tv Washington This Week CSPAN October 16, 2011 10:30am-2:00pm EDT
bloodshed and non- violent redemptive goodwill will proclaimed the land. we will give our tired feet new strength as we continue to stride toward the city of freedom. ." this is martins looked toward the future as he received the nobel peace prize. as we gather here in this small, we celebrate this structure in which corporate america has contributed to the well-being. we thank god for the past and we thank god for the present but we look forward to that. we look forward to that day when justice will roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream will pour down that day when all god's children can rise, shine, and give god the glory. we look forward to that day.
activist, and educators ,nicky giovanni. the university distinguished professor at virginia tech and one of our nation's most widely read poets. [applause] >> in the spirit of martin, this is a sacred pole. poem blood has been spilled to sacramento it. that was a magical time. height of "silver away. here i come to save the day. i want the world to see what they did to my. no, no, no, i am not going to move. if we are wrong, than the constitution of the united states is wrong.
montgomery, birmingham, selma, four little girls, constant threats, constant harassment, constant fear f,clc, father knows best, leave it to be there, ed sullivan, how long? not long. th mr.oreau said to mr. emerson, are you going out to? this is a eulogy. this is a water. pos this is a thank-you to die and nash. this is a flag for james farmer. this is a doubt that i make it without you to elevator. this is for the red clay of georgia that yielded black and occurs, black men of vision, black men of hope. bent over cotton and sweet potatoes or pool tables and baseball diamonds playing for a chance to live free and breezy and have enough money to take
care of the folks below. this is why we can't wait. bett swirling mississippi when, the alabama time, the tennessee dust, the filing the clothes that women wash. we let the women know that we too must. overcome this is for fannie lou hamer, jo ann robinson, set to mcclure, daisy bates, all the women ba saidby, baby, baby i know you did not mean to lose your job i know you did not mean to lose the rent money, i know you did not me to hit me. i know the lord will make a way and i am leaning on the everlasting arms. how much pressure does the earth and exert on carbon to make a diamond to? how long does the soil push against the flesh, molding, molding, molding the bone -- the mons that become a cry. it is unbreakable, priceless,
incomparable. i made my about to the lord that i never would turn back. how much pressure does it send to the world to press against a part of a man who becomes the voice of his people? he should have had a tattoo freedom now or something like that. he said a braided his hair or carried a pool cue in a mahogany case and have that mechanism to laugh over skillet best fried chicken. this is a p sacred tooem. open your arms, turn p youralms up, feel the spirit of greatness and be redeemed [applause] . >> nikki giovanni, you should
see what is happening backstage. it is so fun. our morals are creditor a combination of public and private resources. -- our memorials are a combination of public and private resources. the chairman of the dedication and chief executive officer will be followed by tommy hilfiger, dedication co founder and cut designerr,od guillam, and chairman of the king memorial foundation. welcome and thank you, for a mr.ckerson. [applause] >> g,wen.
i am honored and humbled to be here today. at this truly momentous and historic event in front of the king family and such important guests. including my granddaughter emma. it is both a personal and professional honor for me to be here. as i look back on line life,two moments that i really remember it resonates with me -- the first is the john f. kennedy inauguration went to the embassy said ask not what your country can do for you but rather what your -- what you can do for your country. the mlk freedom march -- i have a dream that my four little children when they will live in a nation where they will be judged -- will not be judged by the color of skin but rather by the content of their character. qu twootes and these two
speeches at a profound effect on me and my life. is also a great honor for me to represent the general motors co. and a family of general motors. i am very proud that gm had a long and has a long, strong relationship that supports this item of as a memorial. it has been two decades in the making but today, dr. king takes his place in the pantheon of american heroes. it is a monument to one man's dream. it is a memorial to the people who sacrificed and risked everything up to and including their own lives so that generations to come with live together as equals. it does not mark an end. our historical ambition of
creating a more perfect union can, by definition, never end. as dr. king showed us, the power to create a more perfect union lies in each of us. un die, we can correct injustice. we can work for equality and we can work to improve and eliminate poverty in our country. we can do so with and all law and through the institutions that defined as a great. nation this tomorrow reminds us that not only can we make america better, it is our responsibility to make a better. on behalf of chevrolet and gmc and foundation and everyone at
gm, i congratulate and salute the king family come the mlk memorial foundation and all of america for ensuring the everlasting legacy of this trip. a great man -- of this truly great man. thanks [applause] you. >> please welcome dedication co- chairman and president designer and co-founder of the tommy hilfiger corporate foundation, tommy hilfiger. >> thank you very much a [applause] it is a special honor to join the king family, the martin luther king jr. foundation, and the many dignitaries as well as my fellow americans in celebrating the legacy of dr. king's. as i stand here today, i am reminded of what my father told me as a child, that there are two great men in this world m -- lk and jfk. at the time i understood this
statement was significant but did not understood. why as a grown man, a father, and a husband, i appreciate why and i appreciate the fact that these men were heroes because they held fast to their convictions. they chose the path cannot travel because they had a vision of a greater good. dr. king's message of equality inspired the mission for our corporate foundation when we started it over 50 years. ago little did we know that soon thereafter, we would have the opportunity to contribute to something as powerful as this memorial. for many of us as a company working on this project for over 10 years has had a profound impact. it has been a great honor and a great privilege and a responsibility as well to be committed and to be in it
wholeheartedly. it has united us in ways that we never expectant. what many of us find most inspiring is that this memorial will serve as a beautiful reminder for generations to come of dr. king's heroism. it is a lasting tribute to a man whose message must live on. on behalf of the corporate foundation and tommy hilfiger company, thank you for the opportunity and i think mr. -- and a thank mr.guy vggers led the company. thank you very much. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the chairman of the memorial foundation, a board of directors r,od gillam. [applause] >> good morning. this is truly a day that the lord has made.
this is a day that we honor a man who dared to stretch our imagination. he showed us that we could do more, that we could become more, and that we are indeed more. he lifted up a race of people and reminded us each day that the future is ours to design, what we stand for, what we value. dr. king not only give us a vision but also showed us the way. a man, the movement, as to this nation to embrace the message of common sense embodied in three questions -- what color is character? what race is achievement? what nationality is talent? and we needed for get a very important fourth question -- what price is neglect? he asked us to replace a climate of hate with love, justice, and
peace, an elusive peace. the stars agenda as words of his assassination shook the nation. today, he watches from a very distinguished chair of. honor though there are certainly dark days that must cause a regular rhythms and a part of this drum major of change, there are also bright days of joint and hope that sends the message that his work on this earth was hurt, was appreciated, and continues to live in the hearts and deeds of millions and millions. on this momentous occasion, my friends, as we pay tribute to our beloved dr. king, on behalf of the board of directors who brought their passion, hearts and souls to ensure the establishment of this memorial in his honor, we thank you for your support in your
communities, in your synagogues, in your church is coming your temples, and always of schools to the great halls of congress from contributions of 05 cents to 5 million. these thoughts and prayers, we will thank-you. without you and what we have collectively done together, we would not be able to participate in this truly one of the greatest moments in our. history god bless you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please look and the chairman of the martin luther king jr. memorial foundation, gary calger. >> good morning. dan akerson, tommy hilfiger, and dan gillam revealed something very telling about the moral and that is that everyone involved in this project had their own
story to tell as they looked back at the construction of this tribute to dr. king's legacy. fraternity brothers, our sons, construction worker, corporations, government officials, ,, and everyday people played to their strengths and contributed what they could. so today we celebrate how these many came together as one to see a dream fulfilled. as co-chair of the foundation's executive leadership council, i had the distinct honor to work side-by-side with incredible men and women dedicated to building an alliance of influences, leaders, and philanthropists who drove a national campaign to construct this all inspiring memorial that will forever grace our national mall. the road we traveled while amassing this support was not
always easy. for the core of our executive leadership council, it was a road we traveled for 10 years. this dedicated team made countless phone calls, arranged count -- hundreds of meetings, hosted events, and green banners throughout our nation all to remind our nation about the legacy we honor today. it was a decorative tiles to bid that required each of us to draw on what inspired us. i can say for me that inspiration came from my years as a teenager when i witnessed dr. king courageously lead our world and our country to a much needed change. i would like to also take this opportunity to specifically thank ambassador andrew young for his extraordinary work on the council which made today, in part, possible. [applause]
thank you. i would also like to thank general motors and tommy hilfiger for serving as tremendous early examples of corporate and personal support for this noble cause. thank you all very much. [applause] >> the 1955 montgomery bus boycott was a seminal moment -- moment in the civil rights movement. here to pay tribute to that historic event with an original composition entitled "bus pass " are grammy award winning by last. the violinist. [applause] ♪
♪ in all took the bus even if you, drove, or walked to the celebration got here by a bus. your gps may have guided do and your hair was condition but you still got here by bus. 55 years after the boycott, our feet are solved, perhaps manicured, definitely soil. >> we talk about the hardships now for it was a mutter of the king dedication or colder at barack's inauguration? >> we may have passed seven years of shoes this one weekend. ♪
to some of us a bus is lower than a subway. in 1955, that was our daily commute. the sister rosa did not have an ipod to block out the noise. >> rev. king did not tweet about monday's boycott plans. >> these crowds got there without the aid of a smart fun and there was more than an impromptu/mob trying to stop them. >> put that in your status update. >> they will be tougher by the time we finish marching today. >> you go home and tells the legend of today, tell your friends and family how you what a country mile and stood in line and did it with style because it was your duty to be here. ♪ that remind them the montgomery bus boycott lasted 381 such
>> this is the day that the lord has made in all are rejoicing and glad in it. [applause] every great dream begins with a dreamer. always remember you have within you strength, the patients, and the passion to reach for the stars in order to change this world. that quoote is from harriet tubman, a woman who really was the early champion of civil rights. the story of civil rights movement is the story of the women who at times discreetly always dedicated, and too often
with little recognition, stood up to tear down the barriers between fulfilling a dream and deferring it. this story of the women of the civil rights movement is a story of our mothers, our grandmothers, our widows and wives, our sisters and daughters who were powerful rattlers down dark lonely roads on the journey toward freedom and progress. they were pioneers. they were made, mothers, at least, at the present volunteers, and entertainers. they were incredible women such as harriet tubman and said turner truth -- soujourner truth. women can and all colors.
, from all walks of life, to stand with dr. king and other man of the civil rights movement to map out strategies of change. there were dorothy height, rose of parks, betty shabazz, caress scott king, and the countless unknown women who helped make all our lives more just and more equal. as we celebrate the dream and dedicate the memorial, let us remember a long line of phenomenal women who shaped the civil rights movement from this country's early days three today. let us remember to honor the women who came before us as well as so many, thank god, that are still here with us. they were powerful women, a
powerful role models for myself as well as for the next generation of not only women but you men, too. i have standing with me a young 12-year-old member of the next generation. [applause] her name is amandela which in zulu mains power. yes, indeed. so, i just have a word or two to say to amandela, that we are passing on to you the torch. you will be the next generation to pick up and carry on where i
and the rest of my generation leave off. god bless you and good luck to you. thank you. [applause] >> my knowledge of the civil rights movement is from what i have learned in school at what my parents have taught me. today, i want to honor four little girls of the civil rights movement. 11-year-old denise mcnair, 14- year-old addie mae colluins, carole robinson, 14, and cynthia wesley, 14. in 1963, there were killed at 16th street baptist church in birmingham, alabama when a bomb exploded while they were in sunday school.
i am 12 years old. those four little girls were my age. although they did not live long enough to be recognized as women of the civil rights movement, they should be part of that wonderful legacy because, as dr. king said at their funeral, they did not live long lives but they live a meaningful lives. i plan to live a meaningful life, too. [applause] thank you. >> it is now my pleasure to
introduce a group both women and men who, through their beliefs, have each brought change to the world -- sharing their thoughts on hope, democracy, justice, and love -- please welcome through blazing actress and singer diane carol, lee sonders, the rev. al sharpton, and children's defense fund factor -- founder marian wright edelman. [applause]
>> good afternoon. i cannot tell you how honored i am to have been asked to be with you today, celebrating in honor of dr. martin luther king. i am older than you think i am. [laughter] bless your heart. we try. standing here like a fool in high-heeled shoes at 77 years of age. [applause] so, you see, i knew dr. king.
and to talk about dr. martin luther king is to talk about hope. the first time i met him in the early 1960's, when i was about 12 -- [laughter] i was really struck by what a quiet man he was. always seemed quiet, but the first time i heard him speak, suddenly, it was is it if he was bringing up fire of hope over all of us -- it was as if he was bringing a fire of hope over all of us. we all needed, desperately, a man like dr. king to turn our hopes and dreams into action. he aroused in us a total
commitment to his dream, which drew 1/4 of a million of us here in 1963. in those days, i must confess that i was afraid to come to washington, because it was the south and it operated like the south. i was of little girl from new york, and not always scared the girl-- i was a littlte from new york and that always scared the hell out of me. i can remember good reason for it feeling that way. taking the train from new york to visit my grandmother in north carolina -- and it was here in our nation's capital that the conductor would ask me and my family to move to the "colored" car.
and i asked my mother why? what have i done? nothing, she replied. and dr. king said, nothing was not enough. we had to start doing something. and thanks to him, the hope he inspired, we did, and we are. i was introduced it to dr. king in brooklyn, one evening before we were to make an appearance on a radio program. he was very young and so was i.. -- i. because i was a young mother at the time, i felt old enough to ask him why a man with a family, with the white and children, was willing -- with a wife and children, willing to live as a hunted man.
even back in the 1960's, we all felt we would -- he would never lead to see his grandchildren. i will not forget, ever in my lifetime, the expression on his face when he explained that he had already put his house in order, that his wife and children chose to walk with him on this journey every step of the way. my grandmother from north carolina would be the first to remind us that even moses did not make it to the promised land. his god-given purpose was to show us the way. i say it was the same with dr. king, who showed us the way. [applause] and all his children and all his grandchildren are here to continue his journey together
every step of the way. i remember the day that we met because it was a little talk show, in the back of a nightclub in brooklyn. i thought, "why is he here? i do not understand. this is really not a very important talk-show." but he went almost every night wherever he could speak his word. and i will love him until the day i die. his memory is something that continues, at this ton in in life -- this time in my life, to give me the strength and the courage to move on, to not stop. i do not want to be satisfied with the little television show that i did, and i was a star, but i was pleased to be there. now i am no longer please. we have to own the damn station.
[applause] thank you. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the secretary treasurer of the american federation of state, county, and municipal employees, lee sonders. >> sisters and brothers, democracy grants each of us a seat at the table of politics and civic life. the force that should level the playing field, the promise that our voices cannot be drowned out by the powerful or the wealthy or the well-connected. i am proud to represent the 1.6 million members of my union, afscme, workers to strengthen our democracy by virtue of the jobs they perform every day in every single community across this country. in 1968, dr. king took his
struggle for full democracy to memphis, tennessee, on behalf of 1300 sanitation workers, afscme mmembers -- members. the workers were demanding respect, fairness, demanding to be heard. the fight in memphis became dr. king's last. he went because he understood the connection between workers' rights and civil rights. those striking sanitation workers were not simply fighting for better pay and safer working conditions. they were asserting a claim on our democracy. but today's attacks on workers rights and voters rights tell us the fight for democracy is not over. victories that for decades in the making could be undone with the government -- a governor's signature, legislative vote, or, yes, our own apathy.
it could make it more difficult for millions of us to pass the vote. they denigrate the democratic principles on which we stand. but we cannot, we cannot be discouraged. too much remains to be done. dr. king issued a clarion call, a call for equality, a call to make democracy reality for all of god's children, because we're standing on his legacy, we must continue his fight for the riches of freedom and security of justice. you know, there was a pastor in germany, an anti-nazi activist, who once said, first they came for this socialists and i did not speak out, because i was not a socialist.
then they came for the trade unionists, and i did not speak our of because i was i not -- out because i was not a trade unionist. then they came for the jews and i did not speak out because i was not a jew. then tehy ca -- they came for me and there was no one left to speak. sisters and brothers, we must always speak out. we must let our voices be heard loud and clear. we are not resting. we are not resting in the shadow of the king memorial. we are marching on! we're marching on till victory is won! together, let's restore democracy. let's restore the american dream! [applause]
>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome their rev. al sharpton -- the reverend al sharpton. [applause] >> thank you. we're here today to dedicate this memorial, but let us not be confused -- this is not a monument of those times past. this is not a memorial to someone who has passed into history and that is dead. this is a marker for the fight for justice today and a projection for the fight for justice in the future, because we will not stop until we get the equal justice dr. king fought for. dr. king was not just a historic figure. he was a conduit of the spirit
of justice. justice had been denied in those times. he brought us from the back of the boss. he brought us to voting rights. but we must continue to fight for justice today. justice is not trying to change the voting rights act and deny us in 34 states our right to vote. justice is not executing people on recanted testimony. justice is not sending children to school that are not -- schools that are not funded. justice is not 1 percent of the country controlling 40% of the wealth. just like dr. king talked about occupying washington, just as those who are occupying wall street, we're going to occupy and take those in that stand up for justice and retire those
that stand in the way. [applause] we are here to say that you're going to continue marching in the spirit -- we are going to continue marching in the spirit of dr. king. we marched through the streets yesterday. we gave one message. you will not undo the king during duty will not take away the voting rights act. you will not -- you will not undo the king -- you will not take away the voting rights act. you want us to balance the budgets on what is our entitled programs. you want to mess with the social security of our seniors. that's why, when we up to vote, do not make this a partisan. when you mess with social security, this is not obama 0--
about obama, this is about our mama! it are going to vote like we have never voted before -- we are going to vote like we have never voted. when we come to the stone of hope, let them come from all over the world to this stone of hope. were you fight in europe, in the middle east, africa, come here to the king monument and see the stone of hope. and when you walk through, you will see a man standing because we have hope and faith, faith that fed us when we were hungry,fai faith that clothed us when we were nekkid, faith that brought us to the white house
from the eric karros. -- the outhouse. we come here a trusting in the lord alone, his holy way. he never, he never, he never failed us yet! [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome marian wright edelman. [applause] >> we honor dr. king today in granite, but what's important is that we honor him tomorrow and every day, for as long as it takes, in transformed values, voices for justice, unrelenting nonviolent action to rescue his dream and america's managing dreams from the clutches -- vanishing dreams from the
clutches of militarism, racism, and poverty that he warned would undo america. in his last sunday sermon at washington's national cathedral, dr. king retold the parable of the rich man who ignored the poor man, lazarus, who came every day sicking crumbs from the table. the richman went to -- rich man went to hell, not because he was rich, but because he did not realize is wealth was his opportunity to bridge the gulf separating him from his brother and allowed lazarus to become invisible. he warned this could happen in america. if we do not use her vast resources to end party and -- poverty and make it possible for
all of god's children to have the basic necessities of life. when he called for the poor people's campaign in 1968, we had about 25 million poor people, including 11 million children. today, we have 46.2 million poor people, including 16.4 million poor children, who are the poorest age group. where is your voice to say, stop children falling into poverty? why have we normalized and let our leaders normalize child poverty and homelessness and hunger in america? stand up and speak up for your children and their future. honor dr. king by committed action to end job poverty. i have no doubt he would be calling for another poor people's campaign for jobs and income today, and we need to close the obscene gulf between
rich and poor been in our country, where the 400 highest- income earners made as much as the combined tax revenues of 22 states. they do not need a tax cut. speak up and make sure they do not take more from poor children. i will just tell you, do not as think we cannot move all of this progress -- losdo not think we cannot lose all of this progress. if we do not break the cradle- to-prison pipeline, we will have a new apartheid in america. speak up and rest your children from the prison-industrial complex. -- rescue your children from the prison-industrial complex. the day after dr. king was shot, i went into a washington d.c. neighborhood, urging children not to move. at 12-year-old black boy looked at me straight in the eye and said, lady, what future?
i ain't got no future. i ain't got nothing to lose. it is time for the black community, for all of us, to prove that boyd's truth wrong -- boy's truth wrong. and to honor the sacrifice of this great prophet of god, who died to help redeem the soul of america. dr. king is not coming back. we are in it. -- we are it. he told us what to do. let's honor him by doing it. god bless. [applause]
dr. king's fraternity. the idea of a memorial for dr. king was conceived in 1983, where so many ideas are conceived, at the kitchen table, with the group of our fraternity brothers led by dr. george c. lee. many began embracing a single vision led by a group of dynamic past general presidents that are here. i would ask that you stand and be recognized. all brothers of alpha phi alpha stand so that he might be recognized and so that we can link the world for their -- you might be recognized and so that we can thank the world for their support of this great moment. thank you. you may be seated. alpha phi alpha joined with fraternities across the country, federal and local government, people all around the world, all around a common goal, to build a monument
celebrating our borther as brother as a civil rights leader. we knew that our long-held vision would be realized. thank you to all of you who have helped us to arrive here today. thank you, mr. president. thank you, secretary salazar, for your signature. it is my honor, my privilege, and my pleasure, to introduce to you the honorable kenneth salazar, secretary of the interior. [applause] >> thank you, skip. good morning to all of you. on behalf of president barack obama and the united states department of the interior, i am humbled and i am honored to celebrate with you the birth of dr. martin luther king, jr.,
memorial, on the national mall, as the nation's 395th national park. [applause] in all of our lives, we have seen and understood the legacy of dr. king, that, as citizens of birth, we are all one people and have a duty to stand up for equality and justice for all. today, the department of the interior and the national parks service have the honor of serving as one of the custodians of america's history. we have a duty to make sure that all of america's story is told, not just a part of it. and with the dedication of this memorial, we are honoring a critical chapter in america's story on the march for civil rights and the struggle to create a more perfect union. dr. king pushed the struggle for people into the consciousness of america and the world.
million's a disenfranchised americans found a new hope, dignity -- millions of disenfranchised americans found a new hope and dignity. as i stand before you today, distinguished audience, my president and first lady, my vice president and his family, leaders of the civil rights movements, members of the king family, members of congress, my colleagues on the cabinet, i know we are all indebted to dr. king and those who spearheaded the civil-rights movement who came before us. they gave those of us in my generation the opportunity that have been denied to generations before them. i know that we are also painfully aware that dr. king's dream of equality and dignity for all people continues to elude to discrimination is the present in communities and places around our country and around this world. it is also at the root of the decisive battles over immigration -- divisive battles
over integration here in america. dr. king's struggle for civil rights continues today and is still very much alive. as we share his dream that one day we will all live in a world where there is dignity, respect, and justice for all with no exceptions. when our grandchildren and children visit this place, this memorial, they will share in dr. king's story, which is the story of america. it is a story that teaches us as individuals, in the face of centuries of injustice, people can summon up the courage to change the world. and in dr. king's own words, i say to you, "my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, i still have a dream. it is a dream deeply rooted in the american dream. in view of my humble vision,
with you and to be a part of this magnanimous and most historical day of remembrance for a man who was so great and so lovly. good morning -- lovely. good morning, christine. i am going to sking -- sing something that dr. king often requested. as a matter of fact, you requested it the morning that he was going to -- he requested the morning that he was going to -- for dinner. may we have the track, please? good morning, doctor.
august 28, that week we had a earthquake, and then a lady named irene paid us a visit. and it was indeed a dark day for me. but joy cometh in the morning. and what a glorious morning this is today. as i stand here and look across a transformed landscape, i see a wonderful example of what we can accomplish with this faith and with a stone of hope. we come together today to honor and celebrate the ideals of a humble man who understood that all humanity is linked together. and we come together to dedicate the martin luther king, jr., a memorial, our memorial, the
world's memorial. many of you seated here throughout this day and throughout this country have contributed years of your time, talents, and money, to help us build the memorial we dedicate today. it has been both humbling and uplifting for me to be part of this magnificent undertaking. our hope is that, through this memorial, dr. king's legacy will continue to touch those who walked with him, those inspired by him, and future generations who will get to know him. on behalf of the martin luther king, jr., national memorial foundation, i want to thank everyone for doing so much, so long to help us to arrive at this triumphant day in history. once more, i also thank you to
my family and my staff of the mlk memorial, a small group of folks who have worked tirelessly dream a r. king's reality right here on our national mall. it is with great honor and pleasure that i introduced to you the president of the united states, president barack obama. [applause] >> thank you. thank you so much. thank you very much. [applause] thank you. please be seated. an earthquake and a hurricane
may have delayed this day, but this is a day that would not be denied. for this day we celebrate dr. martin luther king, jr.'s returned to the national mall. -- return to the national mall. in this place, he will stand for all time, among monuments of those who fathered this nation and those who defended it. a black preacher. no official rank or title. who somehow gave voice toour -- to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals. a man who served our conscience, and thereby helped make our union more perfect.
dr. king would be the first to remind us that this memorial is not for him alone. the movement of which he was up part depended on an entire generation of leaders -- a part depended on and entire generation of leaders. many of them are here today. for their service and sacrifice, we all are everlasting gratitude -- owe our everlasting gratitude. this is a monument to your achievement. some giants of the civil rights movement, like rosa parks, dorothy height, rev. fred shovels worth -- shuttlesworth -- they have been taken from us. this monument attest to their strength and their courage -- attests to their strength and
their courage. we know they rest in a better place. there are the multitude of men and women whose names never appeared in the history books. those who marched, sang, sat in, stood firm. those who organized and those who mobilized. all those men and women, who, through quiet acts of heroism, helped bring about changes that few thought or even possible -- were even possible. thousands of faceless, nameless black and white people have brought us back to the foundations of the declaration of independence and the constitution. to those women, to those foot soldiers for justice, know that
this monument is yours as well. nearly half a century has passed since that historic march on washington, a day when thousands upon thousands gathered for jobs and for freedom. that is what our schoolchildren remember best, his booming voice across this mall, calling on america to make freedom for god's children, prophesying of the day when the jangling discords of our natio would be transformed -- discord of our nation would be transformed into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. it is right that we honor that march. that we lived up dr. king's "i have a dream" speech. without that moment, without dr. king's war is words, we might not have had the courage to come as far as we have -- without dr. king's words, we might not have
had the courage to come as far as we have. we might not have had the -- new doors of opportunity swung open for an entire generation. yes, laws change, but hearts and minds changed as well. look at the bases here and around you and you see an america that is more fair -- faces here around you and you see an america that is more fair and more free and more just than the one dr. king faced that day. slow, but certain progress. progress that expresses itself in large and small ways across this nation every single day. people of every color and creed live together and work together, and fight alongside one another,
and learn together, and build together, and love one another. so, it is right for us to celebrate today dr. king's dream and his vision of unity. and yet, it is also important on this day to remind ourselves that such progress did not come easily. that dr. king's face was hard one -- hard-won. it's run out of some harsh reality and bitter disappointments. it is right for us to celebrate dr. king's moral authority, but it is right to remember that progress did not come from words alone. progress was hard. progress was purchased through enduring the blasts of fire hoses and the smacks of billy
clubs. it was bought with days in gel cells and nights of bomb threats -- jail cells and nights of bomb threats. there were setbacks and a peak -- and defeats. we forget it now, but dr. king was not always considered a unifying figure. even after rising to prominence, even after winning the nobel peace prize, dr. king was vilified by many, denounced as a rabble rouser and an agitator, a communist and a radical. he was even attacked by his own people, by those he felt he was going -- who felt he was going too fast for those who felt he was going too slow, by those who felt he should not meddle in the vietnam war or with the rights of union workers. we know from his testimony the
pain is caused him, and the controversy that would swirled around his actions -- swirl around his actions would last until the fateful day he died. i raise all this because nearly 50 years after the march on washington, our work, dr. king's work is not yet complete. we gather here at a moment of great challenge and great change. the first decade of this new century, we have been touched by war and by tragedy, by an economic crisis and the aftermath that has left millions out of work and poverty on the rise and millions more struggling to get by. indeed, even before this crisis struck, we had endured a decade of rising inequality and stagnant wages.
and too many troubled neighborhoods across the country, the commission's of our poorest -- conditions of our poorest citizens of pierre little changed -- citizens appear little changed from 50 years ago. inadequate health care, constant violence, neighborhoods in which to many young people grow up with little pope and few -- hope and few prospects for the future. our work is not done. so on this day, we celebrate a man and a movement that this a much for this country, lifted us with strength from the dollar's troubles. let us remember that change is never that quick. change has never been simple or without controversy.
change depends on persistence. change requires determination. it took a full decade before brown vs. education was translated into the measures of the civil rights act and the voting rights act. but those 10 lawyers did not leave dr. king to give up. -- tan long years did not leave dr. king to give up. -- 10 long years did not leave dr. king to give up. even after the civil rights act and the voting rights act passed, african-americans still found themselves trapped in pockets of poverty across the united states. dr. king did not say that those laws were a failure or that it was too hard or to settle for what we have and go home
instead. instead, he said let's take those victories and fight for a living wage and better schools and better jobs for all those were willing to work. when met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, dr. king refused to accept what he called the business of today -- the isness of today. so we must think about all of the work we must do, fixing our schools so that every child, not just some, but every child gets a world-class education, making sure that our health care system is affordable and accessible to all and that our economic system
is one in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share. let us not be trapped by what is. we cannot be discouraged by what is. we have to keep pushing for what ought to be, the america that odd to lead our children. the hardships we make are nothing compared to what dr. martin luther king and his followers and did 50 years ago. [laughter] there is no -- [applause] there is no challenger cannot surmount. just as we draw strength from dr. king's struggles, so must we draw inspiration from his constant insistence on the onc oneness of man.
in his words that we are and a network. it was that insistence rooted in his christian faith that led him to tell a group of angry young protesters, "i love you as i love my own children," even as a rock glanced off his neck. it was that insistence, that belief that got resides in each of us, from the high to low, in the oppressor and in the oppressed, insistence that people can change, and fortified his belief and nonviolence and permitted to pay place his faith in a government that was short of ideals, allowed him to seek his charge as not only freeing black americans from the shackles of discrimination, but also freed many americans from their own
prejudices and freeing americans from marevery color, from the depredations of poverty. at this moment, when our politics appear sharply polarized and faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed of dr. king's teachings. he called on us to stand in the other person's shoes, to see through their eyes, to understand their pain. he tells us we have a duty to fight against poverty, even if we are well off, to care about the child in the depressive school, even if our own children are doing fine, to show compassion to the immigrant family with the knowledge that most of us are only a few generations removed from similar hardship. [applause]
to say that we are bound together as one people, we must constantly strive to see ourselves in one another. it is not to argue those things the paper over differences. it was true 50 years ago. it has been true trout human history. those with power and privilege saying thatdecriey, any changes to the current existence is otherwise. dr. king said that peace without justice was no peace at all. he also understood that to bring
about true and lasting change there must be the possibility of reconciliation, that any social movement has to channel this tension through the spirit of love and mutuality. if he were alive today, i believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of wall street without demonizing all who work there, that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with a union without vilifying the right to collective bargaining. he would want us to know that we can feel fiercely about the proper size of government with the knowledge that, in this democracy, government is known distant object, but an expression of our common commitment to one another. [applause] he would call on us to assume the best of each other rather
than the worst and challenge one another in ways that ultimately he'll rather than wound -- ultimately heal rather than wound. i hope that is what my daughters to kuwait from this monument. i want them to come away from here with the faith in what they can accomplish when they are determined to work for a cause. i want them to come away from you with a faith in other people and a fifth in a malevolent -- and a faith in a benevolent god. this statute, as benevolent is, it will remind us of dr. king's strength, but to see him as larger than life is to do them a disservice considering what he taught us about ourselves. he would want them to know that the they will have a setback
because they had setbacks. he wants them to another they will have doubts because they had doubts. they would want them to know that he had lost because we had all have lost. dr. king was a man of flesh and blood and not the figure stone. his life, his story tells us the change can come if you do not give up. he would not give up no matter how long it took because, in the smallest hamlet and the darkest songs, he had witnessed the highest reaches of the human spirit. in those moments when the struggle seemed most hopeless, he had seen men and women and children, for their fear. he had seen hills and mountains made low and rough places made plain and the crooked places made straight and god make a way out of nowhere. that is why we honor this man.
he had faith in us. and that is why he belongs on the small. -- on this mall. he saw what we might become. that is what dr. king was so quintessentially american, because all of the things that we endured, ours is the story of optimism and achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this earth. that is why the rest of the world still looks to us to leave. this is a country where ordinary people find in their hearts the courage to do extraordinary things, the courage to stand up in the face of the fiercest resistance and say this is wrong and this is right. we will not settle for what the senate stella's we ought to accept and we will reach again -- what the cynics tell us we ought to accept and we will reach again and again. that is the conviction we must carry now when our hearts.
as tough as it may be, i know we will overcome. another better days ahead. i know that because of the men towering over us, that because all of he and his generation endured, we have dedicated a monument today to that legacy. [applause] with our eyes on the horizon, let us keep striving, let us keep struggling, lettuce keep climbing toward the promised land of a nation and world that is more fair and more just and more equal for every single child of god. thank you. god bless you par. and god bless the united states of america. [applause] ♪
being in a dream, marching to make dr. king's birthday a national holiday. i knew then -- i touched the dream and saw it as i did here today, the monument. so congratulations, america. congratulations, the world. [applause] ♪ >> i can believe it's -- i cannot believe it. oh, yes, i can. if you're not clapping your hands, you better come on. ♪ ♪ we never did make much sense ♪ that we would be alone again
want a fence at us and your celebration minds that in our there ought to be a time ♪ that we would set aside ♪ to show just how much we love you ♪ and i am sure that you would agree birthday ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ have a birthday ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday ♪ i never understood never the day that
would be set aside for his recognition ♪ because it would never be ♪ just because some cannot see ♪ the dream is clear as he ♪ that they would make it become an illusion ♪ and we know everything that he said that time would bring ♪ let the peaceful hearts would sing ♪ thanks to martin luther king ♪ happy birthday ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ have the birthday ♪ we news sunday there would be a holiday ♪ we know it -- we knew some day
there would be a holiday ♪ we knew it ♪ tell me who knew like me and do ♪ it is love and unity for all god's children and long days would be spent ♪ in full remembering ♪ of those who lived and died for our people ♪ so let us all begin ♪ you know that love can win ♪ sing it loud again ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday to you
♪ have the birthday ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday, dr. martin luther king ♪ happy birthday ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ everyone, happy birthday ♪ happy birthday ♪ happy birthday birthday ♪ happy birthday ♪ happy birthday ♪ everybody, sing it ♪ happy birthday
ideas and many great words. in 1964, he said, with an abiding faith in america, he accepted the prize with an audacious faith in the future of mankind. but none of his words resonated like the ones you are about to hear now, the ones he delivered here on august 8, 1963, now known and recited by schoolchildren around the world, known as the "i have a dream" speech. >> and began [applause] >> i am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest
demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [applause] five score years ago, the great american in whose symbolic shatter we stand today signed the emancipation proclamation. this momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to many people -- to millions of negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.
it came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. but 100 years later, the negro still is not free. 100 years later, the life of the negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. 100 years later, the negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. 100 years later, -- [applause] the negro is still languishing in the corners of american society and finds himself and then selling his own land.
when the architects of our republic wrote the words of our constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every american was to fall aiheir. this note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to be ineligible rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. it is obvious today that america has defaulted on this promissory note is so far as her citizens of color are concerned. instead of honoring this sacred obligation, america has given the negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.
[cheers and applause] but we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. we refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. so we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. [cheers and applause] we have also come to this hallowed spot to remind america of the fierce urgency of now. now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. now is the time to rise from the
dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. now is the time! [cheers and applause] and those asking the civil rights, when will you be satisfied? we cannot be satisfied as long as the negro in mississippi cannot vote and a negro in new york believes he has nothing for which to vote. [cheers and applause] no, no, we are not satisfied and
we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. [cheers and applause] let us not wallow in the valley of despair. i say to you today, my friends -- [applause] though even though we face the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, i still have a dream. it is a dream deeply rooted in the american dream. i have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed --
"we hold these truths to be self-evident and all men are created equal." i have a dream that one day on the red hills of georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. i have a dream that one day even the state of mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be formed into an oasis of freedom and justice. i have a dream -- [cheers and applause] that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by
the color of their skill in but by the content of their character. i have a dream today. [cheers and applause] i have a dream that one day down in alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day in alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. i have a dream today. [cheers and applause] i have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low and the rough places
will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. this is our hope. this is the faith that i go back to the south with. with this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. with this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. with this faith, we will be able to work together to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. [applause] this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of god's children will be able to sing with new meaning "my country to is of the, sweet land of liberty, of the icing.
land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims' pride, from , let freedomn saiside ring. from the hilltops of new hampshire, let freedom ring. from the mighty mountains of new york, let freedom ring. from the mighty heights of the alleghenies, let freedom ring. let freedom ring from the hopes of california. not only that, let freedom ring from stone mountain of georgia. let freedom ring from lookout mountain of tennessee. let freedom ring from every hill and every mole hill of mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring. [applause]
when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of god's children, black men and white men, jews and gentiles, protestants and catholics, will the will to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "free last! free at last! thank god almighty, we are free of last! >> today is all about echos, to come full circle since 1963. we have come full circle since the hurricane irene. we will and with a benediction.
before that, we have a dream. on this day -- not on this day, but on this occasion in 1963, mahalia jackson sang on the same podium where you just heard dr. king's speech. and she sang the old gospel standard "how i got over." we will bring it to you today by the astounding and amazing jennifer holliday. [cheers and applause] ♪ ♪ how i got over
over i got you know i look back and wonder ♪ how i made it over ♪ just as soon as i can see jesus ♪ the man who set me free ♪ you know he hong, bled, and suffered ♪ yes, he died on calvary ♪ i want to thank him because he promised ♪ i want to thank him because he told me ♪ i want to thank god because he kept me ♪ i want to thank him because he
never left me givingt to thank him for me a vision ♪ i want to thank him for old- time religion ♪ and want to thank him for the holy bible ♪ i want to thank him for sending a revival. i will sing ♪ i want to thank him, lord, for being so good to me ♪ thank you lord ♪ i want to thank you ♪ thank you, lord ♪ feels so good ♪ you been good ♪ you've been so good ♪ you been good
you, with your neighbors. we are a microcosm of the kingdom of god. will you go with me in prayer? gracious god from one blood, you have made donations of men and women to dwell upon the face -- you have made nations of men and women to dwell upon the face of the earth. in you we live and move and have our being. so we thank you that in the course of human events you saw fit to send your servant, the rev. dr. martin luther king jr., born in the segregated south,
who yet believe in and fought for the promise and the grand experiment called america. we thank you that through years of toil and struggle his courage was undaunted, his spirit and broken, his faith unshaken. his face was on shaken because it was baptized in the bloodstained spirituality of the anguished nations of the subjugated people, speaking to god in their own voice. thank you for a slave ancestors who kept the faith in dark and difficult days when, in their own words, the words of the old spiritual, they could not hear nobody parade. but we prayed today. we pray for peace and justice and dignity in america and in the world. and as we pray, we are inspired
by the shadow of the ones whose presence hovers over us today. we hear his voice, not only here, " wherever the cry for freedom and human dignity is, from wall street, from a winding road in damascus were people cry out against dignity, from a prison yard in jackson, georgia, where people dared to cry out for civil rights and human rights with the simple phrase i am troy davis. dr. martin luther king said that anywhere there is injustice, there is injustice everywhere. we are inspired because out of this mountain of despair comes
this psalm of hope. rededicate it now to your glory and rededicate ourselves to your work. in the days ahead, when our children shall rise up and ask us in the words of scripture what mean he by these stones, we will tell them about the movement of a people that transformed not only the people but a nation. we will tell them about the god who calls us to the beloved community, the god who loves us all because we are worthy in god's sight. to that god, the god who loves us into freedom and freezes into loving, we lifted this prayer and we offer our very souls. let the people of god say amen.
carolina and virginia. if you missed any of the speakers are performers at today's dedication ceremony, you can watch them this afternoon starting at about 3:00 p.m. eastern time and then again tonight at 12:30 p.m. they will be archived on line in the c-span video library. in a moment, we will have "newsmakers" with pete sessions talking about the 2012 campaign. after that, the c-span series "the contenders," looking at the key figures. today is the life of al smith. >> joining us on this sunday, congressman pete sessions, republican from texas. thank you for being with us. >> glad to be here. >> jessica taylor and alan eisenstaedt.
let me ask you about the political environment. only 14% of the american people approve the job that congress is doing. in that kind of an environment, how you get republicans reelected? >> there is a lot of gridlock in washington. the republican-led house has passed a lot of bills. the democrat-led senate has done very little. the president is up on the hill or around the country proposing his agenda, even going to the american people and it does not look like we are achieving a lot. the facts of the case are, is that the republicans have a plan and the democrats have a plan through the president's agenda. and we do not agree. we do not agree on raising taxes. we do not agree on the epa and its assault on employers. and we are concerned about the threat of still higher taxation.
it means that republicans are attempting to craft our ideas and work with the president when we find common ground. we found common ground yesterday or the day before as we passed the bill, the three trade bills and trade assistance. when we can find things that we can work on together, i think we're very good. and i think the american people, as you see people camped all around the country, are asking for us, policymakers in washington, to do a better job. but the facts of the case are simple. as the president was trotting all around the country, including dallas, texas and including ohio and including virginia, he could not find one co-sponsor for his bill among democrats on capitol hill. and this has created some what of an illusion about what the president is for and what congress is for. the facts of the case or simple.
the president's tax bill, stimulus, a jobs bill is dead. it was dead on arrival and he knew that and he still wants to go around the country and mislead the american people about the direction we should be going. >> let's follow-up on that. jessica taylor? >> you led the committee last time. use of it it's a very different environment this time. two different polls this week showed republicans losing in generic ballot. you talked about how you want to make this an authentic cycle, too, but you will have to play defense. with the generic move against congress, how are you all preparing to come back against this anti-incumbent wave that sent you into congress? >> i think that is a fair question. the current assessment we're looking at, as you look at congress and then look at the president, you will find that is
the president, his policies and his agenda, which the american people are most frustrated with. people want congress to overcome the impediments. they want a jobs bill that would be a pro-growth bill, not a tax- and-spend and keep the american people at bay for jobs. what we will do at the national republican congressional committee is continue to highlight how we can work in a free enterprise system and the creation of jobs for the american dream all across this country. we had two elections on the same day three weeks ago. stunning victory for the republicans. when we go on offense, when we tell our story, when there's a difference between the two parties and an opportunity for the american people to point to the direction they want, the last time they selected to republicans. so we will find where those battles exist. we will go and tell our stories
and the democrats will tell their story. in a head-to-head match up, i think we will do well. >> alex. >> you talk a lot about president obama. i know someone's name has not been mentioned -- nancy pelosi. you spoke a lot of time speaking about her this time last year. as you begin to narrow your focus on the election cycle, will you be focusing more on president obama then nancy pelosi next year? >> we ran feverishly last election because it was nancy pelosi as the speaker. her leadership said that we would not read the bills. her leadership said that we would be about tax increases and the in our most assault that is still -- and the anbar most assault that is still passing the -- and the environmentalist assault that is still passing the president's bill. it will be my job and my duty,
which i would be very pleased to do, to highlight the differences between john boehner republicans, and nancy pelosi democrats to vote all across this country. if she is running, she will be fair game. >> why is compromise so hard? you're obviously -- you obviously have a house. the democrats have the senate. and you talk around the country and there is a sense that washington is dysfunctional. what would you do to make this work? to get domestic bills passed on fiscal issues in the economy? >> it is important to know that my committee is attempting to get people educated on the issue. the national republican congressional committee is after us to have a pro-growth agenda, a job creation opportunity. what i would do, if i were trying to push inside, i would
do exactly what john boehner is doing and that is john boehner is working very closely and carefully not only with mitch mcconnell -- because it does take republicans and democrats in the senate to move things -- and with harry reid. what i would do is find common ground for us to put into place something that is less changed and more stability, assurances to the american public and to employers about what they can count on for the next year so until the election is over. today, people do not know what to count on. people are planning probably for the worst. small business cannot get jobs loans. and the looming obama health care bill will dominate the issue. we are expected to lose some 800,000 net jobs with this bill that lays in front of us. that does not bode well for
stability. >> several veteran members are facing these intraparty challengers. what is your approach towards those at the committee? are you worried that even some of these could fall victim to a tea party tonsils were? >> what i am -- tea party challenged? >> every single one of these organizations found common ground with house republicans, stopping spending, calling our economy, or doing something that would be positive about the tax code, meaning that we would lower taxes for individuals and corporations. now we see all across the
country, not just in two or three, but in eight or nine or 10 places, very active agreements by these organizations tuesday after the same message, to make sure that we get it in the republican party. and we do. the tea party agenda and people who are attempting to work with republicans all across this country, their agenda is still alive. i think there is a natural thing for a brand new member of congress to be challenged his first timeout. expect that not only from the democrats, as they come after our first term freshman members, but we also expect that internally. this is a healthy thing. >> does it work against you at all? they are having to spend money early. >> it could. at this point, i do not think it is. the reason i do not think it is is because there's this constant dialogue that is occurring with people back home and their expectations of washington. we spoke about this early, how people are still dissatisfied,
not happy. so it does not bother me necessarily if i see some of our members. i think it is a reminder that our members have to go back home and sell the agenda we have. >> you and some freshmen are relatively new to politics and campaigning against washington. has it been difficult at all to get them in the mindset of having to run for reelection and raising money? has that been part of your job in the last year or so? >> i think it is challenging. anytime you take a group of 89 new republican freshmen and you take them and to speak with them about becoming a professional member of congress, about talking about the that they will have to make -- after role, we are not the senate. we will have to make these votes. they will have to go back home and stand on those boats and to talk about that.
sometimes, they're popular. sometimes, they are not. but the choices, when given, they have made the right choice. i think it is difficult when you tell a member to go through it all. please go work as hard as you can work and then exhaust yourself in washington. then please go back and do that again. what we tried to do with the schedule, as greg walden, the chairman of our team that put together the changes of what our new majority will look like, he insisted on as being home every third week. so we are in washington two weeks and home for one week. back in washington for two weeks and then back home. it gives our members a chance to put in voters' minds and people who elected them the agenda that we have, be open to hearing from them, and getting honest dialogue. we do read the bills before we vote on them. that means that our members are responsible for doing it and should know what is on the. >> i am not sure if you have given any thought to this notion, but would you prefer, if
you have the ability, to have members seated for four-year terms instead of two-year terms were you have the cycle constantly running and raising money? >> the bottom line is i am sure that any sitting member would like to be elected for life. our founding fathers understood this. but the house is closest to the people meaning that you do need to stand for election every two years. as time consuming and difficult as it does come at is the right thing to do things. we should have two, four, and 6. >> little over half the states have completed their a redistricting, but some larger states are still waiting, florida, new york, pennsylvania. as you look at these, what are your main concerns? where are your biggest
opportunities and worries? >> finalizing the maps through processes, illinois, california , and as these are finalized, it completes the bulk of the changes. arizona went through, what i would say, mindset changes once the commission came out with their map. there are others who are ahead. i would think it some point we would find out what the net would be. while there will be substantial changes, i do not think any party will hold a plus or minus to swing in any way before the aggregate of the house. >> in the last few months, there has been a swell of outside groups, like the ones we saw 2010, in this scene i
super pac's. what role do you see for party committees in the future, nrdcc, dccc. what role will party committees have in the future, do you think? >> the role i see is where we have a responsibility to our conference to make sure that not only are we prepared for the future with recruiting because i do not think these super pac's will recruit. they will not deliver the kind of inside information that is necessary on how to talk with a candidate, talk with their team, and prepare for what is ahead o. the daunting task for the competing for money will be there. increasingly, it will be more important to have great candidates who are able and prepared on their own not just to raise money but communicate
effectively. in the marketplace that changes so rapidly, the facts of the cases that it is upon the committees that, and now me, that we have bluechip candidates all across the country that are able to properly articulate what they are after. >> you have a big advantage in terms of outside spending groups and you expect that to continue into 2012, or do you think democrats will make up? >> it is important to remember that the agenda to help propel republicans in the house and in the nation was based upon the president and his agenda as well as speaker pelosi's. this next cycle, it will be about the president and his agenda. a few people can claim they would be an underdog with $1 billion, but it may be correct. his policies have not worked and have contributed to the loss of
jobs across this country. as best i can tell, no way around any substantial job growth until the immediate future unless we make changes in his policy and direction, so the president will be who we focus on. looking at the midterm elections, did these outside groups cloud the message that you're trying to sell to the voters? does it hurt what you were trying to accomplish? >> they focus on a narrow part of what they specifically want. for example, a good number of business organizations are hugely concerned about the epa. they are stopping thousands of work projects today in this country through state and municipal initiatives. they are stopping business. i think if you look at the dodd- frank bill, it will make banking
on the more expensive but cost the ability for small businesses to get loans and those organizations are speaking out about particular issues and subjects. it is not republican or democrat but policies that inhibit job growth and employment. >> jessica taylor. >> we have been through a special elections already. you have seen a turnaround. medicare was a big issue in the first new york special election. what was your time turning that around and looking forward, we have one more special election. what is your take on the organ first special election there? >> we viewed the nevada race as a jump off and it either team could win. he won by some 100 votes against barack obama.
what we viewed is that it was a chance for us to go and educate the voter and find out which policies they really wanted. republicans had been thrust into the position of medicare as a huge issue because it was democrats through the obama health care bill that took out $500 billion. when you take up $500 billion out a program, like medicare, it puts the financial footing of that program in jeopardy. republicans have a chance for us to go and say what we think medicare should look like to the benefit of seniors for long-term stability and in the longer view, who should make the changes and when should they occur? we have done that very clearly and we've talked about with anticipation would be. no one today 55 or older with have any changes in medicare, but the changes that do need to happen in the future must begin
now which is what republicans are willing to debate. >> we have another 5-6 minutes. >> there is a presidential race taking place, and is there a republican candidate right now you would like to see at the top of the ticket that you like? do you see as someone that to be a good leader for your party in this presidential election? >> today, if a poll were done, someone who is a republican that is on named as head of the president. -- unnamed. you need to put them behind one person, a man or a woman. what we are after is some who can effectively gather together the ideas of what republicans really stand for. we are for moving this country forward through a very positive
pro-growth agenda with a free enterprise system. the growth of small business. i think there are several candidates talking about that and i am not here to pick one. i would say that each and every one of them have attributes that would make our party stronger. it is about ideas and i am proud of what they have done across the country. >> let me ask you about your governor, rick perry, who entered at the top of polls in key states. and now you look, he is third or fourth. at this stage of the campaign, what has happened? why did he move to the top and now drop significantly? >> it has been an interesting ride. governor perry did come in with high accolades and attributes. in the scheme of things, including the people there, he has had to learn how to get his putting, and nancy and himself
in the midst of five, six, eight people. it is hard in that group to single yourself out. you'll see him do more campaigning himself with large crowds and will aim for these primaries. none of us think it is not hard. mitt romney has been able to master the questions well and has been able to mansart his responses even better. -- master his responses. a leader is emerging, but it is the voters of all of the states that will decide. that is why they count on republicans all across the country and look carefully at the type of leader we want. i think we will select a good one. >> after eight years of president bush and the similarities between bush and
perry, is america ready for another texan republican? >> they want a model which gov. kerrey does bring, strong crop growth, more jobs over the last five years created in texas than all other states combined. also someone pro-business whether it is a current supply of good employees, it has always been something that he has been proud of and something we aim for. lastly, competitive education meeting we will continue to have the students come out of school prepared to leave within the state to make employment better. i think that is a good model, something that president obama could not begin to enunciate. >> a quick follow-up from each of you? >> have you feel like you're recruiting has been going? can you give us a quick rundown, were you feel like you need more
candidates, where your focus is going into early next year? >> going into early next year, we are good. a couple of people have been pleased. there is an old man that is going to win this house. this is a competitive race in north carolina. >> this is my point. those that have been out there and have been seen as doing a good job are finding that they will have to up their game. where do we need to get better? probably by getting finalized. in florida, we have karen people looking at the orlando seat. if the lines are not drawn, it makes it difficult to be prepared. we need lines to form with candidates and we will be ready. >> can you name a couple of the democratic incumbents that you think will not be here two years from now? >> sure.
the state of north carolina, the state of georgia. i think if you look at illinois, california. there are members who will be matched up against each other. there are members who perhaps have seats that were competitive that they want, but they may not win next time. all of these lines have not been finalized. as they become finalized, it will become more apparent. north carolina and georgia are the closest ones we can say there will be a number of changes. >> thank you for joining us for this second go around. >> i have had more fun than ever. i get to do this every day and by the way it is raining in washington which should be an indication of success for republicans. >> our guest has been congressman pete sessions, chair of the nrcc. >> we continue our discussion
both on camera and as he was leaving. what did it take away? >> we were talking about what may be a bellwether for the upcoming elections as he pointed to an open seat that just came up and last week in the illinois 12th district. they did not see this as a pick up opportunity which came as a surprise to both communities and have already targeted is a moderate democratic district and republicans definitely have a shot there. we're seeing them put a lot of resources and to places like this in obama's times the next year. they think that can be toxic down-ballot in what was the strongest state last time. >> you're pressing about the outside interest money that we saw in 2010 and by all accounts an explosion in 2012. >> it was interesting to hear him talk about.
republicans are still way ahead in this game. democrats are trying to get their feet wet in this, but republicans seem to have a major advantage. it will be interesting to see where the democrats played their chips. did they try to protect the house, senate, or president obama? there'll be a lot of decisions they will have to make that will be pretty critical. >> recruitment and redistricting. >> democrats in this week tried to talk up the recruitment that it is really hard to tell exactly how well recruitment is going right now without an absence of how well their fund- raising is going. we are seeing democrats line up with a lot of candidates and as far as redistricting goes, we heard pete sessions say that it is likely to be awash in terms of who wins, plus or minus.
something that will be really important is that we will see redistricting firm up in already republican held seats to make it harder for democrats to craft an advantage in the house. >> they enroll 60 recruits this weekend in several key districts. the onus is on democrats after they lost 63 seats to beef up their ground game. the impetus is not so much republicans, but he clearly talked about some of the noncandidates they have gotten and are very excited about this. he is only 24 years old, in california. we will see more republicans coming up later, but with redistricting it is hard to see if kolkhoz picture come into scope until we do get all of these lines -- hard to see a
into scope.tcture come >> the dynamics between a midterm election between nancy pelosi and with the president at the top of the ticket verses' whoever the republican candidate will be. >> running against obama on these ads proved to work in an outer borough new york city seat. no one really saw it coming until the last weeks of the campaign so i think republicans continue to view that message. but they may not use pelosi as much. but there is no way to run away from obama as he tries to win as the reelection. >> final point man go >> and the onus -- final point.
>> the onus is on the democrats. they feel a lot of pressure. right now, we really do not have there information to savy is a storm brewing to allow them to take over the house. could it be? yes. it's not there yet. both keeping tabs of the house races next year, thank you for being with us on "newsmakers." [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> you can watch "newsmakers" again with pete sessions on the 2012 congressional campaign at 6:00 p.m. eastern here on c- span. tomorrow on "washington
journal," a look at jobs and the economy with james cooper of the "the fiscal times." then a look at the top races with jennifer duffy. then a look at the energy department's role in securing loans for energy-related projects with a ben geman of "the hill." >> from albany new york, the life of al smith as profiled in the c-span series, "the con tenders." >> i come here tonight knowing i am the underdog in these final weeks. if you know where to look, there are signs of hope. even in the most unexpected places. even in this room full of proud manhattan democrats. i can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me. [applause]
i am delighted to see you here tonight, hillary. [laughter] >> i was thrilled to get this invitation. i feel right at home here because it is often said i share the politics of alfred e. smith and the ears of alfred e. newman. [laughter] it is an honor to be here with al smith iv. obviously, i never knew your great-grandfather. but from everything senator mccain told me - [laughter] the two of them had a great time before prohibition. [laughter] >> of course i am delighted, but not surprised, by the final repeal of the 18th amendment. i have said all along that when it was properly submitted to the rank and file of our people, they would readily see that it had no place in our constitution. it would be very difficult if not impossible to explain to those who come to this country from the lesson taught to the
coming generation, to make it their business to see that no such matter as this is ever again made the subject of federal constitutional laws. >> you have been listening to the 2008 presidential nominees talking at that year's al smith dinner followed by al smith himself talking about the lifting of prohibition in 1933. welcome to "the contenders" series. we come to you from the state assembly hall in albany, new york where al smith served for 12 years before being elected governor and becoming the democratic nominee for president. our guests for the next two hours and the life and career of al smith, john evers. he is the former historian for the new york state assembly. he is a ph.d. candidate and is
doing his dissertation on al smith. we are also joined by beverly gage of yale university. she is the author of "the day wall street exploded." she is a history professor. if you could, set the scene for us to begin. 1928, the united states. what was going on in this country? what are some of the issues we will be discussing? >> the 1928 election is one of the most interesting and also one of the most vicious elections in american history. we have two candidates who really embodied two different americas that are coming into conflict in the election. so we have al smith, the subject tonight. al smith is urban, he is from new york city. he is an irishman. he is catholic. he represents a kind of immigrant, urban america that
has come of age in the last 30 years. on the other side, we have as a republican candidate herbert hoover who in many ways can hardly be more different than al smith. he is from the midwest. he is from iowa. he is very straitlaced. he is not urban. he is pious. he wears very starchy colors. these two men really encapsule some of the most important political and cultural clashes of that moment. clashes over prohibition. to some degree, clashes over the economy. in many ways, this turns out to be a cultural selection that hinges on which of these two americas is the america that will be voted into office. >> it was said that the three p's influenced this election -- prohibition, prosperity, and prejudice. >> i think they really do capture it.
>> we have al smith who is one of the nation's biggest critics of prohibition. it has been in effect for almost a decade. it has been a real problem for most of that time, and throughout al smith has said it is a bad idea not only because it infringes on freedom, but because it is causing a law- enforcement crisis. there are many people who are concerned about this. what is going to happen to prohibition is one of the big questions. we have herbert hoover on the other side. in terms of prosperity, of course, both of them are running in favor of prosperity. the problem for al smith is you had eight years of republican rule. first warren harding, followed by calvin coolidge. the republicans have a leg up on the prosperity front. you had the 1920's. it has been a boom decade for wall street and for large
segments of the economy, although less for farmers and agriculture at that point. i think the darkest part of this election and the reason i said it really is one of the most vicious elections in american history is our third "p," the question of prejudice. al smith -- i think most americans today are more familiar with john kennedy as a catholic candidate. that caused a real stir even in the 1960's. a real set of questions about the presidency. al smith raised all of those questions much earlier in 1928. it had already been a decade that had been seized with a lot of questions about immigration, immigration reform, the rise of the ku klux klan. those come into play. >> how did the role of catholicism play out? john evers. >> it was a vicious campaign. this was not new to him. when he ran in new york state, he faced it then.
in 1914, martin glenn faced anti-catholic prejudice. it showed up in the 1915 constitutional convention as a little bit of a whispering campaign. smith went into this years in advance of the election knowing this would be an issue. he addressed this issue in 1927 in his reply to the "atlantic monthly," discussing why a catholic man could be a president. it was a very good statement, but it was intellectual. it went over everybody's heads. it did not help his campaign. >> as mentioned earlier, we are in the new york state assembly chamber in albany, new york in the new york state capitol building, finished in 1894. we are also pleased to have join us a studio audience of albany area residents. some college students and historians, some people interested in al smith. they will also have a chance to
ask some questions about al smith and the 1928 election, as will you. we will put some phone numbers on the screen so you can start to dial in now. this is the 6th in our 14-week series. "the contenders," the focus the 1928 election and al smith. john evers, what kind of a candidate was al smith in 1928? >> he was a fighter. if you look at him and you see the short stature, the pugnaciousness of him, his gravelly voice comes out all across america. this is one of the first campaigns where radio plays a role.
he campaigns from the back of trains which is very common. he goes out there and he tries to engage in america on issues that are important to americans. they did not want to talk about those issues. prosperity was there so he could not say they were the issues -- he was not the candidate of prosperity. that was the republican party. he wanted to talk about water power. he wanted to talk about prohibition. he came out as a fighter. his speeches were well reasoned. on paper he was a fantastic candidate. but he was swimming uphill the whole time. >> beverly gage, the electoral vote count at the end. 444 for hoover, and 87 for al smith. which states did he win and why? >> it was definitely a blowout election. i think the real -- in some ways we can almost say al smith should thank his lucky stars he did not win the 1928 election. we might remember al smith's name a little more, but what would we remember him for? so it was really a blowout election. i think it was heartbreaking
for smith and smith supporters in part because it had been such a nasty campaign. a lot of the big questions of the election ultimately became -- was it simply the fact that republicans take credit for this boom decade and therefore, smith never really had a chance? was it a rejection of all the things smith felt deeply and stood for? i think smith really took that to heart. he was very concerned about that and the real nastiness of that campaign. he had some support but not a whole lot. >> there is a fourth "p" i want to talk about. that is progressivism. he was known as a progressive during his time in the legislature, as governor. did that play an issue at all? how are progressive politics identified back then? >> when you think about it, progressivism is a historical phenomenon.
it is a turn-of-the-century phenomenon. it really begins at around 1900 with, say, teddy roosevelt. he is our pioneer progressive. what it means by the 1920's is very hard to define in many ways. there were people who call themselves progressives who supported prohibition and were very impassioned about it. there were people who call themselves progressives who opposed prohibition like al smith and who were also very impassioned about it. the basic idea of progressivism is a sense that had come about, and al smith really did stand for, that you could use government in new and proactive ways to deal with some of the really pressing social and industrial conditions that americans faced back in the early part of the 20th century. al smith as governor and running for president really tried to make that case. he changes his mind a little bit later when the new deal
comes along. we will get to that. that was really the basic idea of progressivism with the idea that you could use federal power in some significant way to really change people's lives for the better. >> i think that is a key point. we talk about the new deal today. we talk about the programs and everything fdr brought in. when smith ran for president, he had experimented with these things in new york state. he was a champion of the labor issue. he was a champion of parks and recreation. he was a champion of hydroelectric power. he was wanting to spend money for the social programs of new york state. they were all forerunners to the new deal. in 1928, people did not want to hear that issue. it was overclouded by prosperity. there was a whispering campaign about his religion. he was an unknown candidate that had a thick new york accent coming out to the farm territory. even smith when he campaigned
-- he had one funny story. he was driving on a train for wyoming. they were about one hour out. he sees a horse out in the field. he says, we must be getting close to civilization. somebody said, that is a wild horse and we have one hour to go. it showed how much smith was out of his element. he was used to new york. i think the country was used to somebody other than a new yorker. they were used to calvin coolidge and herbert hoover. >> if you were elected governor of new york at that time, were you a shoe in or an automatic for consideration of the national stage? >> absolutely. al smith was nominated -- it was always the favorite son candidacies. when the first ballot thing happened in 1920, they nominated al smith for governor -- for president. it went one round and he dropped the votes. eventually, it was cox from ohio. in 1924, they really went out for smith. there were 123 ballots and he ultimately had to withdraw. in 1928, he won the nomination. all throughout history, the new
york governor -- this is even in modern history, the new york governor is automatically considered a presidential material. if you look at the people that have run and won, and those that have run and lost, you'll see new york all throughout the history. >> i was just going to jump in there. i think new york was just an incredibly important -- new york was one, and ohio was the other. it kept producing president after president. i don't think we have anything like that anymore. maybe we could look at something like texas. but it is not just within the democratic party. when you look at the republican party, all of these figures, teddy roosevelt, charles evans hughes, coming out of republican candidates. out of the democratic party, you see franklin roosevelt. new york as a state has two
machines really going. it has a pretty significant effect. >> two machines? >> the same as a machinist at tammany machine. >> the republicans had an incredibly powerful network as well. >> what is tammany hall? >> tammany hall is technically just the new york city's democratic party. the manhattan democratic party. tammany hall from the mid-19th century was best known as the machine of machines in urban america. it was identified as a primarily irish machine. a machine that really depended on the neighborhood power, word power, and that was as much about taking care of your neighborhood and the coming up through the neighborhood as it was anything really about national politics. tammany hall is the most powerful force in new york city politics at that moment, but really in new york state, democratic politics. >> how did tammany hall fit
into the 1928 election? >> that was the brush that painted smith into a corner. we talk about the religion issue. this started at the convention in 1928. tammany hall would go to the conventions and they would always have -- new york was a key state. it would nominate the democratic candidates. many candidates -- we had both a democrat and republican candidate from new york like teddy roosevelt ran against alton brooks parker, the chief judge of the court of appeals in new york state. one was a republican and one was a democrat. tammany hall was always seen outside of new york state and sometimes in new york state as a corrupt machine. it was seen as boss tweed. people like william jennings bryan would rant and rave about tammany hall. he wanted their votes, but he did not want a tammany man there. they didn't want them pulling the strings. eventually, smith is a tammany man and a candidate. it shocked many people within the democratic party. >> al smith lost new york in the
1928 election. >> he did. he had the sad fate of losing the race for president of the united states and seeing his hand-picked successor win for governor. fdr wins. it slips the dynamic of their relationship forever and ultimately, roosevelt winds up where smith wanted to be. smith winds up in retirement. >> we will get into that. beverly gage, when we asked you prior to the show some issues you thought were important to the 1928 election, one you mentioned was the role of the media in 1928. >> i think particularly for al smith, he has come to age as a media battler. particularly, william randolph hearst, they were after him and after him, one of the most powerful newspaper tycoons in the country. smith had a certain amount of confidence by 1928 that he knew how to fend off these kinds of
press attacks. ultimately in the election, one of the interesting things about the catholic issue is that we now understand it to have been absolutely crucial to this election. smith openly acknowledged it. a lot of it was done and talked about through innuendo -- john mentioned earlier about a whispering campaign. it was not something that would be said in the press, but the press would feed into these images. i think smith, from my reading of it, he was behind from the first with the press in part because there was so much coded language being used and in part because the press had this feisty, irascible personality that they liked to write about but were often quite contemptuous of it and really set a public narrative that did not afford him the respect he deserves. >> i think one of the things that is interesting about smith in the press is that he loved the press. he used to hold press
conferences here in albany, the press corps got to be very close to him. he had a great relationship of what was on and off the record. except for the battles with hearst and his newspapers in new york state, he really enjoyed that. when he left the safe confines of new york state and the whispering campaign came out, there were papers that were not friendly to him. it would not cover the issues that were important, and smith was greatly hurt by that. he was also not used to the media of the day. the pie plate, he used to call the microphone that you speak into -- he would speak to the microphone. he did not like to read prepared speeches. he would take out of this coat pocket an envelope. he wrote everything on the backs of envelopes. long after lincoln, he would have the custom, he would say, these are the points i will make. i will address the nation on these things. i will speak from the heart. when the campaign became more of a prepared speech, he was not used to that.
he was used to the old tammany hall way -- meeting people, greeting people, going out amongst them. >> just to jump in, you mentioned the rise of radio. i think that made a huge difference in how americans were able to perceive smith. he is this new york guy. i will not attempt -- will you attempt to do an al smith impersonation? >> i don't have a deep enough voice. >> a deep new york accent. but the fact that people could hear him, to many he sounded foreign. he did not sound like he came from a different country but he sounded different from them. that became another big issue in the campaign. >> this was the first time ever people were able to hear in mass media, their candidates, correct? >> yes. as radio started to get bigger and as the media started to circulate, tv came much later.
people would hear the campaigns from their ward leader, from the political machines, they would read it in the paper. they did not see the candidates, let alone hear the candidates. we have a candidate that comes out and pronounces radio as "reh-dio," hospital as "horse- pital," that added to the whisper campaign. people would say, is this guy an american? >> again, we are live from albany, new york. "the contenders" with al smith. this is our sixth week. he is the four time governor of new york. 1928, the presidential candidate for the democrats. now, throughout these two hours we will be talking about al smith, we will return to the 1928 election as often as our
callers want to. but we want to learn a little bit about where al smith came from. here is a little bit of al smith talking about how he was raised. >> i was born in a little house under the brooklyn bridge. the bridge was erected when i was a small boy. my father was at the opening ceremony. what he came home, he said, "i have just witnessed a great spectacle. at the same time, it was a very bitter disappointment." what did he mean? here is the story as he told it to me. he said, "son, this bridge has kept thousands of men working for years. the steel cables, the concrete, the wiring, the machinery, it costs millions of dollars. today was the opening. bands were playing. flags were waving. they cut the tape, and finally it happened." "what happened?" "they found all you could do was go to brooklyn." [laughter] >> this was the neighborhood where al smith grew up.
he raised his children here. he went to school right around the block, st. james, until eighth grade. his father died, and he had to go off to work and support his mother and sister. this is where al smith's accent came from. this is where it all began for him. it was all irish and italian. they came from over off of ellis island and settled in here. he got involved in tammany hall. it grew from there. >> the second speaker we heard was al smith iv, al smith's great-grandson. john evers, what is the lower east side and its importance for his career? >> i never knew vocal cords
could be inherited. that sounded a little bit like his great-grandfather. the lower east side is the southern tip of manhattan, a little on the southeast side. that is where smith was from. it was a port. it was not like it is today. there were ships -- smith wrote that was his playground. he came from an irish family. it is interesting. it is not well-known, his father was actually from german and italian roots, but smith used to claim he did not know this. he probably did not. he grew up in this bustling area. the center of his neighborhood was the catholic church, st. james. he was an altar boy. he used to work and sell papers. the sad part about his early life was he lost his father very young. he was about 12. his father was a trucking man. a teamster. he would cart goods from the
seaport up to the city. he died young. al never graduated, even from the eighth grade. if you trace his red book entries,which is the official biography, he always said he graduated from eighth grade, which was not true. he said he inherited his father's truck business. that also was not true. that might have been self consciousness of sitting around lawyers and doctors and businessmen from upstate. the real struggling diehard neighborhood shaped him forever, it made him tough. he enjoyed it. for the rest of his life, it was the catholic church, his family, and the democratic party. >> so he went through the seventh grade. >> he had to leave a month or two before graduating eighth grade. it was too tough. >> paint the larger picture. what was new york like and what was the country like in 1873? >> 1873 -- new york is growing increasingly different from the rest of the country in many ways.
at that point we are eight years out from the end of the civil war. in new york, you are beginning to see the city change in all sorts of interesting ways. in the 1830's and 1840's and 1850's, you have the first massive wave of immigration. that was from places like ireland, germany, irish and german immigrants had settled the city. by the time you get into the 1890's, you are getting waves of immigration from new areas like italy, russia, eastern europe. new york is really becoming the way that we think about it, a kind of polyglot city. this is really the age at which that is beginning to congeal and become an important part of the city's politics. as part of this, all of the groups are beginning to
organize. this is through the heyday of tammany hall, the irish machine getting its bearings in the middle of the 19th century. what were conditions like -- the lower east side is famous during these years, particularly as you get into the late 19th century as being the single most crowded place on the face of the earth. there are not much tenement regulations or sanitary regulations. it's kind of a free-for-all. you have enormously crowded conditions. often you have big problems with disease. sanitary conditions are poor. in many people's memories, you also have tight-knit ethnic neighborhoods which had some powerful institutions. you had churches, synagogues, labor union starting to emerge during these years. the lower east side at the
moment is a tightly packed, very intense place in new york. for a lot of the country, it is a symbol of the urban ills that are really beginning to press upon the country. industrial strife, overcrowding, poor working conditions, disease. for many people, this continues onto the through the 1920's. immigration is a symbol of the way the country is changing. >> i think in smith's day it was the same. he would talk about sailors from different countries. he would meet people from all over the world. there were sections of his area where he lived. there were russians, jews, people from italy, people from chinatown up the road. he lived in a little enclave that was surrounded by all of this. he would go over a few blocks and there would be areas of the
vice. if you go a block down the street, there would be ships from all over the world. this shaped his image. he thought he knew america by knowing all of these people. he knew what it meant to be tolerant and see different ethnicities. this was his world. later on when he went out in america, i think part of the shock was -- it is not all like this. he thought he knew -- new york state was -- when he first went to the assembly, he realized that he had seen a lot more in his neighborhood then what these people had seen. he could not bring everybody down to new york and manhattan. although he brought many members of the assembly to see, he said, this is how america really is. it is a melting pot. some of that came back to xenophobia, to anti-religion, his accent. it was almost a way of saying, you are foreign, you are not like us. >> he went to work in 1886 at 13 years old. where did he go to work? >> he had probably one of the toughest careers i have ever heard of. he starts by leaving early. he goes and sells newspapers.
he starts after school, i will sell newspapers. he gets a few dollars that way. it is not enough. his mother had to go and get a job the day they buried his father. she comes back from the funeral, goes back to the forelady in the umbrella factory where she worked prior to marrying al smith, sr. she gets her job back. it is not enough. she takes piecework home. it is not enough. eventually, he goes through a rapid series of jobs working in a small candy store that his mother was the proprietor of. he goes and works in a company truckspotting. he used to run along the south end and pick up different trucks for his company. he would report to them, don't come back, go to this area. eventually, he gets the most famous job he is known for. it is at the fulton fish market.
he got up at 4:00 in the morning, rolled barrels, shoveling crushed ice, coming home smelling like fish. he would go there at 4:00 in the morning and get back to 4:00 in the afternoon. this led to him getting a job at tammany hall. he was not getting up at 4:00, smelling like fish. the good thing about it, he used to take all the fish he wanted. he said, if you pile all the fish up that he and his family ate, it would lift the rafters off the capital and slide it down state street 50 feet deep. that was how poor he was. they gave him a lot of the free food. >> this is "the contenders" and we are talking about al smith. first off for our two guests, new york, wayne, you are on cspan. >> hello. the question is two-fold. i am interested in what al smith's role and commitment was
to the new york state civil services and labor. how he championed that when he campaigned on the federal level. what specific things did he do to help reform new york state politics, particularly the civil service and his commitment to labor. >> thank you. >> that is a really good point that separated al smith when it came to labor issues. in 1911, there was the famous triangle shirtwaist factory fire down in manhattan. smith was on the commission to study labor law. he became good friends with francis perkins, all the reforming labor activists at this time. in this very chamber, the labor laws that would regulate fire escapes, hours of service,
health codes, workers' compensation. hand in hand with that was probably the advent of civil service. being a tammany man, there were rumors he wanted to pack everything with democrats. but this became more prevalent as it got to the end of his gubernatorial career, the most qualified person should have the job. smith was well-known to having people in his cabinet that were republicans, that were not enrolled. people who had nothing to do with government at all. his highway commissioner was a military engineer who had republican affiliations. he wanted the most qualified people around. some of that lead into the civil service. he also wanted to have strong labor relations. he stood up for those that came to labor that were often shunted aside. the reactionary forces often embodied in the republican party fought him on this. he took that campaign, he had
the support of the afl-cio. the afl, i should say, the cio joined later. the afl championed him in the state but not nationally in the 1928 campaign. >> those issues that john evers was talking about, did it play out nationally? how strong were the forces behind the issues? >> i think al smith is a good example of somebody who was radicalized over the course of his time on a politician. he starts out as an unexceptional tammany guy who is not putting forth particularly creative ideas. no one knows much what he was doing as an early assemblyman. both through the social turmoil that he had during the progressive era and then through the triangle shirtwaist fire -- which does seem to have been this kind of eye-opening moment for him, 146 people died in this fire.
they are mostly teenage girls, mostly teenage immigrant girls who are locked in on the eighth and ninth floor. they are forced to jump to their deaths. he ends up on the commission. he becomes a true progressive in what i would say is the radical and not radical sense of that word. when he begins to work on the commission, they revamp fire codes, they pass legislation to protect women and children. he becomes an advocate of paternalistic labor laws, revamping some building codes. he is never a super strong supporter of grass-roots organizing. one of the things left out of
the triangle shirtwaist story is that there had been strikes underway at the factory and throughout the industry. that does not become something that he champions in quite the same way. he does champion legislation that will ameliorate industrial conditions. that is his stance by the time he is running for president in the 1920's. the 1920's are not a good decade for american labor. it is not one of the big issues of the campaign. nonetheless, he holds on to the progressive tradition. one other thing worth noting as well, i actually first encountered al smith when i was doing some research on a bombing that happened in new york in 1920, which was an attack on wall street at the time. i encountered al smith because he had just become governor, and this was during the midst of the red scare after the first world war. five socialist assemblymen who had been voted in from districts of new york were thrown out. al smith turned out to be a champion of their right to stay in the assembly. it was a lot of concern in the
wake of the bolshevik resolution -- concern over radicalism. al smith stood up and said they had every right to be here. he was a great champion and a new voice that was speaking out in favor of a broad vision of democracy at that point. >> knowing what you do about al smith, how do you think he would feel about the current occupy wall street movement? >> that would be interesting. he was an underdog. we talk about the socialists. smith would out there and took unpopular stances. he got up there in 1920 and told the assembly next day, i will put out a press release championing the rights of these people to hold their seats. they were flabbergasted. nobody would do that. we are in the middle of the red scare. these people are anarchists. the same with labor. smith would go and settle labor
strikes by sending state employees from the labor department -- in one case, francis perkins, a woman who had to settle an upstate labor dispute. he is not only sending government people, he is sending women now. he was unconventional. he was a wedge for diversity. when it comes to something like that, i think he would look at it and say, what is it for the good of the people? he was not a big champion of big business. >> francis in cincinnati. thanks for holding. you are on "the contenders" on c-span. please go ahead. >> good evening. i have been privileged to have gone to school in albany. i would like to know if you could address the financial banking that al smith had from john j. araskog, and the
contention that was because smith was catholic and trying to be president. >> francis, where did you go to school here in albany? we have several colleges in our audience. >> i went to the academy of the sacred heart on south pearl street. unfortunately, it has been closed and is now for sale. >> thank you very much. the financial question. >> araskog was a good friend of the dupont family. he was one of the key people in general motors. he was a multi millionaire. as i mentioned earlier, smith was not a huge champion of business. he voted as he was told to vote. later on, he drifted towards pro-business, that was after the roosevelt fallout.
he wanted to be involved in politics. araskog became friends with al smith. smith makes him the head of his campaign in 1928. much to the consternation of many people, they said this guy is not a politician. he is not active in democratic politics. why are you doing this? a lot of people thought it was because of the money. he also became friends with many people, bill kenny was one, rourden was another -- these new york irishman who made a lot of money and became millionaires. they gave smith jobs. at that time, smith wanted them as a friend. he brought a lot of money. >> i think it is true. the question that came up about what he would think about occupy wall street, it really depends what al smith we are talking about. as a young man, he is kind of a straightforward tammany
politician. he voted as tammany told him to vote. he is coming up through the ranks. there are no glimmers of greatness during those years. then he becomes a progressive politician both as governor of new york and when he is running for president in 1928. but after that, he takes a turn in which he becomes deeply hostile not only to the new deal, but takes up some of the kind of red baiting tactics that he had fought so hard against. in terms of trying to judge how he will respond to the social movements of his day, some of which were deeply anti-wall street, it depends when you run into him. if you got him at the right moment, he would be exactly as john said. he would be gesturing support. later in his life, he would have been calling them communists. >> before we got started, you pointed out where he sat in this chamber. this chamber.