Bridging Black Perspectives – Bob Woodson meets Hawk Newsome (with John Wood, Jr.)

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This is a conversation like few others.

Bob Woodson and Hawk Newsome are among the most important voices in black America today, but their politics couldn’t be any more different on the surface. Hawk Newsome is the chairman and former president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. Bob Woodson advised the Reagan administration, the Bush administration and is a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. Woodson is an independent black conservative and frequent Fox News contributor while Newsome is considered one of the most radical voices in today’s social justice movement. Yet both men have fought their way up from modest beginnings to become leading voices in the conversation over racism and the future of black America.

Newsome and Woodson collide in spectacular fashion in a conversation that is at times explosive and at times converges in profound agreement. John Wood, Jr. moderates as Newsome and Woodson represent the wide range of social, political and generational perspectives of the Civil Rights Movement, addressing black history, racism, the future of black America and their own striking life experiences. This back and forth that is guaranteed to give you an understanding of the range and depth of black perspectives in America that you did not have before.

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To My Fellow Americans, from a Humble Member of Braver Angels

Again, we find ourselves in such a time, where the old question for Americans—whether human beings like ourselves might be capable of governing ourselves by reflection and choice, or if we are forever condemned to the capricious rule of accident and force—is on the table.

8 thoughts on “Bridging Black Perspectives – Bob Woodson meets Hawk Newsome (with John Wood, Jr.)”

  1. Thank you, so much, John, for facilitating this conversation. I have been hoping to see more “bridge building” and efforts to align (seemingly) opposing voices. I’ve only recently learned about Hawke Newsome and Bob Woodson (among others) and this dialogue is EXACTLY our way forward. My takeaway: They both are working toward the same thing. I am a firm believer in personal responsibility as a path toward having a sense of personal worth (helps improve individual lives and communities). Also, I understand how it feels to have no hope, nothing to look forward that would uplift you because you know the “system” works against you. I think the two of them have a HUGE opportunity to meet in the middle and bring lasting change. I am so impressed with your interviewing skills. You clearly have a unique ability to hold space for people. I am so excited about this that I am going to listen again and take notes so I can share — in detail — with others and why they should give this conversation a listen. Thank you! This is exactly our way forward.

  2. Need to look at the BIG system that has been going on for 1500 years, got shipped over here, with the promise that all that old Western European stuff would stop–Whoops! If you look at the controlling interests, run by white supremacy, everybody has been damaged, black folks worst of all. But the deluded white folks as well, who are all working two jobs, or more, just to pay rent, are just going to face an even worse future. Already, we don’t have communities; everybody’s working. Our children are raised by their peers; why? mom and dad are both working.
    Why do we have civil discord? Where have we gotten education about listening and speaking, or how to have relationships of any kind? Certainly not the education system, which has been reduced to giving the right answer, not learning, let alone communicating.
    The BIG picture includes, and all these are intertwined: health care, education, economy, military industrial complex, pharmaceuticals, fossil fuel industries, and of course government and politics. What are you going to do, vote? Trying to address anything less than that BIG picture will just end in frustration, because the Matrix rules the world.

  3. Caarolyn Mendenhall

    This is the best Braver Angels dialogue that I have ever heard. The conversation was substantive, there was no attempt to paper over differences. The participants were allowed to question each other which means that folks had to be responsible for the words that came out of their mouths. In typical Braver Angels forums, thoughts and feelings go unchallenged. Finally, even though the topic was divisive, the conversation was respectful. I was backing away from Braver Angels because I thought the organization had nothing to offer me. This conversation planted a seed of doubt.

  4. Fascinating discussion! As a white liberal, I think it’s really important to hear differing BLACK voices! I found myself going back and forth between the two, agreeing with one, then the other. The one comment I have in response to Bob Woodson’s question about why did blacks have economic power during segregation, I wonder if it’s precisely BECAUSE blacks couldn’t assimilate due to Jim Crow laws, so businesses had a captive audience? Thank you for this stimulating and conversation, so well moderated by John Wood, Jr.

    1. Please correct my comment to say,”…BECAUSE blacks couldn’t assimilate…”

      Thank you.
      Paulette Lee

  5. Newsome said he and BLM are helping people in their community with respect to violence, hunger, schools, etc. I had not heard that before, so that’s good news.

    Beyond that, his arguments tended to dissolve into an emotional appeal as a response to fact based questions by Woodson. That, and an unhealthy amount of racist rhetoric will not advance his cause beyond his own echo chamber.

    I do like the notion that addressing systemic problems and vastly increasing personal responsibility do not need to be mutually exclusive.

    I don’t see how we cannot take assertions that something exists without some evidence. That requires an act of faith, but more importantly by not identifying examples of institutional racism, how on earth can something be fixed without know where the problem is???

    Lastly, this discussion was focused at a very high level. It might also be productive to pick a very specific point of contention and examine how they interpret information differently and see if either then will have a change of heart if facts and evidence tilt one way or the other.

  6. sherry portland

    I don’t see how to resolve the frustrations, anger, and bitterness that Hawke and BLM express without deciding on some specific constructive goals. I am a white liberal boomer and probably I’m alone in this but why not make it a national priority to have all children living in high crime/high poverty zip codes attend excellent schools with extensive after hours programs that emphasize physical safety, empathy and kindness, creative arts, reading, science, history, physical activity and provide 2- 3 healthy meals a day and a bag of groceries to their families every friday. Let’s also make it a national priority to help young Black males mature into adulthood with the success that Bob Woodson described. I realize it isn’t as simple as I laid out, but I do think that if our nation was committed to these two goals that within 10 years many struggling Black communities would be prospering. I believe we need to focus on the future and go upstream by investing in the well being of disadvantaged youth starting with prenatal care. I know of schools that provide dental care, nutrition, and compassionate communication. They invest not only in the education of the students, but the wellbeing of the students. When I start hearing unity about achieving specific goals for a brilliant future for Black and impoverished youth I’ll feel confident we are on the right track.

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