Episode 1122 | Former U.S. Senator Fred Harris

Episode 1122 | Former U.S. Senator Fred Harris


FORMER US SENATOR FRED HARRIS,
A LONG TIME RESIDENT OF CORRALES, WAS OKLAHOMA’S US
SENATOR FROM ’64 TO ’73. APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT LYNDON
JOHNSON TO THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON CIVIL
DISORDERS, ALSO KNOWN AS THE KERNER COMMISSION. THE COMMISSION’S REPORT WHICH
CAME OUT IN 1968, EXAMINED CONDITIONS OF POVERTY AND RACE
IN THE COUNTRY. SENATOR HARRIS WILL SOON
RELEASE A BOOK ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE KERNER
COMMISSION REPORT. CORRESPONDENT RUSSELL
CONTRERAS SAT DOWN WITH SENATOR HARRIS TO TALK ABOUT
HIS HISTORY IN POLITICS.>>SENATOR FRED HARRIS, THANK
YOU FOR JOINING US HERE. TAKE ME BACK TO 1967. WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE
COUNTRY IN OUR URBAN AREAS AND HOW DID YOU RESPOND AS
SENATOR.>>WE HAD A RIOT IN THE BLACK
SECTION OF LOS ANGELES, THE YEAR BEFORE. AND SOME PEOPLE SAID — NO, IT
WAS ’65 AND SOME PEOPLE HAD SAID IT WAS A KIND OF A ONE
OFF INCIDENT AND OTHERS SAID, THIS IS A HARBINGER OF THINGS
TO COME. WELL, IT WAS THE LATTER. IN SUMMER OF 1967 IN DETROIT
AND NEWARK AND THEN ABOUT 20 SOMETHING OTHER CITIES AROUND
THE COUNTRY, WE HAD JUST EXPLOSIONS IN THE BLACK
SECTIONS OF AMERICA’S CITIES. I WAS A MEMBER OF THE SENATE,
WITH ROBERT KENNEDY, THE RIBICOFF COMMITTEE LOOKING
INTO URBAN PROBLEMS AND PROBLEMS OF RACISM AS WELL AS
POVERTY. AND, SO, I WENT THROUGH THE
SENATE FLOOR AND INTRODUCED A RESOLUTION TO CREATE A BLUE
RIBBON CITIZENS COMMISSION TO LOOK INTO THESE RIOTS, NOT
JUST ONLY FROM THE LAW AND ORDER STANDPOINT, BUT ALSO
TRYING TO GET AT THE DEEPER CAUSES OF WRETCHED POVERTY IN
THE CENTRAL CITIES AND RACISM. AND THE RESOLUTION CAME UP IN
THE SUBCOMMITTEE I CHAIRED, BUT THEN IT OCCURRED TO ME
THAT LYNDON JOHNSON HIMSELF, THE PRESIDENT, COULD DO THIS
BY EXECUTIVE ORDER. SO I GOT WORD TO HIM AND URGED
HIM TO DO THAT AND THAT IS WHAT EVENTUALLY HE DID, PRETTY
MUCH USING SOME OF THE SAME WORDS I HAD.>>WHEN THE PRESIDENT
ANNOUNCED THIS COMMISSION, HE DID CALL YOU AND SAY HE WANTED
YOU ON IT. WHAT DID YOU DO?>>KIND OF FUNNY. I HAD — THERE HAD BEEN AN
ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THE PRESIDENT WAS GOING TO HAVE A
NATIONWIDE BROADCAST TO APPOINT THIS BLUE RIBBON
COMMISSION AND SO I HAD BROUGHT A TELEVISION INTO OUR
LIVING ROOM AND INVITED SOME NEIGHBORS, FRIENDS OF MINE, TO
COME OVER AND WATCH THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH. AND ABOUT 10 MINUTES BEFORE HE
WAS TO GO ON THE AIR, MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER, LAUREL, SHE
WAS IN, I THINK, IN THE THIRD GRADE. SHE CAME RUNNING OUT OF THE
KITCHEN WHERE WE HAD A WALL TELEPHONE AND SAID, DADDY,
PRESIDENT JOHNSON IS ON THE PHONE FOR YOU.
AND SO I SAID, IS IT THE PRESIDENT OR IS IT HIS
SECRETARY? NO, IT IS THE PRESIDENT. HE SAID, THIS IS PRESIDENT
JOHNSON, LET ME TALK YOUR DADDY. SO, I WENT IN AND TO THE WALL
TELEPHONE AND I SAID, YES, SIR, MR. PRESIDENT. AND HE SAID, FRED, I HOPE
YOU’RE GOING TO WATCH TELEVISION. THESE WERE HIS WORDS. I HOPE YOU’RE GOING TO WATCH
TELEVISION TONIGHT. I SAID, I AM. HE SAID, I AM GOING TO APPOINT
THAT COMMISSION YOU HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT. I SAID, WELL, I THINK THAT IS
THE THING TO DO. HE SAID, I AM GOING TO PUT YOU
ON IT. I SAID, WELL, I NEVER EXPECTED
THAT, BUT I’LL DO THE BEST I CAN. HE SAID, NOW DON’T BE LIKE
SOME OF YOUR COLLEAGUES, HE SAID. I APPOINT THEM TO THINGS AND
THEY NEVER SHOW UP. I SAID, WELL, I’LL SHOW UP. I’LL WORK AT IT. HE SAID, ANOTHER THING, FRED,
I SAID YES, SIR, MR. PRESIDENT,
HE SAID, I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER YOU’RE A JOHNSON MAN,
AND I SAID, I AM A JOHNSON MAN. HE SAID, IF YOU FORGET IT,
I’LL TAKE MY POCKETKNIFE AND CUT YOUR BLANKS OFF. HE DID NOT SAY BLANKS. HE SAID, YOU UNDERSTAND THAT
KIND TALK OF TALK, DON’T YOU? I SAID, YES I DO. SO I WENT BACK TO THE LIVING
ROOM AND THEY SAID, WHAT DID HE SAY? HE SAID, WELL, SOME OF IT WAS
KIND OF PERSONAL. IT TURNED OUT, OF COURSE,
JOHNSON DID NOT LIKE OUR EVENTUAL REPORT THAT KERNER
COMMISSION AS IT CAME TO BE CALLED, AND I THINK I HAD
FORGOTTEN THAT I WAS A JOHNSON MAN. THAT WAS REALLY SAD BECAUSE
PRESIDENT JOHNSON DID MORE TO COMBAT RACISM AND POVERTY THAN
ANY PRESIDENT BEFORE OR SINCE, BUT HE WAS MISLED ABOUT WHAT
WE RECOMMENDED AND REJECTED OUR REPORT.>>THIS WAS A BIPARTISAN BODY. WHAT DID YOU GUYS HOPE TO
FIND?>>WELL, WHAT WE WANTED TO DO
WAS TO MAKE — FIRST TO FIND THE FACTS, WHAT ARE THE FACTS
IN THESE CENTRAL CITIES, FOR EXAMPLE, POLICE COMMUNITY
RELATIONS, WHICH TURNED OUT TO BE HORRIBLE, WITH ENORMOUS
HOSTILITY. WHY HAD THESE RIOTS OCCURRED
IN ONE PLACE AND NOT ANOTHER? WE NEVER WERE ABLE TO ANSWER
THAT, BUT WE COULD DESCRIBE WITH PARTICULARITY THE
CONDITIONS IN THE CITIES WHERE RIOTS HAD OCCURRED AND WE
WANTED TO COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS, WHAT WE MUST DO, TO
GET AT THESE PROBLEMS OF POVERTY AND RACISM WHICH WERE
AT THE BASE OF THESE RIOTS.>>WHEN YOU VISITED IN THE
RIOT CITIES, CITIES THAT HAD SUFFERED RIOTS AND TALKED TO
BLACK RESIDENTS, WHAT DID SOME OF THE BLACK RESIDENTS TELL
YOU THE PROBLEM WAS?>>WELL, ALL OF THEM WERE
COMPLAINING, EVERYBODY WE TALKED TO, COMPLAINED ABOUT
THE POLICE. THERE WAS ENORMOUS HOSTILITY
TO THE POLICE. AND, FOR EXAMPLE, PRESIDENT
JOHNSON, AS HE TALKED TO ME ABOUT IT SEVERAL TIMES DURING
THE COMMISSION, THESE TWO TIMES DURING THE COMMISSION
MEETINGS, HE SAID HE THOUGHT THAT THERE WAS SOME CONSPIRACY
BEHIND THE RIOTS. THAT PEOPLE LIKE H BROWN AND
STOKLEY CARMICHAEL, MILITANTS OF THE DAY, BLACK MILITANTS,
HE THOUGHT THEY SOMEHOW PLANNED THESE RIOTS AND CALLED
FOR THEM BY THEIR AGITATION, AND I TRIED TO TELL HIM, NO,
THAT WASN’T TRUE, THAT THERE WERE THOUSANDS OF H BROWNS AND
STOKLEY CARMICHAELS THAT NEITHER HE FOR I HAD EVER
HEARD OF, BUT THERE WAS SUCH HOSTILITY AND THE CONDITIONS
WERE SO TERRIBLE IN THESE CENTRAL CITIES, THAT ALMOST
ANY RANDOM SPARK COULD SET OFF A RIOT AND THAT IS EXACTLY
WHAT HAD OCCURRED.>>WHEN YOU VISITED THE
CITIES, YOU HAD ALREADY SPOKEN OUT ABOUT POVERTY AND
INEQUALITY BEFORE THIS. WHEN YOU VISITED CITIES, WHAT
CHANGED IN YOU WHEN YOU SAW THE POVERTY?>>WELL, IT DID NOT SURPRISE
ME. I EXPECTED THAT BUT IT REALLY
SORT OF PUT FACES ON THE RACISM AND POVERTY, TO SEE THE
ACTUAL RESULTS. ALSO, IT DID THIS, TOO. FOR EXAMPLE, WE DIVIDED UP. THE PEOPLE ON THE COMMISSION
DIVIDED UP IN TEAMS AND WENT AROUND TO THE CITIES WHERE
RIOTS HAD OCCURRED.>>MAYOR LINDSEY AND I TURNED
OUT TO BE A TEAM.>>MAYOR FROM NEW YORK?>>YEAH, LINDSEY OF NEW YORK
HE AND I WERE ACTUALLY ACTIVIST LEADERS ON THE
COMMISSION AND WE WENT AROUND TO MILWAUKEE, FOR EXAMPLE AND
CINCINNATI. I SPENT THE MORNING IN
MILWAUKEE IN A BLACK BARBER SHOP AND I TALKED TO PEOPLE AS
THEY CAME IN, MEN, AND WHAT I FOUND WAS, THESE PEOPLE HAD
COME TO MILWAUKEE FAIRLY LATE, THIS WAS TRUE ALL OVER THE
COUNTRY, TRYING TO BREAK A SURGE — BLACK PEOPLE MOVING
FROM THE SOUTH INTO THE CITIES IN THE NORTH, LOOKING FOR
WORK. AND THEY CAME TO PLACES LIKE
MILWAUKEE JUST ABOUT THE TIME THE JOBS WERE DISAPPEARING OR
MOVING OUT TO THE SUBURBS OR MOVING OVERSEAS AND SO WE
TALKED ABOUT THAT WITH PEOPLE, BUT ALSO I WOULD ASK, DO YOU
FIND AS MUCH DISCRIMINATION AGAINST AFRICAN AMERICANS IN
MILWAUKEE OR BACK HOME IN BIRMINGHAM OR WHATEVER,
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI. AT FIRST PEOPLE WERE PUZZLED. I FOUND OUT WHY, BECAUSE, IN
MILWAUKEE, MOST OF THEM SAID THEY NEVER SAW ANY WHITE
PEOPLE. IT WAS MORE SEGREGATED THAN
THE PLACES WHERE THEY HAD COME FROM IN THE SOUTH. THERE WAS THAT MUCH
SEGREGATION EXISTED. TODAY, THAT IS A PROBLEM THAT
IS RISING AGAIN. OUR CITIES, OUR SCHOOLS, ARE
RESEGREGATING AND THAT IS NOT GOOD.>>SO, AFTER WEEKS OF RESEARCH
AND AFTER YOU GUYS DEBATING AND VOTING ON THE COMMISSION,
WHAT DID THE COMMISSION FINALLY CONCLUDE?>>WELL, THE MOST FAMOUS
FINDING WAS, OUR NATION IS MOVING TOWARD TWO SOCIETIES,
ONE BLACK, ONE WHITE, SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL. TODAY WE WOULD ADD HISPANIC TO
THAT. BUT, ALSO, WE WENT ON TO SAY
THAT THESE BLACK GHETTOS WERE CREATED BY WHITE RACISM AND
SUSTAINED BY WHITE RACISM. AND, THAT CAME ACROSS AS A
KIND OF A SHOCK TO PEOPLE, BUT, IT WAS THE TRUTH. WE ALSO TRIED OUR BEST TO HELP
PEOPLE SEE THROUGH OUR EYES THE KIND OF WRETCHED POVERTY,
TERRIBLE HOUSING, TWO AND THREE FAMILIES LIVING IN WHAT
HAD ONCE BEEN A SINGLE FAMILY HOME, JOBS GONE, NO PUBLIC
TRANSPORTATION. INFERIOR SCHOOLS AND SO MANY
OF THEM HAD COME ALREADY COME FROM CRIMINALLY INFERIOR
SCHOOLS BACK IN THE SOUTH AND IT WAS REALLY URGENT THAT WE
GET AT THESE PROBLEMS AND WE WERE QUITE HONEST IN SAYING
THAT IT WAS GOING TO TAKE A GREAT INCREASE IN FEDERAL
FUNDS TO COMBAT THEM. WE ALSO, FOR EXAMPLE, GOT WITH
THE POLICE. WE SAID, THAT THE POLICE OUGHT
TO LOOK LIKE THE PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE POLICING. IN OTHER WORDS, WE WERE
TALKING ABOUT WHAT CAN BE CALLED COMMUNITY POLICING. PEOPLE WERE RIGHT IN THE
NEIGHBORHOOD. INSTEAD, WHAT IT WAS IN THOSE
DAYS, THE POLICE WERE ALL WHITE AND COMING IN TO ENFORCE
THE LAW AGAINST THE PEOPLE THERE, SO THAT PEOPLE DIDN’T
SEE THE LAW AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AS THEIR OWN.
AND WE THOUGHT THE ATTITUDES OUGHT TO CHANGE, USE OF FORCE. WE WERE AGAINST THE
MILITARIZATION OF THE POLICE AND WE MADE HEADWAY ON ALL
THESE THINGS, RELATIONS, POVERTY AND POLICE RELATIONS
FOR A TIME, BUT THEN THAT PROGRESS STOPPED AND WE BEGAN
TO GO BACKWARDS.>>THE REPORT THAT YOU GUYS
WERE SAID TO RELEASE AT THE END OF FEBRUARY AND BEGINNING
OF MARCH IN 1968, YOU GUYS WERE DOING BACKGROUND, BUT THE
WASHINGTON POST GOT A HOLD OF THE REPORT AHEAD OF TIME. SOMEONE LEAKED IT TO THEM. WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT?>>WELL, WE HAD — FIRST I
SHOULD SAY, WE MADE A MISTAKE IN NOT HAVING OUR HEARINGS. WE HAD HEARINGS FOR SOMETHING
LIKE 20 STRAIGHT DAYS. WE HEARD FROM EVERYBODY LIKE
ALL THE WAY FROM FBI DIRECTOR, EDGAR HOOVER, TO MARTIN LUTHER
KING, JR. AND WE MADE A MISTAKE NOT HAVING THOSE AS
PUBLIC HEARINGS. WE ALSO MADE A MISTAKE, I
THINK, OF NOT TAKING THE PRESS WITH US AS WE WENT AROUND TO
THE RIOT CITIES SO THEY COULD SEE IT PERSONALLY. AND WE ALSO MADE A MISTAKE, I
THINK, NOT BRIEFING PRESIDENT JOHNSON ALL ALONG SO THAT HE
SAW THE SAME THINGS WE DID. SO, WE KNEW THAT WHEN THIS
REPORT CAME OUT, WHEN IT SAID RACISM AND IT TALKED ABOUT
SPENDING MORE MONEY AGAINST POVERTY, THAT WAS GOING TO BE
SOMEWHAT OF A SHOCK. SO WE GAVE THE REPORT OUT WITH
AN EMBARGO SO THAT PEOPLE WOULD HAVE A CHANCE TO BE
BACKGROUNDED AND LEARN SORT OF WHAT WAS BEHIND OUR
RECOMMENDATIONS. THEN, I THINK WITH THAT INTENT
IN ORDER TO LESSEN ITS IMPACTS, SOMEBODY LEAKED THE
REPORT TO THE WASHINGTON POST AND TRIED TO TALK THEM OUT OF
USING IT, BUT THEY SAID THEY GOT IT LEGALLY AND THEY WERE
NOT GOING TO DO THAT, THEY WERE GOING TO PUBLISH IT THE
NEXT MORNING. AND SO WE SAID, WELL, WE ARE
GOING TO GIVE IT TO EVERYBODY THEN. IT WAS JUST ABSOLUTE CHAOS. I REMEMBER, FOR EXAMPLE, AN AP
REPORTER CALLING ME THAT EVENING AND HE SAID, I HAVE
GOT A 30 MINUTE DEADLINE. HERE IS A REPORT THAT IS ABOUT
400 AND SOME PAGES LONG AND HE SAID, I HAVE A 30 MINUTE
DEADLINE, CAN YOU CAPSULIZE IT FOR ME? THE RESULT WAS THAT THE
HEADLINES ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY, THE POST AND
EVERYWHERE ELSE WERE SOMETHING LIKE, WHITE RACISM CAUSE OF
BLACK RIOTS, COMMISSION SAYS. MY OWN FATHER, WHO LOVED ME,
SMALL FARMER OUT IN WEST OKLAHOMA, THE WAY HE HEARD
THAT COMMISSION REPORT, WAS MR. HARRIS, OUT OF THE
GOODNESS OF YOUR HEART, YOU OUGHT TO PAY MORE TAXES IN
ORDER TO HELP POOR BLACK PEOPLE WHO ARE RIOTING IN
DETROIT. AND MY DAD’S RESPONSE WAS
SOMETHING LIKE, THE HELL WITH THAT I AM ALREADY PAYING TOO
MUCH TAXES AND HE WAS RIGHT ABOUT THAT. WE ALSO — WE DIDN’T MAKE
CLEAR ENOUGH AND WE DID SAY IN THE REPORT, THAT WE WERE
INTERESTED IN POVERTY, WHEREVER IT WAS, RURAL OR
URBAN, WE WERE INTERESTED IN PROBLEMS OF WHITE PEOPLE,
BLACK PEOPLE, HISPANIC AND AMERICAN INDIANS AND OTHERS,
BUT MY DAD NEVER HEARD THAT PART OF IT AND I THINK A LOT
OF OTHER PEOPLE DIDN’T EITHER. HE WAS INTERESTED IN HIS LIFE
AND HIS PROBLEMS RATHER THAN THE PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN
INVOLVED IN THE RIOTS.>>PRESIDENT JOHNSON WAS SO
COMMITTED TO FIGHTING POVERTY IN THE POVERTY PROGRAMS, WHY
DIDN’T HE ADOPT SOME OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS?>>WE HAD MADE AN APPOINTMENT
WITH HIM, ALL THE CURRENT COMMISSION AND PRINCIPAL
STAFF, TO MEET WITH HIM AND DELIVER THE REPORT AND THAT
HAD ALREADY BEEN SET UP AND WE KNOW THAT NOW, WE DIDN’T THEN,
BUT SINCE FOUND THE LETTERS, HE HAD — THE STAFF HAD
WRITTEN LETTERS FOR HIM TO SIGN PRAISING THIS REPORT AND
THANKING US AND SO FORTH, BUT HE SAID, I AM NOT GOING TO
SIGN THOSE AND HE NEVER DID. BUT, WE UNDERSTOOD FROM THE
WHITE HOUSE STAFF THAT A TEXAS MEMBER OF CONGRESS, A CLOSE
FRIEND OF JOHNSON’S, HAD SAID TO HIM, THIS COMMISSION, THE
CURRENT COMMISSION, IS GOING TO RUIN YOU. WE UNDERSTOOD THESE WERE HIS
WORDS, THAT IT DOESN’T HAVE — IT CONDONES AND ENCOURAGES
RIOTS AND IT DOESN’T HAVE A GOOD WORD TO SAY ABOUT ALL YOU
HAVE DONE AGAINST POVERTY AND RACISM. ALL OF WHICH WAS FALSE BUT
JOHNSON, I THINK, BELIEVED IT. HE CANCELED THE MEETING WITH
US. WE HAD ASKED ALSO THAT HE GIVE
US ANOTHER SIX MONTHS OF LIFE SO WE CAN ADVOCATE FOR AND
LOBBY FOR OUR RECOMMENDATIONS. OF COURSE, THAT NEVER HAPPENED
AND AS I SAID, THAT IS A REALLY SAD THING BECAUSE
MISINFORMED, THAT IS THE ACTION HE TOOK, JOHNSON, BUT
IT IS SAD TO ME BECAUSE JOHNSON, AS I SAID, DID MORE
AGAINST POVERTY AND AGAINST RACISM THAN ANY OF HIS
PREDECESSORS OR SUCCESSORS SINCE.>>NOW, YOU WERE SEAT MATES
WITH SENATOR ROBERT F. KENNEDY FROM NEW YORK, AND IN 1968
POVERTY WAS ON HIS MIND, WOULD BE UNTIL HIS ASSASSINATION
DURING HIS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. HOW DID HE RESPOND TO THE
REPORT?>>DURING THE STUDY, YOU KNOW,
HE WAS SENATOR FROM NEW YORK AND REALLY SAW, AS JOHNSON
DID, MAYOR LINDSEY AS A POTENTIAL RIVAL. JOHNSON THOUGHT LINDSEY WAS
GOING TO RUN AGAINST HIM FOR PRESIDENT. HE LATER DID RERUN FOR
PRESIDENT. BUT KENNEDY SAID TO ME
JOKINGLY, HE SAID, WHAT IT IS LIKE TO WORK WITH JOHN
LINDSEY, EXPECTING ME TO SAY, WELL, YOU KNOW, HE IS JUST A
DILATANT AND WHATEVER. AND I SAID, HE IS REALLY
TERRIFIC. I SAID, HE IS REALLY ENGAGED. HE NEVER MISSED A MEETING AND
IS INVOLVED AND IDEAS ARE TERRIFIC IN DOING SOMETHING
ABOUT RACISM AND POVERTY. AND ROBERT WAS A LITTLE BIT
INCREDULOUS, BUT IT WAS GOOD FOR HIM TO HEAR THAT, BUT HE
WAS VERY MUCH IN FAVOR OF THE REPORT WHEN IT CAME OUT.
AND HE CAUSED SENATOR JOE CLARK, CHAIRMAN IN THE SENATE,
TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS SO THAT WE COULD COME AND TESTIFY
BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE IN FAVOR OF OUR RECOMMENDATIONS.>>MARTIN LUTHER KING IS
ASSASSINATED, ROBERT KENNEDY IS ASSASSINATED. PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON IS
ELECTED ON A LAW AND ORDER PLATFORM. WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE
RECOMMENDATIONS DURING HIS PRESIDENCY?>>WE STILL HAD PROGRESS FOR A
WHILE, AS I SAID, ON RACE AND POVERTY, BUT ABOUT THE TIME OF
THE ADVENT OF THE REAGAN-BUSH ADMINISTRATION, THAT IS WHEN
THE PROGRESS STOPPED. NIXON REALLY TRIED TO MAKE HAY
OUT OF THE RIOTS, YOU KNOW, LAW AND ORDER AND SO FORTH AND
IN A WAY SORT OF SPEAKING IN CODE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE. AND THEY HAD A SOUTHERN
STRATEGY, WHICH EVERYBODY KNOWS NOW, AND I THINK REAGAN
DID TOO, SO THAT THINGS WENT BACKWARDS AND THAT IS THE WAY
IT HAS BEEN EVER SINCE THE ADVENT OF THE REAGAN
ADMINISTRATION, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE TIME WHEN
BILL CLINTON WAS IN, WE BEGAN TO MAKE A LITTLE PROGRESS
AGAIN, AND THEN FELL BACKWARDS, AND THEN WHEN OBAMA
CAME IN, HE MADE SOME PROGRESS AGAIN, BUT I AM AFRAID MOVED
BACKWARDS AGAIN.>>DID WE MAKE PROGRESS DURING
THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WITH SOME OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
JUSTICE EXAMINATIONS INTO POLICE LIKE HERE IN
ALBUQUERQUE?>>PRESIDENT OBAMA APPOINTED A
COMMISSION TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS IN REGARD TO
THE POLICE, REALLY GOOD RECOMMENDATIONS, BUT, I DON’T
THINK MUCH WAS DONE AFTER THAT FROM THE FEDERAL LEVEL AT
TRYING TO GET THEM IMPLEMENTED. SO, WE HAD ALL OF THESE
HORRIBLE POLICE KILLINGS OF BLACK YOUNG MEN AND NOT IN ANY
INSTANCE HAS ANYBODY EVER BEEN CONVICTED ON TRIAL, NO POLICE
OFFICER, AND I THINK THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL OF ATTITUDE
CHANGES THAT IS NECESSARY AND I THINK WE HAVE GOT TO USE
LAPEL CAMERAS MUCH MORE AND GET BACK TO COMMUNITY POLICING
AGAIN. STOP THIS MILITARIZATION OF
THE POLICE, WHERE SHOOTING IS SORT OF A FIRST — I THINK
NORMALLY WHAT YOU DO IS SEND IN SOME TEAM THAT IS GOING TO
TRY TO SORT OF CUT DOWN THE PROBLEMS THAT ARE CONFRONTING
THE POLICE IN THOSE INSTANCES, RATHER THAN THE SWAT TEAM.>>IT HAS BEEN 50 YEARS SINCE
THE REPORT, ALMOST 50 YEARS, YOU’RE ABOUT TO RELEASE THE
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REPORT, UPDATE ON RACE AND
POVERTY IN AMERICA. WHAT IS THIS NEW REPORT GOING
TO TELL US?>>QUITE SADLY, THE INEQUALITY
OF INCOME AND WEALTH IN THE COUNTRY HAS WORSENED GREATLY
SINCE THE TIME OF THE PRIMARY REPORT IN 1968. AND, WE ARE RESEGREGATING IN
OUR CITIES AND HOUSING AND IN SCHOOLS AND THAT IS REALLY
BAD. WE FIND THAT THE INCOMES OF
AFRICAN AMERICANS AND HISPANICS AND SO FORTH, OTHER
MINORITIES, HAVE NOT INCREASED AS OTHERS HAVE AND IT TURNS
OUT, ACTUALLY, IN FAIRLY RECENT YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN A
STAGNATION OF WAGES AND INCOME FOR MIDDLE INCOME AND POOR
PEOPLE GENERALLY. THE TAXES HAVE BEEN CUT FOR
RICH PEOPLE AND THERE IS AN EFFORT NOW TO TRY TO DO MORE
OF THAT. YOU KNOW, WITH THE IDEA THAT
IT STIMULATES ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SO FORTH, WHICH WE PROVED
TO BE WRONG RIGHT HERE IN NEW MEXICO AS IN KANSAS AND
ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY OR IN THE WORLD. SO, THINGS ARE REALLY TOUGHER. POVERTY IS HARDER TO GET OUT
OF NOW THAN IT WAS BACK IN OUR DAY. A LOT OF THESE MEDIATING
INSTITUTIONS HAVE DISAPPEARED IN THE CENTRAL CITIES. PEOPLE, A LOT OF CENTRAL
CITIES HAVE BEGUN TO GENTRIFY, SO THAT POVERTY HAS BEEN SORT
OF TRANSLATED OUT TO THE SUBURBS AND IN SOME CASES, THE
EXURBS, AND WE HAVE REALLY CUT DOWN ON THE MONEY THAT WE HAVE
BEEN SPENDING ON — REAL DOLLARS — ON EDUCATION AND
TRAINING AND ON JOB CREATION AND SO FORTH. AND THAT IS WHAT IS HUGELY
NEEDED. WHEN JOHN LINDSEY AND I WERE
WALKING AROUND TO THESE RIOT CITIES THEN IN 1968, WE
ENCOUNTERED OFTEN ON THE STREETS, YOUNG BLACK MEN OF
THE TYPE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE RIOTS IN THAT
CITY AND WHAT THEY ALL SAID TO US, ALMOST IN A CHORUS, WAS
JOBS. THEY SAID JOBS, BABY. JOBS, BABY. THAT IS WHAT WE NEED IS JOBS. CINCINNATI, STREETS OF
CINCINNATI, ONE BLACK MAN, ONE GUY SAID, MR. JOHNSON GOT ME A
JOB LAST SUMMER, TALKING ABOUT PRESIDENT JOHNSON IN THE
SUMMER PROGRAM BUT THAT RAN OUT. HE SAID, WE NEED JOBS, BABY. AND THAT WAS THE GREATEST NEED
AND IT IS TODAY.>>INEQUALITY AND POVERTY THAT
YOU SPEAK OF TODAY, 50 YEARS LATER, WE DON’T HAVE TO ACCEPT
THAT AS A NATION; RIGHT?>>POVERTY IS A DECISION. YOU KNOW. WE DECIDE WE ARE GOING TO HAVE
ALL THIS POVERTY. THAT IS NOT TRUE. WE DON’T HAVE TO HAVE IT. WE GET OUR PRIORITIES
STRAIGHT, THERE IS PLENTY OF MONEY TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE
DONE. AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF JOBS
THAT NEED DOING THAT WE OUGHT TO BE SURE, FOR EXAMPLE, WE
OUGHT TO BE INVESTING IN THE NEW KIND OF JOBS IN TECHNOLOGY
AND WIND AND SOLAR AND ENERGY, ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, AND SO
FORTH, PLENTY OF JOBS LIKE THAT, AND CHILD CARE AND
PARTICULARLY IN EDUCATION, AND HEALTH. WE HAVE GOT PLENTY OF JOBS
THAT NEED DOING AND THERE IS A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT NEED THOSE
JOBS.>>SENATOR FRED HARRIS, THANK
YOU FOR JOINING US, WE REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

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