tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC August 28, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT
slumber with the words i have a dream. joining us today from national mall is the host of msnbc's "hardball" kris matthews, eugene robinson, joining me from chicago is former senior adviser to president obama director at the university of chicago institute of politics and an msnbc political analyst david axelrod and in nashville executive editor at random house. chris ma the hurricanes my colleague and friend someone i look to, someone who knows this city well. we're talking about the march on washington and yet in today's world washington has become synonymous with a place of dysfunction, of anger, of partisanship, of rancor. i guess to what degree can we rekindle that possibility. how can this society recode what washington means sway place of
failure. >> well i don't want to suggest it's a symetrick problem. there was a decision 4 1/2 years ago to prevents this presidency of president obama from taking effect. they want to remoist from the history books as much as they could even though he had been elected legitimately with a larger majority than ronald reagan had back in 1980. they wanted to somehow deny him his presidency. that began with the meetings that were held the very night of the inaugural and carried through with the ridiculousness and thericiso donald trump on the birther argument. it's been augmented by talk of impeachment and nullification of the president's landmark bill on health. it's a continual effort to say
no to hope. on the other side somewhat balancing it has been the failure to say yes to yourself. i was speaking at howard university's commencement and i said never say no to yourself because then you become an ally of your enemies. you're helping them by saying no to yourself. you're reverberating force of those who oppose your chances in this society. i think the president and his people have failed to offer a full challenge. i hope the president offers up a major bill on jobs. that he then forces the republicans and his other enemies to say no to instead of saying no to himself. what's been lacking in this administration and its agenda is a clear cut bill that creates economic opportunity for african-americans and other poor people. i hope does it today. it would be the headline coming out of here today. it would be the big noigs. i hope he makes it.
>> david axelrod, chris matthews brings up what the president may or may not say today. i think people forget the march on washington was called for jobs and freedom. this was an economic movement before it was a social movement. it wasn't until bull connor loosed the attack dogs on children in birmingham, alabama that the social and civil rights aspects became an organizing principle. this march was to highlight discrepancies in terms of the economy, the minimum wage. in that vein would you be expected of sort of an organizing principle and the president's remarks focus on economic inequality and jobs as chris matthews suggest? >> i would. i would point out the president has the program from the original march framed in his office. he knows very well the history of that march, what the intent of it was and i expect him to address the economic challenges
that remain. you know, unemployment, black unemployment was twice white unemployment than it is now. but we have additional challenges that have cropped up over the last 50 years, alex, that go the nature of work. that affects everybody in the workforce, black, white, and that's no longer are there as many jobs that require little education. and education has become a civil rights of our time. it takes education in many instances to get the kind of jobs and incomes that people need to support families and yet we have great disparities in this country on what's available to our children. so i hope and i expect he'll address some of that as well. >> you know, john, you being an expert in presidential history, i think a lot of folks are sort of unclear or perhaps don't realize the legacy of civil rights and action on civil
through the' 50s the brown decision, the second brown decision all delivered speed critically important. the 1957 civil rights act which lyndon johnson the great texasan help gut and in many ways his actions in 1964 and '65 and our economic issues throughout his presidency was a kind of make good. he was trying to redeem himself from what he had done so the long gather power. president nixon, you're right desegregated a lot of schools. the country has always been at its best when the president was a moral leader, when you could articulate a moral vision of where we should go and when that vision was about opening our arms wider not hugging ourselves more closely. and that i think was the dilemma that faced president kennedy on this date 50 years ago. president kennedy rightly lives
brilliantly in memory and chris has forgotten more about this than i know but he was a very cautious, cautious leader. he did not want the march of washington at all. he didn't give dr. king much to hold on the at the end of this afternoon when the cameras were not there, when they were talking over the legislation. so politics is always a provisional enterprise. what's terrific about what has happened as you say, particularly with president johnson, was when we have a leader who will frame an issue and point us towards a higher ground often the country follows. >> eugene, speaking of cautious politicians, i think we can expect the president to talk about human rights as a civil -- civil rights as a human rights issue. on the question of race you and i have talked about this a lot.
president obama has been i would say cautious. i guess i won in terms of your expectations for what he talks about today and how much he puts on the table, if you will, the last and most substantive commentary he gave on race was done several weeks ago. there's a lot of pressure on him to sort of deliver something to the american public but i wonder how much of that package is going to include a conversation on race. >> well, i think he has to go there today, alex. at the time of his first election that in order to be elected, president obama had to seem to be the least aggrieved black man in america to be palatable to the wider electorate and that's what he did in 2008. we're now in 2013. he's been elected twice. it's the 50th anniversary. i don't see how he can speak without dealing directly with the issue of race without going there today. and then doing something else.
not only talking about the issues that we kind of know how to address and know how to solve, vote rights, for example, we see was happening, we know how to organize. we know how to fight that. we have the tools and the laws in place to fight that. there are other things that are more complicated and more difficult to work on. the patterns of residential segregation that have led to schools in many parts of the country being segregated now as they were in 1970s or 1960s. that sort of thing is much more diffuse, much more complicated and that's what i hope i hear more about today not just from the president, but from other speakers as well. >> chris, to you gene's points the question of segregation in american society would seem to be settled but it's not you look at the statistics. if you look at that as it's expressed in polling numbers president obama if you split it on race, i believe has an 89% approval rating among african-americans and a 34%
approval rating among white americans and to some degree as you pointed out earlier the republican party and conservatives have really seized on that. they seized on the racial division in this country and seized on older white voters and seized on controversy in and around race to get votes and i guess the question is, you know, how do you start to begin to put the puzzle back together. there was a sense in the '60s things were broken and need change. but even now when you talk about race it's incredibly loaded and there's a resistance to the idea this isn't an equitable society. >> the read sadness is the polarization of races, whites being republicans and blacks being democrats. when i was growing up in the '60s and '70s and before that the republican party was very much in the game seeking african-american votes. maybe they were beaten 2-1. rockefeller, hugh scott, all across the northeast and henry
cabot lodge they competed for the black vote and, therefore, when you look how they voted on the voting rights act which had an effect in the north as well as the south in 1965 only two republican senators in the united states senate voted against the voting rights act, and that was strom thursday monday and john tower of texas who was definitely a conservative. they all voted for voting rights. you had everett dirkson of illinois leading the charge with lyndon johnson for voting rights and civil rights. in those days the republican party could get a third of the black vote. here's why it's important. i'm getting tough in politics. if you only get a third of the black vote and you're a republican in big cities like philly and new york city, then you only lose effectively a third of the black vote because you get a third of the black vote, lose two-thirds net you only lose a third of the black
vote when you go into statewide elections. you only lose a third of the black vote. you can win statewide, you can dominate. but if you lose 90% of black votes that means you lose a net 80%. 90 minus ten which means you get blown away statewide. that's why the republican party has made a big mistake. we're not going to beat the democrats for the black vote in our lifetime. if you can get back in the game and win a third of the black vote in the big cities you can win statewide for senate, governor, you can control state legislatures you can make things work four. i think that's what happened in the '60s. nixon who had been a member of the naacp, a friend of whitney young who tried to kill a filibuster rule as a vice president was not anti-black, and he was quaker he turned in the '60s, saw his opportunity in the white south. southern strategy that went bananas. the republican party went
bananas on race and blue it. democrats handed it to them because others changed history. john speaking of history, nixon's record as we said is largely under discussed especially on civil rights. i want to talk about the speech itself. when king went into the refrain i have a dream it was not in his prepared marks. that was mahalia jackson saying off stage yelling to martin tell them about the dream. it was delivered off handedly. >> one could argue it was the holy ghost, it was incredibly inspired. but it was. mahalia jackson didn't think the speech was going very well.
when you read the speech lincoln would be safe. the bounced check metaphor which resonates now was a little clunky. and he was about to go into a particularly bad passage. he then go into the i have a dream sequence. the remarkable passage came from his heart. it was not on the text. and as john lewis said he knew at that point it was no longer a political event it was now we're going church. i think that's an important -- sorry >> i was going say, john -- go ahead. >> i think it's a hugely important point that he was a minister of the lord who was calling the country to account, to moral account and in doing it, in doing so he joined lincoln before whom he stood and jefferson whom he could see off to his right as a founding father.
he articulated a vision of the country as it was supposed to be. and i think that was something that was particularly in the wheelhouse of someone who was, in fact, a minister. >> yeah. it's worth noting that while john less twans audience understood the magnitude of the sermon that had been delivered "the washington post", the paper of record published two dozen stories on the march and the words, i have a dream, i only appeared once in the fifth paragraph. thank you as always to john meacham for imparting the wisdom of history unto us. thanks for your time my friend. >> after the break we'll continue our live coverage of the 50th anniversary of the march on washington and discuss some of the civil rights that lie
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>> maryland governor martin o'malley is speaking now. >> it's not rooted in nostalgia or memory, it's rooted in something far deeper. it's rooted in the calling of conscience to action. actions that protect every individual's right to vote. action that safe guards and keeps guns out of the hands of violent offenders.
action that makes quality education and the opportunity of college a reality for more families. action that protects the dignity of every child's home with civil marriage equality. action that strengthens our country with the hopes and dreams and hard work of our newest generation of new american immigrants. action that abolishes the death penalty and improves public safety in every neighborhood regardless of income or color. actions that create jobs and raises the minimum wage for every mom and dad that's willing to work hard and play by the rules. yes, thanks to dr. king america's best days are still ahead of us. love remains the strongest power in our country. forward we shall walk
hand-in-hand and in this great work we are not afraid. thank you. that was maryland governor martin o'malley speaking on the national mall. we are back with 50 year anniversary of the march on washington and of course martin luther king's favorite i have a dream speech. the gains of the civil rights era are under threat from voter suppression to stop-and-frisk the obama era has seen a number of laws uptick against people of color. while the immediate post-war period was defined by the expansion of rights the new century has seen a retrenchment. i think it's worth remembering in 1883, after reconstruction the supreme court struck down
the civil rights of 1875 which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and 80 years would pass before the civil rights act of 1964. so, part of this advancement and regression is almost, it's cyclical in terms of american society. we seem to be on the edge with the gression of some suppression of voter rights laws that will be in place in multiple states across the country. >> also people who are looking at this broadcast who are in this crowd today and who are at home listening on the radio would say, i will take. i will do something about it. all the states that passed these laws that rise up and tell their members we got to pull away. the sad thing when i was in the georgia legislature we used to say thank god for mississippi because mississippi was always worse than georgia. now we have to say thank god for north carolina because north carolina has become the new mississippi. >> you know, brian, let's talk about north carolina.
north carolina up until recently was seen as a sort of a bastion of progressism of the south. yet north carolina now is not exactly a bastion of anything progressive. >> no. i think that's right. one of the scary things for people who are committed to civil rights in this country is that the pace of which we have retreated from basic protections. what i'm most concerned about is these legislatures a lot of them in the south and other parts of the country actually take pride in their resistance to responding to the challenges that face people of color, that face the poor, that face the disadvantaged. they are proud of the fact that they are creating barriers to voting. in north carolina there was something called the racial justice act that was design to deal with the horrific
disparities we have in the criminal system in this country. a black boy born in 2000 has a 32% chance of going to jail or prison compared to a 6% chance for a white boy. the north carolina legislature passes a racial justice act focuses on the death penalty to deal with this and the new legislature comes in and repeals that act and they are proud of that. it's this prideful resistance of civil rights that characterizes this era. that's what's so difficult and quite worrisome. >> chris we were talking about voter townout and building coalitions. colin powell came out and i thought had some sharp and relevant words to members of the gop who are trying to enact these voter suppression laws. he says i think this plan will backfire because these people will come out and do what they have to do to vote. i encourage that.
>> you know, i think, first of all i went to school in north carolina. i love chapel hill. i did think because of terry sandford and way back before him. back in 2008 when they voted for barack obama they didn't do it the second time and do i think there's something about getting even down there in that state. it's going through the university system they are cutting back on the progressive nature of that university which was a national university system and a great system. i think that's in question now. i think the whole effort to try to suppress the black vote is a problem. how do you justify -- right now the republican party is not getting that many black votes. so i guess a party hack could say the end justifies the means the blacks won't vote for us we'll screw them in the voting
booth. that's hack thinking. you have to wonder whether even und under partisan advantage you can justify it. okay we're not getting the voefts those people but the people have the right to vote damn it. so states like pennsylvania, openly saying now that the reason i want to screw the black voters thend to vote democrat is really awful. it's offensive as americans. >> it is. >> it's antithetical. the nation's largestle disabilities rights organization. i also do this in my role as vice president of the comcast foundation. today we need your help to pass the disability treaty. the treaty will expand the
spirit of americans with disabilities act across the globe, level the playing field for u.s. businesses working abroad and increase access for u.s. citizens traveling overseas. we will never know how many but i can say with certainty there were people who wanted to join the march on washington 50 years ago but couldn't because participating was either too difficult or impossible for people like me. there was just no access. looking back it's fair to say that martin luther king, jr. was the father of our movement as well. dr. king had a dream. he had a dream about equality and dignity for all people. yet for millions of people with disabilities this treatment remains out of reach. eight in ten of us don't have jobs. most will never know what it means to work fein we're qualified. it remains legal to pay people with disabilities far less than minimum wage. today i share dr. king's dream.
i dream of a world that does not hold anyone back. people with disabilities represent all people in all situations. we represent nearly 20% of the u.s. population. we've seen a lot of progress. but like all civil rights moments we have much more to do. i call on everyone here today to continue to stand up for and defend the rights of people with disabilities. americans are guaranteed certain inalienable rights and the right to pursue our dreams. our duty as citizens is to help one another achieve those dreams. please go to adp.com/march and see what we can do together when we dream together. thank you very much. >> that was fred moss. i want to talk about congress and their role in all of this. if you look back at the history major landmark pieces of civil rights legislation it often
comes when there's public outcry, public dissent, public protest. elm mitt till murdered in mississippi, rosa parks, march on washington, and civil rights act. when there's a march from selma to montgomery, bloody sunday a year later we get the vote rights act. public outcry, public engagement is a key to congressional movement although i think at this point there's some real concern though the supreme court has struck down section 4 of the voting rights act congress doesn't understand the import of this. there are numbers of people in the republican party especially that believe that all problems have been solved as far as race in america. how do we better underscore and underline and emphasize the notion that racial equity still doesn't exist? >> you tell them it doesn't exist. you point out the statistics, the differences between black and white. many of the same as 50 years
ago. you can demonstrate how things are not sunny and glad. what's really telling is the podium behind, just count at the end of the day how many republicans will be there. they asked the senior president bush he couldn't come. he was ill. they asked junior bush he said he had to stay with his father. they asked a long list of republicans to come to a man and woman they said no and they would turn their back on this event was telling about them and the fact that they seem to want to get black votes they are not going get them this way. >> yeah. you know the lack of republican presence is, i think, really actually very disheartening in a lot of ways beyond the partisan aspect of this, this is something that should not see party lines. brian, i want to ask you, in the "wall street journal" today john mcwhorter sort of takes issue of protesting racism as a concept and he says that instead we should fob discussion on three priorities, if we want to really ensure a fair shake for black men and women in this country.
he says focus on the war on drugs, focus on community collegeses and vocational education and focus on aids and the obesity epidemic. but trying to exorcise racism from american society is a futile task. what do you make of that? >> i think it's short sighted. those policy objectives which i share are symptoms of a larger problem. until we identify and articulate what that rob is we won't get it addressing it. one of the great challenges of the civil rights movement that we still have is that we never told the truth about what we were fighting against. we knew what we were fighting for but we never talked about what we were fighting against. what we were fighting against is this perception is black people and brown people are drourks not as good, not as part, not as capable. what flew from those presumptions were a range of things that you had my lie it aed people of color, that
marginalized people of color, that subordinated people of color in this country and we haven't confronted that. because we haven't confronted that we can't reconcile ourselves to the future. i have accumulated injuries when i was zbraeted from public schools that followed me throughout my education. until we deal what that means to a country committed to equality and fairness we won't make progress. >> naacp president ben jealous is speaking now on the national mall. let's take a listen. while the ladder of opportunity extends to the heavens for our people today, more are tethered at the bottom and falling off every day. indeed one can say that the distance between a child's aconspiracy swrags represent fwid top of that ladder and a family situation at the bottom of that ladder is the exact measurement of a parents' level
of frustration. and so as we go home today let us remember that the dreamer was also a doer. and as we turn on our tvs tomorrow and see people walking out of places where they are being forced to survive on 725 by the thousands, let us commit to join them in fighting to lift up the bottom. because as the top of that ladder has extended the tethers at the bottom need be to unleashed. let us not just be dreamers today let us commit to being doers. thank you and god bless. >> that was naacp president benjamin jealous speaking on the national mall. thank you to former naacp chairman. we'll take a short break. coming up we'll have more from the national mall with chris matthews and eugene robinson.
we're expecting speeches from ben russell. let's listen to widow of metger evers. >> we marched. we sat. the triumphs and even defeats belong to us all. dr. king told us that he might not get to the mountain top with us, but he said that there is a promise land, and america is that promise land for all of us. uh-oh! guess what day it is?? guess what day it is! huh...anybody? julie! hey...guess what day it is?? ah come on, i know you can hear me.
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50th anniversary of dr. martin luther king, jr.'s i have a dream speech we are remind about unfinished business here and abroad. what we know is an attack could begin as early as tomorrow important,ly in conjunction with england, france and other allies and could last for three days. white house press secretary jay carney says none of the options are aimed at regime change. rather the intention is clearly to respond the use of chemical weapons. still that is not enough to win over critics including senator john mccain. >> isn't it contradictory two years ago he said he must go and now he said this isn't aimed at regime change. if it isn't aimed at regime change what is it aimed at? we can send them a diplomatic note that we don't agree with what they are doing. >> joining us now from cairo is ahmen. we seem to be caught between a
rock and a hard plains terms of what to do here and consensus building. senator mccain say there will be no boots on the ground but on the other hand advocating for regime change. it's hard to complete regime change without boots on the ground. what's the thinking what these possible strikes could accomplish? >> reporter: well, on one hand they are meant to from a symbolic point ever view be punitive. they want to let the regime know they can't get away using these types of chemical weapons. but there's the unocal you can lated factor what happens in the effect that the regime responds in ways that were unpredictable, perhaps attacking the u.s. allies in natural jobs turkey, israel, that may force the u.s. escalate or even, you know, expand their targeting so to speak. more important thing is given the nature of these u.s. strikes if they do actually happen and affect the command and control structure of the syrian military they can demoralize some of the troops and that may give some
momentum to the rebels. that's a concern that a lot of people in the u.s. may have. you may give the upper hand in this fight on the ground to the rebels and some of those rebels are extremist, some are al qaeda affiliates and may bring in a new era in syria of enemies to the united states. that's been the criticism of u.s. military intervention you may be unintentionally weakening the syrian regime in favor of rebels that may not represent the best interests for the united states. >> we still, i believe, have former obama senior adviser david axelrod with us. david, do you think the president has done an adequate job in terms of articulating this situation to the american people? >> well, i think the american people gets it, alex. the american public is very wary about intervention in syria for some of the same reasons that we just heard. i do think that when the president makes a decision on
this issue, he has to articulate and will articulate why we're taking this action, what the objectives are and why they are limited in the way they are limited. but it would be foolish for in the home talking about it now in the midst of a planning of the event. i expect we'll hear from him sometime very soon. >> ahmen i want to go back to you before we go. in terms of the attacks and what they accomplish on the ground, demoralization would be a part of it. but there's a question how much the u.s. should empower rebel forces given the reports we hear al qaeda is involved. we talked the other day about maintaining a status quo and ensuring neither side wins may be the u.s.'s best option at this moment in time. >> reporter: that certainly is perhaps the biggest criticism is that it hasn't demonstrated
enough leadership in trying to support rebels in giving them an upper hand in controlling elements of al qaeda affiliated organizations or perhaps others that are more extreme. that's a major concern in let's say post-assad era. we're far from getting to that point. but if we do see a post-assad era it will be important for u.s. and its allies to show up support. i think that's going to be a major challenge. that's why there has fwhbeen th criticism and divisions within the arab league. there's been divisions as to whether this possible military strike would bring the desired result of bringing about regime change but at the same time making sure that those do come in to syria afterwards meet the interest and demand of the syrian people and not take syria
backwards. >> david, i want to ask you, we're readying for the president to give a major domestic address and there's attention on domestic priorities, economic policy that he wants to further. on the same score we could be on the eve of military intervention in syria. this is not a position i think the president perhaps thought he would be in on this date and time. i would ask you as someone close to him how much -- the question of foreign policy specifically in the middle east weighs on his mind. this is a president who we discussed many times wanted to make the pivot to asia where he sees our long term interest. he's been hit-and-miss strung legislative and policy agenda for a second term. >> well there's no question this has been an ongoing challenge from the time he took office and that was going to be the case because of the war in iraq, the war in afghanistan, the ongoing tensions in the middle east
generally. so, you know, he's been addressing this from the beginning and, you know, the nature of the presidency, he has to deal with domestic issues as he deals with this. the one thing you learn very quickly when you serve in the white house is that you don't get to choose. and there are many, many things going on at once and the art of being president is being able to deal with all of these things at one time. i remember when i left the white house and my friend david pluff took my place said we'll talk about these three things for the next year i think he said. and the next the week arab spring broke out and guess what we weren't talking about the three things that david wanted to talk about. that's one of the challenges and frustrations of the presidency. >> i don't think at this point anybody is operating under the assumption that president obama is talking about what president obama wants to talk about certainly. it is a difficult job being president.
msnbc senior political analyst david axelrod thanks for your time. >> coming up we'll discuss the next phase in the fight for civil rights plus the latest from the national mall. that's all next. when we made our commitment to the gulf, bp had two big goals: help the gulf recover and learn from what happened so we could be a better, safer energy company. i can tell you - safety is at the heart of everything we do. we've added cutting-edge technology, like a new deepwater well cap and a state-of-the-art monitoring center, where experts watch over all drilling activity twenty-four-seven. and we're sharing what we've learned, so we can all produce energy more safely. our commitment has never been stronger. this tasty stouffer's lasagna dinner from walmart is less than $2.15 a serving. replacing one restaurant dinner a week saves your family of four over $1750 a year.
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years later. [ laughter ] 50 years ago, the night before the march, i met dr. king. and one of the great experiences of my life. and he invited me to be up here. i respectfully declined because the organizers had worked for years to get this together and i hadn't done anything. so i want to continue my life as an interested bystander. now lately i've heard a lot about how far we've come in 50 years. from my point of view, you only
understand that progress can only be measured by how far we have to go. so, i want to thank you you for letting me speak to you and to encourage you as we used to say in the projects keep on keeping on. thank you. that was nba legend bill russell speaking on the national mall. when we talk about policies that may make for a more equitable society the black unemployment rate has been consistently twice as high as the white unemployment rate for the last 50 years. and that the median net worth of whitehouse holds is 14 times that of the median worth of black households.
yet when the president comes forward with economic proposals that might account for this gap and do something about it he's called a socialist. why is there a discrepancy in understanding the black situation in america? >> well i think it is because we haven't confronted how widespread the negative perceptions of people of color are in this country. i mean one of the great legacies of segregation and apartheid and racism and the history of racial injustice it wasn't just that people of color were victimized. lots of people were actually taught that they are better than other people because of their skin color and it's an abusive and corruptive thing to hear and learn and internalize that if you're not pro active in addressing that it will manifest itself in a lot of ways. that's why we have racial profiling. that's why we're insensitive dealing with huge disparities in black unemployment, disparities in health, disparities in all
the metrics that measure a good quality of life. we're very insensitive in responding to it because we haven't addressed the way we elm grace these differences that marks inferiority and lack of opportunity and we have to confront that if we're going make progress. >> chris, you said you hope that the president comes out with a big jobs proposal or a big proposal with this speech he'll make in a few hours. i fwond you think the minimum wage will be a part of that. it's worth noting in the original march of washington protesters were asking minimum wage to be raced from $1.15 to $2. in today's dollars that would be $13.90 which is higher than the federal minimum wage. do you think the president can press on this issue and make any headway? >> that's fine. my fight is for jobs. i think you got to put people to work. i got to say something about bill russell.
bill russell was a pioneer. he and casey jones came out of the university of san francisco back in '54. they won the national championship. you think about african-american domination in the world of basketball. these guys were the first guys to show the prowess of the basketball stars. look at the prejudice he faced at the university of san francisco, the prejudice he continued to face in boston playing for the celtics and that dynasty they represented. there was a lot of prejudice back then this guy overcame. bill russell is a great, great figure and i'm so glad he was here today. on jobs that's the key. sure we'll get a living wage. i want a living wage not just a minimum wage. but jobs. this president has to get up. the government of the united states is capable creating jobs. it does it in war time with defense industries. it's a fact of life like gravity the government can create jobs.
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dream lives on. we're here on the mall with the reverend martin luther king jr. turned the steps of the lincoln memorial into a his pulpit preaching to people about freedom and opportunity. this afternoon president obama the nation first black president will honor king's legacy. we're joined by former presidents bill clinton and jimmy carter and later joined by civil rights leaders that echo today's dream of let liberty ring. >> are you ready to go? are you ready to demonstrate? we must hit back to the streets and liberate and free all god's children. >> it is with a clear conscience, knowing what we've done and can do that we will reach that mountain top and we will overcome. >> we all have a duty to make
sure the world keeps streaming for better things. >> hallelujah. hallelujah. hallelujah. today i'm andrea mitchell live on the mall on this 50th anniversary. it's my honor and peripheral theocracy whir watching this commemoration of dr. martin luther king, jr.'s march for jobs and freedom here 50 years ago today. i'm here of course with "hardball" anchor and reporter today chris matthews. chris, we've been listening to the speeches and watching and thinking about what happened here