tv Book TV After Words CSPAN February 22, 2013 8:00pm-9:00pm EST
up next on booktv, "after words" with guest host author and playwright janet langhart cohen. this week a story in clayborne carson and his latest "martin's dream" my journey and the legacy of martin luther king, jr.. in it he reveals his journey from teenage civil rights activist to being present at the 1963 march on washington to editor of martin luther king jr. 's papers. he includes encounters with many leaders and organizers in the civil rights movement including ella baker, the dorothy
carmichael and the king family. it's about an hour. >> host: dr. carson thanks for joining me on "after words." >> guest: it's my pleasure. >> host: europe but "martin's dream" is a memoir and a history book. in the book you talk about your personal journey and you are very candid about your life and you also cover new insights as a historian to the life and legacy of dr. martin luther king, jr.. what prompted you to write the book this way? guess go well i wanted to write something to market 50th anniversary and i realized that this was 50 years of my life and it was king's legacy and his life coincides with my coming-of-age. so part of it was to do those two tasks. i felt that i -- my life have been connected to the king legacy and yet i felt that there
was something about my life that needed to be told in order to understand how king impacted me and how i got involved in this amazing journey of editing kings papers. >> host: it's an excellent read and you end and i are of the same generation and i to was coming and age in the 60s and the book i must say was bittersweet for me because i guess sweet because i knew dr. king. he was my mentor and i knew him the last few years of his life and better because of the way he was taken from us because of racial hatred in this country and i don't know, guess we can start at the beginning because at the beginning of the book you are on the mall was dr. king and you're the end of the book you are on the mall again, 50 years later, with his monument which you helped to design. >> guest: and in between coming back for many times on an important occasion to the mall.
it seems like even though i lived in washington for a short time, the mall seemed to be a place that had such great symbolic meaning for my life. >> host: and sentimental. >> guest: and sentimental. every time mike come back i have all these memories. >> host: you were 19 years old in 1963 and you are on the mall in the march in washington where dr. king gave that iconic speech, gates -- i have a dream. how did you happen to go there? >> guest: part of of it was i grew up in a small town where there weren't very many black people. they were three black families growing up in southern new mexico so i was fascinated by what was the black community like and i didn't have very much exposure to it. except on visits to my relatives into trite. so i think i learned about the black community through the
black struggle. i would pick up my newspaper and there was martin luther king and the little rock nine. there are the students in the citizens. >> host: sncc's. >> guest: yes neck and they became my role model and by 1963 i'm in college. i get to go to the student meeting, the national student association meeting in indianapolis. in bloomington actually and i meet stokely carmichael and you know he is the first person that i talk to and i remember when i told them that i wanted to go to the margin he just dismissed that and how could you think about going to that? >> host: why? was he it detractor of dr. king or this method's? >> guest: he didn't say that in terms of martin luther king. martin luther king was just one of the people that would be a
good march. for me, he felt that i should be in albany georgia or cambridge maryland. he was at howard university of the time and he would be going to those places where there was activism. >> host: in danger. >> guest: instead of going to a one day march. it just wasn't what he had a mind and i think he was trying to recruit me into the movement. but for me going to a one day march would be the most exciting and radical thing i had done in my life at that point. >> host: i want to talk more about stokely but let's go back to the march. you were there when he gave that address. what did you think of the speech? did you think it would be iconic like the gettysburg address or fdr's speech? >> guest: no, not that point. for those of us who were there it was the final speech in a long day of speeches so yes i was very pleased to see martin luther king in person. i had heard about him and
everyone kind of looks forward to what was martin luther king going to say because he had already been noted as a great orator, but his speech was very short. it wasn't one of his long-winded long-winded -- he spoke for an hour or so. this was 15 or 16 minutes and it wasn't -- actually it was planned to be less that seven or eight minutes. that is what he actually wrote out his speech to be. >> host: why was it longer? did he decide to add -- tell that story. >> guest: one of the things i tell about later that i didn't know then was that when he got his repaired remarks he's thought this occasion requires something more and he laid out a new objective and now i can look at these advanced text.
he's talking about don't go back to the south. go back to these places and taken the protest but then he thought the occasion required something more. >> host: a little gravitas. >> guest: he had been talking about this dream that he had any talked about it for years, the american dream and it had become his dream and he had been in detroit just a few months before. he had talked about, i have a dream and america will someday realize these principles in the declaration of independence. so i think he was just inspired by that moment. >> host: you know amerigroup there was talk of heavy jackson that was there. >> guest: yes, and i listened to lots of recordings of that speech. i had never quite heard that. maybe she allowed stage whispering and i want to believe that story.
>> host: she loved him. the reason i'm at dr. king was because i was staying at her home in chicago as a young girl and dr. king would come by there and as a matter of fact i met him the day after he was hit in the head at guage part. remember the story click to talk about the story about him getting hit in the head in illinois. did you meet dr. king. >> guest: i only saw him from a distance. >> host: how close were you? >> guest: i tried to get as close as i could about a foot from the lincoln memorial but the notion as a 19-year-old that i would actually shake hands with him, that would have been the thrill of my life. i only saw him speak twice and both times i saw him as a member of the crowd. he came to ucla when i was student there and spoke so that
was the other time. this was maybe 1965 something like that. >> host: how did that impact you? you have this long jersey on -- journey on the way home. >> guest: i didn't have a way the way back i didn't tell my parents i was coming. i went back to indianapolis and so then i just had to hitchhike and i decided to cross the country. >> host: was i scared -- were you scared? >> guest: of course i was scared. >> host: how did hearing dr. king's speech that day impact you on how stokely was trying to influence you because you had talked to stokely afterwards. >> guest: no, before. not afterwards. it was probably three years before i talk to him again and by that time -- in 1963 he was not a well nonpublic figure.
in 1966 he was the african black power and so that is the next time we got back in touch with each other again in the from the point on i stayed in touch with them for the rest of his life. >> host: i want to talk about him somewhere. stokely carmichael is one of my heroes as well as malcolm x. i was more in agreement with malcolm x, the later malcolm x and stokely carmichael then i was with dr. king despite knowing him and later i had gotten older and i appreciated dr. king's tactics. he was the one with the monument on the mall but during that time you had misgivings about "time" magazine naming dr. king man of the year. >> guest: no, no, not at all. i was from a distance very proud of martin luther king but i think i absorb a lot of resentment of him.
the people in snake and i felt this way. martin luther king is following us. we are not following him. he is the one -- we are out there trying to break it down in terms for me it was moving to los angeles in getting involved in the movement there and getting involved with a group called non-violent action committee which is a sncc group at the local level in getting involved with issues like employment issues and urban issues. this was the year before king comes to chicago so we are already from our perspective, king is following us in catching up in the same of the vietnam war, that we were very involved in opposing the war from an early stage and king was much more -- because he had much more to lose. >> host: and he lost elected and he? and being against the vietnam war.
>> guest: one of the things i discovered is it's much easier for a 20 or a 21-year-old student to take a stand on anything when you don't have anything to lose except maybe your draft status which i did lose. and you know so for king of the understood that everything he had accomplished on the civil rights agenda, all of that was contingent on not taking a stand on vietnam. >> host: president johnson was very upset with dr. king because he felt, we handed several rights and voting rights over and now you are going to go against me. i'm up for re-election and you are going to go against me on the vietnam war. >> guest: yeah. now i understand what courage it took to take the stand that he did and i understand more about why he hesitated.
coretta was very much involved in the antiwar movement from an earlier stage but again she was not a public figure so he could send her to essentially speak for him. >> host: again he proved dr. king right. >> guest: i think so. i think he is a visionary. i think he understood the connection between the anti-colonial movements that were going on around the world and understood how the cold war had prevented us from saying that we were on the wrong side, that because the communist movement had identified itself with anti-colonialism, many of these nationalist wanted to have the assistance of the soviet union so we sought entirely in cold war terms. >> host: my enemy's enemy is my friend.
you were in the country during the vietnam era. why? >> guest: you know for me looking back it wasn't that difficult a choice because i knew i wasn't going to go into the military. >> host: how did you know you weren't going to go? redrafted? >> guest: i was drafted several times actually. i appealed to be as conscientious objector and that was turned down so it was really coming down to do i want to go to prison for three years or do i want to explore the world's? so i recognize that if i had left i might not be able to ever come back. >> host: what did you think about that? when i was reading a book i thought, that is a decision between your life and living your life outside of your country and being castigated. >> guest: that's right.
that is what i had to really think through. >> host: and your father was a military man. >> guest: he was an officer in the army reserve and had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel, so for him the military had offered opportunity. he had been mired in a depression and gets drafted and because the military beaded black officers and the draftees, he is able to go to officer training school and has opportunities within the military that he never had in civilian life. >> host: it would not have been the same for you. >> guest: i thought about that actually. i was a nominee to the west point. i could easily have seen how my life could not in a different direction. >> host: couldn't you have done with my brother michael and your brother james did. they joined the navy so they could divert the draft. did you think about that?
>> guest: i thought about that but by that time i was very politicized and i would have felt guilty that i was taking the easy way out. i think i knew that i could have gone into the military and i wouldn't have been sent to the frontline. i might have been sent to vietnam but by that time it was more the symbolism of it. i knew that i did not want to support that war. >> host: zero you know a lot of young people our age, black people our age at that time had difficulty reconciling or not having all the rights that whites had and then serving this country and taking a risk. mohammed ali. >> guest: if i was going to fight for democracy i would have done it in mississippi and alabama. i didn't have to go 10,000 miles to fight for democracy. >> host: did you ever think about going down there?
>> guest: i came very close in the run-up to the mississippi soma project in 1954. i went to new orleans and then met with bob moses and some other people there. i thought very seriously and probably if it hadn't been for the financing of that, that they want people to bring their own money to bail themselves out and other things, and i needed to work. i worked my way through school so i needed a job in order to go and finish college. >> host: talk about that period. you mentioned sncc and dr. king's organization the clc. what were their respective missions? what was the overall mission of the movement? was it to get a quality is a big word. was it to get voting rights and civil rights and what else did they want? how were the approach is
different from each other? >> guest: i think both of them started in terms of the freedom struggle. i think in some ways we mislead ourselves when we use the term civil rights movement because of that had been the gold goal in 1965 the civil rights agenda had been achieved. we had the civil rights act of 1964 in and the voting rights act of 1965 so if that had been the goal martin luther king would have said i'm going to retire and go to a college and be a campus minister. stokely carmichael would have said i have achieved my goal. none of the said that. none of the people that i knew because all the stuff that the goal was much more radical in some ways than that. get. >> host: why? >> guest: economic change, empowering the black community. that was at the root of the black power movement and black power for black people.
using the rights that have been gained to actually bring about concrete changes. i think for many of us we saw 1965 is the beginning, not the end. now we have -- and now the question becomes what he going to do with that? how are you going to -- the black community by that time is 100 years in restrictions and discrimination and you can't just say suddenly they are going to catch up. there has to be a movement and i think as martin luther king says where do we go from here and that is where we still are. we still haven't faced the question of what do we do with the rights that we gained? now that we are citizens what we do with citizenship? >> host: dr. king and you quoted in your book, you talk about moving from the quicksands of racial injustice to the hard rock of rather had.
on that spectrum dr. carson where are we? we have a black man in the white house and michelle alexander who endorsed her book, she is the author of that wonderful book the new jim crow. the statistic she writes about where black people are right now the 21st century. we are underinflated we are unemployed and more affected by aids in obesity and diabetes. we get tougher sentences for the same crimes as white people yet we have a black resident and i'm thinking the black community for me, the silence is deafening. as you said after he got the voting rights we wanted more. why do you think the black community -- >> guest: you can see the difference between the kind of support that king tut when he was fighting for civil rights.
up through 1965 the level of support for king if you look at the polls overwhelming support of the black community and widespread support even among whites for what he was trying to do. if you look at after 65 in chicago when he takes us into vietnam and begins to support garbage workers and poor people and the poor people's campaign which is the first occupy movement. he wanted to bring people and occupy the national mall. even during the occupy campaign in recent years no one put forward something so radical is coming and staying on the national mall so that is what came was about and his support in the black community went down dramatically. >> host: why? were they afraid it would make why people in great? >> guest: there was a certain element of support for the early qing from black people who are
doing well but still faced jim crow. for them once you remove the jim crow barriers, their agenda is gone. then it's just a matter, and in fact at that point they are over qualified. opportunities are going to open up because now they are no longer facing explicitly racial barriers. jobs are opening up. so for them they don't need another one. for the black poor, the movement is just beginning. getting the vote, getting the right to go into a restaurant and going to a hotel. if you are poor, what if you gained? >> host: but a larger amount of us are still poor and there is the silence.
>> guest: well i think one thing that happened before that is people who came out of the middle class saw their responsibility to know and help mobilize those who are poor and destitute. that is what sncc was. the college students, the sons in the grandsons and granddaughters of the black peasants. people like myself. my mother grew up in rural florida and segregated schools. >> host: where was your father from? >> guest: originally from alabama but he was part of that lack migration that went to detroit in world war i. his father was. >> host: our parents generation chose to show their activism against racism by moving and by migrating and our
generation protested. >> guest: that historically for most people who come from the peasant background, the route to freedom was by staging a political movement. it was moving. you move towards a freer environment of the city and move from the south to the north and that is what most people did. in the process of doing that, some of it became politicized. >> host: because they expected things to be markedly different in the north. they didn't think racism was in the north. >> guest: in the north they are not going to be murdered for taking a stand. and so in the relatively freer environment they are able to really create the conditions for the modern movement. >> host: talk about some of the people of the movement. those in sncc and those nclc and
others. who were the people who'd -- was a king, was that nocco max? was that the death of medgar evers? >> guest: all of the above. all of them had different roles. one of the ways in which i try to explain this is rosa parks made martin luther king possible. martin luther king didn't make rosa parks possible. if she hadn't done what she did by refusing to give a per seat on the montgomery bus martin luther king would have simply been an articulate, well meaning baptist minister. it's because of rosa parks that we are talking about him today. he -- she opened up the possibility for him to display those qualities that he had and to rise to the occasion. >> host: she also said as you well know that while she was sitting on that bus refusing to
give seat she was thinking about emmett till begun 14-year-old black boy from chicago who went to mississippi in 1955 and because he looked at a white woman he was brutally murdered. do you think his death changed or sparked anything in the civil rights movement? >> guest: a lot of things did. it was his death and brown versus board of education decision. it was the killing of civil rights workers. it was people like barbara jones, a young high school student who led a walkout at the segregated school protesting against the interior education. that was in 1951. many people we don't even know their names before rosa parks in montgomery. there were two other teenagers who did the same thing.
so this resistance largely among young people. >> host: always a young -- among the young in most societies is that? >> guest: definitely and when we talk about south africa it it was the students in soweto. we all remember nelson mandela but nelson mandela was in a prison cell. it was the students in soweto who revisedrevise, stephen v. who revived the movement in the late 60's. >> host: there was james bevel who, talking about children, the young people leading the way, he did something that got a lot of criticism for him and for dr. king. tell the story. >> guest: again, came was at a crucial point. we have this mh that millions of
people followed him and that's completely wrong. from montgomery which king did not initiate, through birminghaa leader in search of a following. only in birmingham can he initiate and sustain a movement but that reached a crucial point in april of 1963. all the people who were adults willing to get arrested had already been arrested. including king himself. that is when he writes his letter from a birmingham jail. he is at the crucial point where it was not clear that he was going to win at birmingham. when you think about it if he had lost their would have been no march on washington. there would have been no nobel peace prize. we wouldn't be talking about martin luther king so what saved the day in birmingham was well,
there are no adults to be arrested but james bevel and dorothy cotton were saying, there are these young people who are just eager to be arrested. they are eager to join. we have been saying you're too young and you can get involved. at that point they come into the picture and really saved the day for martin luther king. >> host: are there any iconic pictures of that time that spring to mind for you? >> guest: of course. the young people and the dogs in the hoses but his story, one of them that was involved, being in high school and because the teachers and the principles they knew they had to keep students under control and by that time the students, their resentments were boiling over and is one this one school they locked the gates. they had a fence around it.
>> host: to keep the children and? >> guest: to keep them in. >> host: how old were they, what h.? >> guest: this was high school age. at a certain point the students left and pushed the fence down. >> host: they say a child will lead the way. >> guest: and they could not be restrained at that point. that changed the momentum of the birmingham campaign and that became the basis of kennedy introducing the civil rights act and the march on washington, in some ways an extension of what was going on in places like terming him. >> host: wasn't it after that march dr. carson that the bombing of the church, the four young black girls killed in birmingham alabama? >> guest: yeah and that was a reminder of the sense of triumph
at king had after the march on washington. just a few weeks later, going back to birmingham and conducting the funeral. >> host: do you think he felt guilty? >> guest: of course. he felt guilty about all these kids being in jail. he felt guilty about -- you try to explain and i remember listening to one of his speeches and he said now these children are doing what -- they know that they need to do this for future generations and they know and some of their parents i think recognize. i think my own parents, they didn't want me to. >> host: of course not. >> guest: they brought me to los alamos new mexico so i wouldn't have to deal with that.
>> host: you said in your book that you were surprised after the church bombing of the white complacency and why people didn't seem to react to people being brutally murdered and we all see what happened in that tragedy at sandy hook at the sandy hook elementary school and all humanity was touched by that why weren't white people moved by those children being murdered? >> guest: why aren't white people is concerned about the death of black child as they are about the death of a white child? is one of the fundamental issues that we still address is that we have had situations where assault weapons are used on a weekly basis, monthly basis in the urban areas and the victims are black children. >> host: dr. carson, 500 people in 2012 were murdered,
black people were murdered on the south side of chicago and it seemed to matter more that they are killing each other than that their children are dead. it doesn't seem to be the -- even in our community about it. >> guest: that is where we are as a nation. i think most americans, black and white and of all races, we are not the equal nation -- go. >> host: that we say we are. >> guest: but there is still a reluctance to address that issue and understand that part of it comes from, if you put -- 1 of the problems with school education is white children are in inferior schools, then there is action. and i think that is one of the
things about desegregation, that many black parents understand. they get their kids into a school with white kids, they have got leverage. one of the problems with the way in which we went about desegregation is that i agree that we should have had -- that the black kids should have been allowed to go to central high school but that was little rock nine. what about the 900 who were still in the all-black school's? what was being done to make sure that there education is equal? that would have cost a lot of money and would have cost a lot of resources and that is where the nation failed during that time. yes we need to break down the racial barriers and make it then possible to have an all white school but that still doesn't deal with the problem of what happens to the predominantly
black schools. >> host: i was living in boston in the early 70's. some call it forced busing and i collect court-ordered busing. we didn't want her black children to go to school with white kids because we wanted to integrate. just as you said we wanted to go to the schools because the schools were better in the books were better. the teachers were necessarily better but the opportunities were better and it brings me back to my other question of where are we on the quicksand of racial injustice and the hard rock of the weatherhead? not just black people for white people to matt. where we? are we somewhere in the middle? we have a black president. are we almost there? >> guest: i think we need to do two things. one of them is to celebrate. in a generation of people who bring an end to the jim crow system in the south to legalized segregation and discrimination that existed, the generation
that ended colonialism. when i tell my students about colonialism they have to look in their history books to find out. there are a few laughs but about apartheid. and other legalized discrimination, racism. so the victory over white supremacy as a legalized system of oppression, that was a tremendous victory. and the heroic figures of that. during that time that the majority of humanity, it has changed. that has never happened in history where the majority of people in a relatively short period of time went from being peasants to citizens. but now,. >> host: but 300 years or more
of slavery and then they took the slaves away. about 150 years of apartheid here in america of jim crow and we were told to wait and then many black people were told to wait four more years four president obama second term for him to act. women brought their issues to the president and brought their shoes. they wanted of immigration reform and other governments are bringing their issues to our president. what about our issues? martin took his issues -- >> guest: who stopping them? it's one thing to say president obama is not responding. >> host: but what are we doing? >> guest: but what are we doing so that he has to respond and to me if you are not using that leverage, everyone knows that it's the black vote -- >> host: 93%.
>> guest: the latino vote was decisive in the last election, women. each of these groups who played a role in electing him, that is why in my view when i came here for the not gration, i said and the day before the not duration i gave a speech to the morehouse alums who came and i said the important day is not tomorrow. we celebrate then. the important day as the day after tomorrow. what are we going to do them? for a lot of people they went home. >> host: that is true, and celebrated. it is a milestone. i never thought in my lifetime i would see a black president so it is. we talked a great deal about the movement and we have talked very little bit about you but i think we are getting to to know you and your comments.
you added to dr. king's papers. there are several papers here, papers from boston university where you went to school. how are the papers are you it is a different? what did you find? >> guest: the papers i edited, the papers of papers of boston and the papers of atlanta and from so many different places, hundreds of archives around the world. i found king papers in india so we bring them all together and decide how to publish them and make them available to people. that has been my job for the last 25 years. >> host: you lived in this time and you are an historian, your african-american. what really brought you to want to do this? coretta, his widow, asked you but what was your motivation for wanting to do at? >> guest: i think i didn't want to not do it. i think it was more -- go ahead a lot of doubts when she called because i didn't know that i
wanted to devote the rest of my career to doing this. >> host:this. >> host: what did she say to you? how did she ask you? >> guest: she asked whether i would be interested and actually when we first talk in that phonecall i said you know aren't there the people who have done more were? my work was on the grassroots struggle, not so much on kings rule. i never would have written very much about king. a part from the movement. but then she came out and i remember my wife saying, do you want to spend the rest of your career saying you could have been editor of martin luther king's book and he turned it down? i think she was a little bit wiser than i was at that point, recognizing that you don't get asked by the widow of a person you have admired all your life. >> host: how did she call you?
>> guest: another people who are mutual acquaintances. she was looking around for someone to take on this role and they said well there is this at that time young scholar out at stanford and he would do good and he's been written about a movement and about the march so that is what red to the phonecalls. >> host: she had love letters from dr. king. these love letter she had under her bed in her house. >> guest: i heard there were rumors that i could go all over the world as i said to ghana and all these places to try to get material and people were telling me, she has the papers under her bed. in her house. and so part of what i tell is a gradual process that we are get access to materials. >> host: how did you do at?
>> guest: it took time. >> host: and they have worth. she had them in her home. >> guest: that was part of it, that when dexter came and decided -- >> host: now he is the -- the youngest son of dr. king? >> guest: he is the older, the younger son, yeah i'm sorry. >> host: he also has two daughters. >> guest: he is the youngest son and he decided he wanted to bring them all together and put them up for auction and so at that point the question became well, what's going to happen with all the papers in the home? that is when i began to go through all of these materials. they were extremely rich and they opened up a whole dimension about martin luther king because they had to do with his life as a minister.
you could go through that and you could find out what he was thinking about as he was putting together these sermons and what is he reading? his library was there and i would go through the basement and go through all of this materials and i would find handwritten bings. >> host: did he write in longhand? >> guest: many times in longhand and for example i have this longhand, a yellow pad in which you wrote that his draft of his acceptance speech for the nobel peace prize. and when i first saw that it was like my heart stopped because you know first of all the last burdens that touch this was martin luther king. >> host: how did you see this involve? you talk in the book in "martin's dream" about him being more of a protester. did you see his early philosophy as a theologian? >> guest: yeah.
one of the things that set him apart that other people in the movement mobilized people and would go to meetings and organize campaigns of stuff i got. he was not really the best at that. i think what he was best at, one example would be the montgomery bus boycott. the boycott was almost 100% successful before he became the leader of it. but what he did do is after that first successful boycott and they had a mass rally, he was the one who said you know, when the history books of the future are written that they will have to say -- he was the one who recognize the historical importance of what they had done and i'm sure they were looking at it and saying well now we have a one day boycott to not bring about
desegregation on the buses but better treatment under segregation. so he is saying no, that's not what it's about. this was a movement that 10 years later people will be writing about and he was right. every american history books now you will see the boycott. >> host: as that young man on the mall when you were 19, and you had your -- and you heard him and there you are this historian some years later and you are reading him, what he wrote in rough draft, what was the picture of him then and how did it change for you when you read those letters? >> guest: i began to recognize recognize -- there's a chapter in the book about him compiling his autobiography because at that point i'm taking all of the autobiographical records and putting it together in a narrative.
the kind of narrative that he would have written at the time. when i went to the march and rep nice to that now i can see that person who i saw from a distanch his eyes because he is describing people like myself who are coming to the march from all different directions and all forms of transportation and these people who are becoming active in this great struggle. so i am seeing my 19-year-old self through the eyes of a person i saw up there. if you can imagine being a 19-year-old kid and a black kid at that point, even imagining that 12 years later i would be a professor of history at stanford
university. in 1963 that would have been inconceivable. that's two decades later i would do getting calls from coretta scott king or that three decades later i would be in designing the king memorial. >> host: before we talk about that there is another question about the papers in the sermon. there was a charter against dr. king. you found some unwanted discoveries. i hate to talk about it but it's an an in full disclosure we have to talk about it. >> guest: one of the things i think is really necessary is to not put him on a pedestal. martin luther king was a flawed individual and i found this out when i was going through his academic papers and finding plagiarism. >> host: it was alleged but with the in-school? >> guest: he was in college. these were academic papers.
it wasn't like he was handing in a paper that he had copied from somebody else. the way i would look at it is if he was taking passages and sometimes letting them accurately sometimes not attributing. >> host: but preachers preach. they preach from the bible and they don't always say isaiah said. >> guest: there are very specific rules about what you can do and what you can't do in one of them is everything that you get from another source you attribute to that source. >> host: we need more time. this is a wonderful book. your play. you want to do more with dr. king's legacy than just write a book or two papers. you have written a play and passengers -- passages of martin luther king. he took the plate the play to
chime in the ticketed palestine. those are amazing places take a play about dr. king who was a protester against government. talk about that. >> guest: i have always been trying to find other ways and have been engaged in documentaries about the movement of dr. king. i worked on the eyes on the prize and other things so i was a colleague of a wonderful playwright. she suggested and she said look i have to create documents by interviewing these people. you have spent your life bringing together all the sources. why not you take this material and transform it into a play? >> host: a great idea. she is brilliant. yeskel i thought it was a great idea to map. i didn't know how much work i was going to be involved and how difficult it would be but the
play was produced at stanford and i worked closely with the person in in the drama department and the drama department put it on the program and we did it. since then i have been tinkering with it and it's been like a hobby. >> host: you have some of that in the book. taking it to china taking it to palestine, how did you write a play, go through all you had to go through three different governments to do and what it and what was the reception and most respected areas? >> guest: in china one of my former students was there so that was the accident. i had visited her and she was fluent in chinese. she was there for a long period of time and she had seen danny glover before. i had written a script at that time. he read the script and she said well look, why can't we do this
in china? it would really be a great impact to bring king. so the national leader of china. >> host: what year is this? >> guest: this was 2007 and we performed it in the theater less than two miles from tiananmen square. >> host: in chinese? >> guest: in chinese. we were performing the birmingham protests with the chinese martin luther king and all of this is taking place before packed audiences within walking distance of tiananmen square. so translating king's legacy and ringing a gospel choir you know -- and i have actually three of my students were part of that quiet.
i called them up and said how would you like to go to china, the national theatre of china? so they have the opportunity to work with the greatest theater company as well as people from other parts of the united states this was the first time african-american performers have performed on the same stage in a play in china. >> host: so you as a historian make history. >> guest: it was historic and then once they did it in china, they said where else? i have gone to the palestinian territories back in the 90s, because the role of nonviolence there and the need to bring nonviolence into this dispute between the israelis and the palestinians, and i thought why not ring it there? again, this was the palestinian national theatre taking on this
play. we took it to a different communities, not just jerusalem but in ramallah and pepper on and all these different places. >> host: what were the reactions of these governments? you are again a protester. >> guest: i didn't ask for permission. >> host: did you have to have the? >> guest: not really. we had a little bit of trouble getting in but once we got into israel and coming through israel into jerusalem, i'm sure they could have shut it down if they had wanted to. >> host: we hear there is conflict in the word terrorism is always mentioned. they had interest in nonviolence.
>> guest: yes and in quoting one of the students who had worked with me and had taken my class and i had taken them to india. a student from ramallah so i had a palestinian student that i take into hindu india to study gandhi and he comes back to his hometown in ramallah and now he is one of the leaders of the non-violent movement on the west bank. >> host: there's so much to talk about. how did it turn out? >> guest: we got arrested of course. but it was a way of challenging the discrimination against the palestinians in a non-violent way. >> host: there's so much to talk about it and we didn't get to your being on the mall again when the monument was dedicated and he helped design it. did you have anything to do with the drum major conflict? >> guest: i tell the full story about all the good and the bad and dc-8 part of your vision
set in stone and you see things that are set in stone that were not part of your vision. >> host: how did you feel when you saw it when you stood there and looked to king, having appointed few of thomas jefferson, what did you feel? >> guest: we wanted him looking directly at thomas jefferson and if you notice in the memorial as was built, he is kind of looking towards reagan airport. >> host: you talked about the conversation they would have had what do you think dr. king would have said would have said to thomas jefferson if they had a conversation? >> guest: he wrote these wonderful words, let's live up to them. we need as a nation to live up to -- we have justified our dependence on the basis of this declaration that says that all people are created equal and they are endowed with rights.
so now we have this obligation as a nation. if we justify our independence we have to live up to it. >> host: his last book was titled where do we go from here and your book, martin's dream is a wonderful dream. i thank you for this book. as you look at it i did something my teachers told me never to do because they are sacred. i dogged some of the pages because i wanted to go back to after carson and reread them. >> guest: there is no greater compliment to an author. >> host: thank you so much for joining me on "after words." good luck with the book. >> guest: thank you.
>> i think it's pretty accurate that they don't play by the rules and most cases. i think they bend the rules to fit their circumstance. i think americans and all westerners tend to be a not a lot more legalistic. we want things on contract and once we see things written down a contract we think that's the