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[MUSIC] Welcome to Essense Debates Live. I'm Abby West, executive editor of Essence.com and today I'm joined by Ms. Donna Brazile. Thank you. Today we're talking about Black Lives Matter movement. Pretty much where we go from here. You've been pretty vocal. And I want to know from you what does this movement mean to you? Where is its place in history? you know when I first say the hashtag, black lives matter, I stopped before retweeting it. And the reason why I stopped is because I wanted to really understand or at least look at what they were commenting on. And there were three Prominent I believe, very prominent distinguished women. And I wrote down their names, Elisha Garza, Trish Collers, and Olpa Timmetti. And this was in the aftermath of when Travon Martin was brutally murdered by, as you know, George Zimmermann. And I made the decision to retweet it. To my followers and said, This hashtag matters. And little did I know at the time, what these three women created. Was not just a moment to capture something that was very painful, something that was tragic. But what they captured was in my judgement A movement that could empower, empower individuals, empower communities to began to speak up and raise our voices collectively to say we have to stop the violence. We have to stop the violence of black lives in this country. And not just, you know, black men but black women, black people. There's no, you know, what I call, there's no religion, there's no political affiliation, there's no sexual orientation, there's no demographic issue. It's black lives matter. And that's what I like about. It's simple, but yet very profound. It's a conversation that's got a lot of people emotion. And I had the occasion to see a video of you on CNN not too long ago, discussing the President's podcast, and the conversation around his use of the N-word. And you became very emotional talking about young men in your lives and what this means for them. Do you think this is going to be helpful for them moving forward? When I came back home from vacation, and while on vacation I received the news like everyone else, that there was a shooting at Mother Mabel. Now as an activist and organiser I've been to Mother Mabel. I have organized events. They have organized an event [UNKNOWN] political candidates have stayed over the last 20 years. I know Clint, I know that family, I know the history. And so, I got back home and I was destroyed personally, emotionally and I didn't know what else to do. But I called my brother, my youngest brother Kevin. My brother Kevin would be here in New Orleans had it not been for Hurricane Katrina. Kevin has four boys, four sons. Three of them at home, ages four to 16. I started thinking about my dad, when my mother would say we couldn't use the N word cuz she said, that's what they call your daddy at work. And as I was saying that to Wolf Blitzer, it dawned on me that my brother Kevin is having this conversation with his boys. And they're in South Carolina. And I just couldn't hold it. You know, three days later, I went to Facebook just to check in, and my nephew was at the state capitol Protesting the flag. I said, I said oh, hell, now he's an activist. [LAUGH] Running in the family? It's running. And then my niece just emailed me. She's on Facebook protesting Jefferson Davis Parkway where she grew up. She wants the name to come down. She wants the statue to come down huh here in New Orleans. And I'm like, okay. Now I have activists in my family. I'm proud of them. I'm proud of the movement. I am, you know, it's like I feel like a Godmother to the movement, you know. I'm sure there are others who feel like, who believe that they had a role in helping to inspire this generation to act. I hope we inspire an entire generation to take back our communities. To go out there each and every day of their lives and to use their power to make this a better place for all people. With this increased activism, do you think it's going to have an effect on the upcoming election? I hope so. How so? Let me tell you, the dirty little secret in American life today. Is that in 2008 we changed the mold of what leadership looked like in this country. No longer is it, you know, one size fit all, white males apply. It is now anyone can apply to be a leader, anyone can serve, any person who has the wish and desire to lead can lead. We broke the mold. And this generation did it. My generation, what we did, we went out there and we did voter registration. I started here right here in Louisiana, right here in New Orleans. We did voter registration. Back in the day, we were empowered to elect the first black man, Ernest Dutch Morial. We were named this wonderful facility. We were empowered to get Sydney Bartholomew, were empowered to get Adrian Alexander to set in. We were in empowered, but now, this generation put Barak Obama in the Whitehouse. How do you go back and sit home and say, well hell I can't do nothing? How do you go back and tell your family that you don't have the power to change this country? You can put Hillary there if you want to. You could put Bernie. Well, God forbid if you want to put Donald Trump. Hell, go ahead. Right? Please. But the point is, is that they have the power. And if they don't believe they have the power, then why don't they Google voting rights act? Because since 2008, there's been an attempt to restrict, to remove and to even block certain people from voting because they use their power to put Barack Obama in the White House. They are afraid that they will use their power to put someone else, who looks like them, who will speak for them, represent them. Use your power, don't give it up. Don't lose it. Don't resign to the fact that you don't have it. You have it, use it. Turn this country around each and every day. I'm looking forward to 2016 because if they use their power Hell. I might retire myself one day. And go back to being an actress. Part time. Which you love. You know you love doing it. Don't you? Oh I do. I love stirring the pots. So what do you think the protests will actually contribute to the conversation? Some people have believed that it's not as effective as really organizing for political change. They're drawing this parallel to the Civil Rights movement. DO you see it more in that vein? No. I don't, I don't. The Civil Rights movement was a very important, what I call extension of Another movement that was already transforming the country. In many ways, we never finished fighting the civil war. But the civil rights movement because that seminal moment when people decided that they did not want to live in a country where they were Separated based on their race. They were limited in, terms of the opportunities,based on their race. They couldn't get ahead because of their race. They couldn't vote because of their race. That was the moment and they torn down those walls Dr. King reminded us never to look at the barriers, but see the opportunities and seize them. This is another generation. This is a generation fighting yet a new civil rights, a new movement for equality, for inclusiveness. For opportunity, so that we can take people from the outskirts of hope and bring them within the circle of opportunity. This is a new movement, because they have to fight economic inequality. Dr. King believed in the beloved community that we could all have access to resources and access to things that would empower and enrich our lives and yet his dream was cut short not just by his assassination but by people believing that we took down the symbolic, what I call view of segregation, but we never did the substance Because that's why we have so much wealth inequality. So I think this movement is really, it's about empowerment, it's about being inclusive. Mm. It's about transformation and it's really about ensuring that lives matter. Now, you know how I think it's important people understand their power. That they have power in their lives. That God gave all of us, even if you don't believe in a God, then believe in a spirit because if you thought, well anyway. I'm in Louisiana. I can always go there. You're gonna go there. But you gotta believe that you have power. Power to change the world. Power to make a difference Power to become fully who you are in the present moment. And this movement, I think captures that. One day I was leaving my office. I teach at Georgetown, I was leaving my office to go to work. And I live, well I don't live, I work two blocks from the White House. And I was inconvenienced by the movement, and I was so excited, I e-mailed my class and said, unfortunately, I am being detained because black lives matter. Period. I got to work three hours later. But you know what? They sat down right near the White House on Pennsylvania avenue and shut the city down during rush hour. And I was like God bless you. I wish I could, I wanted to make them gumbo and some et tu fey, and jambalaya and bring it out. But you know what, they were so focused. I was so proud of them. I was proud when I heard that I-95 in the Miami Corridor was shut down, I was proud that the Brooklyn Bridge yes I'm proud and I understand tactics is for [INAUDIBLE]. I'm proud of the fact that they are building an inclusive movement for justice and equality for all, and to preserve and protect black lives, that matters. Before we wrap up, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about something that's not getting a lot of press, or it's bubbling up. The pervasiveness of black churches being burned, in the South particularly. I think it's up to like eight or nine in the last couple of weeks. And some are being ruled accidental or Acts of nature or something- Can you believe that God is coming around with lightning strikes to strike these churches down? Really? I know I've heard that and I understand that you have to distract us because there's no theory yet as to why these churches Back during the Clinton Administration in 1993, 1994, 1995 all the way there were a similar incident that happened. Two things, one the government must to everything in their power to ensure that there is no conspiracy to burn down. These churches. We know, as President Obama said during the funeral services, that black churches have been soul saving stations for the black community. Others who are seeking freedom and of course a place. So we've gotta make sure that the ATF, FBI and others continue their full investigation. And I would hope and I believe President Obama and the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, will continue to pursue that. Beyond that, we need to as a community make sure that we have what we call the watch group. Now back in 1995, 1996, the AME Church, the AME Zion Church, the Church of God and Christ, all of the denominations got together and they formed watch committees. And people were literally assigned to watch the church and I think we can afford to do that in the 21st century. To watch our churches. Our churches have sustained us, they've inspired us, they've empowered us. When we walked in some Sunday mornings and needed just to have our batteries recharged, we've been recharged. What's two hours? I'll take the ship. Come in 11 o'clock at night, you don't feel like going home, say I'll take the first ship. And then, of course, 6 o'clock I'll take the second round. We have to watch our own churches. But government should also do their job and yes, this episode, another episode in history burning down our churches Reserve our full attention and our full recognition because the church is the most independent outside of black businesses and black newspapers and black publications and others, the church is independent and we need that church to survive and to thrive during times like this. The shooting in Charleston, the fires that've been set. It's sort of damaged the psyche, our collective psyche. That we're feeling a little fatigued. What do you hope will come out of this? Well, you know, there's a scripture that says do not grow weary in doing good. For in due season, you will reap a harvest if you don't give up There's a moment in all of our lives and in every generation where you have to seize it. And the confluence of all these events, the shootings, the murder of innocent black men, of innocent black women, of innocent people of color, the murder period. The large number of unemployed youth in our society. The growing wealth inequality in our society. Climate change. These are all issues that demand our time and our attention. And we cannot grow tired and weary. We have to continue to battle. I'll say one last thing. I was reading this morning, I read Scripture, 'cause I'm one of these I'm Catholic. But I like the Bible, because I worked for so many Preachers. But, I love the Bible as a organizing tool. And I was reading Paul letter to Timothy. Paul was in jail in Rome. It was like when Martin Luther King was in jail in Birmingham. And he wrote to Timothy. He said, I have finished the race. [BLANK_AUDIO] I finished the race. He passed that baton on. I kept the faith. And in many ways, Paul's letter today is more instructive to this generation than ever before. Paul finished his race, he kept the faith. But, this new generation now, must run the race to eternity. And keep running the same way that the Paul's of our generation. The Paul's of previous generations. And the kings and the roses and everyone else. That's why Alicia, Patrice and Opal they deserve our praise for igniting this movement. And now we must make sure it's not just a moment but a movement that will last and help us finish the race. Miss Donna Brazil, that you so much Thank you. for joining us today. Thank you for your insight and for your passion and we really appreciate you. Can I say thank you Essence for coming back and back and back to New Orleans all these years, and believing in our recovery. Thank you Essence. That's what we do. We love New Orleans. We love you. Thank you. That's it for this segment of Essence Debates Live. Please join us for more on essence.com
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