Return to Transcripts main page
THE VAN JONES SHOW
One-on-One Interviews With Former Vice President Al Gore, Andrew Young And Ryan Coogler. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 7, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:19] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Good evening. Welcome to the VAN JONES SHOW. I'm Van Jones.
We have another amazing program for you tonight. And you deserve another amazing show because it's been another insane week here in America.
Quick recap. Yes, we are still talking about payoffs to porn stars. I don't remember that under the Obama administration. And on top of that now we have got fears of a trade war with China. Looks like we might just give Syria to Russia because hey, it was Tuesday. And Trump is going to put military troops on our southern border to protect America from scary caravans of people who want a job.
So we could do a whole show just on that or any -- you know, a million other crazy things. But I would like to take a step back with this show and listen to the reality visionaries, the people out here that can give us a deeper perspective and try to help us make sense of all this stuff because it can get overwhelming.
So I want you to be very, very happy tonight. There is no brighter visionary on planet earth than the great Al Gore. And he is in the building right now.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: Al Gore is in the building. That's going to be nuts.
Also we are going to hear from a top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was on the balcony 50 years ago this week when the dreamer was shot down, but this man refused to let the dream die. On our show tonight, ambassador Andrew Young.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: It's going to be an amazing show.
Speaking of Dr. King, the '60s actually taught us that cultural change could be just as important as political change, and we have got a modern cultural tsunami of the "Black Panther." It is still shattering records. It is still making history weeks and weeks after its release.
With us tonight, the young director of that blockbuster film, Ryan Coogler, also on the VAN JONES SHOW. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: So we have got a bad show.
And I just want to hear from you guys. Because the daily news, the hourly news, the minutely news is enough to drive you nuts these days. These are some of the people that remind me to look past all this chaos. When you want to create real change, you want to do something great, it requires strategy, determination, hard work, and a long-term view. And I keep telling people, don't get distracted. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. In a democracy the main thing is simple. Winning elections.
If you're concerned about American democracy, porn star scandals are not going to save you. OK? Robert Mueller is not going to save you. The Republicans in Congress aren't going to impeach Trump and save you, period.
Trump is not going to self-destruct. If you want to change the course in either party win elections. Facebook posts do not win elections. Angry tweets, yelling at the TV does not win elections. If a bunch of politicians get fired in November that will send the loudest message that the nonsense needs to stop. OK?
This is probably the most important midterm election of our lives. Act like it. Please, act like it. Now, nobody cares more about our democracy than our next guest. We have got a living legend, a Nobel- prize winner. The winner of the popular vote in the 2000 Presidential election. A global champion for the people, a champion for the planet. Please welcome to the VAN JONES SHOW my friend, vice President Al Gore.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
JONES: Living legend.
GORE: That was a little bit over the top there.
JONES: All true. All true.
And I'm somebody, I spent eight years cursing the Supreme Court for in my view robbing you of being President. After 14 months of Donald Trump, though, don't you miss w a little bit? I mean, don't even you miss --
GORE: I got a kick out of former President George W. Bush saying he is making me look good. He had a great sense of humor about that.
JONES: I want to get your assessment of the real threat to our democracy. I don't think we should overreact. I don't think we should underreact. I think we need to be very sober, very clear-eyed. Some people feel like our democracy is maybe - we are at risk of losing it. How do you assess the dangers we are facing with this presidency? [19:05:03] GORE: Well, it's a great question. And by the way, Van,
just to lay it on thick a little bit for you. I really enjoy hearing your voice out there. I like the way you think and articulate values that I think it's really important for the country to hear on a regular basis.
And the question you have asked is a really important one, obviously. And I would start by saying that our American system has an impressive amount of resilience built into it, and I would bet on American democracy surviving this bleak period for sure. But the challenge is stiffer than any we faced in my lifetime.
I remember the early '70s when President Richard Nixon was authorizing burglaries and fire bombings and break-ins and all that, and we survived that. But this is something different. And the constitution is under assault. The democratic norms that are not always written down but have always been observed for a quarter of a millennium now, they are under attack. But I think we'll survive, it but it's a stiff challenge.
JONES: Do you think it's more Trump and far right extremists or do you think it's more Putin kind of pulling everybody's strings?
GORE: Well, Putin is a threat. And I think he appears to be trying to reverse the outcome of the cold war. And I think Russia has phantom empire pain. But I think there are other causes here. FOX News. The Rush Limbaugh variety of talk radio that's all over the country. You look at that Sinclair broadcasting --
JONES: That's terrible.
GORE: -- wall of commentary last week, which was chilling. It had a totalitarian feel to it.
JONES: Every anchor across the country is ordered to say exactly the same thing, regardless of their own opinion or what their local conditions are, ordered to say exactly the same thing. Does that kind of thing bother you as somebody --?
GORE: Very much so. And there was a specific deal made by Sinclair with somebody in the White House giving them special access in return for them parroting the Trump line. And then FOX News has played a major role. Not everybody there. People like Shep Smith and others just really do an outstanding objective job by my lights. But the main message there is really almost like a state propaganda channel.
And you add all that together with Vladimir Putin and the hacking of our system, the stealing of emails, and then the very precise use of that information to try to elect Donald Trump. Was it responsible for it? Well, there are many separate factors, and it's hard to tease that one completely out. But I expect we'll get a pretty good approximation of that before all the investigations are done.
JONES: Well, Mr. Vice President, part of the thing is that you have got this kind of air pollution from some of the worst in media and then you gave got real air pollution thanks to people like Scott Pruitt. I mean, I think we have got the worst EPA person ever. I mean, how do you evaluate a Scott Pruitt? First on an ethical basis. This guy seems to be a kleptocrat (ph) of some kind. And that's before you even get to the bad stuff he is doing to the planet. Talk to us about Scott Pruitt. What would you do if you were President and you had someone like Scott Pruitt on your staff?
GORE: Well, as Tim Cook said the other day in a different situation, I wouldn't be in that situation. Former governor Chris Christie, who was originally tapped to lead the transition, said last week he never should have been -- Scott Pruitt never should have been appointed in the first place because the judgment calls he made as attorney general in Oklahoma were filled with the same kind of stuff that he is doing now.
I will tell you that I would be very surprised if 90 percent of the American people looking at the facts of that situation did not think there was the appearance of outright corruption there. And Donald Trump ought to fire him. It won't do any good for me to say that. But if I told him to keep him on, maybe that would make him fire him.
But honestly, regardless of party, regardless of ideology or his policies, the American people have a right to believe there is some modicum of integrity in the way our government is operating. And if someone who is making decisions on the levels of permissible pollution from a facility that's represented by a lobbyist who is giving money in effect, you look at the terms of that lease, it's really, really obvious.
Again, there are others who will determine the facts. But I'm surprised that Donald Trump has not listened to General Kelly, who according to reports has been saying for quite some time you have got to get rid of this guy. He is making everybody look bad.
[19:10:26] JONES: Well, listen. It's hard to make the Trump administration look worse, but he really is doing that. And it's not just these kind of crimes against America's pocketbooks and America's values. The Trump administration has been doing serious damage to the environment. And when we say the environment, what we mean is kids' health.
JONES: We are talking about pro-pollution, pro-poison, anti-health decisions coming from the White House. They have approved pipelines that are already leaking. They pulled us out of Paris.
GORE: And the air pollution makes people sick. And it's well known. And by allowing much more air pollution in our cities and in our country, he will make more people sick. And by the way, African- American children are three times more likely to suffer from the diseases of air pollution, twice as likely to have asthma, because according to, you know, the principles of environmental justice, we know that the plumes of this pollution are way more likely to go into communities that don't have the political and economic power to defend themselves, and so that's where the first damage is done. JONES: I'm so glad you brought that up. I actually have -- did my
own research into this. You're somebody who's been talking about this for a long time. I want you to see what I found out on the same point.
JONES: The political fight over climate change and the environment says either you care about the planet --
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We have a moral responsibility to protect this earth for our children and our grandchildren.
JONES: -- or you care about American workers.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: WE are lifting job- killing restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, clean coal and shale energy.
JONES: But the truth is you can care about both. This is especially true if you are a racial minority or a low-income person.
Polluters are much more likely to build in black and Latino neighborhoods and expose residents there to harmful chemicals and hazardous waste. In fact, a recent study from scientists affiliated with the EPA also found racial minorities and poor whites are more likely be exposed to unhealthy air.
The EPA found African-Americans are reporting the highest rates of asthma. Native Americans reporting the highest number of cases of asthma attacks. The climate crisis is actually affecting the pocketbooks of all Americans. Increased wildfires and droughts are driving up the costs of everybody's groceries. And the costs of these climate-related disasters keep pushing up the bill for taxpayers. That pulls money away from important stuff like education and health care.
The worry is when you start thinking about cleaner solutions is that it might cost us millions of jobs we have right now. Manufacturers, people working in coal or oil. But there is a way to fight pollution and poverty at the same time. Good green jobs could put unemployed folks in the heartland and the cities back to work. Weatherizing homes, putting up solar panels, building wind farms.
They also avoid the health and safety risks of working with dirty fossil fuels. Jobs versus the environment is a false choice.
JONES: You have been making this point for so long. I just want you -- tell us why it's wrong to imagine that America can't have a clean energy economy that is also a high employment economy. GORE: Look at the latest report from the U.S. bureau of labor
statistics. The number one fastest-growing job in the United States for the last several years has been solar panel installer. Solar jobs are now growing nine times faster than other jobs in the economy.
What is the second fastest growing job? Wind turbine technician.
What is the source of work that could be done by people in every community? Retrofitting buildings.
These are jobs that are waiting to be filled, and the cost of the renewables is coming down. It saves people money. By the way, in Kentucky, neighboring Tennessee, the famous coal museum in Kentucky just installed solar panels all over its roof because it's saving them money. So you create jobs. You make the air cleaner.
JONES: Listen. When we come back, we are going to talk about a lot of this stuff. We have got a lot more with the former vice President when we get back including how he tries to get through to climate deniers and skeptics.
Plus we are going to get his early take on the Democrats who may challenge President Trump in 2020.
As we go to break, you know I like to hear from everybody. And here's what you had to say about climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:15:016] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm angry that the fossil fuel industry has been making billions of dollars off making the problem worse. They are profiting and my generation is paying the price.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Decisions we make now will have major impacts on weather patterns and how extreme weather is in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:18:39] GORE: The next generation, if they live in a world of floods and storms and rising seas and droughts and refugees by the millions escaping unlivable conditions, destabilizing countries around the world, they would be well justified in looking back at us and asking, what were you thinking? Couldn't you hear what the scientists were saying? Couldn't you hear what Mother Nature was screaming at you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW. We are here with former vice President al gore. You just heard a clip
from him fired up in his documentary. Yes, you were fired up. You were preaching. And I love it. It's called "the inconvenient sequel: truth to power." And it actually can get it on DVD.
Listen, you have been a prophet on this. I remember you back when nobody was talking about this. You got the whole world to talk about it. And yet I think for a lot of our viewers, when we try to raise this stuff with our cousins and people we went to high school with, we sometimes just get shot down, shut down. What do you find are some of the arguments that at least can land with somebody who's skeptical? I know sometimes this feels impossible. But you must have found some things that work better than others.
GORE: Well, the jobs issue we talked about earlier is beginning to make a real impact. And the fact that people can get electricity cheaper from solar and wind than they can from continuing to burn fossil fuels is also having an impact.
And as I mentioned in that clip you showed, Mother Nature is joining this debate now. We had $320 billion worth of damages last year alone, from the hurricanes that hit and the other climate-related disasters. And the scientists were proven right when they warned us this was coming.
The fact that the scientists were right decades ago when they told us about what we are going through now should make us pay more careful attention to what they are warning us lies ahead unless we take action. But it's certainly true, Van, that you will encounter people who see the denial of the climate crisis as kind of a badge of identity. And if they depart from that view, they risk being excommunicated from their political peer group.
When you encounter someone like that, one thing is to listen respectfully and try to understand what part of this is throwing them off and then zero in on that, point them to what is happening with the weather. Actually, a lot of people are taking notice of this. And even they don't feel comfortable using language like climate crisis or global warming, they are beginning to say hey, this weather is getting pretty off and we need -- we may need to do something about this.
[19:21:26] JONES: We have got the midterm elections coming up. I think a lot of people spend time, you know, praying that the FBI's going to drag Trump out of office in handcuffs tomorrow. But I think it's going to come down to the vote. What would it mean for this whole conversation if for instance the Democrats get their act together and take the house back in November?
GORE: Oh, it would mean everything. And I really -- I know you have been also impressed with these Parkland high school -- the Parkland, Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school students who have been so eloquent. And they haven't wavered in saying register and vote. None of this is going to change until people vote in larger numbers and have that passion.
I remember the marches, march for our lives a couple of weeks ago, I remember the 11-year-old African-American girl who stood up and said, look, my -- and she had led a walkout from her elementary school. And she said my classmates and I may be 11 but just remember, it's only seven years until we can vote. And there are millions who can vote coming out of high schools every month, every year. But keeping that determination and keeping your eyes on the prize, which is the ballot box.
JONES: Why are Democrats having such a hard time, period? I remember 2008 as a beautiful moment. And now here we are ten years later. We lost the house, the Senate, the White House, Supreme Court, governorships all over the place, and people apparently didn't know the Democratic Party was in trouble until Trump won, but we have been losing seats for a long time. What do you think is wrong with the Democratic Party right now?
GORE: Well, first of all, there are some things right with it. I look at some of the new generation of House and Senate members, some of the young governors and governors like Jerry Brown too. And I feel a great deal of pride and confidence in what they are saying.
But the Democratic Party as a whole got a little bit trapped into this money-raising cycle that came in with television ads being the coin of the realm. When I ran last time in 2000, you know, I was attacked by some of knows Democrats for my slogan, I want to represent the people, not the powerful. And I thought the Clinton-Gore administration did a really good job. But I thought by the end of that decade we really needed attention to give power back to the people to deal with the rising inequality.
We have been seeing with the globalization of the employment marketplace downward pressure on wages, and the capture of policy by elites who give so much money to campaigns and spend so much money lobbying, even giving cut rent to the head of a regulatory agency, and there are many other stories like that. We have seen a shift in power.
Now, I had always been hopeful that the internet-based immediate y, including social media, would have a healing effect, but then the Russians took it over and the hackers and the robots and all of that.
JONES: Who is out there that you think might be able to accomplish some of this? You are talking about power to the people. That sounds a little like Bernie Sanders. Do you think a Bernie Sanders run would be a welcome --?
GORE: Well, I'm not going to pick and choose candidates. We are not even to the 2018 elections yet. I will make one comment on Bernie Sanders separate and apart from his issues and agenda. I agreed with him on some things, disagreed with him on some others.
But here's one thing that I really admired about his campaign. He did not accept any of the special interests' big contributions and instead relied on internet-based fundraising and small contributions. As separate and apart from Bernie as an individual. I like him.
[19:25:23] JONES: That strategy. GORE: That strategy I think is really important. I think people are
sick to death of the dominance by big money of our democracy. Our democracy was hacked before Vladimir Putin hacked it. It was hacked by big money. And they have acquired a degree of control over the policies that govern our lives and the laws that are written by lobbyists in the back room and then just rubber-stamped by the Congress.
JONES: You have been a vice President. You know the importance of actually having had a chance to see it up close. A Joe Biden would also have those benefits.
GORE: Well, again, I'm not going to tip one direction or another on these candidates. I will tell you, I have known Joe for a long time. I like him a lot. He and I ran against one another for President in 1988. I was 38 when I announced. If you look up chutzpah in the dictionary, it will have a picture of my announcement speech. But I have known him, served in the Senate with him for a long time. I think he is a great guy. I think he has got a lot of talent and a lot of ability.
JONES: Well, I think that you are a great guy. And if you wanted to run I think you would have a lot of support. But I want to say something personally to you before I let you go.
I left the White House under fire. And very few people called me that day. You called me that day. And you said two things I'll never forget. One you said is, well, Van, I lost a better job in the White House happen you did. Which was the first time I would laughed in about a month. And that you also said before you come back make sure that you are better and not bitter, take your time. And I don't think people know how much you care about people and how many people you have reached out to and mentored. There are young people all across this country including people here who have been a part of your youth programs. You are just a vital part I think of this legacy of great public service, and I appreciate you so much for being on my show.
GORE: You laid it on thick again. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: True story. True story.
GORE: Thank you very much.
JONES: Now, if you thought that was amazing, that was amazing. We have got two more great interviews ahead. I'm talking to the "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler and we are going to also remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with one of his closest friends and aides, Ambassador Andrew Young. This man actually witnessed the assassination 50 years ago. What he thinks of this generation of activists. That's next.
We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[19:31:44] JONES: It has been 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I marked the anniversary in Memphis, Tennessee where Dr. King preached his last sermon. I also got a chance to sit down with one of the activists who was with Dr. King on the Lorraine hotel balcony that terrible day and he witnessed the shooting.
Andrew Young is a civil rights legend, a former U.N. ambassador, U.S. congressman, Atlanta mayor. He spoke with me about the murder of his friend and what the next generation can learn about the risks they took for freedom. Take a look.
JONES: Fifty years later. How does it feel?
ANDREW YOUNG, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: You know, I'm numb about it all.
JONES: You are numb.
YOUNG: And I had to make peace with Memphis before I left Memphis 50 years ago. And we talked about -- we talked about death all the time. And Martin used to say, you know, we are going to die. Very few of us are going to see 50. He would say death is the ultimate democracy. Everybody has got to die. And we talked about the fact that it didn't make any difference who pulled the trigger.
We knew what would be responsible for killing us. The combination of the resistance to our challenges on race, war, and poverty that would end up -- that the society is not strong enough and wise enough to appreciate our confrontation on those issues.
JONES: I don't think people really understand the level of strategic thinking that the movement had at its core. We see the marches. We hear the fiery speeches and we think that's what we're supposed to, do we're marching and giving speeches. What do you think the next generation should be learning?
YOUNG: Well, you have got to first of all remember that you are a minority and you cannot outvote them by yourself. So you have got to work together with some people. They might not ever understand what you are talking about or what you go through, no matter how much you try. And Dr. King used to say look, we can't help the way we were born. We were born in an unjust relationship. But we can work together to create a more just relationship that will make us all better and stronger.
JONES: You go from being a young man on a balcony pointing in the direction -- one of the most famous pictures in world history. That would have broken a lot of people. Didn't break you. Didn't -- nobody stopped. A couple decades later you are helping to revitalize and really reinvent an American society. You know, that is a rare journey.
YOUNG: It was -- it was strange. And yet it was beautiful. I mean, I can never forget the bullet that pierced the tip of his chin and knocked it off and severed his spinal cord. I don't think he heard a shot, and I don't think he ever felt any pain. His heart continued to beat for about an hour. But that's the quickest transition to heaven anybody ever made.
And my first reaction was, damn, you are going to heaven and leave us in hell. You can't do that to us. We should go together. I don't think I have done anything that was not inspired by Martin Luther King. Even today, I think I'm speaking for him, and you should never forget how complex and how evil this world can be.
Any opinion you have, any action you take might cost you your life and the life of those around you. So you don't want to play social change. I mean, welcome to the club. If you are ready to put your life on the line. And it's not something you can do in college and forget.
These kids that had the blood of their 17 classmates splattered on their clothes I think were baptized into a real movement. They don't seem to be bitter. They don't seem to be angry. But they are determined, they are smart, they are dedicated, and they can't escape. They will be in it for life like I'm in it for life. They say when are you going to retire? How can I retire when I cannot get Martin Luther King's wound out of my head?
[19:36:52] JONES: JONES: Well, I'm glad you haven't retired and hope you never do.
Thank you, sir.
JONES: Brilliant, beautiful genius for justice.
Up next, the creative genius behind the biggest film in the world. I'm talking to the director of "the Black Panther," Ryan Coogler, when we get back.
[19:40:58] JONES: Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW.
You guys always see me talking about political facts. But if it was up to me, I would be talking about science fiction and superheroes.
When I was a kid, true story. While the other kids were out playing sports, I was hiding in the bleachers reading comic books. I still wear superman stuff. I have got my superman cufflinks on.
Look, when I heard that marvel was making a "Black Panther" movie, I predicted it was going to be huge. But who knew it was going to take over the whole world? So far this thing has made $655 million in the U.S. $1.28 billion around the world and it's still going. Saudi Arabia's ending its 35-year ban on movies so the Saudis can see it. It's the highest-grossing film ever made by a black director and that director is the brilliant Ryan Coogler.
I got a chance to sit down with him and talk to him about the biggest film of the year. Take a look.
JONES: Brother, first of all, I just want to welcome you to the VAN JONES SHOW. On behalf of like so many people, I just want to thank you. We never had a black hero before. When I was coming on -- not on screen. We had Superfly. We had sidekicks. We never had an actual king, though.
RYAN COOGLER, DIRECTOR, BLACK PANTHER: I think it was hard for people to articulate, you know, is the fact that you look at those movies, you look at "Blade," you look at "Blade 2," you know, west killed it in those movies, man. But those movies are generally about a black guy in a white world. You know what I mean. And there's nothing really in those films about the continent, which is where we come from. So I think for our movie we are dealing with the continent, ground zero. Even though it's a fictional country. And everybody in the film with the exception of a couple characters are of African descent.
JONES: Yes. It's the first heroic world -- I mean, Wakanda's like a real country.
COOGLER: Yes. That's probably true.
JONES: And it struck such a chord. I mean, you had kids dancing on tables and going crazy. The kids dancing on tables went as viral as the trailer. How did that feel as a filmmaker seeing kids going that nuts?
COOGLER: I can't put that into words, man. I remember getting that excited about stuff that was coming out. I remember, you know, ninja turtles. You know, Batman. You know, when you are anticipating something so much. And as a kid, man, you take that for granted. But for them to have -- because they are expecting something cool. They expected something great. They expected something that will make them so happy that they will dance in the present, you know. And look. To see that, man, it was amazing.
JONES: You know, role models are so important for kids. And you created a set of role models with this film. It's not just the male hero. There are four female characters in your film that could have their own movies.
COOGLER: These things are elements that I pull from the continent. You know, historical things in the continent where you have women doing things you that wouldn't imagine. You know, in terms of politics and in terms of in the community, in terms of even warfare. You know, for that kingdom. But I think also our culture here as African-Americans, you know, as people that are descendants of the continent, you know, here in America making our own communities, you look at our communities, man, black women, they are the backbone. You know what I mean. You talk to any one of us and we will tell you that. You know, for me it was my grandma, my mom, my wife now, you know, my friends. Like I would, you know, you just see what they are capable of.
JONES: Let's talk about the politics of this film. Again, I grew up on comic books. Yes, I mean, comic book geek from the door. But the politics of the superhero genre tend to be very much grade school. I mean, it's good versus evil. The dominating villain versus the freedom-fighting hero. You took it from grade school to grad school. I mean, you are talking about colonization and slavery and Martin versus Malcolm. And you have got feminist politics in there. How were you able to navigate that?
COOGLER: Panther was always political. You know what I mean. Like it was something that Stanley and Jack Kirby made a smart business move, they wanted to tap in to the African-American community, you know, and get them involved in the comic book industry. This character always took on political issues head on. How could he not? You know I mean, being an African king in this world.
So it was never an issue, you know, with Marvel or Disney, by the way, of shying away from these things. It was like if we're going to make a "Black Panther" comic book movie, let's make a "Black Panther" movie, you know.
And I think - look. I think superhero films have developed over time to a point that, you know, these films, I think the great ones work as more than one thing, you know, something kids can go in and get excited about. They also have commentary on things we are going through as society. You look at the Chris Nolan batman, even what Favreau (ph) did in Iron Man 1, you know. And the idea of weapons of mass destruction, you know, and what that means in this world that we are looking at.
[19:45:53] JONES: And batman dealing with terrorism and that.
COOGLER: Yes. The post-9/11 world, you know, is what those films are about and what they are dealing with, you know. And so I think it was nothing new for us that we were doing. I think, you know, what we really wanted to do, my co-writer Gerard McCullen and myself, was tap into what it means to be African and what are the things we deal with, you know, and what are our ramifications if a place like Wakanda existed in this world, what are the ramifications, you know, and what would that mean?
JONES: Yes. I mean, let's talk about "Creed." You know, this is not the first time that you have taken on a beloved, you know, franchise. Rocky Balboa has a statue in Philadelphia. You know what I mean. You know, actual real-life Boxers from Philly got a statue.
COOGLER: It's true.
JONES: So, you know, when you decided to step up to the plate with Rocky Balboa and "Creed" and bringing an Italian hero into this worldview of yours, I mean, why did you do that? And was that harder or easier than dealing with the "Black Panther"? COOGLER: I love those movies because I would watch them with before
my dad. It could make him cry, you know. And Rocky meant something to him, you know. And it was always interesting because we were watching - "Rocky 2" was his favorite. And we would watch, you know, Rocky beat the black guy up. You know I'm saying. My dad is cheering for Rocky. You know what I mean. That kind of was a lesson to how powerful film is. How like, you know, it can make you root for whoever you are spending time with, you know.
And I think that what you are talking about with both those stories that are similar was myth. You know what I mean. It's really just American myth, you know. And that's why Rocky has a statue. You know I am saying. They give Greek gods statues. And that's what sly was tapping into, was myth with the rocky films. That's why he named Apollo, Apollo. You know what I mean.
Ad so for "Creed," it was about, you know, taking a piece of this myth, this sports myth, this American myth, and looking at it from our point of view. You know, in that film black folks were always there. We were always there in Apollo and Apollo has reverence in our community. You know I am saying. You will hear people rap about Apollo and talk about him, you know I'm saying, saying if he dies he dies. Thinking about that character. So it was a window in.
With "Panther," you know, it's a similar kind of pressure. You know what I mean. People like to have ownership of it. People have been reading these books for decades, and they don't want to show up and see it not represented in a way that they hoped. So you feel that pressure.
JONES: But listen, I mean, Oakland. I mean, you have got Woody Allen. He always blows kisses to New York City. You got Spike Lee. He is always blows kisses to Brooklyn. You keep blowing kisses to Oakland. From Fruitvale to the "Black Panther." "Black Panther" starts in Oakland as a movie, ends in Oakland as a movie. Why do you keep blowing these kisses to Oakland?
COOGLER: It is home. It's where I'm from. It's got a very special place in my heart. And I'm still trying to understand. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what makes it so special to me other than the fact that my family is from there, that's where I grew up. A lot of culture comes is there.
JONES: The most diverse city in the country, I understand.
COOGLER: It is. It is. But in terms of African-American culture, what's interesting about Oakland is that when you look at the great migration, you know, you look at the story of Africans, you know, on this continent, in North America --
JONES: Leaving slavery and trying to leave the south.
COOGLER: You literally can't run anymore because you hit the water. You know what I'm saying. So it's really a city where a group of people who backs were literally up against the wall. So when they found the same things that they were running from in the south, you had generation from that place and I know he can run no more. So they we got to do something else.
[19:50:01] JONES: And that's why the "Black Panther" party was founded in Oakland.
COOGLER: I think so.
JONES: It's amazing. So the "Black Panther" party is found in Oakland.
COOGLER: But a lot of other things, too. Like - and I think it is a place where the bay area is a place where, you know, you see people being taken as they are because they demand it. You know, you should take the LGBT community in San Francisco and across the bridge or the Latino community (INAUDIBLE) community, you know. It comes in part when we get a mutual understanding of each other, you know what I mean? And we celebrate each other. So I found you have to make home special.
JONES: Listen, you have made Oakland proud, man. I mean, I want to say, seriously, like you are, like -- people are praising your name.
COOGLER: Just trying to do my job, like everybody else. You know what I'm saying?
JONES: Everybody is doing their job. Some people have a little something special. This is a special moment. And my kids, this has changed their life and perspective.
The idea that you have changed the definition of what black power is.
COOGLER: No, man.
JONES: No, listen. I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it. People need permission to be great. People need permission to be excellent. And you have given a whole generation of kids of all colors the permission to be excellent. And appreciate that. I really do.
COOGLER: Right on.
JONES: Oakland loves you, brother. Letting you know.
JONES: Amazing guy. Amazing stuff happening all across the country.
Major protests happening in red states that everybody should be paying attention to. More on that when we get back.
[19:55:23] JONES: Thousands of teachers across Oklahoma walked out of their classrooms and seized their state capitol. Their demands were radical, OK. They want textbooks that were printed in this century and fair salaries. All right? So, we have seen these teacher protests sweep everywhere, Kentucky,
West Virginia, Arizona. It's a red state rebellion. It is a big deal. Both of my parents were educators. I saw them work their butts off, spend money out of their own pockets for food and pencils for poor kids, and then come home and grade papers and work extra jobs just to pay for their bills.
Now, we used to respect teachers and call them heroes. And now, we are supposed to treat them as leeches, burdens to the taxpayers. That is wrong. Teachers are hardest working people in any community. They are helping us prepare our kids for tomorrow. Both parties should be proud to properly fund them. And if you are able to follow my line of reasoning, thank a teacher, OK?
I'm Van Jones. Thanks for watching. See you next time. Peace and love for one another.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)