tv State of the Union CNN October 16, 2011 9:00am-10:00am PDT
stagnant wages in too many troubled neighborhoods across the country. the conditions of our poorest citizens appear little changed from what existed 50 years ago. neighborhoods with underfunded schools and broken-down slums, inadequate health care, constant violence, neighborhoods in which too many young people grow up with little hope and few prospects for the future. our work is not done. so on this day, which we celebrate a man and a movement that did so much for this country, let us draw strength from those earlier struggles. first and foremost, let us remember that change has never been quick. change has never been simple or
without controversy. change depends on persistence. change requires determination. it took a full decade before the moral guidance of brown versus board of education was translated into the enforcement measures of the civil rights about and the voting rights act. but those ten long years did not lead dr. king to give up. he kept on pushing. he kept on speaking. he kept on marching until change finally came. and when the civil rights and voting rights act was passed, americans still found themselves trammed in pockets of povr across the country. dr. king d didn't say this was a failure, this is too hard, let's
settle for what we got and let's go home. instead, he said let's take those victories and broaden our mission to achieve not just civil and political equality but also economic justice. let's fight for a living wage and beer schools and jobs for all who are willing to work. in other words, when met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, dr. king refused to accept what he called the is-ness of today. he kept pushing towards the ought-ness of tomorrow. and so, as we think about all the work that we must do, rebuilding an economy that can compete on a global stage, fixing our schools so that every child, not just some, but every child gets a world-class education, making sure that our health care system is affordable and accessible to all and that
our economic system is one in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share, let us not be trapped by what is. we can't be discouraged by what is. we've got to keep pushing for what ought to be, the america we ought to leave to our children, mindful that the hardships we face are nothing compared to those dr. king and his fellow marchers faced 50 years ago, and that if we maintain our faith in ourselves and in the possibles of this nation, there is no challenge we cannot surmount. just as we draw strength from dr. king's struggles, so must we draw inspiration from his constant insistence on the oneness of man, the belief in his words that we are caught in
an inescapable network of mutual ti, tied in a single garment of destiny. it was that insistence rooted in his christian faith that led him to tell a group of angry young protesters, i love you as i love my own children even as one threw a rock that fwlaglanced o his neck. it was that insistence, that belief that god resides in each of us from the high to the low, in the oppressor and the oppressed, that convinced him that people and systems could change. it fortified his belief in nonviolence. it permitted him to place his faye in a government that had fallen short of its ideals. it led him to see his charge not only as freeing black america from the shackles of discrimination but also free
many americans from their own prejudices and freeing americans of every color from the degradations of poverty. and so at this moment, when our politics appear so sharply polarized and faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed of dr. king's teachings. he calls on us to stand in the other person's shoes, to see through their eyes, to understand their pain. he tells us that we have a duty to fight against poverty even if we are well off, to care about the child in the decrepit school even if our own children are doing fine, to show compassion toward the immigrant family with the knowledge that most of us are only a few generations removed from similar hardships.
to say that we are bound together as one people and must constantly strive to see ourselves in one another is not to argue for a false unity, that papers over our differences and ratifies an unjust status quo. as was true 50 years ago, as has been true throughout human history, those with power and privilege will often decry any call for change as divisive. they'll say any challenge to the existing arrangements are unwise and destabilizing. dr. king understood that peace without justice was no peace at all. that aligning our reality with our ideals often requires the speaking of uncomfortable truths and the creative tension of
nonviolent protests. but he also understood that to bring about true and lasting change there must be the possibility of reconciliation, that any social movement has to channel this tension through the spirit of love and mutuality. if he were alive today, i believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of wall street without demonizing all who work there. that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company's union without vilifying the right to collectively bargain. he would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other's love for this country with the knowledge that in this democracy government is no distant object but is rather an expression of our common commitments to one another. he would call on us to assume the best in each other rather
than the worst and challenge one another in ways that ultimately heal rather than wound. in the end that's what i hope my daughters take away from this monument. i want them to come away from here with a faith in what they can accomplish when they are determined and working for a righteous cause. i want them to come away from here with a faith in other people and a faith in a benevolent god. this sculpture, massive and iconic as it is, will remind them of dr. king's strength, but to see him only as larger than life would do a disservice to what he taught us about ourselves. he would want them to know that he had setbacks, because they will have setbacks. he would want them to know that
he had doubts because they will have doubts. he would want them to know that he was flawed, because all of us have flaws. it is precisely because dr. king was a man of flesh and blood and not a figure of stone that he inspires us so. his life, his story tells us that change can come if you don't give up. he would not give up no matter how long it took because in the smallest hamlets and the darkest slums he had witnessed the highest reaches of the human spirit, because in those moments when the struggle seemed most hopeless, he had seen men and women and children conquer their fear. because he had seen hills and mountains made low and rough places made plain and the crooked places make straight and god make a way out of nowhere. that is why we honor this man.
because he had faith in us. and that is why he belongs on this mall, because he saw what we might become. that is why dr. king was so quint quintessentially american, because of all the hardships we've endured, for all our sometimes tragic history, ours is a story of optimism and achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this earth. and that is why the rest of the world still looks to us to lead. this is a country where ordinary people find in their hearts the courage to do extraordinary things, the courage to stand up in the face of the fiercest resistance and despair and say this is wrong and this is right. we will not settle for what the cynics tell us we have to accept and we will reach again and again no matter the odds for what we know is possible. that is the conviction we must carry now in our hearts.
as tough as times may be, i know we will overcome. i know there are better days ahead. i know this because of the man towering over us. i know this because all he and his generation endured. we are here today in a country that dedicated a monument to that legacy. and so with our eyes on the horizon and our faith squarely placed in one another, let us keep striving. let us keep struggling. let us keep climbing toward that promised land of a nation and a world that is more fair and more just and more equal for every single child of god. thank you. god bless you. and god bless the united states of america. >> president obama, the nation's first african-american president, at the dedication of the martin luther king jr. memorial on a gorgeous day.
the backdrop, the body of water you're seeing, is the tidal basin. i want to bring in our joe johns. joe, your impressions of the speech? i thought i heard a lot of politics in there. >> a lot. this was obama the president, the politician, the professor, and in some ways this was a rallying cry to his coalition, his base, answering that question that a lot of people have been asking on both sides of the political spectrum -- what happened to that change you were talking about four years ago? and his answer to his coalition, to his base, change will come if you don't give up. again and again and again, the president talking here at this sort of moment where he ties himself to martin luther king and the whole civil rights movement that began way back when, saying like martin luther king this presidency can continue if you don't give up.
change isn't easy. it's very difficult. and a pretty effective outreach, i would say, to his constituencies and something i could expect we'll hear more of on the campaign trail, candy. >> joe, i want to tell our listener, and maybe we can just open up the mikes for a little bit, they're now singing "we shall overcome," as you know, one of the main songs of the civil rights movement. ♪ ♪ god will see us through god will see us through
♪ we shall overcome someday ♪ >> wow. j joe johns, probably no song is more associated with the civil rights movement or, indeed weather dr. martin luther king. you see stevie wonder now coming up to the microphones. let's pause a minute. looks like he's going to speak. >> it's an exciting day, an exciting moment. a goal set, a goal met. i knew in 1980 when i was in atlanta, georgia, and the night before i wrote this song that i
♪ i just never understood how a man who died for good ♪ ♪ could not have a day that would be set aside fl for his recognition ♪ ♪ because it should never be just because some cannot see the dream as clear as he ♪ ♪ that they should make it become an illusion and we although everything that he stood for ♪ ♪ time will bring for in peace and our hears will sing thanks to martin luther king ♪ ♪ happy birthday to you happy birthday to you happy birthday ♪ ♪ why has there never been a
holiday where peace is celebrated ♪ ♪ all throughout the world time is overdue for people like me and you ♪ ♪ who know the way to truth is love and unity so all of god's children ♪ ♪ it should be a great event and the whole day should be spent ♪ ♪ in full remembrance of those who lived and died ♪ ♪ for the oneness of people so let us all begin we know that love can win let it out ♪ ♪ don't hold it in sing it loud as you can ♪ ♪ happy birthday to you happy birthday to you happy birthday ♪ ♪ happy birthday to you
happy birthday ♪ ♪ happy birthday happy birthday happy birthday ♪ ♪ happy birthday happy birthday happy birthday ♪ so, what you have just heard is quite a group of folks, joe john johns. we have just heard from aretha franklin, the president of the united states, stevie wonder. we heard the singing of "we shall overcome" and added to that "happy birthday." i suspect stevie wonder was asked to see that song to kind of cover as the president makes his way off of the mall and back to the white house because they are getting ready, joe, for a
very important showing, actually, of the entirety of the "i have a dream" speech by martin luther king made during that 1963 march on washington. very famous sections of that speech have been played, but because the family and the martin luther king foundation own it, it has rarely been seen in its entirety. so we are going to show our -- sorry -- we obviously are awaiting that. and i'm wondering if maybe we can go ahead and take a quick break here and we'll be right back. ♪
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martin luther king memorial. right now in the closing of the dedication of that memorial they are showing on the jumbotron the 1963 march on washington during which martin luther king gave his famous "i have a dream" speech in a very rare time for us. the martin luther king jr. family has agreed to allow the entire speech to be shown, and cnn brings it to you now. >> i am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. five score years ago a great
american in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the emancipation proclamation. this momentous decree came as a red beacon light of hope to millions of negro slaves who had been sered in the flames of withering injustice. i came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. but 100 years later, the negro still is not free. 100 years later, the life of the negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and
the chains of discrimination. 100 years later, the negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. 100 years later the negro still languishes in the corners of american society and finds himself in exile in his own land. and so we have come here today to dramatize the shameful conditions. in is sense, we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. when the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory
note to which every american was to fall heir. this note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. it is of course today that america has defalse statemeulte promissory note insofar as our citizens of color are concerned. instead of honoring this sacred obligation, america has given the negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
but we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. we refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. so we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justi justice. we have also come to this hallowed spot to remind america of the fierce urgency of now. this is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of
gradualism. now is the time toe make real the promises of democracy. now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sun lit path of racial justice. now is the time to lift foundation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. now is the time to make justice a reality for all of god's children. it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment, this sweltering summer of the negroes' legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating
opportunity of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end but a beginning. those who hope that the negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. there will be neither rest nor tranquility in america until the negro is granted his citizenship rights. the whirlwinds of revoel will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. but that is something that i must say to my people who stand on the long threshold which
leads into the palace of justice. in the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. we must forever conduct our struggle on the high plain of dignity and zdiscipline. we must not allow or create a protest to degenerate into physical violence. again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. the marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the negro community must not lead us to a
distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize what this march is about. is they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freed freedom. we cannot walk alone. and as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. we cannot turn back. there are those who ask the devotees of civil rights when will you be satisfied? we can never be satisfied as long as the negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. we can never be satisfied as
long as our bodies heavy with the fatigue of travel cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. we cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. we can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for whites only." we cannot be satisfied as long as a negro in mississippi cannot vote and the negro in new york believes he has nothing for which to vote.
no. no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. i am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.
you have been the veterans of creative suffering. continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redem tif. go back to mississippi. go back to alabama, go back to south carolina, go back to georgia, go back to louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. let us not wallo in the valley of despair. i say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, i still have a dream. it is a dream deeply rooted in the american dream.
i have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed -- "we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." i have a dream that one day on the red hills of georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. i have a dream that one day, even the state of mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be
transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. i have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the continue ten of their character. i have a dream today! i have a dream that one day down in alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as
sisters and brothers. i have a dream today! i have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. this is our hope. this is the faith that i go back to the south with. with this faith we will be able to hew out of mountain of despair a stone of hope. with this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. with this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
this will be the day when all of god's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "my country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee i sing. land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." and if america is to be a great nation, this must become true. so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of new hampshire. let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of new york. let freedom ring from the heightening alleghenys of pennsylvania. let freedom ring from the snowcapped rockies of colorado. let freedom ring from the cur vicio
va, slopes of california. but not only that, let freedom ring from stone mountain of georgia. let freedom ring from lookout mountain of tennessee. let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of mississippi, from every mountain side! let freedom ring! and when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of god's children, black men and white men, jews and genti gentiles, protestants and catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "free at last, free at last, thank god almighty, we are free at last!"
>> that was martin luther king jr. august 28th, 1963. fast forward here to october 16th, 2011, where the president of the united states has just finished joining in in the celebration of the dedication of the statue to martin luther king, which is erected very near where he gave that speech 48 years ago. joe johns, a long time ago. we heard some great speeches today, but nothing quite like that. >> absolutely. that's for sure. and so many people don't realize -- i was talking to a couple 18-year-olds who were howard university students who said they'd never seen the speech in its entirety. and, you know, the important thing about that speech, i think, is that it was a threshold moment in the civil rights movement. 1963, august, there had been marches all over the south. people had been arrested. people had been jailed, had been beaten. they'd turned water hoses on
them. and then they came here to washington, d.c., and the big question, of course, was what would happen. would the federal government turn its force on these protesters. and when they came here, it was peaceful, martin luther king gave that rousing speech, it became clear the government would not intervene here in washington, d.c., in the civil rights movement. that was a threshold moment, and really that speech sort of sums it all up for so many people, candy. so a very good time for that speech to be played in its entirety on national television. the people here of course enjoyed it, as well. >> joe, in talking to some of the people that were there that day about what it felt like, overall, john lewis had sate that it was a very joyful day, and it seems to me that that overall is the impression of today's dedication of the
memorial. >> reporter: yeah. i certainly get that, too. it was a very joyful day here, a beautiful sunny day, this after a hurricane. there's some symbolism in that, if you will. it's funny. one person -- i haven't heard too much from today is donna brazile, who worked so long for al gore. she was also the coordinator of the 20th anniversary march on washington of martin luther king in the 1980s. i would have loved to have heard her talk a little bit more about that coming together of all these people over the years and remembering the speech of martin luther king and others on the mall, because it wasn't just him. >> absolutely. yes. many of them now gone, john lewis, the last remaining surviving speaker of that time 48 years ago. joe johns, stick with me a minute. we'll be right back, wrapping up what has been an incredible day on the washington mall. [ male announcer ] for fastidious librarian emily skinner,
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welcome back to cnn's special coverage of the dedication of the memorial of dr. martin luther king jr. the fes tifries just wrapping up. and festivities is the right word for it today. this was largely a celebration. yes sh there was some look back on a man who was really cut down in his prime by an assassination in 1968, but this was a celebration of what he accomplished largely with a lot of politics thrown in, but in washington it's awfully hard to have an event without politics thrown into it. athena jones has been on the mall all day long. let me throw out that general question. what are your general impressions from the day, athena? >> reporter: well, certainly there's been a big celebratory mood here. as you know, this was postponed from august 28th. you had people who had to reorganize, rearrange their plans. they still came. there's a big group who came from tennessee state university. it's been a big celebration here, a festive atmosphere, lots
of gospel singing, lots of applause. everyone here is practically wearing these white hats that tommy hilfiger handed out that have an instripgs talking about today. it's been a positive atmosphere here. one thing you brought up that's been interesting is just how much politics have been a part of many of the speeches here, not just by king's daughter, bernice king, and by civil rights leaders like an dry young, who made a reference to the next election and the need to re-elect the president. and al sharpton. the president himself was pretty political today as you heard, candy. >> he certainly was. did you get a sense -- because i know you've been talking to folks down there very early, talking to folks all day long -- was this an opportunity to come out and see history being made? did they come out to see the president? what was the general feel for why people came today? >> reporter: well, certainly a sense of history. i believe everyone here, we e spoke with, talked about how
important it was to come because this is history and what dr. king stood for and being honored today. they wanted to be here, because as you mentioned all throughout the program, this is the fist monument on the mall to a nonpresident or war hero, the first to a black man, i believe. so they wanted to be here for this occasion. you saw everyone coming out. we had aretha franklin singing, all of the civil rights leaders speaking, and the crowd here taking it in as we well know. one thing about president obama is he made a reference, as many speakers did, to these protests going on on wall street and now around the world. he said that if dr. king were here today he would remind us that if the unemployed worker can protest what's going on on wall street without demonizing everyone who works there. so that's just one example of some of the politics that came into things today here, candy. >> we should point out that tommy hilfiger was a big contributor to the money that helped build this. he wasn't just here randomly passing out hats to promote his clothing line. >> reporter: no.
he spoke -- right. >> and he spoke. anyway, thanks so much, athena jones. i know you did great work down there today and quite a day it was. want to see if we can bring in our joe johns now and talk a little bit about, joe, the speech itself. this was a president who campaigned with a lot of martin luther kingisms, the audacity of hope. quoted him frequently. and the whole notion of change. remember, this was a change election. and so it was interesting to me that there's so much talk about change. it was couched in martin luther king's life. for instance the quote i think you brought up earlier. his life, his story tells us that change can come if you don't give up. you just had the feeling the president might be talking to himself, as well. >> reporter: right. absolutely. and it was really quite striking if you think about it because we knew four years ago, since the president ran so much on the
notion of change, that when we got to this point people would be asking, well, did you bring about the change you promised. and there are a lot of people out there, especially republicans, who continue to harp on that notion that, no, we have not seen the change barack obama promised. and now for him to come here, tie himself very skillfully, i think, to martin luther king jr. at the dedication of his monument at the mall and then harp back to that notion of king being a change agent, how hard it was, how long it took, and tell his followers, his constituents, if you will, change will come if you don't give up, but implicitly what the president is saying to those followers is you've got to stick with me here because the job is not done. so that's his answer to those disenfranchised, those disafebruaried voters. some african-americans, even, who have said the president hasn't done enough to deal with
things like unemployment and many other issues. he is making the case here that, you know, change will come if you stick with me, candy. >> change sometimes over 48 years is not complete. want to give our listeners just an idea of the passage in particular that we're talking about, this from president obama earlier in the day. >> our work is not done. and so on this day, in which we celebrate a man and a movement that did so much for this country, let us draw strength from those earlier struggles. first and foremost, let us remember that change has never been quick. change has never been simple or without controversy. change depends on persistence. change requires determination. it took a full decade before the
moral guidance of brown versus board of education was translated into the enforcement measures of the civil rights act and the voting rights act. but those ten long years did not lead dr. king to give up. he kept on pushing. he kept on speaking. he kept on marching until change finally came. >> message here, change is not easy, not back in -- 48 years ago, nor is it here. joe, just your -- you know, in this last minute or so, your impressions of this day. >> well, i have to tell you, my impression of this day is my impression when i first saw this memorial being built. i hadn't seen anything about it. i didn't -- i hadn't read anything. but i looked at it, just the very tops of it, and i knew instantly that the memorial was going to be all about the notion of out of a mountain of despair a stone of hope.
it's so obvious and a very striking image, if you will. so that's the thing that sticks out today out of this entire celebration, if you will, and that's what the monument's all about, candy. >> and give our viewers just in these last moments an idea of where this is. the water we were seeing backed up to the tidal basin, you could see sometimes when people were speaking just a little bit of the jefferson memorial. >> reporter: yeah. >> situate them a little bit. >> reporter: just a little bit of it. yeah. i mean, i wish i could show you, but it's so hard to see. you can see the washington monument in the distant background. this is the mall, and so as you go along further down, there's the jefferson. but right here in the foreground is the monument. it's a very special place. and a little bit controversial but it seems like they all are, candy. >> they all are. and martin luther king would not have been surprised by that i don't think.