tv [untitled] May 27, 2012 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT
aimed at killing the activists. cigarettes and chocolates laced with anthrax spores. they were working on a drug to make black women infertile. that one never came off. there were also working on a poison that they could inject into mandela when he was released that would ultimately give him a heart attack that couldn't be traced back to that potion. that didn't come off either. but the other things did, including a potion that they would take the activists up into airplanes and have them handcuffed and injected a paralyzing agent into their body, so that when they dropped them into the sea, even if they could swim, they wouldn't be able to because they were
paralyzed. this guy is practicing medicine. he got through the truth and reconciliation commitment. mandela hired him, to show reconciliation, hired him. but now the health professionals are trying to trip him of his license because he didn't ability in a manner consistent with the hippocratic oath. his argument is that he was a soldier following orders. we heard that before. so i wrote this piece for the "new yorker," the week that the final verdict is supposed to come down. it's continuing on the 27th of march. and at the end, i quoted -- i talked about how the pain continues to come back. even as trying to shed the pain. i said, but some people have a different view of it. there was a guy that called into the radio station.
he said, i don't know why everybody is being so hard on what he did when american doctors are injecting prisoners on death row with lethal injections and torturing prisoners at places like guantanamo bay, who they are trying to get testimony about terrorism things. so, you know, the things -- what we should realize is that as much as many of our things in america have been beacons to others in the world, our actions are paid -- they are paying attention to our actions and people, even those that are not formally educated, are very sophisticated.
they know more about what's going on in america that we -- that we know about what's going on in their country. >> absolutely. >> i think wanted to use that flip to tell the rest of the store write which is margaret marshall came to the united states, named first to massachusetts supreme judicial court and supreme justice and wrote the landmark decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry saying that that right was guaranteed in the messages of the state constitution. tell us about the right for gay rights and how that is seen. there a parallel with the earlier stories? >> yeah. i do. i mean, i -- i would like to flip it for whatever -- i was pretty down in the first part. but i was talking about. i mean, i live in virginia. and my legislature is -- there is no other word for it. they are neanderthals. and my partner and i have been together for 21 years. and we have decided to get married. it was a big decision not because we are not committed.
we are more monogamous and more financially intertwined than any couple of now. but we were going to go to south africa because mandela got it in the constitution. and we thought what an extraordinary way to honor a man and a country that was really grappling with major issues. and then we decided to do it in the united states instead. and if i may be personal for a minute, i was an intern for jimmy carter. i wrote a grant that got $250,000 for brady hospital to set up the first rape crisis center in the south. that grady would -- outside of miami. grady would not hire any black counselors. so as an only arrogant 21-year-old could do, i gave the money back. you know. and -- i know. how stupid? right? but we set up the -- multiarea rape counsel and i will we ran it.
by god, sandra flowers and i ran it. most of the people we saw were african-american. when i wrote a grant for the carter administration, to start up the health care, they set up the program but they let me go because they thought that i might be a lesbian. okay. now 20 years later, bill clinton is in the white house and my partner and i get invited to every christmas party as a couple. i cannot tell you what that means. and now a united states senator -- sorry, this is really -- a united states senator is going to stand up and marry us and i ran the atlanta -- [ applause ] i set up aid atlanta. i have lost thousands of friends. i have three address books that i cannot throw away. i have seen people lose everything, everything.
i have seen kids die in the streets because hospitals would not take them. and to be able to stand in washington, d.c., the capital of my country, who i still believe in, warts and all, and will get anybody that wants to stop it, to be married in washington, d.c., in the war memorial for world war i which was built by multiracial school children in washington, the only memorial in washington, that has black and white names carved around it, men and women carved around it, and to have a united states senator stand up and celebrate my human rights and my relationship with my partner of 21 years is revolutionary. and i revel in that. [ applause ]
if i may say one thing, when president obama says that he stands on the shoulders of giants, i guarantee you that the people that will be with me are men that i know that died and did not need to die because our presidents would not respond to it. and now we have a budget, we have a conference on aids and we are doing something about it and progress can come, but my god, is it painful. >> this is a conference on civil rights and the presidency. we have the first african-american president. what's the narrative here and --
certain within of the stories is that high expectations of the latino community, for instance, on immigration reform and the dream act and a sense a. isn't meeting those expectations. what's the obama narrative on civil rights? >> the argument is never over and the work is never done. with each succeeding generation comes new arguments about who is fully human and who is fully a citizen, and who has the privilege of being a full member of this great extended family. when the founders drafted the constitution, believe me, they never had any idea of a leader marrying her partner in the world war i memorial in d.c. and never had an idea of roger and charlene sitting up here and never had any idea about me either, frankly. >> we haven't decided on you yet. >> exactly.
jury is totally still out and i get that. but -- but -- we always take on more because america is constantly widening the idea of what human and civil rights means and never narrowing it. which is a great genius for people to have. if you are going to have a sort of habit that you keep coming back to, century after century, there are worse habits to have. like biting your nails. but -- so we always -- widen the argument when people were trying to get on public -- public accommodations and mounting trail ways and greyhound and heading south, they didn't think they were doing it for people who wanted to go to the movies and were in a wheelchair and there was no way to get the wheelchair into the movie but they were. they didn't think that they were doing it for people who could
get kicked out of their apartments because they were gay. but they were. and so we are dealing with this constantly widening notion. now today, there are people who are not citizens of this country doing a lot of the work that gets done every day in this country. and the challenge for us now, and there are people on all sides of the issue is whether they are fully invested with a set of claims because they are human beings that they can make on us, not because they are citizens. two different statuses. so if they get picked up by a landscaper in the morning, standing on a corner near a home depot, and a pickup truck comes by and puts five of them in the back and they go work all day, then at the end, the employer tells them to go get lost, and doesn't pay them, to whom do they complain? is this a human rights violation? is this a civil rights violation? is it something that they can turn to the local authorities
and say i, too, have a claim on your attention. even though i didn't ask your permission to be here, even though i'm not a citizen, even though i am not in your view a legitimate member of this community, do i have a claim on your attention? and we haven't quite worked that out yet. whether that person does have some claim to the same humanity that i as a citizen and you as a citizen do. that's part of a long argument that goes all the way back to the original arguments since 1789. it is not divorced from it. it is not a separate thing from it. it runs like a thread through our entire history. so whether they are working with produce that is sprayed with poisons that cause permanent nerve damage, cognitive defects, tremors, permanently in your
hands after you have worked picking vegetables for five, ten, 15 years, or terrible damage that you then pass on to the children that you never even really thought about having some day. whether it means that you are a member of one of the 4 1/2 million people who live in mixed status families in this country where some of the members of the nuclear family are citizens. and some of them are not. some of them live in constant fear of deportation and some of them don't. this is a challenge to us today and there is a legitimate argument that people want to send them home are not all bad people and they are not all racist and they are not all wrong. event krintri in the world has the right to control its borders and know who lives inside its country. there is a legitimacy to that argument. but if you both use them, use them like human harvesting machines, and steal their wages and don't send them home, that just seems to be a little bit too much. [ applause ] >> ray, since had the least
negative things to say all day, i will say a positive thing. or tell you a positive little story. at my -- first, i would say when -- when you get to the place in life where i am, which is to say within 30 days i will -- by god, i will be 80 years old. and say to myself, by god, this is a different country than i was born into. it is so much a better -- there -- god knows that there's -- terrible stuff still here.
the banks, the ponzis, and lots of crooks. but look at you and you and you. here we are. wouldn't have been 100 years ago, i will tell you that. and we did that. we americans changed the country in extraordinary ways. we tell the whole story. you know. general washington, abe, fdr, all this stuff is too big for us. and i don't think it is too big for us. i think probably much of the responsibility of changing things should go after digging into people like me, like ernie, god knows like you. how did folks make this country
a better country? and what is it that we now need to continue? we can't just sit around in our fancy cars and fancy houses and say god, we are a swell country. when there's so much more to do. and doing it is the best stuff. i mean, i will say to you that to have done the journalism, my dear pal here, to have done a little bit of the and shows that -- he is on, the show he is on, to be motivated by a picture of ernie and his co-activists, they all -- they all -- give great energy but there's something, something that we need to do and that is we need more people
building and fewer people reaching in to what can i get today, bigger car than yesterday and so forth. we have -- teach each other that america is worth taking care of. our schools, our hospitals, our police departments, all of these things need work. and people can find that out. one of the things that makes me almost cry is that i have a daughter who is about to turn 30. she could be working at the white house right now.
because she has seen the issues of americans coming -- people coming to america and not being treated fairly, decently, honorably. she then took a little stint with the service employees union, found a whole bunch of stuff that she thought needed to be changed and fixed and so she's -- at yale law school and she's going to be -- she's going to be an immigration lawyer. i just want to say we have to take care of this country. it is not going to be a terrific country forever unless we take
it -- take care of it on a -- regular basis. this is -- you know, i could say -- i was a journalist and i was -- i was a lawyer. i was this and that. but basically i was a citizen. i was just a citizen who really thought the place was great. particularly when jackie won the world series that year. >> i had a -- last question for each panelist. you already answered the question i wanted to ask you. let me just quote briefly from roger's lovely book in which he writes the greatest legacy of our founding fathers is the opportunity of this nation allows each of us to engage and struggles for decency. evil, he writes, is a basic element of nature. the seeds are in all of us. good has to be manufactured and pushed energetically into public affairs. it is willed into the world by human effort.
roger wilkins. final question for all three of you. aleta, what would eleanor roosevelt say to us today as we are leave thing conference? >> she would say the last sentence she ever wrote -- staying aloof is not a solution. it is a cordially evasion. and we cannot leave our problems to the government. we are the government. >> and from allida's book, she has a lovely quote from eleanor roosevelt. you are going to live in dangerous world but it will be an interesting and adventurous some. when you know what you really want to be and what you want to fight for, not in a was but in order to gain a peace, then i wish you imagination and understanding. god bless you, may you win. eleanor roosevelt. [ applause ] a lovely moment.
your memoir where you are there, a young student at the university of georgia. the phone rings. and it is james meredith. and james meredith is in the process of trying to integrate the university of mississippi. and the first -- at first you don't believe it is him. but finally you do. and basically he asks for advice from what he calls a fellow traveler. i thought what advice you would give to the fellow traveler, especially today defending their own rights or rights of others? >> again, to go back in history, my grandfather, who was presiding elder in africa methodist episcopal church, used to tell his son, my father, and his other son, my uncle, get an education, boy. boys. that's going to be the key to your liberation. and i think that is what propels so many generations of young black people but i think that if we bring it forward to today, as
a journalist, i tend to ask questions much more than i give statements. so my question would be who is educating our young people this next generation i guess you call them now the millennials to be the giants for the next generation to stand on their -- whose shoulders you will provide to stand on and i think that, you know, talked about television that could each and illuminate and inspire. i'm not sure that most televisions are doing that these day was the exception of cali and ray and the newshour. but we need -- we need people, citizens, no matter what their ages, to be educated to the promise of this country and one of the promises was give me your tired, your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, send these, the homeless, tempests, tossed to me. in just a few years and i forget
the exact year, maybe 2020, two-thirds of the american people are going to be people of color. and the people who are now in the majority are going to be in the minority. so we have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding our fellow men and women being receptive as we were to generations of immigrants going back to the days they put those words on the statute liberty. we have to swhaund kind of country we are living in and where our country is going and how we are going to keep it true to the thing that makes you happy and inspired that -- that makes you happy and inspired. because the -- the issues that you are dealing with now, even though there's controversy, when you get married, that's going to be another step towards acceptance and there are many
things. all of the things that all of us hope that we are doing are helping but we need more educated people to understand what this country is now and what it is becoming and what we want it to be when it changes into what it will become in the future. >> so i told ray i was going to quote from his first book, "the old neighborhood what we lost in the great suburban migration," he writes this. we were among the first americans. why are we still strangers? the people we refer to as latinos, hispanics, drew their first breath when an infant was born nine months after christopher columbus arrived in the new world. 500 year later we just your table, watch your kids, pick your strawberries, and lay your sod, and frighten you on
darkened streets. we fill up your jails, fight your wars, and populate your dreams of immigrant invasion and fabulous sex. yet we are still strangers. your daughter is here and my two children are here. i can't quite i believed about fabulous sex in front of them. but -- what's the advice that you give to young people today? >> well, right now i'm writing a book -- sorry, i don't have my book here to hold up. but -- >> you should be ashamed of yourself. >> i'm writing a history of latinos in america since the end of the mexican war. right now i'm -- immersed in the chapter about the latino civil
rights movement which follows on the heels of the great struggles for black civil rights in this country. and whether it is the brown berets or young lords, or more establishments circles, henry gonzalez or ruben salazar, these men and women, cesar chavez, went to school on what black americans did, organizing with their bodies, with their lives, and with their passion, and understood that those struggles are never over. that understood it was going to be different because it manifests itself in a different way. and our history is different and the reasons we are here are different. playing fair is playing fair. and those people, those men and women were going to do what was
necessary to make america pay attention. i don't think that they could have imagined in 1965 in school strikes and l.a. unified, in attempts to force integration and school lunches in phoenix and in -- the rio grande valley in texas. i don't think they could have imagined a country where in 2010 for the first time more children were born in this country who traced their ancestry to africa, latin america, and asia than to your open for the first time ever. that's the front edge of the wedge that charlene was talking about. but america is still going to be built on that same dna, america is still going to be america once that change happens and once those children reach their maturity and are running things
instead of just being told what to do. and so it means everybody has to stretch a little bit. and we did it before. we have done it before. we have -- we are constantly stretching and expanding that notion of who is worthy of my attention and my care and my inclusion. so we are going to do it again. but there is a lot of bad stuff that happens between now and the time that we finally get it. there always has been. every new people that's come to this country has had to get hazed first. and after they are hazed, then they are in. and once you are in, you eventually get to run things. so just think of all the people
who are -- just part of our common culture today, whose own parents or grandparents never could have done the wonderful things that they are doing. it is the great genius of america, we are going to get it right, we always do eventually. and so i mean -- don't flag. roger is right when he says america wants constant care and watering. but also, don't be discouraged because we always do eventually get it right. >> it is fine. we talked about struggle, we have talked about violence. we have talk btd death. but the friendship that you make in the struggle are friendships that are unbreakable. they will last you if there is reincarnation, they will last you lifetime after lifetime after lifetime. and so for the young people that are here, go do this! if you are not doing it for your country, do it for yourself and do it for the profound relationships that you can make and the courage and the joy that that will give you. [ applause ] >> in his memoir he quotes one of his mentors, thurgood marshall he hopes sueq