Culture

Talib Kweli Interviews Don Lemon, Six Years After Their Heated Conversation On CNN

When UPROXX launched People’s Party with Talib Kweli a little over one year ago, we knew the time would come for Kweli and co-host Jasmin Leigh to sit down with CNN anchor Don Lemon. The show’s debut was a full five years after Kweli and Lemon argued on the streets of Ferguson, MO — during the protests that followed the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer. And while the conflict itself was heated (and quickly went viral), it was borne out of a tense situation between two well-intentioned people trying to get their unique points of view across. There was no genuine bad blood.

After the police killing of George Floyd and the continued protests nationwide, it was clear that the moment for Kweli and Lemon to reconnect had arrived. Against the advice of his employers’ PR staff, Lemon agreed to join People’s Party for a special episode focused on his work on TV and podcasts, his approach to covering Donald Trump, and his unique brand of “activism journalism.”

Lemon also spoke extensively about his identity and role in the media right now. “I am a Black man who grew up in and who lives and survives and works in America — and I have a certain perspective and a certain point of view, ” he explains. “And I’m bringing that important part of the diverse culture of this company [CNN] to the fore, and I should be. I’m not biased, this is my truth as a Black man in America.”

At 20:38, the two men talk through their conflict in Ferguson. It’s a deeply engaging moment — not at all for the tabloid, “famous people fighting” aspect, but because hearing Lemon and Kweli unpack the disagreement underscores how they both feel about this current socio-political moment. They quickly agree that, in Lemon’s words, “We don’t need two black men fighting. We need to be supportive of each other.”

First, for a little background, here’s the original moment from 2014.

After talking the moment through and explaining a little of the context, Kweli and Lemon are quick to share their respect for one another.

“You’re a black brother, I love you,” Lemon says. “I love what you fight for and what you stand for and what you’ve done, and I respect that. That’s water under the bridge, brother.”

“I appreciate the love and I return it,” Kweli says.

Watch the full interview for this powerful moment of reconciliation, as well as Lemon speaking on his new podcast Silence is not an Option, winning the Native Son Award, and how he interprets the idea of being “unbiased” in the Trump age.

People’s Party is a weekly interview show hosted by Talib Kweli with big-name guests exploring hip-hop, culture, and politics. Subscribe via Apple, Spotify, or YouTube.

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