Watch Don Lemon’s interview with the legendary Cicely Tyson.

I had the real honor of sitting down and having a conversation with a legend this past weekend

and when a legend speaks, you listen.

And that legend is Cicely Tyson.

She said something to me that really struck me in the gut. She talked to me about the thing that bothers her the most in all these years that she’s been on the planet.

She said, quote: “what gets me today is the fact that I feel somewhat guilty about the state of young people today. I feel guilty because I think that my generation gave them too much, left them nothing to fight for.”

Keep in mind Ms. Tyson is the woman who played Rosa Parks in the acclaimed Rosa Parks movie, among other iconic characters.

And she says she hears young people deny the fact that Rosa Parks could not sit on the bus or that she, herself, could not go to an ice cream parlor or sit at a lunch counter.

She says young people don’t believe some of those things because the real struggle for freedom and rights is not tangible; it’s not real to them she says.

She explained, they “hear tell of it.” Adding, “And so we handed them everything on a silver platter.”

I told Ms. Tyson that whether she knew it or not that I spoke about that often in my journalism and that I had been criticized for it mostly from black people, young people, and my own people.

And while my words weren’t intended to speak ill of anybody, especially today’s youth or black people, I feel there is a disconnect with the youth.

And without prompting her, the woman who won the Spingarn medal from the NAACP. The highest honor one can get from America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

She said to me without hesitation, quote” it’s hard for them to feel that the freedom that they think they have is not there.

And it’s not.

Because they think that the fallacy to be able to sag their pants, with their butt cracks hanging out, or to swear at will is a lack of understanding the emotion they’re expelling she says.

I think she has a point.

I think it’s a lack of understanding of what women like Rosa Parks went through…

What women like Cicely Tyson went through. An iconic actress who broke more barriers for women and African-Americans; more barriers than any of us can imagine.

It made me think about why I continue to speak my truth in the face of sometimes scathing criticism, mostly from my own people.

It’s because every day when I wake up, before I go on television or walk into the TJMS studio; foremost, in my mind are my single mother and two older sisters who raised me.And who are at home praying and rooting for me to have a better life than them.

I do it because I am a product of those strong, brave, bold black women like Rosa, Harriet, Sojourner, Oprah, Sybil Wilkes and Cicely.

Who deserve nothing less than for young people, especially young men like me to treat them and ourselves with the respect we all deserve.

We should never want those women to feel guilty about anything!

TJMSFit Update:

I started at 198 lbs 7 days ago, on day 7 I’ve lost 11 pounds, I am now 187 lbs. I heard about the Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox from Naomi Campbell, Robin Quivers and Radio One’s own Chairwoman Cathy Hughes. I feel and look great, I’m not hungry and  my body shrinking for more info they can go to  Follow my journey @DonLemonCNN on twitter and Facebook.

9 thoughts on “Respect and Connect

  1. Pattie Mae on said:

    (We handed them everything on a silver platter.) Does that mean they can now quietly resolve their issues with whites in an intimate way? What else was handed over other? We need human rights. The right to enjoy our own and separate lives equally as all others? I am confused now!

    • in a way she is correct. i see this with my brother and his kids. he and their mother gave them as much as they could afford, things they never had while growing up. now those same kids don’t seem to know how stand against hard times. one ran away to OK and one ended up in prison cause he could not wait for dad to help, so he tried to take what he needed. the youngest should be focused on education so that he can be a beacon, but he just became a single father. WE forgot to impart to them the message of how freedom has to be maintained, by daily striving against forces that would still keep you down. I agree with Don that today’s kids truly don’t know how to respect others because no one has taught them self respect. respect and value for yourself would not allow you walk around as some of them do. but, it starts at home. so, the fix needs to focus on home first, then move on to our schools.

  2. Inoe Sen on said:

    I will leave the earth knowing that in light of all that has been done, it was not enough. I do not believe that the lesser generation had/have nothing to do. They had/have so much to do! That is why Generation X was born into graveyards and prison cells. What was done ahead of time was ONLY a door opener. Now, there was a time when those doors were labeled whites only or colored only. Divisions which should have not made any of us comfortable enough to stop and wallow in the midst of racism and discrimination. Showing no respect in public is showing no respect in public. Whether it be your pants down, husbands cheating on wives, or unnatural acts that defy your spirit. No respect is no respect, but we only see the man that has been bothered and picked on all his life from the time he left his mother’s womb to boldly address. These are the same boys to men who grow up w/ incarcerated fathers and mothers who stopped to have a seat and meal at the counter w/ whites and never got up. When the peak of your life is to open the door to share w/ ppl that TRULY WISH YOU WOULD GO ON and do something for yourself, is considered nothing else to do – I would say that means trouble sooner or later. Many may argue, but I stand to disagree that their generation left nothing else to do. Can the President of the United States truly be at rest w/ so much opposition mainly because he does not have the genetic makeup of favor? Can you truly share a classroom and be taught the truth about your heritage and what sets you apart from others? Can our children pray throughout their day as they are threatened w/murder daily? Can you truly apply for the license of freedom w/o being scrutinize, over charged and zeroed in on? Can you equally enjoy the wealth of a capitalistic society? Our men are basically held up in prison and kept back and are most likely to be shot down like animals. So the woman who feels she can do all these things will face the discrimination of doing it all by herself as all others have their husband or your husband. There is a thick degree of unfairness no matter how you slice the pie in Africa – America. And to feel as if barely opening the doors left us nothing to do is call for alarm. There is absolutely much to do, and most of it comes from the mistakes of yesterday. There is a point and time when the African American community will have to stand up and move on. Harshly we never made one more step since the previous generation cracked the door in order to squeeze through. We have to open those doors, stand to our feet, and walk through them. There is no resting at the counter and sharing hotel rooms. There is no sharing of one another husbands and wives. There is no destroying and leaving mine to uplift yours. There is only the courage to be free. There is only you and there is me. That is not you and me! Being afraid to meet the truth means; standing in place for decades or even centuries overlooking and fighting w/ the truth. Presently all around the world every country there is, is at war w/ the truth. But our truth is, we have to make an actual start! We have to learn to open our own doors. We have opened the doors for others for far too long. They enjoy it all, we are still stuck and unhappy fighting discrimination everyday. We must learn to appreciate what we have and learn to protect and build upon what we have. It is not sane to throw away your rightful things to borrow the things of someone else. And the story goes on and on! There is endless work to do for ourselves. And it suddenly did not show up OVER NIGHT!

  3. Hey Don Lemon, in your commentary on the TJMS, it was quoted that ” black women deserve nothing less than for young people, especially young men like me to treat them and ourselves with the respect we all deserve”. Hey Don Lemon, are you guilty of disrespecting black women by adding to their black men deficit; by you being gay? As a gay black man, how do you contribute to the lack of black husbands, fathers, protectors or providers black women so desperately need???

      • Joy, you are probably gay and my comments were not meant to offend anyone; but facts are facts and it’s hard to criticize black men for the black woman’s deficit without pointing out his (Don) own contributions to it. Who in the hell named you Joy anyway? you sound more like sadness…

    • Light: I’m not gay, and if I was so D what. My point is if a person isn’t gay then gay people don’t directly affect them. Gay people like other gay people. And believe me there are PLENTY of STRAIGHT men that don’t date, commit, nor marry Black women, and that’s not gay people’s fault. I’m not going to get to deep on gay; but people like you seem to think that someone chooses to be gay. Hey….are you Michele Bachmann in disguise (thinking that one can pray the gay away)….LOL

  4. Hey Don Lemon, in your commentary on the TJMS, it was quoted that ” black women deserve nothing less than for young people, especially young men like me to treat them and ourselves with the respect we all deserve”. Hey Don Lemon, are you just as guilty of disrespecting black women by adding to their deficit by being gay and not being able to contribute to the black husbands, fathers, protectors or providers population they so desperately need???

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