tv 50th Anniversary of March on Ballot Boxes Speech CSPAN July 30, 2016 8:00am-8:50am EDT
think that problem can be solved by continuing to actively recruit and show people they can have a career inside the security. martin luther king gave a speech -- to commemorate the anniversary of dr. king's speech. representative dr. james clyburn a commemoration. this program is about one hour 40 minutes. proudave to say i am so to stand before you this afternoon as the daughter of this county, williamsburg county, to be part of this beautiful ceremony this
afternoon. thank you all for coming. [applause] what a beautiful day to make history again. ago,is very day, 50 years in this very spot, dr. martin luther king jr. came to king to deliver his march on ballot boxes day. it was may 8, 1966. mother's day, just as it is today. and now, we gather on these hallowed grounds 50 years later to remember that important day ree ine history of kingst williamsburg county, south carolina. thank you for being here to make this stage such an important occasion.
[applause] when dr. king spoke here on may 8 in 1966 on a rainy sunday afternoon, as you will see, it was his first major public appearance in south carolina. he only made three speeches in the state of south carolina. and if i am not mistaken, the other two locations were in charleston and orangeburg. but he came to king street first. and he came here after the passage of the voting rights act of 1965. he came as a result of mr. virgil demaray of the funeral home, who went to atlanta, camp out, took up residence outside dr. king's office for three days , how did his secretaries, until the secretary agreed to arrange
a meeting between the two. and when he left, dr. king was making plans to come right here to little old kingstree. [applause] we want to let you know before we begin the official program that we do have members of the local media, who are here today to record this important day in history. also, c-span is here -- we are on the national news, y'all. [applause] this ofn is recording them. it will be broadcast at a later date. water is available. we know it is hot. at the 10is set up here. you can go there to get a cool drink of water. volunteers are walking around, wearing navy shirts. they have on volunteer nametags. if you need assistance, please
do not hesitate to ask these ladies or men to assist you. and in june, the primary is coming up. if you're not registered to vote, please honor dr. king's yourself getting registered. you can do that today. there is a table set up here. it has the word "williamsburg" on it. the voter registration table is there. you can also register to vote today. brucecal author catherine is here, autographing and setting -- autographing her book. if you would like to know more about the civil rights movement from her point of view, you are more than welcome to do so. now, will everyone please rise for the presentation of this lors by -- the co
ann: thank you, gentlemen, and thank you for your service to our country. next, we will ask ms. pernerva thomas to the stage. she will be escorted by joseph mcgill and teri james of the 24th massachusetts reenactment group out of charleston. the 54th regiment was one of the first official african-american units fighting for the union against the confederacy and the slavery in the civil war. the story of these brave men was brought to life in the movie "glory." if you would please come forward.
dr. king could have been home , cooking her breakfast in bed and treating her the queen she was, but here he is with us. we are here on a mother's day. not sure which organization it is, but we do see people handing out carnations to the ladies, and we want to take this opportunity to say happy mother's day to all of the mamas, the big mamas, the grandmamas, the nanas, the as, the aunties, and everyone who serves as a female role model to a younger generation. i would like to ask reverend cooper to give the indication. he is a native of kingstree. he is one of 13 children. he received his primary and secondary education right here in williamsburg county. he graduated from the great tomlinson high school in 1962. years married to miss -- he is
married and has 2 children. he attended poplin university and received his masters degree from interdenominational theological center in atlanta and served as the same time as dr. king. he retired from the united states army in 1996, where he served as a chaplain. he retired as a pastor in 2010, and presently serves as a retired supply pastor at faith united methodist in the white oak community of williamsburg county. please join me in welcoming reverend samuel b. cooper. [applause]
rev. cooper: let us pray. god, our heavenly father, we thank you for this day and for our lives. we thank you for the legacy of this community. we thank you for your grace, your mercy, and your peace. we are those persons had division to ask dr. king to come to this community some 50 years ago. i thank you, oh god, because i was privileged to be here that sunday afternoon as we celebrated, in this county, a great day. thingsthank you for the that you lead this community and the men and women to do to make our lives better. that you will,
continue to give us a vision, direction, hope, and your weadfast presence as persevere towards a brighter future. look upon as with grace and love. with mercy and direction. and give us your peace, dear lord. we thank you for what you have brought us. and we have great hope in where you will lead us in the future. .e thank you for this day for all of the persons who have come this evening to lift us up. .e merciful unto them use them in a mighty way that they may speak words of wisdom to us that will give us the fortitude and the vision and courage to go on in the future. to make this county and this world a better place. christ our lord,
we give you thanks and lift you up this day, tomorrow, and forever more. amen. ann: y'all, i have to take a jerk of water. pickingt like a day tobacco. you see me sitting up on live news, sitting in the air-conditioning, but i remember that day's in the tobacco fields. the tobacco juice smacking you in the mouse as you're trying to get the tobacco harvested so you could get money so you could buy school clothes for the next school year. i am not afraid of hard work. i just do not try to run to it. [laughter] now i want to recognize some of our special guest who are with
us today. i am going to ask them to stand and remain standing, but i will ask you if you will hold your applause until the end. ourt, i would like to ask guest of honor, the honorable united states congressman james "jim" clyburn to stand. again, please hold your applause. mr. bakari sellers, our speaker. state representative caesar midnight. williamsburg county supervisor sammy paisley. -- the kingstree mayor. gentlemen ahese round of applause. there are any members of the williamsburg county council, and he members of any of the town councils in the williamsburg county, and if there are any other elected
officials, serving our country, state, or county, if you would please stand and be recognized at this time. [applause] we thank you for your service. now, this a certainly would not be possible without the vision, hard work, and the effort of the planning committee. it took a lot of people to pull this together. those on the planning committee to please stand, and i want to give special recognition to these four individuals. mr. michael allen, mr. billy jenkinson, mrs. cassandra williams-rush, and mrs. julia mcfadden. if you would please stand and be recognized as part of the planning committee today. we thank you for your hard work
and vision to make this day possible. [applause] we also want to thank the sponsors of this great event. without financial support, this day would not be possible. you can see the sponsors -- their names are being flashed on the screen. they are also in your program. i do want to say that i am very live five my station, news is a proud sponsor of this , event, and i want to thank the staff and management and the owners of my station for seeing fit to be part of this affair today. last but certainly not least, we have another very special group of people we would like to recognize right now. , but thesehere today folks were all here 50 years ago today on may 8, 1966 on that rainy sunday afternoon. everyone who was here on that
day 50 years ago, if you can stand, we want you to stand. if you can't stand, then please raise your hand. because we want to recognize you. [applause] ann: y'all are beautiful. thank you very much. and on behalf of everyone here today, thank you for serving as an important reminder that dr. king's message is very much still alive and well. now we will have the presentation of the essay and art winners. i would like to ask reverend alfred darby and dr. lynwood cooper to please come to the stage to present the certificate to the winners of the williamsburg county school
district's dr. martin luther king dream 50 years in action contest. >> good afternoon. on the half county school board and our superintendent, who could not be here, we are here to honor these students. alan -- and we express our congratulations to this wonderful program, which will go down in history for our beloved williamsburg county. we will also ask reverend hanrahan and members of the school board to come forward as well.
zazia thomas. carlos cooper. chalise scott. let us give all these young people a hand. [applause] for the work of dr. king is why we enjoy many of the rights we have today. thank you very much. >> and let me might add, i had a chance to shake dr. king's hand, standing right over there. [applause] [laughter]
ann: i could say something. but we are on national tv. i do not think i will say it. i will let that slide. i will let that slide. [laughter] my pleasure, everyone, to introduce our speaker for the afternoon. he is mr. bakari sellers. he was elected in 2006 to the south carolina house of representatives at the age of 22. he was one of the youngest state representatives, at the age of 22, and he was the youngest black elected official in the united states, at the age of 22. he served the 90th district very well from 2006 until 2014, and in 2014, he also ran for lieutenant governor. he is currently an analyst for cnn. his education has always been top priority for him.
he is a graduate of south carolina public schools. he also attended and graduated from morehouse college in atlanta. i see you have a brother in the house where. while at morehouse, mr. sellers was elected student association president. and by virtue of that position served on the college board of trustees. he earned a juris doctorate from my alma mater, the university of south carolina school of law. and soon entered politics worked -- working for united states congressman jim clyburn. he also worked with shirley franklin of atlanta and served with the southeastern regional director of the naacp. he has a very, very strong background and legacy to live up to. his mother, gwendolyn sellers, worked in higher education for more than 20 years. his father, dr. cleveland
sellers, whom i have had the privilege of meeting, has been a champion of civil rights in south carolina and served as the director of african-american studies at the university of south carolina. he is now the president of voorhees university in denmark. with the never-ending thirst of education and the undying passion on equal opportunity, mr. sellers returned to south carolina and hoped to consider the legacy of his family and also creating change for the greater good. you can read his entire bio in your program. but you all know the juicy news we all wanted -- darn it, ladies, he is off the market. he got married last year. he is still a newlywed. we are so happy for him, and we know that he still has so many great things to come.
ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm williamsburg county welcome to mr. bakari sellers. [applause] mr. sellers: good afternoon. i was chuckling, because when i came in today, they had a line that asked for your name and address. and beside it, they said "where ago?"ou 50 years i can only pray i was being thought of 50 years ago. my mom and dad always taught me -- and i say it everywhere i go important.y it is so my mom and dad taught me that the most important words in the english language are thank you, because they are not said enough. i see so many friends and family.
i see a hero of mine behind me. congressman james clyburn and his beautiful bride ms. emily , who i love and adore. and if i am on tv, if i am not doing right, i know she will be the one to tell me. and i see my senat, cesar mcknight. so many friends and family and from the bottom of my heart, i simply want to say thank you. i know it is pretty warm out here today. so i'm going to treat you all today a lot like elizabeth taylor treated all seven of her husbands. [laughter] and that means i'm not going to keep you long. [laughter] but i want to begin by saying thank you to all of those whose hard work and vision brought us historicther for this celebration. let me thank you for making this day possible and giving me the opportunity to join you this afternoon.
you see, i was thinking about the way i would feel. because when they invite you to speak somewhere, you often times ask who was the last keynote speaker at the event. at this one, they said dr. king. so, i was a little taken aback. but i come to you today very humble. i come to you today very hopeful. and i come to you today very hungry. i am humble in my company. i am hopeful in my heart. and i am hungry for change. how else can i be? to stand here amongst so many giants, not just of my community but of history. and pay homage to a man who through faith, example, and strength inspired us to stem the tide of bigotry and hate, to build a new world of opportunity together. how else can i be when he who gave the last full measure of devotion, so that we, too, could
rise to the mountaintop and find the promised land -- how else can i be when his voice echoes in my ears and i stand where he stood 50 years ago today. it is 50 years. that is 600 months. that is 18,263 days. that is 438,000 hours. that is 26 million, two hundred 90 8000, 720 minutes -- 26,298,720 minutes. and as i think about it now, i believe dr. king would remind me -- he would remind all of us -- that viewed from the long line of history, that moment is only a breath away. he would remind me to remember his teacher, the late, great dr. n'djamena elijah mays. as he used to say, life is just a minute. only 60 minutes in it, forced
upon you, you cannot refuse it. did not seek it. didn't choose. but it is up to you to use it. you will suffer if you lose it. give account if you abuse it. just a tiny little minute, but paternity -- but eternity is in it. dr. king would remind me that these two moments lie only a breath away. that he is with us here. and i'm humbled to be in his company. i am humble, but y'all, i am hungry. i am hungry for change, because while we have come so far to appoint like this we have not , come far enough. and dr. king would remind us that it is up to us to finish the job he started. you see, i came across a photograph not too long ago -- dr. donaldson i see you out there -- of my father before the
gentleman sitting in the white house, having a conversation with president lyndon baines johnson. my father was young. he was younger than i am now. and you can tell that he is nervous, sitting across from the leader of the free world, but there he is. he is tall and skinny. his arms so long, they make the sleeves of his jacket look a little short. it is a problem that we both share. but he is holding his own with the president of the united states of america. it was not until i asked him about it that i found out it was taken july 2, 1964. the president had just signed the civil rights act into law. i came across another one just the other day from 1966. it was a press conference in mississippi. the jacket and tie were gone, and my father is in a white t-shirt, looking far older than he did just two years prior. he was serious, he was stern, even angry. this was just days after the attempted murder of james meredith.
the march against fear, the student nonviolent coordinating committee, the mississippi freedom democratic party, the congress of racial equality, my father -- and who was at the microphone but dr. martin luther king himself. and they all put their lives on the line so today, this day would come to pass. , it is easy for us to go back through the fog of history with the benefit of hindsight and believe that somehow, this was all inevitable. that somehow, this was destined or preordained. the civil rights act and the voting rights act, briggs versus elliott, brown versus the board of education, edwards versus south carolina, desegregation, integration, the end of jim crow -- it's tempting to imagine history brought us here. but the truth is, history stands
still unless it is pushed. so when i look at that king preaching the promised land, my father at his back i do not see the tide , of history, the inevitable march for its equality. i see struggle. a constant struggle, a constant, relentless struggle to build a movement of change. then you think about those who would stop at nothing to prevent it. i see fire hoses and police dogs. men in uniforms wearing badges and carrying shotguns. i see violence brought on by people in hatred, bigotry, and fear. on by those who would be free. when i look at that photograph, i see one man later who would be wounded and a massacre and charged for creating it. i see a man who would be shot and killed in memphis, tennessee. you see, my friends, i was born in 1984. wasears after that picture
taken. and i saw so many of you all standing up here today who are at that moment 50 years ago. i was born after the storm that you all lived through. you know, you talk about the blood, the sweat, and tears. the struggle for freedom here the high cost that has been paid. the burden upon us all to advance the banner of the quality into a new generation. i think you all have the scars to prove it. as i say those words, i realized that there is more to be done. because i see that you all struggled in the middle part of the 20th century, it is mine at the onset of the 21st. it is ours right now. because congressman clyburn, back when they had a grandfather clause or literary disenfranchisement, i see voter id. they took away the all white jury and the lynch mob and left us with mandatory minimums and
stand your ground. the white hood and megaphone has a brooks brothers suit and a cable news show. and while my father saw the ghost of emmitt smith, i am haunted by trayvon martin, eric garner, michael brown, walter scott. for children killed in the bombing in 1963. nine gunned down in mother emanuel in 2015. carolina in south blacks make up less than 30% of , our state population. we are more than two thirds of the prison population. and infant mortality is nearly twice as high for blacks than whites in south carolina. in fact, a child is a better chance being born in sri lanka, lebanon, botswana, or cuba then being born black in south carolina. how many black children live in families where no parent has full-time year-round employment?
200-7000. how many black and hispanic 270 -- 270,000. how many black and hispanic children are living in or near poverty? 312,000. what is the leading cause of death of black males? homicide. imagine being 13 and never having seen the dentist. imagine taking the food off your lunch tray and stuffing it into your book bag, because you have brothers and sisters that are not in school, and if you do not feed them, they do not eat. imagine being one of the thousands of children in south carolina growing up in areas of concentrated poverty, the kind of backbreaking poverty that teaches you will never be more than dirt poor, so you might as well give up now. now, imagine you had the chance
to change that all. the truth is. in this last general election, roughly 60% of the registered minority voters in south carolina did not vote. millionll over half a ballots never cast. 532,679 black and brown voices were not heard. i want you to think about that. and while you do, realize if only half that number had shown up, right now we would have a governor, a lieutenant governor, two united states senators, members of congress, and lord knows how many state legislators all working with the president of the united states instead of obstructing him. imagine how different that south carolina would be. a south carolina committed to raising the minimum wage and closing the wealth gap. a south carolina where working families can go to a doctor when they are sick and not worry about going bankrupt. a south carolina where we raise teacher salaries and invest in new technology, because we believe all our students, all
our children, deserve the very best instead of barely adequate. imagine a south carolina where background checks are universal and dylann roof never got to kill our friend reverend clementa pinckney. we are not just hungry for change -- we are starving. four 50 years in south carolina, we have been starving, sustained only by the hope in our hearts, the hope that brings us together today, even though at the end of the day it is not about us. ,it is about the boy standing outside in the rain in the park because he has nowhere else to go. it is about reaching out and holding that boy close, because if we do not, gang bangers will. it is the 20-year-old college graduate looking for a good job and the 40-year-old father going back to school so he can find a better one. it is about all of the teachers and truck drivers and soldiers and store clerks coming back together.
because we believe he does not matter whether you're black or white, man or woman. we are all in this together because we're all americans, all south carolinians, all citizens, and this government answers to us. even more importantly -- i like to say that in my youth, i guess i am still a dreamer. but then i look around, and i see it is not just dreamers but , i see dreamers and doers. i see believers and activists. and while others trudge through the troubled waters of the past, we build a bridge to the future. where others see things as they " we dream of ay? time that never was and ask "why not?" that is exactly who we are. the people who, even in the depths and strain of that titanic struggle, still found the strength to dream. and even after 50 years, the dreamers' words still echo, because the world is all messed up.
the nation is sick. trouble is in the land, and confusion all around. that is a strange statement. but i know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. and i see god working in this period of the 20th century in a that men, in some strange way, are responding. something is happening in our world. people are rising up. whether they are in south africa, kenya, new york city, georgia, to severely -- mississippi, or tennessee -- the cry is always the same, we want to be free. my friends, i don't want to be angry anymore. i want to be free. i don't want to be frustrated and cynical and tired of facing the same old problems year after year with nothing to show for it . i want us to be the america we were meant to be, the one that
my father told me about. the one we dream about for our children. and 50 years from now, when my grandchildren ask me what it was like when i was growing up, the way my stepdaughter asked my father, i will be able to smile like he does, because even though he left work to be done, that world doesn't exist anymore. because we stood here today humble, hopeful, and hungry for change. to answer that call echoing across 18,263 days. and we marched forward together, because life is just a minute. only 60 seconds in it. it's forced upon you, you can't refuse it. seek it, didn't choose it. but it's up to you to use it.
you must suffer if you lose it. give account if you abuse it. just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it. more importantly, i have the great honor and pleasure of introducing someone who was here that day. that's amazing, because he is slightly older than i am. he was listening to dr. king's words that day. he answered the call, and he's been leading that march ever since. our representative from the sixth congressional district, assistant democratic leader and the third ranking democrat in the house, the first african-american elected to the congress from the state of south carolina since reconstruction. ladies and gentlemen, it is even more amazing to me -- someone i can simply call a friend. congressman james e. clyburn. rep. clyburn: thank you. thank you very very much. for thank you, bakari,
introducing and presenting me today. this happens to be an election year. waynesburg county happens to be in my district. county happens to be in my district. i hope i don't need to be introduced to the people of williamsburg county. thank you for being here. thank you, bakari, for giving such a thoughtful, well delivered speech today. i said to bakari, when the mistress of ceremonies asked if all the people who were here 50 years ago to stand -- i watched as my wife struggled to stand up. i leaned over to bakari and i said to him, "i cannot tell you how many times emily has been invited to stand for such an
occasion, but she did not bother to move at all." today, she stood up. that makes this day very, very important. i'm supposed to remember that day. and i remember it as if it were yesterday. charleston at in the time. i had graduated from south carolina state. in fact, yesterday, i celebrated my 55th reunion from south carolina state. where emily and i first met. we went from there to charleston to live, i to teach school, she to be a librarian. and several years later, i became the executive director of the neighborhood youth corps.
and, in that capacity, i supervised a staff of young, , black, and white people pushing for things to change. and so when the word went forward that a year earlier, a month earlier, that dr. king was -- i to be in kingstree had met dr. king while still a student at south carolina state as we participated in the sit-ins. in fact, i met him in october, 1960. and so, six of us got together.
emily and i, and two other white couples. we drove through stormy weather. when weever forget thought about turning back, because the weather was so bad that day. but we came onto kingstree. and though it showered, the weather permitted that program to go forward. the six of us stood over in the corner, kind of away from everybody. because we were a little bit apprehensive. it was 1966. we were in mixed company. and we did not know how people would react to us.
and so we stood up to listen to the speech on that day. i still remember up on the stage, my baseball coach -- he was the director of congress for racial equality. he had earlier lost his job as a principal in sumter and marion counties and had joined the day-to-day operations of running the congress of racial equality. i remember sitting on the stage that day. with others who had been a part of the court case in my hometown of sumter.
the naacp.v. when efforts were undertaken throughout the south to break the backs of the naacp. lawsuits were filed against them all over the south. and i remember, that day, reflecting on my mom's coming home from the courthouse after matthew perry defend the naacp leaders, all of whom were here on the stage that day. my mom said to me, "get in the car. i want you to go down to the courthouse with me." she was so impressed with matthew perry's defense of the naacp on that day, she wanted me to see matth