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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Are Mormons Christian?; Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Race and Education

Aired June 28, 2007 - 20:00   ET

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


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us.
Tonight: a huge decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. If schools can't decide who goes where based on race, is the era of interrogation and busing over?

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's religion has more people than ever asking: Are Mormons Christian?

And what do you think Paris Hilton could teach you? And how much would you pay?

We're starting with today's Supreme Court ruling, because it's huge. The court rejected using a child's race as the deciding factor in where he or she goes to school. That means no more sending kids out of their own neighborhoods in order to achieve a racial balance at some other public school farther from where they live.

The way some folks are talking, this ruling destroys 50-plus years of school desegregation efforts. But the parents in today's case see it differently. What they care about is whether their kids are learning and not who they are sitting next to.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH STALLWORTH, PLAINTIFF: If you ask me today, do I agree with integration, sure. Why not? But not at the cost of my child's education.

MARTIN (voice-over): Deborah Stallworth's children go to school in Jefferson County, Kentucky, which includes Louisville, a city where, for years, white kids and black kids have been bused from school to school, all in the name of integration.

And, like many American parents, Deborah Stallworth is frustrated that her children cannot go to school in their own neighborhood.

STALLWORTH: I could take him to my library in my community, the grocery stores in my community. We could walk to those places. I didn't have to wait on a yellow bus to come pick him up and then bring him back later on the afternoon, when I was too tired to do anything.

MARTIN: Louisville's integration plan won't let Crystal Meredith's son go to his neighborhood school either.

CRYSTAL MEREDITH, PLAINTIFF: I was told by the school board that my son's education was not as important as their plan. I was told I should sacrifice his learning in order to maintain the status quo.

MARTIN: Answers like that made her and Deborah Stallworth and other parents so mad, they sued.

And, today, in the U.S. Supreme Court, they won. And so did parents in a similar case in Seattle. In a 5-4 decision, the court said race can no longer be a factor in assigning kids to public schools.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is an opinion of enormous practical significance to parents and students today. What it means is, busing to achieve racial integration is over.

MARTIN: The court says there are still some circumstances where race can be a factor in assigning students to schools, but it can't be the key factor.

The ruling has many people tremendously upset.

REP. CAROLYN KILPATRICK (D), MICHIGAN: Fifty-three years ago, in this building, the Supreme Court ruled that this must be a just society, that there should be equal education and access for all Americans. In one swoop, in a 5-4 decision, this court turned that 53-year-old decision and others upside down.

MARTIN: The parents who won today hope that it all means that there will be more money available for the important work going on inside the classroom.

MEREDITH: And I hope JCPS takes the approximate $70 million a year it spends on its busing program and puts it toward better educating every child, no matter their race, economic level, or neighborhood.

MARTIN: So, starting today, school boards across the country may have a lot of work to do redrawing school district boundaries to avoid court cases of their own.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN: One of the people who agrees with today's Supreme Court decision is constitutional attorney Mark Smith. But Spelman College president Beverly Tatum thinks the high court's ruling is a setback.

I want to start with a couple of justices and what they had to say.

First off, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote: "To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown vs. Board of Education."

Dr. Tatum, your thoughts.

BEVERLY TATUM, PRESIDENT, Spelman College: Well, I agree that it does threaten the promise of Brown vs. Board of Education. Our students now are being relegated to segregated education, much as they were in the '50s. It's different today, because it is not legalized. But the reality of residential segregation is that, unless there is a plan to bring kids together across racial lines, they're not going to have the opportunity to learn in diverse environments K through 12.

MARTIN: Now, Mark, here's what Clarence Thomas wrote.

He wrote: "Simply putting students together under the same roof does not necessarily mean that the students will learn together or even interact. Furthermore, it is unclear whether increased interracial contact improve racial attitudes and relations."

That should be music to your ears.

MARK SMITH, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR & CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: Well, of course.

Look, Martin Luther King says, we want a world in which you are judged by the content of your character, not the color of your skin. And what this Supreme Court decision said today is, that's exactly right, that we want a colorblind society, a colorblind Constitution that does not consider race at all.

And that is exactly where we should be. We want a colorblind society. And I'm surprised, frankly, that liberals are out there throwing Martin Luther King's views on to the bus in this case.

MARTIN: But also keep in mind, Mark, in that very same speech, he also talked about America giving African-Americans a check stamped "insufficient funds." So, he talked about that.

And, Dr. Tatum, that's one of the critical issues, in that the whole point of parity, that seems to be a big, big concern, because it's a matter of money. And people are concerned that, if they are not able to go to those other schools, their kids, meaning African- Americans and others, will not be able to get the best resources.

TATUM: Well, that's exactly right. I mean, certainly, the history lets us know that.

The reality is that black and Latino children are much more likely to be concentrated in high-poverty schools. And just the fact of being in a high-poverty school increases the likelihood of low performance, less likely to attend college, less likely to even graduate from high school.

MARTIN: OK, Mark, so you like the ruling. OK. So, what do we do about this parity? What do we do about this gap in terms of resources? And do we just say, hey, you are on your own?

SMITH: Well, that's the question about money and school -- money and school funding, which is, of course, completely different than race. I mean, bear in mind that, for example, Beverly is the head of Spelman College which, is 100 percent women and 95 percent African- American. And, certainly, the absence of, you know, white males in that university doesn't prevent people from learning math, history, science, of course.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: It's about money, not about race.

MARTIN: I understand. But Spelman is a private institution. It is not a public school.

So, Doctor -- so, Doc, so, where do we go from now, because, look, the Supreme Court has ruled, all right?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: So, what needs to be done in order to create diversity without using or mentioning race?

TATUM: I think it's very difficult, but there are some models.

For example, in the Wake County public schools in North Carolina, they have been looking at socioeconomic status and achievement as a way of thinking about creating diversity. They have decided to limit how many -- the percentage of poor students in any particular school, so as to avoid concentrations of poverty.

And they have also tried to limit the percentage of low- performing students, so that you can have a diverse mix, not only economically, but in terms of academic performance. And they have actually seen some positive benefits from that.

But even that model has been challenged. Some people initially said, you are just using socioeconomic status as a proxy for race. And they were challenged on that grounds, though they were successful in defending themselves.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I'm sorry, Doctor.

But, Mark, about 20 seconds before we have to go.

What about that? She even said that they're trying to challenge that. So, if you use zip codes, if you use geography, people still have a problem with that. So, how do you deal with this thing?

SMITH: It's very simple.

You want a world in which people don't consider race when it comes to schools. They focus on other things, whether it be economic status, the ability to place sports, other things, but not race, because we in the United States have a long history of race being a pernicious thing that is being considered. And we don't want a world in which government considers race. We tried that. It was called segregation. Bad idea. We don't want to go back there.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... schools are still segregated.

Mark Smith, Dr. Beverly Tatum, I certainly thank you very, very much.

Folks, it's a safe bet that the Supreme Court ruling will come up at tonight's debate among the Democratic presidential candidates. It's being held at historically black Howard University held in Washington, D.C.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is there already.

Candy, how's it going?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, so good.

We have got another hour or so before the show starts, but we already have a pretty good idea of how this will differ from the previous debates we have seen with the Democrats. This is their third debate. And what we know from the moderator, Tavis Smiley, is that he wants to focus on 10 issues.

And they're all sort of home-and-hearth issues, Roland, things like education -- just as you were talking about, I'm sure the Supreme Court ruling will come up -- police accountability, housing, health care, any number of things like that. So, I think you will see a debate tonight which focuses almost solely on those home-and-hearth ideas.

MARTIN: And, of course, Candy, it's amazing, because we haven't heard many of those issues talked about in the previous debates.

Now, of course, you talk about Tavis Smiley. It's at Howard University. You have Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, former Senator John Edwards. They are trying to speak directly to the black vote. Who has the most to win and the most to lose tonight?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, I think, actually, it doesn't break down too easily between those three.

Certainly John Edwards, who, as you know, has been campaigning on an anti-poverty platform, wants to make a breakthrough here. He believes that he is addressing many of the issues that concern the African-American community. He would like to make a breakthrough here. Obviously, a bad performance by Barack Obama would be somewhat disastrous here, but what we see -- because what we see now is that, among African-American voters, they split almost evenly between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

They obviously know the name Clinton better, but Barack Obama has been making great gains since January in the African-American community. He's been on a roll. Anything that would stop that would not be good, because, as you know, this is a very important voting bloc within the Democratic Party.

MARTIN: Well, I can tell you, Candy, the Obama campaign is very serious about tonight's debate, because a lot of people have been questioning, you know, the whole point about three or four months ago, is he black enough? What's his urban agenda?

And, so, he certainly has not performed well in the last two debates. He's going to have to really come out strong tonight, I think, to really speak to those serious questions being thrown at him.

Candy Crowley, we certainly...

CROWLEY: Yes, I think you're right. I think they're...

MARTIN: Go right ahead.

CROWLEY: Go ahead. Sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Go ahead.

CROWLEY: I was just going to say, I think you're absolutely right. I think that he has to show that there is some bond there with his audience, because those -- that's what you are sort of speaking to there, is, is there that bond? Is there that connection? Does he understand the issues of African-Americans who didn't have the chance to go to Harvard, who haven't had his experiences across the globe?

So, I think he has to show some sort of bond there.

MARTIN: You are absolutely right.

Candy Crowley, a member of the best political team in television, thanks a bunch.

Folks, by the way, CNN and YouTube are also sponsoring some upcoming presidential debates. The Democratic candidates meet on July 23, the Republicans on September 17.

And, yes, you can get involved. Record your question for the candidates on YouTube. We will use the best ones in the debate.

Now, there have been a bunch of debates already, of course. And have you noticed the same words keep coming up?

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM")

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As you take a look at the various presidential candidates out there, who do you like, in terms of dealing with this crisis that you have become so involved with?

BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: None of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Actually, folks that's Bill Cosby with Wolf Blitzer. We will get to that in just one moment.

But, look, it's the same thing over and over. We keep hearing Iraq. We keep hearing immigration. We keep hearing abortion -- Iraq, immigration, abortion. Why aren't the presidential candidates debating things that everyday people care about, things like the mortgage crisis, bankruptcy, poverty, schools, and AIDS?

Let's ask Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky and Dinesh D'Souza, author of "The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11."

Folks, it's amazing that we keep hearing the same thing. Tonight's debate is going to be a little bit different.

Julie, what's -- what is going on here?

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I would actually argue Iraq is something everybody cares about. And, if you're not serving over there, you might know somebody who is, or you might just be concerned about the direction the war is going in, as I am. I don't know anybody who is serving over there, but I am certainly as concerned as I can be. So, that's an issue.

But, look, I agree with you. Everyday issues, like the mortgage crisis, which is a huge crisis -- we have got the market falling out from housing right now -- and other issues, pocketbook issues, is something that people can't really talk about, because, in some ways, I think they perceive it to be a boring issue that's not something that people care about.

Of course they do. You're absolutely right. Just because it's not easy to explain, just because you might have to go into a little 101 microeconomics from college...

(LAUGHTER)

ROGINSKY: ... doesn't mean that this isn't something you have to talk about that. You're 100 percent right on that.

MARTIN: Well, look, yesterday on "WOLF BLITZER," Bill Cosby, he spoke to this particular issue. Let's see what he has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM")

BLITZER: As you take a look at the various presidential candidates out there, who do you like, in terms of dealing with this crisis that you have become so involved with?

COSBY: None of them.

BLITZER: Why? COSBY: Mainly -- well, good -- why? Because they haven't spoken about people who need help.

It isn't just blacks. It's the poor. It's the lower economic people, the lower middle economic. And these people have to speak up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Dinesh, here is a guy who has a ton of money, and even he recognizes that the candidates are not speaking to bread-and-butter issues. What's going on?

DINESH D'SOUZA, AUTHOR, "THE ENEMY AT HOME: THE CULTURAL LEFT AND ITS RESPONSIBILITY FOR 9/11": Well, I think there are two things that are missing in the debate.

One is an enlarged sense of idealism that tells the American people where these candidates want to take the country. I think we got that, for example, a generation ago, with Reagan very clearly enunciating that this is what it means to be an American. So, you need the big picture.

But, then, you also need some practical solutions, both in Iraq, for economic issues, and I think also in dealing with some of the divisive social issues. So, we are not getting either the big picture and we're not getting very practical solutions either.

MARTIN: Look, our crack research team did some work.

And you guys have got to check this out: Iraq mentioned 210 times in the five debates, immigration 81, terrorism 73, abortion 52, the Middle East 33 -- the flip side: schools, 15 times, Social Security, eight times, poverty, five times, AIDS in America, one time, rise in college tuition, zero.

Now, I'm sorry. This offends me, that here are critical issues, and no one is addressing them, not the candidates, but it's not even being brought up by the moderators.

ROGINSKY: Well, I will tell you this. I mean, I actually -- look, I grew up on "The Cosby Show." I love Bill Cosby, but I disagree with him.

You have John Edwards, for example, who has been spending a lot of time talking about the poverty issue and about the fact...

MARTIN: But, Julie, he's in these debates.

ROGINSKY: But, you understand, there's -- these debates right now are meaningless sound-bite debates. There are 10 candidates on one side. There are eight candidates on the other. Everybody is trying to get their, you know, two-second sound bite in there.

But you have got to listen to what people are out there saying on the stump day in and day out. I would argue that John Edwards has made poverty a hallmark of his campaign. I would argue that Barack Obama, his bio, goes out and actually went out and organized among the poor people in Chicago. I would argue that Hillary Clinton spent an awful lot of time providing health care to poor people that couldn't afford it now.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I understand that, Julie.

But, Dinesh, look, you could talk about what they are doing on the stumps. A lot of folks are not watching those. They are seeing the debates. Should they be discussed more in the debates?

D'SOUZA: I think it's not just that the politicians are, in a sense, out of touch. I think part of the problem is that some of these issues require saying some hard truths to the American people. And the politicians, Republican and Democrat, don't want to do that.

For example, when the Social Security program was started, you had a lost people working to support a relatively small number of people who were old and retiring. That's not a big problem. That can be done.

Today, what we have is an aging population. You're going to -- you have more retirees, a smaller generation of young people. So, something has got to give. Either people have to pay a lot higher taxes or older people are going to have to expect a lot fewer benefits. Nobody wants to tell the American people that.

MARTIN: Look, Julie, with all due respect, I understand that. But, when you have got two million people about to lose their home because of subprime prices...

ROGINSKY: I don't disagree.

MARTIN: ... when you have rising college tuition, it is critical. And we have to hold them accountable. So, we have to do that.

ROGINSKY: Hey, Dinesh and I agree we need Lincoln-Douglas debate.

MARTIN: All right.

ROGINSKY: I wish CNN would cover them. But I don't think anybody is going to spend five hours in a debate. And, sadly, that is why you get these sound bites.

MARTIN: I understand.

Julie Roginsky, Dinesh D'Souza, thank you very much.

I want to move on to another topic in the presidential race. Republican candidate Mitt Romney is getting steamed up about attacks on his religion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any derogatory comments about anyone's faith, those comments are troubling. And the fact that they keep on coming up is even more troubling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Attacks aside, a lot of people have an honest question about Romney's faith: Are Mormons Christian? We will look at that next.

Later: A Chicago priest who is putting up controversial billboards, will he shame rappers into cleaning up their acts?

And what can Paris Hilton teach you? And would you pay to listen to her?

Don't just shout at the TV. Log on to CNN.com/Paula and tell us. Tonight's "Quick Vote" question is: Would you pay money to attend professor Paris Hilton's class?

We will give you the answers in a little bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: Polls this week in Iowa have Mitt Romney on top of the other Republican presidential candidates -- no sign there that his Mormon faith is getting in the way of his popularity. But some opponents are attacking his religion, claiming Mormons aren't Christians.

One example, a staffer for candidate Sam Brownback sent an e-mail suggesting the Jesus Mormons believe in -- what they believe in is different from the Jesus of traditional Christianity. Mormons deny that, of course. But what do they really believe? They believe the Bible is sacred.

But they also believe that founder Joseph Smith was visited by God and Jesus in America in 1820 and that God was once a man married to the heavenly mother.

So, are Mormons true Christians?

Let's try to settle that once and for all right now with Jeff Benedict, author of "The Mormon Way of Doing Business," and the Reverend W. Franklyn Richardson, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York, and a former top official with the National Baptist Convention USA.

And, Reverend Richardson, I want to start with something Mitt Romney said in the New Hampshire presidential debate.

REV. W. FRANKLYN RICHARDSON, SENIOR PASTOR, MOUNT VERNON GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in God, believe in the Bible, believe Jesus Christ is my savior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Now, my wife is an ordained minister. And, with Christians, if your profess that Jesus Christ is lord, that makes you a Christian.

Your response to Mitt Romney?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think that that's not the full story.

There are four fundamental ways in which Mormons differ from traditional Christianity. And I think that's the whole discussion. One is the nature of God, two, the nature of salvation, the supremacy of the Bible. While they believe in the Bible, they also have three other documents that they put in the same canonical posture as the Bible.

So, they believe in the Bible. But there are four other books. And they believe in the Bible, as long as it does not disagree with those other books.

MARTIN: So, you don't buy that Mormons are Christians?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think they're a sect of Christianity. They have evolved out of Christianity, just as -- just as Christians evolved out of Jews.

MARTIN: Jeff?

JEFF BENEDICT, AUTHOR, "THE MORMON WAY OF DOING BUSINESS": Well, you know, here's the thing. Mormons do believe in a book called the Book of Mormon. And I think that's where there's the starting point is. Are they Christians?

The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. It's a second book. It's not like the book of Joseph Smith. It's a book all about Jesus Christ. They profess to believe in him.

But, I think, here's the bottom line is, how do you judge a Christian? Not necessarily on what they say, but on what they do? And, if you look at what Mormons do and how they live, they live lives that are consistent with Christianity that's patterned after Jesus Christ. They try to live the things that he taught in the Bible. And that's what the church is founded on.

MARTIN: Jeff, you're not going to -- that sounds great. But, when you go to Georgia, and Tennessee, and Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, you go to those states, trust me, evangelicals there, they don't want to hear that. They want you to say: Jesus Christ is my lord and savior. I'm a Christian.

BENEDICT: Well, I think that the entry point for Christianity is, do you accept Jesus Christ as your savior? Is he your lord? And do you rely on him for redemption? And I think anybody who says yes to those things, and has the name Jesus Christ in the name of their church, to me, it's hard to even argue that they are not Christians.

RICHARDSON: I think that that's a real difficult position.

I think you have to -- it's bigger than that. With -- with -- you know, my Jesus, your Jesus -- the Ku Klux Klan believed in Jesus. There are Southern Baptists who excluded African-Americans from the rights of America who believe in Jesus.

Jesus is a corrupted idea and manipulated to be whoever he wants -- what I want him to be.

MARTIN: So, is it unfair for people to keep questioning Mitt Romney about this? Should they simply accept the fact that he is Mormon, he says he believes in Jesus, move on?

RICHARDSON: I think he has a right to be a Christian, a Mormon. He has the right to run for president. I think that ought not be an acid test.

But we know, in the practicalities of American politics, that, in certain parts of the country, the acid test is, do you love Jesus, and do you love my Jesus, not do you love a Jesus that's been adopted for circumstance, but do you love my Jesus? And the Jesus of the Mormon Church is not the Jesus of the traditional -- the traditions of the world church community.

MARTIN: And, Jeff, of course, a lot of people watch HBO's "Big Love."

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: And they may get their view of being a Mormon from that particular show.

Even though this is controversial in some ways, is it at least good that we are having a conversation about different faiths?

BENEDICT: I don't think it's a bad thing at all.

And, listen, I think, the more you look into what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is about, I think this debate about whose Jesus it is, listen, I mean, at the end of the day, we're looking at, do you look at the Jesus that's in the Bible, and do you try to practice those things, love your neighbor like yourself, treat people fairly? Are you honest in your business dealings? Do you look out for your wife and kids?

Those are the things that Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount. And do Mormons do those things? Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

RICHARDSON: People can do that -- People can do that and not believe in Jesus. I mean, that's not -- Jesus is not essential for people to do good things. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about, what is the heart of the Christian faith, the Christian -- Christian traditions?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Well, again, I think it's going to keep it up. But, hopefully, we have tried to answer the best that we can.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Jeff Benedict, Reverend Franklyn Richardson, I certainly appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

And, folks, I want you to meet a priest who is taking his message about rap music out of the pulpit and putting it on billboards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one to have a conversation, and it's two to say that we ought to draw a line to say the disrespecting of women is not acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: His signs name some of the biggest rappers around. And, in a little bit, I will ask one of them if he plans to clean up his act.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: About half-a-million American children live in foster home.

And the man you're about to meet is devoting his life to helping as many of them as he can. He's using the skills he learned in the corporate world to help the children who are the most in need.

Ali Velshi has tonight's "Life After Work."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melvin Washington spent much of his life with a foot in two different worlds. For over three decades, one foot was in the corporate world, working in engineering and financial roles at AT&T and Citibank. The other foot was in the nonprofit world, volunteering in his off hours for the Red Cross and others.

But, in 2003, Washington made a choice to step completely into his second world.

MELVIN WASHINGTON, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, HALE HOUSE CENTER: Having the opportunity to be fully engaged and help an organization to grow is the thing that really motivated me to make the transition.

VELSHI: So, taking the management skills he learned in corporate America, Washington put them to work helping places like the Hale House, a nonprofit in Harlem. WASHINGTON: We're providing educational opportunities and care for babies, infants up through 3 to 5 years of age, and then a transition living facility whereby we are providing the next step for mothers and kids who are transitioning from streets to permanent housing.

When I first walked into the resident center and saw those little kids, I was hooked on Hale House. I think the kids are really our future, and anything that I can do to help kids thrive and grow and succeed is what I wanted to dedicate my time toward. The mission was something that is clearly in my DNA.

VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN: A great story there.

Some controversial billboards have gone up around Chicago. They're trashing rappers who disrespect women. And get this. They were put up by a no-nonsense priest. Are they making a difference?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: Tonight in Chicago, 20 billboards are up attacking rappers for degrading and sexist language. The anti-rap ads are the result of one man's work, a Chicago priest who decided to take action after Don Imus got fired. He realized that Imus' insulting words against the Rutgers University women basketball team are the same words rappers use everyday. You're going to hear some of our lyrics in the next report, so I want you to be ready for it. That's called a warning. Keith Oppenheim has the story now, from the Windy City.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hit the streets of Chicago's south side, then look up. In 20 places around the neighborhood you'll see this, a billboard. It says, "stop listening to trash." And on an image of a garbage can, it lists these rap artists: Fat Joe, Lil Wayne, Nelly, 50 Cent & G-Unit, Twista, Snoop Dogg, and Ludacris. The campaign was launched by Father Michael Pfleger, a south side Catholic priest known for his activism against violence.

(on camera): So, what we see, Father, is your attempt have a conversation about lyrics and rap music?

FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER, CATHOLIC PRIEST: It's two. One, have a conversation and it's two to say that we ought to draw a line to say disrespecting of women is not acceptable.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): To make it clear what Father Pfleger is talking about, we're going to use and show some language we normally leave out, in particular the word "bitch" and "ho," common in the world of hip-hop. This is Lil Wayne: "Make it rain on them 'ho's..."

This is Ludacris: "Get out the way bitch..."

This is (INAUDIBLE): "Bitch get in my car."

Father Pfleger says when words like that become acceptable, it encourages a mentality that women are mere objects.

PFLEGER: You open the next level for domestic violence or for abuse, both become the natural next level. If I have no respect for you, then what I do to you is immaterial to me.

OPPENHEIM: On the steps of the Father Pfleger's church, I talked to some young people between the ages of 11 and 15 about the effect of rap lyrics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just begin to say the words and then before you know it, you calling somebody out they names.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): What is the name that you hear that's used here that's for women in most rap songs and you hear from the guys we talked about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bitches and hos.

(LAUGHTER)

OPPENHEIM: Is that funny?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because that's what they call them. They think it's cute, they make songs about women. That's not right and women shouldn't be criticized the way they are.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): But not everyone agrees the vocabulary of rap has such a bad influence. This is the music of a Chicago-based hip-hop group called "Qualo." They tell me, Father Pfleger is unfairly targeting rappers.

PREAST, MEMBER OF RAP GROUP "QUALO": For the Father to say -- to say that the language they use is having such a terrible effect of the community is an admittance of inadequacy on the part of parents to parent their own children because if our words have more influence over your kids than yours do, then that's your problem, not ours.

OPPENHEIM: Still, "Qualo" members agreed the controversial words are used too much in rap. They suspect the billboards will have exactly the opposite of their intended effect and will encourage kids to listen to artists on the trash can, more.

Father Pfleger says, it's time to take a stand.

PFLEGER: Somebody has to say it's not right. Now, we can argue it, we can discuss it, but I want to be very clear to say it's not right to degrade women. And we ought to be a society that says not acceptable. OPPENHEIM: This priest says he's not condemning a whole genre of music. He just feels it's his job to advertise against what he says are words that hurt.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN: Father Pfleger says he raised $4,000 in donations for the billboards and they'll stay up for two more months.

So, is the message on these billboards getting through? Stay with us, my next guest, rapper Shala Esquire says he's offended by the billboards.

And later, the guy who's actually offered Paris Hilton a teaching job? What in the world is he thinking? We also want to know what you think, so log on to cnn.com/paula and answer tonight's Quick Vote question: Would you pay money to attend "Professor" Paris Hilton's class?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: America, we're talking about rappers who degrade women. We just told about a Chicago priest who's taken out a billboards attacking rappers for their sexist lyrics. Joining me now, is a rapper who says those ads have it all wrong. Shala Esquire is with the Chicago-based group, "Qualo."

Now Shala, I got to ask you something, because I'm trying to understand this. And I'm going to put up on the screen one of the lines from one of your songs. It says, "...I left the ho in bed sucking her thumb." Now, why would you speak about a woman in that way?

SHALA ESQUIRE, "QUALO": OK, first of all, I did not say that I was offended by the billboard.

MARTIN: OK.

ESQUIRE: That's an immediate slant. All right, now repeat that line, because there's four of us, "Qualo" is four, so...

MARTIN: OK, "...I left the ho in bed sucking her thumb."

ESQUIRE: Oh, OK, yeah, because that's what she was and that's what I did. So, it's not referring to women as hos, it's referring to that person.

MARTIN: But here's what I'm trying to figure out, though. If you were walking down the street and someone called your mother that or called your sister that or let's say called your daughter that, would your response be, hey, he's just making a statement, it's really no big deal. Would you be offended?

ESQUIRE: Yeah, because none of them are hos. But, if somebody called a ho a ho, then it'd be what it is.

MARTIN: But, but Shala, come on now. Come on now, you know that is sexist.

ESQUIRE: Let's go. Let's go, baby.

MARTIN: Come on, but you know it's sexist. And why would you refer to women that way? Why? What's the value of it?

ESQUIRE: OK, you're saying we refer to women that way. What I'm saying is I refer to hos as hos, bitches as bitches, women as women, queens and queens, racist as racist, black men as black men, niggas as niggas. People are -- you refer to people as they represent themselves and that is America and that is the world and that's what people do.

MARTIN: So, if somebody said...

ESQUIRE: So, you're kind of putting words in my mouth.

MARTIN: No, actually I'm not. So, somebody decided to call you any one of those words, based upon how you're talking tonight, you would say, well, that's just how they feel about me?

Shala, I want to play something for you. Diana Ross, a legend in the music business. All right?

ESQUIRE: OK.

MARTIN: We all listen to her music, right now. I want to play what she said at the BET awards just on Monday night regarding this very issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANA ROSS, SINGER: I want to say this. That we do not -- we do not have to say the "F" word, we do not have to bump and grind, we do not have to some of these things to have longevity in our career.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Now, here's a legend in the music industry, somebody who, again, we listened to her stuff. It's considered classic music. You're putting out music that being distributed all across the world and people are making determinations based upon that. How can you just sit here and say it's really no big deal that's just -- I'm not really referring to all women? It is sexist, it is wrong.

ESQUIRE: I'm not saying it's no big deal. And I'm not saying -- all I'm saying is rappers are...

MARTIN: But why do you justify it? Why do you justify it?

ESQUIRE: First of all, Diana Ross would not have made that statement if the problem did not exist. So, she's telling women -- whether she's telling women who degrade themselves that they don't have to, so that proves our point, proves rap's point, we are only telling you what is so. That's it.

We should talk about -- let's stop like trying to attack rappers. Let's talk about America, let's talk about the culture of America and let's talk about what creates it. Let's talk about the violence that we all enjoy, you know?

MARTIN: Hey Shala...

ESQUIRE: Let's talk about some real...

MARTIN: Hey Shala, we do talk about those issues. But, the reality is there are people who listen to this music and they are offended. And look, Sexism did not begin with hip-hop, we all know that, but you are advancing it. You are no different than the porno magazines and it is offensive and it is wrong and frankly, you should be more respectful when it comes to women. Now come one, you can't buy it.

ESQUIRE: (INAUDIBLE) you snapper. OK.

MARTIN: You can't buy it? You just can't. Just toss it out there.

ESQUIRE: OK look, on one side -- OK, the song you're referring to is "Pockets" and we're saying watch your pockets, to watch these kind of women. If you listen to the whole song, No. 1. No. 2, we have a song called "Cocoa" that celebrates the beauty of women of color. This is "Qualo" you talking. You not talking to some ignorant rap group.

MARTIN: And Shala, I underhand that, but that's a dysfunction with music. On one song you say let me celebrate them, on another song, let me degrade them. What I'm saying is why don't you celebrate them completely and not degrade them? That's all I'm saying. I appreciate you joining us, man.

ESQUIRE: Dude, do listen -- do you ever listen to hip-hop? (INAUDIBLE) Do you listen to hip-hop?

MARTIN: Shala, I'm 38-years-old. I listened to hip-hop all my life and what I'm saying is I know offensive when I hear offensive. But I certainly appreciate you joining us, explaining your side. Thanks a bunch.

Hey folks, next, what everybody's been talking about endlessly this week. Paris Hilton, out of jail and now getting a million dollar offer. Can you believe this -- to teach? I'll ask the man who made the offer to her just what in the world he's thinking. And there's still time to respond to our Quick Vote poll: Would you pay money to attend "Professor" Paris' class? Go to the cnn.com/paula to vote. The result, later in the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MARTIN: Now, after we've all heard Paris Hilton talk to Larry king for a whole hour. I'm wonder why anyone would spend up to 500 bucks to hear her say anything else. But the Learning Annex is offering her a million dollars to teach a class on how to build your brand. And we asked our views: Would you pay money to attend a "professor" Paris Hilton's class? Only eight percent said yes. But, 92 percent said no. Learning Annex founder and president William Zanker says 100,000 people would come for a weekend seminar with Paris and he joins me now.

William, first off, you've put the offer out there. Has Paris accepted your million dollar offer?

WILLIAM ZANKER, LEARNING ANNEX: Not yet. We're very hopeful she will, but not yet.

MARTIN: Now look, I have to ask you, look at the line up of your past guests. I'm going to read them off: Donald trump, Larry King, Henry Kissinger, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and P Diddy. How in the world does Paris fit with this list?

ZANKER: Well, first of all, it's an entire weekend that people get to hear lots of business people, people like Donald Trump, George Foreman, Tony Robbins -- that's a whole weekend. And, you know, business is all about branding. And what's the most recognized brand out there? It's got to be Paris Hilton.

MARTIN: But what exactly has she done? Has she -- I mean, she takes pictures and she goes to parties. I mean, and look, she made it big with a sex tape. What is she going to talk about? How to videotape your own?

ZANKER: No look. But look at it. Come on, she's one of the great brands out there. I wouldn't be on your show tonight if it wasn't that she's great.

MARTIN: Actually, I think your on probably because it's an outrageous offer and we're trying to figure it all out. But go ahead and finish your talking about her brand.

ZANKER: It's all -- listen, the world is about branding. It's all about it. You go down Fifth Avenue, you put on a pair of jeans, you go in the supermarket, it's all about branding. We want to teach our students about branding. Most of the students that come to Leaning Annex expos, there're business people or they're starting their own business, they need to know about branding. Here's the greatest, greatest, greatest person in the world teaching them about branding, along with Donald Trump, Tony Robbins. What a weekend.

You know, Donald Trump, we pay a million and a half dollars to Donald Trump.

MARTIN: Right.

ZANKER: And you know, he gets 50, 60, he's got us 75,000 people.

MARTIN: But, he's buildings and thing along those lines. Well, William, I have to ask you this, OK?

ZANKER: That's why we pay him a million and a half dollars.

MARTIN: Now look, I saw Paris on Larry King. All right?

ZANKER: OK?

MARTIN: Larry's good, because I don't know how he got a whole hour out of Paris Hilton. What in the world is she going to actually say for an entire hour? That's 100 grand every, what, 10 minutes, something? Come on, now.

ZANKER: Listen, you know, she -- I think she was really -- she was really nervous on Larry King. But, I -- Look, she's a great brand. It's just a brilliant businesswoman. You know, she has watches, she does pocketbooks. She's created in unbelievable worldwide brand.

MARTIN: Well Bill, I got to ask you this question. And here's really, a fundamental issue for me. You are making this offer now, frankly, after she got out of jail. Are you rewarding her for her bad behavior? You didn't make the offer before she went to jail.

ZANKER: No look, I saw -- she was on the -- it was not the cover of the "New York Post," NBC was -- took away her offer of $1 million and I said, gee, I could pay her that. My students at the Learning Annex would love to learn from her. And you know, I think it has nothing to do with going to jail or not.

You know, we made a million dollar offer. We hope she'll give it to charity. I think there's a new Paris Hilton.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: All right William.

ZANKER: And she gives it to charity, she helps my students and the new Paris Hilton can show everybody what a brilliant business woman she is.

MARTIN: Hey Bill, I have to go, but I can tell you're a great salesperson. I certainly appreciate it. Bill Zanker with the Learning Annex.

Folks, let's take a "Biz Break."

A mixed day on Wall Street, the Dow lost five, the Nasdaq gained three, and the S&P lost barely a point.

A new Chinese food scare tonight. The FDA is blocking imports of five kinds of farm-raised Chinese seafood including shrimp. The problem, this time, is chemical contamination. Some of the additives cause cancer.

The federal reserve is holding interest rates steady, as one economist put it, the feds are still on inflation watch, so don't expect rates to go down this year. Lots more ahead tonight, including a courageous young woman, she's fighting save other from the misery that was forced on her when she was just a teenager.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: We told you earlier that presidential candidates are pretty much ignoring critical issues. If it's not Iraq, immigration or abortion, it pretty much gets tossed aside. How about this? Let's stop whining and complaining. Doing nothing does nothing. Calling into radio talk shows and venting is fin, but you must go behind that.

It's time for you to get involved. The time for talk is over, folks. The time for action is now. So do this, pick up the phone, send an e-mail, blast a fax, start your own blog. Enough with letting those with money drive this presidential campaign. Let's force the Democrats and the Republicans to address our concerns.

America, we're not looking for a new car or choosing where for our child goes to college. This is a presidency, the commander-in- chief, the most powerful person in the world. It's time the candidates speak to us, but we must also speak to them. So, what are you prepared to do?

And next, someone who is doing something. A young woman who was forced into prostitution, who's now trying to save others before it's too late.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: Before the break I asked if you were prepared to take action on critical issues that matter to you. Now, you're going to meet someone who doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She was forced into prostitution as a teenager, but now she's dedicated her life to saving other victims. That makes her tonight's "CNN Hero."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, let's go again.

TINA FRUNDT, POLARIS PROJECT: Men, women and children are being sold each day for somebody else's profit. I think when we hear about trafficking, we automatically think about what goes on overseas. However, our children, in the U.S., are being forced out every day at 9, 10, 11 and 12-years-old.

"KITTY," AGE 17: Pips beat you, they make you go out there, make you stay out all night. They really don't care. You could be 9-years- old and you could work for them.

"ANGELA," AGE 21: People are raped and beaten into submission to do it. You could be killed and, you know, it wouldn't really make a difference to other people, because others would think of you as a prostitute.

My name is Tina Frundt, I'm a survivor of child trafficking within the United States at the age of 14.

In my situation, I was a child and a grown adult who was in his 20s started paying attention to me, telling me how beautiful I was, picking me up from middle school. I found out that he was actually a pimp by going with him to another state.

Some of the things I went through was the manipulation, the violence and the abuse. I went through it, so that's why I think I'm so dedicated to helping others.

And I am the director for the outreach for Polaris Project and I fight to end human trafficking.

I don't want what happened to me to happening to somebody else.

What we do is offer services to women and children how want to get out.

Basically, our outreach program started 2-1/2 years ago. We go out to the street and hand out information. We actually go into the courtroom and do outreach. We take clients of all ages. Our youngest client has been nine, the oldest, so far, has been 40.

We, give the number. You can call anytime. Even if it's just to talk, our lines are open 24-hours a day.

(APPLAUSE)

I think in this job you have to love what you do and have a passion for it, because it's not a job to me, it's my life and I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN: If you'd like to know more about Tina and The Polaris Project, on our Website, you'll find all of the information you need at cnn.com/heroes.

Well folks, that's all for tonight. Go to my Website, rolandsmartin.com and check me out on wbon.com for my radio show. We always have a little fun 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. Eastern. All right. Great night, LARRY KING LIVE, Colin Powell, starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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