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tv   [untitled]    May 27, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm EDT

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amazing, amazing recreated space at the pabst mansion. the pavilion itself has actually more national significance than perhaps the mansion does itself because it's only one of about four or six buildings left from the columbian exhibition in chicago, and so we're looking forward to the moment that we can actually begin this project and preserve this for our visitorship and for the country itself. if you'd like to know more about p captain pabst and his amazing mansion, please go to our website, which is full of all sorts of information on the captain, his brewing company, his art collection and the mansion itself. >> this was part two of a two-part look at the pabst mansion. visit or website,, to view other american history tv programs. the john f. kennedy presidential
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library convened a day-long conference on the presidency and civil rights. during the concluding panel, the achievements of the last 60 years were considered as well as contemporary civil rights issues. this hour-long program begins with taped greetings from former presidents jimmy carter and bill clinton. >> so before we begin the last panel, we have remarks from two presidents, president jimmy carter and president bill clinton. >> i'm pleased to know that so many of you have gathered in boston on presidents' day under the auspices of the presidential library system to examine a history of the presidency and our nation's struggle to expand civil rights for all citizens.
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i regret i could not join us in person, as i have fond memories of officially dedicating the kennedy library when it opened in 1979 and returning to speak there last year. i understand that ray suarez, who moderated the forum with me last spring, is participating in this conference as well as two civil rights heroes, our fellow native georgian, charlayne hunter-gault and ernie green who served in my administration. i salute them and all the distinguished panelists and thank them for participating in this historic event. as i stated at the kennedy library and dedication ceremony, quote, as a southerner and georgian, i saw firsthand how the moral leader of the kennedy administration helped to undo the wrongs that grew out of our nation's history, unquote. i suggest the struggle to promote equal rights and opportunities for all is ongoing, but it must be shaped by the following principles. we're all americans, we're all children of the same god.
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racial violence and racial hatred can have no place among us. that the moral imperative that those that led the march for civil rights during our lifetimes still remains with us today. having grown up on a farm with only black playmates and neighbors, i recognized the blight of racial discrimination and made human rights the foundation of our foreign policy when i was president. since then in our work at the carter center, the broadest definition of human rights has been the umbrella under which all our projects have been conducted, including peace, freedom, democracy, and the provision of shelter, food, education, health care, self-respect and hope for a better future. unfortunately, since 9/11 we're seeing an abridgement of social and political freedoms in our country and multiple violations of universal declaration of human rights in our efforts to combat terrorism. once again, i applaud david ferrara, the archivist of the united states, and those involved in putting together
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today's conference. i'm honored to have been asked to share these words with you and encourage young people in the audience today to pick up the mantle of ernie green and charlayne hunter-gault and roger wilkins and to serve as our nation's next generation of leaders in this ongoing struggle to build a more just and equitable nation and a more peaceful world. thank you. >> good afternoon. i'm sorry i can't be there with you today, but i'm glad to be able to welcome you to this terribly important conversation. though much has changed in our country since the passing of the civil rights act in 1964, our work on civil rights is far from finished. i saw this unfinished work firsthand first as a southern governor and then as president. through my national initiative on race, i worked to bring our country closer together across the racial divides to prepare for a 21st century in which
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we're all bound together. i'll never forget the horrific string of arson that destroyed historically black churches in the south and the work we did to put an end to them, to heal and move forward together. today there are new challenges to civil rights and social progress both within and beyond our borders. it's more important than ever that we have conversations like this, that we work to build a country of shared values, shared opportunities and shared responsibilities because we continue to believe that as important as our differences are, our common humanity matters more. so thanks again for being here. i hope you have a very productive conference. >> before we open this last panel, i want to thank four colleagues for all of their work and support of the conference. first my colleague the executive
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director of the kennedy library, nancy mccoy, director education, carol ferguson who provides all the technical support and amy mcdonald, our forum producer extraordinaire. i also wanted to -- [ applause ] i also wanted to recognize a young civil rights attorney who ventured down into the south during the kennedy administration as part of the justice department working for john doerr. judge gordon martin is here with us. [ applause ] lastly, moderator's prerogative, we took charlayne's book away from her. so based on the last comment from president clinton, he said there are new challenges in our world for civil rights and social progress, and that's
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really what this last panel is about. i wanted to begin with ray suarez. president carter just invoked god by saying we're all children of the same god. and when president kennedy introduced his legislation, he said we faced a moral crisis as a country and people that was as old as the scriptures and as clear as the contusion. clearly martin luther king led the movement really steeped in religion. you've written a book of the holy vote, the politics of faith in america and write about the advent of the cultural wars and how religion is a polarizing feature of the current national politics and less successful to helping us create the blessed community. is it no longer wise to invoke moral values and religion to promote civil rights? >> you have to understand if you invoke religion, it doesn't get you the same portion of the audience that it once did. at a time in our past when
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almost everyone in the country was in some way either lightly affiliated or strongly affiliated with one of the abrahamic religions and almost everybody in the country was culturally educated in it, you pulled in almost everyone listening to you when you invoked a common religious heritage for this country. but the united states is so much more religiously diverse than it was earlier in our history. the largest single faith group or the largest -- the fastest growing faith group in the united states and one of the largest is no religious affiliation at all. it's roughly 16% to 18% of the population and growing faster than any religious group. we are no longer, as part of a common culture, educated and steeped in the language of religion in the way that we once
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were where if a president used a line from a psalm, we would all know what it was. if the president used a line from one of the first five books of the old testament, we in the audience and we all might know who it was. so when you invoke it in that way, you may divide as much as you unite, which makes it a very, very tricky gesture. also, we have kind of a running sore in this country when it comes to making one people out of this 311 million of us, and that is what we're going to do and how we're going to regard islam, the new kid on the block, the faith of millions of our fellow americans and yet regarded with unending suspicious, isolation and as we saw in the cases of mosque bombings and various kinds of vandalism the lack of building permits and pickets outside various muslim places of worship
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around the country, we're not quite sure where to go next, and like with so many struggles in our history, where civil rights really involved opening -- making our arms wider, we don't know if we're yet ready to open them wide enough to include the millions of muslims who are now our fellow americans. so religion, how to regard religion and the place that religion has in making us one people is all still contested to rain in 2012 and only gets more complicated with every year. >> charlayne, similarly you talked about the role of the media in the civil rights struggle in the '60s and how getting the media and getting those pictures. but also today the media seems to be a more complicated picture. is the media on the side of promoting civil rights today? can it still be used as effectively as it was in the '60s?
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>> i think the media are as confused as ray talked about the american people over religion. you know, we were talking just before we started about the multiplicity of media forums today. you know, you've got the internet. you've got your cell phone. you've got things that i probably don't even know about. some of these young people could probably help me out here a little bit, but there's so many different ways of communicating that it's hard to get any centrality of ideas put across, other than maybe on "the newshour," right? my former home, i have to say that. the other thing that's very troubling to me, i live in south africa half of the year and here the other half. i have noticed in the past few
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years a diminishing pool of african-american people in prominent positions on television. i don't know why it's happening, but there are very few who had the kind of positions they had post-1968 when kerner commission, president johnson's commission, cited the media as part of the culpable -- cited culp ability of the media in the riots because there were no black people or people who looked like the people who were rioting who could tell them, who have have told them about the simmering rage that was going on in those communities, and there's simmering rage going on in this country today based on some of the same inequities that we thought we had ended with the civil rights act and that kind of legislation.
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it's a ticking time bomb. i mean, you've got the whole question that michelle alexander deals with in her book "the new jim crow." all of these black men in prison and often for -- i started to say a word that i can't say in this forum, for reasons -- what kind of reasons, reasons that aren't legitimate. let's put it that way. you did s.o.s. earlier and you recovered very quickly. i couldn't think of a word that would quite accurately describe how i feel about that. but there is so much that is going on that is just beneath the surface, and nobody is really drilling down into it and reporting on it. so what worries me about this proliferation of media is that the proliferation of media exists, but it's not drilling down into some of the very real social problems that we have in a society, and i know this is going to be controversial, but i'm going to say it anyway. we are not in a post-racial society.
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i'm sorry if there are those who think that we are, but if you look at the data on just about every indication of progress in this country, you'll find black people pretty much at the bottom. i heard the other day that black unemployment is going down a bit, but it's still twice as high as white. so there's -- where are the people who are looking into these things and doing very good analysis of what's going on? so i'm very disappointed in the media today with some notable exceptions. >> so, again, there's so many things to talk about on this panel. roger, one thing we didn't talk that much about your service in the johnson administration, but certainly one of the hallmarks of that administration was the passage of the voting rights act. that act also was really somewhat sacrosanct in our political culture for years, but now there seems to be even that as a divisive issue and an issue
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of current political debate. are we seeing a backlash towards voting rights? >> i think that this fragmentation of the media gives a path and a mechanism or muscles to all kinds of nuts, people who -- who are angry. people who want to put the wrong people, whoever they may be, back in their place. and they get places that speak, which are ostensibly decent. i mean, i've heard stuff on some
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of these news dispensers that aren't news dispensers at all. they're people that have nasty fruit to throw into good communities. and it doesn't get better. it gets worse. i mean, it proliferates. i mean, there's some people that just went off the air recently, but i don't think we've figured out how to have free speech and freedom of the press and also decency, civility and truth. >> right. >> it makes it very hard. >> allida, this is a difficult
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question, but talk about women's rights, you know, for allida black. you know, the failure to pass the equal rights amendment. we're trying to kind of do civil rights then and now. what's the struggle for women's rights and contemporary? >> this is my school partner. >> any stage that i can sit with roger. i'm not so concerned about passing the equal rights amendment as i am about promoting and risking life and lim to say that women's rights are human rights, human rights are civil rights, and civil rights are human rights and human rights are civil rights. and i think that that is the major issue of our time. i think the -- sort of the unintended consequence, if you will, to echo charlayne's point, i mean, look at affirmative action. who did affirmative action help? it helped white women more than
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it helped people of color, and so i think that women have a huge road to hoe, and i think that in many ways, despite the progress that we've made, there's still major stereotypes. i mean, i'm thrilled that obama is my president, but i gave my heart and soul to hillary clinton, okay, and i have known her since 1970, and i went to 15 states, 14 states. i knocked on 15,000 doors, and i can tell you the animosity that was still there for a woman running for president, and i got that much more than i got racial epithets about obama. and so there's an undercurrent here that we still need to address which is why i am so enormously proud of both of them for figuring out a way to devote their incomparable energies to building a world that is defined by the values that we share.
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so i think that for women what we've got to do is to figure out how to stand up for ourselves, talk for ourselves, build a community that is inclusive and say that women's rights also help men. they also help children. they help people of every religion, and that they are, in fact, fundamental standards of human decency. until we understand the problems of housing, of access to food, of access to education, the struggle, if you look for first hire, last hired, first fired, look at the teachers that are being let go. they are disproportionately women, and they are disproportionate people of color. i mean, it's a systemic thing here, but i think we have made significant progress, and -- and i'm proud of that. but my great frustration to the young people that are in this audience is they are much more
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likely to know the stories of charlayne and the stories of ernie green ernie green and the incomparable courage that roger has displayed throughout his career, than they are to what happened to women in the '40s, the '50s, the '60s, and the '70s. now with a new battle over contraception, i fear we are going to go back into this whole thing again. so i'm pretty worried. >> going to switch to a different topic that president carter brought up, ray. and that's the question again, of the civil rights of terror suspects after 9/11. you reported on a story about that. could you share that? >> i was covering the arrest and detention of jose padea. got very interested in it over time. he was arrested in o'hare
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airport and accused of plotting a so-called dirty bomb attack in the heart of america. an explosion would be tied to a portion of radioactive material which would be scattered, rendering a place of poison and useless so it would have to be evacuated. jose was born in brooklyn. raised in chicago. lived in florida. was arrested in illinois. and held without charge for two and a half years. most of the time in solitary confinement in strains that deprived him of his senses. he couldn't hear things. he couldn't see things. he couldn't speak to anybody without being arraigned.
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he was later tried and found guilty of charges totally separate from what he was arrested for and held. now he's convicted to a life in prison and held in prison. a bad guy likely found to be guilty of plotting against the united states. but it should arouse your attention. it should arouse your concern if you are an american and your fellow citizen can be picked up in the united states and held without being charged with anything for two and a half years. when i wrote a book and nobody wanted to print it because it was a downer, as one publisher said. yes, that's one of the reasons why it would be a good book, frankly. it's a downer. it's a downer that it could happen. it's a downer that it did
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happen. jose padea, because he was a gang banger and not the head of the local lion's cloeb or rotary can be stuck away in prison without anybody giving a damn. i have to say again, i'm not sticking up for the guy. if he's guilty, then fine, let the legal system work and find him guilty and put him away for as long as the charges he's charged with merit his detention. americans should not be arrested in america by american law enforcement and held without charge. that's bill of rights stuff. that's magna carta stuff. i'm not an activist. i'm not a crusader. i'm a guy that watches to see if
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people play by the rules. they made him sign it was the rules in 1215. so that's been the rules for a long time. two and a half years without charge is an amazing thing. it could happen to jose padea because of who he was. what would it take in this country for it to happen to you? or someone you know. or someone who lived in your neighborhood. again, not because he's a good guy, the courts have found he's a bad guy. what our civil rights exist for is not to protect the rights of good people. it's to protect the rights of people we suspect may be bad people. and the jose padea case should be something we don't forget very soon. i want to switch gears quickly and get back to panel. i want to go back to robert
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kennedy's famous trip to africa. he was invited by a group of students while he was a senator. after he accepted the invitation, the head of the organization was actually arrested and was not allowed to greet robert kennedy. a young woman named robin marshall was a student at the the time. shore called r.k.,ilm clip in a ripple of hope. and then i have a few questions for the panel based on this short clip. robert kennedy, south africa, 1965. >> there were places for white. there were places for what the government referred to as non-whites. and never between mixed. and there we were were gathered in johannesburg awaiting his arrival. >> we arrived at the airport.
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it had the signs, non whites only and whites only. he chose to go to the non-white area. it's where they put his podium. i don't think anybody anticipated that hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of people made their way to the airport, which was a long way outside johannesburg, there was no public transportation. the black south africans were working. >> kennedy became this person from almost outer space. when something like that happens to people, it sends an electric shock through the community for the coming of freedom. >> the airport was swarming with white, black, brown, indian, every hue of skin. i don't think i had ever seen
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anything like that in my life. so the very first night we began to get an inkling of what this visit was going to entail. >> the speech robert kennedy gave on that occasion was certainly the most important speech of his life. it captured the essence of what he stood for and came to be known for when he ran for president. particularly the one paragraph about the ripple of hope, which has been recorded over and over and over again. >> each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lives of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other. those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
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>> at the end of the speech i remember as if he stopped and looked around as if to say, was that enough. [ applause ] >> charlene, you live in south africa now. you've seen the transformation of that country. you were part of the transformation of this country. i wonder, how does the u.s. look from an international perspective? do people in africa look to the u.s. as a beacon of civil rights, or are we losing that? >> i think historically south africans took great inspiration from our own struggle in america. increasingly you have a whole new generation of south africans. we call them born free. they were born after mandela was
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released. so their allegiance has diminished. and they looked very critically and increasingly at america just as america is being looked at increasingly more critically around the world, which is why it's really important for those who have the opportunity to help america continue to stand as a beacon for civil and human rights injustice. and it's so coincidental that you would ask me this. just as ray was talking about the gentleman he reported on, i recently wrote a piece for the "new yorker," the blog, about a guy in south africa by the name of dr. death. well, they called him dr. death. his name is basan. and he was -- he's a cardiologist who


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