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Senate Passes Housing Aid Bill; Foreclosure; Latinos Choose Obama Ahead; Aminabad Explosions; Campaign Flashback
Aired July 26, 2008 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: All right, let's get straight to it, a huge weight lifted off of the backs of hundreds and thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure. About 30 minutes ago, the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping housing rescue bill. Let's go live now to Washington, D.C., and CNN's Kate Bolduan -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Fredricka. Well, they had to come in on Saturday to finish it up, but final tally is in, 72-13, a clear majority of support in the Senate for this housing bill. It's a massive housing assistance package traded to boost confidence in the housing market and offer some relief to struggling homeowners. The bill's a Democratic proposal, but it did gain broad Republican support, but passage didn't come without some debate on the Senate floor this morning. Take a listen, here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN BENJAMIN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Every day that we wait, 8,500 more foreclosures are here in America, 8,500 of people who are in danger of losing their houses every single day. So, Mr. President, I'm sorry we didn't get this legislation done earlier, but I am pleased that we're here today in order, I hope, to complete this legislation and send it to the president for his signature.
SEN KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: The bill is being rushed to the Senate without the careful consideration and deliberation it deserves. This is irresponsible. While I think it is important to restore confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and alleviate the housing crisis in our country, I think we should do better. I cannot support a proposal like this in its current form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Some Republicans are -- remain concerned about the financial risk the provisions of this bill profoes per taxpayers saying it could potentially put taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars. The main parts of this bill include a program that allows up to $300 billion in government-guaranteed loans for homeowners facing forclosingure to be able to refinance to more affordable mortgages. There's also about $15 billion in tax breaks and that includes a credit of up to $7,500 for first-time home buyers.
The bill also gives the government new authority over mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And now, it seems like we're moving on -- Fred. WHITFIELD: Wow, and so when you think about the number of team who are facing foreclosure and even with that $7,500 credit, just listening to some of the profiles of people who are facing foreclosure, they are behind in the volumes of $20,000 behind, $30,000 behind in their mortgage, so would they be candidates for this kind of bailout?
BOLDUAN: There are a lot of -- there are a lot of categories of how you fit into some of these -- this foreclosure prevention program. You definitely have to qualify and it's also voluntary on the part of lenders, so it's not a shoo-in that you will get but at least now this opportunity for, as they say, many homeowners facing foreclosure to get some assistance. But first, of course, now it needs to head to the president. And we have been assured today again by White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, that the president will sign it as soon as he gets it.
WHITFIELD: All right, I guess a little help just might go a long way. All right, thanks so much, Kate Bolduan, appreciate it.
All right, well, trapped in foreclosure, more than one million mortgages are in the process of foreclosure, as you heard Kate say, and that's the latest count now from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Some homeowners are fighting back to stay in their homes no matter what. Senior correspondent Allan Chernoff reports.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gesille James hasn't paid her mortgage in a year. She received a foreclosure notice in November. But she's fighting to stay in the two-family home. Gesille, a librarian, was earning $50,000 a year when she bought this house 2-1/2 years ago, so she took out two mortgages to finance the entire purchase price of $560,000.
CHERNOFF (on camera): Did you think you could afford this house?
GESILLE JAMES, HOMEOWNER FIGHTING FORECLOSURE: No. No.
CHERNOFF: You never thought you could afford it?
JAMES: Well, the price that was quoted, and I kept getting back don't worry about it. They'll work with what you have. There's the finance thing and...
CHERNOFF: Who said that?
CHERNOFF: Your broker?
JAMES: He's with financing -- yes.
CHERNOFF: He said don't worry about the price.
JAMES: Don't worry about the price. CHERNOFF (voice-over): That broker is Anthony Brown who has his own real estate company nearby.
(on camera): Obviously she couldn't afford it.
ANTHONY BROWN, A PLACE FOR EVERYONE REALTY: Yeah, that's true. But with a...
CHERNOFF: So, why did you sell -- why did you sell the home?
BROWN: No, I don't control her mortgage. You understand? I control the actual sales between her and the developer.
(voice-over): Brown claims the developer, Home Master Development Group arranged Gesille's financing with Alliance Mortgage, which is no longer in business. Home Master says Mr. Brown arranged the financing. Gesille says the same.
(on camera): Did he say you could afford it?
JAMES: He did. He did.
CHERNOFF: He did?
JAMES: He did.
CHERNOFF (voice-over): Gesille rented one of the two apartments in the house, but even with the income she still couldn't cover the mortgage payments.
(on camera): You see how much she earns?
CHERNOFF: How could you sell her a home that was so way out of her price range?
BROWN: Well, that's what she -- from her choice. That was her choice.
CHERNOFF: Well, it's your choice to sell it, no?
BROWN: I don't control -- I don't control what a person chooses to do. If they wanted to get a home, they get a home.
CHERNOFF (voice over): Alliance Mortgage quickly sold Gesille's loan to Morgan Stanley who told us they have no comment since the loan has since been sold off to other investors buying mortgage securities. Gesille's lawyer argues she was misled and therefore has a right to fight foreclosure.
JEFFREY BENJAMIN, ATTORNEY FOR GESILLE JAMES: The goal is to keep the consumer in her home, where she should belong, but at a reasonable monthly burden.
CHERNOFF: Gesille admits she bears much of the responsibility, but says she can't imagine what she'll do if she has to leave her home.
GESILLE JAMES, FIGHTING FORECLOSURE: But, I'm fighting it, because I need somewhere to live. I have to live somewhere. I can't live in the car.
CHERNOFF (on camera): Attorney Jeff Benjamin says he's hopeful of renegotiating Gesille's loan on this home, especially now that banks are being more flexible, since so many of their mortgages have gone bad.
Allan Chernoff, CNN, Bronx, New York.
WHITFIELD: And two more failed banks to tell you about. The FDIC closing the doors on First National and First Heritage banks operating in Nevada, Arizona and California. Come Monday, customers will do business with Mutual of Omaha. The FDIC say accountholders don't have to worry about their money, however, all of it is available even if it exceeds in insurance limits.
Senator Barack Obama is wrapping up his trip to the Middle East and Europe. The last stop of his week-long odyssey was Britain this morning. The Democratic presidential candidate held talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, you see them stroelg there, and former prime minister, Tony Blair, was there, as well. Speaking to reporters, Obama gave his take on the possible impact of his trip in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won't even be surprised if -- that in some polls that you saw a little bit of a dip as a consequence. We've been out of the country for a week, people are worried about gas prices, they're worried about home foreclosures, so the reason that I thought this trip was important was I am convinced that many of the issues that we face at home are not going to be solved as effectively unless we have strong partners abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And with Obama in London, Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, took to the domestic airwaves this morning. In a radio address, McCain stepped up his criticism of what he sees as Obama's stand on the surge in Iraq.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent advocates the deployment of two new combat brigades to Afghanistan, in other words, a surge. We'll have to on wonder how he can deny that the surge in Iraq is succeed while at same time announcing that a surge is just what we need in Afghanistan.
I'll leave all of these questions for my opponent and his team of 300 foreign policy advisers to work out for themselves. With luck, they'll get their stories straight by the time the Obama campaign returns to North America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And of course be sure to tune in for a special CNN LATE EDITION tomorrow, Wolf Blitzer and the best political team in America go one on one with both pret presidential candidates at this CNN special edition LATE EDITION, "The Next President," Sunday 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
And it is slow-going, but ships are finally moving again along the lower Mississippi River, it could take a few days for all of the 200 ships stranded by an oil spill to actually move through. Part of the waterway was closed Wednesday when a tanker hit a barge loaded with fuel oil. The collision spilled 419,000 gallons of oil into the river near downtown New Orleans.
Let's check in with our Reynolds Wolf and you look at those pictures you see the -- I guess low ceiling cloud, there. Does that mean rain in the area, too?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Oh, they might see a few scattered showers. How are you doing today, Fred.
WHITFIELD: I'm doing good. I feel like I haven't seen you in a long time in person, because you've been on the road.
WOLF: I know. Yeah, playing with the hurricanes and the fires and all that kind of stuff. Always something happening.
WHITFIELD: Glad that you're back safely.
WHITFIELD: Life is good, that a nice way to -- putting it all into perspective, thanks so much, Reynolds, appreciate it.
WOLF: Anytime, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Hispanic voters they're growing force in American politics. What impact are they having on this race for president?
WHITFIELD: All right this story just breaking in India, we want to tell you about. Seventeen explosions have taken place in a western Indian city by the name of Aminabad. And we understand that 15 people have already been declared dead, 100 people have been injured and apparently these blasts took place in different parts of the city and we're seeing these descriptions coming from our CNN wire service. Our correspondents there on the ground are able to give us some information that one explosion took place at a bus stop, another took place at a railway station and then also at a -- on a bus at another location.
So, you're seeing new imagesta are just now coming in of the chaos that has erupted as a result of these explosions. You can see in that bus, or perhaps that was one of the buses where the explosion took place in the bus because it looked like it was just kind of pealed away at rooftop like a sardine can and you see of course the emergency response teams. And we're seeing descriptions all throughout the wires of things like this. The bicycles, motorcycles, just kind of twisted apart. Clearly the carnage is very high with 15 people reported dead already, 100 injured.
Again 17 blasts, apparently, have been witnessed or experienced there in this eastern -- or western Indian city of Aminabad. And of course when we get any information about the circumstances on the ground there -- here are some of the new images coming in -- we'll be able to bring that to you right away. But, it's unclear exactly what or who may be to blame for these 17 blasts, there in India.
Meantime, here in this country, a new poll of Hispanic voters putting Barack Obama way ahead of John McCain in the race for president. CNN's Ted Rowlands breaks down the latest numbers.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The survey from the Pew Hispanic center shows 66 percent of Latino voters are leaning towards Barack Obama and 23 percent towards John McCain. A dramatic lead for Obama, considering just a few months ago, people other than saying things like this:
ADELFA CALLEJO, HISPANIC ACTIVIST: Obama simply has a problem that he happens to be black.
ROWLANDS: About Latinos supporting a black candidate. When asked about ethnicity 32 percent of those surveyed saying being black helps Obama, only 11 percent said it hurt him. 53 percent said it had no affect. Max Parrilla, a playwright in San Antonio, Texas, thinks race is not a factor for most Latino voters.
MAX PARRILLA, VOTER: African-American population and our Latino populations has, generally, as a whole, gotten along very well. Both of us were you know depressed and suppressed in this society.
ROWLANDS: According to the poll, 77 percent of Latinos who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries now support Obama. In fact the polls show he's now slightly more popular than Clinton with a favorability rate of 76 percent. McCain's favorability is at 44 percent, President Bush is at 27.
The Pew survey also reveals that Hispanics are less concerned about immigration than they are about education, the economy, crime, and healthcare. Las Vegas restaurant owner, Rigoberto Gonzalez, says health care is his biggest concern, saying, he can't afford to insure his employees or his wife and three children.
RIGOBERTO GONZALEZ, VOTER: You always wonder when you're on the road. You know if you ever get a car accident, if your kids have to go to the hospital, you know, it's just a very scary.
ANNOUNCER: (speaking foreign language)
ROWLANDS: both candidates, through Spanish-language ads are campaign appearances, are courting Latinos. According to 2,000 Hispanics who took part this survey, John McCain has some significant ground to make up.
ANNOUNCER: John McCain (speaking foreign language)
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
WHITFIELD: All right, deja vu? Well, for some this year's presidential campaign is causing flash backs to 1980. Senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us right now in Washington.
Oh, boy, this election season is so interesting. It has so many faces, doesn't it? And now some are saying that it's got a face very similar to 1980. What are the similarities?
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a lot of people are pointing to the 1980 campaign as very similar to this. Then, like now, you had an unpopular incumbent president, you had a bad economy, now you have war-weariness, then you had a lot of weariness over the hostage crisis in Iran which went on and on. And then you had a challenger both years: then Ronald Reagan who is the candidate of the Republican Party, now Barack Obama the candidate of the Democratic party that a lot of voters think the challenger is risky.
Now, there are some big differences. They didn't know -- they don't know much about Barack Obama, right now, they knew about Ronald Reagan and he scared people and it wasn't until the end of the campaign, in the final debate, the only debate he had with the president, Jimmy Carter, that he insured people that he wasn't a dangerous man. But he, people were afraid of him because they thought he might start a war or throw old people out in the snow. In the case of Obama, they just don't know very much about him. And a lot of voters say well he's young, he's inexperience, they're reluctant to support him until they know more about him.
WHITFIELD: Oh, that's interesting and interesting too that these two would be compared, particularly on this week, I talk about these two presidents -- Reagan, at the time candidate, Reagan and candidate Obama, especially on a week where they both made quite the impression in Berlin during their time with Obama this week in Berlin, and some thought that that was kind of reminiscent of Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, "tear down this wall."
SCHNEIDER: Of course Ronald Reagan went as president, as earlier as John F. Kennedy went as president, he said "Ich bin ein Berliner" speaking foreign language). The interesting thing is Barack Obama went as a candidate, which is rarely done in our politics, but a lot people evoke the Kennedy and Reagan images. He was trying to -- what Obama's trying to do is impress Americans that they should be comfortable with him as commander in chief, that he was a figure who was knowledgeable, who could be trusted, who could play the role of president for someone so young and relatively inexperienced.
Reagan's problem was exactly the opposite in 1980. People thought he was too harsh, he was too trigger-happy. In fact, when he became president within months of his taking office a nuclear freeze movement broke out all over the world because he frightened people so much. So, they have in some ways the opposite problem, but in both cases you have the same issue, namely, is the challenger too risky?
WHITFIELD: Oh, interesting. And you know, it really can't be overstated, can it? That Barack Obama would go overseas, be criticized at home for a lack of a foreign policy, go abroad and get the treatment of a head of state almost everywhere that he went.
SCHNEIDER: Yeah, that was interesting. They did treat him as the head of state, a lot of Europeans like him, No. 1, and No. 2, he is running ahead in the polls, he's very popular in Europe here, the poll are getting a little closer, but there was some resentment of that in this country, particularly, of course, from Republicans, John McCain, who called it a premature victory lap around the world. And, you know, I've heard the criticism from some people that it was a bit presumptuous for Obama to do this, but on the whole, he handled it very, very well. And I think we don't know the polling results, but we'll find out next week, but we'll see if he gains any points from it.
WHITFIELD: And meantime, John McCain has been focusing on the domestic issues at hand. Is he making any ground, particularly when it comes to Hispanic voters, which is a segment of the voting population that he really does need, but he's admitted and his surrogates have admitted, he could use some help?
SCHNEIDER: Yeah, well, as we just saw in the poll report by Ted Rowlands, Hispanic voters are going overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. There was some concern that that might not happen because they had voted so heavily for Hillary Clinton over Obama in the Democratic primaries, but that poll is pretty clear that Hispanic voters are going to vote for Obama, principally because he's the Democrat and they are more and more Democratic. The polls show that over the last six years or so, their Democratic allegiance has become stronger and stronger, many feel that the Republican party, not John McCain, but many Republicans are -- and not George Bush -- but many Republicans in Congress are insensitive to them, they want harsher penalties for illegal immigrants and a lot of Hispanics have moved to the Democratic Party. So the minute Barack Obama had that "d" after his name, he started picking up a lot of Hispanic support.
WHITFIELD: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks so much, always good to see you.
WHITFIELD: See you again later this afternoon.
SCHNEIDER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, they survived a war, but will they get a chance to compete at the Olympics?
WHITFIELD: All right banned from the Olympics, but not taking the news lying down. An Iraqi delegation left today for a meeting with the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland to try to get that ban overturned. They want their Iraqi athrits to go, and of course the athletes want to go to the Olympic games. Well, the IOC closed the Olympics to Iraq this week. Why? Because they said the government was interfering too much in the process. In all seven Iraqi athletes had been selected to complete Beijing and are hoping they still get the opportunity to go.
A minor league baseball pitcher charged with felony assault for hitting a fan with a ball. Fair? Or real bad call? Our legal eagles weigh in, right here in the NEWSROOM, that's at 3:00 Eastern. You're use to seeing them in the Noon Eastern hour, but instead today, it'll be 3:00 Eastern to hear from our Avery and Richard.
All right, well the CNN program "Black in America" has resonated deeply with a lot of you at home and we'll have a special looking at the reaction and the personal stories that you've been sharing as a result of seeing the documentaries this week.
WHITFIELD: Oh don't take it personal, it's just business and Melissa Long is "On the Go" with what to expect or not to expect from air carriers this summer.
MELISSA LONG, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Airlines are finding it difficult to keep their planes flying, and some passengers are bidding bon voyage to service to their cities.
BEN MUTZABAUGH, USATODAY.COM: In the U.S. We are starting to see flights dropped on certain -- or especially hard hit for small cities. At least 50 seat regional jets are particularly notorious for being hard to make money with, right now. So, if your city is served only by 50 feet regional jets, those are the cities that could really see some flight cutbacks.
LONG: With the cutbacks, higher ticket prices and other fees -- some travelers are crying foul.
MUTZABAUGH: Customers have a lot of sentiment that all of these fee are nickel and diming, but I think it could get really ugly for the airlines if oil doesn't retreat to a lower number and I think that might possibly sentiment for traveling public who are also having to deal with are issues at pump.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right, this has been an extraordinary week, to say the very least, here at CNN. Our special coverage of "Black in America" is drawing unprecedented ratings and reactions. From coast- to-coast, reaction is pouring in from viewing parties and from home computers.
And as CNN's Susan Candiotti reports, our coverage became a call to come together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are we going to stop talking and start doing something? Meaning that every one in this room can touch someone else.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For some, watching "Black in America" is a call to arms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The time is now, the burden is on us. We have to do everything that we can do to make sure that our people are successful.
CANDIOTTI: Invited by the mentoring networking group 100 Black Men of Greater Ft. Lauderdale, an overflowed crowd weighed in on the CNN documentary. Jeffrey and Bernadette Edwards (ph) are a working couple married just two years. They were intrigued by the story of an Arkansas man who seemed to have it all: a successful job, beautiful home, three sons -- then, one of them was arrested for assault.
JEFFREY EDWARDS: Didn't have to end up that way, but it did, you know? You know the father was devastated, you know, about the situation.
CANDIOTTI: Bernadette Edwards was surprised by the story of an educated young man with two daughters who struggled to find a steady job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm far from lazy.
BERNADETTE EDWARDS: He had some college, he was intelligent, he's well-spoken. You would think it would be easy to find a job.
CANDIOTTI: For 18-year-old Jerome Blair (ph) who's starting college in the fall --
CROWD (singing): Happy birthday to you!
CANDIOTTI: -- a segment about nearly 60 percent of all black children growing up without a father hit home. Jerome's father abandoned him when he was only three. Jerome is convinced he'll be different.
JEROME BLAIR: I know what it feels like and I'll never let it happen.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): Organizers of this event say for them, the importance of "Black in America" is to outline problems for a national audience and then localize them and find solutions.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, Ft. Lauderdale.
WHITFIELD: And reaction on our CNN i-Report Web site has been huge. Josh Levs has been tracking all of your responses and he joins us now.
How are you keeping track of it all?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we have more than 1,000, more than 1,000 i-Reports in response to this or just weighing in in general on the experience of being black in America. Some really amazing stuff. You can see me behind me, the major .com page that focuses on this, CNN.com/blackinamerica.
But you can also go to i-Report.com and you'll see it right there. So many responses. Some of them coming in the form of video. We're going to start right now with a little bit we got from Dr. George Daniels who is a professor of journalism at the University of Alabama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. GEORGE L. DANIELS, TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA: I think we have reached an important point in our understanding about race in America from health disparities to educational differences to relationship challenges. We've got some insights tonight that we have not seen ever reported in the way they were reported tonight at CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: He calls it a "journalism standout" that he wants to use to teach his students, but not everything we're getting is positive. We're going to be balanced here.
I want to share with you a little bit of criticism that we got from Brian Sowell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN SOWELL, LOS ANGELES: I thought it was basically scratching the surface of the true African-American experience, which you know I can understand how it would be difficult to really get in-depth into it on CNN in such a short span of time, but I think it mainly gives an idea for non-African-Americans because what was said is -- what's known already by most African-Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: All right, now also, not everybody is sending us video. Some people are just sending us pictures, telling us your stories as well. Again, we're seeing it run the gamut from the negative to the positive all over the place. I'm going to start off with one bit of criticism we've got here. This is from Sonya Freeman who tells us that the way she feels. She says, "It showed little to none of my experience as a black woman in America. It does nothing to show poor, sick, and uneducated black people without a thorough explanation as to why they're in that situation. "Black in America" failed to explore the factors and comparisons of white privilege in this country and how it has affected the black community."
But let's go quickly now to Nicoya Landry who has a great deal of praise for this and she says, "I knew there were things going on in our community but never as blunt or harsh as CNN has put it for me. I wanted to overlook the problems and move on to my future. I realize my future is our black community. I want to thank you guys because it was an eye-opener for me and though it saddened me, it pulled me to want to get out there and help our young black kids."
Now, if you want to join in on this conversation, let us know what you think of the special or what your experience is being black in America. Simply go to ireport.com. I'm going to scroll down here. Maybe we can close in on the screen for a second. I'll scroll down. You can see some of the many that we're getting. People sending us photos, videos, just their own experiences. Anything you want to do to join in on this conversation, ireport.com.
And Fred, we're going to keep going through these and keep sharing all sorts of different responses, whether it's to the special or something that the special made you think about. We love that, ireport.com and CNN.com are now really a place to have this dialogue about whatever being black in America is meaning to people today.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and we know you and we are going to be busy all weekend long because the "Black in America" documentaries are going to re-air this weekend beginning with tonight. So, a lot of folks who didn't get to see all of it during the week will get another opportunity to do so and then maybe feed us your response out there, those of you who are going to be watching it again tonight or for the first time ...
WHITFIELD: ...this evening.
LEVS: Yes, we've got a team right here that's going through them as they come in.
WHITFIELD: Yes, all right, good. Josh Levs, thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: But we're not done talking about this topic and what it has meant to so many people. This has been an opportunity for all Americans as a whole to get a glimpse at what it means to be black in America.
Here now is CNN's Soledad O'Brien with a story of a young black man looking for work. This is part of the documentary.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Queens, New York, Monday morning, April 14th. Thirty-two-year-old Corey Mackey (ph) is getting dressed for a job interview. He's a high school graduate with some college credits and no criminal record. Last November, he landed a job at a glass production company, but three months later, the company was sold and relocated. Corey's been looking for a job ever since.
Corey applied for a position as a merchandise manager at a local store and received this reply, instructing him to meet the store manager in person. We wanted to see how the meeting would go, so we placed a hidden camera on Corey to record his job interview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, somebody call you to come in?
COREY MACKEY: No, when I applied online, on you know on -- through the Internet, they tell me the next step was to go to this store in person and ask to speak to the store manager.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, the way the process goes, you know, the human resources manager is the one who do the interviews and he's the one who actually, you know, do all the hiring. And he's not here today.
O'BRIEN: Corey is given this job application and a promise that someone will get back to him. To this day, Corey hasn't heard back from anyone at the store.
Corey lives with his girlfriend Gina and their one-year-old daughter Janice (ph) in the Queens Bridge Projects, one of the poorest and toughest communities in America.
(on camera): Do you go to college?
MACKEY: Yes, Essex County College, but then I had my first daughter, so I stopped to start working.
O'BRIEN: So, that's little baby Janice?
MACKEY: No, that's Kiara (ph). Yes, Kiara, she'll be 10 in August.
O'BRIEN: So, two kids?
MACKEY: Yes, two kids.
O'BRIEN: Do you look at them ever and say, if I hadn't the kids, I could be a college grad?
MACKEY: No, no, I never look at them and think that at all. I love them to death. I do what I do for them.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): The fact is with kids and no college degree, it's a lot harder for young black men like Corey. That same afternoon, he begins his job search again.
MACKEY: Kind of getting frustrated here.
O'BRIEN: Adding to his woes, his cell phone might be cut off. And that's his only way of following up with potential employers.
MACKEY: How badly do I need a job? If it was on a scale of one to 10, it'd be like a 13, 14 right now.
WHITFIELD: And we followed up with Corey. And we did that one month after we shot this story, Soledad shot this story. Corey found a full-time job and is now working two jobs to help support his family.
And of course, if you missed any of CNN's groundbreaking documentary "Black in America," you can see the whole show this weekend, tonight 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eastern. It's the opportunity to see the documentary everyone is talking about, "Black in America."
And of course, we'll continue to talk about it for the rest of this hour as well. Just how did "Black in America" get on the air in the first place? We'll hear from Soledad O'Brien and the person in charge of the program, Mark Nelson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being black in America to me is about being a strong individual. Me being a black male, an African-American male, I know that it takes a lot of strength, a lot of fight, but it's more important that it's not what is it like to be in America as a black American, but what does it mean to be an American?
I think it's time for us as a country to unite and stop talking about black America and white America, and become an American, a country of one, where people support one another and help one another and I think that can happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I-Reporters aren't the only ones sounding off on our special reports about black in America. Fellow journalists are giving us a lot of feedback as well. Soledad O'Brien worked on "Black in America" for 18 months and she talked about its impact so far with the man who oversaw the program.
O'BRIEN: I'm curious to know some of the feedback that you've been getting since you arrived at Unity. Some folks may not know that that is the big multi-cultural conference for journalists of color. What's their reaction been? MARK NELSON, SR. EXECUTIVE VP, CNN PRODUCTIONS: Well, it's been truly amazing. Let me just say there are so many people here who watched last night and so many people have told me that they plan to watch again tonight.
I'm really kind of taken back by all of the positive responses. People coming up to me and telling me, I understand. This is the first time they have seen an issue taken on their issue, taken on as sensitively as we took it on last night. I was -- you know, I was humbled by all of the attention and all of the response.
O'BRIEN: I'm curious to know outside of Unity, which is the minority conference for journalists, how about your own personal friends and family? I don't know if you got this question as I did, which was, well, is this documentary for white people or for black people? Who did you make it for? And since you're the guy who really pretty much signed the checks --
O'BRIEN: -- who do we make it for?
NELSON: You know, my -- you know, I think we made it for all Americans, but we certainly -- and we made it for all Americans because I think we all believe at CNN that there have been stories that have been either not told or stories that have been undertold or stories that, I believe, paint a picture that is not necessarily accurate. And so, since black Americans and white Americans and all Americans live side by side, I believe that it's for all of us.
You know, it's interesting. I got a phone call from my sister who lives here in the Chicagoland area. And she is a single mother. She raised two children. And she -- you know, she identified with so many of the issues that were brought up last night and felt much closer to understanding that you know, what she went through is something that is far more pervasive in the black community here in Chicagoland and in America.
WHITFIELD: Well, "Black in America" has generated a lot of conversation on the Web as we've been underscoring. Well, our own T.J. Holmes has been writing a blog for us under the headline of "Black in America" and he's been getting quite the response. He's going to be joining us live to talk a bit more about it.
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SALVALAS COLBERT, LOS ANGELES: Not everyone was raised on hip- hop. Not everyone's from the hood. Not everyone knows about the ghetto. And it's good to show that part of it, but it's also good to show that not all African-Americans are from one general area.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right, well you, our viewers, have had a lot to say about our "Black in America" series, and T.J. Holmes has been blogging at CNN.com and as a result of that blog, you've gotten --
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: I didn't know what I was getting into.
WHITFIELD: -- yes, you got a huge response.
WHITFIELD: And that's why we've invited him to stick around ...
WHITFIELD: ...make your morning really long ...
HOLMES: It's no sweat (ph), all right, good to be with you.
WHITFIELD: ...and talk about it because you know, yours was just very, you know, straight from the heart. Straight from your memory of certain experiences that you've had that on the surface, you know, is loose for interpretation based on what some of the viewers --
HOLMES: The responses I've gotten.
WHITFIELD: -- have or readers have said.
HOLMES: And again, like I said in the blog is I haven't been the victim of a lot of blatant racism in my life. I just have not, but this was one incident and there it is there and see -- no, I don't play for the 49ers is the title of it. And this was an incident where a gentleman came up to me at a car wash. He saw a young black man, which I was at the time, just a few years ago.
WHITFIELD: Still are.
HOLMES: Still, kind of. I had on -- you know, washing my car. I was in jeans, a tank top. I don't know, a baseball cap on backwards, whatever it was. But he came up and asked hey, man I just got to know, what do you guys know to drive nice vehicles like that? He went on to ask me if I played for the 49ers. And we -- he's a nice enough guy, white guy. He wasn't being nasty, he wasn't being rude, but he was really puzzled as to why a young black man could have this nice vehicle and --
WHITFIELD: Yes, and you feel like he made the assumption that --
HOLMES: He did, and ...
WHITFIELD: -- in order for you to afford the car, you must be a professional athlete.
HOLMES: Doing something other than went to college, got a degree, started a successful career. And a lot of people have responses we got, are just -- I mean, some of them very positive, I'm glad that I shared it with, many are saying I was being a bit sensitive.
And one thing maybe I didn't explain enough in the blog is that yes, in fact, the man admitted to me that he made that assumption. He admitted that to me that yes, I saw a young black man here. We had a discussion about race there. And again, a nice enough guy, it was just a very telling moment for me in my life to have to be the victim of that kind -- and I don't call it racism in the blog. It's just a racial bias.
WHITFIELD: And maybe it was -- it was a labeling. I mean, there's nothing ...
WHITFIELD: ...wrong with being a professional athlete.
HOLMES: Not at all, no, no.
WHITFIELD: That's not what's being said here. It's that there's an asumption being made: there's only one way perhaps if you're a black man in order to obtain something or a material possession.
HOLMES: Something other than education. Something other than hard work. Something other than a career.
And some of the responses I have, a couple here. And there are many, some 900 plus on there, which surprised me. But Dan from Indianapolis shared this. And he said, "I am a 6'6" pharmaceutical sales rep and I get these questions all the time, mainly from older white Americans."
He said, "I used to get angry about it because I wonder why a black man can't just go to college and get an education." And he goes on to joke here a little bit. He says, now he answers, "No, I actually used to be a horse jockey in the Kentucky Derby." He was being funny there.
But -- and then another, Aaron ...
HOLMES: At 6'6". And then Aaron here, and this is -- these are some that we're getting as well that says "I think too many people cry racial bias when it's nothing so serious. I think blacks cry and complain too much. Whites and other races experience it, too, but you don't hear them complain."
And you know, everybody has their opinion about it, but for me and this experience, again, I haven't had many of them but I just wanted to share it. They asked me to share it and I shared this experience, but this is supposed to be the point right, to just start the conversation.
WHITFIELD: Yes and what made -- yes, and what made you write about that particular incident? Why is it that's the one kind of thing, one of a few things that may have really stood out even though you just made it clear you haven't felt a lot of racial bias before?
HOLMES: Because I have -- I've been called the N word just like so many others that we know and this was one that stood out to where, you know what, he's not necessarily -- he doesn't hate me because I'm black, he just thinks something differently. He sees me maybe as inferior or maybe different. We look at each other and we jump to conclusions about what we see.
And there was a young lady I met at North Carolina A&T when we were doing the "Black in America" series and she said to me --
WHITFIELD: Visiting college campus.
HOLMES: Yes, yes, visiting college campuses. And she -- I love what she said. She said, I don't care if they see me in -- a black woman first. I just care when they see black, what they think when they see it and that stayed with me and that's the point. She said, fine, see me as a black woman first, but when you see black, I don't want you to think something negative, I don't want you to think professional athlete, I want you to just think something more positive when you see blacks.
So, that's always stood with me. And that's kind of an experience I have there ...
HOLMES: ...and I've shared it and people continue to share their response.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and your blog continues to be there at CNN.com and people continue to read. If they haven't read it and now, you're really interested now and you want to because you've heard T.J. talk about it, you need to do so and then perhaps write in your response, your reaction because we are fielding the response. Viewers, e- mailers, everybody who's talking about it and Josh Levs has been tracking a lot of it as well. He'll be joining us as well.
More on "Black in America."
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I beliebe Dr. King's dream is still relevant to me in my generation because the dream was for me in my generation, to provide us with the ability to attend college, to live the life that we want to live, to be able to have the things that our ancestors didn't have. And the dream is very important and is still ongoing -- it's still an ongoing fight and it's something that we believe and have to teach to our children.
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WHITFIELD: We've received a lot of responses and a lot of testimonies of people from all walks who are talking about and volunteering their experiences about what it is to be black in America, that was just one example.
Our Josh Levs has been monitoring and going through so much material and what do you have now?
LEVS: Yes, it's really interesting the kinds of angles that we're getting here. Some things I want to share with you. We're going to start off with a video that we got go from Vince Priester who tells us that he feels that these days, too much of being black in America has become about being studied in documentaries and films.
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VINCE PRIESTER, IREPORTER: It's like we're some type of sociological lab rat and I myself, a black man, really feel that pressure. Also, I think that we need to move forward from documentaries and historical research and take action, actual education, the restructuring and renovation of the black family and just a sense of pride and a sense of being an American.
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LEVS: And Fred, in the little time we have left, I want to share a couple more with you, of people who sent us photos and some stories. Starting of now with Anthony Williams, who tells us this. He says, "I think we as black men want society to feel what we go through on a daily basis. It's sad that I feel scared and don't want to come out of the house when the police bulletin states they're look for 6 ft. black male, between 170-200 pounds. I worry I will get pulled over and some police officer will decide to shoot first and ask questions later."
Finally this, this is an interesting take from Francesca Sampson- Nowlin who had a very different experience being born in Holland. She says, "When I arrived in the U.S. in the '80s, I was really surprised by the emphasis on race. I had never been asked that before. I don't consider myself black or white. I feel that if I choose one ethnicity, I would be denying another. I embrace everything that I am and suffer the injustices of all minorities."
Now, we encourage you to share your thoughts, your videos, your videos, your photos, whatever you may have about being black in America or about the special that we have. You have feelings about it, weigh in it at ireport.com. You can see -- I'm going to scroll through. We keep getting more and more and more.
Fred, they are coming in. This is one of the most popular i- Report topics in our history. As I mentioned earlier already, more than 1,000 i-Reports, and we have a team right now going through them. So, keep them coming and we will keep sharing them on the air with you.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and that's what makes this commitment of "Black in America," this commitment that CNN has made so much more complete because of the responses we're able to field from so many people of all walks. Bring them in via e-mail or video.
We appreciate it. Thanks so much, Josh.
LEVS: You got it, thanks.
WHITFIELD: And of course, if you missed any of CNN's groundbreaking documentary "Black in America," you can see the whole show this weekend. Tonight at 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. Eastern. It's your opportunity to see the documentary everyone is talking about, "Black in America."
And "YOUR MONEY" is coming up next, but first, a look at the top stories.