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tv   Up W Steve Kornacki  MSNBC  August 25, 2013 5:00am-7:01am PDT

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membership brings out millions of us on small business saturday and every day to make shopping small huge. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. remembering the march on washington with those who lived it. yesterday tens of thousands of americans converged on the nation's capital to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of the 1963 march on washington. it was a historic event that spurred the enactment of the civil rights and voting rights act and one that is now remembered as one of the moral high points of american history. but that is not what political leaders, major media outlets and millions of everyday americans were expecting right up until that march began in 1963.
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they were bracing for violence and chaos. they were fearing strident and inflammatory rhetoric and they were convinced the main effect of the rally would be to inflict a grievous wound, maybe even a fatal wound, on a very movement it sought to advance. that is the context in which the march took place 50 years ago this week. context that can and all too often is lost to history. it came at a particularly crucial and politically sensitive time in the civil rights movement. three months before the march, in may of 1963, demonstrations in birmingham -- excuse me, demonstrators in birmingham, alabama, had been met with sheriff conner's violence, images of dogs and fire hose trained on peaceful protesters, horrified millions of people around the globe. in june a month after that alabama governor george wallace stood in the schoolhouse door and president kennedy sent in the national guard to desegregate alabama university. a speech in which he formally called on congress to pass a civil rights bill.
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>> we are confronted primarily with a moral issue. it as old as the scriptures and as clear as the american constitution. the heart of the question is, whether all americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities. >> hours after that speech, after midnight, medger evers was shot and killed in his driveway a few steps from his front doosh. civil rights leaders rallied across the country and pressed for meaningful legislation and they determined a march on washington, something that civil right leader a. phillip randolph, had been talking about for years was the way to go. but the political class in washington felt differently. kennedy told civil rights leaders in a june 22nd meeting that a march could kill the civil rights bill he was now pushing for, saying, quote, we want success in congress. not just a big show at the capitol. some people are looking for an excuse to be against us. the organizers were undeterred,
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though, and washington panicked. washington hosted massive crowds before but the scale of police preparations for the march was unprecedented. those were crowds of spectators, the police chief explained. we do not expect any spectators during the march. they will all be participants, on one side or the other, or they would not be there. sfz were told they couldn't take the day off. thousands of troops were placed on call. the march was on a wednesday, a work day. authorities weren't sure if they'd keep all the bridges over the potomac open. organizers were determined to prove these skeptics wrong. they appointed 2,000 parade marshals and ran drills ahead of time. >> we have assembled down here to take a physical look at the area in which we have to operate on wednesday. now, for the record, because i'm directed by the march committee in new york to say so, this is going to be -- police power. this will not a nonviolent group
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and you will use nonviolent rhetoric. >> august 28 th neared, the inevitability of the march began sinking in. that's when kennedy reversed course. if it was going to happen, he realized, it had to be a success, otherwise it would just give ammunition to those who would put down the civil rights bill. >> this is an effort, however, to bring forward to the strong concern of a good many citizens. as i said before, it's in that tradition that i meet with the leadership and in which i think it's appropriate that these people and anyone else who feels themselves concerned should come to washington, see their congressmen. >> the sunday before the march, that was exactly 50 years ago today, the executive secretary of the naacp roy wilkins and martin luther king jr. both "me press." this was the very first question they were asked.
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>> there's a great many people who think it's impossible to bring 100,000 negros into washington without incident and possibly riot. what do you see as the effect on the just cause of the negro if you do have any incidence, if you do have any rioting? >> and then the march happened. tens of thousands of people peacefully assembled, kault calling for equality for jobs and action, just like that the tone of the coverage changed. >> every prediction that organizers made that can be tangibly proved has been proved. they said it would be a peaceful, nonviolent march, and it was. >> i want to bring in bob herbert, former "new york times" columnist and distinguished fellow. robert mann, professor at louisiana state university and author of "the walls of jericho," walter fields, now executive editor of
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northstarnews.com, black public affairs news and website. jack rosin that wi rosenthal, j department aide to robert f. kennedy. thank you for joining us. bob, i was struck by "meet the press" 50 years ago this sunday. the automatic sumgts if black people are coming to washington, d.c., they're militant. >> militant negros, look out. to me part of the problem with over what has happened in the past half century, despite all the progress that has been made, i think not nearly enough, i think that there are not enough militant negros out there marching or do whatever else -- doing whatever else is necessary to bring economic justice, which was the underlying theme -- actually not so underlying theme of the original march on washington. i think that's one of the
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reasons blacks are having such a hard time right now. >> jack, i wondered, you were there in the justice department, being part of the preparations for really -- just take us back to, you know, what the climate was like that would lead the entire media to sort of think the way we just saw in that clip from "meet the press." what was everybody so scared of? >> scared is just the right word and applied in two different ways. yes, they were scared -- first of all, there had never been such a big march in washington before. nobody knew what to expect. there had been smaller demonstrations in other cities that turned violent, so there was reason for white people to be afraid of black violence, which really interesting looking back is how it wasn't clear to even the media or the government how afraid black people coming to the march were. they didn't know whether they -- in the wake of birmingham and other places, and yet they were
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brave. and the really unspoken think about this march is what courage it took for 300,000 black people to come to washington and expose themselves to who knew what kind of harsh repression. >> robert, you can take us back to just sort of -- we said the idea for the march on washington had gone back years, really decades with a. phillip randolph. the specific sort of political context of 1963 that led it to happen then. what was it that organizers specifically were responding to and hoping to achieve in 1963 and said, this is the time for the march? >> in part, they wanted the passage of the bill that kennedy had announced in june earlier that year for years and years and years civil rights legislation had been stymied in congress, particularly senate because of the southern senators led by george russell, and then passage of two very weak bills in 1957 and 1960. there was still a lot of work to be done. kennedy wasn't doing it.
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in all deference to jack and his boss, there was a lot disillusionment with kennedy who came in with great promises but was not doing what the civil rights leadership thought he should do. so, birmingham was a part of it -- >> what was kennedy's reluctance? was it political calculation of back then the democrats needed the south? the south was still a democratic region, more or less. was it just fear of losing the south? >> that was part of it. i think kennedy was concerned about re-election. it's clear that he was more worried about barry goldwater than lyndon johnson would be because of all sorts of reasons. kennedy was also a president who was elected with a bear majority -- not even, i guess a majority of the country. and he was in many ways not the creature of the senate that lyndon johnson was. so, he didn't know, i think, how to pull the levers of power, how to operate the senate like lyndon johnson who had run the senate as majority leader so
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masterfully and would do again as president. kennedy was tentative. i believe kennedy really didn't know how to get that bill passed. i think had he lived, it may have taken several more years to see a civil rights bill pass we eventually saw in 1964. >> we'll get to that later how the civil rights bill actually ended up getting passed. walter, it strikes me because kennedy's reputation today, people think of him as one of our great presidents and remembered for some of his speeches, as a courageous president. but the reluctance he had, that robert f. kennedy had, when initially faced with the prospect of this march, they didn't want it to happen. >> because the narrative has become a civil rights fable. we don't really look factually what the environment existed in 1963. you know, when we talk about the fear of 100,000 african-americans coming to washington, but we don't really talk about the uncontrolled rage of white segregationists. you know, the 1963 march was a moment of disciplined outrage
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that you had civil rights leaders, and we had institutions -- that's the other point we miss. you know, we had institutions, naacp, core, national urban league, that had done a brilliant job of organizing. you had a. phillip randolph. the march, while there was fear on the part of white political leadership, i think the confidence of the civil rights leadership was, look, we've done this before. we're just doing this on a larger scale. and it did take a lot of courage for that many african-americans to come to washington, d.c. in 1963, but we have to remember that it was a political event. it wasn't politicized. there wasn't any fear on the part of the civil rights leadership of offending john f. kennedy. it was the notion that we're coming to affirm our rights. i think we have to remember the march in that context. that it was a political moment that wasn't politicized because had you courageous leadership who understood that the only place they could come to secure those rights was the nation's capital.
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>> so, i want to ask, jack, who was there in the justice department while this was going on, i want to ask you what the sort -- what the conversations were like and what the thinking was within the kennedy administration confronted with this rally that was going to happen. what changed the kennedy administration.
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had been in power for a long time and had power. it wasn't just a case of kennedy wasn't able to do what he had to do. it was because these big obstacles were there on the hill. so design of the '63 act, which became the '64 act, had to be done with that in mind. i was there as a young press secretary. i don't pretend to have a policy role but i had to understand things in order to brief reporters. the scene in the room, in robert kennedy's big office room, 510 at the justice department, people coming in -- milling in and out all day. another thing people don't remember is there were no such things as cell phones. if you wanted to communicate there were a few precious walkie-talkies, but otherwise i had to hoof it back to the justice department. i remember being one of the early rovers and walking out among the crowds.
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everyone was nervous it was going to be a belligerent crowd. there was reason for that. even john lewis was preaching civil disobedience until early that morning. but we went out on the street. but it was not an angry crowd. these were respectful people. we came back and that realization slowly dawned on people in the room that, as you heard on the jfk film clip, with great relief this was going to be not just a political demonstration. this was going to be a monumental for wlak america. >> you mention the dixiecrats, white southern democrats, but we have a clip -- this was from governor, not a senator, george wallace, one of the preeminent dixie crats of '60s, responding to john f. kennedy, saying positive things about the march. >> the president has said this is in the great tradition.
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i shall look forward to being there, but at the same time, the great tradition, they have already alerted thousands upon thousands of troops in the area of washington for preparation for this matter and so this great tradition of marching in washington, on the one hand being invited, on the other hand, they're preparing for -- as if we were going to have a civil war in washington. >> i mean, bob, there was -- in 1963 everybody knows everybody thinks john f. kennedy is running for reelection. the question is george wallace going to run against him. for people that did not read through the era, hearing about george wallace, and reading about him now, it might be tempting to underestimate his political clout, what he represented politically. maybe you can talk about what the george wallace wing represented in the 1960s. >> wallace was an enormous deal.
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jack is right, kennedy risked if he stood four square in favor of civil rights, of losing the south. he had won by the slenderest of martins in 1960. so kennedy had in mind that there was a good chance he would be defeated in his bid for re-election, which would have been just a year later. one of the things that tends to be forgotten about the march is just how radical the leadership of the march was. king gets all the attention. and the speech was, in fact, the greatest speech i've heard. but the driving force -- forces behind the march was a. phillip randolph, who created the brotherhood of sleeping car reporters and russert, the guy who actually organized this tremendous march, they were socialists. and rusten was a passivist --
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>> and denounced as a communist. >> and denounced as a communist, exactly right. and the idea was that they thought, they had in mind, and i still believe, that you can't separate jobs and justice, that economic justice goes together. that you can't have real freedom in a capitalist society like the united states if you can't work, if you can't support your family. that's what they were trying to pound home. so you had to overcome legal segregation and all other kind of discrimination in order to get the economic justice that would ensure you could be a free citizen of this society. and that was perceived as radical in those days. >> that fascinates me as i read up on it. part of the story of the march sort of coming together, robert, was the message was toned down. john lewis was an example, i read an account of basically behind the lincoln memorial,
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hours before the rally is to begin, john lewis was in a heated conversation with other organizers telling him, don't -- you know, don't be that strident, don't go that far. it seems there was an intentional effort to tone it down a little bit towards -- >> there was. bob is right. it was very militant, even when it was toned down. and the speech was very pugnacious. lewis by my count used the word revolution five or six times, but so did randolph, who gave the first speech. he used revolution -- the word revolution about five times. so, that idea of revolutioning permeated the speeches that day. we all think of king and his speech, which was brotherhood of man and joining arms and dreaming of the day. but everything that came before it was much more militant. you're right, lewis, the afternoon bishop -- catholic archbishop who was going to lead the invocation to open up the whole thing was going to refuse to do it unless he refused the
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word patience as a nasty, dirty word. he wanted that out. so he did. the next day, randolph, rusten, ki king, all the giants of the program said, you have to tone it down because we're going to march through the south like sherman and burn down the existing power structure and that, you know, that would have in some ways -- >> that's what george wallace would have wanted. >> yeah. >> he would love that. and so king said, john, that doesn't sound like you. randolph said, don't ruin it for us. you read lewis today, not knowing what he was going to say, still seems like a very strong speech. >> we have a clip from john lewis' speech. let's take a listen. >> leader stand up and say, my party is a party of -- a party of kennedy is also the party.
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the party of jazz is also the party of goldwater. where is our party? where is the party to make it necessary to march on washington? >> i want to pick it up talking about being leaders of the march and some tensions that existed among them.
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we have to have participation on all fronts. you could have a john lewis make that statement. it was a radical expression for african-americans at that time to demand the right to vote. to come to washington, d.c. and demand any rights took a lot of courage. so, you had the sophistication that existed because you had southern leadership challenging jim crow and naacp. you had clarence mitchell on capitol hill walking corridors of power, trying to cut deals to make that sil rights bill happen. so this sophistication was also apparent in 1963, but we can't water down the radical nature of the moment. all of those leaders in their own way were very radical for their day. and i think this is what we miss about today. if you're an advocate, your job is to make power uncomfortable. your job is not to become friend with those in power or buddy up with those. your job is to make power
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uncomfortable. that day power was uncomfortable in washington, d.c. >> if i could add a point about the sophistication required just to pull off this march the way that it was done and to keep things cool and make it this wonderful moment in american history. so byard rusten, imagining the logistics of bringing folks from all over the country. these were not rich people. had you to have transportation. you had to have places for them to stay. you had to have facilities during the march. you had to get people away from the scene after the march. i mean, this was a tremendous undertaking, as jack pointed out, in an era when you didn't have cell phones, the kund of communications we have now and they pulled it off without a hitch. that was a very sophisticate thing to do. >> you probably remember there is a famous photo of the march, leaders with banners stretched across the street held by 15 or
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so black leaders. what's interesting to look at that picture now is here's a. phillip randolph, who had started this in 1941. and roy wilkins, whitney young and others. who's off way over to the side? martin luther king. in fact, i think we have the speaking program from august 28, 1963. i think we can put this up. there you go. number 16 in order, somebody named reverend dr. martin luther king jr. robert, that was -- we're going to get to king a little later. we intentionally not talked about him for now for this precise point, that until he stood on the steps of lincoln monument and made that speech, he was not going to be the star of the day. in fact, i think "the washington post" the day after, like in their 16 reports the day after the march, didn't really -- didn't do a story on martin luther king's speech. that wasn't supposed to be what people were there to hear. >> a lot of people missed it.
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although i went back the other day and looked at the coverage the associated press did in new orleans, for example. and king's speech, while it was completely absent from the pages of "the washington post," was on the front page of the new orleans times pacayne. i think up to that point the real story was not the speakers, although they were important and was not going to be king, is the crowd itself. that's the forgotten participant of this whole thing, is the crowd itself and what it represented. the threat, someone said in the opening part of your segment, militant negros. and they turned out not to be that. that made an enormously powerful statement to the country, which was on all three television networks. >> you were one watching on television. what was -- >> i was actually 18. there was a bit of holiday o atmosphere.
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it was during the week but it was a holiday atmosphere because it was on all three big networks and people were watching. in the african-american community there was this feeling unfolding, even before king's speech, this was a profound moment. something enormous was going on. there was a unifying aspect to it. i do think the crowd was militant if you don't equate militant with violent, which i do not. it was militant in the sense that african-americans had had enough. that they were going to go down south, they were going to go to washington, they were going to vote, do whatever it took to sort of redress these grievances. so i think the march itself was a galvanizing event, even as it was occurring on television for african-americans across the country. >> we will talk about the immediate political fallout from the march. we're talking about the march to civil rights and sil rights bill. ♪
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we talked earlier about the reluctance of the kennedy administration to get behind the march. belatedly president kennedy. the march goes off. it is a success. all of the detractors were wrong. it's the end of august 1963. obviously, president kennedy is killed a few months later. but within a year the civil rights act of 1964 is enacted. what role did the march play in that enactment? >> it played a diminishing role in some ways politically. i think that by the end of the year there was a lot of despair in the civil rights movement. what they expected that march to do had, at least before kennedy's assassination, had not come to pass. then kennedy is aassassinated a lyndon johnson is president. there's this moment, as kennedy -- it was clear the civil rights bill was not going to get out of the -- out of the house judiciary committee. it could not be moved.
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and we've suddenly got this southern president who is not been our -- has not been our friend historically. and it took a while for lyndon johnson to persuade people that he would exactly -- he would do what he said he would do. now, i think personally the most important civil rights speech of 1963 was not at the mall of washington, it was at gettysburg 1963, gettysburg cemetery when lyndon johnson went there and gave what i think is the strongest civil rights speeches of the movement and fully and completely identified himself with african-americans and what they wanted in the way of justice and economic equality and said, patience is not enough. we can no longer ask blacks to be patient anymore. not many people were listening but those who did listen knew they had a president who was going to be fully behind what they wanted in the way of a strong civil rights bill. >> how much -- jack, how much truth, looking back to that? i hear people make the claim -- we always hear about lyndon
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johnson, the legislative master. he understood the senate. he understood how to get something through congress the way john f. kennedy didn't. then i hear the fact he was a southerner. that he had been friend with the segregationists and he had credibility with segregationists through his years in texas. sort of like only nixon can go to china thing. i wonder how much truth to lbj taking over in '63, there wouldn't be a civil rights act in '64? >> the assassination, that shocked the country so deeply, and gave, as robert carrow says in his latest lbj book, it gave impetus to the johnson administration. then in the next 12 weeks or 16 weeks, an incredible array of legislation passed on that wave of national shock, of which this was a major component. but there were also -- bob can
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tell us -- one major piece of legislation after another johnson was able to get through, riding the wave of national sympathy. >> walter, how do you assess the legacies of kennedy and johnson when it comes to civil rights? >> i think the thing we're missing is the fact there was a violent reaction in the south after the march on washington. i mean, we saw violence, we saw the bombing in birmingham. so, the south exploded after the '63 march. and i think -- you think, i think lyndon johnson when he became president, i think he had two enormous burdens. one was the burden of jack kennedy. here is this icon who has been assassinated as a young man. the other burden was, as being from the south, he was watching the south go up in flames. so i think johnson understood the moment. that's why that speech at gettysburg was so important. johnson's speech at gettysburg, if you listen to it, it mimics a lot of what dr. king said at the march on washington. the whole notion that we've run
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out of time. we can't be patient. we can't afford to be patient. lyndon johnson at that moment understands what he has on his hands. the country is getting ready to go virtually into another civil war. so lyndon johnson at that moment became presidential. he rose to the occasion. >> you remember what he said at the signing of the '64 act? he said, i've just given the south to the republicans for the next 30 years. >> he underestimated -- >> '64, the stat that always jumps out at me -- so republicans in '64 nominated barry goldwater who joins the filibuster against civil rights. the state of mississippi, which had given fdr something like 95% of the vote gave goldwater 84% in 1964, the guy who participated in the filibuster. >> then the voting rights act of '65 was so important because that changed the face of government in the united states. just like you may have handed the south over to the gop for
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all those decades, but you really changed -- you changed the united states of america, you know, i think as a result of the better. >> he might have changed party labels but we need to understand that, you know, racism is racism, no matter if it's a democrat or republican. so, the notion that he signed the party away for 30 years, you know, brings me back to the moment of, what's your responsibility of the civil rights leader? that that was a political calculation that lindyn lyndon made. so, yes, this may cost the democratic party, but eventually we believe it's going to benefit the nation. that's where we are today. >> it is interesting -- what it really did, we say it signed the south away for democrats. in a lot of ways it did. but it sorted out the parties. we forget there were liberal
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republicans, moderate republicans from the north, we would now call democrats. i want to thank robert mann, martin luther king, the man we didn't on purpose talk about much here. we will next. he's one of the most admired americans of all time. it wasn't always that way. [ female announcer ] birdhouse plans. nacho pans. glass on floors. daily chores. for the little mishaps you feel use neosporin to help you heal. it kills germs so you heal four days faster. neosporin. use with band-aid brand bandages.
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and you know what i walked out with? [ slurps ] [ dad ] a new passat. [ dad ] 0% apr. 60 months. done and done. [ dad ] in that driveway, is a german-engineered piece of awesome. that i got for 0% apr. good one, dad. thank you, dalton. [ male announcer ] it's the car you won't stop talking about. ever. hurry in to the volkswagen best. thing. ever. event. and get 0% apr for 60 months, now until september 3rd. that's the power of german engineering. the 20th century was winding down in 1999 and the gallup organization took a poll. think back over the last 100 years of human history, americans were told, and tell us what one person you most admire. of name you'd expect to make the list was probably there. nelson mandela came in at 14th.
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gandhi was number 13. churchill was ten. fdr was sixth. einstein was fourth. at the very top it was a close call with first place going to mother teresa and second going to martin luther king jr. it's not like that was a surprise or something. if you took the same poll again today, martin luther king would probably finish close to the top once again. he really is wrun of the most revered and admired figures of american history. but now take a look back at this. it's the gallup's annual list of the ten most admired americans from 1967. this is the last for the last full year martin luther king was ali alive. billy graham made it. dirkson made it, george wallace, arch segregationist, even he cracked the top ten. but martin luther king was nowhere to be found. we can put numbers on this, too. gallup used to something use call the scaleometer used to
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measure the popularity of public figures. it tested martin luther king in 1966. the results came back, 63 negative, 32% positive. a difference of 2 to 1. this raises two questions. the man who seemed to inspire the whole country, or at least clear majority with his "i have a dream" speech ended up with a battered reputation a few years later. probably has something to do with what king did after the march on washington, after the civil rights law became right. after he shifted from out of the south, into chicago, into issues of economic justice. when he became an early and unsparing critic of the vietnam war. there were always americans with backward racial attitudes who despised martin luther king. but that activism purred many of the day's modern stream and moderate voices to turn on him, too. when king bemoaned, "the
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washington post" editorialized he deminimumished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people. the better question is how king went from that, from being pillared by main stream voiceses, disliked bit majority of the country to being the universally admired man we think of today. it certainly took a while. five years after his murder, illinois became the first state to create a martin luther king holiday. massachusetts followed and other states followed them. but there was resistance, lots of it. the holiday push went national in the early 198 0s. a bill to make the third monday in january a federal holiday martin luther king day. one of ronald reagan's allies on the right, jesse helms smeared king with innuendo. hoover's fbi spied on king the last six years of his life. the records wouldn't be unsealed
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for records to come with no evidence, helms asserted those records would show king was not a loyal american. and on the eve of the senate vote, reagan backed him up. >> i don't fault senator helms' sincerity with regard to wanting the records opened up. i think he's motivated by a feeling that if we're going to have a national holiday named for any american when it's only been named for one american in all our history up to this time, that he feels we should know everything about an individual. >> by 198 3, though, public opinion was swinging back to king's side. a third of the senate's republicans voted against the holiday. so did a handful of conservative democrats. but it passed with 78 votes. and reagan, after apologizing to king's widow for what he had said at that press conference,
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signed it into law. even though, it still took two decades to make martin luther king day a coast to coast holiday. arizona voters rejected making mlk a state holiday in 1990. then they changed their mind after a two-year boycott cost the state $4 30 million in business and lost the super bowl. and live free or die ham shnew hampshire. we reached the point where king's status as a great american isn't litigated anymore. schools across the country teach kids about his right for civil rights, the peaceful protest that landed him in jail, the speech he gave in washington 50 years ago this week, the tragedy of his murder. are we remembering and honoring everything he stood for? or have we forgotten essential
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aspects of his legacy over the last four decades, that transformed martin luther king from a polarizing figure into an ageless, national icon? we'll talk about that next. "stubborn love" by the lumineers did you get my email? i did. so what did you think of the house? did you see the school ratings? oh, you're right. hey babe, i got to go. bye daddy! have a good day at school, ok? ...but what about when my parents visit? ok. i just love this one... and it's next to a park. i love it. i love it too. here's our new house...
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talking about the history of martin luther king, his legacy. i want to bring in nate pearl steen and ana marie cox from "the guardian." we're talking about martin luther king after the march, beyond "i have a dream." this is from the national review, september 7, 1965 right after the watts riot. a conservative writer, will herberg. after the watts riots he writes, if you are looking for those ultimate responsible for the murder, arson and looting in los angeles, look to them. they are the guilty ones, these apostles of nonviolence. for years now the reverend dr. martin luther king and his associates have been
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deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country. rick, you have written extensively about this era. it seems there was a big movement in this country, even after we had, you know, civil rights act, voting rights act, civil rights riots and trying to pin that on martin luther king. >> you don't have to go to an obscure figure like will herberg. >> that's who i found. >> let's go to ronald reagan. do you know what he said after martin luther king's assassination? >> tell us. >> he said, he had it coming. he said it's the sort of great tragedy when we begin compromising with law and order and people started choosing which laws they would break. he's referring to civil disobedience. this was pretty much a consensus view on the right among the same people who celebrate martin luther king now. frankly, martin luther king had to be forgotten before he could be remembered. martin luther king called himself a socialist.
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jesse helms wasn't pulling that out of nowhere. his associate, daniel levinson, probably had been a communist. and the main demand of the march for jobs and freedom was a phrase that was resounding at the time but we don't remember it now, a marshal plan for the cities, which meant a massive federal investment in developing the depressed areas of america. which i don't think we heard in washington. >> there's also -- we'll get to it. the vietnam war in the late '60s, martin luther king was a very outspoken critic of that. he took his movement to chicago after -- after the voting rights act was signed. and i think revealed a little bit -- the country liked to believe at that point racism was a southern problem and that exposed it was a lot bigger and broader than that. >> and we also shouldn't act like king wasn't hated before he was killed. dr. king had issues within the african-american community. remember, this was the young baptist preacher who went to the
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national baptist convention conference. i believe it was 1960, and confronted black baptist ministers about not getting involved in a civil rights movement. he had to create a separate organization, a progressive, national baptist convention because younger, black baptist ministers were imbedded in the struggle while older black baptist didn't want any part of it. so, king wasn't despised just after his death. he was despised throughout his entire life when he took on this burden of moving this movement. so, i think, you know, the context that we need to operate on is that dr. king -- the dr. king that is so beloved now, it's easy to love an icon when they're dead. but in the moment, we have a different story that needs to be told. and we need to change the narrative about the perception of m.l. king before and after his death. >> this all teased a much longer segment we'll have at the end of
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this break. we'll pick that up about how we got from the martin luther king we think of today to the martin luther king we were just talking about. discover the new way to help keep teeth clean and breath fresh. new beneful healthy smile food and snacks. he'll love the crunch of the healthy smile kibbles. you'll love how they help clean. with soft, meaty centers, and teeth cleaning texture healthy smile snacks help keep a shine on his smile. it's dental that tastes so good. new beneful healthy smile food and snacks.
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we're talking about the evolution of martin luther king's legacy. we're here with rick perlstein, ana marie cox. i want to pick it up with you. i want to start with, here's an example of how history kind of evolves because the chicago "sun-times," conservative newspaper, had an editorial this week where they basically retracted a 50-year-old editorial. an editorial from 1963 where they opposed the march on washington. and, you know, i think we have a clip -- we can put it on the screen of the original editorial. this newspaper, of course, approves fundamental cause of civil rights but it does not approve of the march to
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dramatize that march. we looked in the first segment about how, you know, all of those predictions were wrong but it also shows how much 50 years later, a lot of institutions, i think, sort of like the chicago "sun-times" can look back and say the way history is interpreted today, things we said back then are now completely unacceptable. and i think that applies to martin luther king's legacy in a way. >> it does. i think it will be interesting to see what happens in another 30 years with things like marriage equality, but to flip backwards, it's interesting we call it evolution of martin luther king. it's more like an erosion. we take away the stuff -- history washes away the kind of things people are not as comfortable with. it's interesting that list you showed about the people most admired in the world, almost every one of the people on that list, you know, gandhi and mlk included, are much more radical and revolutionary than people seem to realize. i like to call it wish-washing rather than whitewashing.
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we project back on these people what we wish they would have done and what we wish they would have said which is a lot more tame. of course, they wouldn't have accomplished what they had accomplished if they hadn't been as revolutionary, if they hadn't been as radical. i appreciate everything we've said around the table about martin luther king. his vision for jm justice, which was more about systematic oppression more than man-to-man dislike. he saw that and that's something the chicago "sun-times" editorial, people can say, well, i don't like it when individual white people are mean to individual black people. like, that's easy to say, you don't like that, you're against that. what's harder to argue and what martin luther king argued eloquently is about a system that oppresses large groups of people. that's what we talk about when we talk about economic justice and that's what's been lost. >> bob, what do you think when -- the average person thinks of martin luther king right now, it's the "i have a dream speech" and the problem in terms of his legacy -- i guess
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the reason it makes him palatable across the spectrum is every side can look at that speech and see what they want to see. if you're conservative, vehemently opposed to affirmative action and you can say it was his declaration of i want a color blind society. >> he's become a warm and fuzzy guy, a grandfatherly figure, which is weird. who was 39 when he was killed. yeah, i go back to the word militant. i mean, he was an extremely militant guy, which was really weird because the black militants, some of are advocating violence, had a problem with king. but king was always, like so many other civil rights leaders, in your face on this issue of racial and economic justice. and they demonstrated profound courage. so, those marches, you know, the bridge and going into the south and then when he went into chicago and that sort of thing.
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so, what we're talking about here are smart, sophisticated, tough-minded, militant individuals that are making demands on the society. and that's why they got so much push back. that's why there was so much conflict. they were perceived correctly as dangerous. >> yes. fundamental to his heart and soul was idea of pushing frontiers of justice. once he accomplished something, pushing to the next thing. davider. >>en from "the nation" wrote martin luther king probably wouldn't have gotten to speak at the march on washington yesterday because he was far too radical. i think one of the people martin luther king would be protesting today, martin luther king jr. would be protesting is martin luther king iii because the only reason we know the "i have the dream" clip is because they privatized the speech and will require people to pay to broadcast more of it. one he would be protesting against is the chicago
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"sun-times" who fired their entire photography staff last year. he would be pushing back against african-american leaders like cory booker. >> you have a very specific view of the 2013 agenda of -- >> well, i think it's -- this is a guy who called himself a socialist. you know, and this is a guy who called for a marshal plan for the city. this is a guy who called the united states the greatest perpetrator of violence in the world today. maybe he'd be protesting against barack obama who said nothing about the military coup in honduras, which is only three years ago and had death squads running around. he refused to call it a military coup because that would require the united states to act. >> nsa spying, i'm sure he'd be protesting. >> but i think this is -- this is what i mean. people can look back and we can extrapolate almost anything we want. >> no, you can't. >> there's a very -- >> you can't. >> but there is a truth about dr. king's life. so, if you go back to that dream speech, the truth about that
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speech is that the dream part of it was sort of the baptist minister coming out of dr. king. at that moment in his speech, he's winding it down and he's trying to figure out how to connect all the points that he previously made. now, if you go to the part of that speech when he talks about a promissory note, marked insufficient funds, where he warns that don't think negros are going to be content on this day and go back and it's business as usual for this nation. dr. king's speech was a radical expression. the only speech i can compare it to, and none of us were alive at the time, was frederick douglas's, fourth of july, sort of this notion that in this moment, have i to indict my country for its failure to honor the words it wrote on paper. so, i think it's okay to talk about the speech, but we need to get away from calling it the dream speech. because it wasn't the dream
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speech. >> it's the demand. >> it's the demand speech. and he lays out a set of demands for america. and marching orders for the african-american community and the nation as a whole. so, the part of king that we need to embrace, the king prior to his assassination and the king at the time of his assassination, was a person who made demands upon this government for justice. who understood the transformation of king was that the struggle that is inherent for african-americans is a global struggle. >> testify, brother. >> but that's the truth of martin luther king. >> but my question would be, then, so we talked about how his legacy has evolved over the last 40-plus years into this sort of ageless national icon and i think it's precisely because he's been depoliticized in a lot of ways. it's not the specific demands of his speech in 1963 that people remember. it's the more lyrical, i have a dream moment. i take your point, but if you reclaim the legacy in the way you're talking about, that would
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take him right off the most admired list again, wouldn't it? >> that's that would be okay. he would be okay with that. because he wasn't interested in being an icon. he wasn't interested in being a celebrity. he was interested in justice. if you're interested in justice, you could care less about what place you're on some list of most admired because you're too busy trying to effect change. this is what we miss in today's environment. we miss the fact that there was some courageous men and women of that moment who could have cared less if they were invited to talk on a television program or radio program. all they cared about was justice. >> yeah, he -- >> he was vilified everywhere he went. >> and with all due respect, roy wilkins, the president of the naacp said, i don't want anything to do with this march. he told "the new york times," like john f. kennedy, he kind of jumped on the bandwagon but he also said, gee, i sure hope it's not too disruptive. >> that's been erased from the legacy, the disruptive part of it, the demand part of it.
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i think people see the march on washington and the dream speech as the pinnacle. like we have -- there was like this march of increase of justice and march of increase of equality and the speech was like the cherry on top. like, look, we've made it, everybody. but that was the beginning of the fight. that's when he realized he had the momentum, hoped he had the momentum, and the people behind him and the argument to make that this is a larger struggle than just african-americans. this is an economic struggle for workers. you know, he was a socialist. he would be profoundly dismayed by the america he would see today. >> the point that gets missed when you start looking at it through those kinds of lenses is the reality behind the march, behind the speech, the justice, why there was a need for this demand for justice. which was the terrible situation of blacks and low income people, poor people in the united states at that time. and it was grim, it was gruesome. that's what's missed today. people do not -- are not willing
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in either -- most of the time in the media or politicians and others, to acknowledge how much suffering there is in the united states. how much injustice there still is in this country. the poverty, the people out of work, the families struggling, the extreme inequality. you know, and that's where the spotlight really ought to be. we said in one of the earlier segments that the real heroes of the march were the people who actually marched. and i think that that was recognized. for all the attention king got, that was recognized that the 200,000 to 250,000 people that showed up had really demonstrated something, and we're missing that now. >> i want to thank rick peerl steen and walter fields perform from "i have a dream" to i solemnly swear. barack obama, white america and the king dream.
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this coming wednesday the tile 50th anniversary of the march of washington will be dough member rated on the steps of the lincoln memorial, the same steps are where martin luther king stood with his speech. the symbolism is powerful, ultimate realization of king's dream. but in the run-up to the anniversary this past week there was fresh evidence that president obama, now in his second elected term in office, still meets resistance and resentment rooted in his race. speaking at a gop fund-raiser on august 12th, paula page reportedly said president obama,
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quote, hates white people. cited by the portland press herald. lepage has denied making the remark. there's plenty of irony here if lepage did make the comment, though. although after he's the governor of the nation's whitest state. maine, where 97% of the population is white. that state has now given barack obama 60% of its votes in the last two national elections. this at least partly refutes, but the way white americans perceives america's first black president has been complicated. an alarms share of the opposition to president obama has been rooted in explicit appeals to racial resentment. >> this president, i think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seeded hatred for white people or the white culture. i don't know what it is.
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>> last year obama won the national popular vote 51-47% but among white voters he was crushed by mitt romney by 20 points. today obama's approval rating is 48% overall, but 36% among whites, according to gallup. granted, it's heartily a usual for democrat to struggle with white voters. past democratic presidential candidates have routinely lost the white vote by large martins. it's also impossible to ignore the way race has been used by the president's political opponents. i want to bring in political strategist and founder of l.j.w. community strategies and jamel bowi. we have the examples of lepage, glenn beck -- we don't need to catalog them all here and you look at the statistical struggles in election results
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for obama with white voters and you can say kerry, gore, dukakis, white or black, they struggle with white voters. republicans are more the home of white voters at this point. how do you see the role of race in opposition to president obama? >> it's particularly interesting from a cultural perspective in and how this impacts people's votes, right? we can see over time how particularly middle class and working class whites have been sort of separated from the coalition for a long period of time, for the issues they care about in terms of taxes, unemployment, gun safety, all of those things, likely align with us but yet they're still given rhetoric that separates them from the broad coalition. we talked about this on the show a number of times. and so race just adds into that and has a particularly strong
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impact when it comes to election because the rhetoric is, you are not like them. they are different from you. president obama is different from you. he doesn't see the issues the way that you see them. and these people are against you. and that has people voting against their interests, particularly their economic interests, particularly their social interests. and that is what plays a part. i don't think it's necessarily, in reading some of the articles and analysis about that, it seems to place the blame on the president and on the democrats. which i don't think is necessarily the problem, right, because they are speaking to issues, they are talking about the issues that people care about, but there is this other side, this opposition that is separating people upon race. >> well, and we say, you know, struggling with white voters, like it's just this sort of monolithic block but we can see clear divisions when you break down the vote by region, in the south particularly in the deep south, president obama's approval rating will drop like
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20% or something like that. i think he got 10% of the vote in mississippi last year, 10% of the white vote. by age, younger whites a lot more friendly to president obama than older whites. by college degree status. there are lots of divisions here. so, it's really pockets of resentment we're talking about among white voters towards obama. >> that's absolutely right. in the deep south basically obama got maybe 10% to 20% of the white vote in all these states. then as you leave the south, the white vote grows until you get to the northeast where he's winning a majority. midwest, where he's winning a large majority. the west coast, winning a large majority again. one of the clearest ways to figure out someone's views on the welfare state on redistribution to the poor is just to ask them their racial views. it's a consistent finding of political scientists, which i think points to something very important. while i think a lot -- it's not a lot but some of the opposition to obama is shaped by his race. i'm not sure it's necessarily rooted in barack obama in
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particular, and more the many larger, longer, broader dynamic of whites being suspicious of redistribution to nonwhitnonwhi. in particular, the black underclass. >> the democratic party represents -- >> right. look back 100 years and you find people willing to distribute private charity to italian immigrants and irish immigrants. not really liking them but saying they can be reformed and brought into mainstream society but refusing to do the same for blacks. many black social leaders in the urban north had a -- had a hard time getting fund raising and funds to set up recreation centers for black youth in these cities in the 1900s, 1910s, that their white counterparts couldn't find. you see the same dynamics operating there. so what's happening with obama and the white vote is much a larger story of whites just
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being distrustful of the idea of giving money to blacks. >> and just lower class whites being especially mistrustful. that's what you see as you go down the country from north to south. in the south you see lower class whis voting against their economic interests. maine is a good example where you see lower class and middle class whites willing to take that as something that will help them. it's a verbal tick of politicians for the past 50 years to refer to the middle class as though it was always the same thing. but people are more and more increasingly not identifying as middle class. the one subsections of the population that's increasing as identification or people identifying as working class and lower class. and i think if obama and the democratic party can take the legacy of king, which we were just talking about and talk about economic justice in a way that, you know, sort of just talks about the redistribution as something that's a right to
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everyone, you know, i think that they can -- they can soldier on and that coalition can grow. maybe some of the white working class vote can be brought back. >> it's interesting because this connects to the discussion we're having about the 1960s and about the civil rights act and then that leads to the sort of backlash in the south among the old white ethnics in the north, nixon southern strategy and all that. the president of the naacp will weigh in joining us live from washington. no-charge scheduled . check. and here's the kicker... 0% apr for 60 months. and who got it? this guy. and who got it? this guy. and who got it? this guy. that's right... [ male announcer ] it's the car you won't stop talking about. ever. hurry in to the volkswagen best. thing. ever. event. and get 0% apr for 60 months, now until september 3rd. that's the power of german engineering.
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there could have heard many things. they could have heard words of anger and discord. they could have been called to succumb to so many fears and frustration of dreams defeared but what they heard before, people from every creed and walk of color is that in america, our destiny is inexplicably won. >> barack obama five years ago this week accepting the democratic national nomination on the 45th anniversary of martin luther king's "i have a dream" speech. now to talk about the challenges the first black president faces is naacp president ben jealous. thanks for joining us. we're having a discussion here about how on the king anniversary, white americans have responded to having a black president for the first time. i wonder as you look back at the
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last four plus years of the obama presidency are you generally encouraged by what you've seen or has it been discouraging in some way. >> i think it's a very generational question in many ways. if you look although the young people of this country who had grown up with a black president for much of their lifetime, and you look at their views, it's clear their views are more inclusive, more progressive in many ways than those of their parents. and when you look at many of their parents, there are many -- i've had conversations, on airplanes, airports, traveling across the country with white men who confess they thought more about race and looked into their own heart, older white men, and yet it's not surprising that the fiercest resistance comes from people who are sort of the oldest who are still active in our society. there's a lot there who have gone way out on a limb.
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they're not surprised, you know, the older progressives aren't surprised that the people who are often, fiercely imposed. what is deeply ironic about governor lepage and his continued comments is that, you know, he desends from the french catholics in maine. and the naacp, geez, 70 years ago, 80 years ago, when the french catholics were being targeted for lynchings in that state, were very vocally opposed and standing up for them. he has a lot, frankly, personally, to be appreciative, just as our president does, for all the civil rights community has done to not only fight racial intolerance but intolerance based on faith as well. i just wish governor lepage would stop making these divisive comments. he's done them for years. and he really needs, i think, to
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just realize how transformative of a figure he could be if he could just be a bit bigger in the comments he makes. >> i wonder, you mention the idea that a lot of this is generational. so, we're talking in terms of the -- sort of the backlash among southern whites and among the old -- we call them the northern white ethnics after the civil rights movement in the 1960s that richard nixon catered to. is that something you talk about as being generational, is that something you see fading away with time? >> look, you know, six, seven years ago ken melmen, came to apologize to naacp. the reality is that will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in u.s. politics. the old dixiecrats should have found themselves men and women with no politics. they should have been required by both major parties to,
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frankly, move beyond racism if they were going to take leadership. and the decision of the republicans, who had been the civil rights party, if you will, since, you know, at that point about 100 years to make this sort of faustian bargain with people who were at that time in their rhetoric explicitly white supremacists, it was simply a huge mistake. it has de diminished that party for many years. and the reality is now they have a big choice to make. because obviously, you know, not every republican, want every republican leader by a longshot is barry goldwater but they still continue to tolerate too much of that type of rhetoric. they have a choice. either they're going to become a party that is, you know, progressively sort of by itself in this country, with very
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diverse country and a not very diverse party, or they're going to make a courageous decision to get back to their roots and be the party of frederick douglas, be the part of lincoln, be the party of so many civil rights leaders who came from world war ii and became active in that party only to find themselves disowned by that party a couple decades later they brought in barry goldwater, strom thurmond and all their ilk. >> this is ana marie cox. as steve said, we were talking about how this generational difference might map across class. i wonder if you know anything about that. are younger whites and blacks more likely to see each other as a cohort across class lines or not? when you say they're more progressive than the older generation, does that mean they're willing to look at what we would call economic justice issues as well as racial issues? >> look, have you two things going on for young people in this country.
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one is race matters less to them. the other is they're more likely to be poor than the past generation. you know, the rich continually getting richer and the poor continually getting poorer has had a disproportionate impact on young in this country. i came back from a gathering in detroit, young people who are retail, fast food workers, who are demanding the minimum wage be lept forward to catch up with inflation because it's fall een woefully behind. these young people they see themselves as having absolutely nothing to lose in this economy. they're barely hanging on to the edge, working for $7.25. at rooms like rainbow, black, latino, white, asian, i'm sure there were native people in the room as well. the reality is they saw themselves as being on the same
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team. that team is people who in this economy, despite their brilliance, despite clear leadership potential h been relegated to margin and forced to survive on $7.25, which is something you can't do. i do believe this rising generation, more some than others because they're less tripped up on race, are willing to work together based on the common interest of kitchen table issues. you're seeing it with older people, too. we saw it with white union workers in 2012 throughout the midwest, for instance. so, i think there's reasons to be hopeful that race both for kind of older folks in the workforce and younger folks in the workforce. younger folks is becoming less and less of a barrier to people actually sitting down and saying, you know, we got some real things in common, some real issues we got to solve. we can only solve them if we work together. >> ben jealous, president of the naacp. thanks for joining us. we'll pick this up with the
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panel. barack obama, first black president in white america after this. [ shapiro ] at legalzoom, you can take care of virtually all your important legal matters in just minutes. protect your family... and launch your dreams. at legalzoom.com we put the law on your side.
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i was trying to think about the 2008 democratic primaries, barack obama against hillary clinton. one of the interesting things that jumps out at me looking back is the states that really, i think, were decisive for obama in terms of getting the 150 delegate advantage were overwhelming white states, alaska, utah, north dakota, maine, iowa, states where he -- except for iowa, racked up gigantic shares of vote and beat her by 15, 20 delegates. then when he took the contest into states like pennsylvania, ohio, michigan, states majority white but they have sizeable black populations in them, the white voters seemed more hostile to him there than in all white states. >> there's also a demographic issue in those states. they targeted small states,
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student population, getting back to generational difference. student population can make a huge, huge difference than like in states like alaska. >> but it's more than just student -- >> they targeted states they could make a big difference. in other states they knew they couldn't influence vote beyond a certain point. not to say what you're saying isn't true. they found resistance. they found hillary voters. those states had hillary voters unwilling to look at obama, for whatever reason. but i think we know what that reason might have been. >> but it just -- again, we're talking about getting 75% of the vote in these all-white states, which was remarkable. when that happened in february that year, i said, that's amazing. an all white state, and then the contest shifted to pennsylvania where we're hearing about white working class voters. >> i think that's because those were states where the whites in those states didn't have to deal with black people. you know, we can take two
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intellectual, too analytical an approach to these issues where we don't acknowledge the depth of the racism that still exists in this society and the extent to which blacks are suffering as a result of that racism. where you see it, for example, we never talk about job discrimination anymore. we don't talk about housing discrimination anymore. but just start trying to move blacks into white neighborhoods and watch the push back you get. just start trying with all the school reform, just try -- start trying to get black students into white schools. people will go nuts. the schools in the united states are segregated now as they were in the late '60s, which is insane. but we don't address that anymore. we talk about how attitudes are changing. i'm not sure attitudes have changed that much. rhetoric has changed. the racism remains. and blacks are now farther behind than they were several years ago economically. >> i think attitudes can change. and at the same time, the
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structure of the society that was built on like basically a racial case system can remain. so the perception of blacks -- i'm sure a lot of people would say i'm not a racist, i have no ill toward black people but still they could -- they can subconsciously recognize blackness as being something they to want stay away from. >> that's racist. >> but it's not -- >> if you see black people as lesser beings, as genetically inferi inferior, so i seo think most whites see blacks -- >> i think racist is a too broad of a term to capture what we're talking about. >> but i -- >> and even this-n that -- i need to ask this question. why are we so scared to say that people's views of me seeing a person of color and not being comfortable with being in the same room with them, my children being in the same classroom to
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them, living next to them is not racist? maybe you're not -- why do we have to do that? >> no one is saying that. >> exactly. >> no one is saying that. what i'm trying to say at the very least if you look at asian-american immigrants, there's a well-documented phenomena of asian-american immigrants with a black perception of blacks. i'm not sure -- it's indicative of a racist society but as far as personal prejudice goes, i don't know how you discuss that. >> and i think -- i want to hear what you have to say to that so we'll tease it. an. may i read something? yes, please. of course. a rich, never bitter taste cup after cup. 340 grams. [ sighs ] [ male announcer ] always rich, never bitter. gevalia. [ laughing ] ...is the crackle of the campfire. it can be a million years old... cool. ...or a few weeks young.
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after that build-up, there you go. >> we were talking about whether or not racism exists in the united states. ly say blanket, yes, racism exists in the united states. racism exists between individual people. racism exists between classes. the problem is actually in some ways it has to do with whitewashes as it were of martin luther king. we individually no longer --
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it's become such an offensive, such a charged term, you almost can't talk about problems as being racist because people are so disinclined -- it's no longer okay, like, acceptable, to talk about it among your friends, your white friends about being racist. i think it's right to call these attitudes and systems and systematic oppression of blacks as being racist. but i don't know what the solution is to move forward with these things. i'm not sure if to call individual people racist is going to move us forward at all. i do think that -- that it can be pointed out these systems do, you know, affect black people. i'm just finally -- we have not talked about the voting rights act. one of the reasons why i think it's applicable here is some ways, the success of the civil rights movement has meant the south has adopted the northern way of being racist. so they have adopted the systems that oppress black people and that are not yet targeted on race. they do not mention race.
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they know better than to do that. >> well, i think that does tie together. one, in term of i do think in the time that we live in, in being able to say to someone, particularly you are racist because something you wrote and immediate defense, i'm not racist, i have friends and people do that. there is a difference of racism and racist thought and racist practice that has -- where you have the power to change laws or policies that then have a racial impact, right? and then there's racial insensitivity. you saying something or a joke or -- you know, doing something which often happens in our pop culture right now where people misapply that to mom being racist as opposed to racial insensitive. and how people's views of voter i.d.s. if you go to polls across country in terms of people that has a racial impact.
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and the policy and the practice is racist. so to be able to say you as elected official pushing this legislation in terms of restricting people's access to ballot and things like that, that is racially -- that is racially insensitive and racist. therefore, while you continuing to push that makes you pushing racist policies and rituals -- >> it's hard to -- it's hard to separate and you are not racist. >> i think the other thing that complicates, especially when you talk about southern states where you're talking about voter i.d. laws and everything, as we mentioned earlier, the voting patterns in those states, the partisan divide in those states is so fractured along racial ethnic cultural lines. absolutely these lines are targeted -- african-americans are targeting, student voters. it's clearly political motivation. it's republicans saying, this is the democratic base. we're going to disenfranchise the democratic base. >> they use -- >> not that it makes it right.
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>> i'm trying talk about things more specific than that. i'm not talking about individual instances of people being racist or whatever. i'm talking about job discrimination, where black people show up for a job with equal qualifications and don't get the jobs. i'm talking about housing discrimination, where you can't move into neighborhoods because those neighborhoods are white, even if you can afford it. these kinds of things are still widespread in the united states of america. and no one even talks about them anymore. it's true, we can't say something is racist. we can't say people are racist. well, in that case, if people are suffering as a result of it, then what's the answer? how do you -- how do you move forward? and to me the only answer is, because i think the society has gotten to the point where they won't deal with racism on any vast scale, i think the only response is for blacks themselves to finally say, enough already, as they did back in the 1960s, and for blacks to become more militant in the fight against racism and racist
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behavior in this country. >> and i think the point is to call it out. is to say, your policy -- the policies that you're pushing is racist, and so -- >> i agree. >> quick last point. >> here's the thing. i'm in complete agreement that the structure of our society is racist. that we are a society that's built on the premise of a black underclass. but, as bob said earlier about this being sort of -- us trying to make an academic distinction. i think outright calling things racist is not a constructive political thing to do. >> okay. that's the final point. this was a very interesting conversation to be a part of. on the anniversary week of the march on washington, what should we know today? [ female announcer ] research suggests cell health plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day women's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for women's health concerns as we age. with 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day women's 50+.
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so what should we know for today? we should know in addition to being the 50th anniversary of the march on washington august 28th this coming wednesday also marks another key civil rights anniversary. august 28th, 1957, 56 years ago
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south carolina senator strom thurmond then a democrat waged a one-man filibuster against the civil rights act of 1957. for 24 hours and 18 minutes. that's the all-time senate record. his defiance was for show. he finally stood down and the bill with a much weaker forerunner to the famous civil rights of 1964 passed. main force behind the bill was a democrat, lyndon johnson who would go on to serve as president and apply his legislative savvy to the civil rights act. it was the enactment of the civil rights absent thct that l thurmond to leave the democratic party. we should know colin powell is speaking out against north carolina's restricted new voting law at the ceo forum thursday. former secretary of state said
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the law signed by governor pat mccrory, a fellow republican, immediately turns off a voting bloc the republican party needs as it disproportionately affects young and minority voters. we also know the governor's office who had spoken before powell left before powell's speech and didn't hear it but we know he's probably heard about it since then. finally we should know about some of the numbers made in the stride in the 50 years since the march on washington and the strides we still need to make. thanks to the u.s. census bureau we know in 1964, 60% of blacks age 24 and here had completed high school. in 2012 the number had risen to 85%. the number of black undergraduates students in 2012 was more than 10 times what it was in 1964, from under 240,000 to 2.6 million. in 1970, 1,469 in government
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from u.s. senate to city co-councils. now they estimate more than 10,000 black elected officials in the united states. we know the financial disparities remain prevalent. pew research found between 1967 and 2011 median in come of black households rose from 24,000 to $40,000. in 1967 black households earn 55% of what white households earned and today that number has often risen to 59%. we're going to find out what my guests think we should know. we'll start with you, bob. >> well, it was the march in '63 was a march for jobs and freedom. now the fast-food workers and low wage workers are gearing up for additional strikes and demonstrations. in the spirit of that march they want a living wage and this effort is not going to go away. >> already. joy. >> recently there was a tragic case of a transgender person
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being beaten and ultimately passing here in new york city. i'd like to say at the same time i'm asking those supportive and active in the rights for transgender, the rights for lgtb q community completely ask them to support voting rights and some of the issues we're pushing. i as an activist am going to join them in standing on the increase in violence in transgender here in new york and across the country. treating people like human beings. i don't understand how you can beat a human being to death, whether or not you agree with whatever they are, they are human beings. as an activist i will join that movement. >> okay. >> 68% of younger republicans believe a more diverse nominee would help gop win, 60% of younger republicans believe that the gop would reconsider some positions. 43% believe they should maybe
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even moderate and 38% say the congressional gop has not been -- has not compromised enough with president obama to move things forward. >> there's that generational split. >> i'm going to end on an upbeat note. this week president obama's administration came out fairly forcefully in favor of blind dog related ordinances in mostly local places, laws that target pit bulls specifically are proven to be not very constructive. the obama administration did that after only 30,000 signature on we the people website, usually takes 100,000. way to go. >> thank you all for getting up. thank you for joining us. we'll be back next weekend saturday and sunday at 8:00 a.m. eastern time. our guest will be new york city mayoral candidate bill thompson. coming up melissa harris-perry live from washington, d.c. with guests myrlie evers martin luther king iii and many more. that's mhp.
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