tv National Action Networks Annual King Day Awards CSPAN January 27, 2016 3:20am-5:31am EST
female attorney general -- [ applause ] -- who succeeded a black male attorney general. [ applause ] it's a long way and a long journey, but we have yet a long way to go. because even as we celebrate that black unemployment is still high, questions of policing and profiling is still before us, economic challenges are still before us, and we still must face those challenges. that is why national action network and others must stay on the forefront of raising these issues. it's not enough to remember dr.
king and not really try and bring about what dr. king's policies were all about. when i look over the last 18 months from eric gardner and ferguson to some of our leaders, i wanted some of the young people that were not about headlines but about working and sacrifice to be with us and they are my special guests this morning. brandi and shanae, stand up, from ferguson, missouri. reverend compton lee, stand up. and many of our board members, lamel mcmorris and others that are here, reverend michael walron, the pastor, first corinthian baptist church, the largest growing church in the
country, certainly in new york, he's with us. the dean of the civil rights movement, they call it civil rights establishment. somebody said to me the other day i was in the civil rights establishment. i said i've been fighting getting the civil rights establishment all my life. you ain't insulting me. i remember i wasn't even established, let alone in the establishment. wade henderson is with us, the dean. assistant secretary of department of agriculture, joe leonard is with us. where's joe? and the queen of our movement who has done so much for civil rights and gender equality, melanie campbell of the national coaliti coalition.
so we want to also, i know they gave the blessing but there's no one more legendary and more in my judgment, more proficient in the ministry who served for decades and who works shoulder to shoulder with my pastor, who mentored me on civil rights, give another hand to reverend h. beacher hicks. at this hour, we face a challenge in front of this supreme court, a court that took out section four of the voting rights act, a court that is now deliberating on the fisher case that could undermine affirmative action. a court that is looking at the case that could undermine labor.
we are celebrating king day but we are not celebratory of these times. we must be recommitted because the wrong decisions from this court and the wrong president to succeed president obama giving further seats to those that want to turn back the clock could eradicate all that dr. king and the king era established. we are at risk today but we are also here to put them on notice that we are not going to let them go into the america that dr. king and fannie lou hamer and the foot soldiers from the '60s brought us from. you can turn back the clock but you will not turn back time. we are not going back into a divided, hateful america.
we fought too hard and we battled too long, and just because barack obama's leaving the white house does not mean we are going to let you change the american house of justice and fairness. we're going to keep marching and we're going to keep working from the streets to the suites to preserve dr. king's dream. that's what we're here to say. i bring our keynote speaker, i'm moving fast, i know that most times at breakfasts you all eat and then hear speeches but we are doing two cities. we are marching in harlem this afternoon so you can eat quie y quietly, use the right fork, slurp your coffee quietly but we
are going to move through the program because there are others that are going to be doing your day of service because dr. king was about service. dr. king was not about profiling. he was about service. and we want to bring our keynote speaker on. we are also going to hear from the secretary of education and we are honored to have both of them with us this morning and we are going to present awards to those that we have felt have operated in their sphere in the tradition of dr. king. the lady that i am about to present has personified what dr. king's dream was about. she's the daughter of a minister who excelled in her education and went into law, the law enforcement community or the criminal justice community, but
never left a commitment for justice. i remember her when we faced a case in new york. i remember her as she had to make tough decisions, sometimes that the community liked, sometimes they didn't like, but we always found out that she was fair and just. we don't expect people to get in high places and become like others that distorted it, but doing what is popular. we expect them to do what is right, even if it's unpopular with us. she has had the courage and tenacity to enforce the law and stand up for what is right and that is what dr. king was about. so it was of no surprise to those of us that knew her in new york, those of us that knew her from north carolina, that the
president would have her succeed one of our honorees this morning, our major honeree this morning. she is a woman that if my two daughters could grow to be part of what she is, i would be proud, because she has represented our community and our nation well, and children unborn will read the story of this preacher's daughter that became the first black woman to be the attorney general of the united states at a time that these states needed someone sitting in the seat that robert kennedy and others sat with the balance and the courage to do what the times and the law call for. may we hear from the attorney general of the united states, the honorable loretta lynch. [ applause ]
>> well, thank you all for that warm welcome. thank you all for making it out this morning and thank you, reverend sharpton, for inviting me to spend a few minutes with you all today before we all get back to work. delighted to see you, reverend hicks, as well. so honored to be with you. reverend sharpton, thank you so much also for your work over the years. you're right, i have known you since my time as an early young prosecutor and you were always, always bringing justice to the streets of new york and now to the nation. we are so grateful for your guidance and for the group and everything that you all have contributed to, you have been
partners in the struggle for years and i know that it will continue. you have been focusing on the right to vote but more than that, you have expanded the notion of the civil rights movement as dr. king was expanding it, to cover not just voting rights but access to education, to employment, to focus on non-violence and you have driven those important conversations. i'm also so delighted to be here with my colleague, john king, and so happy that he's in the chair of secretary of education. reverend, you're right, i am the daughter of a minister. i'm also the granddaughter and the great granddaughter of a minister but i am also the daughter of a teacher and a librarian. those two forces i think are the two that together will lead our country out of the darkness we are seeing today and ultimately save us so i'm so glad that john is here as well. i also am so happy to see my predecessor, my mentor, my friend, attorney general eric
holder. when i say the a.g., he is who i think of. i also want to thank reverend sharpton for bringing his board members along as well. i want to thank all of you for being here today. now, we are here as we are every year on this day to pause just for a moment and reflect on the contributions and the extraordinary sacrifices of a transformational leader. we know his story, of course. a young minister from a remarkably young age, he was an unwavering champion of liberty and opportunity and a and a tir proponent of unity and progress. he spoke out for people who had been silenced. he stood up for those who were oppressed. but you know, as we celebrate dr. king's legacy, over time sometimes in the way that we speak of him, he becomes sort of a static figure. i don't know if anyone has noticed that. he seems to be almost sort of
frozen in amber. you know, at a particular moment of time. and when the reality is what he is best known for and what he best achieved was through his actions. he was a man of action. he took action over and over again in the face of violence, in the face of adversity. he went to jail for his actions abwrote one of the greatest tracks and epistles that we have seen since the letters of paul to the corinthians, of course, i refer to the letter from the birmingham jail. and his words and his deeds, his actions were what prodded the conscience of the nation that had long failed to deliver on the promises that were set forth in its founding documents, and of course, he's known for his words. and he termed the days in which he was living the long night of racial injustice and, of course, it was. he and countless other brave men, women and children worked
so hard, they took action against jim crow. they took action to tear down the barriers to the ballot box and in doing so, they enshrined new protections of freedom and dignity in our code of law. of course, the voting rights act and the civil rights act of 1964 and 1965. statutes that i am proud to uphold today. and these were extraordinary achievements and it's right that we celebrate them today. but even more than celebrating, even more than remembering his words, even more than enshrining his accomplishments, it is fitting that we act. that is what we are called upon to do today. dr. king knew that complacency and apathy were as dangerous to the mind as a billy club and a fire hose were to the body. and he also knew and i spoke of this so well that will progress was not inevitable.
but belonged to those who were willing to seize the moment. and as he stated so eloquently in that famous letter he knew that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. now, his words and his deeds and those of the millions who stood with him are not the vestiges of history but they're timeless calls to action. they are as fresh and real today as they were in those times, the strategies that he worked on are the strategies that are effective today and that we need to call upon to push that mission forward. now, dr. king's call and his mission has animated the department of justice since the inception of this administration. and fuels our on going work to ensure that everyone in this country can achieve the full blessings of american life. our revitalized civil rights division, termed by my predecessor the conscience of the department led by our
outstanding head va nit ta gupta, is committed to ensuring that acis esto the ballot box is as fair and unencumbered as dr. king dreamed it would be. now, wherever the franchise is being diminished whether through historical barriers or through newly erected ones, we stand prepared to use every tool at our disposal to protect the sacred american right to vote. the civil rights division is making significant progress -- [ applause ] but more must be done and more will be done. we are also making progress in bringing criminal civil rights cases, as well. over the course of this administration, i am proud to say that we have filed more criminal civil rights cases and prosecuted and convicted more defendants for hate crimes charges than at any other point in the justice department's
history. [ applause ] but we also know that we cannot just look outward at what is happening in society to protect our civil rights. we know that we have to protect our civil rights within the criminal justice system that those of us in the department seek to serve. in part, we're doing this by strengthening the relationships between law enforcement and the communities that we serve. but we are also focusing on ensuring constitutional policing across account country. we've launched a variety of new programs and innovative efforts at the local level and the national level including my own six city listening tour to promote community policing, to build the relationships of trust that are so vital to effective law enforcement. but more broadly and most importantly, we are working because we have to. we have to ensure the
fundamental fairness of the criminal justice system at every level. at the federal level, we're continuing to implement the smart on crime initiative, a bold reorientation approach begun by my predecessor, attorney general holder in 2013. in its first two years, the smart on crime initiative has not only become a bipartisan rallying point, i will say that after nine months in washington, i found maybe a few things that seemed to inspire a bipartisan connection, but it's also been a resounding success with federal prosecutors, using their resources to bring the most serious wrongdoers to justice but also, also focusing on ways to handle those nonviolent offenders that do not shackle them with the collateral consequences of incarceration far beyond what is necessary and not only is the incarceration rate going down, but so is the crime rate. this is due to the leadership of my predecessor but it's an
nishia ittive that i am proud to carry on today because it is one that bes our country, it be of serves our values and it bes our children. but for fairness and justice to be consistent and to have meaning, we have to look at every stage of our criminal justice process and that is why we are also working to end, to end the school to prison pipeline that sent so many of our children -- [ applause ] -- out of school and into the criminal justice system. we have brought cases, we're working with school departments across the country to end zero tolerance policies to review the use of school safety officers and to make sure that all children but especially our children on whom these policies fall most harshly have a chance, a chance to get an education and not a number, a chance to become someone and not a statistic. a chance to be heard and not
become those that we try and ignore as they go through our criminal justice system. but we're also investing in diversion programs, treatment programs, looking at evidence-based approaches to public health and criminal justice because if we can focus on it the root causes of why so many of our brothers and sisters take those missteps and lose their way and find themselves caught up as my grandfather used to say in the clutches of the law, we can save not only them, we can save families. we can save not only families, we can save communities. and we can save not only communities, we can save our nation. that's what we can do, that's what we will do. and that's what we must do. [ applause ] but there's more than one level there, as well. we're focusing on those trying to prevent people from going through the system also working on making sure that our prison
systems are run fairly, efficiently, looking at things like solitary confinement, looking at the comraksal programs that we offer. but we're also focusing on re-entry programs, making sure that our formerly incarcerated individuals, our formerly incarcerated family members for the most part, because we're all affected by this, have the tools and the resources that they need to successfully rejoin society and contribute to their communities. you know, the statistics say, what is it, 600,000 people coming out of prison every year? now, people look at that as a number. but those are mothers and fathers. those are brothers and sisters. those are siblings, those are friends. and more to the point, that is human capital. that is a resource that if invested in our economy wisely, could pull many of our communities out of the poverty in which they find themselves mired in. we have an obligation to give
them the tools to contribute to that effort. [ applause ] and one of the reasons i'm so honored to be here with secretary king is that the department of justice has recently partnered with the department of education to extend completely grant support to incarcerated individuals. giving them an on-ramp to education where institutions -- where shakesal institutions will go into our incars ratory institutions often college courses. and i was so privileged to visit one of these programs right here in the d.c. area in the baltimore area and talk to some inmates who were going through the program and actually watch them. they let us sit in on a political science class and, of course, the grasp of nuance and the grass of political theory, frankly, as high as any that you would see. supporting those efforts, getting the brilliance that is
currently trapped mind bars to have a place outside of bars is what we have to do. [ applause ] and i thank you for your efforts. this is vital work. it's real life-changing work. it's life-altering work, but as we know all too well, we still have a long way to go. now, even today with all the progress that we've made, we hear concerns so strikingly similar to the early days after the civil rights movement. and as a travel this great nation of ours, i speak to people who are afraid to turn to law enforcement for help. and they find themselves stranded between fear and violence. i hear from people who see the right to vote, the fundamental way in which we determine our destiny. they see the right to vote becoming some sort of a shell game. and held just out of reach. and i hear from people, i hear from those who worry that a
country founded on the freedom of all religions may devolve into one diminished by a fear of some religions. and i hear the question asked over and over again, how far, in fact, have we actually come. and these are good questions and they are the questions of our time. and these are difficult times, bub my friends, these issues have always been difficult. they've always been hard. we have always had to move forward are no guarantees of success. and we've always faced resistance. that is the human condition. and maybe it's the american condition, as well. but we have prevailed before and we will prevail again. [ applause ] because my friends, it is the challenge of every generation to learn this lesson, to follow the path that keeps this is dream alive. every generation faces this.
every generation faces the challenge, every generation faces the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown, but every generation has to learn that the price of freedom is constant vit/"7jtp'd sometimes it has to be paid in blood. and that's why it is so fitting that on a day dedicated to justice, to decency, to equal opportunity, a day dedicated to action, we're gathered by the national action network because progress is never passive. progress does not simply arrive. it doesn't just come because we wish for things to get better. because in this extraordinary nation that still has so much to offer to all of us, a nation created by and for the people, progress, progress is the product of a skedty drum beat of marching feet. it's the result of asus attained campaign through hardship and
oppression. and as our president, president obama said, in his final state of the union address just last week, progress is not inevitable. it is the result of choices we make together. and at a time when nothing, nothing about their success seemed foreordained, the food soldiers of the civil rights movement chose to keep going. after each night in jail, they chose to press on. after each thought of a billy club, after each police dog, after each fire hose, they chose to get up and keep going. after each church bombing, after each cross burning, after each house bombing, dr. king and his followers confronted their doubts. they faced their fears and they chose top march on. rosa parks chose to take her seat on that segregated bus.
john lewis and amelia boynton and others chose to take that first step onto the edmund pettus bridge, knowing what they would face, they choseing to step forward. time and again. no matter how tired or bloodied they were, the men and the women and the children of the civil rights movement summoned their courage. they leaned on their faith and they chose to taking that next step. even without knowing what lay ahead. and so my friends, as we come here today to celebrate the life of dr. king and as we seek to apply his lessons to the challenges that we face today, here's the question facing all of us. what will we choose? what will we choose? when we witness discrimination against others, what will we choose when we see the right to vote rolled back, what will we
choose? when we hear voices saying that we should be satisfied with the progress that we've made, you've come stow so far, look how much you've achieved. look who's in the white house, when we hear people telling us that it's time to stop, what will we choose? will we choose to remain silent? will we choose to stand aside and quietly acwe can ses to the forces of apathy and inner shah? or will we choose to remember that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing? will we choose to keep this country marching toward audio freedom? will we choose to speak up and to stand out against the voices of bigotry and prejudice? will we choose love over hate? will we choose hope over despair? what will we choose? my friends, as i stand before you now, i commit to you as the
attorney general of these united states that this department of justice will always choose to act. we choose to act. . [ applause ] we choose to act. to ensure that the promise of america, the equality and the opportunity that is america is within the grasp of all americans. we choose to act. we choose to act to lift up the essential humanity and the dignity and the equal rights of every american regardless of what they look like, where they come from, whom they love or the god that they choose to worship. we choose tore act. we choose to act to use the law to push us forward, not because the law is perfect, but because it pushes us towards our better selves. we choose to act always, always
on behalf those who have been left out and left behind. now, it doesn't mean that the road ahead will be easy for any of us. and i wish that i could, as i talk to people across this country and hear about the struggles and the spheres, i wish that i could bring tolerance tons every soul and humanity to every heart. but while i cannot guarantee the absence of prejudice, i can guarantee the presence of justice and i do so. [ applause ] and despite all the questions and despite the concerns that i hear, as i travel this beautiful country of ours, i still remain optimisticing about everything that we can achieve and everything that we can do together. despite the pain, despite the troubles and the agonies that we see on the nightly news every night, i have two reasons why i
am so optimistic. first, despite the pain, despite the agony that we see, played out on the daily news, captured in the cell phone videos of 100 food soldiers of justice, we have opened a conversation about the pain that goes on in this country that has been larger than we have ever had before. we reat that point. and dr. king knew that what we had to do was push forward to make our case known to everyone in this society and become part of the dialogue of this society. and i'm also optimistic because i'll see so many young people fighting this fight. i see so many young people leading this charge. as they did 50 years ago. with energy, with different ideas, pushing all of us forward, keeping all of us on our toes. that's what we do.
impatient they should be. eager they are. energet energetic, i thank god for that because that's where we were 50 years ago and all those voices came together. all the different thoughts and theorieses of how to accomplish so many of the things that we've done today. we do face challenging times. we're at a crossroads. we have choices to make. but we have the strength of our history, we have the faith of our fathers. and we have the energy of our future all coming together to prepare us like no other moment in time to seize this opportunity, to choose to act. so my friends, choose to act. choose love over hate. choose hope over despair. choose peace over violence. and most of all, choose to continue the fight for the essential equality, the dignity and the beauty of every human
being. i thank you so much for giving me a few minutes to come talk to you today. i thank you so much for carrying on this fight. [ applause ] >> i told you au she was a preacher's daughter. give her a hand. attorney general loretta lynch. [ applause ] after that, i'm tempted to raise an offering, but that wouldn't be appropriate. i thought as she was speaking about when i was 18, i was youth director for a ladies campaign for president named shirley chisholm. and i thought about we have a
young lady in -- one of the things i try to do is encourage and bring and give leadership plat fors to leaders of the generations behind me as those like reverend hicks and others did for me. and i'm proud that our youth leader, nationally, who's formed chapters all over the country is with us today. she's 17 years old. and she's the president of the freshman class at spellman as she leads the youth department of nan from our atlanta office. mary pat hector. where is mary pat? [ applause ] mary pat, now, i want -- i want mary pat -- i want you to sit with me. i want you to go right there where i was sitting a minute. i want you to take a picture
between the only two black attorney generals in the history of the country that you can showing this to your grandchildren. that's what this is all about. [ applause ] and as i said, she's president of the freshman class at spellman and we're going to make her stay in school with activism. i got active and dropped out of college. reverend jackson and hicks and them tried to make me stay in. that's why when i got on msbc, i had to learn how to read the cue cards right. so you stay in spellman so you can read your cards right. and they won't be doing saturday night live on you and eric holder will be laughing about you. i also want to thank our washington bureau chief ho done such a great job. i'm so proud of ebony riley. stand up here. give ebony a hand.
[ applause ] and our legislative chief, faith blackburn. [ applause ] and to show young women of our community is not just nan, one of the things that president obama has done, among many, and he's been the best president that i've seen -- [ applause ] -- he has also elevated young women, and now heading the my brothers keeper alliance who was in the office of engagement in the white house, strong young sister that the whole world's going to know because she has done such a wonderful job. i see her in the audience. stand up. give a big hand.
[ applause ] and is stephanie here? and stephanie young who's in the white house now in the office of engagement, another young black female leader who's the daughter of a preacher. stand up stephanie young from the white house. [ applause ] all right. thank you. i want to, before bringing on the secretary of education, start with our first three awards. and reverend jay david cox is going to help me present the last three. and but i think it is important that we honor first a lady that symbolizes and stands for what the attorney general spoke to. last year when there was a videoed police shooting in north charleston, reverend nelson
rivers called me and told me what happened that night. and i flew down and preached to the church that sunday. and trudy who's here had the mayor of north charleston and police chief come. and they immediately took action on that videotape. we went to the scene of the shooting. and a minister led us in prayer. two months later, reverend nelson rivers called me and said that minister was conducting bible class in his church, than very same minister had been shot and killed along with eight of his members in the middle of bible class. a man, young racial arsonist, terrorist that had sat there and prayed with them an hour, but hate made him kill.
and as we headed to charleston and saw the funerals and i went to several of them and spoke at some and then the president came to the funeral of that minister and sung "amazing grace," it was not the president singing amazing grace, it was the families of the charleston nineing that showed amazing grace to this country. which showed that what reverend pinckney was teaching that night was not a for malt but what they really believed. it was our grace under fire, our grace despite the pain, our grace even in the face of murder that brought us from the back of the bus to the front of the white house. and it's that grace even in painful times like this thattal keep us going. dr. king was a man of faith.
he was a man of grace. he was a preacher first. you can't celebrate dr. king's day and divorce him from what he stood for. and we wanted to honor today. the widow of reverend clemente pinckney because her and her members showed this nation our community and our country at its best. showing that even through our tears, our faith remains steady. even through our pain, our steps will keep moving forward. we refuse to become part of the hate we fight. we refuse to succumb to those that see us the less than what god made us to be. and we honor jennifer pinckney who became the bride of reverend pinckney in 1993. she was jennifer benjamin.
now mrs. pinkny raises his children and leads on. pre day of her life, bearing the pain of her soul mate gone, but having the knowledge that she and others must continue to personify what he stood for or his living and teaching would be in vain. may you help me in honoring the legacy and memory of reverend clemente pinckney as we honor his wife, jennifer pinckney. [ applause ] this is also reverend pinckney's sister. if you ever saw reverend
he was a voice for the voiceless. he believed in seniors getting affordable health care. before his untimely death, he was working with an organization and trying to -- that was trying to develop a mobile health unit because he lived -- his area was a rural area. it was a large centered area and so now they're trying to work with me so that they can raise the $250,000 to actually get this mobile unit into action. he believed in public education. there was never an issue when our daughters were born where
they were going to go to school. they're going to public school. i went to public school. i was in a poor district, a poor school. but look at me. that's what he would say. i'm a product of public schools. and our daughters will be products of public schools. another issue that he was working on before his untimely death were body cameras for policemen to have body cameras at all times. these are just a few of the issues and things that my husband worked on and believed. a lot of people knew him as senator. a lot of people knew him as
reverend. family members like his sister called him clem. but he was my te. i called him te. before we were even married, it was te and all of my friends started calling him te. on behalf of myself and our two beautiful daughters, ages 6 and 11, we want to thank you for this prestigious award. te was a humble and spiritual man and i know he would say that he wasn't deserving of any type of award. but since this has happened, the
family has been very grateful for the love and support that we have received. the community, our state, and our country. many people all over the world have prayed for us. and expressed their love in so many different ways. we're blessed for the service of my husband. he loved his work as a senator. he loved his work as a pastor. and i am committed and it is my hope to continue his work and all of the issues that he stood for and that's why i've created a foundation in his name.
i want to make him proud. he always said, i got to do for my girls. me and eleana and melana, we were his girls and because he lost -- they lost my mom, my mother-in-law at a young age or about 15 years ago rather, he adopted my mom. my mom became his mom. so instead of him having three girls, he had four. i got to take care of my four girls. i'll leave you with this. i miss te. the girls miss their father.
on that fateful day, he was at work in the senate. he knew he had to drive two hours to charleston to be a pastor. and i said, i'll go with you. i'll go with you so that i can help you drive and you can relax and do the things that you need to do, make phone calls. i'll go with you. at first he was like no, you stay home. but for some reason, i wouldn't let it go. i kept texting him. i'll go with you. i'll go with you. so he finally gave in and he
said, i'll be there to pick you up 2:00. be ready. because i have to get to church. so i told our 6-year-old, i'm going to church with daddy. and, of course, she says i'm going with you. i told our 11-year-old i'm going to church with daddy. and your sister's going with us. well, i'm going to stay home with grandma. he told melana on the trip to charleston, baby girl, when i'm finished, i'm going to take you to mcdonald's. unfortunately, we never made it to mcdonald's.
of unfortunately my husband never came back home. continue to pray for ot victims' families. continue to pray for my family. continue to pray for the survivors. there were five survivors. and out of the five, i was one of them. and so was our 6-year-old daughter melana. i have work to do because i'm going to make my te proud.
i'm going to continue to honor his legacy and go forward with his dream. live your life like te lived his, an honorable man. a loving man. i'm going to continue to carry out his work because that's what he would want. thank you once again. thank you for this award. and may god bless each and pre one of you.
i often thought coming up what would make them facing biting dogs and facing jail cells saying we shall overcome. and i thought as i grew older maybe they had a belief if they looked in the future that their sons and daughters would vindicate their sacrifice. as we honor people like robert smith who has become the most successful person in history as we honor our labor leaders, i think our parents, grandparents that are ung in those dangerous days looked and saw a young lawyer that would remain grounded even in heady times.
and would stand for justice that they never saw. they had to dream and imagine something that became physically manifested in our times. in the body of eric holder who went to the justice department, grounded and firm and who and what this country was supposed to stand for. and despite being castigated and criticized, that we shall overcome theme never left his spirit and soul. when you're the children of those that took dog bites and church bombings and vicious murders, it would take more than
some partisan members of the senate top of the turn you around. we honor him today by showinging that from good trees come good fruit. like i have the force to acknowledge, like others. and he not only went to the top of the justice department, but he brought others with him who have now spread out themselves. one that worked with him in justice was a strong young attorney justice firm named tony west who the left justice and is now the executive vice president of government affairs and the general counsel at pepsico. but he's brought the same spirit with him to show the continuity and to show the fruit from his tree. i have said that i wanted to step back and have his own
brother, his own -- one of his own coworkers, one of the fruits from his tree, tony west, present eric holder with the award this morning. tony west. [ applause ] thank you, reverend. if i could just take a minute and just say to you, mrs. pinckney, this weekend attorney general holder and i were in south carolina and yesterday, we had the great pleasure and privilege and honor to attend services at mother emmanuel. and when reverend sharpton talks about the amazing grace that your church family shows, in a
moment when they were still grieving, the love and the welcoming arms that they extended to us and to the other guests who were there yesterday not only enriched us, it uplifted us and your presence here today enriches us and uplifts us. so thank you very, very much. [ applause ] so i know the hour is getting late so i'm going to be very brief. and my brevity should not be taken as any indication of a short shrift for our honoree because you know him well. it's a cliche to say that a person needs no introduction. he truly needs no introduction in this crowd. we know him as a man with beigen roots, a man who is the son of immigrants who has justice as
his north star a man that we know as not only the nation's first african attorney general but someone who used the authority of that office to stand up for the least of us, to make his voice heard, to work with many of you to defend voting rights whether he they were under attack and they continue to be under attack. someone who used the power of his office to reform the criminal justice system, that is too often defined by race and by class. someone who fought for the equality of all americans. regardless of who worship or who they are or who they love. so this is someone who certainly needs no introduction and i know him as my doj leader. as my boss, but even more important and more enduring as my mentor and my friend. it is an honor to present to you the 82nd attorney general of the united states, eric h. holder. [ applause ]
>> thank you. take pictures now? all right. >> well, good morning. it is -- it's a pleasure to be here. and i want to thank the national action networking for recognizing me with this great award. i want to thank tony for those brief remarks. we came up together on his plane. this is where tony is now, he's got his plane. and he was banging away on his computer, much longer and nicer introduction. what's that all about, man?
you know? i was helping him with it actually, you know? and obviously, i want to thank reverend sharpton for heading a great organization that has really stood at forefront of a great deal of the progress that we have made over the recent years. miss pinckney, i want to say a special word of appreciation to you. i know that through you and you feel it that your husband work is going to go on and that you're going to be a major force on your own on your own. [ applause ] loretta lynch, a great attorney general. a good friend who is on her own crafting her own path for justice at the united states department of justice. wade henderson, my man. you know? my man. when things got rough --
[ applause ] -- when things were tossed at me, that was a phone call to make. you know? and he mobilized the troops and i could not have gotten through all the stuff i had to get through without you. we're going to miss you. i know although your position is going to change, your commitment to the cause will always remain and we thank you for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do. as tony said, we were at mother emmanuel this weekend. and one of the things that reverend goff said there and i just want to kind of pick up on, is that he talked about in his sermon the time is now. and it was kind of a play on and what dr. king said about the fierce urgency of now. we have made progress, but our journey is clearly not yet complete. we can't be complacent. we can't be satisfied. there are new challenges that we
have to face that have their roots in some of the old things that we and our predecessors had to confront. 1960s, we fought for voting rights that resulted in the culmination and the passage of the 1965 voting rights act, and yet, here we are in 2016 still talking about voting rights. criminal justice reform. something that has been needed in this country for decades if not centuries. talked about it before it is still something that we must confront. we see in this presidential year i think a real disturbing recurbs of things that maybe i thought we had put in the past. hateful language around issues of ethnicity, race, and religion. there are too many people led by
call it out, led by donald trump you know, taking one of our storied parties in a direction that i think is inconsistent with the great legacy of that party. that after all is the party of abraham lincoln. would lincoln -- would lincoln look at these candidates and look at the things that they are saying as they race to the bottom and think that that is in some ways consistent with what he did for that party and for our nation? i hope that at some point, sanity will raise its wonderful head and people will see the wrong way in which the party is now going. there are new forms of old issues and we have to recognize that. and what we have to do is coming up with new solutions to deal with these new problems. national action network has
consistently been at the pore front of crafting 21st century solutions for these 21st century problems led about a person who has been a supporter of mine, an advisor and a person who is indeed a personal friend. we need the same commitment. we need the same courage, we need the same perseverance as martin luther king. people often said to me how did you deal with all the stuff you had to deal with in those krongs counsel committees. i said nobody was pit hadding me over the head with a billy club. nobody was putting dogs on me or giving me death threats. so to sit up there and listen to, i'll be charitable here, listening to some folks with whom i disagreed and get yelled at, speak to me afterwards and i'll tell you the words i really wanted to use, it was like really? is that the best you got? you know, first of all, i grew up in new york city. you know, really?
you can do better than that. and we also have to understand that you know, the positive change is not a given. positive change is a function of hard work. and that is what the people in this room i know are committed to. and that is what i know loretta is doing at the united states department of justice. the status quo will always resist change. always has, always will. you know, i think about these young people, i was going to say kids. well, kids. i'm old enough to call them kids in the black lives movement. and they disrupt, you know? they annoy. they get in the way. but guess what? that's how progress is made in this country. that's -- [ applause ] you know? in another generation, and i think loretta was right, we put dr. king in a place where he's
kind of -- guess what, he disrupted. he got in the way. he annoyed people. john lewis did the same thing. and before them, are a. phillip randolph, marcus garvey, certainly malcolm x. but listen to this, guess who else got in the way and annoyed and challenged the status quo. people like george washington are, benjamin franklin, john adams, thomasever son who looked at an unjust status quo and decided that they would foment revolution to change and make the country that we now have. so you know, before we get too upset with these young people, we need to understand the traition addition that they come from and what their ames actually are. . [ applause ] >> our job is to apply the pressure that needs to be applied in a political way, a moral way and a social way. we have to make the nation ask
itself some hard questions and face some difficult truths. we are really adept as americans in kind of putting aside not focusing on, not addressing issues that come before us. i gave a speech i remember in february of 2009. people gave me a lot of grief about that about this nation not looking at racial issues being afraid to confront racial issues. i thought it was right then. i'm more convinced now that what i said then was, in fact, true. and unless we are willing to confront these issues and come up with solutions to them, we're never really going to make progress. we'll feel comfortable. you know, people in. the '50s, people longed for the '50s. you know, abby grew up in the '50s. it seemed like a nice time but that was a time you know when racial segregation was the law in the south. you know, we had white picket fences, father knows best" it was great on television. leave it to beaver".
black folks were suffering. you know? under the weight of an oppressive system at that time. and these are the realizes that we have to acknowledge, the realities that we must continue to confront. we have to prepare the future for those hose come after us in the same way that people sacrificed, bled, died and made the present better for us. now, having said all of that, boy, he's kind of a down guy. i'm not. i am ultimately very optimistic. because i am convinced that the arc of progress really does go in an appropriate way. it bends every now and again. there are short circuits. it's not always a continuous line, but you know, if we persevere, if we commit ourselves, if we stay dedicated as those who came before us did, we will get to the place that dr. king talked about.
we'll get to that promised land. so i want to thank you for this wonderful award. and i want to pledge to you that though i have left the justice department, i will pledge my best efforts to remain involved in the fight. as i said in the white house on the day that i announced my resignation, i'll never leave the work. i will simply never leave the work. [ applause ] and i would hope that you all would feel that same sense. in all the things that we do that go beyond what we are here today to commemorate and to note, there are i know 9:00 to 5:00 jobs to be involved in. there are kids to raise. there are television shows to watch. but there's also a place you should find in your week in your day to be dedicated to the work. be dedicated to the work.
so that we leave a country better than we found it. it won't be perfect. but we can always make it better. and that's why i'm optimistic because i know that you'll be committed in that way. i will be committed to you in that way and with great leaders like this man and great organizations like this one, i am confident that a 21st century america can be better than the 20th century america that dr. king helped to shape in so many fundamentally good ways. so thank you again for this wonderful award. and i look forward to working with all of you in the years to come. [ applause ] eric holder. [ applause ] i mentioned robert smith who we'll be honoring who's such a
model citizen. and we also have eric young, outstanding labor leader as well as liz powell. but both of the attorney generals can referred to education. and the need to build the internal character and information of our young. when arne duncan left the administration, president obama looked around the country for who core continue that work. he came and glazed at the state that i was born. and found a courageous educate ker, a visionary, one that we knew in new york well. for standing up against those that he had vested interests,
for those that were supposed to be the object of what education is all about. and that is the students. he did not waiver in the face of being questioned. he did not capitulate in the face of controversy. and he earned the respect of new york as he has now the nation. i bring you the acting secretary of education for the united states, the honorable, from, brooklyn, home boy, so don't -- you know, he and i are the two different looks of brooklyn. th different looks at brooklyn, i'll let y'all decide what that is -- the honorable dr. john b. king jr. [ applause ]
>> good morning. thank you, reverend sharpton for that warm, brooklyn introduction, and for your incredible leadership on behalf of civil rights and young people. it's an honor to join all of you this morning. it's humbling to follow mrs. pink ni, who's example is an inspiration to me and to the country. thank you for your words. it's an honor to follow the two attorneys general, attorney general lynch, it's a privilege to work with you to expand educational opportunity for folks who are incarcerated or leaving incarceration. and attorney general holder, inspired by your example and your unwavering commitment to continue the work even after leaving the administration. grateful to the national action network board for bringing us all together and pleased to be a part of a celebration of the life of dr. king. i want to spend a few moments
reflecting on the principles of dr. king's life and their implications for how we think about the future of education in the united states. dr. king dedicated his life to a few simple principles. equality, justice, compassion, hope. and to urgency. almost 50 years ago in a sermon about new year's resolutions, dr. king described a conversation with his children. he told them, i don't ever want you to forget that there are millions of god's children who will not and cannot get a good education. and i don't want you feeling that you are better than they are. for you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be. and so the question i ask us to reflect on this morning is, are we what we ought to be?
we are closer, no doubt. we are closer than when dr. king spoke those words 50 years ago. we are closer than when president obama entered the oval office. but are we there yet? i submit, we are not yet where we ought to be. we are closer, for sure. last year, we announced the highest graduation rate we've ever had in the country, 82%. we got there because of dramatic reductions in the dropout rates for african american and latino students. today there are more african american students and lane students in college than there were when the president took office. last year, we had not only our largest graduating class from college, but our most diverse class ever. that's progress and we should recognize that progress and celebrate it and the students and the families and the
communities that made that progress possible and that strive every day for equity and excellence. and yet, and yet for every emmitt till, we still have a jamir rice. bias, prejudice, the legacy of institutional racism still, in fact, our promise of equality under the law. and so too inequality undermines our promise of educational opportunity. as julian bond once said violence is black children going to school for 12 years and receiving six years of education. we worry that no matter what indicator you look at, our african american and latino students have a gap. our low income students have a gap. we see that gap in graduation rates. we see that gap in achievement. we know all too often our
african american students and latino students are receiving less, lfs resources, less effective teachers, less access to art and advanced coursework. we know it's still true that an affluent student is six times more likely to graduate from college than a low income student. we know the unemployment rate for african american youth and more than double the unemployment rate for white young people. and we know, sadly, that statistics suggest that an african american man today, a young african american man is more likely to go to prison than to earn a bachelor's degree. and yet, we have far to travel. we are not yet where we ought to be. we are not yet who we ought to be. in a nation that imprisons a higher pro portion of black males than did south africa at the height of apartheid, it is still no time for what dr. king once called the tranquilizing
drug of gradualism. we must bring to the work of improving educational opportunity, tremendous urgency. it is an urgency that is deeply personal for me. reverend sharp tan said i grew up in brooklyn went to ps 76, when i was in fourth grade when i was 8 years old, my mom passed away. career educator. she'd come to new york from puerto rico, grown up in the bronx, became an educator. she passed away when i was 8, october of fourth grade. i lived with my father, himself an educator, gone on to become deputy superintendent of education new york, the highest ranked african american educator in the late '50s, early '60s. i lived alone with my dad then
with what we now know as alzheimer's. but it was undiagnosed. i lived with my father who was so sick, and school saved my life. school is the reason i'm standing here today. school is the reason that i was able to survive that period. teachers, new york city public schoolteachers made school this place that was compelling and interesting and engaging and safe, when home was not. i became a teacher and a principal because i wanted to try to do for other kids, what teachers had done for me. education is the difference between hope and despair. it is the difference between life and death. and we are now at a cross roads moment as a country in education. last year the president signed into law that every student succeeds act. that law replaces no child left behind, which was too restrictive and was too much of a one size fits all solution. and so we have a new education
law, and the question is, how will we use that education law to advance equity? that law reauthorized elementary and secondary education act. i was a high school social studies teacher, so i have to put that in historical context. that act was first adopted in 1965. signed into law by lyndon johnson, himself a former teacher. it must be viewed in the context of the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965. the federal education role is a civil rights role. the federal education law is a civil rights law. and the question for us is will this new law advance equity? importantly, it sets out that every state must aspire to high standards. state-chosen standards, but standards that reflect college and career readiness for all of our students. importantly, it requires that states act when schools are not meeting those standards, when schools are not helping students to meet those standards.
there's been a lot of talk about this law giving more flexibility to states and indeed it does, and should, but we understand that our responsibilities at the department is to ensure the law is enforced in a way that advanced equity and social rights. that's our responsibility. we also understand that this greater flexibility for states is a call to action, a call for the civil rights community to engage in every state capital on how states use this new flexibility. the question for states will be, how do we define success? what do we do when there are inequities? and importantly, how do we ensure that our schools reflect the diversity we value as a country? it would be critically important for the civil rights community to engage in every state on these questions. yes, we know that english and math performance are necessary, but not sufficient for success in life.
we know that test scores don't tell us all that we need to know. there's an opportunity for states to look at our students getting access to advanced coursework? are students getting access to art and music? are students in high-need schools getting access to health care services and wrap-around services that they may need? there's an opportunity for states to look at students, not just their academic development, all of those are valuable for looking at a school's performance, but not if they paper over inequities, not if they distract us from ensuring equal opportunity. this will require the partnership of the civil rights community and the demands of parents and communities around equity. states also have an opportunity in this new law to get smarter about how we serve our students. ensure that all students have
access to well rounded education, ensuring that all students have access to quality preschool, which we know is a fundamental difference-maker in students' trajectory. states have an opportunity to ensure they hold to high standards, so politicians don't roll back higher expectations, because we know it's african americans and latino students and low-income students for whom folks hold lower expectations. but whether or not states approach this new law in this way will depend on the engagement of the civil rights community. states have an opportunity to tackle the schools to prison pipeline, to work to reduce inclusionary discipline, work to change the relationship between law enforcement and schools, such that schools are not a path way to prison, but a path way to college. but that will require state
leadership. and six decades after brown versus board of education, states have an opportunity to make smart decisions to ensure that our schools reflect the diversity we value as a society. six decades after brown versus board of education, there are communities around this country that have schools that are more segregated today than they were 10 or 20 years ago. will states use this new flexibility to advance locally drink, voluntary efforts to create more diverse schools? we know that when students are in schools that are diverse and strong, all students benefit. we know that there are smart changes that states can make to create magnet schools and regional schools and dual language schools. and opportunities for students to engage cross culturally in school and we are all better for it, our democracy is stronger for it. will states do that? that will depend on the leadership of the civil rights
community. we are at a cross roads moment in criminal justice as attorney general lynch and attorney general holder spoke to. we are at a cross roads moment in education. the question is, will we fulfill the promise of equality of opportunity through our schools? and the answer to that question is up to us. will we be who we ought to be? the answer to that question is up to us. i'll close with this. my father, as i mentioned, was a teacher in new york city public schools. and he also played basketball a lot. and his brother, was a famous basketball player, played professional basketball before african americans were allowed to play with white folks. and my father always wished he was as good a basketball player as his brother. but he loved to play on the weekend. and one weekend, they were playing and my father broke his wrist. and so he came into school on monday and the principal said,
oh, mr. king, you can't teach, and he said, what do you mean, i can't teach? the principal said, we have a rule. there's a regulation that says, if you have a cast, you can't be in your classroom. and my father said, but my students are waiting for me. the principal said, i'm sorry, that's just the rule. this story my father used to tell whenever someone in my family would say something was too hard. he would tell this story, saying his wrist was hurting, maybe it was going to rain. so he said, i my students need me. the principal said, no, there's this rule. new york city schools often have very high desks in the main office and my father went over to that very high desk and he smashed the cast, and he brushed the pieces into a trash can. he put his hand in his suit pocket and he said, i'm going to go teach my class now.
so whenever someone would say something was too hard, too much work to do, he didn't even have to repeat the story. he would just hold that wrist. but my father understood that school saved lives. he could not have known then that school would save his son's life. school saves lives and what happens in the classroom is tremendously urgent. my father understood that. he went to the class that day to make sure we would become who we ought to be. so the challenge for us is, will we act, will we take the actions necessary to become who we ought to be? let us act with urgency on behalf of the civil rights of our children. let us ensure that school is a path way to opportunity. thank you so much. [ applause ]
>> honorable dr. john king. educated at cornell university, born in colorado, dr. king fought his last battle around economics. the man that has personified that who has been committed to human rights and civil rights and is an outstanding entrepreneur and an outstanding philanthropist. he is now head of vista equities. he manages equity capital commitments of approximately $14 billion.
and he's performed unequalled by any other in his field. he's been a firm supporter of not only causes in education and civil rights, but in opening the doors for others. and we are honored to honor him on this, the 30th anniversary of the martin luther king day holiday. will you join me in honoring robert f. smith. [ applause ] >> well, thank you t reverend sharpton, for that wonderful introduction. when he gave me a call and said that he would like to, and the
national action network would like to honor me. and he told me who else was being honored, i was completely intimidated. how would i ever follow his speech? and the attorney general loretta lynch, and the attorney general eric holder, and now dr. king. i must say, i think the greatest thing today that i really can celebrate as i have my son here, my nephew, my cousins, who actually get a chance to see the two black attorney generals in my lifetime. [ applause ] >> our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. these words were so powerfully spoken by dr. king during the height of the civil rights movement. and continue to hold great meaning in america today. his invitation to stand up for
what matters, despite the odds and despite the risks, holds great sail yens as we gather to check in on the state of the dream today. we live in a very fractured time. fear pulls us apart. and our future remains uncertain, the byproduct of a perilous presence. but all too often, we as a society focus on what divides us. we aren't focusing on the things that bring us together. and in light of these challenges, it would be easy to turn away, to feel daunted and throw in the towel and frankly throw up our hands in the face of the enduring struggle for equality. but to do so would fly in the face of dr. king's dream. it would cut against the great power and responsibility that he believed each and every one of
us had. and we have the power to heal the world through unity. dr. king taught us not to live in a culture that encourages tolerance, because tolerance is not enough. he taught us to covet a culture of respect, empathy, understanding, and love. in my family, we live by a very simple doctrine that was inspired by his teaching. you are enough. it's very much built on dr. king's lesson that each of us has a god-given choice and a god-given voice. and with that voice comes responsibility to serve, to strive for excellence, to improve the lives of those in your community and those who are less fortunate and to bring peace into this world. despite the many challenges we
face, i'm optimistic. because every day, beneath the headlines of division, are signs that we are giving cause to this noble action. i see it in the innovative programs we offer our young people in the stem programs, learning to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, and in efforts to expand their access to the arts and help them come to know to appreciate the great outdoors that is america. and in our work to preserve and cherish the vital fillers of the african american cultural experience. in short, i find hope in the work that each of you do, in the work of man, and frankly, the dream of dr. king's unity, equality, and opportunity are one step closer to reality with all the work that we do together. we will never become silence to the things that matter. we will always stand up for what matters and in doing so, we will
pay him a valuable tribute to the life and vision of the great man that we honor today. i want to thank you, thank you, reverend sharpton, attorney general holder, and attorney general lynch, for being who you are and in standing up every day for the rest of us. thank you. [ applause ] >> as we prepare to honor liz powell and eric young, our labor leaders, i want to acknowledge, i acknowledge an outstanding entrepreneur and a board member of national action network, the
only board member of naacp rainbow and the network, but his most distinct honor today is that he represents cam newton. [ laughter ] and if nate miles thinks i had to pray for him, i was praying in the fourth quarter yesterday for cam newton. yeah. but where he advises and counsels cam newton, he and i have a better coach than he is to him, and that's his mother. can you stand up, bertha mcmorris is with us this morning. that's our special guest. [ applause ] growing up in the church, we had bishops, attorney general holder, we had elders, we had
preachers, people that can preach but wasn't ordained. and i want you to know that the aflcio and nan has the preeminent jack led preacher in america, jay david cox, to present the next award. give a hand, reverendç%w? cox ie house. >> well, reverend, i would prefer to think of myself as a bootleg preacher. [ laughter ] i just don't have credentials. but i do believe that, you know, god calls all of us, and my mother did want a preacher. i can promise you that. you know, reverend al, last year, we were here, celebrating the sing holiday, and one of the
honorees was miss augusta thomas who was one of the original people that did the sit-in at the wool worth lunch counter in greensboro, north carolina. she wasn't able to be with us because she was wrestling with leukemia. but you know what, sister thomas kicked jim crow and she kicked leukemia and we love you, augusta, and we're so glad you can be here with us. [ applause ] and you know, it is such a great honor for me today to introduce one of our honorees, mr. eric young. and i know attorney general holder knows eric. these two erics have done a lot of good work together. it would be an honor on any occasion, but it's a special
honor to be able to link his name with that of the reverend dr. martin luther king. eric young deserves this award from the national action network, not only because through his work he is a living example of dr. king's dream for america. eric, know how much we love you. it's also because he's an exceptional human being. a person of great courage, principles, compassion, and righteousness. our nation's history includes so many, many examples. far too many examples of law enforcement being at odds with the struggle of the civil rights and equality in this country. we've come so far in so many ways, but the number of people who have been beaten and killed under, shall we say,
questionable circumstances, the number of times law enforcement has stood against those who were on the street fighting for their rights, fighting for their jobs, fighting for their very lives, makes eric young all the more remarkable. eric young is the elected leader of a very diverse group of law enforcement officers in the american federation of government employees. that diversity includes different races, different religions, different politics, different sexual orientation, gender, regions of the country, and, yes, different ideas about how criminal justice should be administered in this country. these are a very special kind of law enforcement officers. they're correctional officers in federal prisons. these are people who put their lives on the line every day,
doing one of the toughest jobs in america, incarcerating criminals. there are, and i stand before you brothers and sisters, clearly acknowledging as brother eric will, there are thousands -- tens of thousands of prisoners who are there for non-violent, drug offenses, but trust me, brothers and sisters, there are thousands of rapists and murderers and people who prey on children and the elderly, the worst of the worst. and correctional officers face them each and every day so that we don't have to worry. it is not often, brothers and sisters that one meets a leader of correctional officers who campaigns openly, actively, and aggressively for sentencing reform in this country. it's not often, brothers and sisters, that the correctional officer who speaks out against prison overcrowding because it
is inhumane for the inmates, and dangerous for the correctional officers and inmates alike. it is also not often that one meets a correctional officer who advocates for jobs and job training, and education, so, yes, inmates are able to behave better in prison, get out earlier, and return to society, be productive citizens, and enter the workforce and help the economy of this country. brothers and sisters, i am proud to tell you that afge is a union that believes so much in civil rights, and we believe in law enforcement, both are deeply engrained in our identity and our principles in afge. and brothers and sisters, i want to tell you, my brother, eric young, is the example of all
examples. he's our first african american president of our council of prison locals, we are so proud of that. but most of all, brother eric, i take so much pride in telling you, this day is a day about the content of people's character and you have the best content of character that i have ever seen in my life. brother eric, please know afge's brothers and sisters love you with all their heart. please come on down because you deserve this award, and we are so proud of you and the stance that you take for the american people for civil rights and for a better and greater america. [ applause ] i love you, i love you.
now, see, reverend al sometimes turns this pulpit over to me. now i can tell you one thing, i'm like reverend al, i'm gonna take that offering, y'all. [ laughter ] >> good morning. this is truly an honor, and i would like to give praise to one from whom all blessings flow, and that is my heavenly father, who is first and foremost in my life. i thank you, reverend al and the national action network for gracing me with the unprecedented opportunity for me to receive this martin luther king able leader weiaward. it's a humbling experience having this award bestowed upon me, in front of my daughter, this will forever be a hallmark
in my life. you all give it up for my baby. [ applause ] it's even more special to have my niece here as well. she and my daughter traveled here together. and now they're at the same college together. they are the first in my family to ever go to college. coming from the city on the other side of the bridge from miami where there are no beaches. i hope that i am the example to them and what is all possible, thanks to the leaders in this room who supported me and believed in me, my friends and colleagues alike. some here and some not here. next month will make 21 years that i have been involved in the labor movement, and it has not been an easy journey.
it's been very hard. and in fact, tumultuous as times. and like many people in this room, i lost hope many times. life's challenges included the death of two young brothers. i persevered only through trust and believing in god. only god. in part i got through it because of the wise counsel that he bestowed upon me, and you all know who you are. i thank you for being there. i thank you for calling greater out of me when i didn't believe in myself. a moment two short years ago, i was contemplating quitting. you sent me a scripture when i was dealing with the death of my baby brother. exodus 17, verses 8 through 13. for those who are unfamiliar with the citation, this is the story of moses on the mountain top, with the rod of god in his hand. and joshua waged battle.
when moses got tired and weary, the israelites began to lose, but they got a rock for him to sit on, to hold up his hands until the battle was won. clifton bucannon, robert rule, mike swanson, you have been able to sit there with me, supporting me through these two years when i grew weary and i was tired. i lost two, but god gave me back three. your prayers got me through, brother. >> like king, and you reverend, al, i learned to pace myself for long, hard-fought battles. i owe a lot to afge, the organization has an a sanctuary throughout my career. so it gratifies me to see many
members in this building here today for the ceremony. and i would be remiss if i didn't acknowledge my agency which provided me the livelihood to give me the opportunity to be able to put my daughter in college, the federal bureau of prisons. the acting director who is here today, mr. thomas cain, and assistant director, judy garr t garrett, i thank you all for coming and sharing in the moment. there are some people i worked with for two years, along with my other colleagues, to represent the largest federal law enforcement agency within the department of justice. and it's not easy to task responsibilities of 39,000 staff, finding solutions for an agency that incarcerates so many
offenders. because we do this so well, you all know peace in your communities. we are the people who protect the people in america. america spent $80 billion on incarcerating 2 million offenders. as criminal justice reforms come to the forefront, it needs to include preventive programs, and i'm a product of a prevention program, mr. alder. i attended mays junior high, i was a part of one of those programs for at-risk kids and dropouts. but here i stand. here i stand. forming a ring in the air in the halls of congress, i pray this is the new civil rights movement that will continue to make this a priority for all our children. our children are our future and far too many of them are losing their ways, being raised in single family homes, with family
members incarcerated. one such program today i helped organize and helped model at my home institution at the federal detention center in miami where we partner with the u.s. attorney's office and we usher in little schoolchildren just like i, to hear the stories of offenders who are serving time, and hoping to ensure they will make the right choice, not the wrong ones. let's try to keep our children who are our future out of prison in the first place. [ applause ] as a professional law enforcement officer, i'm ready for work, even among things that are not popular, like sentence reform. to make bop safe and to make my community better. cannot do this in our comfort zone. dr. martin luther king had a dream, but his dream did not allow him to live comfortably.
we are, and the urgency is now, as you've heard two attorneys general come up here and speak. at rosa parks funeral, al sharpton said something that stuck with me for many years. he stated that it amazes me that we act like we don't have work to do. reverend al, you are correct. we do have work to do. trust in the matter -- truth of the matter is, i would like to stand -- i wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for visionaries like dr. king and reverend al. so i accept this award humbly and on behalf of my colleagues who believe all things are possible when we come together to do the right thing for our peers and our community. before i close, i do want to acknowledge the former attorney general, mr. eric holder. you called me, and you met with me after my election two years ago, congratulating me on being the first african american
elected in my position, in my organization's 60-year history. to know that i served during an era with the first african american president of the united states, with the first african american attorney, with the first african american director of the bureau of prisons, who just recently retired, it's a momentous occasion, and now i serve with the first female african american and current attorney general, who was your keynote speaker. just unprecedented. [ applause ] i try to put god first in all that i do, and i believe he blesses me with divine favor to see things all promising. for a man who attended a dropout program at mays june wror high as a teen, for a man who wasn't raised with his mother or father, for a man who is
grateful to survive the streets of miami, on the other side of the bridge where opportunity were not readily available, for a man who lost two younger brothers, trying to inspire their two sons, i'm hoping to be an inspiration of those coming behind me in a similar circumstance, breaking barriers and ending generational curses. let's continue to seek the dream. dr. king's dream. thank you. [ applause ] >> as an only child, liz powell
was born in the state of west virginia and graduated assalute torrian of her class in logan, west virginia, where she received a scholarship and attended west virginia state university. she joined the postal service in 1970 as a part-time clerk, working in hempstead, new york, post office on long island, while at the same time working as a teacher's aide at the hempstead school district. she became actively involved in the hempstead local apwu early in his postal career, serving as chief shop steward and secretary treasurer. in 1979, she was elected the first female president of the hempstead apwu local, now known as the western nassau. liz served as membership as a national business agent from 1983 to 1989, when she was elected as the first and only
female member of the apwu national executive board. she believes that the membership is the most important faction of the apwu, and has consistently extended herself as well as the national business agents within the northeast region, to provide the state and local unions any and all assistance necessary to be successful. this woman is an amazing young lady. i think many of us in this room know her. that is why she's been awarded this year's breaking the barriers award. why don't we all put our hands together and bring up elizabeth liz powell, secretary treasurer for apwu. [ applause ] >> thank you. wow.
it's amazing how your history goes from place to place, right? i'm going, where did he get that from? [ laughter ] giving honor to god, special recognition to reverend sharpton, the founder and president of nan, to ebony and faith to make sure i had all the information to make sure i was where i needed to be this morning. to all of the honorees and to each and every one of you assembled here, good morning. i had a lot of firsts in my life, but here's one my apwu colleagues over in this corner don't even know about. my cheering squad. one month after arriving in new york in 1963, i attended my first civil rights meeting. where i became secretary of the long beach, new york, naacp.
that was a thursday. on that following monday, i was challenging a white establishment known as the rod littman real estate agency, who had gone on record for months saying that he would hire black, but no one had applied who was qualified and could type. that, my friends, became my first official job in new york. because i could do both. if you think about the subjects that those of us who attended the conference this weekend, you can take that moment, and you can take this one. and you can see that the movement created by dr. martin luther king in the fight for social and economic justice, civil, human, and workers' rights, is still an ongoing movement. although most of us remember the "i have a dream" speech, the
march on washington was organized to fight for jobs because it was recognized that freedom without jobs was not really freedom at all. and there's very few people today who know that the march would not have been possible if it had not been for the support of the labor unions. however, we are blessed and strengthened by one piece of sure and certain information and knowledge, and that is, there are no lost causes, that the fight is never over. that as long as we stand together and the blood is in us, there can be no final defeat on any battleground. that's why we have to keep the fight going, because if we give up the fight, we give up the struggle. and while we may not move mountains, if we do the work that falls to us, to the best of our ability, we may rest in the consciousness of a job well done. our message must be loud and clear. and more important than whether we win or lose is how we play
the game. but then on the other hand, how we play the game, determines whether we win or lose. as i progressed up the ladder in the american postal workers union, i stood on the shoulders of my brothers as well as those of my sisters, but more importantly, the shoulders of the american postal workers union. and i am deeply honored to be one of the honorees. because in reality, you don't just honor me, you honor the fight for economic and social justice for all working people. therefore, reverend sharpton, on behalf of my sisters and brothers in the labor movement, with special recognition to my president mark demmen steen, apwu officers, members and friends who are with me this morning, i respectfully accept this award and will cherish this moment as i continue to be a part of a movement that continues to fight for social and economic justice, and i will be with you.
sister pinckney, i know i don't have to tell you this, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. god is good all the time. you have a lot of love from those of us who express our sincerest sympathy. and if there's anything that we can do in any way to assist you, let us know. got bless each and every one of you, and thank you so very much for this award. [ applause ] >> on the next washington journal, former west virginia congressman alan mollohan on reforming federal prisons. after that, with six days before the iowa caucuses, our guest is benjamin ginsberg, former
national council for the 2012 mitt romney campaign. washington journal is live every morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern. you can join the conversation with your calls and comments on facebook and twitter. >> with just a few days of campaigning before next monday's iowa caucuses, what is the state of the race? a new republican poll out today by quinnipiac today showing a dead heat between donald trump and senator ted cruz. joining us from des moines is peter brown, thank you for being with us. >> my pleasure. >> walk us through the numbers. >> well, it's pretty simple. from a race that started with 16 candidates, you know, in the spring, we're now effectively down to two in iowa, ted cruz, the texas senator, and donald trump, the new york businessman. mr. trump has 31% of the vote. senator cruz has 29% of the
vote. that's well within the margin of error. so it's a dead heat. in fact, this two-point lead for their trump has been pretty static for the last three months, but, again, two points is the tie, essentially. >> and as you well know, the ke key question, who will show up on caucus night. so my question to you, who did you survey? >> well, we surveyed, likely republican caucus-goers, based on intention to go and history of attending. but here's what's really going on here, is that we in the media and all the politicians in the state of iowa and all the political types who make a living out of politics around the country, who converge on iowa every four years, are all waiting to see who shows up. and what's most interesting is that 4 in 10 voters -- 4 in 10
likely caucus-goers in our survey say they might change their minds by monday night. that's an enormous figure. now whether they do or not is a different question. but the fact that there's that instability, makes you wonder about everything that's gone on the last several months. and iowa has a history of candidates coming from nowhere to win the caucuses. remember, we had president rick santorum four years ago. santorum, a little known candidate, organized and organized and organized and got hot at the end, which is the formula for victory in iowa. and he won the caucuses, to everybody's surprise. and then not to a lot of people's surprise, basically his campaign just fell apart. and he obviously we've not had a president santorum. iowa is known for separating the weak from the chaff.
and that is really its function. >> and it's often been said, there are three tickets out of iowa. so let's talk about your poll and right now, senator marco rubio, far back at 13%, and the other candidates in the single digits. but with regard to senator rubio, do you sense any momentum? >> well, it's hard to know exactly. tell me whether the endorsement of "the des moines register" is a plus or minus in a republican caucus. that's a serious question. among republicans, the register isn't always that well favored. but clearly senator rubio's in third place. 13% is a lot better than anybody else is getting. everybody else is in single digits, other than trump and cruz. you know, can mr. rubio make up the almost 20 points he trails? unlikely. but anything, i guess, is possible. >> senator rand paul, former
governor jeb bush, dr. ben carson, governor chris christie, all in the single digits. any sense that these candidates will break out of the pack? >> not a lot of evidence. >> we're talking with peter brown, the assistant director of the quinnipiac university polls. what's motivating caucus goers to support senator cruz or donald trump, what are the issues that are driving them? >> well, in general, senator cruz is doing best among people who describe themselves as being very conservative or being tea party sympathizers or members, et cetera. mr. trump's ideological support is a little bit more diverse than mr. cruz's. he he's, you know, pulling from moderate conservatives and moderates.
but that assumes that this year, which has been a very unusual year, that voters will vote based on ideology, and it's not clear there's real evidence that's the case, that there are other things that may be at work. clearly mr. trump has attracted a lot of people who are, by their own description, pretty unhappy with the status quo. and the question is, does that cut across ideological lines? there seems to be some evidence that it does. i mean, to some degree, the unhappiness with the political establishment and the republican caucus, which have mostly benefitted mr. trump, is not hugely dissimilar to what you're seeing on the democratic side with the dissatisfaction with the status quo. the status quo is represented by
secretary clinton, and the outsider, the new, fresh face is 73-year-old bernie sanders. >> a breakdown of all of these polling numbers available online at quinnipiac.edu, peter brown the assistant director joining us from des moines, thank you for your time. >> my pleasure. have a good day. >> presidential candidates are in iowa this week, ahead of the iowa caucus monday. wednesday, republican candidate mike huckabee talks to voters at jeff's pizza shop in ames, iowa, at 1:30 on c-span. later to mason city, wa, where senator bernie sanders hosts a town hall, live at 8:00 p.m. on c-span 2. upon. >> now virginia governor earl ray tomblin delivered his state of the state address.
he focused on economic output and the need for the state to move beyond the coal industry. this is about 50 minutes. [ applause ] thank you. thank you. >> can we be seated now? thank y'all so much. mr. speaker, mr. president, members of the board of public works, justices of the supreme court of appeals, members of the legislature, distinguished west virginians and my fellow
west virginiaians, five years ago when i first addressed this chamber, i called on our state legislature to get to work and put west virginia first. although many things have changed including the makeup of this legislature, our commitment to the people who call our beautiful state home has remained steadfast. since 2011, we have created a number of new opportunities for future generations. and we have faced our fair share of challenging times. tonight our state is at a crossroads. and i stand before you with a plan that preserves the best of our past while charting a bold new plan for our future. since 2011, we have welcomed more than 250 companies and $10 billion in major investments, providing hard working west virginiaians with more than 11,000 good-paying jobs.
we've worked hard to create a business climate that makes west virginia a strong competitor for major economic development projects. and we're just not competing, we're seeing huge success. nationally and internationally, recognized companies like macy's, amazon, quad graphics and toyota already know west virginia is a great place to do business. and tonight i'm proud to announce polymer additive company has reaffirmed its commitment to our state and plans to expand. [ applause ] after receiving fda approval for a ground breaking polymer to be used in food packaging, the company was on the hunt for a new location to expand its production facility. major players from the gulf
coast actively pursued ativan, but our state's development office stepped up and showed company executives that west virginia is the right place to invest. this new expansion project not only saves nearly 100 current jobs, but it brings in at least $12 million in new investments and additional opportunities for employment. plastics manufacturing is just one of the downstream industries we're working to attract. and this expansion project is just the beginning of that growth. [ applause ] ativan chose to stay in west virginia because of our strong business climate and a highly trained, experienced workforce that is ready to get to work. these types of investments don't happen overnight. they're the result of the hard work and positive changes we've made over the years.
with overhauling our workers' compensation, and companies operating here have saved more than $323 million since the program was privatized in 2006. we reformed medical malpractice and improved our legal climate. we've enacted gradual reductions in our business and consumer taxes. and since i took office, we have saved employers and west virginiaians more than $225 million. [ applause ] this year we ranked higher than each of our neighboring states in this year's business tax climate index. companies are noticing these changes and they're paying off in big ways in regions across the state. this september, we joined officials from procter & gamble to celebrate the ground breaking of the company's newest manufactu p