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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.

Respect and Connect  was originally published on