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Obama Delivers Speech in Germany; McCain Mocks Obama; Crimes of Polygamy; Black in America - The Black Man

Aired July 24, 2008 - 2300   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be continuing the conversation on "Black in America" in the hour ahead.
Soledad O'Brien joins me along with D.L. Hughley and others.

But first, we'll look at the news. A monumental day in presidential politics and the question, "Do monumental photo opportunities add up to campaign success.

Tonight, the "Raw Politics" of Barack Obama on tour, the presumptive nominee walking in the footsteps of past presidents in Berlin, under fire tonight for being a presumptuous nominee who is putting the victory lap ahead of the victory.

That's what the McCain camp is saying. He's at home trying to focus on economic issues but is he also a man in search for a message?

Our "Strategy Session" tonight with players from both sides of the race just ahead.

Later, is Warren Jeff's polygamist FLDS church also practicing a kind of organized crime? Congress wants to know now; striking testimony today, "Crime and Punishment" tonight.

We begin though, with the kind of speech not seen in Berlin since Ronald Reagan called on Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down that wall. That's how long it's been since an American speaker has so electrified a European city.

Barack Obama did it today to crowds larger than Reagan's; larger even than John F. Kennedy's when he has famously said "this benign Berliner." The controversy tonight, Senator Obama is -- well, Senator Obama, not President Obama. We'll talk about it shortly.

First though, CNN's Candy Crowley with the setting, the speech, and the "Raw Politics."


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: In the heart of Berlin where communism cracked and a wall crumbled, Barack Obama went global with his presidential campaign, calling for renewed U.S.- European cooperation to confront mutual problems.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it.

If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman, in London and Bali and Washington and New York.

CROWLEY: It was an event designed to evoke distant images of John F. Kennedy's "this benign Berliner" speech. Greeted by a massive flag waving crowd, Obama strode solo onto stage to both court Europe and to challenge it to step up in Afghanistan.

OBAMA: But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan and for our shared security, the work must be done. America can't do this alone.

The Afghan people need our troops and your troops, our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

CROWLEY: To help out in Iraq.

OBAMA: Despite -- despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

CROWLEY: Despite repeated denials by his staff that this trip is not political, the event was staged like a political rally, paid for by the campaign and thematically in its call for a new way to move forward.

OBAMA: People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time.

CROWLEY: This speech could just as easily have been delivered in St. Paul.

OBAMA: America, this is our moment.

CROWLEY: Obama told the Berlin crowd he spoke to them not as a candidate but as a fellow citizen of the world. But if voters back home saw a president, well, that was the point.


COOPER: Joining us now, Candy Crowley along with chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, in terms of the crowd reaction, it was a little hard to tell because of the way the audio was played over here. How did the crowd react?

CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were some 200,000 people here, according to the German police now, which is a huge outpouring which means that they really were eager to hear him.

They've reacted receptively. They reacted politely. There were huge cheers when he first walked onto the stage and waved. And then, at certain points throughout the speech, there were cheers. Was it wild? Was it euphoric? No. But was it very receptive and eager? Yes.

COOPER: Candy, in terms of the domestic political consumption back here at home, I mean this message was essentially targeted toward the United States, trying to make Barack Obama, I guess, look presidential. How did he do? I mean does his campaign feel it was a success?

CROWLEY: They do. And it isn't just about looking presidential. It's also about a key issue that's been out there on the campaign trail back in the U.S. and that is the reputation of the U.S. overseas on the Democratic campaign trail during the primaries, it was a huge issue. It always drew a round applause no matter who is talking about it. Barack Obama used to say we have to restore our moral leadership in the world.

So this was designed to first, of course, make him look presidential. He's been meeting with all these heads of state; met with the Chancellor of Germany here today. But also a way to say listen, look at these people who have come out to hear me talk about a U.S.- European era of cooperation on terrorism, on global warming, on international trade.

So the message was not only do I hear that you want to bring the world together, but I'm the guy to do it. Here are the pictures to prove it.

COOPER: It was interesting, Christiane, I think hear him say that America has made its own share of mistakes. I'm not sure domestically how some will receive that message. Internationally, how do you think it's received?

AMANPOUR: Well, it again, drew an appreciative applause. Basically he is talking about several things, obviously the Iraq war, which is deeply unpopular around the word. Although he did say that look, no matter our differences on that we've got to work to make sure Iraq is a success and of course, he refrained his thing, which is let's stop the war now, and that got a big applause.

But he also obviously talked about things like human rights and he talked, we have to reject torture. We have to stand up for the rule of law. Not just around the world, but in our own country. And he talked about cooperation and a new cooperation between the United States and Europe and the rest of the world.

And all of those issues drew loud applause. Because he knows, like many people here have said, that what people here are looking for according to an analyst who talked to me today is a political redeemer. Somebody who is going to simply change what Europe and the world have seen as sort of negative projection of power by the United States over the last 7 to 8 years. COOPER: Candy, there's been a risk with much talked about on this side of the ocean that Barack Obama will look presumptuous in some of these events, perhaps today he ran that risk more than any other day giving a speech -- I mean, he's not the President of the United States. You know, for a senator to be giving a speech representing the United States, I know he said he came there basically as a citizen of the world. Did he fall into any traps?

CROWLEY: Well, we'll see. I mean I'm not sure. You're right; this was a very grand setting. This was, you know, he strode out onto this stage solo. Here were these massive numbers of people cheering him, they had American flags. They picked this, they staged this perfectly. They wanted people to hear the echoes of JFK.

So it's a tricky thing because images are great. They're so powerful in politics. The problem is there can be too much of a good thing. And I don't think we know yet how that plays at home.

COOPER: All right, we're going to leave it there, Candy Crowley, Christiane Amanpour, thanks.

We'll have more discussion about the speech in a moment. We're also discussing the speech online. As well as "Black in America" we'll be joining in during the commercial breaks. Just head to and follow the link for the live chat.

Coming up, how the McCain campaign reacted to Obama's speech and tried to grab a bit of the spotlight today, his implications about Senator Obama's love of country.

Also "Crime and Punishment" a heart wrenching testimony from survivors of Warren Jeffs' polygamist kingdom and the new push to crack down on his followers.

Later, "Black in America," comedian D.L. Hughley who says black men are targeted by police, and so he's taught his kid how to speak to officers if they are ever stopped. We'll talk to him and others tonight on "360."



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My opponent, of course, is traveling in Europe and tomorrow his tour takes him to France. In a scene that Lance would recognize, a prong of adoring fans awaits Senator Obama in Paris. And that's just the American press.


COOPER: John McCain mocking Senator Obama tonight in Columbus, Ohio. The live strong summit with Lance Armstrong, decent-size crowd, not his own crowd and certainly not Obama's size; it's hard to say on that score he's been having a tough time competing all week.

How or if it factors into the race remains to be seen but the contrast between McCain and Obama events, of course, is striking.


OBAMA: I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before, although tonight I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen, a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.


COOPER: Barack Obama speaking in Berlin today. That comment, that sentiment seems to be where the McCain forces see vulnerability. The campaign today putting out a statement that reads, quote, "While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a citizen of the world, John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election."

We should mention that both candidates -- both Presidents Reagan and Kennedy also used the phrase citizen of the world at one time or another. In any case, it is topic A in our "Strategy Session" tonight with Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and GOP strategist Terry Holt.


COOPER: Terry, the McCain campaign on their statements clearly trying to emphasize that McCain is here talking to American citizens while Barack Obama is out you know, saying he's a citizen of the world. Is that something that resonate do you think with voters right now?

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, what resonates with voters is that you're out there doing the job of running your campaign for president. I think the smart strategy is to do your campaign. It's impossible to compete with Barack Obama with every network news anchor in tow.

It's a little bit like playing blackjack with no face cards. You're not going to win the news media fight of the day. But if you're in Ohio and you're talking to real people, I thought it was kind of cute that they were in German village, you're going to just keep slogging, and you don't win every week on the front page of the "New York Times."

COOPER: Donna, some people are looking at that speech in Germany today, while Barack Obama talking to tens of thousands of people. Maybe asking themselves what is he doing over there? Does he risk looking presumptuous or elitist in a way?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely not. I thought what Senator Obama did today and the entire week is once again focus on America's leadership in the world. You saw people waving the American flags, not burning the flags.

And Senator McCain understands not just the symbolism but the substance of his visit and I think it was an important week for Senator Barack Obama.

But Senator McCain lost the week because rather than focus on his ideas and his message and his solutions for what's ailing the domestic economy, Senator McCain just attacked, attacked and attacked and seemed like he was whining about the press coverage that Senator Obama was receiving.

COOPER: Terry, for days -- I want to talk about one of those attacks -- for days McCain now has said that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign. Pretty though stuff, here's Obama's response today to NBC.


OBAMA: I've never questioned that he wants to make America safer and for him to suggest that I don't, for him to suggest that somehow I'm less concerned about the safety of my wife and daughter than he is, I think was unfortunate.


COOPER: Do you think, Terry, John McCain crossed some sort of a line?

HOLT: Well, Barack Obama was putting words into John McCain's mouth that John McCain didn't say. But John McCain is correctly pointing out that McCain threw away his presidential ambition to stand by a policy of the surge in Iraq, and in a large measure, his candidacy is about the judgment it took, the political courage it took to do that.

And I think the opposite argument then is, are you going to base big decisions, national decisions in your presidency on politics or on what's right for the country?

COOPER: Wait a minute Terry, spin aside, I mean isn't John McCain questioning his patriotism, questioning his commitment to America? I mean if you're saying that you'd rather lose a war and win a campaign, that's going to -- that's questioning your -- a lot about a candidate.

HOLT: I think it's not so much questioning patriotism. But I think that the direct question is, are you more politician than you are American? Because you're taking political positions and not necessarily putting your political aspirations aside to make the right decision.

It's a very tough message, I'll give you that. But if we're going to have a president, we better have one who's prepared to pay a political price in order to do what's right for America.

COOPER: Donna, is it just a tough message or does it cross the line?

BRAZILE: Well, the McCain campaign is cherry picking through a laundry list of negative smear attacks to see what sticks on Senator Obama. I mean they even went as far as saying that Senator Obama is soft on genocide.

Again, this campaign is rudderless; they have no focus, no message. They can't seem to really get their base enthusiastic about John McCain. And so what do they do all week? They whine, they complain and then they throw out scurrilous attacks against Senator Obama.

Senator Obama took a very tough position back in 2002 against the war when everyone was for going to war based on faulty intelligence. That took political leadership and that took political courage.

HOLT: Well, I agree there, I think that there needs to be strategic focus on just a couple of big choices the American people have to make and it's not so important what kind of lapel pin Barack Obama wears. I think it's much more important that we look at the big issues and not all of this, frankly, crap on the blogosphere.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. Terry Holt, Donna Brazile, its good to have you on. Thank you both.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

HOLT: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, visit or not, message or not, the race appears to be tightening, Obama with just a three-point lead in our new "Poll of Polls". When it comes to state by state, here's the raw data.

The latest CNN electoral map showing McCain with 189 solid or leaning electoral votes, those are the red and the light red states you see there; Obama with solid or leaning states totaling 221. Those are the blue and light blue state. He's down a net five since our last survey and 128 electoral votes now in states that CNN regards as toss-ups; they're in yellow, not purple. Beats me why, but I just work here.

Up next, the remnants of Hurricane Dolly moving north over Texas; the storm has weakened but left destruction in its wake. We'll take a look at the cleaning up ahead.

And we continue our "Black in America" discussion with a look at the criminal justice system. Comedian D.L. Hughley says black men are targeted no matter who they are. We'll talk to him coming up.


COOPER: Coming up, tough talk in the senate today about polygamy and the majority leaders use parallels with organized crime.

But first Erica Hill joins us with our "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Hurricane Dolly could have been a lot worse in Texas. Well, tell that to the folks who are left behind with hundreds of millions of dollars in damage; 15 counties in South Texas have now been declared disaster areas.

Ford profits for the second quarter of the year with the worst in the automaker's history, Ford lost $8.6 billion. And that was due to sluggers sales of trucks and SUV's but the company says, it now plans to redesign.

Ford's dismal report card actually coincided with a dismal day on Wall Street, the DOW falling 283 points.

And a decommissioned U.S. ship goes down in a blaze of glory during torpedo target practice. Check that out; direct hit. There the torpedo was fired an Australian submarine. It was a joint mission with the U.S. Navy, happened near the Hawaiian Islands.

COOPER: Well, all right, here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo. It's fitness guru Richard Simmons dancing with his fans in Washington, D.C. where he testified about the benefits of physical education for kids. Our staff winners are Jack and Marshall who kind of teamed up for this one.

"Richard Simmons standing up for the National Short-Shorts and Cocoa Butter Protection Act."

HILL: Wow.

COOPER: Yes, well, there you go. Think you can do better? Go to our new Website,, click on the "Beat 360" link and send us you're entry. We'll announce the winner at the end of the program. The winner of course gets a "Beat 360" t-shirt.

HILL: Which you can use for your sweat in to the old days work-out.

COOPER: Exactly, well sweat to the old days.

Up next, a federal polygamy task force, that's what one senator is now proposing and he calls polygamy a criminal organization. We'll tell you what happened on Capitol Hill, today.

And later, a "Black in America" discussion continues as we look at the issues facing black children growing up without a father when "360" continues.


COOPER: Aftershocks from the raid on the FLDS compound in El Dorado, Texas three months ago that were felt in Washington today, as the Senate grappled with the consequences of polygamy. Senators heard first-hand accounts of the devastation polygamy has caused in the lives of those caught in his web.

And there was also a riveting testimony from state and federal law enforcement about the challenges posed in prosecuting the "Crimes of Polygamy."

With tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report, here's "360's" David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Texas size raid so big it made polygamy history; 400-plus women and children taken into custody; a mammoth court battle and now indictments against six men with allegations of child sexual assault. But none of it would have been necessary says the Texas Attorney General if authorities elsewhere had been more coordinated.

GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: The state of Texas situation would never have occurred had we had in place the kind of law enforcement ideas that are being talked about today.

MATTINGLY: To avoid another raid like it, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants a Federal Polygamy Task Force targeting what he calls organized crime, crossing state lines, and going beyond the sexual abuse of young girls.

HARRY REID, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Welfare fraud, tax evasion, massive corruption, and strong-arm tactics to maintain what they think is the status quo.

MATTINGLY: At a hearing, on Capitol Hill State and Federal Prosecutors called for more resources in cracking insular polygamist groups like the FLDS. Former sect members talked of how leaders ordered young girls to marry.

CAROLYN JESSOP, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: I never knew what it meant to feel safe until I was 35 years old.

MATTINGLY: And what reassigned wives and children to other men, emotionally devastating entire families.

DAN FISCHER, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: I had nightmares for a year. I still have nightmares.

MATTINGLY: Jailed FLDS leader and Prophet Warren Jeffs was convicted in Utah on two counts of being an accomplice to rape. Now he's among the men just indicted in Texas; he's accused of marrying girls as young as 12.

WILLIE JESSOP, FLDS SPOKESMAN: That's exactly right, mere allegations.

MATTINGLY: Your prophet has done nothing wrong? He has not married any underage girls?

W. JESSOP: They're just that, allegations. And what you see here today is people with a biased opinion making more allegations that can never be proved out in the court of law.

MATTINGLY: Five FLDS members attended the hearings but were not invited to speak. Sect spokesman Willie Jessop accused Senator Reid, a Mormon, of a personal vendetta.

You've got criminal charges against your prophet in multiple states. Are you accusing all of these state officials of a personal agenda?

JIM BRADSHAW, FLDS ATTORNEY: Criminal charges have to be dealt with individually. You deal with them one at a time. Each case is separate. You deal with the case and you address it. But to come in here and say that this group of people commits crime and this group of people is guilty of some offense, that's wrong. MATTINGLY: Wrong or not, the Senate Leader put the FLDS on notice. Locking up polygamist criminals is no longer just a state and local priority.

Prosecutors say the success of any case they try to build depends on witnesses coming forward from inside polygamy groups. Senator Reid says he wants Congress to come up with the money to keep these witnesses safe and to help them build new lives.

David Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COOPER: Just ahead on "360," are black men in America unfairly targeted by police? Actor and comedian D.L. Hughley says he knows the answer from experience.

Coming up, we'll talk with him live about what happened to his own son when he walked into a jewelry store.

We're "Digging Deeper" on "Black in America - The Black Man" next on "360."


COOPER: As alarming as that figure is, it's also part of everyday life if you're black and male in America.

We're picking up now where CNN's documentary "Black in America - the Black Man" left off earlier; digging deeper into the lives of black men and the challenges they face. Police harassment and violence ranks high on the list and what we've heard over and over is no matter how much money you have or success or education, nothing offers you that protection.

Here's CNN's Soledad O'Brien.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: This is South Central L.A. In the 1980s, these streets were a symbol of racial hatred and gang warfare. The infamous Rodney King beating led to the deadliest riots in more than a century.

It's where actor and comedian D.L. Hughley grew up. He was a gang member in the "Notorious Bloods."

D.L HUGHLEY, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: I never felt more a part of something, more connected, more powerful than I did when I was with this group from my neighborhood that was all about us, looking out for us.

O'BRIEN: But Hughley got out when murder took the life of his cousin.

HUGHLEY: He lived in a "crip" neighborhood. Then some cats killed him who happened to be Bloods. At that point I realized I didn't want to die and I didn't want to kill anybody and this wasn't real for me. This wasn't a real option for me.

O'BRIEN: Today, D.L. Hughley has achieved great success. But he believes as a black man he's always a target of the police.

HUGHLEY: When you're black, your skin color is always in the equation.

O'BRIEN: An equation Hughley says where it doesn't matter how rich you are or how famous you are. It's something he tells his son, Kyle, daily.

HUGHLEY: He already knows and he has learned from the time he was 12 years old how to speak to the police, what to say, what not to say; to view the police differently than everybody else.

KYLE HUGHLEY, D.L. HUGHLEY'S SON: If they ask me a question that I'm uncomfortable answering, I say officer, I respect your job, but I would appreciate it if you would just call my parents and I'm not saying anything else.

D.L. HUGHLEY: And it's just sad that I've had to have those conversations with him.

O'BRIEN: Hughley tells the story of sending his son on an errand to a local jewelry store.

HUGHLEY: The security guard pulls a gun on my son. The jeweler calls me and says I'm sorry, we didn't know who he was. We had just got robbed and there were people that came in and they looked the exact same way.

My son was doing exactly what I told him to do. He didn't do anything wrong, he's not a bad kid. That's how it happens, just like that.


COOPER: Happens just like that all the time according to the statistics. D.L. Hughley joins me now from Los Angeles.

You say your skin color is always part of the equation. How do you overcome that then? How does anything get better if it's always going to be in the equation?

D.L. HUGHLEY: Well, I don't know that anything gets better -- I think that America has a hard time stating a truth. And I think that the fact that that is still a fact and that still exists, we won't get any better until we recognize it and find out why it happens.

I think black is sinister. You don't have to even go back that far. I remember when O.J. was on the cover of the magazine, they darkened him to make him look even more sinister. That's a deliberate thing, I think.

That is how I think people by and large see crime. When they visualize crime, it's also a face that looks like mine that is the perpetrator. COOPER: And I think a lot of people listening to this tonight who saw the program earlier would be stunned that at the age of 12 you started telling your son how to talk to police, how to treat them differently. What kind of an impact do you think that has on a kid growing up?

D.L. HUGHLEY: Well, I don't know that -- I wouldn't be a father if I didn't prepare my son to the best of my ability to deal with the world that I believe I recognize. And it's unfortunate, but I would rather have my son have information that I believe is pertinent as opposed to pretending as if something didn't exist.

We live in an area where crime is not prevalent, but there is often -- there are often situations where I am driving home and I see young brothers or young Latinos pulled over and it's simply because they look out of place. And those kind of things spiral out of control.

You can go back to New York a couple months ago when a young man is coming from his bachelor party and ends up, you know, ends up dead. It just kind of is the reality.

COOPER: In the community you grew up in, do you think anything has improved since the riots, after the Rodney King beating?

D.L. HUGHLEY: I think for a while it did. I don't want to sit here and say that there aren't circumstances that lead to -- I'm just as angry when I see another young black man hurt another young black man or as I am when a police officer does it.

Often times you'll see a policeman roll up on the scene where he's watched us do violence against us and figures well, if they don't care, why should I.

I can't say that doesn't exist too. But I can really say, honestly say my father and mother still live in the same area and it's still the same. And I think it's, to me, the things that I have seen when I was a kid, I see now. It's not really all that much different.

COOPER: Do you see a difference when you look at a police officer and he's black or a police officer who's white, do you look at them differently?

D.L. HUGHLEY: I have a distinct distrust for the police and I --

COOPER: It doesn't matter the skin color of the officer?

D.L. HUGHLEY: No, I see blue more than I see anything else. That's just -- I have a distinct distrust of the police. And I think no one in my family would be shocked to hear that my children nor my wife; my employees know it.

I am as fair as I believe as you can be but there is a -- and I am friends with police officers and I employ them. But I have a distinct distrust by and large of police in general.

COOPER: And that's certainly echoed throughout when you talk to a lot of people today in the black community. D.L. Hughley, appreciate you coming on and talking to us. Thanks

Still ahead tonight, generations of black kids being raised without their fathers around. What is the price and what is it going to take to put their dads back into the picture? We'll talk about that with Soledad and others.

Plus a generation of black men lost to crime, to violence in prison. In many case it's because of crack cocaine. Are black men being punished more harshly? That's next on "360."


COOPER: So many black children growing up without their fathers. It's a huge problem, everyone seems to agree on that, but solutions seem harder to come by.

During CNN's year-long investigation of "Black in America," Soledad O'Brien met a young man who told her he doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of his father and his grandfather; but breaking that cycle as you'll see is not coming easy to him.

Again, here's Soledad with an excerpt from his story.


O'BRIEN: Relatives and friends are celebrating Celia's first birthday but her father Brandon is nowhere to be found. His mother is upset. His stepfather has lost patience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm mad. It's his child and he's supposed to be there for her.

O'BRIEN: Celia, like so many black children in America today, is being raised without a father. And she's not Brandon's only child.

He had another baby last year, a son, Jaden, with a different girlfriend. He's not raising him either.

As the party winds down, Brandon finally shows up. Everybody was angry at Brandon.

BRANDON: Well, the reason because, because I was told different times. I was told well --

O'BRIEN: People were calling you on the phone, wondering where's Brandon?

BRANDON: Which, I don't --

O'BRIEN: It wasn't your fault?

BRANDON: Wasn't my fault.

O'BRIEN: Brandon's not the first in his family to walk away from his responsibilities. His father walked out on him. And Brandon's mother Tina also knows what it's like to be raised by one parent. Her own father, Donald Gray, fathered ten kids but raised none of them.

TINA: What I believe has happened is generational, because it's been passed down.

RON MINCY, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Non-marital child bearing has become a norm in the African-American community.

O'BRIEN: Columbia professor Ron Mincy believes the problem is commitment. These men don't marry their baby's mothers and those mothers have found a way to live without them.

Nearly 60 percent of all black children are growing up without a father in their home. But why?

MINCY: History has a lot to do with it. Slavery did do major damage to gender relationships in the African-American community. In addition to that shock; we have had renewed shocks over time.

O'BRIEN: With so many black men dropping out of school, with the high unemployment rate and soaring rates of incarceration, Mincy believes even fewer black men have been able to take care of their children.

MINCY: It is very difficult in this society for a man to marry to sustain a family, to sustain a relationship with a woman, children, et cetera, if he can't fulfill the provider roles.

O'BRIEN: At our request, Brandon paid a visit to Sherita and baby Celia. Sherita is pregnant again, this time with twins from another boyfriend. The animosity and anger between them was obvious.

Did you contribute more?


O'BRIEN: Would you let him do more?

SHERITA: Yes. I don't stop him from doing now. I look at it as a -- I mean, I know there's times when I have an attitude problem, but I have a reason to.

O'BRIEN: Can he be a good father if he tried? Can he be a good father?

SHERITA: I think he could. But the thing is, will he?

O'BRIEN: Will you?

BRANDON: Yes. You know, it's -- yes.


COOPER: We certainly hope Brandon can break the cycle and be the kind of dad he says that he wants to be.

Joining me now are Roland Fryer, professor of economics at Harvard; Tara Wall, Conservative political analyst and "Washington Times" columnist who is a former senior adviser to the Republican National Committee and CNN's Soledad O'Brien, the force behind CNN's "Black in America" series.

Soledad, when you were interviewing Brandon and he was saying, look, my phone was off, you know, I couldn't hear it ring, did you buy that?

O'BRIEN: No, because clearly it just wasn't true. I mean, Brandon was spinning every story. We only showed a small chunk of some of the stuff he was telling me.

Brandon talks very frankly how devastating it was for him to grow up without a father. And his girlfriend, you know, the mother of his baby, talks the same way about how it was for her to grow up without a father. So it was so perplexing to me to see them both continue that cycle. No, he was spinning any line he could come up with to try to get out of feeling bad.

COOPER: So Roland, how does one, an individual, how does this young man break that cycle? He says he wants to, and yet the difference between talk and action, there's a huge chasm there.

ROLAND FRYER, HARVARD ECONOMIST: I never thought I would say this, but I want to quote Charles Barkley. I think you have to draw a line and just say it ends here. If he really wants to do the things that he says he wants to do, he just has to draw a line and do it. There's no time like the present.


TARA WALL, "WASHINGTON TIMES" COLUMNIST: You know, I believe that we have to continue to focus on the importance of the role the father plays, what it means when he's present, and the impact he has as well as what it means when he's not present. And the devastating consequences that some of these children suffer, whether it's homelessness, poverty, lack of an education, crime, life of crime.

And I'll go further and quote Charles -- well, it wasn't Charles Barkley, actually, it was Joseph Phillips in the piece earlier who said shame is a great motivator. If there was a little more shame applied again back in our community, I believe that we would be able to start seeing the tide turn.

We talk a lot about the problem. We don't talk enough about the solutions. And there are solutions out there, aside from the shame factor and saying this isn't acceptable anymore. This silence is not acceptable anymore.

Let's start talking about some -- there are things like the fatherhood initiative taking place within the government that go in to these communities and talk to fathers and mothers, quite frankly, about the importance of fathers in their children's lives.

COOPER: Soledad?

O'BRIEN: But Anderson, let me add, Brandon is not a bad guy. He does not have the first clue about how to be a father. He literally does not.

I said to him, do you contribute? Yes, I do. What do you contribute? I bring pampers. Really, your girlfriend says you don't. I bring them to my mom's house when the baby comes there. He's not spinning me. That's what he thinks being a father is. He has not the first clue.

COOPER: It's interesting, I'll quote somebody, Spike Lee I think said to Soledad at some point in the last two hours in the story, he said that a black man a lot is not expected. Do you think that's part of the problem?

WALL: Unfortunately it can add to the problem, certainly. When you have a sense of, you know, hopelessness, helplessness, you feel -- but that can happen with anyone. That's almost a sense of depression, if you will. There are many reasons for that. I think that is certainly a factor.

At the same time I think Soledad hit it right on the head. Some of these young fathers, particularly younger fathers, don't even know where to begin. They don't understand what it means to be a father particularly if they didn't already have that.

And that goes back to, again, some of these programs that we need to start tapping into, that are available to begin helping these fathers and quite frankly helping these mothers, these women have to start standing up as well and saying no more. This behavior is tolerated no more. This cycle is tolerated no more. And start taking self- responsibility for themselves and not even allowing it to happen.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. We're going to talk more with our panel coming up after the break.

We'll have more with our panel and talk about the crack epidemic in the black community. Why nearly a million black men are behind bars in this country. We'll be right back.


COOPER: The persistent and provocative aspects in the discussion of race in America involve the staggering rate of incarceration for African-American men.

Black men are six times more likely to go to prison than their white counterparts. Nearly a million black men are now behind bars, higher than at any time in history. A big reason for that is crack cocaine.

Here's what Soledad O'Brien uncovered


O'BRIEN: Black politicians in the '90s called for drastic measures to stamp out the scourge; supporting tough new laws that punish crack offenders far more severely than cocaine offenders.

But here's the catch, coke users tended to be white suburbanites, crack was used by blacks. So the very laws meant to protect the black community helped gut it.


COOPER: Joining us again with more CNN's Soledad O'Brien; along with Tara Wall, columnist for the "Washington Times" and Roland Fryer, an economics professor at Harvard.

Roland, I mean, you saw this as a little kid growing up in Daytona first hand. You had family members who were involved in the drug trade; they went to prison. Is there a racial component in this sentencing?

FRYER: I think that much is clear, we see --

COOPER: No doubt about it. FRYER: I think that much is clear. Anyone who can read can figure that out because you can just look at the sentencing guidelines for crack versus powder cocaine and they're different.

COOPER: Do you think it's a because of race or the argument that crack is a more debilitating drug that causes people to commit crimes?

FRYER: Tough question. I don't know is the answer. I think race has something to do with it; how much, I just don't know.

COOPER: Tara, what do you think?

WALL: I don't believe laws are designed to inherently discriminate, purposely discriminate against individuals. These are laws that were designed at the time to stamp out crime where crime was happening most and that's in the black community, black on black crime.

And I think the victims are what we need to look at here and how this is impacting our community as victims; people who are victims of these crimes. A crime is a crime is a crime. Granted -- you know the system is -- I will say, Soledad, I'm sure I know what you'll say, I will add, I will certainly add that discrimination, yes, takes place in the system. Overall, though, I believe the system is a fair system.

Is it perfect? Of course it's not perfect. Of course discrimination takes place. I don't believe you can say though wholesale these laws were set up to discriminate against black people.

COOPER: Soledad?

O'BRIEN: No, what I think what was interesting, you talked about victims and what was discovered in 20/20 hindsight, Anderson, was that you created sort of new victims when you have these sentencing guidelines which led to so many black men going off to prison, you emptied some neighborhoods of the men.

You had women raising the children -- talk about fathers who aren't around, you know where some of those fathers are? They're in prison because of these sentencing guidelines, where a guy who had a similar amount of powdered cocaine would get a slap on the wrist and be sent back home. That's a reality.

There is some inherent built-in discrimination in the system that I think in hindsight people said this policy which many people thought would protect the community actually ended up really weakening the community.

WALL: And I think some of those are things being looked at now. You can always go back and if there are mistakes that have been mad and people want to re-tweak the laws or say is it out of balance. Are we in balance? Those things should take place. That's a checks and balances but I don't want to make it as -- I don't want just wholesale generalize about the law and the system itself.

FRYER: The facts are clear here. If you look at crack cocaine hit things like fetal death, infant mortality, the number of kids at foster care, the gun arrests, it was amazingly debilitating for the black community.

In my own research, we looked at the patterns of usage of crack cocaine from 1980 until 2000 or so. And what we found was that about a quarter of fetal death can be attributed to crack and half of infant mortality and about 80 percent of the quadrupling in black youth homicide. Crack was a major problem.

COOPER: And briefly just -- the media knew crack existed back in the '80s and it doesn't get a lot of attention now. Is it still a big problem?

FRYER: I think it is still a big problem. We estimate there's about 70 percent of the consumption that was happening in the '80s and '90s is still happening now. It's more concentrated because crack is not a nice drug if you've ever seen someone on crack; it's not a pretty sight.

WALL: Cocaine is cocaine and drugs are drugs.

COOPER: People deteriorate very rapidly.

WALL: It's all bad, it's all terrible; it should be cracked down on. And we need to address the issues at hand, whether it's why it's in the community and why we have such a high rate of black on black crime.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. Tara Wall, it's good to have you; Roland Fryer as well. Soledad O'Brien, great job, Soledad.

Quick programming note. You can catch parts one and two of "Black in America" again this weekend. We'll be running them back to back on Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 Eastern time here on CNN. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We've got about a minute left. We want to squeeze in our "Beat 360" winners. Our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a better captions for the picture we post in our blog everyday.

Tonight's picture, Richard Simmons dancing with his fans on Capitol Hill today where he testified at a hearing about the benefits of physical education for kids; very good for him.

Our staff winners tonight, Jack and Marshall -- it took two of our staff winners to come up with this: Richard Simmons standing up for the National Short Shorts and Cocoa Butter Protection Act.

Our viewer winner, Karen from Mendesino, California who won with this: Only the woman in the white shirt realizes that he didn't say, "Simmons says."

HILL: I like it. I think it's very clever.

COOPER: I like it too. She's the only one who's not doing that.

Karen, your "Beat 360" t-shirt is on the way. Check out our Website

"Black in America" is coming up next. Thanks very much for watching. We'll see you tomorrow night.