CNN anchor Don Lemon responded to some of the criticism surrounding his July 2013 remarks regarding young African-American men and their wardrobe choices on Saturday — specifically an open letter from entrepreneur Russell Simmons.
“It shouldn’t matter if someone is Black, white, brown, purple, green, Democrat or Republican,” Lemon said. “If the truth they speak is saving lives, then no matter their intentions or background, we should listen. Attack the problem, not the messenger.”
Simmons, who at one point referred to Lemon as “a slave” on Twitter, accused Lemon in an Aug. 2 post of sounding like his strings were being pulled by Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity when he said O’Reilly “doesn’t go far enough” in his criticisms against African-Americans.
“Conservatives love when we blame ourselves for the conditions that have destroyed the fabric of the black community,” Simmons wrote. “I respect your courage on many other issues, but I can’t accept that you would single out black teenagers as the cause of their own demise because they don’t speak the King’s English or wear belts around their waistbands.”
Lemon — who stated that Simmons declined multiple invitations for an on-camera discussion before Saturday — said that criticism made him question whether Simmons watched the original segment or wrote the response.
“I never blamed anyone for their own demise,” Lemon insisted. “I never pinned it on any teenagers. Nor did I mention the King’s English. I did, however, mention ‘the N-word.’”
Following the broadcast, Simmons apologized online for calling Lemon a slave, while adding, “I just think you’re promoting the wrong message.”
Watch Lemon’s response to Simmons, aired Saturday on CNN, below.