tv 1968 - America in Turmoil 2018 Civil Rights Race Relations CSPAN December 31, 2018 1:35pm-3:06pm EST
>> our pleasure. now, we continue our series. 1968, america in turmoil, with a look at civil rights and race relations, including martin luther king jr.'s poor people's campaign, his assassination in memphis, black power, and the commission report. our guests are kathleen cleaver, former black panther communications secretary, and historian peniel joseph of the lbj school of public affairs. first, here's cbs anchor walter cronkite on april 4th, 1968, announcing that martin lute every king jr. has been shot and killed. >> good evening. dr. martin luther king, the apostle of nonviolence in the civil rights movement, has been shot to death in memphis, tennessee. police have issued an all-points bulletin for a well-dressed young white man seen running from the scene.
officers also reportedly chased and fired on a radio equipped car containing two white men. dr. king was standing on the balcony of a second-floor hotel room tonight when, according to a companion, a shot was fired from across the street. in the friend's words, the bullet exploded in his face. police, who have been keeping a close watch over the nobel peace prize winner because of memphis turbulent racial situation, were on the scene almost immediately. they rushed the 39-year-old negro leader to a hospital where he died of a bullet wound in the neck. police said they found a high-powered hunting rifle about a block from the hotel, but it was not immediately identified as the murder weapon. the mayor has reinstated the dusk to dawn curfew imposed on the city last week. governor ellington has called out 4,000 national guardsmen. police report that the murder has touched off sporadic acts of
violence in a negro section of the city. in a nationwide address, president johnson expressed the nation's shock. >> america is shocked and saddened by the brutal slaying of dr. martin luther king. i ask every citizen to reject the blind violence that has struck dr. king who lived by nonviolence. i pray that his family can find comfort in the memory of all he tried to do for the land he loved so well. i have just conveyed sympathy of mrs. johnson, myself, to his widow, mrs. king. i know that every american of goodwill joins me in mourning the death of this outstanding leader and in praying for peace and understanding throughout this land. we can achieve nothing by lawlessness and divisiveness among the american people. it's only by joining together
and only by working together can we continue to move toward equality and fulfillment for all of our people. i hope that all americans tonight will search their hearts as they ponder this most tragic incident. >> king was born in atlanta, january 15, 1929. he was the son and grandson of prominent negro ministers in atlanta and he had an extended education. he graduated finally with a doctor rat from boston university in 1954 and got his first pastorate in birmingham, alabama.
it was there he was -- or montgomery, alabama 37 it was there he was to win fame because in december 1955 he took leadership of a bus boycott there and he -- and with policy of nonviolence over period of a year won that strike with the federal desegregation order in alabama. his nonviolent campaign spread through the south and he became the leader of the southern christian leadership conference, a conference primarily of negro ministers. since the rise of radical negros since as stokley carmichael and rap brown, king had been considered a voice of moderation and white leaders had looked to his policy of nonviolence as a hopeful antidote to those who preached riot and hatred. >> we're looking back to 1968: america in turmoil on c-span and c-span3's american history tv. that report from walter cronkite on the death of martin luther king jr. occurring 50 years ago this week.
we're going to be talking about it this morning. certainly that topic and others as we cover civil rights and race relations from 1968. we're joined for that discussion this morning by kathleen cleaver, senior lecturer at emory university school of law as well as a former communications secretary for the black panther party, and from austin, texas, we welcome back peniel joseph, center for race and democracy as ut-austin. professor joseph, i want to begin with you. take us back to the end of 1967 and where the civil rights movement was as 1968 was dawning. this was 13 years since the brown v. board of education decision had been handed down. what was the state of the movement? >> well, i think the state of the movement was very strong, but it was also -- there was a
lot of debate and there was a lot of controversy. in a way, when we think about the civil rights movement and dr. martin luther king jr. as this significant figure, this iconic figure, king is really a political mobilizer and there are a number of different movements. so, there are movements within the movement. so, by 1967, we're seeing black power activists who are talking about community control all across the united states. they're talking about radical, social, political, cultural, self-determination. we've got groups like the student nonviolent coordinating committee, sncc, which professor cleaver was also a part of, who are talking about anti-war activism and anti-imperialism. we have the national welfare rights organization that's talking about poverty. in that way, by 1968, king is talking about a poor people's campaign and an antipoverty campaign, at the same time that you've got young black political radicals who are talking about everything from, you know, educational activism and the
creation of black student unions, to anti-imperialist strategies and anticapitalist critiques. certainly the black panthers and the black panther party for self-defense really understands what's happening at the local level in a place like oakland, california, and really, in an era before black lives matter, they are talking about everything from community control and free breakfast programs, but also they're questioning the legitimacy of state sanctioned violence. they're questioning the high rates of incarceration then, 1967, 1968, the black men, black men and women. they're questioning police brutality at the local level. they're really looking at poverty. one of the first things the panthers do in oakland, california, is try to get a streetlight set up at a corner where african-americans have
been hit by cars in oakland in the east bay. so when we think about '67, the movement is a movement of movements. it's a panoramic movement. sometimes people will say dr. king goes north because he goes to chicago. there was always a movement happening in chicago and new york and outside of the south. at times the media focused on the old confederacy because we had the police dogs in birmingham, alabama. we had civil rights activists murdered in mississippi in 1964. we had protesters beaten on the beach of st. augustine, florida, in the summer of 1964, but in truth, the heroic period civil rights movement, from '54 to roughly '68 was happening really virtually in every major city but also rural, urban hamlet across the united states. so by '67, what we see is that the movement has lost in the minds of the american public
some of the cohesiveness that we had seen when the movement was going for the voting rights act and the civil rights act in the aftermath of brown, in the aftermath of emmett till and the montgomery bus boycott, but in fact the movement was going for more than just civil rights or voting rights. it's trying to transform american democracy and really reimagine black citizenship by calling for an end to not just racial and economic oppression but it's calling for things like a living wage, the right for black women and men to have good jobs, decent homes, and schools that actually educate young people. >> and on that, kathleen cleaver, you're in your early 20s at this point at the end of 1967. you're involved in the civil rights movement. what did you see as the biggest barriers yet to be overcome as 1968 dawned?
>> well, we were in the movement that -- i was in the student nonviolent coordinating committee. that's where the call for black power came. what we saw was the biggest challenge of political empowerment of people being subjected to racism and poverty, particularly police violence. and so the issues of self-defense, community control of police, food, social justice. there was a range of issues. but the key focus of the movements i was in was against police brutality and against violence directed towards blacks. >> i want to go over some of the key dates and issues we'll be talking about in the year 1968 as we discuss civil rights and race relations. we're going to be talking about the vietnam war and its impact on civil rights in this country. the tet offensive begins on january 30th, 1968. february 12th, the memphis sanitation strike begins. february 29th, the kerner commission releases its report on race relations in the
country. of course april 4th, martin luther king jr. was assassinated. the days after martin luther king jr.'s assassination, rioting in chicago, baltimore, washington, d.c., and other cities. on april 11th, president johnson signs the fair housing act. on june 4th, 5th, and 6th, robert kennedy wins the california primary. he's shot after his victory rally. he died the next day, on the 6th. october 16th, that iconic image of olympic athletes tommie smith and john carlos. november 5th, the impact. we'll be talking about that on the movement. we'll talk about all of that in our special series. special phone lines if you want to join the conversation. 202-748-8000. if you're 29 years old and
under, for those 30 years old to 60s years old. 202-748-8001. the phone line for those 61 and older, we want to hear from you, your memories of that year, 202-748-8002. kathleen cleaver, we introduced you as well as your position at emory as the former communications secretary for the black panther party. how did you get involved in the black panther party? >> i was in an organization called student nonviolent coordinating committee. we had a conference, and invited quite a few civil rights leaders. the only one who managed to get there was eldridge cleaver. the leader of the black panther party. he fell madly in love with me and persuaded me i should come out to california, which i did. we got engaged, we got married. i got involved in the organization he was a part of, called the black panther party, which was very much in line with the thinking and planning of snic. but snic was an organization that started many years ago and was in a state of chaos.
and the black panther party was brand-new, had been in existence for about a year. it was very exciting and engaging and filled with very positive, energized young men and women. it was great. >> professor joseph, you talked about the organization of the civil rights movement at the time, the different organizations that were out there. how did white america view these different organizations that we've already talked about as well as dr. king's movement? >> well, by 1968 there's going to be what some people call a white backlash against the movement, and this is this idea that there was that one time real broad based support for civil rights struggles and racial equality. generally white people, when we look at everything from polling data and the state of the nation at the time were increasingly at unease with this idea of civil rights.
by the time we see urban rebellions, what critics called race riots and what the president, the kerner commission calls civil disorders that start in 1963 in birmingham, alabama. by 1964, harlem explodes. in '65, the watts neighborhood in los angeles explodes a few days after the passage of the voting rights act, and we see massive urban rebellions in newark and detroit in 1967. so between '63 and 1968, we'll have hundreds of civil disturbances in hundreds of american cities, and what the kerner commission argues, and that's the president's own commission is that root of the violence and the rioting is going to be poverty and institutional racism. it says that white racism has created and maintained urban
ghettos and its only white society that can get rid of these ghettos, in that sense. so there's going to be increasing unease and there's increasing unease about the the level of radical rhetoric that rhetoric that black power activists are engaged in. because what black power activists do in contrast to civil rights activists, they really talk about structural oppression. they link the war in vietnam with the ineffectiveness of the war on poverty and great society programs. they link police brutality with the emisseration and poverty in rural areas and they're talking about race class and really by 1968 gender as well, hen we talk about radical black feminists who are organizing including feminists who are connected to snic who are the black women's
alliance and then the third world women's alliance so when we think about how the white public is perceiving civil rights, it is going to be for the most part negative, and it is interesting to remember that martin luther king jr., by 1968, is not the same mainstream hero he is by the end of 1964, when he accepts the nobel peace prize. by 1968, king is touring the country like a man on fire, critiquing the johnson administration about the vietnam war, trying to galvanize broad-based support for a multi-racial poor people's campaign, planning to go to washington and stay in washington, until congress passes meaningful poverty legislation, anti-poverty legislation, that dr. king defines as a guaranteed income for all americans. we've got congress, congress persons who had praised king after winning the nobel peace
prize for saying that he is an anarchist, that he is a socialist and that he is unamerican, so when we think about 1968, there is a feeling of doom as if the subversives have taken over. and what is interesting, and this is one of the things that dr. king says, is that he starts to feel that even white liberals are abandoning the movement because so many white americans are embracing this notion of peace and law and order with no justice. so when we think about 1968, it is going to be an incredibly tense year, but it is also a hopeful year and an optimistic year because so many, not only civil rights activists but black power activists are trying to talk about the politics of transformation at the grass roots level, and when you think about those politics, they're talking about everything from community control of urban schools, they're talking about building farm cooperatives, in the rural south, they're definitely talking about black elected officials, but they're
also talking about welfare rights activism, they're talking about the relationship between african-americans in africa and u.s. foreign policy. they're critiquing capitalism and saying is this the right economic system for poor black people. and they're really trying to reimagine what citizenship will look like in the future so it is an incredibly hopeful time as zblel we mentioned one of the black power activists as well, el dridge cleaver, who is huey newton. >> huey newton was a law student in oakland, california, who started an organization, along with his friends, bobby feel, he and bobby had met at merit college and they created an organization, they outlined the platform, they gave it a name, and they were just two men, but they had a vision of what hang should be like. and once they started, they started it in oakland, people flocked into the organization, and it really got very, a lot of
attention, very, very quickly. >> and what was that organization? >> black panther party for self-defense. >> and here is huey newton and eldridge cleaver speaking about the black panther party in 1968. >> in america, black people are treated very much as vietnamese people or any other colonized people, brutalized, by the police in the community, occupied our area, our community, as a foreign troop occupies territory, and the police are there, not to, in our community, not to promote our welfare, or for our security and our safety, but they're there to contain us, to brutalize us and murder us. because they have their orders to do so. and just as the soldiers in vietnam have their orders to destroy the vietnamese people. the police in our community couldn't possibly be there to protect that property because we own no property.
they couldn't possibly be there to see the due process of law, for the simple reason that the police themselves did not have the due process of law. and so it is very apparent that the police are only in our community, not for our security, but for the security of the business owners and the community, and also to show that the state is kept intact. >> people here, they are not really aware of it. they know shifts are going on in this country somewhere but a lot of people don't know where it is at. they think it's the black people doing it. all those riots are causing my life to be miserable, in all area, you know. and they really haven't focused on the fact that it is the, mentor, the power structure, the chamber of commerce, the businessmen, they're not turned on to black power structure, they just know their life is becoming increasingly miserable
for everybody. >> kathleen cleaver, tell us about the early days of being involved in the black panther party. >> it was very excited because it was a new organization. it was in the middle of the vietnam war. young people flocked into the black panther party, a large number of college students, from san francisco state and merit college, and it was so positive, so optimistic, so full of energy, that the organization, the student nonviolent coordinating committee which was at the point of breakdown and burnout after eight years of confronting racism and demonstrations and losing money and articulated black power but by the time they made that articulation, the organization was pretty much kapool. the black panther party took that and ran with it and spread it across the country, on the concept of black power. >> did the black power party endorse violence? >> the back panther party was initially called the black panther party for self-defense.
the violence is all around them. plaque people were being shot in the streets. pov tip was violence. the violence was against us. we were not a violent organization. we were an organization trying to challenge and defend our communities against the existing violence. >> professor joseph, can you talk a bit about the tactics of the black panther party? >> well, i would say that the tactics are going to be multiple, there's going to be multiple strategy, like professor cleaver was saying, the initial name was black panther party for self-defense, so when we think about the ten-point program or really a 20-point program that the panthers outlined in '66 and updated by '68, what we want and what we need, they talked about everything from ending plus brutality, to freeing black women and men who were in state and local and federal prison, toing have employment, good jobs, good school, good education, point ten talked
about land, peace, bread and justice. at one level the tactic was self-defense, and legally arming themselves, at least by the fall of 1966, but before the state of california passes anti-or passes gun control legislation, that's really anti-panther legislation by the spring of 1967, which is one of the reason the panthers in may 1967, go to sacramento to protest this gun control bill, which was to prevent panthers from patrolling the police armed which was legal in the state of california at the time. so on one level, we've got this marshal military image of the panthers with the berets and the leather jackets, and rifles, there's an iconic picture of professor cleaver in that mode. another strategy was really this strategy of community
empowerment, and the strategy of anti-poverty and survival programs, what they later called survival programs and this was this idea of survival pending revolution, and so when we think about the panthers, we think of not just free breakfast programs and free lunch programs, but food give-aways, legal aid, there is a great book by alandra nelson, looking at the black panthers, and the medical clinics that they did. when we think about the panthers, they also anticipated the rise of mass incarceration, and they had free bussing to prison programs, and you know, they had an ambulance service, they had tenants rights organizations, legal aid. they were also interested in drug rehabilitation and the mental health of the black community. they were interested in food justice. when we think about the environment, the panthers talk about capitalism, plus dope equals genocide which is one of the iconic pamphlets of the party, in 1970-71. so in a way, there is a dual
strategy. the group is a janice-faced group on the sense of one level they are talking about defending the black community, there's going to be strains of the group that talk about even proactive revolutionary activities, but then there's another aspect of the group that really at times attracts much less attention, but that has been very, very substan substantive, and that's the strategy of empowering impoverished people mentally, physically, spiritually, and also providing them critical thinking skills to understand what's going on. because that clip you played of huey newton and eldridge cleavers is really profound and powerful because you're watching two different political activists who are also intellectuals and theorists and what they're doing is theorizing about the structure and the nature of political and racial and economic oppression in the united states. and 50 years later, when we
think about the movement for black lives mattering, that is completely connected in trying to build on what the panthers realized when we think about the way in which the state was institutionalizing the repression of african-americans. 2.3 million people in prison right now, about half of them african-americans, 6, 7, 8 million on parole or probation, and over 1 million children, many of them who are black, who have parents who are in prison, incarcerated. and the panthers really formulate, at the dawn of that era, that era of just not just mass incarceration but what the panthers were calling state-sanctioned violence. and by that, they meant the police, they meant law enforcement, but like professor cleavers said, they were also talking about economic violence. the reason they start the free breakfast programs is because so many black people and black children were impoverished and
those free breakfast programs eventually become something that is widespread and that gets institutionalized in cities like milwaukee and states like wisconsin, and eventually at the federal level as well. >> we're looking back 50 years, to 1968, the civil rights and race relations, in this country, joining us on the phone, is james in colin, mississippi. we put our phone lines up by age. james on the line for those 61 and older. james, good morning. >> caller: good morning, everybody. hello? >> go ahead, sir. you're on with kathleen cleaver and peniel joseph. >> i just want to hope everybody have a happy passover, and whatever else they have, to celebrate the death and birth of jesus christ. i was 14 years old back in '68, i'm thinking and i lived on both sides of the street, i lived in mississippi, and i lived in chicago, and i could tell the difference between night and day in some places.
and in some ways. but my main point was in 196, when dr. martin luther king was assassinated, i was in chicago, and i was, i saw the riot, i saw the burning of building, i saw things that was going on, and one thing about it, my mother would not allow me to bring anything in our house that was stolen. she refused to let us do that. but my point is this. in 2018, in going back that far, a lot has changed but there's a lot that has not changed. in the sense of when you say in 2018, you are going to make this country great again, and you are going to, what the hell you have to lose, black folks and african-americans, well, i don't think that america has always been great, and always will be
great, no matter what, but the think is you got to make america right again, because the civil rights marches and whites, blacks, and everybody back doing their time, it was not, it was not the government that exposed the wrong in this country, it was people getting out and marching. >> james, thanks for the call from mississippi. kathleen cleaver, i will let you take up some of the issues that he brings up there. >> well, he is talking about how people felt about what was happening, and i think the context, we're not talking about the war in vietnam, everything that was happening, and particularly in the civil rights and the black power movement, was generated and amplified and in some sense kicked off by the impact of the vietnam war and the impact of the draft and the sense of young men, that they were going to get killed or die, and some attitude was why should i go to vietnam and die in a rice patty, why don't i stay
home and fight for black freedom. and so the intensity of the black power and the civil rights energy in america was amplified over and over again, by the activities of the vietnam war, and by the population. these young high school men, being taken out of school, and shipped to vietnam, or this idea that they're not going to go to vietnam and become draft-dodgers or whatever. so there was a lot of turmoil involving war, involving racism, and the future of what this country is going to be. and i mean this is when our leaders like bobby kennedy get murdered as soon as they get elected. it was a very, very traumatized time. >> professor joseph, i will let you take angela in north olmsted ohio, on that line of people between 30 and 60 years old. good morning. >> caller: yes, good morning, and happy holidays to everybody in whatever way you celebrate today. i just want to say that when they started killing off all of the civil rights leaders, with
towards martin luther king and malcolm x, when all of the big people were gone, they swept us under the rug and said they're all a bunch of criminals and hoodlum, then they started locking us up in droves. it wouldn't matter if you were just, just if you was black, you would get locked up because you walked across the street sideways or something. and if you, you were the enemy against them, and now the police just shooting, running people over, they don't care. i never thought i would live to see anything like this in my lifetime. when my grandmother told me she never thought she would live to see a black man in the white house, she didn't live to see it, but i did. i lived my grandmother's dream. and then after he leaves the white house, look at tshambles
our nation is in. no one could have ever predicted this. >> professor joseph, what do you want to pick up on from that? >> well, i think when you talk about all of the deaths that were occurring, i think that despite the assassinations, and we can go as far back as '63 with both the kennedy assassination but also the snags nase of medgar ever, the naacp field secretary in mississippi who was assassinated june 11, or the early morning of june 12, 1963, those assassinations certainly had a big impact, but it is important to remember that the protests and the demonstrations continue to proliferate in spite of those assassinations. so in a way, what we see is that political assassinations sort of rob social movements of narratives that are formed around, especially in the 1960s, predominantly male figures, but it doesn't mean that the
movement goes away. so really, by after 1968, you are going to see more protests against the vietnam war, than before 1968. after 1968, we see more protests for community control, women's rights, chicano activism, anti-war activism, civil rights, social justice, black power activism all the way into the mid 1970s. when we think about thos assassination, we remember them as really important pivot points but it is important to recall that the social movements don't end because we have these big political mobilizers or these icons who are assassinated, because those, whether a leader, or representative, a spokesperson, is a woman or a man, they are representing a groundswell of political organizing that is happening at the local level, right? so there is no dr. martin luther king jr. without joanne robinson, the women's political
council in montgomery, alabama, or rosa parks, people who are actual day to day organizers. so what he is doing, as an articulator, is he is able to galvanize attention for what people are doing at the local level. an even though what movements lose when people are assassinated is that there is not necessarily that focal point and that figurehead who can bring that kind of media attention, but the movement is definitely continuing. >> kathleen cleever, the caller brings up robert ken i.d. he enters the presidential race for the democratic nomination in march of 1968. what did he mean to the civil rights movement in 1968? >> i'm not so certain that the civil rights movement in 1968, and he's not the wing that i was, in and we called ourselves the black power movement which was sort of a little different energy than civil rights. we were not committed to nonviolence. we were committed to radical social justice, and economic
change. bobby kennedy articulated as a mainstream politician some of the interests that the social justice movement had, which is more than likely he didn't even get a chance to get out the gate. i mean he was murdered, as soon as he was making a speech. so the right wing repression that was coming, they made it very clear that the politics of robert kennedy, politics of social justice, anti-war, were being repudiated, and that kind of set the tone for a very, very radical uprising across the country on many levels. >> we set the tone for this discussion, with that news report of the death of martin luther king jr., 50 years ago, this we're, describe your memory of learning about the death of martin luther king jr. >> what i remember, i was in oakland at the time.
i mean i was living in california at the time. the black panther party headquarters were in oakland. and what i remember was how stunned and angry black people around the country were. washington, d.c. was set on fire. there was tons of uprisings. riots. protests. the country seemed to be in a state of total chaos. and what was so intriguing is that clearly, there was an instruction to the police in these cities to stand down because police were not confronting these riots and these uprisings, so you saw a huge explosion of anger and frustration and violence in the wake of the assassination of martin luther king. >> profess ef joseph, was martin luther king jr. in memphis on that day in 1968? >> he was in memphis because he had been called by one of his good close friends, jim lawson,
the reverend jim lawson, who was helping to organize sanitation workers in memphis, tennessee, who were on strike for a living wage. and so king starts going there, in march, and giving some speeches, and one of the, one time, during the visit, one of the demonstrations turns 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 are very, very frustrated, and they smash some windows, and king is determined to return to memphis to have a rally that is peaceful, because people are very critical, critics are saying if he can't lead a peaceful rally in memphis, how can he come down to washington, d.c. and do this, this camp-in, and this tent city that they're talking about, as part of the poor people's campaign. so he was in memphis because by '68, king is convinced that one, the vietnam war is this immoral,
illegal war, but it is a war that has robbed resources from poor people, and attention from the plight of the poor. so he goes to places like sparks, mississippi, and he goes to the southwest, and meets up with mexican-american activists, he meets up with farm workers, he meets up with poor whites, as well, and he's going to have a whole caravan of multi-racial caravan that is going to come to dc in the summer, for this poor people's campaign, and by '68, king is talking about a guaranteed income, and we should 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 talk about full employment. and how would that look. a works progress administration that went beyond the new deal.
so when king goes to memphis, he uses memphis as sort of the first beachhead in this larger battle, for social justice, and by '68, king is going to be really vilified for talking about poor people, for talking about a guaranteed income, and for saying that, you know, he's going to bring this nonviolent army to washington, d.c. even though king is always, always articulating a philosophy of nonviolence, journalists and politicians are going to criticize him, and say that he's trying to bring violence to washington, d.c., when all he's really trying to do is force the united states into a reckoning with the fwgap between democrat rhetoric and democratic reality,
especially for poor people, and really poor people of all colors. king is intensely interested in racial justice and economic justice, but he sees the connection between race and class. >> nearly halfway through our discussion this morning on this week's installment of 1968, america in turmoil, we're talking about the civil rights movement, and race relations that year. we split our phone lines up differently this morning. if you are under, if you're 29 and under, it is 202-748-8000. 30 years old to 60, 202-748-8001. if you're 61 and older, 202-748-8002. nicholas has been waiting in nashville, tennessee on that line for 29 and under. go ahead. >> caller: hi, good morning. i'm really glad to come across this conversation today. and i want to ask about your, both of the speakers' thoughts on the leadership organization and structure of the day for resolution, and black
revolution, because oftentimes, in school, they talk about the focal points and the leaders as if they were the heart and soul, the drumbeat of those movements, and every action was really, and the reality is they weren't so much as what you think about the, how a revolution looks today, and the organized structure, and also, if there is anything that you want to highlight from your experiences of revolution in your life, for people who are 29 and under, who are that next generation, what would those things be that you would like us to learn or pay more attention to. >> thanks for the question, nicholas. kathleen cleaver, i think i will let you start. >> i think it is important to understand that there were mass mobilizations in the united states and other countries out of the united states, triggered in large part by the dislocations of the war in vietnam but also the sense of hope. the sense that the world was going to change. that king and people like king were articulating a different vision for america, and there
were masses and masses of people and demonstrations and belief that america could be changed. i remember being with radical revolutionary activists who were mostly 25 or younger, and younger down to teenagers, who really could sense that this is a moment, we have the chance, we were going to change the country. we talked about we were going to change the world. there was a lot of optimism. america was a wealthy place. we had a lot of resources. and the vietnam war dislocated the whole economy. the whole country. and challenged and made it possible for people to think about revolutionary transformation, whether it's peaceful or violent in this country. >> dr. joseph, did you want to weigh in? >> oh, certainly. '68 really is a global year of political revolution, so when we think of domestically of '68, one of the slogans is going to be the whole world is watching when young activists are being
brutalized at the democratic national convention in chicago. and what they mean by the whole world is watching, is that the whole world was watching what american democracy actually meant for people who were protesting for social justice, and the huge yearning khasm between democratic reality and reality when it came to american citizenship. globally, when we're thinking about what is going on, we're thinking about certainly the tet offensive, we're thinking about the prague spring in check sl czechoslovakia. we're thinking about the demonstrations across europe, and south american and africa. we're thinking about anti-colonial struggles. student strikes and protests all throughout the world. so '68 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're seeing this with black lives matter, with we're seeing this with me too movement and we're seeing this with the recent youth march, we're also seeing it with the dreamers movement, the immigration and the daca movement. you know, leadership has been structured in a much, much more cohesive and democratic way. ella baker, the founder of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, famously said that strong people don't need strong leaders. and what she meant by this, and ella baker was a radical fem next, a trade unionist, organizer, worked with dr. king, mentored people like stokely carmichael, mentored the young activists of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, she mention meant that it was the people themselves who are going to have to organize for their own justice, for their own rights, and when we think about now, with these social movements that are happening in the contemporary context, the huge positive is, one, many of them are female-led, and when we
think about the movements of the 1960s, women were absolutely leaders, but a lot of times, marginalized when we think about the public transcript of the 1960s. now, we see women, such as the co-founders of the black lives matter hashtag who are out there, in a very, very public way, and a very, very brilliant way, and these movements aren't relying on one figurehead, one iconic leader, and i think that makes them much more powerful and potentially more effective and long-lasting. >> professor joseph, let me let kathleen cleaver jump in here. do you agree with his assessment of how women leaders of the civil rights movement, the black power movement, were remembered, how they were part of that story? >> well, at that era, the concept of women leadership was somewhat subdued. there was no question that the civil rights movement was woman-led, and woman-directed, and woman, you know, i'm
thinking of gloria richardson, and ella baker, but the willingness of the media, and also the willingness of the black community, to enhance the role of men was very important. so women weren't seeking recognition as much as participation, and their participation was fundamental and absolutely essential. >> what was the role of communication secretary? how did you get that job? >> i came to the black panther party from an organization called sncc, and i came into it at a moment of crisis, and we were planning a demonstration at the almeda county courthouse when huey newton who had been arrested and shot by a policeman and was charged with attempted murder and murdered, was coming to court, we were going to have a demonstration. so my first thing to do was write a press release and announce this demonstration, and i had just come into the black panther party, fairly recently, so the press release had to go out and i had to identify who sent it. so i said, well, communications,
kathleen neal, communications secretary black panther party. that's how that came about you. >> gave yourself the title? >> yes. julian bond was the communications director of sncc and he did press releases so i kind of modeled myself on julian but i called myself secretary because it was also a minister of information, there was a chairman, there was a, you know, so that was my title. i took it myself. >> to dallas, texas, charles is on that line for those between 30 and 60. good morning. >> caller: good morning, c-span. thank you for taking my call. it is an honor to speak to one of the mothers of the movement as well as the distinguished professor from texas. i am here in dallas, i grew up in sacramento, california, where the latest example of heart break and police violence is happening. what i want to say was how amazing both the panthers and dr. king was able to describe america as this immaculate
rolls-royce with a knock in the engine. it looked good, but socially, the car was a lemon and i would like for to you respond to that. >> i think it is brilliant. i've never heard that before. there is a huge difference in america in between what the people experience and desire, and what in fact is actually happening in this country. and i believe in the '60s, what we saw, was a waking up among black people, latino, people, ex employed people, of what was really being done to them, and looking at how we can take this on, and because of vietnam, i mean there was something malcolm x said that resonated, he said the little men in black, the little yelk men in black pajamas are taking down uncle sam. it was like, all people, poor people can make a difference in the world and that was radical lizing across the country. >> professor joseph, take us back to 50 years ago this week and the death of martin luther king jr.
who was james earl ray? and what was his motive in the assassination? >> well, james earl ray 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 and political change and transformation that dr. king was trying to achieve. >> i would like to say something. i don't think that the king family accepted and the king attorney general, the british attorney, accepted that james earl ray was the shooter. they saw james earl ray as a position, holding a position to cover up who actually killed him. >> covering up for who? >> the people who actually organized the assassination. that he was a front. but not the killer. >> what do you believe? i believe that. i think one man is not going to
take down martin luther king. it had to be some form of speerps and it had to more and it was probably more than one. >> dr. joseph, what do you think about that? >> well as an historian, goy with the historical record, in terms of james earl ray is the shooter, but i definitely acknowledge that there are, there have been doubts, raised by different quarter, including the king family posthumously questioning the way in which evidence was gathered, questioning whether james earl ray in fact, murdered their father, but when we think about the historical record, i go with the historical record that james earl ray is the shooter, until and unless we're presented with rock solid evidence that shows something completely different. >> i guess you understand that the rock solid evidence is very seriously being covered up.
>> i understand that people are absolutely saying that, and i would love to see and hear more. and i have read those perspectives, definitely. >> i want to go back to that night 50 years ago, on april 4, this is the audio of robert kennedy announcing the death of martin luther king jr. at an impromptu speech in indianapolis. here is what he had to say. >> in this difficult day, in this difficult time for the united states, it's perhaps well to us 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 who were 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 is spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love. for those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust, 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, he was killed by a white man, but we have to make an effort in the united states, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond the, or go beyond these rather difficult times. >> professor joseph, take us back to the hours and days after the death of martin luther king jr., from that speech, to the rioting and the burning of cities we saw around the country. >> yes, i think bobby kennedy's words are really ironic because kennedy as attorney general under his brother john f. kennedy had approved the wire taps that jay edgar hoove her put on dr. king, and that had really accelerated the fbi's war against dr. king. and in a lot of ways, those wire taps led to that anti-king
atmosphere in the united states, that in part led to his death. so it is really interesting bobby kennedy's evolution. these days are very, very tumultuous days. king, kennedy says these difficult times, and king on april 3, the night before he's assassinated, had said that we have some difficult days ahead of us. and what he was really talking about was the way in which there was a huge gulf between what social movement activists and leaders felt the united states needed to do, legally and politically, and what the country was willing to do. so the country responds, the state responds with more political and economic oppression, and really, in 1968, we also have to remember, that the omnibus crime bill is passed in 1968, a couple of months after king die, perhaps june 19, 1968, if i'm correct, and that crime bill really expands wire
tapping and evensdropping on that the federal government's allowed to do and it also provides states with billions of dollars of money for law enforcement that sows the seeds to mass incarceration. that crime bill provides the money that is now given to states through the burn grant that provides all the states and local municipalities with huge incentives to arrest and incarcerate african-american and latinos, and poor whites in this country. >> kathleen cleaver, take us back to where you were that night, and the days after, and your actions. >> i was in california, eldridge and i lived in san francisco, the black panther headquarters was across the bay in oakland, and once king was killed, once his death became public knowledge, there was an explosion across the country. there were riots. uprisings. rebellions. washington, d.c. 14th street was on fire. and the police were standing down. there really wasn't much controlling of this. so the black panther party
wanted to respond. but they didn't believe people should go out and riot in the streets. so they took upon themselves a group of panther, took it upon themselves, to engage in actions in response to king's assassination, and the group that i'm talking about, were about eight pan ners this a car and included eldridge and bobby and some others who were going to essentially attack police in response. but what ended up happening is the group got scattered, a small contingent ended up in a house, in oakland, and were shooting back and forth with the oakland police. and bobby hutton and eldridge were in the same house, and the house began to catch on fire and they said, well, we don't want to burn to death, and so bobby hutton came out, and attempted to surrender, and was shot. no one other than bobby hutton
was killed that night. about eight other panthers were arrested. and it became a huge case. and the whole country was at war. that's what happened. >> what happened to el gridge cleaver? >> eldridge cleaver was arrested and sent back to prison, he was an ex-convict, he was able to get out on bail through some very unusual decisions by a judge, because when he went to court, no one from the state appeared. it was only eldridge and the judge and he said based on the evidence i've heard, i have to take his story, he let him out on bail, which was unheard of, that a black panther leader engaged in a shootout with the oakland police is out on bail. and he was also a candidate for president under the peace and freedom party, which is a protest party. and so what he did was run his presidential campaign, across the country, until it was time for him to surrender, return to police, return to prison, at which point he disappeared and showed up a few months later in
havana. >> were you with him? >> oh, no. i didn't know where he was. he was actually spirited off to montreal but i didn't know where he was. >> when did you reconnect with him after that? >> in algeria, 1969. he was in cuba. i was in the united states. i was on my way to try to figure out how to get to cuba. you had to go very round-about way, and the way to get to cuba was take a flight in algeria, through cuba, and i actually got to, got there, and then i got a message, don't leave, wait, aledridge is coming to algeria. >> kathleen cleaver joining us in the studio this morning. did you want to add something to it, mr. joseph? >> yes, when we think about the immediate aftermath of dr. king's assassination, his funeral in atlanta is going to be seen by over 100 million americans, his coffin is carried by mule, a mule train, in
atlanta, every major presidential candidate attends king's funeral, so that's eugene mccarthy, that's bobby kennedy, that's hubert humphrey and richard nixon. president lyndon johnson, because of security concerns, does not attend the funeral. but king is really accorded the equivalent of a state funeral, and when we think about what's going on, on college campus, in black communities, there's a huge sense of mourning, at times, there is a sense of rage, there is over 125 cities that erupt in some kind of violence. but then there's also a sense of organizing that takes place as well. so 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, are sending telegrams, to the king family, and telegrams to the united states, in solidarity
with king's memory. so king is really going to be, the country is really going to be reeling in the aftermath of this snas sensation, a-- assass for a time bobby kendy who is sort of at the top of what becomes an 82-day campaign for president until he is assassinated himself on june 5 of the year, like andy young, who is one of the king's lieutenants, main aides in southern christian leadership council has said many people started to transfer. so feeling they had, not necessarily black power activists but mainstream african-american, some of the feeling and loyalty they had towards king toward robert f. kennedy, as if kennedy can somehow bind the wounds that are gripping the nation. and we think about bobby kennedy, final thought is that kennedy in '68 tries to do what barack obama successfully does in 2008, which is he tries to
create a multi-racial, multi-class coalition, to win the presidency of the united states. >> about 30 minutes left in our discussion, this morning, taking your calls, on phone line, split up by age, if you're 29 and under, 202-748-8000. 30 to 60, 202-7448en 8001. 61 and older, 202-748-8002. nicholas is calling in from scotland on the line 61 and over. nicholas, go ahead. >> caller: hi, good morning. i was listening and of course at my age, having been raised in detroit, and i was 16 in high school was assassinated and what i wanted to say is, it struck me while i was watching your program this morning, that mr. joe, professor joseph's an academic for the center of the
study of race and democracy, and i mean after 50 years, of all that has gone on, it is a bit ironic that they've had the time to set up a center for the study of race and democracy, i think it's time to, you know, come off the ivory tawer, tower, dr. joseph. >> you want it take that? >> sure, nick class, we do more than just study. we are doing public research and history, and policy programming, that connects to race and democracy, civil rights inequality, voting rights, mass incarceration. it tackle these issues, we have to do both, right so when we think about the, i wouldn't say it is just an ivory tower, being about how do we leverage the resources of these wonderful
universities that we have in the united states, to try to transform not just critical consciousness but also public policy, leverage those resources on behalf of communities that would not have access to the kind of brain power and the kind of resources that we have at universities, and universities have been, when thinking about issues of social justice, very, very important in terms of legal transformations in terms of public policy transformations, in terms of providing nonprofits and other grass roots organizations, the information and the research and the agency that they need on behalf of social and political justice. so i would say that again, it is not just the center here at u.t., but really the whole idea of black studies coming out of the black power air why and really the period that we're talking about this morning, was
how do we leverage the intelligencia and leverage these resource, not just humanities and social sciences but the hard science, you know, medicine, stem fields, how do we leverage that, on behalf of people who are being marginalized. so universities play a role, and like professor cleaver was saying, many people are attracted to groups like the black panthers, including herself, were university student, some of the most brilliant activists of this period, either took college class, were college graduates, or also sometimes were high school students, and high school graduates, who shut cities down. when we think about parkland, the young people in parkland are connected to the movements that we're talking about, because high school students in the south and in the north, and in the west coast, they waged all kinds of struggles including latino high school students, to get not just educational equality, but to get equal opportunity and equal, equality
of outcomes, for their surrounding communities. >> a little bit at a time and a lot of calls waiting to talk to you both. cat lean cleaver, you've got michael on the line between 30 and 60 years old. good morning. >> caller: good morning, professor cleaver, it is an honor to see you. i saw a special of like women who were involved in the movement back then. i know you were a part of that. and they pointed out that the women who were involved took great care in making sure that the men were out front, that women knew they were a part of it, but they knew the important thing about black men being out front. professor peniel joseph, i will take you. if you want what you mentioned several times this morning, about the importance of black women, participating in the new movement, black women have always been in the movement. be very careful about this new
emphasis on women being involved in the new movement, because it is the wedge issue that is designed to pit black men against black women. i'm 58 years old. my mother was a very strong black woman. she raised 11 children. she went to high school. we've always had black women who have been involved in this process. >> michael, thanks for the call. kathleen cleaver. >> respond? >> yes. >> i'm happy to hear you acknowledge that the backbone of all of the movements, black justice and black freedom and anti-slavery have been women. for several reasons. one of which is that the attention on the oppressing men was so vicious, that it was almost necessary for women. but the other one is that women took on that responsibility. and women leadership has been a feature of the struggle against slavery, against segregation, against racism, all of our existence and part of that i think is the church, the role of
the churches in the past, not so much now, churches are a gathering place for women, who are activists, who are supporting the leadership of male pastor, but essentially running these churches. so the base of social activism and political activism in black communities very frequently is women, women organizations, and women leaders. >> from leaseburg, virginia, max is waiting on the line, for those 29 and under. go ahead. >> caller: thank you. i wanted to say a great conversation and i wanted to thank you for hosting it. when you, when the professor mentioned before about dr. king's later work being focused on anti-poverty and anti-war, it seems to me that dr. king's legacy has been manipulated in the time since 1968, and that the later aspect of his program have been de-emphasized. i wonder if you might speak of the way dr. king's legacy and the panthers, the way their message has been manipulated
historically. thank you. >> well, it's rather difficult for them to manipulate out that radicalism of the black panther message, basically given the youth and given the platform and given the images they have. where as in the case of dr. king, we saw and could tell that dr. king was genuinely a revolutionary leader but he presented it in a christian context, which makes it even more threatening. and king was very aware that his life was going to be shortened by the things that he did. the black panthers were mostly teenagers. it was a youth movement with a handful of leaders who were over 21. and so the energy of the black panther party was very, very different in the sense that we had chapters all over the country, we had all kind of different programs, and we focused in on social and political issues that directly affected black people. and made a huge impact on the generation, our generation, and the children of that generation.
>> professor joseph, you've got elizabeth waiting in ft. lauderdale, florida, on that line for those 61 and over. >> caller: hello. present company excepted, i have just, it's the bright light of our era, isn't is? i am agreeable with whatever you say that is being said today, but my point is, what gets me, on a regular basis, women come on, mostly women, come on programs, with these very serious subjects, and they smile and grin and laughing, and they then introduce, they got this big old gigantic, it could have been a killing of 100 people, run over, cars, guns, whatever, and they come on with this, and i understand, i've been watching for multiple years, but i've never seen so much women, coming
on, great big smiles, i don't see anything funny about this stuff. >> all right, elizabeth. we will take your point. professor joseph, do you want to start? >> well, you know, i still was thinking about the king holiday, and what the caller was talking about, with king, and king's message, i think the king holiday has been a great example of the power and the limitations of racial symbolism, because the king holiday's passage in '83, and now we have a king memorial, really ensured that dr. king would never be forgotten, and dr. king was recognized as one of america's founding thinkers, in a post-world war ii sense. but to embrace dr. king, with what the nation has really done in terms of the mainstream, is really deradicalized king's message and king's anti-imperialism, his anti--capitalism, his really, his courageous ability to speak
truth to power and talk about white racism, white privilege and turned him into this sort of soft fuzzy teddy bear, this figure that everybody could love, even though the last three years of his life, when he's in chicago, battling mayor daley, when he is no longer political friends with president clinden johnson, people are castigating king and really saying that king, there is one newspaper report in '67, that is saying king and stokely carmichael are the badman and robin of the movement and saying they're two sides of the same coin. so we choose to remember only the king who ends with the i have a dream speech at the march on washington, and we don't even interrogate that speech. because that's a speech about reparations. that's a speech saying we are copping to cash a check that is stamped insufficient funds but
we refuse to believe the bank of american justice is bankrupt. that's what king says in 1963. so when we think about king's legacy, part of the irony of his legacy is the fact that he becomes the most visible symbol of the 1960s, bar none. even bigger than the black panthers. but we rob him of his own political agency in the way in which he tried to move all of us forward. because king loves america enough to criticize america. >> you mentioned stokely carmichael a couple of times now. i know you're the author of the book "stokely life" explain where he fits in to this story, that we have been talking about, over the course of the last hour. >> stokely carmichael, later kwame teray is born in point of spain trinidad in 1941 and comes to the united states in 1952. one of. few african-american students at bronx science high school, a competitive school that you have
to test into, he joins the nonviolent action group, which is a sncc affiliate, at howard university, in 1960, and he really becomes one of the most courageous civil rights activists of the era. he's a freedom rider who gets arrested in jackson, mississippi, and spends 49 days in parchment penitentiary in june of 1961. he becomes the second congressional district leader of the mississippi freedom democratic party. he's good friends with martin luther king jr. he knows malcolm x and is impressed by malcolm x. by 1965, stokely is one of the leading, he graduates from howard university, he goes to live in mississippi, and alabama, and he helps organize sharecroppers in alabama who become the freedom organization who are nicknamed the black panther party and that's where
when we think about the black panther party for self-defense, it's lounds county becomes, provides us the first sign of the symbol of what becomes the black panther party in '66, in early '66. and it's stokely carmichael who calls for black power, june 16, 1966, during the meredith march, in greenwood, mississippi, and becomes this huge icon, post the assassination of malcolm x. carmichael is named honorary prime minister of the black panther party. initially, field marshall, but by executive order from huey newton, executive order number two in 1967. and really helps publicize the free huey moment in 1968, at two large rallies in oakland and los angeles. and really becomes one of the key pivotal figures. he's a bridge figure between
civil rights and black power, because he really participated in both of those movements. moves to west africa in 1969. and dies of prostate cancer in november of 1998. really woucone of the stalwart iconic figures who becomes an unreconstructed revolutionary, q he changes his name to quame torey in honor of others respectively, but really one of the key revolutionary figures of the 1960s who even in the 1970s and 8'80s and '90s continues to articulate those revolutionary ideas. >> kathleen cleaver wanted to jump in. >> i want to make a clarification, the name, the black panther party, came from people in alabama were collaborating with the local community who wanted to for the
first time run candidates for office. and so they had a -- >> yes. >> -- political party, lownes county freedom organization and had a symbol for their electoral, you could go vote for them and they symbol was a panther. people began calling it the black panther party. they used that for a certain reason. they said the panther is a kind of animal who will never, you know, minds its own business but then if you reach out to attack him, he will wipe you out but he's not an attack animal, so the symbol and the notion and the black panther as connecting with radical black politics was very, very, very popular, and another group in california took the name and they said black panther party for self-defense. >> let's take a couple calls. anthony's been waiting in mansfield, texas. line for these between 30 and 60. good morning. >> caller: good morning. and thank you for taking my call. i just wanted to highlight something i've been seeing over the weekend, several articles
actually in "the new york times" regarding the census bureau and a study they'd been working on since 2004 which concluded with them deciding that they would create a dez ig face fsignation hispanics and arab americans so they wouldn't have to define themselves as white. however, the trump administration through jeff sessions came up with another question which, of course, you all, i'm sure, know. they rejected the designation for hispanics and arab americans and opted for united states citizen, a question about whether you're a united states citizen or not because, of course, they fear a true depiction of what the demographics in the country really are and my concern is that just as they did back for years, they keep repackaging the same practices and bringing them to us in different ways, but
basically, it's going to have an impact or could have an impact according to the many articles i read on voting rights, on housing, and many other important resources, and it's just that these types of practices have not made us greater. they've actually made us weaker. >> anthony, we'll take the comment and come back to your question after we hear from ed in raleigh, north carolina, on that line for those 29 and under. ed, go ahead. >> caller: hey. good morning, and thank you, c-span, and the guests for having this conversation. i really appreciate it. just if i could ask for their comments on just a couple topics. one, if they know anything or what their opinions about critical legal theory, something i've heard about recently, and it might be related to civil rights. i'm not quite sure. the other thing is, and if this is -- i don't know if it's too inappropriate to ask or not, but if dr. king were still with us
today, do the guests think that the landscape, the political landscape, the country, do they think it would be different than it is? >> ed, thanks for the questions. couple different issues there. kathleen cleaver? >> well, about dr. king had he remained alive, had his movement been able to implement, the poor people's march and some of the projects that he initiated, it's not so much if king was still alive, but if those structures for political change were still dynamic and being funded and people could participate, then some of those goals could have conceivably been implemented, but king was assassinated and king was assassinated for very, very clear reasons. that's exactly what the power structure did not want to happen. left to our own devices again. >> dr. joseph, do you do what-if history questions ever?
>> not really, but i'll -- what i'll say is this, when we think about dr. king, if king was still alive, we've seen this transform political landscape including somebody who recently was elected president who never held political office. so i think there would have been tremendous pressure on him and we would have seen how he responded. he responded always by saying no when people wanted him to run. really symbolically on protests tickets. i think that now, the idea of having some massive social movement leader actually running for political office wouldn't be farfetched. it's just that we don't necessarily have the same kind of iconic leaders now that we did -- that we did then. but i do agree with professor cleaver that if the movement that he helped mobilize had continued to evolve and develop while he was alive, maybe things would be somewhat different. that movement continued to
evolve and develop. it's just that he has not been alive to be one of the primary articulators of that movement which had both its own benefits and its own drawbacks. >> time for a few more calls. about ten minutes left this morning on 1968 america in turmo turmoil. we're on c-span and c-span3's american history tv. as we're covering the civil rights movement and race relations in 1968. james is waiting in greensboro, north carolina, on that line for those 61 and older. go ahead. >> caller: good morning, c-span. i'm glad everybody came on to talk about this situation. what's going on back then, eldridge cleaver was a type of a hero to me. i remember one of my friends gave me his album, they had albums back then instead of cds, but i listened to his speech and it all made sense. and but what we need to do, we need to organize even better
than the '60s because the '60s was a spiritual movement to advance the program of this country because this country was so dominated against us because of the color of our skin. so, you know, and then he gave us so many names. back then, we was called negroes and color. then it became black then if you look in the dictionary under the word, black, it's all negative. so this is why we get shout in the streets, the hatred and stuff, because hatred is, like, born, and it induces itself in different faces and different colors and stuff. so we need to do something to change things, and everybody's waiting for us. >> kathleen cleaver, i'll let you take that one. >> well, i think what you're complaining about is something i would refer to as white supremacy.
and white supremacy has been a key component of america from its beginning. however, at this point, white supremacy is in trouble because the majority of the american population, i'd say, within the next 25 years, will not be a white population. it's increasingly latino, african-american, asian, and the population that is protected. they have cities they call majority/minority. that's going on to continue. so i have a feeling that over the next, you know, 40 years or so, we're going to see some political changes that are in response to the composition of the american population and, therefore, the composition of the political class. >> the caller brings up eldridge cleaver. when did you get married to eldridge cleaver? >> was it december or december
31st? >> when did he die? >> he died may 1st, i'm trying to think of the year. i can't remember right this minute. >> did some of those people who joined you at the beginning of the black panther party, were they there at his funeral. >> not at all. he'd left the black panther party, become a republican, got involved in other organizations. his funeral was actually in los angeles where he was living at the time and quite a few people did come to the funeral. the thing that sticks in. my mind, one of our panther leaders was framed on a murder case and spent 25 years in jail. finally after the fifth habeas petition which by the time the fifth one came along, i was a lawyer. the first one, i was a panther. i worked on the last one. that one they finally decided to let this man out. geronimo pratt who had been a major leader in the black panther party and what i'm remembering is is he was abhe w
come to eldridge's funeral so the black panther party was an extraordinary organization. it took an enormous amount of violence, imprisonment, denigration, and people who are in it who are still in prison or who are still in it, still love this movement, still support it, and i think a large number of community people who you never, ever hear that much about, still admire the efforts that the black panther party made. >> professor joseph, about five minutes left. i did want you to talk a bit about that iconic moment from 1968 at the olympic games. the two american olympic athletes and a symbol -- the salute that they gave our viewers seeing it on their screen. explain that moment for viewers who might not be familiar. >> yeah, that's the 400-meter relay race, mexico city olympics, october 16th, 1968. and that's tommie smith and john carlos who won the gold and
bronze medal suspectively and they were part of a larger movement that had been inspired by dr. harry edwards in the late 1960s to try to have a boycott of the olympics, black athletes boycotting the olympics because of the human rights violations happening in the united states against african-americans. everything from police brutality to racial segregation to violence against blacks. and when we think about what eventually happens, some athletes at the olympics decided if they did win, they were going to stage these protests and what smith and carlos do is they go to the podium without -- without any shoes on, just black socks. they each have a black glove and they raise the black power symbol and it's interesting because that was a very, very powerful iconic moment but they
were really kicked out of the olympic village. they were stripped of their medals. they were really vilified in the mainstream. by president the 1990s, san jos where they were both athletes had erected statues in their honor, but for really over a quarter of a century, they were denied employment, they were denied really the access and opportunities they should have been afforded because they made this human rights protest and for them, what they were in solidarity with was indigenous people all over the world who were being oppressed including african-americans in the united states, but all people all over the world, the third world, people of color, but others who were being oppressed and in a way, when we think about smith and carlos, they anticipate what happened to colin kaepernick and where his protest against police
brutality and against racial injustice became reinterpreted as an indictment and this anti-american act. when what he was trying to do was really unveil and shed light on contemporary racism and that's what smith and carlos were trying to do. one last thing, they were embraced by black powerites. after they come back from the olympics, they toured howard university, historically black colleges, stoakley carmichael is there and others and they really become supported. people like kareem abdul-jabbar, people like bill russell, jim brown, black athletes who were very racially conscious at the time support them as well. >> kathleen cleaver, just less than a minute left in this segment. we started by asking dr. joseph where the civil rights movement was at the end of 1967. the beginning of '68. where do you think it was at the end of '68 as 1969 dawned? >> it was at a crossroads that
had many, many possible options. there were those who wanted to go back to africa, nose who wanted to go into community service, there were those who wanted to do work in the communities. we shouldn't be out here, we should be organizing and building community struggles, solving community issues. there were those who wanted a university. i would say it's a panorama of possibilities at the end of the '60s. all of which are still in a way some level being part of our culture. >> kathleen cleaver is at emory university school of law. senior lecturer and research fellow there. peniel joseph is director of the secenter for the study of race d democracy at the university of texas at austin. thank you, both, for your time this morning. we appreciate the conversation. >> thank you very much for having us. >> thank you. now, we continue our series, "1968 america in turmoil" with a look back at liberal politics 50
years ago. lbj's great society and emboldened liberal activists redefine the role of the federal government and challenge traditional values. but the assassinations of martin luther king jr. and robert f. kennedy dealt shattering blows. our guests are kathleen kennedy townsend, rfk's daughter, and former lieutenant governor of maryland, and michael cohen, author of "american maelstrom, the 1968 election and the politics of division." first, we hear from senator robert f. kennedy during his march 16th, 1968, presidential campaign announcement. >> i have traveled and listened to the young people of our nation and felt their anger about the war that they are sent to fight and about the world that they are about to inherit. in private talks and in public,