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CNN NEWSROOM

Interview with Martin Luther King III; No Response from Palace to Meghan and Harry Interview; Black Families Continue Preference for Remote Learning. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 9, 2021 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[10:31:10]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Another sweeping effort that would restrict voting access is advancing in the state of Georgia. The state senate passed a bill that would tighten criteria to vote by mail, also require an ID on both ends of voting absentee. A similar bill passed Georgia's house last week, and Republicans have the numbers to make both of them laws in the state.

Georgia is not alone, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, more than 250 bills with similar voter restriction efforts have bene introduced in 43 states.

With me now, Martin Luther King III, the son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. It's good to have you, good morning.

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND LEADER: Good morning.

HARLOW: So the reaction from and the defense of this in Georgia from the -- Georgia's top state senate Republican is, well, this reduces costs for the state, it relieves stress on election workers, it increases certainty that ballots are counted. What worries you most about what is proceeding and likely to become law in the state of Georgia?

KING: What worries me most is this is a pattern of consistently suppressing the right to vote for a number of persons within our state, certainly in the black and brown and communities of color in general, perhaps with the student population. The fact of the matter is that even something like it may be illegal to bring someone, a senior, water or food who may be in line for a long amount of time? We should be expanding the process, not reducing the process.

This is a very sad day in our nation. Although the governor still has to sign it and has not -- it's tragic that it passed at this particular level in the senate and the house.

HARLOW: You know, I should note it was not that long ago, it was 2005 in the state of Georgia when it was Republicans, including the now- governor, who was then a state senator, Brian Kemp, who supported no- excuse absentee voting, something that now they're opposing.

And you have called these measures more sophisticated versions of Jim Crow practices. I wonder what you think, practically, will be the end result of them on the ground if they become law?

KING: Well, I think the end result is going to have to be that we have to quadruple our efforts, and you know, certainly when you think about what Stacey Abrams as a nucleus did, but also a number of African-American women and others -- Helen Butler, LaTosha Brown, Deborah Scott, just to name a few -- who were on the ground, mobilizing.

And my point is that at the end of the day, no matter what is thrown at us, we have to overcome. My father showed us over and over how -- and my mother, through her leadership -- how we could overcome. And so we're going to fight these things regardless.

The hope is that the governor decides that we've got to change this bill somewhat, because it's tragic that in America, 43 of the states are looking at these kind of draconian policies. And yet we as a nation go all over the world, talking about democracy and expanding democracy, and suppressing it at home? That is such a hypocritical act.

HARLOW: You know, a lot of this goes back again not that long, to 2013, and the Shelby v. Holder decision by the Supreme Court, a decision in which the chief justice then, and who is still the chief justice, John Roberts, wrote, explaining that majority -- it was a 5-4 decision -- saying, "Our country has changed for the better," right? We don't need some of these provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act because our country has changed for the better.

Now, in some ways, it had and has. But then there's this, look at these images on your screen. On the left-hand side of the screen, you see the Confederate flag being flown in Selma on Bloody Sunday. On the right-hand side of your screen, you see Americans carrying a Confederate flag on January the 6th, 2001, at the Capitol insurrection. When you see those and you consider that decision and the words of the chief justice, what do you think?

[10:35:24]

KING: I think the chief justice -- and I -- you know, I don't like to be critical of the court, although I think we have to constructively look at this. And so obviously, the court is not looking -- or was not looking at what is going on in communities, and so, you know, this weekend, we were in Selma, in fact, for the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and what John Lewis and Hosea Williams did by leading that march, and tragically being beaten.

It's sad that we are not celebrating the fact that it's been 56 years and we're still making progress; we are moving backward, and somehow we've got to get our nation to look forward and not backward. So how do we move the nation forward and create opportunity so more people can vote? More people voted on January 5th of this year and on November 4th of

last year than ever before. So why do we need to change the rules? And there were no incidents of fraud.

HARLOW: Let me step back with you, finally, big picture about where this country stands. Because Charles Blow wrote about this on Sunday in "The New York Times," and it really struck me, and we looked more at the polling numbers of the point he was making.

As this week, you have the jury selection for the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, in the killing of George Floyd. And this new USA Today-Ipsos poll, released just a few days ago, found that now 28 percent of white Americans believe that what happened to George Floyd was murder.

But I bring that up because it's down from 55 percent of white Americans who believed that in June, just days after his killing. How do you explain that drop?

KING: That is very perplexing, and it -- somehow, something has happened in the discourse, the political discourse, and people -- I don't know. You know, I would really question the polling, I'm not sure that that is accurate, or an accurate reflection. I'm sure it's an accurate reflection of how some people feel, but I wonder if the numbers are that high because there's no explanation, it makes no sense.

We all saw a police officer being judge, jury and executioner all in one, and so I -- there's no -- that's perplexing, truly perplexing.

HARLOW: I -- I was stunned by the numbers, too, so we went back to the actual poll again this morning to take a look, and that is what they found.

Well, we appreciate you being on today to talk about this really important issue. Martin Luther King III, thank you.

KING: Thank you for the opportunity.

HARLOW: Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Great to have him on, a lot of history there.

HARLOW: Yes.

[10:37:57]

SCIUTTO: Well, Prince Charles was questioned this morning about those explosive claims made by Price Harry and Meghan in their interview with Oprah Winfrey. His response, next.

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SCIUTTO: More than 12 million people in the U.K. watched Oprah Winfrey's interview with the duke and duchess of Sussex last night. Not quite as many as here in the U.S., but a lot based on the population of the U.K.

HARLOW: Still a lot. And this morning, Prince Charles had the opportunity to respond to that interview and the claims made by Prince Harry and Meghan when he visited this vaccination center in London. Did he respond? Let's ask our anchor and royal correspondent Max Foster.

Did he say anything? Because the palace hasn't said anything yet.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, guess what? Let's have a look at the video, I'll let you see for yourselves what happened when Prince Charles was approached during this visit earlier today in London.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I ask what did you think of the interview?

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: So no response there, obviously. I think there was some messaging here, though. This was a planned engagement at a vaccination center, and it went ahead. So this, I think, the royal family saying, we are carrying on despite everything that's happened. We're not going to be led by the narrative here, which was set by Meghan and Harry and Oprah in that interview.

I'm hearing from the palace that they don't want to be rushed into a statement. That doesn't mean a statement isn't going to be forthcoming, but they're going to do it in their own time. They're playing the long game, they're seeing this as part of history perhaps, but not the entirety of royal history.

So I think they're probably considering how to respond to some of the bigger claims here, but perhaps some of the smaller ones as well, discounting them. You can probably pull (ph) Meghan and Harry on a few details, but of course the world's much more captivated by the bigger questions of race and fairness, which really play into the brand.

SCIUTTO: Prince Harry, you'll remember, called out the close relationship between the palace and the U.K. tabloid press. I lived in London for 10 years, it's not the relationship I remember. I mean, I remember that as quite adversarial. You've covered the palace for some time, did he describe that accurately in your experience?

FOSTER: It's actually Meghan that talked about these parties, these holiday parties in the palace that the tabloids were invited to, tabloid reporters saying to me, I've never been invited to one of these parties, have you? And I said, well, you know, we do get invited to media meet-and-greets sometimes, certainly can't be described as parties. Whether or not that's an accurate portrayal by the duchess, I think

what she's saying there is she doesn't feel the palace should be dealing with the tabloids and working with them.

I think the palace, without speaking to them about this, but they would probably argue -- and we have broad debates about, you know, what parts of the media they're going to be working with, we have lots of arguments about that -- they don't feel that they have a right to choose which parts of the media they work with. The media's a separate body, we deal with the media, that's their issue but, you know, we're not going to discriminate between different parts of the media. Meghan probably thinks that they should.

[10:45:27]

But actually the reality is there's huge tension between the palace and the tabloids as well. I don't think you can really say they're working together, there's a huge amount of tension there and there's frustration in the tabloids about Meghan and Harry, but that's nothing new.

HARLOW: Max Foster, thank you for being on top of all of it for us.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: After a year of distance learning -- which is a nice way of putting it -- some parents just are not ready to send their children back to the school yet. Why some black families are opting to continue with remote learning, ahead.

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[10:50:28]

SCIUTTO: Well, new data suggests that African-Americans are more likely than white parents to keep their kids in remote learning as opposed to in-person learning.

HARLOW: That's right. This pandemic has disproportionately hurt communities of color, so that combined with the uncertainty, a lack of trust in the system for many, means a lot of those families are opting for remote learning. Our Ryan Young reports.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim and Poppy, the pandemic has really put a focus on schools. I mean, parents know how much they want their kids to return, but in some communities, there are a lot of questions about how it will work.

Minority parents have been complaining about disinvestment in schools for quite some time. Have those investments been made to keep kids safe? It's a bit question that a lot of parents are saying they're not ready to send their kids back to school until they know they've been done.

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JASMINE GREGORY, MOM OF THREE BOYS: Good job!

YOUNG (voice-over): COVID-19 has already taken so much from Jasmine Gregory, a mom of three boys, she's not ready to send her kids back to the classroom.

GREGORY: I'm a mom, and I don't feel safe. And I know what the CDC says, but in my heart, my children's safety is priority.

YOUNG (voice-over): Black families who continue to be hit harder by COVID-19, now also grappling with the idea of sending their kids back to school for in-person learning.

GREGORY: I honestly don't think that it's worth it right now. Risking children's lives wouldn't (ph) be worth it. Even though, you know, they need to be in that setting to learn.

YOUNG (voice-over): The CDC says returning to the classroom is safe, and opening schools has become a priority nationwide. But many minority parents aren't ready to trust systems that haven't always heard their voices.

The CDC, in a recent study, found that 62 percent of white parents strongly or somewhat agreed schools should reopen that fall, compared with 46 percent of black parents.

PAM (PH) GANDY (PH), BALTIMORE TEACHER AND MOM: All people were saying let's just throw them back into the building, throw them back into the building. Well, I would love your child to come back, I just don't want to die coming home to do it.

YOUNG (voice-over): Pam (ph) Gandy (ph), a mom and longtime teacher in Baltimore, is still puzzled by all the mixed messages teachers and parents are given about returning to the classroom.

She wants the district to be up-front about their strategy before she makes her own decision.

GANDY (PH): We should have already had these plans. You waiting for the governor to threaten his teachers and educators? So let me see the plan as the teacher, let me see the plan as the parent.

YOUNG (voice-over): For years, educators and black parents say they've had to deal with severe underinvestment in school buildings and classrooms in underserved districts, leaving them in bad shape and COVID further highlighting this inequity.

GANDY (PH): We are being -- as the educators, how we are being so devalued. But then as a parent, I feel that you are underestimating me. I do want my child back in school, my children are literally suffering emotionally and socially.

YOUNG: Are you scared that some of these kids are going to slip beneath the cracks?

LISA HERRING, SUPERINTENDENT, ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Yes. And I think that that's a question that any educational leader, particularly if they are serving and leading in an urban school system, that is exactly what we worry and think about.

YOUNG (voice-over): Atlanta Public Schools' new superintendent Lisa Herring is leading one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, and knows there is an uphill challenge to get minority kids back into class.

HERRING: Data lists (ph) that the vast majority of our families who have chosen face-to-face are our families that are white, Caucasian. Trust or lack thereof surfaces to the top, let's just be candid and honest about that because that's the truth.

YOUNG (voice-over): In a year full of uncertainty, many minority parents remain skeptical that schools are truly safe.

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YOUNG: Jim and Poppy, you understand, a lot of these kids have dealt with tough circumstances when it comes to COVID-19, we know how hard the pandemic has been hitting black and brown families. So the real question is, can they keep kids safe in school.

The school has such a big impact on us. We talk a lot about first responders, but our teachers are putting in a lot of work during this pandemic as well. You can think back to your own life, and seeing the teachers that have had an impact. For me, I can think of two teachers in particular, Mr. Diaz (ph) and Ms. Johnson (ph), they were really special to me. And at this time, you know kids need that sort of interaction to make sure they can mov eon in their future -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the data has shown schools continue to be relatively safe. Ryan Young, thanks very much.

[10:55:00]

Just a quick programming note, be sure to watch as Jake Tapper hosts a live CNN special, "BACK TO SCHOOL: KIDS, COVID AND THE FIGHT TO REOPEN." It airs Friday night at 9:00, only on CNN.

HARLOW: Look forward to that. All right, thank you so much for being with us today, we'll see you right here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with Kate Bolduan starts right after a short break.

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