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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

COVID-19 Affects Huge Percentage of People of Color; Police Bias Treatment Even During a Pandemic; Philanthropist Lifting the Boat for Everybody; CNN's Special, The Color Of COVID; Messages Of Hope; Coronavirus Impacts On Undocumented Immigrants And Their Families; Bishop T.D. Jakes On Faith Amid The Coronavirus; Marsalis Brothers Pay Tribute To Fallen With Music. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Welcome to our special program here on CNN, the Color of COVID. I'm Don Lemon in New York.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: And I'm Van Jones in Los Angeles.

You know, this pandemic is devastating not just the health of people of color, it's also destroying our wealth with layoffs. We got small businesses going under. You know, government aid is just not getting to us and that's why we're here tonight. We want to discuss what this virus is doing in total to black and brown Americans and also to offer some hope.

LEMON: We have a whole lot to talk about, Van. And I don't want to make this only about numbers because that takes the humanity out of this crisis really, but the numbers, the numbers are sobering and they begin to reveal the full challenge that we are all facing right now.

And to quote a research associate at the Urban Institute, "when white America catches a cold, black America catches pneumonia."

So here are those numbers I'm talking about as of tonight. More than 87,000 Americans have died from coronavirus. Of these deaths, more than 17,000 are black Americans, and that's according to analysis from the American Public Media Research Lab.

And the research lab acknowledges the data's incomplete because the virus is moving so fast and a lot of states are still in the process of compiling information.

But here's some perspective for you. Of the data the research lab analyzed from 39 states and Washington, D.C., African Americans make up 13 percent of the population but account for 27 percent of the COVID deaths.

And there is breaking news out of Britain tonight to tell you about. And this information matches what is happening here. A new study finds that those most likely to catch coronavirus include older men, black people who live in densely populated but deprived areas and people who are obese and who have chronic kidney disease, Van.

JONES: And, Don, let's not forget you got millions of black folks and Latinos who are still working on the front lines throughout the entire pandemic, and those are jobs that are now considered essential, so they can't go home. What that means they are at greater risk for exposure to the virus, not just for themselves, but their families, too.

They can't work from home, so instead they're working in the hospitals every day, keeping the transit system working, keeping the stores stocked, cleaning up the buildings as janitors, therefore, in harm's way.

LEMON: Yes. Van, throughout this difficult time, millions of Americans have been forced to stay away from their places of worship when they need spiritual comfort the most.

So, we have a big show for you tonight. We're going to hear words of grace and wisdom from the one and only, who is my mentor, Bishop T.D. Jakes.

And also, ahead tonight, messages of hope from Alfre Woodard, from Common, Samuel L. Jackson and Mario Lopez. But first, let's get to this very special guest who joins us. She's spent her career at the front lines at medicine from caring for the poor in the rural south to advising President Barack Obama as U.S. surgeon general.

Dr. Regina M. Benjamin is with us. Doctor, thank you so much. We love having you. You're very smart and knowledgeable about this. So, let's get your guidance right now.

The big news today is from the White House and it's about a potential vaccine later this year, but communities of color are about 10 percent less likely to get vaccines. So, given how hard we are -- that we are being hit by the coronavirus, how can we make sure that black and brown communities will get this vaccine?

REGINA BENJAMIN, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: So, we're going to have to work and take care of ourselves. I mean, not just in our communities, but everyone else. We'll have to wait and see when this vaccine comes out.

One of the things I am looking at is to say whether or not we'll have a vaccine. In the meantime, we need to save our lives.

[22:04:54]

And as you just mentioned, the number of things that are happening in our communities, let me remind people that in the African-American minority community, Hispanic, Native Americans, we have a higher rate of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease.

The American Heart Association has shown that the cardiovascular disease, particularly cardiac arrythmias people have a poorer health outcome, and so we really need to make sure that we understand that we have these underlying illnesses. And sometimes we don't even know we have high blood pressure, we don't know we're prediabetic, so we are at higher risk.

JONES: That's right.

BENJAMIN: And because of that, all the things that you just described, we don't always have an option to stay home. We have to be on the frontlines, and we have to start to take care of ourselves. We have to try to survive until there is a vaccine or until there is a treatment.

LEMON: Yes.

JONES: You know, it's so important for us to take it seriously. For a long time, we didn't. But I think now we still have a problem.

I want to read you something from NFL star Vaughn Miller. He told this to the Washington Post. now, he's recovering himself from COVID-19. He said this about his own teammates. He says, quote, "they don't even think it's real. That's the craziest part. I told them to take it seriously. Take all this serious. Take the social distancing serious."

Now, listen, if he can't even get his own teammates to take it seriously, how can we do a better job of getting communities of color to really recognize how important it is for us, especially given how vulnerable we are, to take this whole thing seriously?

BENJAMIN: One of the patients in New Orleans had said, and I saw him say it on your show, I believe, that we're either going to be socially distant or we're going to be socially dead. It's our choice. We have to take this very seriously.

We really can sit and -- other people can play around with it and they may be able to get through it. We come into the hospital much sicker, much faster, deteriorating, and we die more often.

And all the numbers and the statistics that you've seen, our rates of death are much higher than others, and so we especially really need to be taking this seriously. And not playing around with it. It's not a joke.

LEMON: So, listen, if you -- all you have to do is watch the news, watch CNN. We are on the road now to reopening. You see the local governments all over the country are focused on reopening right now, doctor. And everyone wants the economy to open up, but we want to do it smartly, right? And you need certain things in place in order to be able to do that.

But here's the question. How does that stand to impact people of color, especially since so many of us are on the front lines, are front line workers and could never really close down in the first place? So many people can't close down.

If you're a bus driver you can't close down. If you're driving the subway you can't close down. If you're a cleaning person you can't close down. If you're, you know, working in a hospital you can't really close down. So how are African Americans or people of color affected by -- in that way? BENJAMIN: You're right, we can't close down. We often have -- we have

to go to work. We have to take care of our families. Forty-eight states are going to be open, so it's not realistic to say that we can stay home. If we can stay home, we should.

LEMON: Right.

BENJAMIN: We have to use common sense. We have to realize that we have to take care of ourselves and our families. Just because something is open, a nightclub or something is open, you don't have to go. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

And so, we have to use our common sense to protect ourselves and protect our families. Do that socially distancing. Wear the mask. Even if you think you look different than everybody else, you set the pace, you are the trend setter, wear the mask.

LEMON: Doctor, really quick, I got to ask -- that's hard -- listen, I was talking to my niece who is an entrepreneur last night. She does hair, right? And does very well, but she hasn't been able to be at her business in over a month, almost two months now and she has to get to work.

She says, Don, I've got to pay the bills. So, I don't know what to tell her. And I said, well, your landlord can't technically kick you out. She said tell that to my landlord. I don't know what to tell her, doctor, because it's either pay the bills or -- you know, she's got to make a choice there.

BENJAMIN: So, these are real. So, try to do the things that we in healthcare and science and public health try to -- try to distance yourself as much as you can. When you're doing hair, it's going to be really hard, it's like being a healthcare worker dealing with a patient. You're very close and you're putting yourself at risk.

And so, try to wear protective equipment as much as you can. The mask, if you can wear a gown, wear a gown. Try to, you know, certainly wear gloves. Do as much as you can to protect yourself because it's up to you not to take it home as much as you can. We really have to stay alive until we can get a treatment, until we can get a vaccine.

[22:10:05]

JONES: One good thing is that I think Jack Dorsey put out a fund to try to save all the black barbers and the nail salons and that type of stuff. It's like a five to one match or a 10 to 1 match. So that's a good thing. But people are --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, he needs to -- he needs to reach out to my niece. Because she could use the help down in Louisiana. But go on, Van. Sorry.

JONES: Yes, no. There are people who are trying, but, listen, you used to be the surgeon general. You used to be in charge of all of this stuff. If you were the surgeon general right now, what would be your top priority in terms of protecting vulnerable communities? Would it be testing? Would it be PPE? What would you be doing if you were in charge right now? What needs to happen?

BENJAMIN: Well, I'd do as any surgeon general and what I'm trying to do now, is give the best science-based information to the American people so they can make good choices and good health decisions.

As far as a priority, as I mentioned I'd try to make sure we can keep people alive the best way we can. We don't have the tests. We don't have the treatments right now. So, the best we can is use the tools we have, which is socially distancing, washing your hands, making sure you're getting enough rest, sleeping, doing those sorts of things that we can do. Use the tools that we have for right now until we can find some better tools.

LEMON: Yes, doctor, listen, there's a whole -- there's so much out there, especially on the internet that people are looking to about vitamins and on and on. And you know, I sound like -- I sound like you when people are texting me and e-mailing me, the best thing we have right now is social distancing and washing your hands. Wash your hands, wash your hands, and keep your hands clean and disinfectants and on and on and on.

Thank you so much. We have to look out for ourselves.

(CROSSTALK)

BENJAMIN: You know, one thing --

LEMON: Yes, go on.

BENJAMIN: One thing I do want to mention is that don't forget about mental health and behavior.

LEMON: Amen.

BENJAMIN: And I'm sure you'll talk about it a little bit. But stress is a major, major concern. If you feel like you need some help, reach out, call a friend. If a friend doesn't answer, call another friend. Don't try to go it alone. That is really important.

LEMON: That's another factor that makes us more vulnerable as people of color as well. Thank you so much. We appreciate it, doctor.

BENJAMIN: Thank you.

LEMON: You know, it's not just health and wealth, right? The coronavirus is exposing dangers -- dangerous disparities in policing.

Up next, CNN is going to investigate for you.

Plus, we're going to speak with the richest black man in America. That's Robert F. Smith. You see him right there on your screen. He paid off student loans of the Morehouse class of 2019. So, what are his words of wisdom now as we face a generational crisis, Van Jones? JONES: And we're also bringing you some special messages of hope like we promised you. Mario Lopez has a big shout-out for the Latino community and Common wants us to know how to stay positive in these troubling times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIO LOPEZ, ACTOR AND JOURNALIST: Hey, Mario Lopez here. I just want to send a huge (INAUDIBLE) to the Latino community and a special thank you to all our essential workers in our community because you guys are on the front lines and you are pushing through and are, quite frankly, the real heroes. So, muchas gracias.

COMMON, RAPPER AND ACTIVIST: No matter where you're from and what you may be experiencing that your ability to focus on the things that are positive, to actually be active towards things that are positive, to live in a way of love and wellness and just, like, the capacity to be a human being and be present and to do the things that you were meant to do on this planet in purpose. We have that. No one can take that away.

That has nothing to do with money. It has nothing to do with race. It has nothing to do with disease. You have that within you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We are back now with our CNN special, the Color of COVID. I'm Don Lemon along with CNN's Van Jones.

Police departments across the country being called upon to enforce social distancing regulations.

JONES: Yes, but some of these videos of these encounters have been going viral. Raises big questions about how police are interacting with white Americans versus Americans of color.

LEMON: That part of the story of the Color of COVID from CNN's Ryan Young.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back the (muted) up.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's viral videos like this that highlight some troubling interactions between minorities and police officers enforcing social distancing guidelines.

In this video, NYPD officers approach several men sitting on a stoop. Police say one of the men tried to enter a police cruiser and struck an officer. As they arrest him, the situation escalates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to go to your friend?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For what? What are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For not wearing a mask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: The NYPD tells CNN that the officers' use of force was in the act of gaining compliance from a subject who was resisting arrest. As parts of New York enjoyed the sun and nice weather recently, officer interactions with the public seem to vary by neighborhood. In this video you can see an NYPD officer taking an aggressive stance in New York's east village.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't even do nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move the (muted) back. Move the (muted) back. What you flexing for?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: With the stun gun in hand, he engages with 33-year-old Donny Wright.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, look, look, he didn't even do nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: This is after police say one suspect became aggressive toward officers and resisted arrest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't even do nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: The officer has been placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAM BUCKNER, MEMBER, ILLINOIS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I couldn't believe that it was happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: In Chicago, Illinois State Representative Kam Buckner decided to go shopping wearing a mask when he says an officer approached him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUCKNER: Asked me some questions and then eventually asked to see my receipt. He said, you know, people are using the COVID virus to do a lot of bad things and to get away with them. You've got a mask on, man, I can't see your face. It looks like -- it looks like you may be up to something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Chicago police tell CNN based on the limited information supplied to the Chicago Police Department, we are currently unable to authenticate that this incident involved a CPD member.

Popular radio host and best-selling author Charlamagne tha God believes this epidemic is pushing forth longstanding distrust between communities of color and authorities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:20:08]

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, HOST, THE BREAKFAST CLUB: It's about the underlying conditions that exist in black America because of systemic racism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: The radio host believes more officers need to be a part of the solution bridging the gap with the community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLAMAGNE: When you're a police officer you can't be silent on these issues. You got to point that out and say that is wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: The NYPD says 80 percent of New York's social distancing summons between mid-March and early May have been issued to blacks and Hispanics. The videos have gotten the attention of NYPD's top cop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERMOT SHEA, POLICE COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY: What we've seen on some of those videos is incredibly disheartening. It's not what we want to see, but I will push back strongly on any notion that this is business as usual for the NYPD. Or that this is, quote, unquote, "racist policing."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLAMAGNE: You all know your environment impacts your emotional and mental well-being. They don't care. And I would probably take they don't care for 500, Alex.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you backing up or are you backing off?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Thank you, Ryan Young. That's a terrible stuff.

You know, Don, policing is not the only area where communities of color are experiencing these disparities. Add to the list are our health and our wealth. Again, from grocery store workers who lost their $2 an hour hazard pay this week, to the richest black and brown celebrities losing millions of dollars from cancelled concerts, games, and movies. The financial challenges are just overwhelming from top to bottom.

Now this is graduation weekend. It should be a moment of celebration and pride especially for students at historically black colleges. But those ceremonies now are all virtual. So, it's harder to even celebrate that.

Now last year, you'll remember this incredible moment when our next guest, billionaire investor, Robert F. Smith, surprised the graduates of Morehouse. Watch their reaction when they found out he was paying off all of their student loans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT SMITH, FOUNDER, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, VISTA EQUITY PARTNERS: On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we're going to put a little fuel in your bus. I've got the alumni over there, and this is a challenge to you, alumni. This is my class, 2019.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Now, that angel investor is joining us right now. Robert F. Smith. He is the founder, the chairman and the CEO of Vista Equity Partners. He's also on the board of my organization, Reform Alliance. Got to get that in there.

Now, this is a big deal for us at CNN. You know, we've had Oprah, we've had Jay-Z. You're in that category. You never do interviews. Even after you made global news giving away that money to those Morehouse students, you didn't talk to anybody. Why are you speaking out tonight? What is it about the situation that has you speaking out, Robert Smith?

SMITH: So, gentlemen, again, thank you first for inviting me on, and I think more importantly for actually having this sort of a feature to raise the awareness of the issues that are happening in our community.

You know, our friend Andrea Rye I think best coined this as a pandemic on top of a series of epidemics. And the challenges that our community is facing in many cases are multifold.

I just recalled during a in my hometown at Denver, Colorado in a community where we had local grocery stores and, you know, flower shops, hair salons, bakeries, you know, churches, barber shops, et cetera, and during a period of economic turmoil and hyperinflation, those businesses went away.

And I just think about it took 20, 30, 40 years for some of those businesses to recover, and in that period of time, frankly, property values fall -- fell. The entire community, frankly, started to deteriorate.

And when I see the sort of economic, frankly, disruption that is occurring in our neighborhoods, I start to think about what can I, what can we do about it? And it's important now to really encourage, drive all of our folks to create, frankly, solutions for ourselves and solutions to help our communities and our business communities because they end up being the lifeblood of the fabric of a lot of how we -- how we communicate as people in our communities and drive the economic opportunity for our young people.

[22:24:54]

LEMON: I always want to, you know, Van and I were talking about you earlier as we were preparing for this show, Robert, and, you know, just like a kid, you know, a young kid always says why? Why? And I think that's maybe the most important question when it comes to journalism.

You are using your own money, your own time helping out people you don't know, saving businesses that are not your own. Why? Why are you investing your own time? Why are you doing this?

SMITH: This is the duty of all of us. It's the duty of all of us as Americans. It's the duty of all of us as community members to help out our communities.

You know, one of the things in my business, we have about 1.4 million small to medium businesses as customers and, you know, we made a call to action to all of our executives and CEOs, what can we do to aid our customers? One of the first things we did was build some solution sets to help them access the PPP program.

Well, through that process it became readily apparent to me that the black and brown communities, Asian communities were not -- and rural communities were not actually not accessing the PPP or not gaining access to it as some first --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Can I give them some stats so that you can talk about this?

SMITH: Sure.

LEMON: Because -- let's see -- minority-owned businesses have gotten very little. And this PPP program, which is the paycheck protection program, was set up to help businesses cover basic expenses during this downturn.

Ninety-five percent of black-owned businesses stand little chance of obtaining one of these loans. Ninety-one percent of Latino-owned businesses have a very small chance of getting these loans. So, continue on -- and then you look on and you see the 75 percent.

SMITH: Sure.

LEMON: And 91 percent for Hawaii and Pacific Islanders, 71 percent for Asian. Why is that? What is the problem, Robert? What's wrong?

SMITH: Yes, in the first tranche of that, typically, you know, even the larger African-American businesses went to their traditional depository banks and I was actually astounded when I got the information that a number of them, a, they didn't get help by their banks. The banks prioritized other businesses. And, frankly, they got turned away or they didn't hear anything.

And so, when you look at our community, about 70 percent of minority neighborhoods actually don't have a branch bank, but there are a number of small community banks, community development financial institutions, which we call CDFIs, minority depository institutions, MDIs.

And one of the things we've done is through one of our companies enabled these businesses to now interface with the e-trans system with the SBA. And many of these businesses now we've actually got them turned into a way from their larger banks, who turned them away, didn't give them information in the first tranche and now they're getting funded.

I know, Don, I believe you're from New Orleans. There was a dentist in New Orleans who was a, you know, very well-run business, had, you know, significant deposits at his bank. Turned him away. He didn't get information. We got him to an MDI and they actually -- or CDFI, they actually got him funded in the second tranche.

So, what's interesting is the second tranche of PPP, a, the loan values are now I think around 75,000. So, they're getting to smaller businesses. There is still capacity left in that system. We've now built out and organized an infrastructure of CDFISs, MBIs and these lending institutions that are now aiding and supporting a number of our urban and rural small businesses. JONES: Let me --

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: So, the first tranche actually some challenges.

JONES: Let me translate --

SMITH: The second tranche, however, there is still capacity. We now have the infrastructure in the system to process these loans. We are just trying to evaluate --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He's got to let you in, Van.

JONES: Let me translate.

SMITH: -- if you ran out.

LEMON: He's holding court, but that's OK. I'm from Baton Rouge.

JONES: Let me translate --

LEMON: Hold on, Van. I'm from Baton Rouge, but that's OK. It's all the same. As long as you got help, it doesn't matter. It's all the same. It's all Louisiana. Go on, Van, I'm sorry about that.

JONES: Listen, for the folks at home listening to this genius do all of this. I want to be very clear about the heart of this thing. Sir, you are helping banks you don't own.

SMITH: Correct.

JONES: You are helping small businesses that you don't own.

SMITH: Correct.

JONES: You are calling the government, you're calling banks, you're doing all this stuff -- and not only that, you're trying to move the culture. You're working with Deon Taylor. Help me understand why.

I don't see any other billionaire -- I don't see any other billionaire on planet earth doing what you're doing, trying to help businesses that they don't even own. Why are you doing it? What's in your heart?

SMITH: It is important for us to ensure that we -- I'm going to say these words, don't waste this crisis. This has been the first redistribution of capital of size and mass from the government to the citizens of America.

Our community needs to ensure that we get our fair share of this and the ability to modernize, repair, restore and regenerate our communities. Capital is one of the most important elements of that. We need to modernize the banking infrastructure of these capillary banking systems. We need to modernize our small business infrastructure. We need to expand --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Why do you care so much? Why do you care so much?

[22:29:59]

SMITH: All of those things are critically important for us to ensure that we have, frankly, vitalized communities. And it's important if I have the capacity to bring some education knowledge insight in capacity, that's part of my responsibility to do that in my of role.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: That's what -- Van, that's how he got so much is because he gave so much. That's why he gets so much is because he gives so much. That's the whole secret to it.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I love this man.

LEMON: But I do have to say, I gave the commencement at Clark Atlanta in 2018. And I thought I was bad because, you know, I was quoting Donald Glover and all that and all kinds of stuff. And then 2019, I was like, this man has ruined it for everybody. I cannot not give another commencement address unless I give away a ton of money or pay everybody's full student loans off. So, you have ruined it, Robert Smith.

SMITH: No, I think what I've done is just continue to -- just hopefully set the bar. The thing, though, just some parting comments, if possible. I mean, to me, I've been actually encouraged by the way that many people have now been embracing this idea of how do we revitalize and rejuvenate our communities? You know, we've been having numerous conversations with administration, numerous conversations with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer.

And we've been actually now, and I think it's important, we need to drive awareness into our community. We've sent notes and messages out to the conference for National Black Churches, national action network. There is a lot of money available today still in the second tranche of the PPP. We have an infrastructure in place to help process these loans.

LEMON: OK.

SMITH: So, let's make sure our people get to it. And frankly, you know, Secretary Mnuchin has been very helpful in getting some of the (INAUDIBLE) companies non-back lenders approved in the SBA.

LEMON: Very, very important but I got to go. I got to go. I got to go. We will have you back. I promise you. I have a show five nights a week on CNN and I promise you for two hours, I will have you on and we will talk more about this. Because this is not over yet. But I'm glad you mentioned churches, because we're going to have T.D. Jakes on in just a minute and we'll discuss that as well. Thank you, Robert Smith.

SMITH: Great. Thank you all. LEMON: Thank you so much. I appreciate -- I appreciate everything you

do. God bless you. Continue to do that. Continue on for doing what you are doing.

SMITH: Great, thank you. All the best.

LEMON: And tomorrow we mentioned what we did for the graduates. Tomorrow CNN is going to honor graduates of 2020 with a two-hour event, it is hosted by Jake Tapper, Erin Burnett and me starting with class of 2020, in this together at 7:00. Featuring former president Bill Clinton, Gal Gadot and more.

And then at 8:00, make sure you join LeBron James and former president Barack Obama for graduate together. The celebration starts tomorrow night at 7:00 on CNN.

You know, people of color across the country looking to faith in a moment of crisis. Ahead, a special live interview and a moment of prayer with Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter's House, in Megachurch in Dallas.

JONES: And we've got some more empowering messages of hope. Samuel L. Jackson and Alfre Woodard have words of inspiration for you tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: I know the majority of African Americans and Mexican Americans and Native Americans cannot stay home and work, you know, on a computer. We're the people that have the jobs that require you to go out and come into contact with people. Hopefully we'll all come out on the other side of this.

And I'd like to, you know, be able to hug somebody that I don't know just because, you know, I see them, they smile and say they like what I do and they ask for a hug, and I want to be, you know, safe in that environment. So, when there's a vaccine, I'm getting it. Hopefully you will, too. And we can hug each other.

ALFRE WOODARD, ACTRESS: I hold in my heart each and every one who we've lost, and I keep you in my prayers who are struggling. You know, this was a natural calamity, but it was exacerbated by the fact of our lack of access to health, justice and to economic justice in our communities. You know, some of the cities are reopening, but the truth is, in most black and brown communities, you didn't have the luxury of sheltering in place.

You make up the bulk of the essential workers in all of the service capacities. We remain the backbone of this nation's ability to stand up straight. And we've taken a hit in this time of covid and our families have taken a hit.

Well, if you must venture out, please do so heroically. Put on your mask for yourself, for your family, all the other families, mamas, the daddies, the kids, you know, whatever it is you're rushing out to see or do, it's going to be there. You just want to make sure that everybody is still here among us to enjoy it all. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:35:00]

LEMON: Welcome back to our CNN special, the color of covid. Don Lemon along with Van Jones here. The coronavirus pandemic's having a devastating impact on the lives of undocumented immigrants in America. CNN's Leyla Santiago reports now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From her balcony, Maria described the horror of fighting covid-19 for a week in the hospital. Her fear of not surviving to care for her children.

She says she feels very weak and she's tired.

A mother of three, all U.S. Citizens, she tells me, Maria made money working in a food truck before she contracted coronavirus.

She got pretty emotional then. She said she's crying because of how terrible the experience of covid-19 was for her and how grateful she is that she's still alive today.

Grateful, but aware she's going straight from a health crisis to an economic one. She hasn't been able to do the jobs that once put food on her table. Neither has her husband. Both are undocumented.

She's worried about the hospital bill. She doesn't know how much it will be.

They don't have health insurance. Rent, food, medications all uncertainties. Because they're undocumented, they don't qualify for unemployment benefits. Under the CARES Act, they, like all undocumented immigrants, didn't qualify to receive a stimulus check.

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LUIS AGUILAR, CASA: Everybody in our community needs to be protected. Regardless of their immigration status.

SANTIAGO: Luis Agular is the Virginia director of the immigrant advocacy group CASA. The coronavirus crisis has forced hundreds of undocumented families to turn to them for food and financial assistance. The most impacted, he says.

AGUILAR: Folks who are working the service sector, those are the ones that have to go to work. Those who are still lucky enough to have a job.

SANTIAGO: According to the most recent Pew research in 2016, unauthorized immigrants made up about 8 percent each of service and production workers. Nearly a quarter in the farm, fishing and forestry sectors and 15 percent of construction workers. JOSE AGUILUZ, DACA RECIPIENT: We're not in the shadows. We are now at

the forefront of this and we are taking the brunt of this pandemic. So they need to take care of us.

SANTIAGO: Jose Aguiluz, is a nurse on the front lines. He's also a DACA recipient who was brought to the U.S. as a 15-year-old. He says he lost his job when elective procedures were cancelled. While being a DACA recipient allows Aguiluz to live and work in the U.S. legally, he was unemployed for more than a month and reluctant to apply for unemployment benefits, fearing it could hurt his future immigration status. So when he was hired for a new job at the Baltimore Convention Center field hospital, he was relieved.

AGUILUZ: My patients really don't care about my immigration status. They care that I am a competent health care provider that is providing care in their time of need.

SANTIAGO: And the need is widespread. Medical and financial. Maria's family is facing both and pleading for help from the U.S. President, but not just for herself.

She says, don't forget about us, the immigrants.

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SANTIAGO: And, Don, unfortunate news that we learned tonight, Maria's situation not really getting better. She tells me that her son today tested positive for coronavirus as well, adding to her anxiety. You know, many of these advocates will tell you that it's important to make sure that these undocumented workers are taken care of, not because they deserve a special privilege, but because giving them access to testing them -- to testing, making sure they have proper PPE is something that will help stop the spread for the entire community.

LEMON: Leyla, thank you so much for your reporting. I appreciate that.

With so much loss and suffering, some people are relying on their faith, but stay-at-home orders are even making that difficult at this time. Next, a very special prayer and conversation with, there he is, Bishop T.D. Jakes, founder of the Potter's House in Dallas. I can't wait to see that, Van.

JONES: Yeah, that's going to be awesome. Also, we've got some more messages of love and hope for you. Here is Iyanla Vanzant.

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IYANLA VANZANT, AUTHOR: I know that we have all been adversely affected by covid-19, but I want to remind you of the genius and power you have in the cells and fiber of your being. From your greediest (ph) ancestor to your nearest grandparent, you have a reservoir of strength, courage and capacity. While it is tempting to remain focused on what's out there in the world, I want to encourage you to go within and call forward whatever it is you need at this time.

Call forward clarity of mind, tenacity of heart, stamina of body, and endurance of spirit. Call forth your vision for the future and your peace in the now. It's not easy, beloved, but we can do this. Our options may have been limited, but we still have choices. Choose to stand on the shoulders of those who came before you. Stand tall and stay safe.

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LEMON: So, everybody gather around the television. I think we could all use some healing and I think everyone will get something out of this. We are back now with our CNN special, the color of covid. I'm Don Lemon along with Van Jones.

This global pandemic has tested people mentally, physically and spiritually. And at a time when people most need connection to their faith and their religion, stay-at-home orders are preventing them from fully engaging with their communities of faith.

So, joining us now is Bishop T.D. Jakes, founder of the potter's House, a Christen megachurch, nondenominal (ph) Christian Megachurch in Dallas, Texas. Bishop, thank you so much for joining us.

BISHOP T.D. JAKES, FOUNDER OF THE POTTER'S HOUSE, DALLAS: For everybody, I got the dynamic duo.

JONES: We've got the legend.

LEMON: We've got the dynamic trio. I just have to say, Bishop, thank you. I watched your message on YouTube that you sent out about not making this a political argument. This is a human thing. I appreciate what you said and I think everyone should go and look at that.

We may get a chance to talk about it in this. But I just want to talk about the church that you lead. It boasts 10s of thousands of members, and I just want to know how this -- this pandemic, this quarantine has impacted you and your ministry and the people around you.

JAKES: It has been very, very difficult. We have tried to busy ourselves serving wherever we could, feeding people that where hungry, people who have lost their jobs, elderly people, destitute. We tried to do the best that we could to serve in those areas, but we certainly miss gathering together.

There's been a rash of funerals. We've had a lot of deaths. We've had a lot of grief. An emotional toll, our counselors are busy around the clock responding to people who are stressed out, overwhelmed. It's been a lot. But we've done what we could.

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JONES: Yeah. You know, according to a new poll by the Pew research center, African Americans are much more likely to say that their faith has been strengthened as a result of this pandemic. Now, why do you think that is and what are the ways that people can draw strength from what's happening around us?

JAKES: Well, we have had a long history, Van, of leaning on our faith to get through the vicissitude of life. All the way back to slavery. It is our worship and our praise and our reliance on God that has sustained us through many dangers. Tolls and (INAUDIBLE) and so, and so on. It's not absolutely foreign to us (INAUDIBLE).

JONES: Yes, well you know, so many people have actually been cut off from the way they normally pray. You know, people, you know, dying, they don't have somebody to read the bible over them. Some of the funerals people can't go to. People can't go to churches, mosque, and synagogues. Can you take a moment and just lead us in prayer? Especially for the communities that had been hit so hard and devastated so hard by this virus.

JAKES: Absolutely. Let's pray together as a nation. Lets' pray together. We bow our heads in submission to God because we know lord that you are the only one that can truly get us through the vicissitudes of this time that we face with covid-19. We pray for people all over America, in fact all over the world who are suffering, who are grieving.

Who are distressed, who are emotionally distraught? Those who are being victimized in homes. Souls who are overwhelmed by financial needs. We lift them up before you, the righteous judge. The sovereign God. The one who cares about the complexity of mankind. And we ask you whatever the need is and they are so many, whatever the pain is and they are so vast. Whatever the grief is, and they are so deep.

That you would touch and reach and heal and deliver and strengthen and we trust you for justice and for righteousness, and for peace and to set a right every wrong and to correct every misstep. And we pray to you Lord and we ask you to touch those people who are hurting the most. In the name of the lord God, we pray. Amen.

LEMON: Amen.

I received that. And I receive that and I hope everyone around the country and around the world receives that. Here's what I want to say to you, and I'm paraphrasing in this. When I watched you today, you talked about how this is being politicized.

And how everyone wants our economy and our country open back up. There's not a soul who doesn't want that. But we want it done in the right way. Right? As we, as all people would say, we want it done with sense, right?

JAKES: It has to be done in the right way. If we don't do it in the right way, it's going to be counterproductive and we are going to find ourselves in similar straits again. It is that we can just flick a switch, and everything go back to normal and risk further death and the tolls of death have been insurmountable.

It is the fear and the uncertainty. You can open up the country all you want to. But if people are not willing to go into the stores, or into the restaurants. The economy is still going to suffer. I think people are waiting for a rational strategy. That they understand clearly that they are given details. That they comprehend.

And until then, they have become, as I say the CEO over you and you're making the decisions as you well should do. And I encourage everybody listening to me. You know your health. You know your age. You know your stage. You know the complexity. Don't let anybody coerce you into making a decision that is counterproductive to your own wellbeing.

JONES: Listen. Thank you so much, Bishop. And you know, so many of us look to you and you have been there for us. You've been a rock for these community and for this country. And we love you for it. Thanks for being here. Look. I want to remind you that there are a lot of ways that you can help your neighbors who need help right now. Including communities of color. You can go to impact your world on the CNN site. That's CNN.com/impact.

LEMON: So, once again, that was amazing, Van, wasn't it? I receive all of that. I hope everyone around the world receives that. I love that man.

JONES: T.D. Jakes and Robert Smith.

LEMON: And Robert Smith.

JONES: And all the others.

LEMON: And Dr. Benjamin. And everybody else. And all the rest, like Gilligan's Island. So, -- and the rest, thank you.

So, listen, and we want to end this special hour with a focus on the souls that we have lost. The statistics are staggering. But this is about much more than numbers. This is about mothers. It's about fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters. Friends who have been killed. So, as we honor the lives lost, we will again be leaning on the music of jazz legend, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, who performed in quarantine themselves. Playing 12s it. It' by their father Elis Marsalis, who also lost his own battle with covid-19.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The following is a CNN special report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, we look to the timeline for the truth.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We think we have it very well under control.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The very next day his administration declared a public health emergency.