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The Van Jones Show

Young Activists on Gun Control. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 24, 2018 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:20] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Van Jones. This is the VAN JONES SHOW. We are coming to you live from Washington D.C. at the end of a truly historic day.

We saw in this city around the world one of the biggest marches against gun violence ever, ever. And it was extraordinary. And it was led by a whole new generation of young activists who have just taken this country by storm.

Tonight, we are going to hear from young leaders on really all side of the gun debate. And later we are going to hear from a musical icon who has got a personal tie to this whole thing. She lost her mother, her brother, her nephew, to gun violence. Speaking out tonight on this show the (INAUDIBLE) Jennifer Hudson is going to be here tonight.


JONES: But first let's talk. Not now, not now. First let's talk.

You know, young Americans quest to save their own lives at some point was going to have to hit a tipping point. Because this is a generation that has seen way too much violence, too many funerals. They have grown up practicing how to run, duck and hide just so they don't get killed in their own classrooms. I didn't grow up that way. And it's in sane.

So I am very grateful for this march that was led by the Parkland survivors who are determined to transform what happened to them into something positive for everybody. But this march also made me really, really sad. Because it really should not have taken these deaths and it shouldn't have taken this long.

We have had two decades of mass shootings with zero effective response from America's government. And how many of the thousands of people who have died would be with us right now if the politicians 20 years ago had responded as passionately as these young people have responded this year.

Now, that's the part that makes me sad. But what makes me happy is these young people. These young people are God's sent. And I'm especially glad, they are teaching us something. They have included all of their generations victims of violence, including the people whose death never get on national media. In fact, you have mass murders, they don't even make the local newspapers anymore because the death toll in some neighborhood has got so high.

So tonight, we are going to talk about those deaths, too and what we can do about it because too many urban youth feel like they are squeezed between unlawful street violence and unlawful police violence. And I have got - that's part of the conversation as well.

And personally I'm just tired of seeing sidewalk memorials to urban youth. I'm tired of seeing the teddy bears and the posters and can else candles on the ground. Enough is enough on those too. So we are going to hear from people working for peace on the streets in Chicago.

And, and just as importantly, we are going to hear from some young leaders who do not agree with any of this. All right. Because the messy truth is there a whole bunch of young Americans, especially in the red states, who are not on board with this agenda at all. And they worry that a disarmed public might be easy prey for criminals or for dictators, and they have to be heard from too. So everybody is going to be a part of this conversation tonight.

But first let me welcome to the stage the Parkland students who lived, who have dedicated themselves to the Parkland students who died. Give it up for Isabelle Robinson, Sam Zeif, David Hogg, Alex Wind, and Samantha Fuentes in the house.


JONES: I know history when I see it. I know history when I see it. And I got a chance to watch something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Something that was emotionally as impactful as the march on Washington. And I just want to on behalf of a whole bunch of people thank you one more time for all your courage and leadership after all you have been through. Thank you very much.


JONES: Now, I'm curious, because you guys were on stage, you know, spoke, gave your perspective. It looked like history to me. How did it feel to you, Samantha? What was your experience?

[19:05:05] SAMANTHA FUENTES, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I, in all honesty, was absolutely terrified, but in a way I felt that I have a moral obligation to do something right.


FUENTES: And I feel that if I flied all the way to Washington D.C., got on that stage with like almost a million people in front of me, and I didn't finish my speech, that my whole mission and cause would have been lost in the vomit, so.


JONES: I love it. You know, you left it all on the field. You didn't leave nothing out. Listen, you don't let a bullet stop you. You are going to have, you

know, shrapnel. It's a part of your body for the rest of your life. You didn't let vomit stop you. Where does that resilience come from? People are just in awe?

FUENTES: It comes from my parents. It comes from the parents from my community, comes from the parents of all over the world, and students from all over the world, you know. Just the physical manifestation of all those people there, you know, it looks different when it's written on paper. You know, 137 marches look different on paper. But when you are at a march it's a whole another ballgame.

And it is just that, seeing so many people and knowing that they are supporting me and knowing that they have my back felt like I could have done everything on that stage and everyone would have been supportive of me, or maybe not anything. But, you know, because I feel that my strength comes from the strength of others and the hope of others.

JONES: Well, listen, that's extraordinary.

And you know, I'm curious, you know, for those who are not with you. You have the people who are with you and they are bearing you up. I know you also draw strength from the people who are not with you.

Sam, you know, you lost one of your best friends, Joaquin. What would Joaquin think about all this?

SAM ZEIF, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I mean, this is right up his ally.


ZEIF: Because he is one of the most outspoken people I know. And if there is a problem, he is the simple solution type of guy, you know. For this problem, his simple solution, people are coming into our schools with guns and killing people take the guns away. That would be his solution.

JONES: That would be his solution. What would he like least about all this?

ZEIF: He would like least, we have to be here, you know. It's not you personally, but it's your generation's fault.

JONES: I agree.

ZEIF: And it's terrible that we have to be here. And I think that we -- that we have to be here. That's just the worst part.

JONES: Well, listen. You are correct. You are teaching us every day the right way to do things. Our generation, we are very good at fighting and pointing out problems. We have not been good in solving problems.

You know, Isabelle, whenever you step up though to try to lead a movement you get criticism. And that's tough. What criticism do you find the most frustrating and how are you dealing with it?

ISABELLE ROBINSON, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I just try to think that it's funny. I like reading the You Tube comments about me being two different people. I think that's hilarious. But I think the most important thing is to like not focus on the people who just can't be swayed. It's important to talk to people in the middle, who are confused, who don't know what they believe in. Instead of people who are so extreme that they will never see it the way you do because those people you can't save them.

JONES: Wait. You mean we shouldn't fight all the time? You try to persuade people?

ROBINSON: I would be so tired if I fought all the time. I'm already so tired.

JONES: Yes. Tell me about that.

ROBINSON: Being tired?


ROBINSON: I mean, it's been exhausting, all the traveling, all the media. My friends and I try to just hang out every day and talk to each about how we are feeling so it just get bottled up because we don't want to wake up when we are 25 and realized, oh my God, everything we have been is so horrible and just fall part. So I think we have been doing a really good job of keeping each other together.

JONES: Yes. Beautiful sounds. It sounds like - I mean, support and all that kind of stuff is so key.

You know, I'm curious about you in particular. You have been so strong on this question around voting. This whole thing used to be thoughts and prayers. That was a slogan, thoughts and prayers. And then it became enough is enough. And then it became vote them out. Vote them out. That's when people started going, this is something else. Why is this voting thing such a strong passion of yours?

DAVID HOGG, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Because in this case if thoughts and prayers worked we wouldn't have things like this happened. If thoughts and prayers were coupled by action by elected officials, we would not see these things happen again and again (INAUDIBLE). But we don't know because our politicians won't take action. And that's why we have been going hard on both sides at anybody who supported by the gun lobby and NRA regardless of whether or not they are Democrat or Republican so that we can get the wrong people out of office and get the right people in that are Americans and not politicians.


[19:10:17] JONES: What you said, last question on this particular set of subjects. You know, I am used to young people having a lot of complaints, a lot of energy, a lot of passion. You guys have a policy agenda. You guys actually have like bills you are trying to pass. Why not add to that some things that would make conservatives happy?

For instance, there was an armed guard at a school that used his weapon in the past week or so to stop a shooter. Why aren't you calling for more armed guards at schools? Listen, conservatives would be with you on that. It's been proven effective even the past week. Why is your policy agenda not including stuff like that?

ALEX WIND, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I mean, you make a good point. What the deputy did in Maryland, he is a hero. There is no question about that. He stopped the shooter. He saved a lot of lives potentially. However, in our case, that isn't the case. We lost 17 lives because our deputy unfortunately didn't do anything about it. It is not no two mass shootings are the same.

And another issue is that these shootings don't just happen at schools because they happen all over. Are we going to put armed guards in our churches and our temples and synagogues, and everywhere, really? Because like you were saying earlier, you know, it happens on streets, too.


WIND: We can't have armed guards roaming our streets 24/7. And also it just this issue of, you know, there is discrimination in this country between everyone. Black students are suspended from school at a rate three times higher than white students. I'm not black. But if I were black I wouldn't want many armed guards in my school.

JONES: Listen, you guys are messing up everything.



JONES: (INAUDIBLE). We are not the only ones who rallied today. To your point, there were kids there from D.C., from Chicago also fighting gun violence. We are going to have them next. Teenagers who say they fear for their safety every single day.

Also, I love to hear from viewers on our show. As we go to break, take a listen to some of the people who marched all over the country today. \



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are marching for our lives and for children's lives and we are doing this so we don't have to another Parkland or Columbine or Newtown ever again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm marching for my alma mater, Columbine. I'm marching for the best teacher I ever had, Mr. Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am marching because now my 6-year-old carries a bullet proof backpack to kindergarten. (END VIDEO CLIP)



[19:16:28] JONES: Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW.

We are live in Washington D.C. And we are talking to some of the students who organized today's march.

Tragically, there were 17 people who are killed in the Parkland school shooting. Imagine experiencing that loss of life on a regular basis. In the past 12 months alone, 587 people in Chicago have been shot and killed. That's the equivalent of about 35 Parkland shootings in just one year in one city.

So I want to bring in two high school students. They are from the North Lawndale college prep on the west side of Chicago. 18-year-old D'Angelo McDade shot in the leg and survived. He is sitting on his front porch and got shot on a drive by. And also 17-year-old Alex King, his nephew shot and killed by a stray bullet.

Listen, I am very, very glad to have you here, and I'm glad you are a part of this whole movement. You know, this movement is extraordinary in that it started out in Parkland. And immediately it got bigger. But there is something that's said about Chicago all the time that I want you guys to correct. A lot of times politics you talk about police brutality but you never talk about Chicago.

There has been a movement for peace on the streets in Chicago for a very long time. And you guys have been a part of it. Tell us why you have this movement handsome of the positive stuff you have been doing in Chicago.

D'ANGELO MCDADE, CHICAGO STUDENT SHOT IN THE LEG: So very often you hear Chicago is one of the most violent cities. We are labeled as Shy Rack. And so one thing that we thought as a community as (INAUDIBLE) college from the high school is it let the youth be the change we see. And so we as individuals who wanting to be the solution.

So we had a conversation with Secretary Arne Duncan and we wanted to take our work that we do in the school year and implement it over the summer to where we took a 40-hour training and expanded it for several weeks which allowed us to have over 1,100 student employees to actually teach nonviolence reconciliation.

JONES: Now, this never gets the attention that it deserves. This came - this idea came from young people to have peace on the streets. And you actually are 1100 people trained and then employed to go out and teach peace on the streets. Doesn't get attention.

But then when this happened with Parkland it got a lot of attention. I just want to ask you, honestly now, was there resentment? You are in the hood. You are working with urban folks. You are going to funerals every day. Suddenly all of these folks get attention. Did you frustrated? How did you feel about that?

ALEX KING, NEPHEW KILLED IN CHICAGO SHOOTING: Well. Me, personally, I kind of felt the pain that they felt. Because at the end of the day, it's not only who gets the most attention, it's not who gets recognized first. At the end of the day a life lost is a life lost. The lives they lost in Florida, OK, they lost their lives in Florida, but many people lose their lives in Chicago. But at the end of the day, we all are losing people. The people (INAUDIBLE). They could be doctors, lawyers, professors but we never know because they took of his life.

JONES: So how did you feel then when the folks from Parkland reached out and said we want to be in alignment with you?

MCDADE: It kind of felt as if the sense of hope was being implemented back into our community. Because we normally start so many different movements or so many different opportunities that in the process we become normalized to violence and we stop. We gained the sense of hopelessness. So this time we used the lavish that they provided for us and that foundation and we continue to build upon it.

[19:20:00] JONES: Sam, why did you go? I mean, I'm going to tell you, you said that my generation sucks. I'm going to tell you here's how we would look at it. Tell me how I'm wrong. We would have said, look, we have our own funerals over there. They have theirs over there. You were grieving. You just lost your best friend. What are you doing going to Chicago?

ZEIF: I don't know what else to do, you know. I want to do everything that I can to be a part of this and to make sure that Joaquin and 16 other people have a legacy. And, obviously, other people as well, you know.

When I went to Chicago, what kind of hit me was, the feeling I was getting from our perspective, it broke our hearts. Because this was something that none of us had ever imagined possible to happen to us. And it's been happening to them every single day for their whole lives. And everyone in that city, all over the world. And for them, it was kind of like, for them it was kind of like, oh my God, this happens other places too. It is not just us. So we kind of got to relate on a certain level. And it really brought us together. You know, I look at these guys as my friends now, you know, not just people I met.


FUENTES: We are Besties now, boy. You isn't going nowhere.

JONES: This is very dangerous what you guys are doing. My generation, we look for stuff to fight about. What's going to happen though when a politician comes to you and says, hey, I can give you your bill, you know, I can give you your assault weapons ban, but these guys are talking about handguns and poverty and fixing schools. Let me help you, but forget about them. What are you going to say when that happens? It's going to happen. What are you going to say? Throw them under the bus, that's politics. FUENTES: Absolutely not.

JONES: Why not?

FUENTES: Because their lives are as meaningful and as significant as ours. There is no difference.


JONES: Listen, she is hopelessly naive. You certainly understand politics. You have to throw some people under the bus, right?

HOGG: I think it's important to realize we have a massive amount of money that we spend for example on our military industrial complex because of the heavy lobbying by them. If we were to take just five percent of the military budget which is 50 percent of the congressional budget and put that towards educating people in lower search in economic communities and we can change America. And that I something that we can do. But we can't if people don't make their voices heard.

The problem here is the reason that we are force to compromise in the situation is because Americans don't make their voices heard. They don't make their voice heard enough and these lobbyists do. So if we go out there and we vote the right people in the office that are going to take some of the insane amount of spending that we spent on absolutely unnecessary things and we put it towards fixing poverty and educating every single American to make America better country that we all know it is, we can and we will. But you have to vote.


JONES: OK. You all are dangerous. This is not supposed to be happening.

And there are people who see it very differently. As you know, there is another side to every story. And there are people out there who actually fighting against more gun laws and against more restrictions. We are going to hear from some of them next.

Also, coming up, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson is going to explain her very personal pain behind her emotional performance at today's march, when we get back.




[19:27:34] JONES: Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW.

We are live in Washington D.C. And one of our missions here is to try to build understanding between people who don't agree and the gun control debate is divisive. It is polarizing. And we are not going to agree on how to stop all the shootings and all the violence. But it is important and we actually listen to each other's perspectives.

So joining us now is two college students, two young people, same generation, and they are leading their own fight for their own rights to bear arms. So Savannah Lindquist is here and so is Jace Laquerre. Give them a big round of applause and stand up.


JONES: Thank you. We can disagree with without disrespecting.


JONES: Especially on the VAN JONES SHOW.

Your story is so important to me. You are somebody you grew up with guns. You had had a gun permit. You got accepted to a college that was gun free zone. You decided to leave your guns at home. And then you were victim of sexual assault. So many people think guns are a problem. But in your point of view a gun, in your situation might have been a solution.

From a young woman's point of view, what are we missing in this gun debate?

LINDQUIST: I mean, I think that there is so much that we are missing. But biggest aspect of it is importance of self-defense. You know, I was lucky to get accepted to my dream school. And I was able to pursue a degree in neuroscience which is something I dreamed of for my entire life. Sorry. But after three and a half years at my dream school I dropped out because of what happened. And after three and a half years, all I had to show for my time there was a horrific experience and student loans. And I don't want anyone to have to go through what I did. And coming out with my story was really hard. It was something that, you know, I thought a lot about. And since coming out with my story, you know, I have gotten death threats and everything like that. But if I have to sort of bear my soul to the world to make sure no one has to go through what I did it's worth it.

JONES: Listen. I appreciate your courage and I'm so sorry for what you went through. And nobody should be threatened for having a point of view. So thank you for being here. It means a lot to me.

LINDQUIST: Thank you.


JONES: Jays, I'm so glad you are here. I'm so glad that you are here, Jays because first of all, you are the youngest delegate at the Republican convention in 2016. You represent a whole other slice of our generation that sees it differently. What are we missing? We are out here. We are marching. We are shouting. We are screaming. You have some real concerns. What are they?

[19:30:16] JACE LAQUERRE, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT STUDENT: Well, first of all, young people love their civil liberties. They love their fourth amendment, second amendment, their first amendment. So I think young people especially really cherish their civil libertarians and second amendment is a civil liberty just like any of the others. And peer research poll actually came out and said millennials were actually more pro -gun than your generation, which a lot of people won't really think of, but there is a significant number of young people like me and Savannah that do value our civil liberties especially our great self-defense.

JONES: And when you hear about the shootings that we have been talking about and you hear about the street violence, how does that land with you? I mean, what do you see as a solution?

LAQUERRE: Well, it's tragic. I think they were talking about in Chicago lack of economic development. And I think certainly the young men over there doing a perfect job of what they need to do.

JONES: Let me ask you a question. We are all here together. They actually have real proposals, policy proposals. And I want to show them to you and see what you guys think about them. Is any of this acceptable to you as a young folks who are pro second amendment? They are saying let's prohibit the sale of the high magazines, universal background checks, fund the research, and dig ties. Five concrete. Are any of the policies acceptable to you as young folks who are pro- second amendment? We will put them up.

They are saying, listen. Let's ban assault weapons. Let's prohibit the sale of those high capacity magazines. Let's establish universal background check. Fund the research that we are not allowed to do in the United States right now. And digitize gun sale records.

Those are five concrete policies. Are any of those policies acceptable to you as young folks who care and passionate about the second amendment.

LAQUERRE: Well, I think funding gun search --.


LAQUERRE: I think you shouldn't have to take a background check if you want to buy a gun. I think universal is a little different because that would mean if you want to hand a gun down your son or something like that, they would have to go through a background check so it gets a little tricky. But I think you should have to take a background check if you want to buy a gun and we do support funding for additional research.

JONES: So there is some of gun. What, for you, from your point view, were any of those acceptable?

LINDQUIST: I agree with the background check. I obviously, I'm a law abiding citizen. I don't even have a speeding ticket. I have no problem with passing a background check. But like he mentioned it does get a little complicated when you are talking about passing a gun from generation to generation.

JONES: So there are some technicalities, whatever.

Listen. You guys seem reasonable. And you guys seem -- maybe after the show we can get together and figure something out.

One of the things, and I hope I want to understand you, but one of the things that seem to get in the way of reasonable agreement is NRA. And I know you may be able to speak up for them. But I did my own research and I want to show you what I found about the NRA.


JONES: Most of us know the NRA as a powerful gun right lobby. But in the past it actually supported some gun control laws. In 1930s, the NRA publicly endorsed the nation's first federal gun control laws that banned machine guns, prohibited felons from owning firearms and required gun owners and sellers to register with the federal government. In 1967, the NRA actually supported a ban on the open carry of loaded firearms passed in California by then governor Ronald Reagan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely no reason why out on the streets civilians should be carrying a loaded weapon.

JONES: The ban was largely seen as a reaction to the Black Panthers who pushed for African Americans to arm themselves against racist violence. In late 1960s and early 1970s things start today to change. Rising crime rates plus the high profile assassinations going on at that time, spurred Congress to pass the most prohibit federal gun laws in modern history.

These new laws angered many of the NRA's rank and file. So 1977, at the NRA's annual conventions members voted out the leadership and then installed hardliners who radically changed the organization. The group later changed tactics, using political ads to rile up the members to take action against gun control and to put pressure on lawmakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the facts at

JONES: From 1998 to 2017, the NRA spent $144 million on outside spending. And if you are wondering if this strategy is working, consider this. The last major piece of federal legislation still on the books is Brady act which mandates background checks. And that was passed nearly 25 years ago.


JONES: Now, I made that video. Give me some love.


JONES: I'm amazing. So I put that to you because you both seem so reasonable. Are you worried that maybe the NRA is getting a black eye and maybe becoming a more of a toxic brand for your generation or do you see it very differently?

LAQUERRE: I'm a proud member of the National Rifle Association.

JONES: Tell us why. LAQUERRE: Well, they do great work defending our civil liberties. I

know in Florida, they raise the age to 21 and the NRA is suing the state. And as someone 19 years old I'm very proud to be part of an organization that, you know, fights for my civil liberties just to own a gun. So I am a proud member. I have been a bit critical because I don't think they do good job putting for their own proposals for school safety as much I do defeating gun bills. But I do think they are a force for good for my generation and for civil liberties.

[19:35:23] JONES: And obviously, you were a bigger fan of the NRA in the past than you are now?



LINDQUIST: I was once a proud member of the NRA. After the Florendo Castile murder, I decided to cancer my membership.

JONES: Why was that?

LINDQUIST: I just felt like he was the NRA. Like he should have --

JONES: This is African-American man who had a gun in his car and he has told the police had a gun in his car who got shot by the police.

LINDQUIST: And he was murdered. And I just, you know, as a college student with limited money, that's not just where I wanted to give it.

JONES: I sometimes feel as an African-American that I get stereotyped, get lumped in and have a negative brand associated with me. Do you feel as a gun owner that gun owners are also sometimes stereotyped as being gun nuts, et cetera? I mean, at the emotional level do you sometimes feel branded negatively?

LAQUERRE: I feel branded as I'm not carrying, the Natural Rifle Association doesn't care about children in schools, and that's not the case. We care just as much as people on the other side, too. But we just have different solutions but we still care.

JONES: I think very, very important.

Now, listen, up next, we have an Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson. She had an amazing performance. And she has a message for all of us when we get back.

Thank you very much.


[19:40:41] JONES: Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW. We are live in the Washington D.C. That was Jennifer Hudson bringing down the house, taking folks to church at today's march. A lot of celebrities participated but this is especially personal for Jennifer.

In 2008, her mother, her brother, her nephew were all shot and killed by her brother-in-law. So I spoke with her earlier today about how her family tragedy actually driving her participation today and moving forward.


JONES: Well, I just can't tell you how happy I am to see you. And, you no know, when you lost to gun violence, your mom, family members all in one day, the whole country was grieving with you. How important is a day like today to you personally?

JENNIFER HUDSON, OSCAR-WINNING PERFORMER: It is a day like this is almost like reliving it over and over again. So it's, obviously, something extremely close to home for that reason. Because you instantly connect. There are very few people who know what a moment like this means, what it represents. Everything that it entails, you know. So you can't -- I can't help but to be affected or taken by it, if that makes any sense, you know.

JONES: For people who haven't gone through it, I mean so many people have the mass shootings, you know, the street violence, people that haven't gone through it, they are going to turn on TV, they are going to see hundreds of thousands of people. What do you want people to really take away from today?

HUDSON: First of all, it is almost impossible to understand what the victims' families are going through, what they feel, or even be able to relate to a situation like this unless you have been in it in some type of way. So for people who are watching, people who, you know, watching what's happening, know that it can be anybody.

JONES: It can happen to anybody.

HUDSON: It can happen to anybody. But to me the saddest thing is no one ever remarks until it happens to them, and then it was too late. There was a mom on television and she was just screaming out --

LORI ALHADEFF, DAUGHTER ALYSSA ALHDEFF KILLED IN PARKLAND: I spent the last two hours putting the burial arrangements for my daughter's funeral who is 14. Do something. Action. Do it now. These kids need safety now.

HUDSON: I understood every inch of her frustration. Because non one -- she is angry, one, because this is like this is nonsense. Then, two, no one understands. And everyone is just like, OK, so what happened. And she is pouring out. And I can hear it. I knew where it came from. So every single time I see this in the media --

JONES: You go through it again.

HUDSON: Every single time.

JONES: Every time.

HUDSON: It's like reliving it. And I was like, unfortunately, welcome to my club. It's like my heart completely went out to her, like you are not alone, I understand everything you are telling me. And it's not easy to keep singing. What is it going to be next week? Next month?

JONES: Tomorrow?

HUDSON: Or when these children who I have been marching right now, when is their children?

JONES: Now, if your mom were here and she were able to see this outpouring, what do you think she would say or feel?

HUDSON: What would my mom say? Well, she would say honey, if you think you have seen it all, just keep on living.

JONES: Keep living.

HUDSON: Keep on living. I honestly - because she a very quiet woman. But then very conscious. And now that she's gone, I hear her voice more and more every day. And your parents, your family, you have lost loved one, they never really leave you, they are still always there, you know. But she always used to love us doing positive things. You know what I mean? So I think she would be proud.

[19:45:15] JONES: When I think about the young people who have spoken out so eloquently out of the Parkland shooting. I think people have been surprised to see young people be so well spoken. I'm not surprised. Because, you know, in the hood we have young people who go through tragedy and they come out as poets and artists and they are so eloquent. Do you think it's an opportunity now for people to listen to young people across the board? And do we miss something by under estimating our young people?

HUDSON: Definitely. But I love so much they are using their everything to make a difference. And they know their power. To know, you know what, we are not just going to sit here.

JONES: That's right.

HUDSON: We are going to turn this around, because we have the power to do that. And that is powerful.

JONES: I think a lot of people when they saw what happened with you, I mean people were grieving, almost like we lost a family member, because we are so close to you. And then yet you have been able to shine on. You have been able to go on. You've been able to honor their memory. Where did it strength come from in you?

HUDSON: Well, my mother, I always go back to my mom. My mom used to say, although she was quiet, but my mom used to say, Jenny, one of my favorite things about you is that, no matter how negative things are, you have always seem to find the positive. And I remember thinking my mama like, now am I supposed to find the positive in this? And I do find that starting organizations, communities, foundations, things to prompt change can be healing.

JONES: Can be healing.

HUDSON: And helpful. So like for myself and my sister, we started Julian D. King gift foundation. And I was like what can I do that I know even though they are not here that I know they will be proud of.

JONES: That's right.

HUDSON: And then how can I continue to represent them in a way they will want to be represented and remembered.

JONES: And that's what these young people are doing.

HUDSON: Exactly. So they are on the right track.

JONES: They are on the right path. And you already started that.

You know, you could have picked any song to sing. Tell me about the song that you picked and why that song resonated with you.

HUDSON: The times are changing. What else is there to say, you know? Like, to me, it's not a song, it's a movement. And I spoke to the choir and I said we are not singing a song. You tell your story. You tell your story. We are here -- we are not just to be here. You are not here just help. You are here to speak from your experience. You are here to make change. And that's what the song represents. And to me again it's not a song. It's a movement.

JONES: Let me say a couple more things just to you just to honor and appreciate what you have been able to stand for for so many, many people, I just want to thank you. Because people will lose a job or a boyfriend and they will be messed up for a year, you know. For you to have lost so much and to have somehow, you know, come through and then to take your gift and give it to these young people is just so beautiful.

HUDSON: Thank you. Thank you.



JONES: One thing Jennifer wanted me to stress was the importance of voting. She wants everybody to demonstrate, but she also wants everybody to participate on Election Day. That brings us to our next segment, when we get back, after these marches, after the cameras go away, how do these students keep up this momentum. That's what's next.

Thank you, Jennifer Hudson.




[19:52:25] JONES: These Parkland students are the newest members of a club that nobody asked to join. Nobody asked to join this club. But the survivors of mass shootings, people that we now remember with just a single world. We can say Columbine, We can say Aurora, we can say Newtown, we can say Pulse, one word.

I want to acknowledge, with us today, this section of our audience are all the survivors and families members and friends of the victims of those horrific tragedies. I want to just give some voice to that. I want to talk to Nicole Hockley whose 6-year-old son Dylan was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown.

So welcome to the VAN JONES show.


JONES: I apologize to you for your loss.

I just felt when your son died that something had to happen, something had to change, but it didn't. Do now as one of the longest (INAUDIBLE) in this movement, do you feel that this is a different moment? Do you have hope nor or do you have more (INAUDIBLE)?

HOCKLEY: Oh, my God, I have so much hope. I have always had hope, because this is the only way we can keep propelling ourselves forward. But what the Parkland students are doing on their own without the adults being in the way is creating this new energy and new life.

And the way I look at it is if anything that would happen at Sandy Hook, if that helps builds the foundations for them to live from, then that is what needs to happen. Sandy Hook might have been the start of this movement, but Parkland is going to be the end.


JONES: What advice do you have for them, briefly? There's going to be good days, there is going to be bad days, there is going to be days they get attention, there is going to be days they don't. How have you sustained? Then they want to ask -- one wants to say something to you, but how have you sustained (INAUDIBLE)?

HOCKLEY: There are a lot of bad days that can really bring you down, but this is a long journey, like you said. And I focus on the steps along the way. I focus on the wins. Because if you just focus on the fight, it can really be destructive. I don't want to fight. I just want to win. We all want to win. And that is what we need to be focus on. So just keep taking the steps forward, don't let the bad gales get you down, because the next day can be a great today. Today was a great day, and I can't thank you enough.


JONES: Sam, take 30 seconds to say something to your good friend from Sandy Hook.

[19:55:03] ZEIF: Hi, Nicole.

JONES: You guys were together in the White House.

ZEIF: That's right. When I was in the White House I turned 18 the day after the tragedy. And Nicole asked me, where are your parents? I said, they are not here. I just came alone. And she said, I'm going to have to be your mom for the day.


JONES: So sometimes a breakdown can turn into a breakthrough, and the pain has brought all these people together, I think is going to turn into a real promise for our country.

I want to thank all my guests for being here tonight. Today will go down in the history books. For some families it's been a long time coming. That's because many elected officials in this town have been acting like children. Thank God the children are now acting like leaders.

I'm Van Jones. Erin Burnett is live right after this break.

Until next time, peace and love for one another.

Thank you very much.