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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Gulf Oil Disaster; Toxic Cleanup; New Terror Threat; Texas Schoolbook Showdown; Children and Race
Aired May 20, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So much breaking news tonight. After weeks of agreeing with BP about the size of the oil leak and even saying it's not important to know, tonight the federal government says they will investigate. But how come it took them so long?
And also, the EPA now demanding less toxic dispersants be used. You just heard the guy from BP on "Larry King" calling them basically soap bubbles. They're toxic. How come it took the EPA so long? We're "Keeping Them Honest".
BP, the EPA, the Interior Department and the Obama White House, a lot of folks who need to be held accountable right now. James Carville and Doug Brinkley join us in a moment.
More breaking news also tonight, we're still working to flesh this one out: late word of new threats against Americans here at home and overseas. The Pakistani Taliban, believed responsible for the Times Square attempt, could be trying again.
Also tonight, do you remember the boy who fled to avoid cancer treatment because of his parents' religious beliefs? Then came home and was treated and survived? Well, now there's a new chapter involving his dad and it is a shocker.
And later, how kids see race. We'll talk with singer/activist John Legend about race, skin color and whether people really can ever be color-blind.
As we said, the breaking news tonight: late word that the federal government is putting a team together to finally, finally do what neither they nor BP has tried to do for about three weeks now; actually measure the flow of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico from that broken pipe.
All along they've been saying it doesn't matter how much oil is actually leaking. Now they're admitting it does. All along, BP, the EPA, NOAA have been saying 5,000 barrels a day were leaking. Independent experts say it could be up to 70,000 barrels.
Well, today BP said they were able to siphon 5,000 barrels of oil directly from the leak. But if you look at the live picture, you can see it, I can see it, plenty of oil is still pouring into the Gulf. So if there's only 5,000 barrels leaking a day and they're siphoning 5,000 barrels, how come there's still oil pouring out? Clearly they've been underestimating this thing. This new government team is going to try and determine how much oil is actually leaking. It took BP 23 days to release a 30-second clip of video of this leak.
Today for the first time, we got these live images, these live feeds. But these images were provided by BP only after weeks of prodding from Congress and the media. And they weren't even released to the American public, just to Congress which then put them online.
So we're going to keep these images on the screen while we're reporting the story as a reminder that every minute of every hour, the spill is just getting bigger.
The White House is saying they're getting tougher. Their proof, this letter, a letter written by the EPA and Homeland Security Department; it says that BP hasn't been transparent enough. And it gives them 24 to 48 hours to put all the data online about the leak and its environmental impact. But how come it took them a month to ask for this?
Also, last night on this program, the bigwig from BP who you just saw on "LARRY KING" said the EPA had no problem with the dispersants they've been using. That's what he said last night. And in fact, he compared them to soap bubbles. As I said, he did it again just a moment ago on "LARRY KING".
Well, today after a month of doing nothing about the dispersants BP has been dumping into the Gulf, the EPA told them to switch to potentially less toxic chemicals, some of which according to the EPA are even more effective.
White House correspondent, Ed Henry is "Keeping Them Honest". Also, Ed Lavandera is on the Gulf Coast with the dispersant story. We're going to hear from each of them shortly.
All right, let's "Dig Deeper" now with political contributor and Democratic strategist, James Carville, he's in New Orleans; with us here in New York tonight, Rice University and presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley.
James, I had a guy from the -- from BP last night, a high executive and I -- as I just around the same time I'm saying to him, why aren't you using these other dispersants and he's saying well, the EPA doesn't have any problem with these dispersants. Lo and behold, now we learned that the EPA contact BP and tells them they have to find less toxic dispersants. What's going on with BP from your take?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that the government thinks they're partnering with BP. I think they actually believe that BP had some kind of a good motivation here.
And that's -- that's one of the sort of whole flaws is they're naive. BP is trying to save money, save everything that it can. It knows it's going to get sued multiple times. It knows it's in multiple trouble and they're trying to play this down and say oh, it's just a little spill in the Gulf. It's no big deal. They won't tell us anything. And oddly enough, the government seems to be going along with this.
And then I -- so I - somebody has got to like, shake them and say, these people don't wish you well. They're going to take you down.
COOPER: What has the EPA been doing for a month if now, it's just after a month after this thing, they suddenly wake up and say, "Oh, wait a minute. In 72 hours you've got to get different dispersants." I mean, people have been complaining -- environmentalists have been complaining about these dispersants for weeks now.
Doug Brinkley, you've been talking about it on this program for weeks now. And Ken Salazar, I mean, what have they been doing over at the Interior Department? I mean, they basically gave oil companies permits without the right kind of clearances. They -- they had a number of inspections they were supposed to do on this rig that they never did.
Doug, is the government just -- I mean, are they just too much in cahoots with BP? Or are they just incompetent?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes it's not just with BP. I think there's that conflict between what -- and you can see it in MMS and Interior. On one hand, the federal government needs to collect oil revenues; $13 billion from offshore comes into our government kitty. We need the offshore energy so much.
On the other hand, there are these environmental concerns. And I think the administration for too long has played it down the middle. They're trying to kind of stay out of it. I did see a bit of a sea change at EPA today. The fact that they denounced BP's use of these dispersants, said there are safer ones.
We might be seeing the more energized BP because this is becoming a political crisis now for the Obama administration.
COOPER: I mean, it's interesting, James, because in the early on conservatives were attacking the Obama administration trying to say, look, this is Obama's Katrina and they fought back against that, but -- I mean, you know, you do have to raise questions about this Interior Department and this EPA.
CARVILLE: You absolutely do. And I think I'm as good a Democrat as most people. And I think the administration has done some good things. They are risking everything by this go along with BP strategy they have, and it seems like lackadaisical on this.
And Doug is right. They seem like they're inconvenienced by this. This is some kind of giant thing of getting in their way and somehow or another, if you let BP handle it, it will go away. It's not going away. It's growing out there. It is a disaster of the first magnitude, and they've got to go to Plan B. COOPER: What I also don't understand, just logistically and logically is that for -- three weeks now, BP and NOAA and the EPA have been saying it's 5,000 barrels of oil pouring out of this leak.
Now, today BP is saying, we are collecting 5,000 barrels of oil into a tanker directly from this leak. There is way more oil than just 5,000 barrels and that is what all these other experts have been saying now for weeks. And no one in the government or BP -- I mean, in fact, they have put out statements saying, it doesn't matter how much is pouring out.
BRINKLEY: You know, I think, Anderson, history is going to show these quotes by the BP and by Tony Hayward that are just so ludicrous. A future generation of Americans won't believe the head of the fourth largest company would say such a thing.
For imagine a CEO in a crisis like this to say it's a tiny spill when we could see it gushing out, we can see the blob. They said oh, well, we put in a straw that's now taking in a lot of the oil. Well, now we've got the video running right now. It's still gushing out.
This notion of minimizing it instead of being in crisis mode from day one is going to be the problem. BP has been in cover-up mode. And there are going to be, as James said, I think you're going to have criminal indictments against this company for the way that they've behaved.
CARVILLE: You know, I was laughing and I apologize to the people of my home state. I didn't mean -- but, I mean, it's so ludicrous, the lies that they tell. It wouldn't be if we lost the lives of 11 people and we're going to lose some of the most high quality productive seafood areas in the world, not to say that -- people lose faith in this drilling and we need the oil. I don't deny that at all.
But right now I wouldn't trust them to do anything and nobody does. And in just in addition of being -- to having criminal exposure, they're going to have a ton of civil exposure. And I sure don't trust BP to do the cleanup.
COOPER: We're going to have more with James Carville and Doug Brinkley right after this break.
A reminder the live chat is up and running at AC360.com.
So much on this story to talk about; it just doesn't make sense and factually it just doesn't seem to make sense.
Also tonight, the big fight over what's in Texas schoolbooks. Why it could affect what your kids will be learning and the big chunk of history some say are going to be missing no matter where in the country you live.
Also the latest on that possible terror alert. And, final eye-opening insights from our pilot study on kids and race. We'll talk to John Legend on whether we'll ever be free of friction over skin color.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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COOPER: Take a look at this. These are live images right now of -- of oil and gas that is pouring out from several locations from this leak. These images are part of the live feed; the pictures of the spill now available for everyone to see. This is the first day we're really able to watch this thing in real-time.
We're going to keep this image on the screen whenever we're reporting on the leak as a reminder of just what is going on deep underneath the surface.
As we mentioned earlier, BP today, in so many words, conceding that the leak is bigger than they've been saying also for weeks; and after the Obama administration finally ordered BP today to post all data about the leak and the impact of it online, weeks after the rig blew and the oil started leaking. And why has it taken them that long, a lot of critics want to know?
More on my conversation with James Carville and Doug Brinkley.
COOPER: It did take them 23 days to release a 30-second video clip of oil pouring out of this -- this pipe. It's only been since yesterday after pressure from senators and Congressman Markey that they finally released a live feed. And they didn't release that to the American people. They released that to Congress people who put it on their own Web sites and released it.
It seems like -- I mean, they've been -- they've had this live feed for weeks now. Why is it only after a month that we're actually seeing this?
BRINKLEY: Because BP operates all over the world. And a lot of times it's in third-world areas, places off of Nigeria. The man you just had on, Mr. Dudley, for a long time working with Putin in Russia on doing Caspian Sea drilling. They had a big spill outside in the ocean in Australia recently.
The media doesn't cover it all the time. They announce it that there's an oil spill and then they go away. This is so menacing in the way that the 24/7 news cycle works in America, we've been demanding to see it every night, particularly on your show, Anderson. Let's see the footage. We want to know how much oil is spilling in there.
They eventually were forced to capitulate to it, and then it's an embarrassment. How could Tony Hayward call it a little spill? And then on the other -- that then, we get to see that footage. He's obviously being disingenuous and lying. When you have 11 people that were killed in an accident like this to be acting like that is just reprehensible.
COOPER: And James, he -- and he promised -- I mean, he made this big public declaration that he was going to stay in the Gulf. He was going to stay there --
COOPER: -- until this thing was fixed. And that -- you know, that he was a leader. He was a Churchillian (ph) leader. We just learned -- I learned from "The UK Times" that he probably flew a private jet, but he's in England today for a board meeting and according to "The UK Times" to celebrate his 54th birthday.
CARVILLE: Look, this is -- how many -- how many PR people does BP have? How many lobbyists do they have? This is a company that makes $2 billion a month. Their first quarter profit was $6 billion over a three-month period. They are accustomed to buying everything.
And then, them telling you that we have been -- CNN is being unfair to them? Where were they -- as Doug points out -- where were they to the families of these 11 people that were killed as a result of their greed and their negligence? You cannot trust these people.
COOPER: It's -- it's and again, we look at the oil, and it's pouring out at this very moment.
James Carville, Doug Brinkley, thanks for being on.
CARVILLE: Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: We should point out we -- we -- James was referencing that, we had invited somebody from BP on the program tonight. They declined. They were on last night. We had been asking for a long time for somebody. We finally got somebody last night. I guess, I don't know. We didn't get them again tonight.
We talked earlier about how the EPA today ordered BP to use a different less potentially toxic chemical dispersant on the spill. After watching them use this dispersant for three weeks now, four weeks, experts have been questioning BP's initial choice for a long time now.
As Ed Lavandera discovered, BP had an alternative bought and paid for ready to go just sitting on shore since early this month. Again, the question is why. Ed Henry -- Ed Lavandera tonight "Keeping Them Honest".
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of containers are just sitting here in the Houston sun. To some it's just another example of the mismanagement of the oil spill. The containers are full of a chemical dispersant calls Sea-Brat 4. Why is it sitting here and not in the ocean instead? No one really knows, especially since BP's on record as saying it would use the stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We also have a second product now identified to use called Sea-Brat 4 which we'll begin introducing into the process as well.
(on camera): That's what BP said almost a week ago.
But we found the Sea-Brat 4 just sitting here in an industrial park outside of Houston, Texas. You're looking at it, almost 100,000 gallons of the less toxic dispersant. Guess who ordered it? BP did. On May 4th, almost three weeks ago.
JOHN SHEFFIELD, PRESIDENT, ALABASTER CORPORATION: This is Sea-Brat. It's in totes ready for delivery.
LAVANDERA: John Sheffield is president of the company that makes Sea- Brat 4.
Do you think it's weird this stuff's just sitting here in the Houston area?
SHEFFIELD: It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. You know. I think something's intentionally trying to stop us from getting our product in the water.
LAVANDERA: EPA and Coast Guard officials say there's nothing stopping BP from using Sea-Brat 4. Sheffield says that by now he could be making 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of dispersants a day.
But a BP spokesman will only say the company had to use what was readily available and stockpiled. And it has been asked to find alternatives to the current dispersant Corexit, and that's what they're in the process of doing.
Getting a direct answer is even hard for Congress to get as they grilled BP executive Lamar McKay this week about the issue.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Who decided which dispersant to use? BP?
LAMAR MCKAY, BP EXECUTIVE: I don't know.
NADLER: You don't know?
MCKAY: I don't know the individual who decided which --
NADLER: I didn't ask the individual. MCKAY: I don't know.
NADLER: Was it BP who decided or was it the government who decided? Or the national (INAUDIBLE) command?
MCKAY: I don't know. I don't know.
NADLER: You don't know. Could you find out for us, please?
LAVANDERA: Easier said than done. There's still no word on who's making that call while 100,000 gallons of potential help sits hundreds of miles away.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Houston.
COOPER: So I -- again, I'm no expert. I spent about five hours yesterday just reading all about dispersants and other stuff related to the spill. And what's interesting, EPA has apparently a list of about 18 dispersants which they have approved; 12 of which are actually less toxic, and some of those 12 are actually even more effective on Louisiana crude than Corexit, the two types of Corexit that are being used by BP.
So the EPA has known about the stuff that BP has been using now for four weeks. And they know that there are ones that are less toxic and in some case even more effective, and yet they haven't demanded until today that BP change the dispersants that they've been using.
Up next, the other breaking news tonight, what we are learning about a new terror threat here at home and who might be behind it.
Ed Henry has been working his sources. He's back with what he's learning about that.
And later the defining chapter in a pilot study of how kids see skin color; even at a very young age, 5 years old. How their views on race are shaped. And what parents can do about it. We'll talk to singer and activist John Legend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN LEGEND, SINGER/ACTIVIST: I think society does give us messages about what's more valuable and what's less valuable in our culture. And historically and still to this day, there's still value to having white skin in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Breaking news tonight, Ed Henry joins us again from Washington. Ed, CNN has learned that intelligence officials have new concerns about threats from the Taliban against the U.S. What are you hearing?
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the Taliban in Pakistan, Anderson. We're told by a senior official that basically the information is coming apart from Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the New York Times -- the New York Times Square bombing attempt. And that basically, that the Taliban in Pakistan is trying to strike both the U.S. homeland but also U.S. targets overseas.
The back story here is this is why the U.S. National Security Adviser, Jim Jones, as well as the CIA Chief Leon Panetta just went to Pakistan to deliver there some of this intelligence to the Pakistani government and really shake them up and talk about this threat so they can crack down a bit more.
Also interesting that our National Security Producer, Pam Benson, is learning this information is not just coming in from Faisal Shahzad. It's also coming in from other sources that are corroborating what he is telling U.S. officials in private. That's what's got the U.S. government so concerned. It's coming in, this intelligence, from multiple sources -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ed, so today I mean, the director of National Intelligence stepped down and leaving his post. Why did that happen? It certainly seems like bad timing.
HENRY: It certainly does. Dennis Blair, he was essentially forced out. He never quite clicked with the president when you talk to senior officials familiar with this. And they say the fact that Dennis Blair did not go on this trip to Pakistan, instead the CIA chief did, when clearly Blair is higher in the chain of command, was a sign that he had lost the President's confidence.
In fact, I'm told as well that the President, some of his senior aides, had already started interviewing people in recent weeks to replace Dennis Blair even before he offers his resignation today. That shows you he had lost confidence. And the fact that they were changing him now in the middle of this terror threat shows they didn't have a lot of confidence that he could deal with this threat -- Anderson.
COOPER: Interesting. Ed Henry, I appreciate it, Ed, thanks.
Up next, why young kids are not color-blind when it comes to race. The final results of our pilot study.
Also how the battle over school books in Texas could affect what your kids are learning no matter are you live.
COOPER: Tonight the battle over your child's education: in Texas today, the State's Board of Education waged a bitter fight over its new social studies curriculum. Now, conservatives say the guidelines first approved in March are meant to correct for a liberal bias among teachers who initially drafted the standards.
Critics, though, including former Bush Education Secretary Rod Paige, say the proposal shows a lack of knowledge of our nation's history. A final vote is scheduled for tomorrow. And remember, Texas buys an awful lot of school books, and often what they want has historically influenced textbooks around the country.
Gary Tuchman tonight, takes an "Up Close" look in the debate.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The people on the Texas Board of Education are not professional historians. But that doesn't stop them from controversial and confident pronouncements.
PATRICIA HARDY (R), TEXAS BOARD OF EDUCATION: There would be those who would say, you know, automatically say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over States' rights.
TUCHMAN: Most of the board members are conservative. And they're on the verge of changing social studies teaching standards in Texas. For example, students will soon be discussing whether the separation of church and state is a legitimate historical concept.
That's the kind of debate board member Don McElroy wants to see.
(on camera): Is there such a thing as the separation of church and state?
DON MCLEROY (R), TEXAS BOARD OF EDUCATION: There is such -- there is such a thing as the First Amendment. The first has been interpreted lately by judges in a different way.
TUCHMAN: By no state-sponsored religion, but what do you think about the phrase "separation of church and state"?
MCLEROY: It's really been abused. It's swung way out of kilter is my personal view.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): People pushing for the new curriculum say it will dwell more on the positive in America and less on the negative. Biblical values will be highlighted more. Free enterprise will be emphasized; the term "capitalism" which sometimes has negative connotations, not so much. And, yes, when it comes to the Civil War, discussions about states' rights.
(on camera): The board does this review every decade. The initial recommendations come from educators and historians. All agree the recommendations have never been changed this much.
(voice-over): And that has left many in the public who have come out to these hearings disenchanted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your actions have produced a series of curriculum standards which undermine the importance of multiculturalism and respect for alternative viewpoints; foundations upon which America's society and democracy have been built. Our siblings should learn that America is not just a Christian nation.
TUCHMAN: But many Texans are very pleased.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to thank you for the work you do for the children of Texas and for the children in the other 49 states. You are a truly unique group of elected servants of the great state of Texas.
TUCHMAN: More than 200 Texans went on a list to testify about their feelings. The testimony went late into the night on Wednesday finally ending just before the stroke of midnight after 14 hours. Some of the comments went beyond the scope of the debate and were quite derogatory.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to tell you that Islam is coming, and Islam brings death. So I say repent, America. Repent.
TUCHMAN: The one Muslim member of the board told the man not only was what he was saying irrelevant, but it was also hateful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was insulting to our population and everybody that we represent.
TUCHMAN: But not one other board member, Republican or Democrat, complained about it. The final vote on the recommendations will be made Friday.
COOPER: So Gary, is there any doubt about the outcome of the final vote?
TUCHMAN: well, there are five Democrats on the board, ten Republicans. And Anderson, of the ten Republicans, three of them are conservative; seven of them are very conservative, so no doubt about the outcome at all.
However, as we speak, they're burning the midnight oil again. The entire board in the building behind me is talking about and voting on revisions and amendments. So we still don't know the exact final package, but they will be here into the early a.m. hours arguing about it.
COOPER: Gary, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.
Coming up next: kids and race; the sobering lessons kids are telling us and the new research that says a lot about the best ways to stop negative stereotypes. We'll also talk to Grammy award-winning singer John Legend about reality of race in America today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Everyone likes to think that we live in a post-racial society. JOHN LEGEND, SINGER: Yes. We don't.
COOPER: All week on 360, we've been focusing on our CNN pilot study on kids and race. And we found that white kids as a whole responded with a high rate of what researchers call white bias, identifying their own skin color with positive attributes and darker skin with negative attributes. African-American kids also responded with a bias toward white but much less so than white kids. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is she the dumb child?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she looks black, black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the child you would like to have as a classmate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you like to have him as a classmate?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's white.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the ugly child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why is she the ugly child?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she's black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the child that has the skin color you want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want that one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the child who has the skin color you don't want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, this was just a pilot study where researchers, trained psychologists, interviewed more than 130 kids, 8 different schools. It was an update on a series, a very famous doll test from the 1940s, where black kids were asked to choose between black and white dolls to measure the effects of segregation and discrimination. The test found the majority of black kids preferred white over black.
Now, those results were at the center of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown vs. The Board of Education, which, of course, as you know, desegregated America's schools.
So today, through research and discussions with parents, we also found that the less you talk to your kids about race, the more likely they are to internalize negative stereotypes, stereotypes they get from a lot of different sources.
So where do we go from here? I sat down with Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and activist John Legend for a frank discussion. Take a look.
COOPER: One of the things that surprised me about this study, this pilot study, is just how quickly little kids seemed to pick, you know, what child they thought was the dumb child, what child was the smart child. It seems like little kids form a perception about skin color and about race early on.
LEGEND: It was a little bit surprising but not super surprising, because, you know, I think society does give us messages about what's more valuable, what's less valuable in our culture. And historically, and still to this day, there's still value to having white skin in this country.
And that's not just perceived value. I think a lot of it is actually real because the outcomes, if you're black, are just different. You're less likely to go to a good school. You're less likely to have a higher income. You're more likely to go to prison. And these are societal things that have been in place for years and years.
And I think kids are responding to those things. They see these cues. They see these realities, and they're not just perception. They're real.
COOPER: And it's interesting, I mean talking to their parents, because a lot of the white parents were kind of horrified seeing their child make these choices.
COOPER: And, you know, even though they had -- you know, felt like they had had a conversation or two with their child --
COOPER: -- in the end they often were saying, "Well, clearly I need to talk more with my child about it."
LEGEND: I think kids need to be educated about history, about this country and, you know, kind of some of the things we don't like to talk about a lot of times. Because I think some parents want to live kind of a color-blind life and say, "I just want my kids to love everybody." And yes, you want your kids to love everybody, but you should also understand that this country enslaved black people for hundreds of years.
COOPER: Did your family, when you were growing up, I mean, did you talk about race? Was that something -- was that -- because in the study we found that more African-American parents seemed to talk to their children at a younger age --
COOPER: -- about race than the white parents did.
LEGEND: Yes, we talked about race to some extent. And we -- I think it was less a discussion about race and more a discussion about kind of being proud to be us.
And I would read about Martin Luther King and just be proud that there was a black guy that did this. I would see Bill Cosby on TV, and I'd be proud that there was such a cool black family on TV that everybody watched.
And I was a curious kid, like I used to read about the civil rights era. I used to read about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas and Booker T. Washington. I was proud of the people that fought it. I was inspired by these people. It made me want to live a life that was, you know, that was worthy of their sacrifice.
COOPER: It's interesting. You know, you talk to some Caucasian people, and they will say, "Well, look, you know, we're all American."
COOPER: And you shouldn't be focused on division. We should be focused on the things that unite us.
COOPER: And yet do you find in your own life, I mean, do you still come -- come up against racism or against people who judge you differently based on the color of your skin? I read a tweet recently that --
LEGEND: Yes. I had an incident in Virginia that wasn't very -- wasn't very encouraging. It was some older white gentlemen -- not exactly gentlemen -- they weren't being very friendly and welcoming to me in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
COOPER: You asked -- you, what, asked -- paused to ask directions?
LEGEND: I asked for directions. They thought I was driving suspiciously.
LEGEND: Yes. And to be clear, I was driving in a way that suggested that I didn't know where I was going. So that was true to some extent. But they pulled up to me, and I was going to ask them for directions. They said, you know, "What the hell are you doing?"
And I said -- I said, "What are you doing?"
And they said, "Well, we're just protecting our neighborhood."
And I said to them, "Well, I'm looking for this address. Could you help me find this address?" They said, "I don't know where that is. You just need to get the hell out of here."
And the address was a block away. So they knew where I was going. They just didn't want me to hang around. And they didn't trust what my intentions were in the neighborhood.
And I ended up finding the person I was going to go see. And I had a good dinner.
COOPER: You're smiling, but I mean, that's got to be infuriating.
LEGEND: It was disconcerting, you know. And I've never actually had an incident like that in life. So I'm 31 years old. And I've actually never had a direct example of racism. I know racism is real in America. And I know it plays out in a lot more subtle ways. That was the first time it played out in a very direct way.
COOPER: And that was just recently?
LEGEND: That was two weeks ago.
COOPER: Everyone likes to think that we live in a post-racial society.
LEGEND: Yes. We don't. I mean, we -- and the thing is I don't know if the goal is supposed to be post-racial. I think we need to learn to love and value everyone for who they are individually. That doesn't mean we don't have to see race.
COOPER: So that notion of color-blind is not necessarily, in your mind, the goal?
LEGEND: I don't think that's the goal. Like I'm black, and I love being black. I don't want somebody to love me, despite the fact that I'm black or be blind to the fact that I'm black and love me. I want them to just love me for whoever I am individually.
But it's OK that you see me as a black guy, too. Like, I'm proud to be black. And that's cool.
And the only thing we need to do is make it so that black people, brown people, people of all colors, have opportunities to succeed. So when a kid, a white kid grows up, thinking that black people might not be as intelligent, there's all these examples in real life to show them, "Hey, President Obama's black, but not just President Obama, but a doctor, the pediatrician, the principal." We need all these examples, and people need to see that just in real life.
COOPER: It was -- I mean, some of the hopeful news from this pilot study we did -- and again, it's just a pilot study, and just one of many that's been done -- but I mean, in the original doll test study back in the '40s, African-American kids had a very strong white bias. Even African-American kids would select white skin as the preferred skin.
LEGEND: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: That seemed lessened, though there was still some white bias.
LEGEND: Yes. And I think that's partly because, you know, our parents have kind of grown up with racism. So we understand how to talk about it a little bit more. And so, when you grow up in a setting where you experience the diversity of the black experience in America, then I think you have a little more nuanced view of what it means to be black.
And when you don't see that, when you just see maybe what's on TV or you just know one or two black people that your parents hang out with, you know, or zero black people that your parents hang out with, then that kind of affects what your perception of race is, as well.
COOPER: John thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.
LEGEND: My pleasure.
COOPER: Tomorrow night on 360, "360 FRIDAY", a special show we do on Friday nights. We're going to have an audience, terrific guests: guitar hero, conservative Ted Nugent, who calls himself a blood brother of Sarah Palin. He'll be with us. So will chef and best- selling author Anthony Bourdain. We've also got Democratic strategist James Carville, CNN's Candy Crowley, historian Douglas Brinkley, Dr. Drew Pinsky. A great discussion about BP, politics, Sarah Palin, and fascinating research on infidelity, who does it and why.
That's tomorrow night on "360 FRIDAY".
You can also join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Next on 360, unions and solutions: helping kids get a better education. A teachers union -- some are calling a textbook example of how teachers unions should work. Our "Perry's Principles" ahead.
COOPER: In tonight's "Perry's Principles", getting the right education for kids starts, of course, with teachers. But a lot of educators including Steve Perry, an experienced principal who's achieved impressive results in his own school, believe that teachers unions can be an obstacle to good education. Is that really the case, though?
There's a public school system in California called Greendot and it has a teachers union some have called a blueprint for success. Steve sat down with its president.
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: I'm a principal. You're a principal of a very successful school, by the way. One of our challenges is working with the union. How do you work effectively with the unions and Greendot?
HARRIS LUU, PRINCIPAL, OSCAR DE LA HOYA ANIMO CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL: We make sure that we have our folks have voices in the decisions that we make on campus. And so in that, you know, day to day, we have folks that participate in those functions at school, whether it be in deciding on a curriculum, deciding on schedules, deciding on stipends, deciding on the budget. We include our parents as well in those conversations.
ABIGAIL GARCIA, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIACION DE MAESTROS UNIDOS: Our teachers union was actually started by the founder of Greendot and it was because he believed in grassroots organizing. That's essentially what the union is. The union is going to complement our organization and not necessarily be an obstacle to progress in our organization.
PERRY: You said that you're going to avoid being an obstacle. Can you give me so -- here are some places where the obstacles typically are. When we as principal have to make staffing decisions and we can only choose from the limited pool that the union gives us because people have to be in the union, how are you different?
LUU: In the unfortunate event that we have to lay off teachers and that has not happened historically with this organization, our charge is to make sure it's about performance. So we have to make sure that teachers are performing -- we are performing in general, the teachers are performing. And if not, that's what's going to put you in that conversation.
PERRY: How do you fit in with the traditional unions? Or do you fit in with the traditional unions?
GARCIA: It's a struggle. We're stuck in a world and I say we, meaning our union, is stuck in a world between the traditional unions and the non-unionized charters. And we're, you know, it's just that we have to prove to our fellow unions that we have the teeth and we also advocate for our teachers and we also have to tell our other charter friends that we are flexible and we believe in reform and that we're very progressive.
PERRY: Building (ph) leaders have a real challenge. We have the challenge of taking into consideration the children's needs which are dynamic. And then the second part of the challenge is to work with an organization -- typically the union -- that wishes to maintain the status quo. How do you deal with the juxtaposition of your two responsibilities?
LUU: We push folks to ask and answer the hard questions here. We include them in the discussion and the decision making.
PERRY: So your strategy is to include them along the way?
LUU: Yes. I think that's critical.
PERRY: How do you commend and push along your agenda of insuring that children are learning? What do you do? LUU: Obviously, we lead through our professional development. So we provide a service to teachers that ensures that we have the proper education going on in the classrooms. So in that way, we model the proper procedures, the proper pedagogy, the proper lessons to make sure that teachers are doing the best they can in the classrooms. We hold teachers accountable but we also hold students accountable day to day.
PERRY: How do you hold teachers accountable?
LUU: Aside from making sure that the lessons are proper and the observations are done frequently, providing them with feedback to say, you know what? You've done this well. Or you haven't done this well.
PERRY: How do you know if they've done it well?
LUU: The kids must be learning. That is the bottom line.
PERRY: How do you measure that?
LUU: Student achievement.
PERRY: Standardized tests?
LUU: Could be one of them.
PERRY: What else?
LUU: Day to day behavior, the whole child. If the child is adjusting well, if the child is positive, if the child is doing well on their courses in school, standardized tests are just but one measure of that.
GARCIA: We have to work together. I think Dr. Luu said it best, that together we're better.
COOPER: So Steve, what is this week's principle?
PERRY: The principle here is that the teachers union have to decide whether or not they want to be part of the solution which means that they have to understand that times have changed. Education isn't the way it used to be. There is less money and there are more expectations put on them.
One of the things that I learned while out there was that here is an organization that has seen the light. They recognized that the times have changed. In order for this particular teachers union to be part of the solution, they're willing to take seniority and put it as a secondary set of responsibility that the principals have when they're evaluating them.
They've also taken a look at performance and keeping accountability high. And more important than anything, students -- God forbid -- students are the most important people in the building. COOPER: It is, though, an untraditional alliance between this union which is especially created in the administration. No doubt a lot of sort of mainstream unions will be critical of this. Do you think it can be emulated in other school systems?
PERRY: They have been criticized. In fact, they have an issue out in California with their own union because there's cleavages now and there is conflict because of this. Can it be? It must be.
In fact, in New York, I'm proud of the folks down there because one of the things they're doing is they are removing seniority as the primary determinant of who gets to keep their jobs and they're opening up for more charter schools. They're keeping the lines of communication open. We have to realize that now is the time for change to take place because the children need it now.
COOPER: Steve Perry, appreciate it. Thanks Steve.
PERRY: Thank you.
Next on the program, Lance Armstrong suffered a crash during a cycling tournament in California today, just hours after he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs by a former teammate. Details on that ahead.
And five paintings, including a Picasso and a Matisse, were stolen last night from a Paris museum. We'll show you how it happened in "Crime and Punishment", next.
COOPER: One more note tonight about the oil spill. I just got a note from a close friend of this program in New Orleans who said that today is the first day some New Orleans hotel owners have started getting cancellations because of this spill.
Now, that is a real potential tragedy. New Orleans is rising. It is back. Hotels are open. Restaurants are humming. And there's absolutely no reason to cancel travel reservations.
New Orleans is not being affected by the spill. The air is fine. The food is fantastic. There's plenty of fish to eat. So there's no need to hold off on going to New Orleans.
In fact, this spill is a reminder of the need to support Louisiana in a time of peril for the coast.
Now, I personally spent this past weekend in New Orleans. And let me tell you, I had a blast. The five-oyster po-boys at Domalici's (ph) are as good as they've ever been. The lobster at Stella is great. Catfish at Brightston's is better than ever. My favorite bar, The Spotted Cat, is open and the band on Friday night was swinging.
So do not cancel your trip to New Orleans. Go. You will have the time of your life.
Let's check on some other stories we're following. Joe Johns tonight joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a major breakthrough in Wall Street reform. In a 59-39 vote, the Senate today passed a massive financial overhaul bill, a key victory for President Obama. That bill must now be merged with the House version, but it could reach the president's desk by July 4.
U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis today admitting using performance-enhancing drugs for years before being stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title. He accused teammate Lance Armstrong of doping, as well; Armstrong today denying those accusations. Hours later, Armstrong crashed during a race and suffered minor injuries.
And a brazen art heist in Paris this morning. A thief got away with $123 million worth of paintings after a broken security system failed to alert museum guards to a smashed window. The masked intruder took off with a Picasso, a Matisse and three other masterpieces. And that's going to be pretty hard to sell at a pawn shop, Anderson.
COOPER: That's crazy.
Hey, that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts not.
I'll see you tomorrow night.