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First of All with Victor Blackwell

Biden Trump Campaigns Revving Up Supporters Ahead Of CNN Debate; Biden Courts Latino Voters With New Executive Actions On Migration; Trump Making Gains With Latino Voters Amid Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric; New Poll On Women Voters Has Warning Signs For Biden, Trump; Exploring Roots Of "Blackwell" Name And Ancestors' Fight For Freedom; Series Used A.I. To Find Black People Who Earned Land As Reparations. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 22, 2024 - 08:00   ET


AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. "FIRST OF ALL" with Victor Blackwell is up next.

Hello, Victor, what do you have?


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A lot going on. Of course, CNN's presidential debate is coming up in five days. There's a focus on what America's largest minority group wants to hear. Two Latino political experts will join us.

One who thinks the move to the center is the right way to go. Another who says neither party is getting it right when it comes to talking to Latino voters. Plus, I'll speak with a father in Texas whose daughter was killed in a car crash. A scholarship was created in her honor. But now, it's one of more than 130 scholarships that have been changed or on hold now because of a ban on diversity programs at public universities in Texas.

And we've all heard about the 40 acres and a mule promise made after the Civil War. But did any freed slaves actually get any acres? I'll speak to an investigative journalist about what she found with her team. So that's coming up.

WALKER: All right, looking forward to it. We'll be watching.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's get to it right now.

Well, first of all, Atlanta is hot right now. Yes, it's going to be in the 90s today, but that's not what I'm talking about. The debate is here in five days, President Biden, former President Trump, their campaigns, the surrogates are all here for the biggest moment yet of the 2024 campaign. CNN's presidential debate, it's right across the hall actually.

But there is another big event that Politico's are paying close attention to. Copa America, it's a soccer tournament. Some of the biggest stars in our hemisphere are playing. And it all started Thursday in Atlanta. And the Biden campaign sees an opening here to reach Latino voters. They have a new ad airing during the games with a football theme.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four years ago, we were shut down. Stadiums were empty. Trump failed us. But then Joe Biden took over. Trump talks and talks. Joe Biden gets it done.


BLACKWELL: So that ad is about leadership and the economy. It's a top issue for Latinos, often followed by immigration. Now just this month, the President made two major moves on border issues. This week, he announced executive action to allow certain undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens to apply for lawful permanent residency without leaving the country. And earlier the President announced limits on protections for asylum seekers who crossed the border illegally.

Now the White House and the Biden campaign have seen the recent polls that suggest Republicans, even third parties here are gaining ground with Latino voters. Is any of this likely to have an impact?

Let's now talk about this with Mike Madrid. He's a veteran political strategist and author of the brand new book out this week, "The Latino Century, How America's Largest Minority is Transforming Democracy." Also with us is Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative, a conservative Hispanic group. Thank you, both of you.

Mike, let me start with you. You warn Democrats that their continued loss of Latino voters specifically could be the key to a Trump reelection? Is it that Democrats are getting it wrong? Or is it that Republicans are getting it right primarily?


MIKE MADRID, AUTHOR, "THE LATINO CENTURY": It's actually a function -- great question. It's actually a function of both, although most of the movement towards the Republican Party, which has been happening for about a decade now, since the height of 2012 in the Obama years. It's happening despite Republican efforts, not because of them. Most of the evidence suggests that there's a larger demographic shift that's happening with third and now even fourth generation of Latino voters. That's where most of the voter growth is.

And there's clearly an economic populist strain that is driving most of the sentiment by, you know, voters. So the question is exactly the right one. The answer is it is probably a function of both. But the opportunity for both Democrats to bring a lot of those Latino voters back into a historical range is as great as it is for the Republicans to push for even higher historic levels.

BLACKWELL: Daniel, let me ask you about Trump campaign Latino voter outreach, because with black outreach, we see the events that the former president is attending, the church event, the roundtable in Detroit, the cigars and cognac that several members of Congress have attended, what is the Latino outreach from the Trump campaign? I know they changed the branding from Latinos for Trump to Latino Americans for Trump, but what's it look like practically?

GARZA: Well, from my observation, Victor, what I'm seeing is that they're going where Latinos are at, they are connecting in a very real way, in the sense that I think one of the sentiment that you have to get across one is that you care. And second, is that your ideas are superior to your opponent. And so it's just so important that, you know, showing that you care means you show up, right, you understand what our priorities are, you're willing to listen, you don't come to impose your own agenda, but you want to get a feel for where Latinos are at. And right now, the message is that Biden is not delivering for Latinos. And so Trump is pouncing on that, right?


The reality is that working Latinos are not getting a square deal. They are bearing through the ravages of reckless spending, high inflation, high interest rates. And we just had an anemic 1.3 GDP growth in the last quarter. And that was an artificial economy that's been inflated with $6 trillion in spending. So, this is what the Trump campaign is tapping into.

BLACKWELL: An economic message above an immigration message because the economic and inflation message regardless of race and age group is really what we're seeing at the top across polls. And, Mike, let me bring that to you because as we're talking about, I mentioned that the Trump campaign renamed their outreach from Latinos for Trump to Latino Americans for Trump, I read that you have concern or criticism of the Biden campaign's Latino outreach. It's called Latinos, con Biden- Harris, and what that suggests about their strategy, what is your concern?

MADRID: Well, the whole premise of my book is that the massive growth in Latino voter of Latinos on the voter rolls is happening with third and fourth generation Americans, Latino Americans who view themselves by two thirds margin more as Americans than with a Latino ethnic identity. So when Donald Trump is making this, to literally add the name Americans, it's not a coincidence. It's research base, they know what they're doing. That's where the massive voter growth is happening.

The Biden campaign has resorted to sort of an old 1970s 1980s model of this stereotypical caricature of, you know, a Spanish speaking more recently migrated Latino voter. There's nothing nefarious about it or bad about it, it's just probably not very effective anymore. It's kind of an old tactic. Again, it was used more last century than this century. So both campaigns are really speaking to two very different voter groups within the Latino community.

And for right now the math is starting to benefit where the Trump campaign is heading. But we're going to have to wait and see which is going to battle more for turnout and be most successful in November.

BLACKWELL: Yes, my God, I read an excerpt from your book and where you says that they need to step up and talk to Latinos like real people not props in an old movie or pay the consequences.

GARZA: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Daniel, let me come to you because you've long been critical of former President Trump's messaging on immigration. I want to play something that he said in the 2016 campaign, and then something he said in this campaign, and then get your reaction.



DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're sending people that have lots of problems. And they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume are good people.

They come by the millions and millions and millions. They come from mental institutions, they come from jails, prisoners, some of the toughest, meanest people you'll ever see.


BLACKWELL: You wrote after Trump said that in 2015 that "It is our hope that Mr. Trump reconsiders his insensitive rhetoric, focuses on sensible and effective immigration policy position and contributes to a more positive and constructive dialogue, the American voter deserves better." Well, he hasn't reconsidered. He hasn't offered anything different. By your framework, he isn't any better. What's your assessment of his rhetoric today?

GARZA: I mean, it's still the same course uncouth narratives. But you know, what's interesting is that I think some folks find that appealing. I mean, what they want is to get to the truth, deal with the problem and find the solutions. Even so, for example, you started the segment talking about this sort of clever campaign with the Copa America, I think it's smart actually, that Biden does that. But if you're not connecting on the top priorities, impacting our community, pointing to the real outcomes, real increases in opportunity and productivity, I think it'll be seen as window dressing and shallow pinata politics, and they don't see that with Trump.

Trump just gets sort of gets to the point and tries to find the solution. I think he's a fighter is what Latinos will tell you. So not this Campanian the cheap for this mere pandering, campaigning with no real substance right in which, you know, you're not earning our vote by talking about the merits of policy, like you would with any other constituency, it just seems like it's superficial. And I think this is where Biden gets in trouble to make Madrid's point.

BLACKWELL: All right, Mike Madrid, I also did not mention you're one of the co-founders of the Lincoln project as well. And Daniel Garza thank you for being with us.


Mike's book, again, "The Latino Century" is out now. And remember Thursday, Jake and Dana will moderate the CNN presidential debate live here in Atlanta, again, right across the hall. It begins at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and streaming on Max.

So, diversity, equity and inclusion programs are banned at public universities in Texas. There's a new report that puts into perspective the implications of that ban practically what it means. One of the scholarships now on hold was created in memory of two young black women who died in a car crash. The father of one of those young women whose scholarship it honors, he's here to share his reaction.

Plus, consider this number, 90 percent of black women voted for Biden in 2020 according to exit polls. Ahead, what a new survey reveals about how some feel about the state of the country and the 2024 presidential race.



BLACKWELL: There is a new target in the conservative crusade against diversity programs. We've been tracking the growing anti-DEI movement on this show. Most recently, a lawsuit that blocked the grant program meant to help black women entrepreneurs. Well this week, there's a headline out of Texas that really caught me. A state law took effect this year that essentially bans DEI initiatives at public colleges and universities in Texas.

Well now, according to the Dallas Morning News 131 college scholarships have been put on hold or modified in some way because of the ban. The paper says one of them is the Devin Oliver and Aubree Butts Memorial Scholarship. Well, Devin and Aubree were star players on the women's basketball team at Texas A&M commerce. They were killed in a car crash in 2014.

In a statement of the Dallas Morning News, the state senator who authored the bill banning DEI at state school said the law makes clear that taxpayer funds should not be spent conferring special benefits based on race, color or ethnicity.

Joining us now is Devin Oliver's father Richard Oliver.

Sir, thank you for being with me. And first, I just want to be clear here so people understand. This scholarship is not funded by taxpayers. This is not public money. This is funded by donations, am I correct?

RICHARD OLIVER, DAUGHTER HONORED WITH "DEVIN OLIVER & AUBREE BUTTS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP": That is correct. This scholarship is funded by local communities and alumni and local businesses, there's no tax funding whatsoever.

BLACKWELL: So, some of the requirements here for recipient is that it be a black female with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and an athlete. Tell me why you chose or why those requirements, those criteria were chosen.

OLIVER: And see, so those requirements were chosen, particularly because it fits the profile of my daughters, Devin Oliver and Aubree Butts, both of our African American females. Both had high academic achievements. Both played basketball on the same team. And so, our primary focus was to honor who they were as individuals, and what better way to do that than to a second scholarship that fits who they were as young ladies.

BLACKWELL: And I wonder now what is your reaction now that it's been put on hold? And what you think about this now becoming as political as it is relating to this scholarship?

OLIVER: Yes, I just think there's just too much hypersensitivity, this hypersensitivity to this DEI program. And it's frustrating, because in my mind, it dishonors both my daughter and Aubree to over politicize and hyper scale the situation, it's just not necessary. It's not appropriate, and it does dishonor our daughters and their achievements. And what university -- Texas A&M Commerce University has done in establishing the scholarship. And there's just so much more than the university done, Jason Burton, their head coach, there, the university established an academic center.

And within that academic center, there's run one room that's named after Devin and Aubree. That's in addition to this scholarship, more scholarship.

BLACKWELL: You know, there was one element of this story that I found pretty disheartening. It's how you found out that the scholarship was even on hold. Tell everyone how you did?

OLIVER: Yes, so I had no clue about that. I think it was maybe last week that a local reporter in Dallas gave me a call and asked if I had heard of that. And I told him, we'd never heard until actually receiving that call from him. And so that was disheartening. You know, broke my heart to hear what these political -- local political leaders here in Dallas, Texas, what their approach to this whole thing is.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it's sad that you didn't even get any heads up from, and I know you are grateful to the university for their support, but that no one even called you to tell you that this was on hold.

I wonder if the requirements have to change and you remove that -- it has to be a female, it has to be a black female to receive this scholarship. Does that change the honor? Does that change this fundamentally for you?


OLIVER: Well, I mean, it would, because it's going to take away from who our children were. And the whole idea behind this, Victor is, you know, when you think about the situation with African Americans here in the United States, and the focus is on young ladies, black females who are most underprivileged, and underprivileged and disadvantaged communities, and we'll just want to reach out and help those individuals to help level the playing field. And that's the whole goal.

Now, if the scholarship is subject to be stricken or removed from the program, that's the last thing that I want to happen, and that will completely dishonor our daughters. I would be willing to accept, you know, any student and you could remove the race aspect of it all.

BLACKWELL: All right, Richard Oliver, I thank you for sharing your story with me.

OLIVER: Absolutely. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The group of voters Democrats need to win the White House, they know this, black women. A new survey reveals their top issue heading into the 2024 race and how they feel about choosing between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.



BLACKWELL: If you are dreading the 2024 election, you're not alone. KFF has a new survey of women voters, they found that most women are frustrated and anxious about the race and they're unsatisfied with their options. There are warning signs specifically for the Democratic Party from black women. One in six black women, they say that they may either stay home on Election Day or vote for a third party candidate. To be clear, President Biden is still doing really well among black women.

But in the battleground state of Michigan support for Biden has dropped compared to 2020. One in five black women there according to the survey, 18 percent plan to vote for former President Trump.

Andra Gillespie is with us. She is an expert on polling and associate professor at Emory University. Has now achieved friend of the show status, you've been on so many times. So I appreciate having you with us this morning.

Let's start here with a disbelief because there are plenty of people who are watching, I'm sure you have heard it, you may also believe it. And when they see these numbers, you know, the high teens, low 20s of black voters who say they'll vote for Trump, there are people who say there's no way that's going to happen, it would be historic, and they discount the numbers. You say to that, what?

ANDRA GILLESPIE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT EMORY UNIVERSITY AND POLLING EXPERT: Well, one of the things that I would keep in mind is that the sub samples of blacks in these surveys are still very, very small. So, for surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation for instance that just came out, the sample sizes of black and brown women are between 140 and 195. So, there's still a lot of variability in these surveys. And so these numbers do suggest that the true number might actually be kind of on the low end of what the projected scale is. That being said, if you're the Biden campaign, and this is all the information you have, I think these numbers suggests that there's possible room for growth.

And if you don't want to take anything for granted, then the message here is to make sure that you redouble your efforts to reach out to communities of color, particularly African American women. BLACKWELL: Even on the low end, though, considering how tight some of these states have been or were in 2020, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, I mean, that could be enough to end the Biden administration. How do they get to the enthusiasm gap specifically for black women?

GILLESPIE: Well, you know, a lot of voters are dissatisfied with the options of having to relitigate the 2020 election with Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And so this summer, they're going to have to make their peace with the fact that the nominees might not be the ones that they want but they've got to make a decision between the ones that they have. And so the probability of somebody's turning out to vote is a combination of how close the election is, how much you care about whether or not one candidate wins, the cost of voting, and then these unspecified factors that could include things like civic duty or whether or not you were mobilized.

And so what I suspect the Biden campaign is going to do is they're going to try to draw a sharp contrast between Biden and Trump. You know, I expect that Donald Trump -- or that Biden is going to say a lot about Trump's felony conviction this Thursday in the election to try to convince the skeptical or tired voters that look seriously there are real differences. This is not Tweedledee or Tweedledum. And they're also going to sort of play into mobilization. And they're actually going to call on people to exercise their civic duty and to remind them of the responsibilities of citizenship, even if you don't necessarily like the choices that are available to you.

BLACKWELL: Andra, as it relates to issues, according to the KFF survey, at the top was inflation and the economy. We know that the Democratic Party has been focused a lot on a woman's right to choose abortion since the Dobbs decision. Give us an idea just gauge the messaging that works specifically for black and Hispanic women as they try to excite these voters to come out.

GILLESPIE: Well, black and brown women are not monoliths. And so, one message is not going to be sufficient to reach these voters or to persuade them to vote.

BLACKWELL: Good point.

GILLESPIE: So if we think about abortion, the reason why Democrats are talking about it so much is that they've noticed that it is increasing salience for Democratic voters in ways that abortion used to be able to activate Republican voters when they were advocating for the end of Roe versus Wade.


So they hope that that reaches some segment of the population. But given the fact that kitchen table issues are at the top of many voters' minds, President Biden is going to have to come up with a plan and a message to show what he's done, and to show that he's actually sensitive to and responsive to the concerns that people have about rising prices. And it's not just to say prices are going down, or inflation isn't as bad as it was last year or two years ago. He's going to have to demonstrate empathy, and then he's going to have to demonstrate action as well.

BLACKWELL: Andra, we've, I think, at least twice, we've talked about how sometimes it's hard to know what the different groups within the community of color believe about a specific issue. I looked at a poll today, and there was a category specifically for white suburban within -- women with a college education. And if you look over to the people of color, it's Blacks, Hispanics, right? Why is this considering things are so tight, and these different groups are so crucial to a win, that we're not seeing better representation in these polls?

GILLESPIE: Well, I mean, the sample sizes are restricted by size. And so the Kaiser Family Foundation surveys usually had somewhere between 700 and about 1,300 respondents depending on which one we were looking at here. And then these were not focused specifically on African American women or Latinas. And so as a result, we're looking at small subsections. And when you only have 140 responses, or you only have 195 responses, you can't bifurcate that further with any type of statistical power to be able to say anything.

So what's needed are more surveys that are done where the focus is exclusively on voters of color, so that we can get that type of granularity and get that type of subgroup variation. So, you know, one example of a survey that does have larger sample sizes that's been recently reported was a survey that Pew conducted in April where they had, where they focus exclusively on African American voters and where they had much larger sample sizes where we can kind of, you know, dissects the vote based on, you know, other types of group characteristics other than just race and gender.

V. BLACKWELL: Andra Gillespie, always learn something when you're on. I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

GILLESPIE: Thank you.

V. BLACKWELL: President Biden and former President Trump will get the chance to answer questions on important issues. Jake and Dana will moderate the CNN presidential debate live here in Atlanta, Thursday, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and streaming on Max.


So last year on Juneteenth, I heard from so many people who are moved by what I discovered when I looked into my family history, thanks to the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, I was able to trace my lineage back to my ancestor, Sarah, who sued for her freedom from slavery and one. Well, now, there's a new discovery to tell you about after I looked into the origins of my last name, that's next.


V. BLACKWELL: Often, and O'Brien knows why, he's an O'Brien, a Goldstein knows why she's a Goldstein. Why am I a Blackwell? Well, a lot of black Americans have a similar question. For most of us, the answer is not so simple. And for a lot of people, it's not what you assumed. I went on a new journey recently to see if I could find out more about the history of my family and the origins of our Blackwell name. Here's what I found.


V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): It's been one year since my family learned about astonishing history that brought me to tears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is, oh, man.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): I was covering the opening of the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina and through the genealogist and its center for family history, I learned that in the late 18th century, an enslaved woman in Northumberland County, Virginia named Sarah, my seven times great grandmother sued her enslaver for her freedom and the freedom of her descendants and won. Dr. Shelley Murphy is the center's director.

DR. SHELLEY MURPHY, HEAD GENEALOGIST, INTERNATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM: Your line started out enslaved and became free to up until where you're at right now.

V. BLACKWELL: Oh, Dr. Murphy.

MURPHY: Give me a hug. How are you?

V. BLACKWELL: Good to see you.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): Recently, I invited Dr. Murphy to Baltimore to meet my mother and my cousins, all overwhelmed by the discovery.

MURPHY: You are the original?


VANESSA GIBSON, VICTOR BLACKWELL'S MOTHER: She's a Blackwell. We all Blackwell.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): All beneficiaries of Sarah's groundbreaking lawsuit.

TONY BLACKWELL, VICTOR BLACKWELL'S COUSIN: And women step up and speak out about their freedom back then, it's just -- it was just incredible.

MURPHY: That threat of being killed or sold, unbelievable.


MURPHY: Unbelievable. And that's something that should go generations.

ZELDA MARSHALL, VICTOR BLACKWELL'S COUSIN: That just blew me away that this was in our bloodline, you know, sometimes you don't think it, but you know, you are -- we are powerful.

GIBSON: And, you know, it was sad that our parents and especially our fathers.


GIBSON: Who were Blackwell's are not here.

MARSHALL: Be happy to see you.

GIBSON: And didn't know it. It would have been a story that they would have been so proud and would have passed it on to us, hey, they know.


MARSHALL: Yes, they know.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): And last summer, my mother and our cousins drove to the county where Sarah won her freedom to pass that story on.

GIBSON: Well, we took a trip down to North Family County, last summer for Blackwell reunion. We didn't know how Aliannah (ph) get through the day.

MARSHALL: Right, right.

GIBSON: But we met Sam.

T. BLACKWELL: I'm longing and find out more about the Blackwell, so come. Unfortunately, we didn't know much about outside of the family growing up.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): That journey begins here in Montgomery, Alabama with Bryan Stevenson. He's the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and its new, massive National Monument to Freedom.

BRYAN STEVENSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EQUAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE: It's created by reviewing the 1870 census. And the 1870 census in the United States was the first time that formerly enslaved people had an opportunity to claim a surname that the government would recognize.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): More than 122,000 surnames on this wall front and back about four storeys tall and about half the length of a football field.

STEVENSON: Yes, we want to tell the story about the horrors and the degradation and the violence of slavery. But we also want to tell the other story about the resilience of enslaved people about the courage, the strength, the perseverance, that you are just jumped out at.

V. BLACKWELL: There it is.

STEVENSON: Yes, it is.

V. BLACKWELL: How about that. Wow. To see that name with the 122,000 other --


V. BLACKWELL: -- it is both humbling but also gives my family place.

STEVENSON: Yes, that's right.

Forty percent of the people who were enslaved claim names that were associated with enslavers not to honor the enslaver. But they were just trying to create kinship and community with brothers and sisters and parents that didn't want to give up on that. So they adopted those names.

V. BLACKWELL: Who have been sold off or trade off.

STEVENSON: Who've been sold off. Exactly.

MURPHY: The Blackwell line came in to the Virginia colonies in 1636, Joseph Blackwell up in to Northumberland.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): Dr. Murphy and other genealogists traced three Blackwell family lines coming into the colonies, but Murphy was only able to connect my line to the start of the 19th century.

MURPHY: There's Amishak (ph) Blackwell and Amishak Jr. (ph) Blackwell. And the first one was born about 1810.

V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): My great, great, great, great grandfather.

MURPHY: Just because of the area of Virginia, nine times out of 10, he would have been enslaved.

T. BLACKWELL: I never really heard much about the Blackwell family. So to hear this and to get information on this is affected by you. It feels good.


V. BLACKWELL (voice-over): There are so many more questions to be answered. But the more we look, the more we learn, the more we appreciate our ancestors and their will to persevere.

STEVENSON: I think to know that you are the heir of people who found a way to survive, who found a way to overcome all of the hardship is something that should generate probably.


V. BLACKWELL: Yes. This journey to find out more about my ancestors has fueled curiosity throughout my family. Look at this, these are pictures of the copy of the lawsuit that Sarah filed in the late 18th century. That's the one in my home. That's the one in my mother's home. The others are in cousin's homes. It's not only a marker to show gratitude to Sarah and filing that lawsuit against her enslaver, but it's also an acknowledgement and remembrance of those who suffered through and survived slavery.


So you've probably learned in school about the 40 acres and a mule promise to freed men and women after the Civil War. But did anyone actually get their acres. This is a fascinating new series that I want you to listen to and read. I'm going to bring it to you next.


V. BLACKWELL: You might have first heard about reparations when your history class covered the 40 acres and a mule promise. Well the new series may explain that the promise of 40 acres was a lie. A team of reporters led by the Center for Public Integrity used artificial intelligence to sift through records to find 1,250 Black men and women they actually did get acres of land is reparations only to have it taken away.

Alexia Fernandez Campbell is a lead reporter on this series and joins us. Alexia, thank you for your time. Thank you for this series. And you told one of my producers that there are reconstruction era historians who've long known that there were some freed men and women who got this land. I don't think most people outside of the profession knew that some people got the promissory or possessory notes for just a period. Tell us what you found as you went back to some of these communities in Georgia and South Carolina and spoke with the descendants on both sides of ownership or possession of this land.

ALEXIA FERNANDEZ CAMPBELL, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, "40 ACRES AND A LIE" SERIES: Yes. It was really a fascinating story, especially trying to figure out what happened to that land where it is today. We found it many gated communities because this land was on the coast. So you can imagine it's expensive coastal real estate today. So I went to a gated community that were like near really 100 people had gotten land titles and no one there had any idea that land titles had been given.


So, yes, it's been amazing. A colleague of mine went to South Carolina, interviewed also the descendants of the freedmen's and slavery, who got their land back and had some really difficult conversations.

V. BLACKWELL: Yes. And I just tweeted out a link to the "40 Acres and a Lie" a report, I listened to part one. Part two is just out today, I'm going to play just a clip that you provided of part two, and this is when you go to, I believe it's Skidaway Island in Georgia, and present some of the documentation from the 19th century. Let's watch.


CAMPBELL: So here, I'm showing you two different land titles of two freedmen who got 40 acres on the plantation. That is where your house is located.

LINDA BROWN, RESIDENT, SKIDAWAY ISLAND, GA: So we didn't know that they were paperwork involved in that it was paperwork involved in it. It was just sort of spoken from the field. That was how we perceived it. Just spoken from in the field. So never did we think that anything beyond that happened. And my brother who was captain in the Army, he understood field orders and then he was an attorney. He didn't even know it.

CAMPBELL: Yes. Is it surprising to you to see that there were these actual land titles given?

BROWN: Absolutely. It gives you, you know, you could feel chills to know that they had it and then they just pulled the rug from under them, so to speak. This is breaking news, really, for some, and it is to me.


V. BLACKWELL: And briefly, how was that land then revoked?

CAMPBELL: Yes, you know, people were living on it for a long time. They were planting rice and cotton and selling it in Savannah thinking this was their land, because they were told it was. So eventually the freedmen's bureau agents, you know, who were, you know, federal agency told them sorry, you know, President Johnson pardon the former enslavers, you're going to have to either leave or you have to work for your former enslavers. So you can imagine what that must have been, what kind of news that must have been.

V. BLACKWELL: Yes. The land is in Georgia and South Carolina, as I said, but the impact obviously, is far broader than that, because of what that wealth would have meant for families that spread beyond those states. How should this inform our conversation about reparations today?

CAMPBELL: Yes, there's one number that really jumped out at me, one of my colleagues particular, Paul, is trying to figure out how much it's 40 acres, just the land worth in that gated community that you heard, Linda. She was one of the only black people who lives there. But it's a very wealthy many golf courses. So he tried to determine looking at the land values, 40 acres there today is worth about $22 million, without a on it without anything. So that just gives you a sense of the kind of generational wealth that was lost when it wasn't passed on.

And it's -- we've found descendants of the freedmen who got land in the 40 acres region, have migrated all over the United States and found people in descendants in Michigan and Ohio and New York, Virginia, Alabama. So it's just shows you that this is something that affects people today all over the United States, Black Americans.


V. BLACKWELL: Alexia Fernandez Campbell, again, it is a fascinating series, and I've only listened to part one. Thank you so much for your work, all 1,250 names and links to the documents found are available at, if you want to go there and do your own search. We'll be right back.


V. BLACKWELL: So we are still grappling with dark parts of our nation's history. But there are moments of hope too. This week the nation commemorated Juneteenth as a federal holiday. On Thursday, Major League Baseball paid tribute to the Negro Leagues. It was only recently that America's favorite pastime combined Negro League and Major League stats, meaning even more recognition for legends like Willie Mays. Mays passed away three days before the tribute game at Rickwood Field in Alabama. He played there for the Birmingham Barons before he moved to the MLB. Now, Reggie Jackson also played at Rickwood Field decades ago, and he was asked how it felt to be back.


REGGIE JACKSON, BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER: Coming back here is not easy. The racism that I played here, when I played here, the difficulty of going through different places where we traveled. Fortunately, I had a manager and I had players on the team that helped me get through it, but I wouldn't wish it on anybody. People said to me today I spoke and they said, you think you're a better person? You think you won when you played here in Concord? I said, you know, I would never want it to do it -- I want to do it again. I walked into restaurants and they would point at me and said, you can't eat here.

I would go to a hotel and they say they can't stay here. At the same time had it not been for my white friends, had it not been for a white manager and Rudi Fingers and Duncan and Lee Myers, I would have never made it. I was too physically violent. I was ready to physically fight some. I got killed here because I had to beat someone -- that you just saw me in an oak tree somewhere.


V. BLACKWELL: So why did that resonate this week? On social media, a lot of people called it a history lesson. They said it was chilling. They said it was emotional. Maybe the easiest explanation is that it was the truth, a reminder that this history is recent history and it's not just black history, it is American history. Sixty Negro League players attended that tribute. The MLB says it was the largest official gathering of the league's players in nearly 30 years. So to Reggie Jackson, and those men, I see you.


Thanks for joining me today. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Smerconish is up next.