Wed, Sep 26, 2007 8:12pm ET

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CNN's Roland Martin on O'Reilly comment: "[L]ast I checked, I didn't hand over my brain to Rev. Sharpton"

On the September 25 edition of CNN's American Morning, co-anchor Kiran Chetry asked CNN contributor Roland Martin to respond to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's controversial comments regarding his dinner with the Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia's, a restaurant in Harlem. On the September 19 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, O'Reilly said: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. ... There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' " O'Reilly later stated during the same program: "I think that black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves, getting away from the Sharptons and the [Rev. Jesse] Jacksons and people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out. 'Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.' " On American Morning, Martin said of O'Reilly's remarks: "[M]y problem is this notion that somehow African-Americans are starting to think for themselves, as if we haven't been thinking beforehand. I mean, last I checked, I didn't hand over my brain to Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Jackson. So, it's nuts. It's nuts." Martin later added: "African-Americans [have] always said, 'Work hard. Get an education.' And so, somehow that it's just starting now -- that's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. So, maybe Bill ought to talk to some more African-Americans to get a better view than his hang-up with Reverend Sharpton and Reverend Jackson."

From the September 25 edition of CNN's American Morning:

CHETRY: Well, the blogs are buzzing this morning over some comments made by Bill O'Reilly during last Wednesday's edition of his nationally syndicated radio program. O'Reilly was discussing race. He brought up a recent trip to have dinner with the Reverend Al Sharpton at Sylvia's, it's a famous restaurant in Harlem. Here's what he said.

O'REILLY [audio clip]: I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. ... There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea." ... They were ordering and having fun and it wasn't any kind of craziness at all.

CHETRY: Well, joining us now in New York is CNN contributor and host of The Roland Martin Show -- Roland Martin joins us now. It's being simulcast by the way on WVON.

Good morning, Roland.

MARTIN: How you doing?

CHETRY: Did you have a chance to read the entire transcript, as well, of this conversation he was having with NPR host and --

MARTIN: Right.

CHETRY: -- Fox contributor Juan Williams.

MARTIN: Well, [unintelligible], it was interesting, obviously, they were having a conversation to talk about the context was, you know, how people get their views in terms of their criticism of hip-hop and rap music, but you know what, I still don't buy it. I just don't buy it, because even if you may have a view of African-Americans, based upon a particular rap artist from a song, I mean, you need to live in a different world as opposed to thinking somehow that's just it.

CHETRY: Right. So he went on to say, "I think that black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves, getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and people trying to lead them into a race-based culture." He says that all of this was taken out of context and that he didn't have a racial intent. Do you buy that?

MARTIN: Well, first of all, I mean, you can make a dumb comment and not have a racial intent. I mean, you can have a racial intent or an ignorance intent, and so, my problem is this notion that somehow African-Americans are starting to think for themselves, as if we haven't been thinking beforehand. I mean, last I checked, I didn't hand over my brain to Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Jackson.

So, it's nuts. It's nuts. But not only that -- and here's what bothers me, OK? This notion that education -- they're looking at, "We'll get educated. I can work hard." You know, [Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice -- her dad, in 1954, was saying that. He wasn't involved in the civil rights movement. African-Americans always said, 'Work hard. Get an education.' And so, somehow that it's just starting now -- that's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. So, maybe Bill ought to talk to some more African-Americans to get a better view than his hang-up with Reverend Sharpton and Reverend Jackson.

—S.N.J.

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