Return to Transcripts main page


Democratic National Convention Starts; What Does It Take to Be Middle Class?

Aired September 5, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: From London to Louisiana, Charlotte to Atlanta, we`ve got it covered in this Wednesday edition of CNN`s STUDENT NEWS. Hello, everyone. I`m Carl Azuz.

We`re kicking things off today with convention coverage. Last week, it was the Republicans, this week, it`s the Democrats. You`re going to notice a lot of similarities between the two conventions. At least in terms of what is actually going on. For example, both started with the similar vote. It was to adopt the party platform, that`s the official position on major political issues.

The first full day of the Democratic convention wrapped up with two major speeches. The first one came from the first lady, Michelle Obama, the other was the keynote address.

That was made by Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Organizers say that Mayor Castro is the first Latino to give the keynote speech at a Democratic convention.

Tonight, former president Bill Clinton is scheduled to address the convention.


BILL CLINTON: So, folks ...


AZUZ: And last week, President Obama was out of the campaign trail while the Republicans held their convention this week while the Democrats are gathered in Charlotte, Paul Ryan, the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, is out campaigning.

Parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast are cleaning up after the storm named Isaac hit the region a week ago. A lot of people were forced to leave their homes because of the storm, many of them are coming back, but they`re facing new challenges. Rebuilding is difficult enough, but it`s happening in extreme temperatures. National Weather Service says the heat index has been somewhere between 100 and 105 degrees. So that`s what it feels like. What`s making things worse, is that tens of thousands of residents still don`t have power and that, or course, means no air conditioning.

Officials are warning people to be careful about possible heat stroke, they are also keeping an eye on some rivers and lakes that are still in danger of flooding.

Politicians and financial experts talk a lot about economic classes, especially the middle class. The U.S. Census Bureau doesn`t have an official definition of the middle class, but the U.S. Commerce Department says most Americans think of themselves as being part of the middle class. So, what does that mean? Christine Romans looks at some new research.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What does it take to be in the middle class? Well, Pew research asked that question the people at survey, then 86 percent says it takes a secure job to be considered part of the middle class. 66 percent said health insurance, and 45 percent, fewer than half, said it`s a home, homeownership is what it takes to be in the middle class. It shows you just how preoccupied Americans are these days with the job. Let`s flash back, shall we, to 1991.

What were people saying then? Well, back then 70 percent of people surveyed said, hey, it`s owning a home that puts you in the middle class. Two or more cars? Almost half said, hey, two or more cars, that`s how you define whether you are in the middle class. A college education, almost half said that was what was important. Look, down here, at number five, 33 percent said, a white-collar job is what makes it for the middle class. You know, it`s interesting because it shows you just how times have changed. It shows you how preoccupied people are right now with the idea of having a secure job, and that is the key to the middle class, because back then, in 1991, people assumed the economy would give them a job, and it was the consumer parts of the culture that defined middle class for them.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for "The Shoutout." Which of these is another term for a tour guide? If you think you know it, shout it out!

Is it: Magistrate, docent, curator, or ombudsman? You`ve got three seconds. Go! Tour guides are sometimes called docent. Which comes from a Latin word that means "to teach". That`s your answer, and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: You might expect to see a docent at a museum or a national park. But here in Atlanta, there are tour guides working at a place you might not expect: a cemetery. And they are living up to that Latin translation of their title. We tied along for a recent tour with a group of Georgia students who spent some time learning history among the gravestones.


JOAN FOUNTAIN, OAKLAND CEMETERY TOUR: Welcome to Atlanta, Georgia. This is historic Oakland Cemetery established in 1850. My name is Joan Fountain, and I`ll be you docent today.

I`m going to introduce you to Mr. Jasper Newton Smith. We call him the mayor of Oakland, and as you can see he cuts a fun figure sitting right up here.

DAVID MOORE, HISTORIC OAKLAND FOUNDATION: I`m David Moore, the executive director for the historic Oaken Foundation.

One of the things that we do here at Oakland is just to share it with the community, particularly with the school kids that come through here, in groups to hear the stories about Atlanta, to learn about some of the history.

This is like an outdoor museum, you can learn a lot from being here and just reading the wonderful epitaphs and hearing the stories about Atlanta that`s given by our tour guides.

FOUNTAIN: We have over 70,000 residents here at Oakland, if you fill that the Georgia Dome, that would be about as many people as reside here in Oakland.

JENNIFER SWIFT, TEACHER, PAIDELA SCHOOL: I`m Jennifer Swift, and I teach at the Paidela School, it`s a private independent school in Atlanta, Georgia.

We are doing a two week unit with our class on the history of Atlanta.

FOUNTAIN: Back in the 1850s they didn`t have the same equipment we do to determine when somebody is really dead.

SWIFT: I love all the old stories. And sort of making history come to life.

MOORE: It`s a resource for kids to come with their teachers and their chaperones to get a real good taste of southern history, national history and even international history here as well.

DEAN FARRIS, STUDENT, PAIDELA SCHOOL: Learning about history in the classroom, it`s more boring, but this is - you can really experience it, and it`s more fun to learn about this stuff.

SHIVANI BEALL, STUDENT, PAIDELA SCHOOL: It`s a lot more interesting than just learning it from a book.

MOORE: When our kids come through here in groups, and they learn about their past, they are able to kind of figure out what life is all about for themselves.

BEALL: The tour was really like informative, but it was also very fun to walk around and see everything.

I thought it was interesting that like there were so many individual people in there that I`d never heard their names before, and they still had all their own stories.

FOUNTAIN: This is the Lion of Atlanta, a very beautiful peace, it`s in honor of the Confederate Unknowns.

ROBBIE HOLLEY, STUDENT, PAIDELA SCHOOL: This is a lot more real like reading the history books, you just like memorize it for your tests, but now it`s like just staying in my brain forever, like it`s an experience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, if you can I.D. me. My motto means, all things for all people, everywhere. I was established in 1849 in London. I`m one of the world`s largest department stores.

I`m Harrods, and I have about 15 million customers every year.


AZUZ: Harrods is just trying something different with its toy department. It`s made the massive space gender neutral, which means there are no longer separate sections for toys that are traditionally marketed to boys and those traditionally marketed to girls.

Instead, the Harrods toy kingdom groups toys by themes. There is a circus area with stuffed animals, a science fiction space with Ironman and Halo figures. Harrods doesn`t want kids to feel like they have to play with certain toys because of the kids` gender. The critics say, gender neutral marketing won`t really make a difference to most people. Kids have an idea of what they want before they go into the store, so they`ll just have to find it differently. Harrods is not the first toy store to do this, the idea for a gender neutral toy department has been around for a while. The question is, is it a good one? Do you think toys should be grouped by the gender that typically plays with them or not grouped at all, or does it even make a difference? Tell us on our blog at

All right, fair warning: today`s "before we go" segment contains some PDA. Nothing serious, just some hand holding, but only one of the hands is human, the others belong to a seal.

It`s always nice to make new friends, even if you are under water.

At first, the seal tried to nibble on a diver`s shoulder, but then the hand made a much better and sweeter target. Even got a pat on the head. Looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Maybe on the diver`s next trip down there, they can seal it with a kiss. Think about it. It`d be a tale of true love.

That`s all for CNNSTUDENTNEWS. I`m Carl Azuz, and we`ll see you Thursday.