pressure from a lot of different communities, whether it's on criminal justice , on policing, on certainly immigration. some of the issues that still remain and also were mentioned is jobs and the need to really do some of those policies in a very targeted way. so, bringing it back on the civil rights side, i think, part of the cautiousness of not falling into the original accusation or the-- that he would only be a president for some americans and not others, there was a lot of caution and how to frame a certain things or how to lean into certain things and in many cases pieces of legislation or fights that we
had also were lacking in that way and you could see and this is not just about the president, but the whole congress who is necessary to make laws, you could see in those pieces of legislation fingerprints of people who were trying to be really careful not to create a backlash among white voters, so with jobs and other kinds of economic intervention, not necessarily the most vulnerable communities with tax reform, same things. even when you when you have to continue fighting that fight over and over again. the focus on the middle class. i don't know how many elections we have gone through without talking about the woing class with the majority of americans. not only not talking about that,
but actually not necessarily a war on poverty, but a war on the poor and that has not been unleashed by the president, but there has not been on assertive attempt to challenge that frame. we continue to talk about the middle class and that's aspirational. we all like to talk about the middle class, but i think in a vacuum the war on being poor has just got more vicious and it's part of the whole talk about who's unworthy, whose undeserving and the thing that's incredible to me is that when you are working you have to spend so much energy just trying to survive and make it that imagine if people had some support where that energy could be used in the same way that you and i use it sitting here or those of us who have a connection to that experience. how am i doing on time?
>> thinking that it has been terrible for questions that i care very deeply about personally and politically. i note that we are 27 days away from an election in which one candidate has called specifically for voter suppression, who cares very little about civil authority and jurisprudence, and it may well wipe the slate completely clean. i don't feel good right now. i took my blood pressure. >> i will jump in very briefly and piggyback on the last
comment. it's an extra nearly complicated question for a couple of reasons. if you think about it on a purely descriptive register as you did, absolutely. if we think about the question in a different sort of way, it allows for some sense of hope. a president can't wave a magic wand and say civil-rights repair. that doesn't happen. the executive is constrained in very real ways. one sign that has been at least gives me some hope is this justice department civil rights division have been bit busier than it's been in any administration prior maybe except for johnson.
it's been busy. there are laws that congress passes that constrains its reach in very real ways. one example and then i will pass it on and hopefully we can talk more. there is a mention of trayvon martin in the last panel. it was the correct decision for the department of justice not to intervene in trayvon martin because the law is written in a way that makes it nearly impossible for them to intervene in that way. they have to show that at the time that zimmerman delta but death blow he was motivated solely by racial -- how do you prove that? but that's the law. that is what they are constrained with. similarly, the case wasn't
necessarily lost in the trial court because of poor lawyering, it was lost because the law says that you can exercise your right to self-defense in the sort of irrational way that zimmerman did. that case was lost because people didn't pay attention when bills were in the state legislature. that's why that case was lost. in some sense civil-rights has to be viewed in a broader context and we have to put pressure on very many actors in the system in order to get to a state that i think most people of goodwill would be comfortable in. having said that, this administration has done everything he could have done given the limitations i just
articulated, i think that answer is no as well. >> hello everybody. going to try to think about and say something very quick. i never believe that under the obama era we can understand civil-rights without understanding that also and at the same time was civil liberties. the the things that i want to talk about right now and i'll say something quickly about our two things. one, guantánamo torture and drone strikes. these are important areas that are so many ways have gotten worse in the last eight years. in terms of obama wanting to close guantánamo. over the last six months he has finally made huge, important moves to close guantánamo. but for so long, for seven years
he released less people who were cleared for release they were sitting in guantánamo than president bush did. i think it's very important. it's not because people had not already been cleared by all security agency, oftentimes many attorneys have argued and i think they're right it's because of a lack of will on his part. the other thing that's important is to think about militarization abroad in different forms of torture in guantánamo and before that. the reason i think it's important to think about that not just -- as we know that's important and ended, but these different forms of torture and i think it's important to think about what is going on in
guantánamo just not as something that's going on somewhere else in the world but because so many of our practice abroad always come home to roost. i think about the militarization of local police departments here we notice them because of extra surplus material in which we had budgets for but then views can actively. we know, i think chicago will be the best example of this is that methods come ideas of how to get information and interrogate individuals, some of those tax six have been practiced abroad. we cannot really ignore what is happening guantánamo and other areas of the world and not think about what's going on here. the other thing that we can talk about all day about is the deep order in chief. brock obama and his first year in office and hair we know he inherited two ugly worse in terms of iraq and afghanistan. but he also expanded drone
strikes in pakistan and then expanded it in somalia. as we know, as reports have shown many civilians have died. as a result of these jones strikes. the government has not been held accountable for these significant losses in human lives. the other thing that's important with what's going on without me saying it explicitly talking about guantánamo than talking about the drone strikes is also the marginalization of the muslim communities. that has also been a side effect of oftentimes our policies abroad. we had a horrible exchange in our economy in this debate and hillary clinton and trump responded to the question in which to citizen raised about
the danger that many muslim americans field and what if either one of them was president would they do to protect or repair this, and i was thinking that is muslim americans are going to report, and i'm like no. that's not the question, and with the last panel, obama has decreased the number of american troops that go abroad and the number that has decreased as the number of jones strikes has increased. i'll be very clear about that. and i think that's important to pay attention to. >> thank you so i'm going to break protocol and refer to my notes mostly because my head is spinning from the last panel and also here. seventy things to weigh in on. but in part i want to do that because in my assessment when i
think about the assessment of civil-rights either under the presidency or in the age of obama i'd like to make points specific to policy change but also make a broader point about the federal effort, the broader federal effort to address civil-rights crises in the obama presidency. i'll start with the big one and move back to the specifics. the broader point that strikes me, what is being laid out to me as the perils about the tinkering around the margins of fundamentally structural civil-rights crises. i'm not sure this is so much a critique of obama as it is getting us to think about what this age of obama and obama presidency late
for us in terms of how limited which is ironic to say in this forum, but how limited policy responses are or can be to either immediate civil-rights violations in urban communities of policing or broader civil-rights catastrophes and crises such as mass incarceration. there is a real disconnect between the plan for change that policy indicates in the realities of how they are em a pd spd on the groundqu pocy spo e is oso ma pplbege
era. mo tn a oerreside i rms of the number commutions a sfoh.ut y rd for ame the lett tt obamse t tho who sentences we commuted the language is interesting. o of the sentences was becae you ha demonstrated your ability to turn your life arnd. the other sentence w, you have the pacity to ke good choices. to me that lays re again, this disconnect but this is still down to the individual, that is just one emple of that the other is with juvenile facilities will one they can
applaud and be to come up with that policy response. indeed in the description of why this is necessary found it very publicly and profoundly moving that obama referred to the suicide at rikers as demonstrating why this policy change needs to happen. again structurally we did not eliminate solitary confinement from federal prisons because whatever drove him to kill himself at 22 years old it's the same psychological trauma that adults throughout the system are still suffering. again it's a deeply structural about what were doing. the two last things, i won't even talk about -- will get to that later. want to talk about a cmitment on one hand to rein in civil or i'm sorry criminal justice policies that are deemed to be unjust and civil-rights
violations while at the same time expanding what i would view and what i'm trying to sort out the surveillance. e ways in which surveillance makes the policing possible which in turn makes the civil-rights violation which in turn makes the crisis of mass incarceration. how on one hand at a policy a policy level we can reign a criminal injustice but on the oth hand expand structurally the very mechanism to which it can exist. in the final and i appreciate this queion of deportation immigration. sort of like the clemency argument, on the one hand supporng the. on t one hand supporting profoundly self-conscious path to citizenship and aui for decrimalizing what it means be undumted.
on thether hand vi depoed.1iloneoe in the ar heres atsey inheamofrijuic leol aiepte inde rual assumptions that brought them in the first place. >> make a few comments on this. one thing i don't think the organizers knew when they bite me to moderate the panel but i should disclose some currently working on a project with
attorneys that hopefully all of you will be able to read in the air sometime in 2018 that is an examination of the question of justice and the obama administration's approach to justice in every respect in the age of the presidency in the age of obama. i have also been quite critical at times of many of the same things. once i did an interview with general holder while he was still in office on the television show that i produce which is distributed by my good friends here in boston and airs locally at 630 on saturdays. by the group that was held by the mclaughlin group. i was interviewing holder for that and i said you and the president have expressed great concern about mass incarceration but the fact is you remain as the chief law-enforcement officer of the country the mass incarcerated or in chief.
and so i share these concerns. at the same time i think some of the criticism we hear is a byproduct of an understandable but unfortunate what historians were called present is on. there is a failure to comprehend the degree to which civil rights has been invisibly eroded integrated in the decade previous to the obama presidency. the degree to which the legislative actions and legislators across the country that are the primary reason behind the dramatic rise in mass incarceration until trayvon martin incident occurred most americans had never heard of the stand your ground laws in florida and elsewhere. those things which have complicated any efforts to address the efforts. this of a rights division and the justice department have been hollowed out and eviscerated
entirely by the time holder returned as attorney general. also at that stage you have driven by the events of 9/11 you have a presidency who had an imperial approach to begin with that didn't embrace a tremendous imperial approach and is incredibly willing at breakneck speed suspend notions of civil rights and human rights as it relates to detainees at guantánamo and interrogation techniques. so this is a presidency that begins against a backdrop that most of us did not fully understand. the degree to it. to some degree without some of these issues were okay. were getting somewhat better in some respect. in the brock obama is elected president with seems be a reaffirming sign but in reality the structural issues in terms
of the way the legal system works and the practices and divisions of responsibility were so complex and profound i think were sometimes guilty of under acknowledging the level of the problem that had to be addressed at the time. one quick indicator that is if the president would commute every federal prisoner today you'd have about, if you got rid of all of federal prisoners tomorrow you'd still have about 2 million people in prison. the president has i think the up-to-date numbers actually 844 commutations and pardons as of last wednesday. that is mo than all presidents collectively an all time. it's also a meaningless gesture. that there have been 13000 rejections of petitions but
there are 32000 petitions still under consideration. there is a furious process underway at the department of justice as we speak to process through all 32,000 of those petitions before the end of this year. congress, specifically limited the number of people through budgeting move the department of justice cannot engage i believe the numbers more a mngsein liers ti hse esonndwa owh sul pp athve lt t
nateofheba mistti. mo ohe20 petitnsil veeen acd onp that pnt is nocoletely art implausible that there a very large group of people leased at the lastinute. is is very complicated situation to untangle. i think the huge structural issues like alof the issues that relate to race in america the structural elements are far more profound th the question of one particular individual or leader at a time. to respond to one another on any of that? i think it would make sensto move quickly to questions. before we do that, any thoughts on that, anybody radically disagree. disagree. i've often my defense of the obama administration. anyone want to excoriate me on
the. >> i would not disagree with that. again, i think they're a very undue expectations at the beginning of this is a longtanding issue. even even in the current context of donald trump, there's already a number of attempts to try to paint donald trump, phenomenon that came out of nowhere but st like the struggle on civil rights and to the erosion that we have seen in that which includes, by the way shelby in driving the state could through the voting rights act, this is going to be the first election where americans are going to the pole without those protections. we have seen voter id laws and a number places were anybody who is in doubt about the response to hollowing out the voting rights act would see. but the interesting thing to me about this that trump is a
phenomenon and trump is him is a thing like it came out of nowhere is the fact that politics had been played for very long time. there has been an incredible nurturing of on society about compounded and take advantage of society over the economy but to feed about demographic change and what that means. in that aspect we have seen migration being used as a proxy to talk about fear of the growth of the latino community. because -- of the latinas in this country are united states citizens. but the debate is to paint them all as outsiders and not necessarily policy responses are structural fixes. the same way that crime has been
used to instill fear about african americans. frankly the way that terrorism has been used against muslim americans, who as you mentioned, even in the debate trump gave a terrible response but clinton wasn't all that much better. she said you're yeah you're good as long as you report stuff. your eyes and ears. as long as your agents of the state you are good. which led to have staying at stuff which you should all look at and as a member of that #.mexican thing was the best thing that came out of that. but the point to make their in terms of the expectations in the state of structural needs which are not moving forward because of our inability to govern and given to state of congress among other things is that this is not a new thing.
the potential silverlining is what trump has done is to make the implicit explicit. what has been done with politics is now like a blue whistle. the the lot assigned to could ever hear. and that is there and it's undeniable and then there's an opportunity to grapple with it. but in an opportunity that will not stay there. we are going to have to take advantage of that fairly quickly. donald trump is a natural, logical response and follow-up to the presidency of an african-american person. because it made real in a way that is also undeniable that change that was underway. but not people could feel it, it
was in front of their faces and what were experiencing is the backlash. there's always been backlash to change in america even though change in currency which is what were grappling with now. >> it plays out in very real ways because of thisacklash i just want to pick up. we live in a political economy where people like being tough on crime has currency and significant currency. so for for full disclosure i chaired then senator obama's criminal justice policy and holder was on another's. some of the things that are going on in criminal justice now are absolutelymazing, ner been done beforend probably ll not be done again.
at the same token,ome of of ese thgspoliticians sily otano umt.oby tsleedleedayf ecd m no pplouof r odalt est . ceai sesaytoer patae a lgeub acalthwo. t give you aui emple sce you meion clemency. this process could go a lot quicker. one of the reasons it is going slowly is because the pardon offices looking through each file. so nyu had a clemency project and did some things. all of this has been reviewed and their executive summaries anso forth but they're looking through each file. one of the things i think they're looking for our prior domestic violence charges.
they're not granting clemency if anyone has a prior domestic violence charge because they don't think the politics will do well. now to a room of academics it is totally irrelevant. the point is their sentence under a regime which they would not have had this amount of time no matter what was in their jacket. had they been sentence under a more rational regime were under today's legal rules. but the worst thing for people in political circles is to let someone out and then they reoffend. so they are being extraordinarily careful. that is just one example. i see her time is about up. >> before we go to q&a, we want to hear from matt and megan in terms of historians and you both
looked up postwar southern evolution which is another. time of effort and dramatic change to the civil rights regime an extraordinary backlash to that time. i'm curious briefly to hear from you about the notion of the inevitability perhaps in the composition which the way america works that you are going to go through after next ordinary events such as the election of the first black president. we should have all anticipated even more so that would did that they are within this time of astonishing black backlash against him missed everything that we would call racial progress. what's your take on that? >> the first is it clearly symbols matter. so obama as the president is the midday be very centrist but his symbolism is so powerful that it
has given rise to the rise of massive resistance. we have witnessed a consolidated white supremacy effort to dictate the course of american politics that is dispense with dog whistles the likes which we have not seen since the 50s and 60s. th sym bcke iis conond estseonrnabt cen ecics e dplfe nerels noouro. t thk eradiry and makesou wonhow de b iatllhe sse sistan w er.f you inabe s and s ouwhe pract mpnds upnd dowth eastern seoard ithpafic
nohwt makeme thi oe long vw som these ings. the militarization of the police or before the tank back to slave patrols. it makes makes me think about the legal history of child laborfter slavery following it all the way through policing and then through agriculture companieat bid to incarcerate or capture immigrant labor on plantations or inshts with a product cannot be moved a practice that continues to this day in parts of florida. i think there is a need for w kindly mada se for history departments all over the world and for historians to say we need more history. that's a great call. the challenge of the day is this is not the constituency that necessarily needs that history. the people who by the history textbooks coming out of texas.
those textbooks are not written by these people in this group of people and they are not for this constituency. we have to challenging time getting in the room to shape those textbooks in that view of history. >> history doesn't see the hungry man. that's always the tension between some of these issues. >> my first book focuses on the naacp campaign against racial violence this to protect black lives in the early part of the 20th-century from 1909 until 1925. i document their 25. i document their work and presidency and congress and a supreme court case in 1923. what happens after that is the naacp moving away from this radical campaign to protect black lives for mob violence. to focus on education now that
education is not radical, it is. one of one of the things i want to focus on an untraditional way they've seen a contemporary mome is that a new product i'm working on tries to look at why the change happens and why in terms of why rights are rolled back. i locate this change in the role of funders and philanthropies. so shifting where we see radical movement and diverting them to other causes. one of the issues i try to focus on his backlash is to actually think about backlash in the ways in which private individuals and corporations use their money to rollback rights that other groups have. whether it's complex rights or organization, whether it's the naacp in the post- civil rights era and i've tried to shift focus. >> let's take some questions
surely there are some. i remind as before let's be sure the questions have? some of. >> i like to give a frame of reference before i asked my question. in specific groups of americans who are less affected, like white america by these criminal justice issues that we see there has been large scale conflation with reality and legality. because of that i wanted to touch on the unrealistic expectation some of us have of obama going in to lobby congress to ease the were on drugs specifically attempting to lobby congress to declassify marijuana as a class one substance. i believe that has a very large
impact on the criminal justice mass incarceration. so like to get your opinion of whether that expectation was realistic and if there has been any progression in that field. >> so i do criminal law, the federal level represents the tiniest fraction of the practice of criminal law on the country. everything is overwhelming majority has to do a states for which the federal government has very little relationship and they can do some encouraging things in terms of withholding money the same way we do is speed limit signs, you set your speed at 55-year-old get federal transportation dollars, the federal government can do some things with money but none namely the gayness with states. having said that, there's a
conflict now where people reach to criminal law, feral law and say medicinal marijuana for example but it's illegal in the state and clearly wouldn't federal law in state law are in loggerheads with particular issues of who wins with that battle which is usually going to be the state. my answer to question is the federal government has limited reach into the criminal justice system because it is mainly a state function. in areas where the federal government does have reach i think this administration has done an incredible job under eric holder's leadership in its continuing but it is a very small fraction.
i would even push back on the characterization of the presidency and offer up a notion that i think there is room for pragmatic readership in areas where bold pronouncements sound nice but will have no effect, zero, no on the ground. by way of history i'll give one example. i respect th issue. take the brown versus board of education. we teach brown one in brown too. the reason is, reason is, after brown one nobody did anything. were not doing it. were close the schools but were not doing it. this is one of the things that i think this president is trying to guard against. there are bureaucracy, a judge
can order what cheer he wants, wants, you have to deal with the bureaucracy and they have their own sets of rules. for cf to take this called the administrative law. it's a rules that administrative agencies have extraordinary power. you have to negotiate through all of that so the president could have said i'm going to commute everyone in the federal system, good luck. seriously, good luck. getting them out. so i just want to throw that in this idea of is there space for pragmatism and political leadership. that doesn't mean activists shouldn't be screaming bloodied murder because that is going to move agencies in congress and so forth as well. >> i want to jump in on this.
i think we have set a few times and this is very correct that whatever we do in the criminal justice system of the federal level is going to have a limited impact. there's far fewer federal prisoners never talking about drugs like marijuana, this this is going to plant more profoundly at the state level than the federal level. i want to push back on one thing and it has to do with the policies on one hand and how they're implemented legally on the other hand. it is true what obama says there's number juvenile solitary that's not going to impact what's happening in louisiana. that's true. it's also true for example this new data driven policing initiative which is essentially a policy that says were going to deal with the crisis of policing which is the feeder for the state prisons and that intense focus on drugs is all about
relying on data, a people who have the most contact with police and also with emergency responders and mental health responders but the solution is focused on the criminal justice system which is who are these people with most contact and then the idea of the policy is that they will be policed and arrested it will get these other resources. first of all where the other resources so impact they do get arrested, probably for bowl level marijuana, probably because of the dime bag. probably bag. probably because of small amounts of cocaine or opiates, or whatever. so the federal policies do have a profound effect on the state criminal justice reform like marijuana reform. i wanted to connect those dots.
>> the federal government has been the innovator in criminal justice and civil rights again and again almost all modern policing with the fbi and advised by the federal government modern police practices that begin with the federal government so they have model for better justice system there's long history of that. and it could well be that the obama administration failed at opportunities to have heralded the opportunity in the application perhaps of state government and local government to readdress the way they did things. >> or putting more police on the ground in communities that are already hyper police. that's going to lead people to be the ones in there for drug. >> that also speaks to a miscalculation that obama made that speaks to every assessment of his administration. that is he believes in his it
well trained but he came into office and genuinely believed that by adopting certain, severe strictures like a certain approach to immigration that we will deport everybody crossed a certain mind and that will give me the room to operate in to take a softer position on other things. similar approach to criminal justice. over time people on the other side think were adopting their ideas will want to work with me and see the marriage and it's actually the opposite thing came to pass. in the boring details of it at all things like a directive from the attorney general saying and directing them to no longer double, triple and quadruple prosecute individuals. the process has been to charge a defendant with every possible
thing and to federalize as many cases as possible if there's more severe penalties available in the federal system. the attorney general sends out very quietly and says don't do that anymore. he gets backlash from the regional u.s. attorneys who say that's not the way we do it and you can and our ability to fight crime. they do all have a tremendous political concern. this is why wouldn't have a president to caucus. somebody who let out of prison goes out and does a terrible thing. there's a huge consciousness of that risk and all of the measures. >> i am struck by the panel and
this morning and last night that a part of what we're hearing from audience members and from each other as a disenchantment with the limitations of the presidency and the federal government specifically to address questions of inequality. it strikes me that is not what it was meant to do in the first place. there's a reason why policing is done at the state level and jim crow was a state level initiative and slavery was largely built at the state level. so there's a reason why a few other fairly prominent laws was never meant to fix problems of the state local level were dealing with a system that simply not meant to have a federal solution to questions that we now understand as moral questions. an absent structural change to that set up, that executive office is not going to be able to fix the problem. >> let's go to the lady in the red for another question.
>> i'm a graduate of the kennedy school so thank you for coming and partaking in our policy and showing us what can be done. i am on a board, free speech speech for people because i believe money in politics is so corrosive. my question is a follow-up when you mention that corporations and individuals are rolling back rights, wondering how we as citizens and activists might be able toranslate that into values that actually would me something to the ordinary person as opposed to academics or people fighting on a particular issue. like like how can we get into black churches and make people understand the issue of money and politics particularly now that sanders is not actively suppoing it. that's my question is to focus on money and politics and individual rights which are being rolled back in making that connection.
>> i was going to say that we need to get into white churches and make that point because i think you're right, i think i was struck by a question is a question moral compass. black folks around this country have had to do heavy lifting for problem that is not the black communities creation. so that heavy lifting has to come, i love the question because how do we impact start moving into those white spaces and white churches and white community organizations and white voting groups and have that moral awaking. that's who needs a moral awakening. >> [inaudible]
>> we didn't have a microphone on up of the, it was when you were at a conference where there wasn't much diversity assuming mostly white. >> i share a lot of the concerns have erased about i spent the last two years wanting to rethink how we change thgs and i feel a lot of the ways especially with the black lives matter movement and well-intentioned white people have often asked black people to talk to different groups. i'm very concerned about the labor that black people do and for people who have already bore the burden of racial and oppression, how much more labor are we asking of them. is it right for us to put an ask
of them for us to be the one to repair the damage of racial injustice. but at the same time i hear you in a sense that there's often the spaces in which there's a need for different voices and different perspectives and so many of the spaces and so you want to get different perspectives and how do we change when people value and care about. oftentimes it is people that can do that. i don't have the perfect answer. i think a great place to start is for white people to start asking questions and demand that we talk more about the issues. and for the circle of people who matter i think one thing that happened a lot over the last years specific people and black lives matter that we always go to. i think we can expand that a bit to focus on others as well. to bring oer voices to the
table i think some people have borne the burden of someone translating the injustices of racial oppression more than others. i think that needs to be distributed more equally. i love that question. >> if i could add to that, because i think that question is applicable to a lot of issues. not just money and politics. the great civil rights leader wade henderson would say you have to be a friend to make a friend. i find that particularly among progressive groups there's a tendency to come to communities of color and ask folks, this is is not my line, heard another community activists say this in a criminal justice convening in california saying were tired and this is to progressive leaders in the criminal justice reform movement to say were tired of
you coming to us just to hold up your sign. were able to have conversation about strategy and policy and we have ideas about it but people just come to us when they want us to hold their son and when they need bodies or troops or something like that. that is one part of it i think the other part is that be a friend to make a friend is how is that issue connecting with people, particularly among progressives there's a sense of wire people voting against their own self-interest without kinda making those connections are bringing it to the level where people are really in need of an intervention because there's something existential or pressing they are facing on supreme court for example i think that is another topic that tends to be abstract for many folks for the average voter. i can tell you as a result of the
supreme court case on deciding, leaving i decided the fate of executive actions on immigration, that was a real education for a lot of folks following that case whose lives hang in the balance about the importance of the supreme court. it is very different to experience it that way then to be like hey, don't you care about the supreme court. i think part of it as being culturally competent and how we engage people and that's not just about language, english or vietnamese or spanish comments out cultural competence and what is the context of that community. how are they experiencing those issues. what is the connecting point and what is there on boarding meaningful engagement point as well. >> if i could just add, why it is important, civic education is the headline, why is it important to engage at the moon
mundane or what might seem monday and the time. two examples, tamir rice, the shooter was not indicted y? because the elected district attorney in the coun of cleveland to not want that person indicted. because of the activism of black lives matter he was voted out of office. michael brown, mber two, the backdrop is the old saying that prosecutors can indict a ham science which. they could've gotten indictments if they wanted to do criminally low standard and i think it's it's problematic but that is our standard. people came to me and said what can we do, can you follow motion to compel them to re- panel another grand jury. no i said. but you can elect a new district
attorney. in the new district attorney, the day he swears and can panel another grand jury and do that. again, these decisions decisions we cannot wait until there these massive blowups. let's think about it pro respectively before hand and get engage. citizens united this is why the supreme court matters. this is why these appointments matter, whether you pro or against it they have variable consequences that work themselves down in concre ways. but your behind the able if you wait till it works itself out in a concrete way that's antagonistic to what you think is a good use of public resources. >> i'm glad you said that because i get asked that question all the time what can we do about in this community and i say i don't know what your issues are here but you will
like the sheriff. you elected district attorney and the sheriff is the person it was in jail the largest number of those 2,200,000 people on the sheriff in every county in america has a greadeal of discretion over how that works. there is discretion over who gets picked up on what and who gets released and who gets prosecuted. was a tremendous amount of latitude in the community that you live in and you can have an effect on that. if we all collectively thinking of her brave enough to think that 30,000 people whose petitions are before obamaight now that if we think those people should be released before obama leaves office in three months than where the protesters in front of the white house demanding the release of those people. when the governor of virginia did remarkable thing of pardoning 250,000 felons who had completed their sentences around probationary star their voting ghts and action reversed by the supreme court and then he began a methodical process of re- pardoning all the votes
after doing the procedure knows 20 or 30,000 people into that process. i was surprised there is not a giant chorus of a claim across the country. why are there more people saying to the governors in other states, why are democratic governors under incredible pressure, much less republicans to at least consider those thin. i think there's a curious combination of frustration among activists there's a committed t about not reflected that black lives matters is a contradiction to this a fresh contradiction to this but there's a timidity among americans about whether they really have control over the immediate circumstances of their public life. at at the same time there's a huge hunger and demand of what these distant national leaders are supposed to accomplish worse. i think that's a big part of it and that's why so many were not
painted attention when the regime was incarcerating so many people. >> about 54 blows this window a harvard student could become with the dime bag of marijuana. the officer will take that dime bag, reported to the student staying until the young person to have a good day. five miles away that person will be in handcuffs and in the system. why, because one constituency demands a certain issue be dlt with in one way and another constituency regrettably doesn't have the voice to make the same demand. >> and fairness, yes it is to the police will not arrested kid at harvard because there's an assumption and demand that all holy hell will rain down on that police officer should he dare to take that kid to jail. but it's not true with respect that in the black community
folks are not to maintain other daily basis. you you just have to stand outside in detroit one from and every time the please roll up, they're putting someone in the back of the car, the entire community is coming announcing what it he do why are you doing this. listening to the kid call me, or what can we do i do feel like it comes down to it's about power, that it's about money, it's about power, but it certainly i don't feel it's about people speaking out. >> but it's how they speak out which goes to the point of civic education. and it's going to vote for particular people who exercise the discretion and so forth. >> i agree. i grew up in one of these communities where we complain but that complaint didn't register at the ballot box for a host of reasons.
but it's paul from georgetown, law professor, paul butler advocated that we have these huge meetings and deceiver the community is taught that if you are our jury to convict on nonviolentrug crimes bause they'll send a message to them to stop picking on certain communities disproportionately that's the sort of thing i'm talking about. i didn't mean to cut you off. >> let's take a question in the front. >> thank you all for your comments. i work at the business school working on project and looking at the history of african-americans at the business school. i want to build off your comment of money and power. that's at the root of a lot of this and pose the question of whether or not within the context of our
foundation being built on money and power and built on free land or stolen land of forced labor, will we ever have a moment in our civil rights dialogue where we talk about reparations for african-american people witut laughing? without saying that will never happen? will there ever be a real conversation to rectify the economic put it: social oppression in the form of economics? >> i think there's different moments in which we had some discussions about it. we've been pleading and short-lived and not as entrenched in the dialogue as i like to see. i don't ever not hold out hope that we'll actually have a much longer discussion about reparations and perhaps legislation were some real policy responses around my. part of what is needed and what
can help push this forward is what's going on now. if you look at the black lives matter policy platform, one of the six forms is economic reparations. so it's not just thinking slavery but i think that's incredibly important area to think about. there's different ways in which native land has been taken and stolen. think about the different ways in which black communities in different communities of color in which different things have been taken in different things are old. i hope the discussion continues. in terms of reparation for slavery think some of the work that is being done now that has done, there's good work in history, it's not not like we don't know who these individuals are in terms of failed economy, we know these things but another
area of work that i'm invested in with a number people is wanting to understand the industries that still survive today, that profited off of labor in the post- civil war air and in particular so the sugar that is right for the labor and the south. also thinking about j.p. morgan, that is from the labor the cell. that's where the money actually comes from. so once you trace the processes and the hope for some working in the area with these corporations holding them accountable for los altos happen before then. i know there's a business area that a number of insurance companies, add no would be one of him. insured