tv 1968 - America in Turmoil 2018 Civil Rights Race Relations CSPAN December 30, 2018 11:59pm-1:30am EST
there is very little upon which you find that americans really agree on these days. host: for your insight, perspective men stories, barbara perry and pat buchanan, thank you. guest: good to see you, friend. guest: our pleasure. >> now we continue our series america in turmoil. and68a look at civil rights race relations, including martin luther king -- martin luther .ing's first, here is walter concrete on april 4, 1968, announcing that martin luther king jr. has an shot and killed.
>> good evening. dr. martin luther king, the apostle of nonviolence in the civil rights move it has been shot to death in memphis, tennessee. in all points bulletin for a young white man seen running from the scene. dr. king was standing on the balcony of his second-floor hotel room when according to a companion, a shot was fired from across the street. the bullet exploded in his face. he had been keeping a close eye on the nobel peace prize winner. they rushed the 39-year-old leader to a hospital where he died of a bullet wound to the neck. they found a high-powered hunting rifle a black way but it was not immediately identified as the murder weapon.
curfew and aawn march erected in violence. calling out for thousand national guardsmen. the murder has touched off sporadic acts of violence. in a nationwide television address combination is shocked. >> america is shocked and saddened tonight over the death of dr. martin luther king. i ask every citizen to reject blind violence that has struck dr. king, who lived by nine that -- i nonviolence. i pray that -- by nonviolence. all that he tried to do for the land that he loved so well. sympathy ofhe johnson and myself.
i know that every american of goodwill joins me in mourning the death of this out dancing leader and praying for peace and understanding throughout this land. nothing byeve lawlessness. and decisiveness. among the american people. togethery by joining and only by working together can we continue to move towards equality and fulfillment for all of our people. i hope that all americans hearts will search their as they ponder this most tragic incident. atlanta inorn in 1929.
he was the son and grandson of ministers in atlanta and had an extended education. he graduated with a doctorate from bought -- boston university and got his first masters in birmingham, alabama. -- montgomery, alabama. he took leadership of a bus boy stop. he won that strike. his nonviolent campaigns spread through the south and he became the leader of the southern christian leadership conference. roconference of primarily neg ministers. a voice been considered of moderation. white leaders looked to his
policy of nonviolence. you looking back to 1968, america in turmoil. walter concrete on the death of martin luther king jr.. we will be talking about it this morning. that topic and others as we cover civil rights and race relations. we are joined by kathleen cleaver. and from austin, texas, we neil joseph. back to the end of 1967. where the civil rights movement was.
the decision had been handed down. i think the state of the movement was very strong. there was a lot of debate and controversy. in a way, we think about the civil rights move and dr. martin luther king jr. as this iconic figure. motivatorpolitical and there are a number of movements. 1967, we are seeing black power activists who are talking about community control all the the u.s. groups that professor cleaver was a part of. activism and imperialism. talking about poverty.
by 1968, king is talking about poor people campaign. you have young, black gold radicals talking about everything from educational activism and the creation of black student union to anti-imperialist strategy and anti-capitalist critiques. he really understands what is going on at the local level. they are talking about everything from community control and free breakfast programs, but also they are questioning the legitimacy of state sanctioned violence. the high rates of incarceration then of black men.
they are questioning police brutality at the local level. they are really looking at poverty. the first thing they do in oakland, california is trying to get a streetlight set up at a corner where african-americans have in hit by cars in oakland. we think about 67, the move meant is a panoramic movement. say that he goes north because he goes to chicago, but it was always a movement happening in chicago, new york and outside this mouth -- the south. , civild the police dogs rights activist murdered. thead protesters beaten on beach of saint augustine, florida. political activism during the
from 54 tos movement six -- 1968 was happening in virtually every city across the u.s. movement hashe lost some of the cohesiveness that we have seen that it was going through in the aftermath montgomery west boycott. bus boycott. really trying to reimagine black citizenship. things like afor living wage, the right for black women and men to have good jobs thatomes and schools
actually educate young people. host: kathleen cleaver, you were in your young -- you are in your mid-20's. what did you see as the biggest barrier to be overcome? we were in the movement. what we saw as the biggest challenge was political empowerment of people being subjected to racism and poverty, particularly police violence. self-defense, community control justice --social there was a range of issues. the key focus was against police violence and against directed against black people. host: some of the key issues we will be talking about.
year 1968, we will be talking about the vietnam war and its impact on civil rights in this country. in 1968.ffensive began strike started february 29. relations -- the days after martin luther king's sf nation, there were riots in many cities. act.ng the fair housing kennedy won the california primary and was shot after his rally and died the next day. sat and john carlos protesting at the olympic games. richard nixon elected president.
we will talk about the impact his presidency had on the head. we will be talking about all that this morning on our 1968, america in turmoil series. call the number. those 61 and older, we want to hear your memories. yourtroduced you and position as the former communication secretary for the black panther party. how did you get involved? conference and invited quite a few civil rights leaders. to make a long story short, he me anddly in love with
persuaded me to come out to california. we got engaged, we got married. it was very much in line with the thinking and planning. it was an organization that has darted many years ago. the black panther party was brand-new. it was very exciting and engaging, filled with very positive, energized young men and women. host: professor joseph, you talked about the civil rights meant. how did white america use these different organizations? by 1968, there will be what some people call a white\. this idea that there was that sun --e support for the
for the civil rights struggle. generally, when you look from polling data to the state of the nation at the time, we are increasingly at unease with this idea of civil right. by the time we see urban president'swhat the -- the current commission calls , it starts inrs 1963 in birmingham, alabama. 1964, parliament's loads. the neighborhood in los angeles explodes after the passage of the voting rights act. insive urban rebellions detroit in 1967. we will have hundreds of civil disturbances in hundreds of american cities.
what the current commission that the root of the violence and the writing is going to be poverty and institutional races. white racism has created and and itned urban ghettos is only white society that can get rid of these ghettos. they will be increasing unease. there is increasing unease about rhetoric that black power activists are engaged in. what they do in contrast to civil rights activist is they talk about structural oppression. they link the war in vietnam with the ineffectiveness of the war on poverty. brutality withe the impoverishment of african-americans in rural and urban areas.
they are talking about race class. by 1968, gender as well, when we think about radical black feminist. including feminist who were connected, who became part of the black women's alliance and the third world women's alliance. when we think about how the white public is perceiving it, it will be for the most part negative. it is interesting to remember that martin luther king jr., by 19 68 is not the same mainstream hero he is by the end of 1964 when he accepts the nobel peace prize. touring the country like a man on fire. galvanize broad-based support for a poor people's campaign. planning to go to washington and
stay in washington until congress passes meaningful poverty -- anti-poverty legislation. a defined income for all americans. we have congress persons who had praised king after winning the nobel peace rise, saying that he is in anarchist, a socialist and that he is un-american. , likeis a feeling of doom the subversives have taken over. this is one of the things that dr. king said. he starts to feel that even white liberal are abandoning the movement because so many white americans are embracing this idea of peace, of monde order without justice. tense year,redibly but a hopeful and optimistic civil rightsof 70 activists and black power
activists talking about the transformation at the grassroots level. they are talking about everything from community control of urban schools. they are talking about building farm cooperatives in the south. they are definitely talking also theicials, but relationship between african-americans and africa and u.s. foreign-policy. is this the right economic system for poor black people? they are really trying to reimagine what edison ship will look like in the future. it is an incredibly hopeful time as well. we mentioned one of those activists earlier. who was huey newton? guest: he started an organization with his friend. they created an organization.
they outlined the platform, gave it a name. they were just two men, but they had a vision. startedy started, they in oakland. it really got a lot of attention very quickly. host: what was that organization? guest: black panther party for self-defense. is one of them idiocies. the police, they occupy our community. the police there in our community, not to promote our welfare. they are there to contain us. to brutalize.
they have their orders to do so. just as a soldier in vietnam has her orders to destroy the vietnamese people. the police in our community could not possibly be there to protect our property. they could not possibly be there to see we receive due process of law for the same reason the police do not ask for due process of law. it is very apparent that the police and our community is not there for our security, but the security of the business owners in the community, and to keep the status quo intact. >> they are not aware. know whateople don't is going on with the black people. all of those rights are causing our lives to be miserable. they really haven't focused in on the fact that it is big.
the power structure, the baldheaded businessmen at the chamber of commerce, they are not turned on the that power structure. -- from san francisco state. it was so positive, so optimistic, so full of energy. the organization that i left was at the point of breakdown and burnout after eight years of confrontin
host: what do you want to pick up on from that? guest: when you talk about all the deaths that were occurring, andite the assassinations, we can go as far back as 1963 with the kennedy assassination and edgar evers in mississippi who was assassinated june 11, 1963, those assassinations certainly had a big impact, but it is important to remember that the protests and demonstrations continued to proliferate in spite of those assassinations.
in a way, what we see is that political assassinations rob social movements of narratives that are formed, especially in the 1960's, predominantly male figures, but it doesn't mean that the movement goes away. you will see more protests against the vietnam war than before. 1968, we see more protests for community control, women's activism,icano antiwar activism, civil rights, social rights, all the way into the mid-1970's. so when we think about those associations, we remember them as important pivot points, but it is important to recall that the social movements don't end because we have these big political mobilizer's or these icons who are assassinated.
whether a figure as a woman or a are day-to-day organizers -- what he's doing is he's able to galvanize attention for what people are doing at the local level. and even though when people are assassinated, there is not necessarily that focal point in that figurehead who can bring that kind of media attention. the movement definitely continues. >> this brings up robert kennedy. he enters the presidential race for the democratic nomination in march of 1968. what did he mean to the civil rights movement in 1968?
guest: i'm not so certain that the civil rights movement, -- at least not the wing i was in which had a different energy -- bobby kennedy articulated as a mainstream politicians some of the interests that the social justice movement had, which is more than likely why he didn't get a chance to get out the gate. he was murdered as soon as he made a speech. the right-wing repression that was coming, it's made it clear that the politics of robert kennedy, of social justice, antiwar, were being repudiated. that set the tone for a very radical uprising across the country. host: we set the tone for this
discussion with a news report, 50 years ago this week. describe your memory of learning about the death of martin luther king, jr. remember -- i was in oakland at the time. i was at the black panther party headquarters in oakland, and what i remember was how stunned and angry black people around the country where. was set on d.c. fire. there were tons of uprising, riots, protests. the country seemed to be in a state of total chaos, and what was so intriguing was that clearly there was the instruction to stand down. explosion ofe anger and frustration and violence in the wake of the
assassination of martin luther king. host: professor, why was martin luther king, jr. in memphis on that day in 1968? guest: he was in memphis because he had been called by one of his good, close friends, the reverend jim lawson, who was helping to organize sanitation workers in memphis, tennessee, who were on strike for a living wage. king starts going there and giving speeches, and one time during the visit, one of the demonstrations turned violent, not because of the demonstrators who were part of the organized civil rights activism, but because of outliers, young people in the city who were frustrated, and they smashed some windows, and king was determined to return to memphis to have a rally that is peaceful, because people are critical -- critics are saying if you can't have a peaceful
rally in memphis, how can he come down to washington, d.c. and camp in this tent city? so he was in memphis because, by 1968, king is convinced that the vietnam war is this amoral, illegal war, a war that has robbed resources from poor people and attention from the plight of the poor. he goes to places like sparks, mississippi and he goes to the southwest and meets up with mexican american activists, farmworkers. he meets up with poor whites as well, and he will have a whole caravan of -- a multiracial caravan that will come to d.c . in the summer. by the summer, he's talking about a guaranteed income. and remember, 50 years ago,
there were many americans across political lines who were talking about a guaranteed income as a way to fight poverty and end poverty and joblessness once and for all. some people talked about full employment and how would that work, a works progress administration. when king went to memphis, he used memphis as the first beach head in this larger battle for social justice. even though king is always, always articulating a philosophy of nonviolence, journalists and politicians will criticize him
him say he's trying to bring violence to washington, d.c. when all he is trying to do is force the united states into a reckoning with the gap between democratic rhetoric and reality, especially for poor people. but for people of all colors. he is interested in racial justice and economic justice but he sees the connection between race and class. host: nearly halfway through our discussion on this week's installment of america in turmoil, about the civil rights movement and race relations. we split our phone line up differently this morning. if you are 29 and under, it is (202)-748-8000. years old to 60 years old, (202)-748-8001. if you are 61 years and older, (202)-748-8002. nicholas has been waiting in nashville, tennessee, on the line or 29 and under. caller: good morning. i am glad to come across this conversation today.
i want to ask about the speakers thoughts on the leadership organization and structure of today in the black revolution because often times, they talk about the focal points that it was the heart and soul of those movements, and every action, but the reality is they were not. i am curious on what you think about how the revolution looks today and the organized structure and is there anything you want to highlight from your experiences from your life for people who are under 29 and for that next generation, what would you like us to learn or pay more attention to? host: kathleen cleaver, i will let you start. guest: what is important to understand is they were mass organizations of people in the united states triggered in large
part by the dislocations of the war in vietnam but the sense of hope, also, that it would change and that king and people like him or articulating a different vision for america and they were masses and masses of people who believed america could change. i remember being with radical revolutionary activist, who were mostly 25 or younger, down to teenagers, who really consent this is a moment where we could change the country. we talked about changing the world, so there was optimism, america was a wealthy place with resources, and the vietnam war dislocated the whole country and challenged and made it possible for people to think of revolutionary transformation, whether peaceful or violence, and the country.
host: dr. joseph, did you want to weigh in? guest: certainly. 1968 really is a global year of political revolution. when we think of domestically in 1968, 1 of the slogans is going to be a hold world is watching when young activist are being brutalized at the democratic national convention in chicago. what they mean by the whole world is watching, they mean the whole world was watching what american democracy meant for people protesting for social justice and the huge cavern between democratic rhetoric and reality when it came to reimagining american sedition -- american citizenship. globally, we are thinking about czech slovakia, mayday demonstrations across europe, latin america, south america, africa, anti-colonial struggles, students who are striking throughout the world, so 1968 is
this feeling of political revolution and optimism, and also cultural revolution. the question was about leadership today. i think leadership today in terms of contemporary movements, and we see this with black lives matter and the me too movement, the recent youth march, and also with the dreamers and immigration and daca movements. leadership is structured in a much more cohesive and democratic way. the founder famously says strong people do not need strong leaders, and what she means by this, and she was a radical feminist, trade unionists, worked with dr. king, men toward stokely carmichael, the young activist of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, and she met people themselves were going to have to organize for their own justice
and rights. when we think about now with the social movements that are happening in the contemporary context, the huge positive is, one, many are female lead, and they we think of the 1960's, women were leaders but a lot of times, marginalized when we think of public transcript of the 1960's. now we see women, such as the cofounders of black lives matter, who are out there in a public in brilliance way, and these movements are not relying on one figurehead or iconic leader, and that makes them much more powerful and more effective and long-lasting.
host: let me let kathleen cleaver jump in. do you agree with his assessment on how women leaders of the black power movement were remembered and part of the story? guest: at that era, the concept of women leadership was somewhat subdued. there was no question the civil rights movement was woman led and woman directed -- i am thinking gloria richardson, ella baker, but the willingness of the media and black community to enhance the role of man, so women were not seeking recognition as much as participation, and it was fundamental and essential. host: what was the role of the communication secretary? how did you get that job? guest: i came to the black panther party from the organization called snicc, and we were planning a demonstration at the alameda county courthouse, went she removed was arrested and shot and charged with attempted murder and murder and he was coming to court and we were going to have a demonstration.
my first thing to do was write a press release announcing the demonstration. i had just come into the black panther party recently, so the press release had to go out and i had to identify who said it. i said, communications secretary of the black panther party, kathleen cleaver. host: you gave yourself the title? guest: yes. julian vaughn was the communication director of snicc, and i modeled myself on julian i called myself secretary because there was also a minister of information, a chairman, so that was my title and i took it myself. host: dallas, texas, charles between 30 and 60. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you. it is an honor to speak with one of the mothers of the movements, as well as the distinguished professor of texas. i am right up the street from you in dallas but i grew up in sacramento, california, where the latest example of heart
break and police violence has happened. i want to say how amazing the panthers in dr. king were able to describe america as this immaculate rolls-royce with a knocked off engine. it looked good but socially, there was a limit. guest: i think it is brilliant. i have never heard that before. there is a huge difference in between what people experience and desire and what is actually happening in this country. i believe in the 1960's, what we saw was a waking up among black people, latino people, exploited people of what was being done to them, and looking at how we can take this on and because of vietnam. it was something said malcolm x said that resonated, little yellow men in black jobless are taking down uncle sam. it was like small people, poor people can make a difference in the
world, and that was radicalizing across the country. host: professor joseph, bring this back to 50 years ago this weekend and the death of martin luther king jr., who was james earl ray and what was his motive in the assassination? guest: he is the assassin of martin luther king jr. and his motive by all reports was just racial hatred and unease with what king represented in the world, in the sense of the social land political change and transformation that dr. king was trying to achieve. guest: i would like to say something. i don't think the king family accepted and the king's british attorney accepted that he was the shooter. they saw him as holding a position to cover up who actually killed king.
host: covering up for who? guest: the people who organized the assassination. that he was a front but not the killer. host: what do you believe? guest: i believe that. i don't think one man will take down martin luther king. it had to the a form of conspiracy and probably one more than one shooter. host: what do you think, dr. joseph? guest: as the historian, i go with the historical record, but i acknowledge that there have been doubts. they are raised by different orders, including the king family posthumously, questioning the way in which evidence was gathered, questioning whether james earl rate in fact murder -- ray in fact murdered their father. when we think of historical records, i go with historical record that james earl ray is the shooter until and unless we
are presented with rocksolid evidence that shows something different. guest: i guess you understand that the rocksolid evidence is seriously being covered up. guest: you know, i understand that people are saying that and i would love to see and hear more. i have read those perspectives, definitely. host: i want to go back to that night 50 years ago on april 4. this is the ideal of robert kennedy announcing the death of martin luther king jr. at an impromptu speech in indianapolis. here is what he had to say. [video clip] >> in this difficult day, and this difficult time for the united states, people ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in? for those of you who are black, considering the evidence
evidently is that there were white people responsible, you can be filled with bitterness and with hatred, and a desire for revenge. we can move in that direction as a country and greater polarization, black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. or we can make an effort, as martin luther king did, to understand and to comprehend and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand compassion and love. , compassion and love for those of you who are black and are tempted to be
,illed with hatred and distrust of the injustice of such an act. against all white people. i would only say that i can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. i had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. we have to make an effort in the united states. we have to make an effort to was an explosion acrossnd your
the country. there were riots, uprising, rebellions. washington, d.c., 14th street were on fire. the police were standing down so the black panther party wanted to respond. believe peoplet should go out and riot so they took it upon themselves, a group of panthers took it on themselves to engage in actions in response to king's assassination and the groups were about eight panthers in a car who were going to essentially attack police and respond. but does what ended up happening , a a group got scattered small contingent ended up in a and wereoakland shooting back and forth with the oakland police. and -- were in the
when we sink about the immediate aftermath of dr. king's assassination, his funeral in atlanta is going to be seen by over 100 million americans. mule, ain is carried by mule train in atlanta. every major presidential funerale attends king's -- eugene mccarthy, bobby kennedy, hubert humphrey, richard nixon. president lyndon johnson, because of security concerns, does not attend the funeral, but equivalentorded the of a state funeral. when we think about what's going on with college campuses in black communities, there's a huge sense of mourning. at times, there is a sense of rage. 125 cities erupted in violence. then there's a sense of organizing that takes place, as well.
when we think about the king assassination, it becomes a global event. there's going to be sympathy demonstrations around the world, europe, africa, latin america, sending telegrams to the king family and the united states in solidarity with king's memory. be -- thelly going to country will be reeling in the aftermath of the assassination. and for a time, bobby kennedy, who's at the start of what becomes an 82 day campaign for president until he's assassinated himself, like andy young, one of his lieutenants, many people start to transfer some of the feeling that they had -- not necessarily black power activists, but mainstream african-americans -- the feeling and the loyalty they have toward king, toward robert f kennedy, if kennedy can somehow bind the