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CNN PRESENTS

CNN PRESENTS: Black in America 2, Part II

Aired July 23, 2009 - 20:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): She's an oncologist tracking a mysterious killer, cancer, to Africa and back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a tremendous opportunity to make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing?

O'BRIEN: He's a doctor saving the lives of black men one haircut at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But HIV is -- is preventable.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Does this street have a name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-Fourth Street, as in Miracle on 34th Street.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): And this man went from homeless to media mogul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let's get it, guys. Let's hit it.

O'BRIEN: And he's beating Hollywood at its own game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He who has the gold makes the rules.

O'BRIEN: They're all pioneers, creating innovative solutions.

Now a CNN landmark investigation.

CNN PRESENTS: "Black in America: Today's Pioneers."

A daughter's moment to shine, for her proud parents, a fashionable and fun moment together, from backstage for center stage, for James (ph) and Tina (ph) Barnes, a picture-perfect moment, or so it seems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't grab one. Can you grab me one, please?

O'BRIEN: It's Sunday, and things are hectic at the Barnes home. Tina's oldest daughter, Jameeca (ph), is home from college. Her youngest, Jayda (ph), has a big fashion show.

Mom is rushing to get the girls ready to go. She's a stickler on time, hates to be late.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just close the bag up. You're going to like so late.

O'BRIEN: So, she rushes a lot and her daughters are usually the reason why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's always there, even when we're having practices or something, dropping us off, picking us up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's always there to pick up the pieces. For the fashion show, I actually forgot to put my model back together. And she did it for me. So, she's always there. She's kind of the person that makes sure that everything gets done right.

O'BRIEN: James Barnes is always there for his daughters, too. He arrives at Jayda's fashion show straight from work. He and Tina wouldn't miss something like this for the world because their daughters are their world.

JAMES BARNES, FATHER: I know one thing, that the -- my first responsibility is to them now. And there's many a guys that would look at fatherhood lightly. But I never did.

O'BRIEN: His bond with his daughters is so strong, it often leaves James, a former Navy man, speechless.

J. BARNES: I have never looked at anything and said, well, that's what I want to be.

One thing I did know was that I wanted to be a good father. That, I knew. Other than that, I -- you know...

My children are the most important thing to me.

O'BRIEN: Tearful, passionate devotion, unquestionable.

But the Barnes' unwavering dedication to their children is killing their 21-year marriage.

TINA BARNES, MOTHER: We were always about our kids, always about our kids, so...

O'BRIEN (on camera): You put them first.

T. BARNES: We put them first.

O'BRIEN: Each of you put them first.

J. BARNES: Oh, yes.

O'BRIEN: And you didn't put each other first.

T. BARNES: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: As Jameeca and Jayda have grown up, James and Tina have grown apart, increasingly lost and at odds.

T. BARNES: I'm very vocal. And he knows that I express my feelings to him a lot. I don't hold back. We're complete opposites, complete opposites. I can see my husband get teary-eyed over something and still not tell me exactly what's wrong.

J. BARNES: I'm not an arguer. I don't sit down and argue and yell and scream with you. So, at that point, I just shut down. I will just sit there and look at you.

O'BRIEN: James and Tina have come to this woman for help. Nisa Muhammad knows, personally and professionally, the enormous consequences when couples stop talking about start think about calling it quits.

(on camera): You look at the couple like James and Tina Barnes. What's their big issue?

NISA MUHAMMAD, WEDDED BLISS FOUNDATION: I think their big problem is that they have gone for so long down the wrong road, that it's now very hard for them to get back on the road together.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Nisa's Wedded Bliss Foundation has been dedicated to saving black marriages across the country since 2001.

In that time, Nisa says she's helped more than 1,500 couples in crisis, and she boasts a success rate of nearly 90 percent. Remarkable, when you consider marriages have been in freefall in the black community for decades.

In 1963, more than 60 percent of black households were headed by married couples. Today, it's less than half that.

(on camera): Why is it particularly important to focus on this in the black community?

MUHAMMAD: We have the lowest marriage rates, the highest out-of- wedlock childbirth rates. And it's like, when white America has a cold, black America has pneumonia.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): It's an epidemic Nisa is battling with her marriage boot camp. She and teaching partner Jamil Muhammad host an eight-week course called "Basic Training For Couples."

MUHAMMAD: A lot of us may have grown up seeing bad marriages or negative marriages. And you could say, well, I really don't want my marriage to be like that. I want it to be different. But a lot of our children today grow up and they don't see any marriages.

O'BRIEN: It's free and open to any struggling couple, those considering marriage, those brand-new to marriage, and those close to divorce, like Tina and James Barnes. They have turned to Nisa as their last resort.

J. BARNES: It's gotten to the point where that I have just thrown my hands up. If things don't change, I can't continue to be in this environment.

T. BARNES: It would be hard to say this a month ago, but I can honestly say it now, that I'm not willing to settle for a husband that I know loves me, but is afraid to show it or can't talk to me.

O'BRIEN: For Tina and James, it's a last chance.

Next: the beginning of their long and uncertain journey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have kind of prepared myself mentally for them to not be together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: In a perfect world...

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: ... couples would realize that love moves you.

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: It twists and turns like an acrobat in a circus. It dips and dives...

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: ... like an Olympic swimmer. It spins and twirls like a carousel ride.

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: But it's also solid and sturdy.

Engraved inside, two rings intertwine.

UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: It is eternal, but also invincible.

T. BARNES: I hate this weather.

O'BRIEN: Every night, Tina and James Barnes work a second job delivering newspapers. It's extra hours for extra pay, beyond his work in information technology and hers in benefits administration.

And it's all to better provide for their two daughters, but it leaves James and Tina little time for sleep or for themselves.

O'BRIEN (on camera): The schedule is just...

(CROSSTALK)

T. BARNES: The schedule has been -- it's been crazy.

O'BRIEN: Ships that pass in the night.

T. BARNES: That's exactly what our lives are.

I may go to bed at 8:00, 9:00 on a good night. I'm back up at midnight. And, then, even though he does most of the work Monday through Friday, I can't go back to sleep, but I'm up at 5:00. My clock goes off, and I have to get ready for work.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Even as they work the night job together, they're emotionally apart, adding stress to a marriage already on the brink.

(on camera): You're working together and you were 500 miles apart.

J. BARNES: Yes, because that's what it was.

O'BRIEN: You had no emotional closeness.

J. BARNES: That's what it was. That's -- for me, that's what it was.

MUHAMMAD: That's one of the things that I'm helping them to really work on. Like I said, great job at being parents, not so good a job at being husband and wife.

O'BRIEN: Do you think that working so much is a big problem?

MUHAMMAD: I think working so much the way they have been working is really the problem, because couples that are in love do not mind working together, do not mind being together. In fact, they look forward to it because they know they're working on a common goal. They grow together.

But I think they want some -- they want to be happy with each other.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Spending time with their daughters Jameeca and Jayda seems to be the only thing Tina and James look forward to these days, but even the girls know all too way that there's a serious fracture in their parent's marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It affected my grades.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It -- it definitely affected my grades. It was just hard for me to focus because I couldn't find that place where I could just be at peace because I didn't know what was going on.

O'BRIEN (on camera): How difficult has it been to watch the trouble in your marriage play itself out in your daughters?

T. BARNES: Probably the hardest thing for both of us.

MUHAMMAD: Anybody want to be bored in your marriage and it's just, la-dee-da all the time? No. Nobody wants to be bored. And, so, that's the value of this -- the five things to an exciting marriage.

T. BARNES: Attend church together.

MUHAMMAD: Attend church together. That is so powerful. Couples that go to church together tend to stay together longer.

REV. CYNTHIA HALE, HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Sometimes, though, it's more serious than what I have described.

O'BRIEN: Reverend Cynthia Hale, a mega-minister in Atlanta, believes the church must play a vital role in promoting and strengthening black marriages, but she is blunt in her assessment of what the church is facing.

HALE: We have become a very individualistic, selfish society, if I can be honest about that. And so people are taking care of themselves. And, you know, marriage is a commitment to another person, to love that person unconditionally. And so I believe that people are losing that edge and that level of commitment.

O'BRIEN: Nisa Muhammad knows firsthand the effects of a failed marriage. Her own parents divorced when she was in her teens.

O'BRIEN (on camera): That is a great picture.

MUHAMMAD: This is a great picture. And this picture is what just reminds us of our family and how our family was.

O'BRIEN: That's you?

MUHAMMAD: That's me.

O'BRIEN: Mouth open.

MUHAMMAD: Even then.

O'BRIEN: How old are you there?

MUHAMMAD: About 5.

And then when I got to like 10th, grade, about 15, then they divorced. I just was like, God, 15 years and living with my father, and now he's gone. My mother was like, we're a three-legged stool now. We have to stick this out.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Nisa's first marriage also ended in divorce, leaving her a single mother of five.

(on camera): Do you feel regret about that?

MUHAMMAD: In some ways. And I think, if we had possibly gotten some help and assistance, that perhaps we could have saved the marriage. But there's a whole lot of pride that goes into saying to somebody, you know, we have got some problems and we really need some help. O'BRIEN (voice-over): James and Tina know they need help, but a long-simmering dispute over their daughters and dating has become a major obstacle to saving their marriage.

J. BARNES: Because it happened with my oldest child, then right behind my oldest child, it happened with my youngest child.

O'BRIEN: James feels Tina allowed both girls to begin dating much too early, despite his strong and repeated objections.

T. BARNES: As long as you're not dating seriously, then I don't have a problem with it. As soon as it gets serious, then there's a issue. He's like, no, she don't need a boyfriend. That's it.

O'BRIEN: Despite Nisa's best efforts...

MUHAMMAD: If you do not manage the conflict, the conflict will in fact manage you.

O'BRIEN: ... Tina and James remain completely at odds.

J. BARNES: And that's where me and her just...

T. BARNES: No, I agree him on that.

(CROSSTALK)

J. BARNES: .. it's like a freight train. It was -- there's no -- no -- this was very serious.

T. BARNES: No.

J. BARNES: And it really, really just -- I mean, I just can't express the magnitude of how it affected me, and it caused a wedge in our marriage that, to me, was almost irreparable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to children to see the power and devotion of marriage.

O'BRIEN: Joyful celebrations of love...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now give God a hand clap of praise.

O'BRIEN: ... leaps of faith and vows of commitment renewed. Seems all too rare in the black community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I'm going to ask all of our married couples to please stand.

That's exactly why Nisa Muhammad created National Black Marriage Day, which promotes the benefits of saying, "I do."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When two interlocking forces...

AUDIENCE: When two interlocking forces...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... are joined together...

AUDIENCE: ... are joined together...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... they cannot...

AUDIENCE: ... they cannot...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... be separated.

AUDIENCE: ... be separated.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Why do you think marriage has become such a big problem in the black community?

MUHAMMAD: I think it's really become a problem because a lot of people have bought into the hype that marriage doesn't matter, that marriage is just a piece of paper, that you can get the same thing, the same benefits or privileges by just living together, because living together is becoming more popular. And I think that's a false perception.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Nisa herself was divorced when she began her national crusade to save black marriages in 2001. She got a second chance at love three years later with this man, Atama Hackshaw (ph). But theirs is no typical marriage. They live in two different cities, she in Washington, he in Atlanta. It's an unusual arrangement for any couple, but especially for an expert on building strong marriages.

MUHAMMAD: I think it just speaks to our commitment as well.

And I think the value of that is that, when you're really committed, you can deal with insurmountable issues, great times together, trips away, so that the time that we do spend together, we make the most of it. And it just speaks to commitment, so that -- this is what I tell the couples. When you are truly committed, you're willing to sacrifice. You're willing to give of yourself. You're willing to do whatever you can to make it work.

O'BRIEN: James and Tina Barnes have longed sacrificed for everything but their marriage. And that's exactly what's brought them to Nisa's basic training class.

T. BARNES: We cannot go through the rest of our lives being married and not knowing how to deal with each other. We can't.

J. BARNES: I will not look up at 30 years of marriage and be where I'm at today. No way. No, I refuse to.

O'BRIEN: Frustration and bitterness that both James and Tina blame on their utter lack of communication.

J. BARNES: You have to have that communication. You have to have that level of communication, to where you can talk to your spouse about your securities, your insecurities, and any of those things. So, that's -- to me, that's just -- you know, that's just what's going to help, you know, either mend our marriage or end it.

T. BARNES: He's completely fed up with the way our lives have gone. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes to fix it. So, when I hear him say, I don't know if we're going to make it or it can't continue on like that, he's correct. And I do want my marriage. And what I want out of my marriage, I feel, is very simple: communication.

MUHAMMAD: Music is a great way to communicate how you feel without words. So, they have a music assignment where they pick three songs that reminds them about their spouse and explain why they picked that song.

O'BRIEN: Tina chooses Freddie Jackson's love song "Rock Me Tonight."

T. BARNES: That is the very first time we slow-danced. And then we -- you know, a lot of our alone times, you know, he would play that song. It has a lot of memories for me. I love the song, and it -- it only reminds me of you, James.

MUHAMMAD: I mean, people used to say music soothes the savage beast. And, in a way, it does. You have got a whole lot of anger and bitterness and rage. And you say, well, baby, look, this is how I feel about you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, tell us about song number three.

J. BARNES: Song number three is H-Town's "Knockin Boots."

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean...

(singing): Body rocking, knocking the boots.

J. BARNES: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, OK. OK. All righty, then.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go right the way you want to go, buddy.

MUHAMMAD: You know, that talks about how he really enjoys being intimate with his wife. So, there are a lots of ways that we are helping them to be able to communicate with each other, because the words that they have used before have been very hurtful and painful.

O'BRIEN: By the last couple's class, James and Tina are finally beginning to do just that. T. BARNES: Intimate rendezvous.

O'BRIEN: Their mood is lighter.

T. BARNES: James came up with that one.

O'BRIEN: They're a little closer.

J. BARNES: Rendezvous, you just, you know -- check this out. We're going to roll out and go such and such right out in the middle other field and just get butt-naked.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: And a long way from where they began.

(on camera): Before you went in to Nisa Muhammad's class, on a scale of one to 10, one being utterly miserable and 10 being fabulous, where would you rate your marriage?

J. BARNES: I think it was a three.

T. BARNES: Yes.

J. BARNES: Two or three.

T. BARNES: Two or three.

It was...

O'BRIEN: Bad.

J. BARNES: It was bad.

O'BRIEN: Very bad?

T. BARNES: Very bad.

J. BARNES: Very bad.

T. BARNES: Not healthy at all.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): In eight weeks, issues of conflict have turned to talk of commitment.

MUHAMMAD: Tina, what's commitment look like?

T. BARNES: I would say trusting in my decisions, even if you're not 100 percent in agreement with it, and then allowing -- if I am incorrect, allowing me to make the mistake and correct the error.

J. BARNES: How I know if she's committed to me is that I have a lot of frailties as a man. So, in those frailties and in those inconsistencies, that she's always been there for me.

O'BRIEN: In their own video diary, James and Tina not only sound more committed. They also appear to have come to terms with one of their major issues, that long-running dispute over their daughters and dating.

T. BARNES: Although I thought I listened to him, I always thought I always listened to his side, maybe now I can see that there might have been times where I really, truly, I heard him, but didn't listen.

O'BRIEN: One week after that video diary, it's come to this, the couples' graduation. And we're invited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening. We're so very happy to have you.

O'BRIEN: It's lots of smiles, lots of hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, why can't you make something that is great even greater?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James and Tina.

O'BRIEN: James and Tina join other couples talking about what they learned about what Nisa' boot camp meant to them.

T. BARNES: I would like to thank you guys for the class.

O'BRIEN: It gets emotional fast.

T. BARNES: We met a lot of great people. And we came to the class. We came to this class at a time in our marriage that was really hard for us. After being married for 21 years, you forget to appreciate that person. I have always said that this is the only man that I will ever love, and so why not try your hardest to make it work?

J. BARNES: For Tina, I have always known that, with her, that I have had a woman that would stick by my side, no matter what. I have always known that.

And I guess that's -- that was the thing that was so hard for me to just let her go, you know, whereas, maybe if she wasn't that type of woman that was by my side like that, I would have been let go, and said, you know, I'm not going to do this anymore. But because of the woman that she is and the -- and the fact that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your time. Take your time. It's all right. It's all right. Take your time.

(APPLAUSE)

J. BARNES: And...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all right.

(APPLAUSE)

O'BRIEN: For James and Tina Barnes, a breakthrough and the promise of better times.

For Nisa Muhammad, the promise of another black marriage saved.

Coming up: a mysterious killer of black women and a doctor in search of a cure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will I be here in two years, five years? Nobody has the crystal ball.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you look at me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you think I am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am an African-American teen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am capable of creating vaccines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or even the toughest diseases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no limitation. I cannot be confined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will succeed.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Lisa Newman is a top surgeon at the University of Michigan Hospital specializing in breast cancer. A job she's had for seven years, every day through the same doors, ready for work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stitches scissors, please. May I have a (INAUDIBLE) stitch, please.

O'BRIEN: But this is no ordinary day. Today, the doctor is the patient.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your job is to -- today.

DR. LISA NEWMAN, SURGEON, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HOSPITAL: This is my first surgery. I need a cup of coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it for you to be on at the other side of the curtain now?

NEWMAN: It's definitely odd. I do feel a different feeling from a different perspective.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Newman, used to seeing troubling mammograms, has gotten one herself. So today, doctors will operate on Dr. Newman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any question. O'BRIEN: With support from her colleagues and her family --

NEWMAN: I'll see you when I pick you up, OK. All right. I love you, pumpkin.

O'BRIEN: She's having a biopsy. Does she have a breast cancer? The very disease she's committed to life to fighting.

NEWMAN: I have the advantage of knowing that. If it comes back positive, it's something I can take care of. I hope it comes back negative, but if not, I'm ready to move ahead.

O'BRIEN: It will be 48 hours before Lisa Newman knows her future. So for now, it's back to work. To be black, a woman and a surgeon makes Lisa Newman a rarity in this country. And it gives her a special connection to her patients like Dawn Spencer.

NEWMAN: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Dawn is here for a routine check-up. Dawn has breast cancer and it's especially aggressive. Dawn is literally in a battle for her life.

NEWMAN: Every minute going through this entire process, you have never skipped a beat. You've always kept it together. You've done what you needed to do.

DAWN SPENCER, PATIENT: You know that.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Newman has operated on Dawn three times. She's in awe of her patient's positive attitude and resilience. Waiting for her own results, Dr. Newman says, has given her a much better understanding of what patients like Dawn go through. As a young surgeon in Brooklyn, New York, Lisa Newman noticed something alarming in her patients.

NEWMAN: It was just heartbreaking every day in the clinic to continuously be seeing African-American women that seem to be disproportionately afflicted with breast cancers at younger ages and more advanced stages of disease.

O'BRIEN: And even worse, this cancer was a different, more aggressive type. It's called triple negative breast cancer, or TNBC. The statistics are appalling. Black women are twice as likely as white women to get TNBC.

Why so deadly? When breast cancer is diagnosed, doctors look for three markers that show where the cancer is most vulnerable and help determine how best to fight it. But the markers aren't there with triple negative breast cancer, making this type of cancer very difficult to treat and more likely to return.

(on camera): So you really have no really targeted way to fight triple negative breast cancer.

NEWMAN: That's correct at this point in time. That's correct in terms of standard of care. Chemotherapy is all that's available.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): A little know killer. With black women squarely in its sights. Lisa Newman knew she had to help. So she began her pioneering work to learn more about the disease, to help all women struggling with TNBC and the black women it most affects.

SPENCER: How do you little kangaroo.

O'BRIEN: Women like Dawn Spencer.

SPENCER: And we all live happily together.

NEWMAN: Dawn is one of the most heroic, wonderful, beautiful women I've ever met.

O'BRIEN: Looking at Dawn, you'd never guess she's sick.

SPENCER: It is not a death sentence. It doesn't have to be. Everything has a reason. Everything that I think about now has more meaning than it did before.

O'BRIEN: Dawn is a hard-charging sales executive at CBS radio. Her life changed forever in 2002. She was 47 years old.

(on camera): How did you discover it? Did you saw it?

SPENCER: I saw the lump.

O'BRIEN: What did it feel like?

SPENCER: A little lump that shouldn't be there. I knew -- I felt like it shouldn't be there. And I went to the doctor and they did a biopsy and found out that it was positive.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Dr. Newman removed a quarter of Dawn's right breast. But five years later, in 2007, Dawn's cancer returned. This time, the cancer was triple negative, harder to fight, harder to survive. The cancer spread to the rest of Dawn's breast and beyond.

Dr. Newman operated again. The surgery left Dawn with a massive scar, an indentation extending from her collarbone, to under her arm and over her rib cage.

SPENCER: I have skin above outside of the bra area removed.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Show me exactly what we're talking about.

SPENCER: So right under my collarbone...

O'BRIEN: Right.

SPENCER: ... is where the indentation starts, OK? As opposed to the other side of my breast.

O'BRIEN: So anything low cut -- SPENCER: Oh, it's out of the question. I do recognize that more importantly than all of that is how I am inside as a person. And that's also what has changed a lot with me. You know, all the superficial stuff is really not what's important at the end of the day.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): The surgery was a success, at first.

SPENCER: Shortly after that, there was more cancer.

O'BRIEN (on camera): What was the reaction when you heard it's back the third time?

SPENCER: I was devastated. I was devastated. My first reaction was fear. My second reaction was anger. You know, I was thinking, what have I done, you know, to deserve this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Posterior margin. Nice job.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Coming up next, Dr. Newman heads to Africa in search of a cure for this insidious disease.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. "Black in America 2: Today's Pioneers" continues in a moment. But first, a "360" bulletin.

President Obama taking his health care message to Ohio. The president told those gathered for a town hall meeting that he is OK with Congress not making his deadline to pass a reform bill as long as they're working.

Another issue getting President Obama's attention, he said the police acted "stupidly" but the officer who arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. after Gates broke into his own home told the Boston radio station he did nothing wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE POLICE: That apology will never come. It wont' come from me, as Jim Crowley. It won't come from me as a sergeant of the Cambridge Police Department. Whatever anybody else chooses to do in the name of the city of Cambridge or the Cambridge Police Department is beyond my control and I don't worry about that. I know what I did was right. I have nothing to apologize for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, a lot more on this story on "360" tonight at 10:00 p.m.

New information about Michael Jackson's final hours. An article in the latest issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine described the singer who is delusional, drugged and desperate for help. Also, new court papers filed requesting an allowance for Jackson's mother Katherine and his three kids. Randi Kaye will have all the latest developments tonight on "360."

And this catch in the ninth inning saved a perfect game for White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, the first in the majors in five years. 27 batters up, 27 down in a 5-0 victory over Tampa Bay. Buehrle getting a call from avid Sox fan President Obama.

We'll have more on all these stories on "360" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Black in America 2: Today's Pioneers" continues after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Breast cancer is the focus of Dr. Lisa Newman's life for two important reasons. She's waiting for her own biopsy results after a troubling mammogram. And for years, she's been tracking a particularly deadly form of the disease called triple negative breast cancer, or TNBC.

TNBC disproportionately kills black women and Dr. Newman wants to know why. Her extraordinary commitment leads to an extraordinary journey. She's taking her search for answers all the way to Africa.

NEWMAN: The women that are most likely to be afflicted with the triple negative breast cancers are younger aged women, women in the pre-menopausal age range, and women with African ancestry.

O'BRIEN: These clues have led her to a provocative theory.

NEWMAN: Whether or not African ancestry might actually predispose women to a biologic way more aggressive form of breast cancer.

O'BRIEN: To test her theory, Newman regularly travels to Ghana. Why Ghana? Because 60 percent of the women here who have breast cancer have triple negative. At this teaching hospital in the city of Kumasi (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, good morning.

NEWMAN: Hi, I'm Dr. Newman.

O'BRIEN: Newman is collecting genetic evidence from African women. Ghana was one of the main launching points for the transatlantic slave trade and Lisa Newman is convinced there's a link between Ghanaian women and African-American women afflicted with TNBC. Studying their tissue and DNA could lead to the creation of a drug to fight TNBC or even a cure.

NEWMAN: I will give you an injection to your skin so that I don't hurt you with the biopsy procedure. You'll feel a little pressure here. You'll hear the popping sound in a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: oh, wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tissue.

O'BRIEN: Newman takes these samples from African women and compares them to the DNA of American women. Nearly 200,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Break it down by race, about 15 percent of white women with breast cancer have TNBC, but the number doubles just 30 percent for black women.

Houston, Texas. These women are members of the Sisters Network, an organization for African-American breast cancer survivors and they're eager to help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's start with the consent first.

O'BRIEN: By providing DNA for Dr. Newman's study.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: For cancer patients everywhere, Dr. Newman's work could mean the difference between life or death, and nobody knows that better than Dawn Spencer who's been fighting triple negative breast cancer for years.

SPENCER: Doctors are not God. They don't know everything. It's a science. It's a practice.

O'BRIEN: Dawn refuses to be frustrated or fear the unknown.

SPENCER: Either I can be fearful or I can be happy and positive and live. I mean, they're literally pumping poison in me.

O'BRIEN: For Dawn, it's yet another round and another mix of chemotherapy.

How long do you think you're going to be on chemo?

SPENCER: I'm not sure and I don't think the doctors know. I don't know, but if it means that I'm on it for as long as it take me to do what I have to get done and be here, then I will be on it.

O'BRIEN: Chemo and constant checkups with her oncologist, Dr. Sofia Morayver (ph) are critical because triple negative is twice as likely to come back compared to other breast cancers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And also you found something new here.

SPENCER: Yes. Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I don't remember feeling that before.

She has a lot of cancer above the waist, in the chest, inside, in the lung, in the lining of the lung.

O'BRIEN: Two months later, Dawn and I meet in New York City. She's upbeat and soldiering on. (on camera): The last time we saw you, you had a wig.

SPENCER: Yes, I did.

O'BRIEN: Why did you lose the wig?

SPENCER: I was tired of it -- tired of the air and putting it on everyday. And as soon as my hair started growing back, I said, this is it, it's coming off. So that's exactly what I did.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): I asked her about the latest lump discovered in her side.

(on camera): What did it turn out to be? You had a biopsy?

SPENCER: It was definitely positive.

O'BRIEN: It's cancer.

SPENCER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Is that a new spot?

SPENCER: It was a new spot in the chest cavity area.

O'BRIEN: Is she winning this battle?

NEWMAN: You can't look at Dawn and not think that she's winning.

O'BRIEN: Will she be here in five years? Two years? Next year?

NEWMAN: Will I be here in two years, five years? Nobody has that crystal ball.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): And what is Lisa Newman's prognosis.

(on camera): What did your biopsy end up showing? What was your -- what was your --

NEWMAN: It ended up being benign. I will need some careful follow-up in the future both short-term and long-term so the jury to some extent is still out in terms of what the ultimate outcome will be.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Newman is lucky. Good health, the strength to continue her work and a chance to impact the lives of millions of women with breast cancer. Inspired by Dr. Newman, Dawn Spencer is making an impact too. She's set up her own organization to fund breast prosthesis for Dr. Newman's patients in Africa.

SPENCER: I just feel that with someone like Dr. Newman there's hope. There's got to be.

O'BRIEN: You're doing the kind of work that generations will benefit from.

NEWMAN: I certainly hope so.

O'BRIEN: He's young, bright and ambitious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to own a house. I want a good paying job, a career, eventually.

O'BRIEN: But Chris Shurn is an ex-con on parole and trying to beat the odds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up gangsters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that who you see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I look down the street --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not what I see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see community leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barbers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pastors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beauticians.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And store owners.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People who gradually day by day --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dream by dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And moment --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By moment, change the world

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is black America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm different. I don't want to settle for this. This is not me.

O'BRIEN: Our first meeting with Chris Shurn is behind bars at the notorious San Quentin prison in California. It was more than a year ago.

CHRIS SHURN, INMATE: I've been down for three years in about six months now. I'm about to go home.

O'BRIEN: Shurn, a 25-year-old drug dealer from Oakland is taking college level courses after earning his GED in prison.

SHURN: My favorite class to take was math and I suck in math so --

O'BRIEN (on camera): So why was it your favorite class.

SHURN: Because I actually learned it.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Chris says after his release he'll continue taking classes to get his college diploma, one step in a plan for a better life.

SHURN: I want to go somewhere. I want to be somebody.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Where do you want to go? Where do you want to be?

SHURN: I want to have a family. I want to own a house. I want to have everything that an average American would want. A good paying job, a career, eventually. You know, the basics.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): How realistic are Chris Shurn's dreams? Like other felons, once he's released, he'll likely face setbacks, frustrations and life with little money. But he's not alone. Everett Highbaugh is there for him.

Everett is the lead case worker with Project Choice, a pioneering program to help Oakland area ex-cons and keep them from going back to prison. It's worked with 565 young men since 2004. A key innovation of Project Choice, helping inmates like Chris Shurn before they're released.

EVERETT HIGHBAUGH, LEAD CASE WORKER, PROJECT CHOICE: We visit them at their bunk or at their cell and tell them about project choice. Invite them to come to a group. If they choose to come, then they go through five books curriculum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your errors in thinking need to be corrected. Is that not correct?

HIGHBAUGH: It tells you how to change your life. It tells them how they need to take responsibility. I mean, we just work on any issues that they have right there in the prison. So when they come out, it's not a clean slate but it's a start.

O'BRIEN: A fresh start, day one, says Highbaugh, is critical. That's why in the early morning darkness, he and colleague Andrew Josie (ph) are at the prison gate.

HIGHBAUGH: This gets kind of bad in the winter time when it's raining.

O'BRIEN: Waiting to meet a client as he's driven out of San Quentin.

HIGHBAUGH: How are you doing?

We pick them up at the front gate. We transport them. In most cases, it's right to the parole office first so they can meet with their parole agent. We do a host of errands. Anything from going to get toiletries, going to get clothes and then meet with the family.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Are you nervous when you drop off a client? And you say, good luck, you know?

HIGHBAUGH: Oh, yes. I'm very nervous. When I go home, I'm still thinking about them. I usually give them a call that evening and see how they're doing because, you know, that first day, that's when they're going to see their friends and those friends are pretty much going to put something in their hand. It's probably illegal.

Down at Goodwill, they're looking for drivers.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): But it's a struggle.

(on camera): How would you describe your job? Because you're an employment agency, relationship councilor, mentor, role model -- all the above.

HIGHBAUGH: It's almost just like being somebody's assistant. You know, this person -- you know, I'm taking care of this person's business in some sense.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Five months after we first meet Chris Shurn, he's released from San Quentin.

SHURN: What's up, man?

HIGHBAUGH: What's going on?

O'BRIEN: Everett tries to help him develop a life plan, where he wants to work, where he'll live, how he'll avoid temptation.

(on camera): Are you going to ever go back to San Quentin.

SHURN: Only to work. Not to be an inmate. I'll go back there and teach something, not to be an inmate.

O'BRIEN: Never?

SHURN: Never. Never.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): As an ex-con, he can't get subsidized housing or welfare. He has no health insurance. What he does get right away, is a job at Goodwill Industries, unloading donations.

SHURN: Every time I dump some books, there's always a lot of books I used to read when I was in prison.

O'BRIEN: It's only part time. $10 an hour. A fraction of what Chris was making selling drugs on the street.

SHURN: I didn't think about the surroundings.

O'BRIEN: With his life on track, Chris takes us on a tour of his old neighborhood.

SHURN: We're on West Oakland on 38th and Union a.k.a. dog town.

I lived here, too. Right here.

O'BRIEN: Shows us where he's been.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Is this the house you sold drugs out of?

SHURN: This one right here, yes.

O'BRIEN: That's the white one.

SHURN: Yes.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): How far he's come.

SHURN: I had a gun every day of my life before I went to prison.

O'BRIEN (on camera): So how have you made that transition from that kind of guy to the guy who worked today? I assume you don't have a gun on you.

SHURN: No, I don't have a gun on me now. I have a checkbook.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): But his financial struggles are no laughing matter. Chris is making just $12,000 a year.

(on camera): What's your big challenge of the day?

SHURN: Trying to convert lifestyles. Even though I've changed my life, it's very, very hard to adjust to this new lifestyle.

O'BRIEN: How do you mean?

SHURN: I'm used to having a lot of money every day.

O'BRIEN: How much money you have on you now?

SHURN: Enough to buy lunch, like $10.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Up next, will very little money and lots of frustration lead to temptation?

SHURN: I could sell some drugs until I get back on my feet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHURN: Do you remember me?

O'BRIEN: Ten months out of prison, Chris Shurn shows me his old neighborhood -- West Oakland, California.

(on camera): Is it weird to be back?

SHURN: Yes, it's kind of weird. I mean a lot of things have changed.

O'BRIEN: Like what?

SHURN: Oh, wow! White people driving through the neighborhood.

(LAUGHTER)

SHURN: That normally never happened.

O'BRIEN: Get a shot -- white person in West Oakland.

SHURN: Yes. So now right here.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Chris Shurn is changing, too.

SHURN: Come on. Let's get over.

O'BRIEN: He's helping his girlfriend raise her 2-year-old daughter, Alicia (ph), and four of his girlfriend's siblings. And they have a baby on the way.

SHURN: I'm having a girl.

O'BRIEN: Oh, nice.

SHURN: Amina (ph).

O'BRIEN: Amina?

You named her already.

SHURN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: That's beautiful.

The news worries Everett Hibaud (ph), lead case manager for Project Choice, the city of Oakland's innovative, cutting edge program that's been helping Chris.

EVERETT HIBAUD: He's got a girlfriend.

O'BRIEN (on camera): And she's pregnant.

HIBAUD: And she's pregnant.

O'BRIEN: Babies are expensive.

HIBAUD: Babies are expensive and...

O'BRIEN: How much are you concerned about that?

HIBAUD: I'm very concerned about it.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Chris wants to continue what he started in prison -- taking college classes. But he can't. He doesn't have the time or the money. So you'll probably be surprised to hear what Chris does next. In the middle of a recession and with a baby on the way, he quits his job. Why?

SHURN: I was making $10 an hour, which wasn't enough for my family. And the work was overwhelming -- overwhelming. I unload a whole semi truck by myself. I was just way too tired after work to even get up and go look for a job.

O'BRIEN: So you had to quit your job to find a new job?

SHURN: Yes, basically.

HIBAUD: I don't like when a person be leaving a job and don't have a job. But he was real confident.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): But confidence isn't enough to make ends meet. His girlfriend's job covers the rent, about $800 a month. But without Chris' income, they're hurting. They cut back on food.

(on camera): When you were tight for money, did you fill up the fridge?

SHURN: No.

O'BRIEN: It was empty?

SHURN: Yes. Yes. We was living off of Tai Rummy (ph). Chicken noodle soup.

O'BRIEN: That's what you ate?

SHURN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Every day?

SHURN: Yes.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): They stopped buying clothes and, as a last resort, cut their phone service and Internet -- making the job search very difficult.

SHURN: The first week, we -- every day, we went looking for a job, every single day.

O'BRIEN (on camera): By the second week, were you panicked?

SHURN: I was panicked, but it was more just like it's -- oh, I messed up...

O'BRIEN: By quitting?

SHURN: Yes, by quitting. It's not going to happen for me now.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): That's when reality sets in.

SHURN: Oh, man, what the hell did I do?

And it crossed my mind, I could sell some drugs until I get back on my feet.

O'BRIEN: Why not do that, then?

SHURN: Alicia is one of the reasons. That's my baby. I couldn't -- I couldn't be out of her life. I couldn't go back to jail.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Not a moment too soon, Chris Shurn lands a new job making $12.45 an hour as a part-time janitor. But it's not full-time and still no health insurance.

SHURN: This is called survival, it's not living.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911 emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I just got robbed, a home robbery. It's a home invasion robbery.

O'BRIEN: In the Hills of an Oakland suburb, three men break into the house of a medical marijuana grower at home with his girlfriend. A security camera catches them on tape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are three black guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were they wearing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dark clothes.

O'BRIEN: The victims say they were threatened at gunpoint.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did they all have guns?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw at least two had guns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: which way did they head?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I was face down in the hallway.

O'BRIEN: The robbers steal cash, a pound of marijuana and a shotgun. They make their getaway in the victim's black Hummer, which Alameda County deputies spot a few minutes later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) we're about 60 miles an hour and wow, going over curbs. We're going to be left on 105th.

O'BRIEN: The driver pulls off the road along these railroad tracks and hits a concrete barrier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 551, the driver is in custody. The vehicle is secured.

O'BRIEN: According to police, that driver is Chris Shurn.

VERONICA MARTINEZ: He called me and then I heard like police in the background. O'BRIEN: Veronica Martinez, Chris' girlfriend, is two weeks away from giving birth when I meet her at one of Chris' court hearings.

(on camera): What was your reaction when you heard what he's up for?

MARTINEZ: Oh, I was just in tears. I was like I don't know to be made or -- and I was like really, really disappointed because I was like he was doing so, so good. Like this whole year he had been doing great.

O'BRIEN: What went wrong?

MARTINEZ: I don't know. I just think he was under a lot of pressure because like the new baby was coming.

O'BRIEN: Financial pressure?

MARTINEZ: Yes. Just, yes.

O'BRIEN: He just couldn't make enough money?

MARTINEZ: Yes, basically.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Chris is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But with his arrest, those close to him are at a complete loss.

HIBAUD: It let a lot of air out of me because I was -- that was -- at first, I was asking, Chris Shurn?

Are you sure?

SHURN: Say hi.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Hi.

O'BRIEN: Chris had a job, a family, career plans and Project Choice. But that may not have been enough to keep him out of trouble.

HIBAUD: That is an indication on how tough it is to stay straight. The odds are -- are really stacked against them. They're heavy.

O'BRIEN: Even as Chris faces 20 years in prison if convicted, Everett Hibaud will not concede defeat. His battle is a matter of principle and pragmatism.

(on camera): Why do you not walk away?

Why do you not give up on the Chris Shurns who are in the prison system in California and across the country?

Why not?

HIBAUD: Well, they've got to come back into our society one way or the other. And if they're going to come back bad, who's going to be next at that point and how much more violent will it be?

So, I mean, we can't give up. Just walking away is just not an option.

O'BRIEN (on camera): When we come back, the barbershop keeping black men healthy in Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

We make an impact in the community so it was definitely something that I wanted to see grow to the next level.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DR. BONNIE "PETE" THOMAS, PROJECT BROTHERHOOD: Hi. I'm Dr. Thomas.

What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Good. Good.

THOMAS: Deep breath in and out for me.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Dr. Pete Thomas is a pioneer.

THOMAS: I'll refill these inhalers for you.

O'BRIEN: On a mission to save the lives of black men -- men whose life expectancy is eight years less than the national average. And he's found an innovative strategy to do it.

THOMAS: I'm going to sort of try to really work with your diet.

OK. What's going on with your leg?

Stop smoking.

O'BRIEN: It's called Project Brotherhood. Its goal -- to treat the whole man.

Marcus Murray is Project Brotherhood's co-director.

MARCUS MURRAY, PROJECT BROTHERHOOD: We -- we take like a public health approach. So health to us is mental, physical, social, economic and spiritual. If one aspect is off in a man's life, he's not completely healthy.

FRANK WILSON: I really want to know what's wrong with me.

What is it?

Can it be fixed?

Or if it can't be fixed, let me know so that now I can adjust my life for that.

O'BRIEN: Frank Wilson has worked two jobs for most of his life. But a heart attack three years ago left him disabled and without health insurance.

(on camera): What brought you here today, because I know this was the first time you've been at this clinic?

WILSON: Basically, I was just running out of medications and unable to get appointments or treatment anywhere else. I found out about this place so I came over here.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Wilson tried to see a doctor at his local hospital, but was told there's a five month wait. But he needed treatment immediately, so he turned to Project Brotherhood.

THOMAS: OK, Mr. Wilson. So tell me, you're 51 years old.

What problems do you have?

WILSON: Heart problems.

THOMAS: We have history of heart failure.

WILSON: Diabetes. Cholesterol issues.

THOMAS: Do you have a history of gout?

WILSON: I've got gout. PAD. I've had stents put in here and in the leg and I've had...

(CROSSTALK)

WILSON: ...quadruple bypass or whatever they call it.

THOMAS: Did you have a heart attack?

WILSON: Yes, in 2006, December.

O'BRIEN: Every Thursday, men like Frank Wilson come to Project Brotherhood on Chicago's South Side for conversation, fatherhood classes, food, meditation...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want you to take your awareness to your third eye.

O'BRIEN: And free doctor's visits.

THOMAS: Mr. Anderson (ph)?

O'BRIEN: Everything Project Brotherhood offers is free of charge -- a much-needed lifeline during these tough economic times.

(on camera): You have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12.

You take 12 medications?

WILSON: Yes. I like to work. You know, this immobility is -- it's killing me. Some of those days I actually ask why he keeps letting me wake up in the morning, you know?

O'BRIEN: Do you seriously think about maybe death is a better option?

Seriously?

WILSON: Yes, when -- when the pain is there, it's -- it's -- when you can't move, you can't take care of yourself, you know...

THOMAS: A lot of our people didn't have a lot of these diseases early on.

O'BRIEN: So the people you're trying to serve are usually poor?

MURRAY: Usually poor, usually without health insurance. But we're seeing an increasing amount of men with resources who just are reluctant to access services elsewhere.

O'BRIEN: Why the reluctance?

Dr. Thomas says some black men are afraid of being exploited -- a fear caused by history and the revelation that for 40 years, unsuspecting poor black men were used as medical guinea pigs in the infamous Tuskegee experiments.

Between 1932 and 1972, 400 men with syphilis were lied to about their condition. The men suffered terribly -- tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity. And many died.

Project Brotherhood overcomes this legacy of fear by staffing clinics with doctors, interns and social workers who are black -- professionals, they say, their patients can relate to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no.

O'BRIEN: There are six black doctors who see patients at Project Brotherhood -- Dr. Gerald Cook, Dr. Raymond Narr (ph), Dr. Thomas Mason (ph), Dr. Larry Gnew (ph), Dr. Glenn Harrison (ph) and Dr. Pete Thomas. And that's remarkable given that blacks make up less than 5 percent of this country's physicians. Project Brotherhood persuades reluctant men to see a doctor and they use unconventional methods.

THOMAS: And you had the courage to come in and see the doc. I appreciate you.

MURRAY: We know how to get men to the health centers. And it's not by advertising free colonoscopies.

O'BRIEN: There's community outreach on the streets and at softball games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can come see a doctor for free every Thursday.

O'BRIEN: But perhaps what's most effective, says Dr. Thomas, is spreading the word through the people black men trust -- their barbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: HIV is -- it's preventable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean you've got to exercise, you know?

O'BRIEN (on camera): But why barbershops?

Why are they so critical to you?

THOMAS: Well, this -- this is a staple in our community. And so men feel comfortable coming into the shop. And, more importantly, they feel comfortable talking about whatever health issue that they may have.

COREY SMITH, LEAGUE STYLES BARBER SHOP: We make an impact in the community, so it was definitely something I want to see grow to the next level.

O'BRIEN: Do you sometimes think, how ridiculous is it that we're going to barber shops to rope people in to getting good medical care?

MURRAY: Yes. I don't -- you know, I don't think it's ridiculous, because I believe that the regular medical model is designed to rope somebody in. It's not black men. And so Project Brotherhood just happens to use that model and say, no, but black men, you're welcome now. Now, this is your clinic.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Some men just want the free haircut offered at the clinic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on in.

O'BRIEN: Others seek preventive care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also wanted to just check for -- take an STD test and just make sure everything is -- is kosher, because I haven't been to the hospital in years.

O'BRIEN: Frank Wilson needs much more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Frank Wilson?

WILSON: Right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

O'BRIEN: Two weeks after his initial visit, Frank Wilson returns for a follow-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you

THOMAS: So open wide. Your numbers don't look as bad as -- as bad as they would think, you know, which is a good thing for you.

O'BRIEN: Wilson's health has improved and so has his outlook on life.

WILSON: Health-wise, I feel good. I'm going to school and I'm trying to find a trade that I can sit down and do.

MURRAY: You know, that's our mission is to push the envelope in terms of telling black men you can be healthy. You have to be healthy. Our community, our families depend on that.

JEFFREY CANADA, HARLEM CHILDREN'S ZONE: Yes, we did. Yes, we did.

O'BRIEN: Up next, a man with a bold program that treats the whole child.

CANADA: You just keep reinforcing to young people that Harlem is a community that expects great things from its kids.

O'BRIEN: He's created a zone for success...

CANADA: Let's go.

O'BRIEN: ...and demands nothing less.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANIKWA WILLIAMS: Hi, Russell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

WILLIAMS: Hi, Jerome.

JEROME: Yes, hi.

O'BRIEN: Tanikwa Williams (ph) faces an uphill climb -- five flights of stairs. It's hard, but worth the effort. Tanikwa climbs these stairs every day to reach the Truce Fitness Center in Harlem's New York City, an after school program that focuses on fitness and nutrition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to work out today?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ready?

WILLIAMS: Yes, I am.

O'BRIEN: But her workout will have to wait. First, it's academics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're reading with your tutor and how has that been coming along?

WILLIAMS: It's been coming along good.

O'BRIEN: For 13-year-old Tanikwa, reading has always been a struggle.

WILLIAMS: Your folks.

O'BRIEN: She's going into the eight grade.

WILLIAMS: Grant and March.

O'BRIEN: But reads at a fifth grade level. And like nearly half the schoolchildren in Harlem, she struggles with her weight.

WILLIAMS: Even when I was younger, I didn't feel like I looked like everybody else. I felt like I was always the heavy one.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Did people tease you?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: What did they say?

WILLIAMS: A lot of things, fat this, fat that. Yes, a lot of criticizing words.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): By age 11, Tanikwa weighed 187 pounds. Her weakness -- fried chicken. And on these streets, there's lots of it.

(on camera): What kind of food is in this neighborhood?

WILLIAMS: A lot of unhealthy food.

O'BRIEN: Yes?

(voice-over): This neighborhood, Harlem, and the people who live here, are near and dear to this man -- Jeffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: We will go to college. We will succeed

O'BRIEN: ...an organization that proves poverty doesn't have to be a barrier for children in New York City. In the 97 block area that makes up the Harlem Children's Zone, Canada uses an innovative approach to help educate and inspire more than 10,000 Harlem kids each and every year.

CANADA: You just keep reinforcing to young people that Harlem is a community that expects great things from its kids. You say it, they see it. They just keep bumping into it.

O'BRIEN: The problems here are big, but Canada's solutions are even bigger. It begins with baby college -- a place where new parents are taught the basics of childhood development.

(VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Preschool programs run from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.. In addition to English, 4-year-olds learn French and Spanish. The Zone has two charter schools that educate 1,000 students and run year round.

(VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: After school programs focus on fitness and art...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action.

O'BRIEN: ...even filmmaking. But whatever the program, academics always come first. And there's a college success office that helps hundreds of students get in and stay in college.

CANADA: That's the pipeline -- start from birth, don't allow those kids to not go to a high quality program. And we're going to stay with those kids right through until they graduate from college.

O'BRIEN: The Zone is Jeffrey Canada's answer to the inequity he witnessed as a child growing up in the South Bronx.

CANADA: I was haunted by my friends, that the systems around them all said the best thing you could do is maybe drop out of school, try and get some kind of job and by 17, their lives were basically over. And I just mean over.

O'BRIEN: It takes more than $64 million a year to run the Harlem Children's Zone.

Canada gets a third from government funding and the rest -- about $40 million -- comes from private donations.

CANADA: What are you learning about?

(VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Exercise.

O'BRIEN: Exhibit A, The Zone's Promise Academy Charter School.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So these are our fourth graders.

O'BRIEN: This year's fourth grade class is special. It's the first class where all the kids have been in The Zone's pipeline since birth.

CANADA: I am convinced that this particular class is the smartest class not only at Promise Academy, but probably in all of New York state.

O'BRIEN: And Canada's got the numbers to prove it; math and English scores that beat New York City and state averages, and a new Harvard study that concludes that these Promise Academy students have closed the achievement gap between black and white student's test scores. Now, he wants to bring that success to another crisis affecting black America, obesity.

CANADA: You have folks who are dying from strokes and heart attacks, who are losing limbs because of diabetes, and it's all fitness and nutrition. We're feeling like we've got to get our kids really focused on this issue, because they're heavy, and we need these kids to lose weight.

O'BRIEN: So eight months ago, Jeff Canada kicked off a huge experiment, the Wellness Challenge; 200 kids divided into teams and the team that loses the most weight wins, and wins big, a trip to Disney World for every child and three friends.

For Taneka Williams, the Wellness Challenge is exactly the motivation she needs.

(on camera): Are you competitive?

TANEKA WILLIAMS, STUDENT: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Do you think you're going to win?

WILLIAMS: Yes, extremely. No, we are going to win this.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Taneka has spent hours sweating through karate class, burning calories and, more importantly, billing confidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's 1,250 calories. That's one meal.

O'BRIEN: Nutrition classes have helped her see that what she eats makes a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you guys actually eat at fast food restaurants? Let me ask that first.

WILLIAMS: Salad, the snack wraps. I get the grilled chicken, not the fried.

O'BRIEN: The fried chicken is still a temptation. But Taneka now has the discipline to say no.

WILLIAMS: I pass by there, OK. No. I'll stick to fruits and vegetables.

O'BRIEN (on camera): You have strong will power. Have you always?

WILLIAMS: I don't think -- it was there, but I needed to find it. It didn't really develop until I came here.

(CROSS TALK)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Taneka's efforts pay off. She emerges the biggest loser on her team, dropping 25 pounds. It gives her the confidence to take on other challenges.

(on camera): Is there a connection between being successful at weight loss, in karate and having good reading skills?

WILLIAMS: If I can do all those things, I can bring up my reading. I'm going to like -- a different side of me that I couldn't bring up my reading. I'm going to get there. It's going to happen.

CANADA: Today's the day.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): How did Taneka's team do? Remember, a win means a trip to Disney World for every child and three friends.

CANADA: Right now, it's time.

O'BRIEN: The wait is excruciating.

CANADA: Our number one team this year for the Fitness Challenge of the Harlem Children's Zone: Truth, Fitness and Nutrition.

(CHEERS)

WILLIAMS: When I heard our name, I was like -- I just started crying and everything. It's not -- it's like tears of joy.

O'BRIEN: For Taneka, a victory and likely the start of many others. And for Jeff Canada, a successful test run. In the future, he'll expand the program to the entire Harlem Children's Zone.

CANADA: It's not one thing. It's everything. It's what you eat. It's the way you live. It's the way you speak to people. It's the dances you do. It's the art you draw. It's the kind of heroes you worship. We think that's what has to happen to Harlem, and the Harlems throughout America, if we're going to change the situation of poor children in this country.

O'BRIEN: When we come back, the remarkable story of an old song, a young boy's sorrow and his multi-million dollar success.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a perfect world, you would not be judged by your color. Instead --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you'll be judged by your attitude, integrity and determination. When I get older, I hope we can change how we judge one another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my America.

(SINGING)

TYLER PERRY, ACTOR/WRITER: I grew up in New Orleans in a six- block space.

O'BRIEN: The boy's name was Emmett. PERRY: I could live in this entire world and not see anybody but black people my entire life.

O'BRIEN: From a poor neighborhood and a troubled home, he would become a writer, actor, director and producer, a multi-millionaire, big enough to beat Hollywood, white Hollywood, at its own game.

PERRY: My biggest success is getting over the things that have tried to destroy and take me out of this life. That has nothing to do with work.

O'BRIEN: Growing up in the '70s and '80s, despair was all around, even at home. "Every terrible moment my mother and I experienced at the hand of my father," he would later write, "has been indelibly etched in my brain."

Emmett's refuge was Reverend Paul Morton's church.

REV. PAUL MORTON, PASTOR: He was searching. He needed that outlet. He needed that way out.

O'BRIEN: He was a good student, but dropped out of high school at 17, still searching. At 19, he took a small part in a church play. He was the co-pastor in a comedy about a dysfunctional family, written and directed by Sylvia Deluki (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was just a natural. He got up there. He did what he needed to do. The people received him. And it was perfect.

O'BRIEN: He told Reverend Morton that he wanted to try real preaching, but that didn't go well. His trial sermon had the congregation laughing.

MORTON: He said you're not ready to preach. No, no, no. You've got a ministry, wait on it. There's a passage in the bible that says, he who was a ministry, let him wait on it. You're not ready yet. Go sit down somewhere.

O'BRIEN: But it was Oprah Winfrey who changed his life, when he was 20. She told her viewers that keeping a journal can be cathartic. Write it down, she said, and he did. A personal story he shaped into a play, a gospel musical, about two adult survivors of child abuse.

He named the story of redemption after an old Negro spiritual, when he heard Lashun Pace singing her version of "I Know I've Been Changed" on the radio.

LASHUN PACE, GOSPEL SINGER: The arrangement that the holy spirit gave me --

(SINGING)

O'BRIEN: Moving to Atlanta in 1991, where he worked as a bill collector, the young man scraped together 12,000 dollars to rent this small theater, and staged the play. With just 30 people in the audience, it flopped.

For the next several years, he was often broke, sometimes living in his car.

PERRY: Even when you feel like I can't do it, I can't go any further, it's at that moment that I believe God lets your dream take on a life of its own.

O'BRIEN: His second chance came in 1998. A promoter booked the show in the Tabernacle, a former church turned concert hall in downtown Atlanta. This time, Lashun Pace herself opened the show.

(SINGING)

PACE: So as the curtain opened up, I hit -- yes. That's the first thing you hear with the play.

O'BRIEN: It was a sellout hit. And Emmett, the little boy from inner city New Orleans, was on his way. Since then, he's changed his name. Today, he's Tyler Perry.

PERRY: Stamp on you fat, ugly, black and uncomfortable.

O'BRIEN: What followed was a series of new plays inspired by his old neighborhood. Perry, in drag, played the matriarch, Madea.

PERRY: I'm a big fine woman. Can I bag that thing up? Can I bag it up?

O'BRIEN: An over-the-top granny who smoke marijuana.

PERRY: Tonight, my room's going to lit up like Jamaica.

O'BRIEN: And packs the nine.

PERRY: All he's got to do is pimp up on him and do like this.

O'BRIEN: But along with the slapstick --

UNIDENTIFIED: I'd do anything for her.

O'BRIEN: -- there was also pain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She took me in a room and sat me on the bed, and let that man come in there and do whatever he wanted to do to me.

O'BRIEN: And there were stories of redemption through forgiveness and faith.

(SINGING)

O'BRIEN: Perry traveled the so-called Chitlin Circuit, theaters in Memphis, Detroit, Baltimore, where black entertainers performed for black audiences. PERRY: It's much more sophisticated now. But I went on that same circuit and traveled the country, doing 300 shows a year in front of all black people.

O'BRIEN: Perry was making a name for himself with African- Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Tyler Perry.

O'BRIEN: But to the white establishment, he was Tyler who?

(on camera): And you were completely under the radar?

PERRY: Completely under the radar, because you can be so famous to one group of people and the rest of the world not know who you are.

O'BRIEN: Did it annoy you?

PERRY: No, not at all. It made me go, OK, I'll show you. I'll show you. I got something to prove here.

O'BRIEN: How Tyler Perry did it when BLACK IN AMERICA continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN (on camera): This is it.

PERRY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Are these real?

PERRY: No, all fronts.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): This neighborhood is the back lot of Tyler Perry Studios.

(on camera): This looks like a little bakery. What happens when I open it up?

PERRY: Bam, there's nothing. But it looks great from the outside.

O'BRIEN: It sure does.

PERRY: It's part of our last film.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Perry is the first African-American to own a major film and TV studio.

(on camera): Does this street have a name?

PERRY: It's 34th street. This is 34th street. What your step there. As in "Miracle on 34th Street."

O'BRIEN (voice-over): The miracle is Perry's black Hollywood, on 30 acres in Atlanta, Georgia. PERRY: The most difficult part about building this was trying to explain to the city of Atlanta's building department what a back lot is.

Better get that line out.

I think we're ready to shoot a show.

O'BRIEN: Perry got here refusing to play by Hollywood's rules. He demanded creative control of his projects.

PERRY: Let's go, guys.

O'BRIEN: Even after writing, directing and co-starring in a string of hit plays, he faced a wall of ignorance when he sought backers for his first movie.

(on camera): When you would go to meet with Hollywood executives, what would they tell you about black people?

PERRY: I will never forget it. I walked to the studio with "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." I said I have this movie I want to do. It's great. I have a huge following. A lot of the people that, you know, are my following are church people. Black people who go to church don't go to movies. He said this.

O'BRIEN: White guy or black guy?

PERRY: White guy. Clearly said it to me. I thought, OK. So I took the script and I left. I went to another studio and They wanted to change things. Well, people don't really talk this way or people don't really say this. These are white people telling me people don't really say this. I'm thinking, wow.

O'BRIEN: Perry was resigned to bank rolling the project himself and selling it as a DVD, when he got a call from the independent studio Lion's Gate.

PERRY: By then I said, listen, if I am not doing it -- if I can't do this my way, I'm not going to do it. I'll put up half the money. By the time I'm done with my rant, he goes, OK.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Diary was the story of a devoted wife in a marriage gone bad. Perry made the film for about five million dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not bitter. I'm mad as hell.

O'BRIEN: It pulled in ten times that at the box office. Apparently black church-goers do go to movies. Since then, Tyler Perry's movies have grossed 370 million dollars, including his most recent hit, "Madea Goes to Jail."

PERRY: I guess nobody told you that I'm Madea. Ma to the damn DEA. You understand that? O'BRIEN: There's big money in syndication and DVDs. So Perry demands not only creative control, but also ownership of the finished product. It's an ambition born from watching his father, a carpenter, who never owned what he built.

PERRY: He'd come in. He'd be so happy. He made 800 dollars that week. I'd see the man sell the house. My mom said, you know, he sold that house for 30,000 dollars. It's like all of this money he made and this is what you made. I wanted to always be the man who owned the house rather than the man who was working on it.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Even as a kid you knew that was the way to do it?

PERRY: Even as a kid, yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: That was a way to do it.

(voice-over): At a time when the NAACP says African-Americans are under-represented in almost every aspect of the television and film industry, Perry is hiring, on both sides of the camera. Legends like 76 year-old Cicely Tyson, an Oscar nominee and Emmy award winning actress, best known for her 1972 performance in "Sounder," as the wife of a share cropper.

CICELY TYSON, ACTRESS: Crop is a long way off. By that time, Nathan ought to be home. If he ain't, believe me, the children and me will do the cropping.

O'BRIEN: Tyler Perry revitalized Tyson's career for a new generation.

TYSON: Hey, baby, how you doing?

O'BRIEN: Casting her as the wise elder in two of his films.

TYSON: You got the strength god gave us women to survive. Just haven't tapped into it yet.

O'BRIEN (on camera): We're on Lexington, between 101st and 102nd.

(voice-over): Today walking through East Harlem where she grew up, cars stop.

TYSON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Teenagers gawk.

TYSON: That's Cicely Tyson.

O'BRIEN: And fans chant her name.

CROWD: Cicely, Cicely, Cicely!

TYSON: I love it. I love it. O'BRIEN: But when Cicely Tyson began her career, segregation was the law of the land.

TYSON: There were moments, as I was moving along, that I was stopped dead cold, as if someone had thrown cold water in my face. And the realization that I would be limited in terms of the amount of work I could do in this business because of the color of my skin.

O'BRIEN: Many racial barriers have fallen. But black actors still face obstacles. Van Davis spent years in Hollywood, frustrated with the limited roles available to him.

VAN DAVIS, ACTOR: Right on. Thank you, brother.

I didn't want to be a thug. I didn't want to be a pimp, you know. I didn't want to -- I wanted to play regular people.

O'BRIEN: Since 2007, he's played the wise-cracking dad on Tyler Perry's hit show "House of Pain."

DAVIS: Madam, are you capable of reading lips?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

O'BRIEN: It runs on TBS, which is owned by the same company that owns CNN. Van Davis has twice been honored by the NAACP as a role model at its nationally televised Image Awards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For outstanding actor in comedy series.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Van.

DAVIS: For them to say we appreciate what you do, you know, in this world, and we stand with you, that's major. That's major.

O'BRIEN: But not everyone thinks the images in Tyler Perry's work are positive.

TODD BOYD, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: He's made a lot of money but the quality of the work is sorely lacking.

O'BRIEN: University of Southern California Film Professor Todd Boyd is a prominent culture and media critic.

BOYD: It seems a bit ironic that at the moment of the first African-American president, the most popular African-American figure in the media is a man in drag, engaging some of the most stereotypical images of African-Americans ever created.

PERRY: Oh, that make me mad!

BOYD: The contrast is astounding. Tyler Perry has gone backwards.

PERRY: How dare you insult me that way, with some kind of comment that way, when you're looking at one little bit of a totality of a message.

It makes me go, who are you? Is this what you get when you're looking at it. Sure, the silliness of Madea, the silliness of Brown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friends call me Leroy Brown. You can just call me --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leroy Brown?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, how did you know.

PERRY: It's broad. It's over the top, great. Fine, I get it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm your son. I'm not going to leave you like them other dudes.

PERRY: How can you miss the message of forgiveness?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. Mom, I'm sorry.

TYSON: That's the stuff we are made of. What happened to us?

PERRY: How can you miss the messages of empowerment?

TYSON: Now it's time to say, take your place. Now, starting now, starting now!

PERRY: But, you know, again, critics are critics.

O'BRIEN: Critics be damned, Tyler Perry signed a 200 million dollar deal with TBS for 100 episodes of "House of Pain." It's one of television's most popular shows among black adults. The sitcom is now in syndication, generating even more money for the guy who owns it, Tyler Perry.

PERRY: If you want to think about longevity, you want to think about your family, and generations down the line, then you have to own. You have to be true to the voice that tells you this is not right. I'm going to do it this way or I'm not going to do it.

O'BRIEN: When Perry opened his Atlanta studio in 2008, he invited African-American legends from an earlier generation, pioneers in Hollywood like Sidney Poitier and, of course, Cicely Tyson, naming one of his five sound stages in her honor.

(on camera): When you saw that the sound stage had been named the Cicely Tyson Sound Stage, what was that like?

TYSON: It was a moment that I can't describe.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Perry says he's the one who's inspired.

PERRY: Because there's so much more I have to do yet. This 30 acres or so that we're on now is just the beginning nugget of what's going to come.

O'BRIEN: He's the first to tell you his success grew out of a troubled home, a poor neighborhood and a strong faith.

(SINGING)

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