BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Whenever I despair of solutions, of a way out of the mine of corruption and dysfunction that characterizes so much of government and politics, I turn to certain individuals whom I know simply don’t or won’t give up.

Just such a person is my guest on this broadcast. Angela Glover Blackwell sees the world as it is, and still believes we can change it for the better. She has put her formidable intellect, experience, and passion to no less a mission than challenging America to fulfill the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. And I do mean all.

Blackwell attended Howard University in Washington, DC, got her law degree at the University of California at Berkeley, came of age at the height of the civil rights struggle and the black power movement, and then for ten years was partner at a public interest law firm called Public Advocates. She founded the Oakland Urban Strategies Council and worked to figure out new ways to bring Oakland’s inner city back to life.

After serving as vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation, she became the founder and chief executive officer of PolicyLink. That’s an organization that embodies her abiding belief that government and public policy can still make a difference by increasing opportunity for all, including those for whom the American dream has been, as the poet Langston Hughes wrote, "a dream deferred."

Angela Glover Blackwell, welcome.


BILL MOYERS: No one I know over these years has worked harder, or thought harder about how to rekindle, restore, the American Dream. And yet, here we are, middle class struggling, poverty increasing, the gap between the rich and the poor greater than it's been in your and my lifetime. What keeps you from getting discouraged, and giving up?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: I'm not discouraged, and I wouldn't even dream of giving up, because we're at a moment right now where I think we have more possibility than I've seen in my adult lifetime. Part of what I've been feeling is that all the issues are finally on the table. Look at how long it's taken us to have a national conversation about inequality.

And I'm not necessarily hopeful it'll go on for a long time. But we're having that conversation, now. So many people who are being left behind are now in places where they have voice, and influence, and they're forcing their way into the conversation.

And I believe that the changing demographics of the nation, this reality that before the middle of this century the majority of people in this nation will be people of color, Native American, Latino, Asian, African American. That is going to cause us to have to ask some tough questions about what we're doing leaving people behind.

BILL MOYERS: But you know, people do say that the election of our first African American president, is a sign of the progress we've made. But the people you say have been left behind don't necessarily feel that their needs are being addressed.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: It is a source of concern that many people in this nation feel that because we have a black President, that the problems of race and opening up opportunity have been addressed. They have not.

I will tell you this. I didn't expect that when Barack Obama got to be President of the United States, that he was going to be "the leader" who was going to lead from a place of race. That he was going to lead from being a black person, and bringing forward all that black people have been struggling with all this time. But there are some things that I celebrate, that often get overlooked.


ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: We live in a nation in which where you live is a proxy for opportunity. Where you live, determines whether or not you get to go to a good school, whether or not you live in a safe area, whether or not you live near a job. And this is the first presidency I have seen in my lifetime that has taken seriously, this notion of how the places where people live can hold them back.

So that we have programs, that actually say let's stop just putting affordable housing in communities that are the poor communities in a city. Right next to a poor school, where there's no grocery store, where the streets aren't safe.

Let's create neighborhoods of choice, for low-income people, putting housing near good schools, near grocery stores, near public transportation. And working with other sectors to make sure that this is a community that supports people. I also have been impressed to see that the health reform approach has included a focus on how to reform health with good things, and some disappointments in the health reform work. But also a focus on prevention.

And a focus on dealing with childhood obesity, and those kind of serious problems. And so as I look, I see the main flaw with not having focused enough on the communities that are hit first, and worst. That were hit first and worst by this recession. So if I could redo things, I would figure out a way to have policies and strategies be bigger, when they're really smart ones, like the ones I've described, and ones that are focused on jobs, and unemployment really target the communities that were hit first and worst. And very often those are black and Latino communities.

BILL MOYERS Why do you focus so much on the infrastructure of transportation?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: In low-income communities, transportation, particularly public transportation is a lifeline. We have lots of communities in which the availability of a car is actually unheard of. There are many communities in which most people in the community don't have a car. Twenty-five percent of people in the African American/Latino community are without cars.

And with-- this is at a time when so many of the jobs are not in their communities. They're in the suburban community. And so if people don't have public transportation, they cannot connect to work. You may have an employer who's an equal opportunity employer, who would be happy to hire somebody ready for the job, from an inner-city community.

But if they can't get there, the two will never meet. We also have, in this country, many families that are struggling to provide healthy diets, when there's no place in the community to buy fresh fruits, and vegetables. Only eight percent of African Americans live in a census tract, with a grocery store. Twenty-three--

BILL MOYERS: Say that again.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: Only eight percent of African Americans live in a census tract with a grocery store. Twenty-three million Americans do not live within a mile of a place to get fresh fruits and vegetables. And this means that in many communities it is impossible to be able to follow the orders of a doctor, that says eat a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, when they're not there.

This means that having transportation, public transportation, is important, even to be able to access fresh fruits and vegetables in your area. Not to mention that we need to get more grocery stores in underserved communities. But I can come back to that. But let me say another word about transportation. I have a personal experience.

It just showed me what it means when it's not adequate. Right after I got married, my husband and I moved to Los Angeles. And I had been very active in New York, around the black power movement. And so when I moved to Los Angeles, I thought, oh, I'll get a job in something that's serving the community.

So I just went to a phonebook, and looked for things that were black, or African, or "National," some of the words I thought might help. I found something. And it was in Watts, I wasn't living in Watts. Called up, got a job interview.

BILL MOYERS: Watts was the all-black area of Los Angeles.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: Watts was a all-black area of Los Angeles. And I was living many miles from there, but in Los Angeles. My husband had the one car, he had taken it to work. So I called the bus station, and I figured out transit, and figured out how to take a bus. They gave me five busses that I would have to take.

I gave myself an hour and a half, thinking it was way too much time. I was going to take the bus, and get there. I got on the bus, four busses later, two-and-a-half hours after the time of the interview, I had to cross the street, and get on one more bus, tear rolled down my cheek. And I just got back on the bus and went home.

But I never forgot that. Because actually I wanted a job, but my husband had one. I didn't have to have a job. If I had needed that job, if I'd had a baby I had to support, I'd have been on those five busses every morning. A good bus system, a good transportation system is a lifeline for communities, more so today than ever before. So we feel that you have to invest in public transportation, because too many people are being left behind because they're in communities that don't have the investments in transit that are needed.

BILL MOYERS: I think you point out that affluent Americans, who live in upscale zip codes, tend to live 15 percent longer than poor people. Right?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: It's absolutely true. It's absolutely true.

It's not right. It shouldn't be. And we know the ways to fix it. Some of the reasons have to do with the absence of fresh fruits, and vegetables in communities. No place safe to get out and engage in exercise.

Too many children. Their asthma's being exacerbated by the fact that they live near freeways, and bus depots. We actually understand that the things that we do in the communities can make a tremendous difference. And we should make those changes because if we don't, the healthcare system is going to continue to be too expensive.

BILL MOYERS: So your big theme these days is equity. Explain what you mean by that.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: Well, during the Civil Rights movement, when we were really trying to break down the legal racial barriers, it was a movement for full inclusion, and participation. But the immediate strategies and tactics were really around integration. To be able to stop the legal segregation, so that we could have integration.

And in many ways we got that. We were able to get the Civil Rights laws passed that got rid of housing discrimination, jobs discrimination, and discrimination in public accommodations, those kinds of things. And that opened up the possibility of people who but for race, and racial discrimination, would have been able to access. So it allowed people who had education to now begin to gets jobs. People who had money to now be able to buy houses in different places. But there's so many things that did not get addressed that were holding people back. I'll go back to the transportation example.

You may have an equal-opportunity employer. But if our investment in transportation doesn't get you a bus route to that job, it's not a real chance. That we may say that yeah, you can go to any college in the nation. But if you happen to be black, or Latino, and you grow up in an inner-city community, the schools that you have gone to aren't going to really prepare you to be able to go to those colleges, not in huge numbers. That's not really a chance. Equity tries to move beyond just saying we've achieved equal opportunity, and ask what do we want people to achieve.

Reach their full potential. And then back into what that will take. So that equity says if you want people to be able to go to any school they want to, to be able to do well, and to move forward, we have to make sure that we are really investing in the educational system. We're not just asking whether all the schools are open, the same amount of time during the year.

Whether they have the same books, whether they're using the same curriculum. We want to know what do poor children need in this country so that they can reach their full potential. They need to start school, ready to learn. And they need to have access to early childhood programs. They need to have a rigorous curriculum, that goes on year-round, not just nine months during the year. They need to make sure that their communities are providing the support that middle-class families provide for their children. Enrichment programs. Safe places to play. Equity asks what do you need to reach your full potential, and how do we make sure that that is fairly available.

BILL MOYERS And you run right into what you call the most uncomfortable subject in America: race.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: That's right. America does not want to talk about race. They don't want to talk about it, they don't want to change the status quo, they don't want to do anything about it. And it's going to hurt the nation if we don't get over it. We have spent way too much time avoiding a topic that must be addressed. And now we're at a point where we can't ignore it anymore.

In this nation, right now, nearly half of children under 18 are children of color. By the need of this decade half will be, and by 2030 the majority of the young workforce will be of color. If we don't make sure that the children who are moving along as a cohort into the future of this country are prepared to lead, and contribute, the future of the country is not bright.

We can look at two things side by side. What's troubling this nation right now? We really need to figure out how to be competitive in the global economy. We really need to figure out how to have a strong, and stable middle class. We need to have people who are contributing, who are innovating, who are ready, who are educated, who can lead in every way.

The cohort coming along that will be the future is of color. America can see its future. And it's a five-year-old Latina girl. It is a seven-year-old black boy. What happens to them will determine what America looks like. And many of the young people who are already 18, 19, 20 are going to be the workers of the near future.

And so this country, as a democracy, really cannot expect to continue to be proud on the world stage, competitive in the global economy, or having a democracy that it can put forward as working in a multi-racial society, if we don't invest in the people who are the future.

And so I'm all for the moral argument. I've asked, I've begged, I've prodded on the moral issue. And I will continue to do that. But it has become an economic imperative. What we do about human development, will determine whether or not this nation has a growth pattern in front of it.

BILL MOYERS: But there are still large communities, large segments of our population left behind because of race, and ethnicity. And you're asking us to address the needs of those constituencies, at the same time many people are saying that we've moved into post-racial politics. In other words, the only way to get things done is to make sure that we don't serve primary communities that are in need, because that will enable the politicians to govern by divide and conquer.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: We are not post-racial. We're not even close. Because race still controls everything in America. That when you think about part of what's causing so many people to be left behind, and in trouble, it's because they live in communities that don't support them. And those communities don't support them because of race.

We have black people, and Latino people living in inner-city, abandoned communities, because people moved away. So you have places like Detroit, were almost abandoned in terms of the people who were moving, and fleeing away from Detroit.

So race completely controls our settlement patterns, as a nation. Education. It used to be that education was the pride of the United States. And it was certainly the pride of many states, like California. I was recently talking to someone who was a leader of a state. And we were talking about poverty. And as he listed the safety net programs, for the poor, he mentioned public schools. It really caught me. I said, "Public schools, that's become a safety net program?" I thought public schools were for everybody. But as they have become associated with people who were poor, and of color. We are abandoning the public school education. That is about race.

And we have taken men, who are important for community, and we've created basically a legacy of absence in communities, by pulling the men out, and putting them in prison, in numbers that are unprecedented. Our incarceration rate in this country is the largest in the entire world. And the disproportionate incarceration of black men, in particular, but a growing number of Latino men, absolutely makes the point that race is a driver, there.

Race has become so embedded, and baked in, that people can walk around feeling that they're not carrying racism in their heart. But so long as they're okay with disproportionate incarceration, communities being left behind, children given no chance, this continues to be a society that is plagued by the legacy of the continuing impact of racism, right into today.

BILL MOYERS: How does race play out in your life?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: I really was a fortunate child.

I grew up in the 1950s, and '60s, in a segregated St. Louis, Missouri. Completely segregated. And I know the racism there was tough. But I didn't experience it, because I was surrounded by caring adults who devoted their lives to keeping us from the sting, and burn of racism.

And my parents were educated, and middle class. And they did everything they could to not just protect us, but to expose us. So that they took us to the museum, and all of those things. But they would sit around the outside, making sure that those of us who were there as children didn't know what people were saying, or what they might do, if they were coming in contact with us.

And having gone to Howard University, where I had a wonderful, supportive, education. By the time I went to law school, at the University of California at Berkeley, I was so fortified, and confident that if people had been treating me badly because of race, it was hard to penetrate my sense of confidence that I had from my own growing up. But yes. I have experienced racism.

But I throw it off. I will tell you, I throw it off. Because I'm on a mission. And it's not a mission to make sure that I get respect. It's a mission to make sure that people who deserve respect get it. And so very often when somebody's mistreating me, I can see that it's because of race. But I'm moving on. I got other things to do, and it's really your problem. And it's your loss.

What I want to highlight, though, is that I could distinguish my experience from what was happening to others. When I talk about this wonderful growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, it may have been a large social group that I was a part of. But it was a drop in the bucket, in terms of black children, in St. Louis. The majority of black children in St. Louis were poor, and didn't have this web of protection. And they were hit with the full force of racism.

Graduated from high school, a class of 200. Only 20 of us went to college. And only a couple of us went to college outside of St. Louis. I know what happened to the rest. I remember a young man who was in my class, who I liked, probably had a little crush on.

But I would have never had him come home, 'cause he couldn't have passed inspection in my family. They were very strict about who I could go out with. I remember thinking that he was one of the smartest, brightest leaders in that entire school. Our first summer after graduating from high school he ended up in prison, where he went for the rest of his life.

So I know that it wasn't just being bright, that allowed me to achieve things. Many things. He was smarter than I was, he understood the world better than I did. But the world conspired to limit his opportunities. And he ended up in jail.

BILL MOYERS: Who was your father? What did he do? And your mother?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: My father was an educator, and my mother was an educator, as well. Most of my growing up, though, my mother stayed at home. They met at a private school in North Carolina. She was teaching English, I think he was teaching math. And they ended up getting married. They came from families, though, that really taught them to expect the best of themselves, and everybody else.

And they both came from families that taught them the power, and importance of struggle. And so I grew up in a family that was educated, that valued education, but also understood that those of us within the black community who were managing to do well, had an obligation to the rest of the community. And being a part of the NAACP, and being an activist in the community, and caring about what was going on, was very important in my household.

BILL MOYERS: Let let me go at this question of education. I read one of your studies. One of them talks about the need for education in the future. And I think you say that by the end of this decade, at least 45 to 46 percent of our jobs in America will depend upon at least some college education. Probably an associate degree. And yet we seem to be running into increasing hostility toward education, today. You may have seen or heard that Mitt Romney put down a student who said he was concerned about being able to afford college. And Mitt Romney said, in effect, "Good luck, but don't count on the government to help you." Let me play you that video.



AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’m a senior in high school right now. I’m going to be going to college next year, and it’s not very cheap. So I was just curious, if elected, what you would do with regards to college tuition, whether making it easier for me and my classmates, or you know, with regards to that.

MITT ROMNEY: I know that it would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to make sure to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that. What I’m going to tell you is shop around, get a good price […] find a great institution of higher learning. Find one that has the right price. Shop around. In America-- this idea of competition, it works. And don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t take on too much debt. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on. Recognize you’re going to have to pay it back. And I want to make sure that every kid in this country that wants to go to college gets the chance to go to college. If you can’t afford it, scholarships are available. Shop around for loans, make sure you got to a place that’s reasonably priced, and if you can, think about serving your country because that’s a way to get all that education for free. Thank you.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: It is shocking to me that someone running for President of the United States, would suggest that there is no obligation on the part of the government to help people get the education that this country needs for people to have in order to be able to help the country to thrive.

You cited the data, 45 percent of jobs in the-- just by 2018, will require at least an associate's degree. Only 27 percent of African Americans have it, only 26 percent of Latinos. We've got a real problem, when those are the people who are going to need to have those jobs. And we're at a place in which we really need to be making sure that we are aligning the affordability of the education that the country needs people to have for the future, with their ability to access it.

I went to law school at Berkeley, and I paid about $1,000, maybe a little less, a year. I think it was about $900. That same education, law school at Berkeley, is over $40,000, now. It would have been impossible for me to access it. We have allowed educational costs to just get out of hand.

We need to figure out a way to make education more affordable. And while we're doing that, we need to help people access education, and we need to really emphasize for young people how important it is that they do well in school, that they get the skills that they need, in order to be able to support their families in ways that are really decent. And furthermore, community colleges need to be lifted up as a real bridge that allows people who are entering, often the first in their family to go to college, to be able to afford it, and get the skills that they need.

BILL MOYERS: But you heard the applause, when Mitt Romney talked about how you don't depend on the government to help you. And Rick Santorum was applauded when he called Obama a snob for promoting college. Because, said Santorum, college are - colleges are “indoctrination mills." Newt Gingrich said that colleges are promoting a “bizarre and destructive vision of reality”. So you've got this antipathy, hostility, toward education as an avenue for which you're asking all of us to help others travel on.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: At this moment we really are two, or three Americas. And one of the Americas is really scared, really frightened, really feeling that everything they thought that they could depend on is disappearing. People who have that fear can go a couple of ways.

They can get involved, and they can think about how to change things, so that the decisions that are being made don't keep taking us down this road of insecurity. Or they can just circle the wagons, decide that anything they don't have, they don't need.

That anything that people are trying to get, that will help them to do better in life is going to be a threat to what they, and they and their children might have. And so part of what's happening is we have a good number of people in this country who are just scared, and they're shutting down. And they're closing off opportunities.

In many ways they are prepared to be a pull-up-the-ladder nation. “I got mine, and I'm pulling up the ladder so you can't get yours, because I think I have to keep you out, so I can stay in”. That group is really going down, in terms of their connection to what the future is really going to be like.

In, and by that I mean they are nostalgic for a time that never was. And avoiding a future that is inevitable. Then you have another America that sees the future. They know that the future depends on education. They know it depends on being able to make sure that those who are being left behind are educated, and brought forward. That understand that they can't get the policies and strategies in place that they need, unless they begin to tell a story that allows other people to see themselves.

And that's what I'm trying to be part of. Trying to help create a narrative that both draws together the people who understand that they need investment to go forward, and allows other people to see how they, too, could benefit from buying into that story.

BILL MOYERS: Well, I think you're getting close to something very important here, because what - the moment I decided I had to have you on the show, it was back in January. And The New York Times ran a story about how upward mobility in America, the old story of starting at the bottom of the ladder, and going to the top of the ladder, is really in trouble.

You then followed that story with a letter to the Editor of The New York Times, in which you wrote, “The Horatio Alger ideal that someone born poor can, through hard work, become rich … [is] for the most part … a pipe dream.” What do you think has gone wrong?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: A lot of things have gone wrong. One of the things is that we really don't have an economy that allows for that kind of upward mobility, anymore. That we went through a period that led us into the Great Recession. That was really fueled by a housing bubble, supported by credit. And de-regulated the financial industry. And so we went through a long period in which we weren't producing anymore.

We weren't creating jobs. We were just creating wealth. And we were creating wealth by laying people off, by exporting jobs, by changing the way that we reported on things. And we weren't investing in the nation, in the workforce, in a way that allowed for a continuous flow of jobs and opportunity. And that's really brought a halt to the upward mobility that had been so completely important.

BILL MOYERS: And the shared prosperity that was at least the ideal when you and I were younger.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: That's right. Shared prosperity just went out the window. The economy stopped working for the majority of people. But it wasn't an accident. It came about through conscious decision-making on the part of people who were wealthy, and could control the decision-making, and the policy making. And they had a wonderful ride. And they're still having it. And too many Americans are being left behind, and for the first time we're a nation in which the children are not expected to do as well as well as their parents. And sadly aren't even expected to live as long, because the impact on health, and wellbeing is pretty sharp, as well.

BILL MOYERS: And the reason I think you're onto something is because many, many particularly working white people, young white men, feel that they-- the rungs disappeared. They're not even on the first rung. They can't get on it. And isn't there some potential for moving beyond race, in discussing the American Dream?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: I think so. I think that's exactly the potential. And that's exactly what I hope people will catch, at this moment. And I hope those people who are white, and struggling, and fearful, will see that there is solidarity to be made with others who are in the same circumstance. They just aren't white. So that people who are white, and being left behind, people who are Latino, black, all of the American people who are being left behind, need to join together, and ask what do we need to do differently, and how can we work together to get that in place?

Because if we don't, the future isn't bright. And part of what we need to do, which is why I keep coming back to race, is that we need to understand that people of color in this country, if we paid attention to what was happening to people of color in this country, we could avoid a lot of what we end up in that's bad, and negative.

BILL MOYERS: How so? How so?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: Well, black and Latino people had double-digit unemployment before the United States of America discovered double-digit unemployment. And black and Latino families were losing their houses in record numbers, long before we ended up in the foreclosure crisis that hit the front pages of the newspaper. If we cared about them, if we felt connected to them as a nation, we would have started asking questions, and trying to fix this early on.

But we didn't have that connection. And so we need to keep race in mind, because we live in a nation in which what happens to people of color is often the canary in the coal mine of the nation.

BILL MOYERS: One of your papers says that by nine-- by 2042 the majority of people in this country will be of color.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: Yes. By 2042 the majority of the population will be of color. And already we're in a situation in California where 73 percent of those under 18 are of color. Already, in California.

BILL MOYERS: How's that playing out?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: It's not playing out very well. And it's a case study in what not to do. That California, just to go back, to after World War II, California was a place that did not look like it was going to have a very bright future. Half of the population was from someplace else. People had drifted into California. A quarter of the population lived below the poverty level. And half of the population did not have a high school diploma.

California looked at this group of white people who were poor, and uneducated, and said, "We're going to invest in this population, and really bring this state up, to really leading the nation." And they did that. By 1960 California had a 25 percent advantage in employment, and education over the rest of the country. Newsweek had 'em on the cover.

“No. 1 State: Booming, Beautiful, California”. That is a case study in equity. Because what California did is it said, "Where do we need for people to go," and then, "How do we back into what they need?" Developing the best educational system, the best work environment. The best health system. Really saying, "We're going to take what we have and build what we need."

Now California as a place where the majority of the children are of color, has stepped back on everything. They're near the bottom, in terms of education. They're near the bottom in terms of high unemployment rates. They really are not doing well at all, because they're not doing what they did after World War II. And part of the reason is because the decision-makers, and the people who have wealth, and influence, don't feel connected to the people who make up the population.

Our racial divide has become a generational divide. That the divide in this country that causes people not to feel connected to the other - the white homeowners, the white politicians, don't feel a connection to the children who are Latino, and African American, and Asian.

That divide, that lack of connection now has a whole generation of young people without a robust public school system. Without a robust public transportation system. Without communities all over the state that are healthy communities, giving people the ability to be able to start a family wherever they might want to.

Our lack of connection, that I call our racial divide, now has a whole generation of young people, including young white people, not finding the investment coming from their government, and from their private sector, that puts them in a position to be able to have the life that they saw their grandparents, and their parents have.

BILL MOYERS: Are you placing your hope in the possibility of redemption for folks who see the other, and see an alien, and a stranger? Or are you placing your hope in the fact that as the country reflects politically, the growing numbers of people of color in this country, people of color will out-vote everyone else?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: I am placing my hope in the self-interest of the people, and the nation, to make the investments that are essential for the country to be strong. I actually believe this one thing, that people say across all party lines. That people do love their country. And I think that if people love their country they have an opportunity to help their country continue to be strong, by investing in the people who are going to be the future. I'm also placing my hope in the political impact of changing the nature of the voting public.

That people who are of color become a majority. They begin to vote more, they become engaged more. They will see their interests. I'm placing my hope in communities of color, and progressive white communities, and people who have the ability to be able to think about the future. And act on the future. Seeing themselves as a huge movement to transform the nation.

BILL MOYERS: You make such a persuasive case, based upon an affirmative reading of human nature, and American democracy. But we both know we're up against the realistic politics that is based on divide and conquer.

Wouldn't you say that politics of discord rules today, and undermines that hope you have for a more affirmative future, and a more affirmative democracy?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: When I was a girl the politics of discord seemed to rule then, too. I remember, as a girl, having no expectation that the barriers that were set up for black people would ever be removed. I remember envisioning my future as one like the one that I grew up in. I thought that I would be forced to create an enclave in a black community that would protect my children from racism.

I remember going to college. I went to Howard University, and one time my friends and I wanted to go ice skating. And one of my friends was so light in complexion, that if you looked at her you couldn't tell that she wasn't white. So we went to the ice skating rink, and we sent her in, to see if we could ice skate.

She said, "No." We went to the movies. We accepted that, as a part of life. And it changed. It changed, because some people said no, and they worked on it for a long time. And a lot of people who were not black, joined them, and worked on it, too.

And the public media, really got involved in showing America its worst self, and showing leaders who were trying to take it someplace else. I am not naïve. But I believe in struggle. I believe in becoming enlightened. I believe in coalition building. And I also believe in the power of logic.

The middle class is in jeopardy. And we know it is. And we need it, for democracy to thrive. When you look at the changing demographics, you look at the vulnerable middle class. It is clear that we need a strategy going forward, that invests in people, so they continue to be that middle class.

We have a context that makes the narrative that I'm putting forward one that some people are going to want to listen to. The more people listen to it, the more people coalesce around it, the more we have policies and strategies that don't exclude, but include. Because white people are being left behind too. And I'm talking about them, when I talk about people who are being left behind.

BILL MOYERS: I urge you to read the new book by one of our greatest journalists about these issues Thomas Edsall, formerly of The Washington Post, now at Columbia School of Journalism. His book, The Age of Austerity, discusses how, reveals, shows how we're going to be squabbling over shrinking resources in this time of rising debts, and polarized politics. How are we going to pay for all that you're talking about, in a time of austerity?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: We are not a poor country, and we need to stop acting like one. We just are not a poor country. We have done this to ourselves. We are nickel-and-diming ourselves. We have money in this country. We're still the wealthiest nation on the face of the earth. We have so many wealthy people.

But our tax system is not tapping our wealth. And so we need to stop acting like there's no wealth to tap. We're a wealthy country. And so your question is not how in a time of necessary austerity do we do what we need to do, but how in a time of stinginess do we develop the public will to use our resources, to tap our resources, to do what must be done. Part of what we have to do is we have to change a narrative about our future.

When you think about what the world needs, in a global economy, it is an asset to be multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural. To be connected to the places around the globe. In any nation, in a world in which the industrialized nations are aging, to have so many young people in your country.

That is an asset. And that asset of global connectedness, and youth, it's coming from the people who are going to be the future. We need to embrace that, and understand that if we invest in it, our future is strong, for all.

BILL MOYERS: But let's be very specific. You are asking people with money to pay more taxes, to help those who don't have money. And that's not, remember when Walter Mondale, in the debates, in 1984, said, "I will raise taxes," he lost overwhelmingly. And you're asking people with money to pay for a future they won't inhabit, and for people now who don't have money.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: Asking them to pay more, yes, in taxes, and they have more. Part of what we've seen as a result of this focus on inequality, is how much more the wealthy do, in fact, have.

So yes, we're asking people that have more to pay more. But they have more, and they can. We're also asking that we have a fairer tax system, that actually taxes people in ways that are proportionate to what it is that they are making. The gifts that they have received. The fortunes that they have been able to build.

Because they have been in this nation. It's been built on the backs, and with the labor, and with the consent of a government, and people who have allowed this economic system to go forward. I don't think that I'm asking anything unreasonable. And if we can get over this sense of disconnectedness, then people will see it as they had seen it in the past. California, back in the time that I described, it was under Republican Governor Earl Warren, and Democratic Governor Pat Brown, that California sacrificed, paid taxes, and built a state that everybody was so proud of. People can do it again.

BILL MOYERS: How does Occupy Wall Street, the whole Occupy movement, fit into all of this?

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: I have been so thankful for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Because it put inequality on the front pages of the newspapers, on the nightly news. And allowed people, in their private homes, to start talking about something that had not been a topic of conversation. So the Occupy Movement has done one job, already.

They brought the issue of inequality front-and-center. The next thing that it has been able to do is to encourage people to be visible. To get organized. PolicyLink had a summit in Detroit.

The people who were there, mostly activists, and leaders in their local communities, were very anxious to figure out how to talk about what we had been talking about all along, in the context of the 99%. Very happy to take the issues that very often are issues that low-income people of color care about, and connect them to a national concern about growing inequality.

So the movement has helped to jump start a conversation, and I hope that those of us who have been working on things all along, will keep fanning this conversation about inequality until we begin to get some policies that do something about it.

BILL MOYERS: How long have you lived in Oakland?


BILL MOYERS: So you know it well. Many people felt that Occupy was moving positively, and going to make great strides, until it ran into Occupy Oakland. I brought a headline with me. "Occupy Oakland's Violent Turn Proves the Movement has Lost Its Way." Tell me what you saw out there, and whether you agree with that headline.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: I was not there. I was in the airport. I looked up, and saw what I thought was fighting in Syria, frankly. That's what I thought I was looking at. And then I saw Oakland. I said, "Oakland? What's happening in my hometown." I was shocked, and dismayed. And embarrassed, and sorry, and thought it was a terrible turn of events.

And I think that the Occupy movement did suffer because of it. Because then it became commonplace to move people out, and to move on them, in ways that were violent. It didn't kill the movement. It has not killed the movement. The movement has taken itself into different realms.

But movements have to figure out how to grow, and how to turn corners, and how to develop new strategies, in turning the movement to the foreclosure crisis, in turning the movement to the banks. In turning it in different places. I think the Occupy movement may take on different forms. It is far from dead.

But it is the collective action of people that can make all the difference, it always has. That is the one piece that we are missing right now.

Occupy Wall Street has opened up that possibility. But we don't have that collective action of people. We have been so separated, those of us who have organizations, and people who are leaders, are so separated. Put in this box, and that box.

Rather than understanding we're on a collective mission. And our moment has come. That the nation is having a conversation about inequality, don't let that door close. Let's bring everything we know into it, prop it open, and bring through the army of people, and ideas, who are ready to make America better, and help America see it's not scary. It's glorious.

BILL MOYERS: I'm reluctant to bring this conversation to a close, but it's been very good to talk to you, Angela Blackwell. Thank you for being with me.


Angela Glover Blackwell on the American Dream

Angela Glover Blackwell has spent her adult life advocating practical ways to fulfill America’s promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. Now, with our middle class struggling, poverty rising, and inequality growing, the founder and chief executive officer of PolicyLink, an influential research center, finds reasons for hope in the face of these hard realities.

On this week’s Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers and Blackwell discuss what fuels her optimism.

“I’m not discouraged, and I wouldn’t even dream of giving up, because we’re at a moment right now where I think we have more possibility than I’ve seen in my adult lifetime,” Blackwell tells Moyers. “Part of what I’ve been feeling is that all the issues are finally on the table… So many people who are being left behind are now in places where they have voice, and influence, and they’re forcing their way into the conversation.”

“America doesn’t want to talk about race,” Blackwell states, but says the future “is a five-year-old Latina girl. It is a seven-year-old black boy. What happens to them will determine what America looks like.”

“And so this country, as a democracy, really cannot expect to continue to be proud on the world stage, competitive in the global economy, or having a democracy it can put forward as working in a multi-racial society if we don’t invest in the people who are the future.”

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  • Marty

    Bill says that race is the most uncomfortable topic for Americans to
    discuss and Angela agrees saying that it’s because society doesn’t  want to change the
    status quo.

    I disagree. I think that if people avoid talking about race it’s because as
    soon as you say something that rubs the other person the wrong way you’re
    labeled a racist. For example: Juan Williams mentioned his nervousness when
    flying with Moslems and was castigated for it; or when Jesse Jackson said
    that when he hears footsteps behind him, turns around and sees a white man he
    feels relief; or when Bill Cosby admonished blacks for not being better parents
    that teach and exemplify a high ethical code.

    And I’m surprised that Angela’s remedy is to tax the rich.
    Money is not the answer. We spend more than any other country and we get
    less for it. A good example is Kansas City’s failed school system highlighted on
    NPR despite a 2 billion dollar infusion.

    Why doesn’t Angela promote the same formula that gave her a boost up
    the ladder? Her parents were involved, expecting the best from her and
    others. They took her to those places that created a passion for learning
    or awakened her natural talents. Shouldn’t her message be the same as her parents and  Bill

  • robort1138

    After listening to this program it sounds as if Ms Blackwell feels other races purposely take their time making efforts to work against her community.
    Would there be two sides to this story (or only one)?
    When I attended public school, the crime rate was lower; teachers wages were lower; we ate breakfast at home; we were responsible for bringing a lunch or purchasing our own food as well as providing our own transportation. I had to walk, so did my friends and no one resented it. I suppose some of us were rather poor, but we weren’t raised to believe it was someone’s fault. My mother purchased a couple changes of clothes for me each semester and paid for them – on good credit – a couple of dollars a week. Property taxes were lower (although we rented) and there was greater respect for other people’s property. Our schools were clean, without graffiti or irresponsible willful damages by students with a chip on their shoulder attitude of entitlement.
    If you pass public schools and see the children exiting – in a great number of areas – you no longer see blond or redheaded children.
    Many white children now attend private schools at considerable unwelcome expense to their parents due to fear for being “unsafe” in public schools or school busses.
    I don’t remember any white gangs when I went to school.
    Local problems sometimes require local solutions.
    As far as finding fewer food markets and the like in black communities, common sense dictates most business people would be happy to thrive and be profitable establishing their businesses just about everywhere. Their concerns wouldn’t be different from your own:
    1) Will I be safe doing business in this neighborhood?
    2) Can I make a profit or will I encounter too much lawless behavior and abuse?
    Watching the evening news suggests Ms. Blackwell would most likely be considerably safer walking home in my neighborhood than I would be walking in hers, that is if she lives in a black community. I’m supposing she may not.
    Race issues are encountered around the world.
    We here have our own lives to lead and do not spend our time working against others to cause their problems. Obviously it’s been a more productive domestic policy blaming outsiders.
    We provide more assistance than ever before to the extent that our cities and states are basically bankrupt. I’ve yet to hear someone say “Thanks.”

  • Tom

    I was extremely disappointed in the portion of the  interview with Ms. Angela Glover Blackwell that I heard while driving this afternoon.  She confuses and distorts thru her race bias what is clearly a economic class problem.  Not only does Ms. Blackwell confuse race with ethnicity she apparently doesn’t know that there are more poor white families in the US than black and Hispanic combined.   By raising the specter of race, she diverts us from this real problem that the poor, regardless of race and ethnicity are grossly under served today.

  • Jbjebjb

    I am surprised by all these comments that are so angry and full of resentment. What I heard from Angela is a desire to give the children of today what those of us who are older (and white) had as children– good public schools and neighborhoods of opportunity. And, then when we grew up, we were able to attend universities at rates that allowed us to go to school and work and make enough to stay in school. These aren’t some radical notions, they are the ideas and ideals that made our country strong and prosperous. Why would we stop now, because our nation is becoming majority people of color? That is short-sighted and doesn’t reflect what our nation has historically done so well- to look at challenges and figure out the investments and ingenuity that would allow us to prosper. The present requires some new strategies, some shifts in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and some new investments to make sure we can make our future bright. Angela lays out the possibilities and the promise. It’s time to embrace that vision, not deny it, push back on it, or run from it. Let’s do this together. That will make the difference.

  • Dan

    Angela Glover said it best: “We are not a poor country.”  If one doesn’t already know this from their own experience of living in the United States, then I advise them to view the episode of the Journal that kicked-off Mr. Moyers’ return. 

    This one statement from Mrs. Glover summarizes why what we face is not only an economic or class problem as some comments here suggest. Economics is only partly described by money. It is more generically described by how the sum of all our knowledge, beliefs and prejudices determine our actions, not limited to the action of distributing our money and to whom.

    Accounting for “Who has how much?” and measuring this distribution is only measuring an effect of how our beliefs and the beliefs of the wealthy have influenced the networks of cash flow. It is undoubtable that race has put limitations on that network and influenced that distribution.

  • david

    The demographics of the country have changed against the will of the American people through the 1965 immigration act and illegal immigration. And who has this change hurt the most? Black Americans.
    We must have an immigration moratorium and trade policies that benefit the American worker.

  • Mike

    Until we all quit blaming the government for our individual failures, the country will not regain its success of its early years.

    Mrs. Blackwell mentioned that she had a high school friend that ended up in jail shortly after graduating.  Was it correct to blame this on racism and his limited opportunities?  I had the impression that Mrs. Blackwell and this high school friend grew up in the same neighborhood.  Then why didn’t she end up in jail for life?  In my opinion, Mrs. Blackwell answered the question a few seconds earlier.  In her words, “I was surrounded by loving parents.”
    The government should strive to minimize handouts, because handouts will ultimately destroy the people that are intended to help.  The government should only focus on removing barriers such as the segregated lunch counters of the sixties or a 36” bathroom stall to a wheelchair bound person.
    Unfortunately, I walked away from this interview as if Mrs. Blackwell was telling all Blacks and Latinos that they should blame the government for their personal failures.

  • Jonathan

    Mrs. Blackwell was constantly grouping people by racial orientation.  This in itself perpetuates racism.  I do not understand why it has to be ‘African American/Latino/White’ and  why this discussion does not hinge itself on poor people in general. 

  • TGH

    That the Zimmerman arrest comes after a MONTH of the Martin family’s unrelenting fight for their son’s murderer to be brought to justice; after national protests; and keeping the glare of the national/international media on the murder, not only underscores the fault in “stand your ground” laws, but the underlying racism that made Zimmerman murder an innocent child who begged for his life. Discussing the law alone does not address the issues that have simmered between African Americans and other groups, including Latinos/Hispanics and the issue of race in our country. No matter how many times we are silenced and called “ranters” when we speak out on this issue, we can no longer be silenced. Do we prefer that other children continue to be murdered because the “adults” refuse to have “adult” conversations? Or, do we have the difficult conversations even though they are uncomfortable?

  • Owliver


  • Paul Schmier

    I want to a small libel art college  In Allentown PA . Muhlemberg College. I enrolled in September 1955. My tuition was about $1000  a year today it is almost $40,000 a year now. My daughter and son-in-law have advanced degrees. My daughter has a dotorate degree in education fron Columbia’s Teachers College.  My son-in law has a masters degree from NYU in computers. There total student loan debt is over $200, 000.  How are they ever going to afford a house. where they now live, Los Angeles CA.

    Mr Moyers if you ever wnt to make a 81 year old man happy please let me spend an hour with this most enjoyable person, Ms Blackwall.

    Paul Schmier

  • Sfeher

    It is refreshing to hear someone have some positive views of possibilities for this country’s future.  Although she says she is not naive, thinking that the rich will willingly pay more for the programs she correctly says are necessary is naive.  One topic she didn’t mention and neither did you, Mr. Moyers, is that we are a nation and economy that is fueled by war.  Without the enormous expenses of war in the recent past the austerities that seem to be acceptable now the national wealth spoken of would be more of a reality for the whole nation rather than for corporate “persons” and other such tycoons.  Why are we not more outraged by the violence that is so much part of what we now stand for?  

  • Bill Moyers

    We’ll be dealing with this subject on the series, rest assured.

  • Bill Moyers

    I’ll make sure she knows she has a secret admirer, Paul.

  • 2 seconds ago

    I used to think of myself as a liberal, but now they seem to be pulling away from me. I believe we could have an economic system for everybody where the gov’t is actually a partner in all businesses and everyone is paid according to their contribution (its absurd for everyone to have the same income because many contribute very little). I believe in civil rights and equal opportunities etc., but is this woman out of her mind to think we should confiscate  from those who produce wealth to give to those who do almost nothing? What’s she want a handout? Its interesting to hear these people phase the tax on the wealthy as ‘making sure those who can pay, do pay’. It smacks of saying “you are making too much, you’re too successful we need to take your income and give it to someone else.”  Lets take Zuckerberg and Simon Cowell. Most of their wealth is because of advertising. In my system there would be no incentive to advertise so that takes away a lot of their income. But, what about B J Rawlings who happened to write the amazingly popular children’s books? Should some of her income be seized and given to getto children?

    And, then Blackwell complains that they have pulled away so many black men from the community and incarcerated them. Does she think they are locked up for nothing or does she think there should be some special forgiveness to black people? In conclusion her thoughts contributed nothing positive!

  • Robert Caveney

    Systems get the results they get.  Whether they are the desired results, that’s another matter.

    Angela Glover Blackwell is suggesting that, to get the results we want, change the processes…the system, so that:

    same people, different processes, better results.

    Or to take another tack, elicit the best contributions from each individual with… changes to the systems in which we live.

  • 2 seconds ago

    You have got to be kidding me!!! I have 2 questions: a) What if George Z didn’t have a gun that night? Wouldn’t he either be in the hospital or dead? b) Since I can’t imagine almost anyone thinking of hurting another person I’m wondering what Trayvon was thinking when he first decided to strike George Z. Was he thinking, I’ll put this guy in the hospital and then I’ll go home to sleep in the comfort of my own bed? Well, I guess it didn’t work out that way for him did it?  Yes, George made many mistakes that night and I’ve had many run ins with security people myself; they crave having authority and try to exercise authority they don’t have.

  • 2 seconds ago

    I’ve lived in a number of cities and remember at least one major supermarket in the older neighborhoods, but now they’re gone. If they could make money there and operate safely you would think they’d still be there. What happened? There is a lot of vacant land in the inner cities in most all cities. I was watching on PBS that some were planting vegetable gardens on vacant land in Detroit of which there is a lot of now. With change left over from using food stamps or whatever one could buy a few packages of seeds and a hoe and shovel etc.

  • b. b. shaw

    Assuming we’re talking about public housing,  if you put it in a neighborhood with grocery stores, the stores will soon close. Because of robberies and shoplifting, running a store in such an area is impossible.  Putting  public housing in an area with good schools and soon when the black percentage reaches a large enough threshold, and terrible schools will exist.   

  • lgfromillinois

    An excellent interview.  I was reminded while she discussed the plight of black and Latino communities of the early 19th century term from Malthus “surplus population”, people marginalized and abandoned as non-productive with no possibilities to improve their situation.  To say as some politicians do today that it is uneconomical to invest in all people, is to commit the sin of the 19th century Europe, to begin an age of wars and revolutions and decline in America.  Ms. Blackwell put it well, we are in era of stinginess.  I see bleak futures for our “surplus population” and for all of us on this political road.

  • Karl Hoff

    Angela Glover Blackwell is truly one of the best speakers you have had. It is hard to find one that speaks using simple everyday words to explain her point. If you want to reach the masses, leave the fancy words at home.  Though their are great freedoms in the US, it is also becoming a country that is putting too much hope in paper work to make the changes that so far are allowing the rich to take advantage of the poor, while using the paper work to show otherwise. I like what two giant’s statements about making progress in making the World a better place. Thomas  Edison when he stated that creating is 2% insperation and 98% perspiration, as I remember it. The other was Booker T Washington, when his students were complaining that they thought that higher education was learning latin and other fancy ways of comuicating rather than laying brick, he asked for them to go up the road and ask the folks that live there if they wanted someone to speak to them in latin or lay brick, as I remember it. I am a premeditated user of tools like a pick and shovel and am more proud of being called the human backhoe than words can describe. So simple to make and use, not the same can be said about a backhoe. If only those that are in charge of making this world so-called better by become rich, would realize that in all cases, they are really just taking advantage of others to control them.
    PS: Was the contract created to protect the merchant or the consumer? I thought is was to at least protect the consumer who has little power. Then what do you call the contracts of today, that charge you a fee if you break it, which in some cases breaks the bank of those that it is supposed to protect. Also, if the merchant can change it at will in anyway they want, is it right to even call it a contract?………may a licience to steal would be better suited.

  • 2 seconds ago

    Wow, what happened to my REPLY to this gross distortion of facts? You would think the liberal thinkers of which I include myself would not censor speech!!! I brought up 2 very important questions which the media apparently doesn’t want to consider.

  • Arcen1

    I love this woman and this refreshing discussion…

  • Maria J. Andrade

    Wonderful show with Angela Glover Blackwell which looks with optimism on what we can become if we invest in the children of America!

  • moderator

    Your original comment should be up now. Sorry, no censorship was intended, simple human error!

  • Surprises

    I wonder if Angela Glover has analyzed why immigrants who come from abroad with little education and little support end up making ends meet and more?  Those who try harder also get further despite hardships.  Asians and Indians (east) and even immigrants from Africa don’t point fingers so much as work harder – ethics that derived from a culture that values (or incentivised) these things.  How are African-Americans incentivised to act based on their culture?  Are Mexican Americans coming to America to become educated or just to find whatever work they can find (statistics point to the latter)? Yes, the system is unfair, but Ms. Glover just sounds like she is complaining.

  • Truthtopower Harris

    We as a nation have a opertunity to address the issue of,” that where you live should never determine any American citizen’s access to Equal oppertunity. Oppertunities, such as adequate public transpotation,such as clean water,air and fresh vegetables, or fruits. Just as important if more; educational oppertunities that builds pathways and enhances the gifts, skills and talents of our youth.

    Thanks to Angela Blackwell, and those who are truthfighters, working arround the nation with OFA truth teams and MOVE ON members “Don’t kill the Dream!” OWS, sets the table for us of fall races creeds and colors, to embrace common values and purposes within our own communities that address current problems.

    I believe that when our religious communities begin to set aside their differences, the healing will serve as a conduit for bringing the kingdom many claim to be activity working on bringing forth…below a must see video …please share..

  • Jmpconnections

    Wow. Sure wish the 1% was paying attention to Angela Blackwell… And the clip of Romney telling the college student concerned about not being able to afford tuition to shop around and not take on too much debt was a shockingly unrealistic response that demonstrated the lack of connection felt by those with money and power, that Angela referred to.

  • hb

    Si Se Puede!

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Urban gardening requires organizing. You must have a secure and safe area to grow things and a way to share knowledge, experience and heavier work and costs. Brown zones can be contaminated so soil testing might be required.

    If no tomatoes or avocados are being  sold in a urban area how can 2seconds assume there’ll be seeds and tools?

    It must be nice to be a self-sufficient know-it-all out in Colorado. How about if I bring the hood to you 2seconds? You did the invite. How about ponying up with some tater and onion sets, starter plants, a tiller rental  and hoes all  around? You’ve put your mouth where your money is…. now try reversing that method.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    So, are you TAKING too much?
    You seem guilty and worried.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Mistake prone people don’t need guns.
    Neighborhoods are safer when “Barney Fife” keeps his one bullet in his shirt pocket.
    Did the gun lead George to profile pedestrians on his own authority?
    Or did some racial identity inadequacy in George lead him to target people of color?
    George Zimmerman apparently lacked the confidence to operate like a normal community watch volunteer. They don’t carry guns and they don’t tail strangers.
    I think the racist and classist “stand your ground law” motivated George to make several more mistakes. George had a record, and George was going to community  college to be a prison  guard. I see a sadistic pattern. If anything good comes from George Zimmerman’s pending conviction it will be the cold water thrown on the mistake prone. 

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You’re lying when you claim color blindness.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    She blames the inaction of government in addressing injustice and unfairness. She blames the economic system for not providing universal and equal opportunity to self-support and strive to thrive. She understands how the greed of a failing economic system has crept  into  government. Many public opinion polls reveal unresponsiveness by both government and business to problems and issues well-understood by the public. The only rational explanation is tat  corruption among the powerful creates an unnatural scarcity of the goods and means all people need. I can see, Mike, you’ve never faced a rough beginning with no help. You have eyes wide shut.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Raise the minimum wage; and cap the maximum wage.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Good definition of economics.
    Better than any textbook.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    MLK  (and Ms. Blackwell) understood how racism reinforces classism and keeps all poor people down. It has been my experience in association with wealthy families that they will exclude poor Caucasians before poor  people of color. To them, the ethnic and pigmented wear the genetic uniform of servitude, but the disadvantaged Whites are an affront to their claims of being deserving and entitled. Racism comes down from the powerful. It is a divide and conquer strategy. Hispanic immigration hatred mobilization is the latest instance. If everyone working received a living wage and reasonable benefits the Oligarchy would lose this cruel tool. Since Tom recognizes classism as the underlying problem what does he see as the remedy?

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Did you react the same when Carne Ross talked about racial discrimination. I find that White people are extra hard on Black women in the political arena. Do you feel the need to “put Angela in her place”?

    THX1138- Did you ever think that your schools lacked graffiti because you couldn’t afford a can of spray paint? Oh well, back to your fuel rods.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Now here’s the perfect example of what Carne Ross said about the Golden Rule being inadequate. 
    Ms. Blackwell is trying to articulate the needs of the disadvantaged and the commentator is frozen in his received mindset and expectations. He whines,”Be like me and you’ll be OK!” But he can’t see that his ilk won’t allow the underclass to be anything but different. And this imposed marginality is claimed to originate in the inadequacy of the oppressed individual. What a crock!  Bill Cosby is an unstable man beset by inner demons. Please quit suggesting people copy him. What  if Marty wakes up tomorrow in Herman Cain’s body? Nah…. couldn’t handle it. (For general information: The Huxstables is a fantasy; No family is like that.)

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Some commentators below might as well have signed a petition advocating Aparteid for all the fearful greed they express and all the empathy they lack.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    And we’re gonna do it…. end wage slavery and debt peonage.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Some favored immigrants are exploiters fleeing their bad rep at home and looking for fresh victims.
    Other succeed by taking shortcuts because they have no solidarity with US citizens.
    I have no problem with those who use the combined power of extended family to get started.
    But human trafficking is very profitable.
    And when you have a pipeline from a poor country it can be tempting.
    It might be harder for richer immigrants if they obeyed the law.
    Maybe part of what we call terrorism is just good business.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Very true what you say about strict contract enforcement against the poor as contrasted with lax consumer protection.

  • Paul1fair

    My wife and I  were both impressed with her passion, knowledge, and persuasiveness. We had not heard of her before and suspect that perhaps the commercial media have been remiss in ignoring someone of such clear vision and obvious commitment to building a stronger society based on equity and community.  Thank you for a job well done.

  • Rebell

    I think the race card needs to be mentioned when it comes to the President.  I have noticed that the news says Obama instead of President Obama or even Mr. Obama. There doesn’t seem to be the respect he and his office should get. 

  • 2 seconds ago

    No, the concept of making sure everyone has the same income won’t be the most efficient way of producing prosperity for all. Its a fallacy; try it you’ll see.  Putting all of one’s faith in free market capitalism as if it is some kind of magical system that will control itself is also a huge fallacy.

  • Karl Hoff

    You are totally correct in what you say. Being an egalitarian for more than 40 yrs. I have had the opportunity to live in this messed up world as one, which is not what many think we are. The dictionary states it as: a social philosophy advocating the removal inequalities. As you stated to pay everyone equally, which is socialism won’t work well. To allow capitalism to rule allows a few to gain all the power and wealth. Egalitarianism,if followed allows equal pay for equal work, meaning you work hard, you get paid well, work little, get little pay. There is a relatively constant amount of currency in the world, so one taking a lot like Rawlings is not necessary. Just sell them for less and leave the pool of money alone because any money removed from it leaves less for others.Egalitarianism is treating everyone equally, not controlling them equally, that’s a dictatorship.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Some moderators understand less about free speech than I do about gardening. Our differences in judgement often originate from a privileged  upbringing such as I never had.
    Can’t you see how sending abjectly poor victims of racism and classism in this society on a fool’s errand contains an element of sadistic pleasure? How widely read are you? If you compare content here to freer discussion at say, Truthdig or even On Point, you’ll find that while much  worse insults than I deal in are traded that the frankness and venting uncovers some salient points and some self-knowledge. You may notice how some of the ardent companions I invited here have faded away, possibly because of schoolmarmism.
    I find this content  less frank than at Moyers Journal. And yet you deny you’re being intimidated and examined by the powerful. You have a plethora of boards always splitting and disappearing  anyway.
    Maybe you  should open one for adults.
    * Over the last several years I was barred from On Point, but that was ineffectual because I can use many addresses and identities. Over time, partly  thanks to my efforts and arguments, they have opened up about what they allow. They’re in stodgy Boston and you’re in New York so get real. If you ever exclude my type of poster the discourse will suffer. 

  • GradyLeeHoward

    On Moyers Journal blog a now deceased man  told me how he had worked as a contractor all around the world teaching engineering and welding. Klark Mouvinon explained how he’d learned that given the same opportunity and tasks that all people, that’s all people of all religions and skin tones, are of about the same diligence and ability. He lost his right foot in Kazakhstan because he gained the courage to stand up for human rights against sadists, which ended his working days. Later he insisted to me that women are as good industrial workers as men. In my subconscious I still harbored some racism and sterotypes Karl helped me recognize and I continue working on overcoming my preconceptions. It doesn’t matter what color or spiritual belief people come from. All people benefit in an egalitarian community of justice and fairness. Now I apply these principles to my profession; acting, theater as truth and reconciliation. Karl was one of the few Moyerista friends I was able to meet in person. Believe me, I use the same words here (maybe more polite) that I would use if we were sitting in a circle on the ground. Thank Karl for that.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Your patient simplicity is instructive to me. Thanks for taking this blog seriously.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You put words in the mouths of others. Look at the problem we have, not the theoretical problem we do not have. There is no danger of too much socialism in the USA today. We have one of the the most violent and radical reactionary regimes on earth running our Empire. Clinton celebrated the end of welfare in 1996, and since then poverty rolls have risen.
    Many people have zero opportunity to earn. Quasi-fascists are plotting to undermine even Social Security and Medicare for the helpless elderly. This is not a purely philosophical debate. Lives hang in the balance. Word games can make the hard-hearted accomplices to mass murder.

  • Karl Hoff

    I appreciate your comment, thank you.

  • Jojomom7

    I like what Angela Glover Blackwell has to say, but I have to comment on her misuse of race vs. ethnicity.
    She continually uses “people of color” and Latino together.
    Latino is an ethnicity–Spanish speaking. Many Hispanic/Latinos are white. They are not people of color. Too many people are confused about this.

  • Cherylk22

    Mitt Romney’s response to the question about affording a college education showed how painfully out of touch he is with the lives and realities of the 99%.  We don’t necessarily have to have leaders who have had the experience of economic struggle, but we absolutely have to have leaders who have some investment in this country and its people. 

    As Angela Glover Blackwell pointed out, the heads of the huge American companies don’t feel connected to the rest of us; they don’t even feel connected to this country.  The evidence of this is in their failure to hire US citizens and make financial and other investments here in the USA.

    It is up to us, Americans of all colors and ethnicities, who care about this country, to turn the situation around–not just by voting for the candidates who care a little more, but by staying involved and engaged all the time, and not just at election time.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Moyers is excellent at showcasing folks and ideas from all walks of life – with one glaring exception; when it comes to politics, 3rd parties need not apply ….

    Too bad,  as they have put stuff “on the table” the Dems/Reps haven’t – stuff that is what many understand is precisely what we need.

    Talking about problems as nauseum gets old after awhile when alternatives are not allowed to see the light of day …..

  • Theresa Riley

    Dear Franciest1:

    I don’t see any posting from you other than this one. But to answer your question, there is no limit to the amount of comments that can be posted to each board. If you want to see more comments, all you have to do is click on “Load More Comments” at the bottom of this page.

    I suspect that your comment didn’t get posted. Please re-post it, and thanks for your interest in our conversation here.

    Best regards,
    Theresa @

  • Anonymous

    What this country really needs is people of vision – from all ranks and races and religions – people who can surmount the past and self-contained egos, to work together towards a broader vision of our place in the universe, a world of global citizens.

  • K Mayo

    She blew my mind with her clarity of vision. For sure Obama should be consulting with this woman. “America can see it’s future; it’s a five-year-old Latina girl.” Awesome.

  • KatWade

    I totally agree…Never heard Clinton or Regan or Bush mentioned without President in front of their names

  • Music Lady

    Great segment with Angela Glover Blackwell!  Up until now, I never hear of Ms. Blackwell.  What a forward thinker, and a brilliant mind!  We can always rely on Bill Moyers to present cutting-edge, thinkers who presently exist.  Bill Moyers is our modern-day philosopher. 

  • GradyLeeHoward

    TR- I suspect Franciest1 lost track of her post by switching from the Full Episode board to the Watch By Segment board. I imagine it is an artifact of Disqus architecture that these are separate. Sometimes the posts and discussions between these twin pages can be markedly different in tone and focus. But you can see why people who don’t know can assume censorship.

  • Theresa Riley

    You’re totally right, Grady. Thank you for pointing that out. Her post is there. We’ve got to figure out a way to make this less confusing. 


  • Theresa Riley

    Hi Franciest1:

    Your comment is actually on the episode page, which is here:

  • JonThomas

     I’ve just stated following this board and enjoy it immensely.

    I didn’t even realize there were 2 threads on the same basic subjects until your link. As you say, better organization would be of great benefit. :)

    Since people who view the “Episode Page” seem to be commenting on the lead story, perhaps after the article there on the episode page, instead of a comment section, links could be posted to these individual segment pieces where comments could be more  focused to each story.



  • JonThomas

     Sorry, I should say I just started following this site and it’s boards.

  • Theresa Riley

    Thanks Jon. We’ll be discussing it here. I agree it’s pretty confusing. This week is particularly so since the entire episode is almost all Ms. Backwell. I hope to figure out some solution that makes better sense in the next few weeks. Thanks for your input!


  • JonThomas

     Sorry again, lol…also…is it possible there could be something like 2 catch all sections that show links to “recent articles” and “recent comments?” Say within the last 24 hrs. for comments, and the last week for new articles posted. :)

  • Pam Orama

    Mr. Moyers  with respect for your dedicated journalism today speaking your heartfelt concerns with Ms. Blackwell to bring the light of truth and justice from your philosophic integrity
    to benefit your audience, I stand up and applaud.  When you both spoke with graditude about the “Occupy” movement I did not hear you both mention the impotance of the May 1st action.
    There is a national strike on May 1st
    The plan is to walk on to our streets letting go of our habitual schedules and join each other in solidarity on public land.

    I recommend listening to economist Professor Richard Wolff speak about the history of the economic crisis and read his books.  For th past year he is aired at NOON-1:00PM in NYC
    on the WBAI Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM  archived on their website. Just “Google” his name to read what he has been stating to inform us about our economic crisis from his historic perspective that is not heard on the network news.

  • Franciest1

    I think the reason we don’t like to talk about race in the white community in the United States is because the discussion opens us to vulnerabilities,i.e.,shame that our training in white supremacy ascribes to us.It is painful to admit that we have absorbed what we learn through Western academic i.e., white, dominance at the expense of a complete education that would teach us how we came to be a culturally and racially diverse society–which likely would enable us to view our diversity sensitively–“in combination” as stated by by Ms. Angela Glover-Blackwell. We are trained to look away from the organized genocide of Native People that set the standard for our white supremacist practice and while we learn that African people were forced into slavery how many of us comprehend, if at all possible, the atrocities of the condition of slavery in the United States? Perhaps, even more importantly, how many of us understand the long term political implications for emancipated slave/freedmen, of Andrew Johnson’s presidency? How do we view the 39th Congress, so wrought with the bitterness and entitled ambition of politicians/people from the seceded states?  They fought vehemently against well-intentioned abolitionists like Thaddeus Stevens–who ever heard of this admirable US hero? And why not?How many of us look for stories about our history in the US from the perspective of those who experienced disadvantage to the advantage of white people?  Is it our white supremacist endoctrination that persuades us to believe that we can rely on white resources/people to learn the truth?Every ethnic group who arrives in the US has it’s own story–we do not learn about those histories in our public education system unless we seek out the information deliberately. And, why would we? We usually aim to get an education that will make us “marketable.”We need to look no further than Tuscon AZ HB 2281 to see what a threat such lessons to the powers that be–the 1%.So, while we do not easily understand the source of racism, and I want to believe that our denial comes largely from our longing not to be racist, we are innundated with white supremacist doctrine.It keeps us separated and so we need to come to terms with it—it requires homework and willingness to face, if painfully, the humiliation our white supremacist endoctrination ascribes to us   

  • Franciest1

    this is a slightly edited version of the same posting I put on the other board

  • Karl Hoff

    I think the reason that we have a difficult time with the friction between the races is that hatred and control of people go hand and hand and sometime it is disguised as racist. I truly believe the most controlled people today are women and especially Arab women. It is behond believe that anyone that would take all their rights away and make them wear clothes covering everything in black in such a hot climate would not see that it is not pure hatred. I believe all the problems we have had, are having and will have is born out of people controlling people because we have always lived in a World where the way to not be controlled is to control. Saying that, I can safely say that our problems we now have with race would still exist if all were of the same race. Thank you for your thought.

  • Anonymous

    I agree; there has been a total disrepect shown to President Obama!

  • Anonymous

    I despise the use of biology to maintain a racialized system of dominance; nevertheless, many Hispanic/Latinos are actually “honorary whites” if you want to be specific, and are generally ‘mixed’ with indigenous populations and descendents of Africans. Many Hispanic/Latinos will choose/live present as   ‘white’  owing to the social capital “whiteness” allows. What people fail to realize is that the Real “Race Card” that’s always pulled is the “White” race card, b/c these are the primary benefactors of a class-based racialized pigmentocracy, regardless of income level.

  • Anonymous

    When I read thoughtful reflective comments such as your’s Franciest1, let’s just say you give this invisible woman, or so society deems, hope.

  • Anonymous

    Many Asians (Korean, Japanese, Chinese) and East-Indians  and Africans come w/ social and human capital- EDUCATION. These people also have ROOTS and were not stolen from their land and thus retained identity via cultural connections. African Americans have been systematically denied opportunities, housing, decent education, justice, and so much more, yet somehow still survive (there is a range of course), while many other blacks thrive, in a white supremacist society who teaches them from the moment that they are born that blackness, black people, and black thought, black contributions are not valued.   If you also notice, I did not list Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Filipinos which people classify as Asian, but studies will tell you that these groups experience great discrimination and thus their high level of poverty rates makes sense.  BTW, when populations are treated unfairly in comparison to all other populations in your nation, you fix it in a civilized society b/c you would be wise to know if it ain’t them, it could be me next.

  • Anonymous

    Glad other people noticed-I thought my hearing was on the decline, ha!

  • Anonymous

    Shall I throw out a few names and speak about the pathology of “whiteness” or the white racial frame that prevents people like you, regardless of ‘race’, to get that we live in a racialized plutocracy ? And if I did that, what would you do? Are you going to gather the family around the kitchen table and discuss ways to fight for the common good? If you hear a family member say something that’s an acceptable level of racism in our racist society, say a joke,are you going to step in and do the right thing? If a black family or several non-white or non-christian families move into your neighborhood, will you move? Do you truly believe that black parents do not want the best for their children too? Can you protect your loved one’s from ALL external elements? Gain perspective and start reflecting. I have family members whose parents were involved, but living while black, especially a black male, is no small feat in this society that prefers to invest more in prison-industrial complex than education.

  • Achievementgap2

    It depends where you are, the field you are in, or one’s
    vision(s). If someone is pleased with a job, blue collar or white collar,  you’ll do well in this country.
     As a Black educator
    of immigrant background, I could say there is a little chance to move ahead
    regardless of how hard you work. I am a single parent who holds two graduate
    degrees and currently a doctoral student and have been out of work for almost
    five years. I started my first master’s when my son was 6 months old while
    teaching full time in a multi -graded setting. 
    After my master’s, I took post graduate classes in Special Education
    while pregnant with my daughter and teaching as well. My daughter graduated from
    high school the same year I completed another masters in theology from a Jesuit
    institution.  I believe most people would agree that going to graduate schools while working  and raising kids would qualify one as a hard worker.

    As some statistics reveal only 2.6% of educational
    administrators are of color. In some states like Massachusetts only 2.6% of public
    school teachers are Black and less than that in private schools.  An April 28-04 USAToday web article points that
    38% of public schools in America don’t have Black teachers.
    Due to a supervisor’s
    subjectivity, I lost my tenured teaching job of 26 years almost five years ago and
    have been not been successful trying to reverse this unfair termination. If you
    are an immigrant in the education or human services fields, working hard doesn’t
    always guarantee promotion or professional success.


    There are many visionaries out there who have not had the
    chance or the support needed to be heard. They have been marginalized from their
    early life or career by those who could have been catalysts for their success. Teachers,
    supervisors, or superiors who could have been those visionaries’ mentors did
    not walk alone with them and support their ideas and visions from the “get go.”

  • ONI

    There is a middle class community in Southern California where many races and socio-economic groups live together peacefully.
    The children go to school together and enjoy each others’ company outside the school yard. It’s an attractive community where homes for the most part are well maintained with a pride of ownership sprinkled with individuality. It’s the kind of community where an architect might paint his home purple with a bright green wall draped with pink bougainvillea blossoms. A neighbor may hang various sculptural creations from her tree, and on it goes. I’ve always thought this community should be studied for its multicultural and multigenerational

  • Marty


    Grady says that Bill Cosby is an “unstable man beset by
    demons” and that people shouldn’t emulate him. Why? Because he recommends the
    same thing as Angela Blackwell: That parents get involved in their children’s
    education, give them strong values and be a good role model?

    Then Grady asks, What if I woke up tomorrow in Herman Cain’s
    body? And Grady assumes he knows my background and experiences and concludes I
    couldn’t handle it.

    None of us know how we would act in another person’s shoes.
    Yet, in order to be decent human beings, we have to try our best to empathize
    with others.

    While Herman Cain fell from grace, in so many ways he
    exemplified exactly what Bill Cosby, Angela Blackwell, Jesse Jackson and other
    prominent blacks and people of all color preach. He said his mom taught him,  “Success is not a function of what you start
    out with materially, but what you start out with spiritually.”

    Cain is the rags to riches story, the American dream. All
    racial and ethic groups have had their challenges at some point in history. At
    the same time that one is fighting for social justice it is also helpful to
    bear in mind what Walter Williams said: When he was young his mom told him that
    ‘there is something out there called prejudice. And that just means you have to
    work harder.’

  • Marty


    Roissy, you’re making a lot of false assumptions about who I
    am and what my background is. I can share my experiences with you but if you
    end up with egg on your face I doubt that you would hear my message more
    clearly. I think that will only build more resentment.

    So I wonder, how can we try to understand each other? I
    echoed Angela Blackwell’s message of strong family values, a high ethical code
    and parental involvement. I’ve mentioned other black leaders who’ve said the
    same thing. And it sounds like you agree that it’s important but life remains

    You tell me that I need to gain perspective and reflect. I
    think my commentary does exactly that. I’m only asking that Angela Blackwell
    preach what she experienced. What is wrong with that?

  • Peachseedmonkey

    I am so grateful for Angela Glover Blackwell; her clarity, her passion, her intelligent common sense is so clearly what we need to move America forward.