tv National Action Network Annual MLK Breakfast CSPAN February 1, 2019 1:04pm-3:01pm EST
[ applause ] >> the state of the union first postponed because of the government shutdown will take place on tuesday night. watch as president trump delivers his state of the union address live from the house chamber beginning at 9:00 p.m. eastern followed by the democratic response by stacey abrams. the state of the union, live tuesday at 9 eastern on c-span, c-span.org or listen with the app. >> on friday, february 8th. acting attorney general matthew whitaker will testify before the house judiciary committee. live coverage begins on c-span 2 at 9:30 a.m. eastern. a week from today. the reverend al sharpen hosted their annual breakfast. among the speakers, former vice
president joe biden, martin luther king the third and michael bloomberg. good morning. good morning, everyone. this is what i call king day excitement. can we give a round of applause? [ applause ] >> on this blessed day? everyone is finding their seats. it is such a pleasure to have everyone here this morning. the ladies look beautiful as ever and the men handsome.
morning with my sister who due to unforeseen circumstances is not here today. she is head of national public affairs at at&t and you all know tonya and you know she's here in spirit and in support of nan and dr. martin luther king jr.'s day. welcome, everyone, to the annual national action network martin luther king jr. breakfast. good morning, everyone. [ applause ] >> each year the national action america hosted this breakfast to reflect upon the life and achievements of civil rights icon dr. martin luther king jr. through the work of organizations like nan, the work of dr. king's legacy continues to live on.
2019 indeed is poised to be a very important year for the black community. from politics to business, from the arts to wellness, we have to make sure that our voices are heard. tonya and i look forward to working with reverend sharp ton along with all of you to make sure that reverend martin luther king jr.'s dream becomes a reality. today's breakfast features a dynamic group of speakers, prese presenters. we are pleased to substance abuse to you a very special guest who will be hosting today's program. best selling author, actor and our friend, mr. hill harper. [ applause ] >> good morning, everybody. good morning. it is beautiful to see so many
amazing folks out this morning. and it was so cold here that i'm happy that i'll be leaving in about two hours. i'm your host this morning for the national action network's annual martin luther king jr. breakfast and this is a beautiful opportunity for us to reflect on the life and the legacy of dr. king and the fulfillment of all of his hard work and fulfillment of what we would call or refer to as dr. king's dream. i like to give special thanks to my friend, my brother, reverend al sharpton. and also the d.c. office led by ebony. give it up. [ applause ] >> and let us give a round of
applause for my dear friend, tonya lom ba tonya, the saints were robbed, and she's hurting. she's in mourning. she couldn't be here. she already booked her tickets to atlanta. but we love tonya and we miss her. i want to bring uppen reverend yolanda pierce. she's the dean of howard university school and to offer a blessing this morning. you all can clap. that's good. [ applause ] >> good morning. it is critical that we begin everything that we do with prayer and thanksgiving. so i ask you to please pray with me.
create in us, oh, god, new hearts. restore your right spirit within us. in a world of violence and denial of basic human dignity, may we be lights in the darkness. in a world of abundance which allows your children to go hungry, may we work to banish famine and malnutrition. in a world which places ambition and the quest for wealth above the value of love, may we stand as your witnesses that you, god, alone, are the source of all of our strength. in a world where disagreements and long-standing problems are resolved by war, may we be reconcilers of your piece. it is a world that you have
created through your love. so may we teach all to see your face and all the people's of creation. oh, god, of time and eternity, help us to look to the past with gratitude with hope. let us look to the people who labored not for themselves, but had a vision, a dream, a building, a world better than the one they had known. may we too labor for things beyond ourselves, may our lives be dedicate today a high purpose. make us unafraid of hopes and dreams. release us from despair. teach us to be realistic about our limitations but to never
i know you're taking a lot of selfies, you want to post some things to instagram but we're going to continue the program. i'll say i'm sitting right here next to mayor bloomberg, for those of you who are investors, you know he's one of the greatest financial minds of history. he told me to buy bitcoin, so that's just a tip for you. just a little tip. and of course we have vice president biden. [ applause ] >> there's a wonderful story he tells about seeing young black children being bussed out of scranton and realizing there was
injustice in the behavior and different treatment of different folks. on instagram right now there's the ten year challenge going on. about ten years ago my harvard law school classmate called me up and said will you go come pain with my running mate? i said no matter what people say about joe biden, he's going to be a good vice president. and he is out standing. it's my pleasure and honor to bring up and speak first about the founder and president of the national action network reverend al sharpton. [ applause ] >> if there is someone who embodies the spirit of dr. king, it is reverend al. he's been fighting for us for decades. he's tireless. he just told me he gets up at 4:30 in the morning every day to work out. and then he goes back to sleep.
it's amazing what he does. [ laughter ] >> reverend sharpton continues to be one of the most respected voices in the black community and he works tireless to push challenges of urban america to the front of our attention. this is breakfast is one of many things he puts together for the community and we all know that 2019 will be another amazing and busy year for nan. with that, will you say with me as we bring reverend al up, say no justice. >> no justice. >> no peace. >> no peace. >> reverend al sharpton. give a hand to our host. [ applause ] >> come on, you can do better than that. [ applause ] >> certainly we're happy to
honor you today as we honor dr. king and we're certainly honored that you would share with us. let me recognize first some of our board members, the ceo of essence magazine who you saw, this is the largest not only black woman's magazine in the world but they have the largest festival of african-americans in the world, half a million people in new orleans for some of you that are thinking about running for president, just a hint, you might want -- just a hint. and we're happy to have michelle open up for us. certainly christen, one of our board members -- sits on our board. lamel and johnny green. and many from the civil rights
community and i'll be recognizing them throughout the breakfast. but the chairman of the d.c. council, phil, anita barns, council member vinson gray. certainly the one that has given so much for so long, carol la brown. vanetta gupta. and christian clark. so many others. and i'm happy that many of you are here as hill was joking about the head table, i brought my youngest daughter is with me. my oldest daughter just made me grandfather for the first time. so she couldn't come.
[ applause ] >> and i was telling my youngest daughter that i'm going to sit you near mayor bloomberg since you want to be a business person. and she said, did he struggle? and i said let me put it this way, the last time he wrote a bad check, the bank bounced. [ laughter ] >> i want us to know, though, as we gather today, that we gather at a time that is critical. we are in a very divided and polarized nation and dr. king confronted what was wrong but also wanted reconciliation. today as we have this breakfast, there is no official event at the white house to celebrate martin luther king day.
the vice president that in my judgment misquoted dr. king yesterday nor the president has any official thing on their calendar to celebrate a federal holiday that ronald reagan signed in. this is an insult to the american people that the president of the united states does not officially recognize or give any ceremony for dr. king. dr. king is neither republican or democrat. he's an american icon that made america better. and in a day where 800,000 federal workers cannot be paid or are on furlough and subcontractors and contractors impacted and dr. king was killed
on his way to this city to build a poor people's campaign, he was killed in memphis fighting for federal workers and the white house has not only shut down those workers, they've shut down the king holiday. yet we still have hope. because we have seen despair before, the same ronald reagan that said he would never sign a king holiday ended up signing it. and the same people that said they would never sit in the front of the bus with blacks are now home celebrating martin luther king's birthday today. so we have hope and we hope that leadership will come to this country and will show a kinglike spirit. we do not apologize at national action network whether it be around any of the issues that we
have fought. we learned them from dr. king and we learned them from his team and we're committed to continue them. i'm very grateful that we started this organization 28 years ago. we're now in 102 cities. we've done a great job running our washington bureau and worked this breakfast this morning. our youth director from atlanta. a whole other generation of national action network leadership is on -- i was telling vice president biden that i remember i started as a teenager, now we have teenagers, so i'm adjusting into being an old guy in the office. i used to be the younger one. so i get a couple of guys on the phone to make me feel young.
let me bring first and foremost one of the great honors in my life has been to work with the one who has taken the mantle as well as the name and legacy of his father. martin luther king the third and i have worked together for decades now, we've been to jail together in st. louis fighting for contractors, stood together in this town bringing hundreds of thousands together for voting rights, gone and dealt in the white house -- from the white house to the jailhouse, our friendship has been there and he has shown great leadership, great vision and great discipline. one of the things that i most am grateful for is he helped bond his mother and i. and mrs. king used to say, al,
you got that northern thing. you need to calm done. i see something on tv, run out the door and call a march halfway down the block. she'd say come down now. and i believe that he has continued that unlike no other. as i bring him to the stage, i want you to know that we have a special gift from the king family. first of all his wife is with him. her birthday was this week. [ applause [ applause ] >> and we're so happy on her birthday that she's here. and my leadership, the superstar of the family, yolanda, the grandchild of dr. king is with us. [ applause ] >> so we have all the kings with us and i think that it is noteworthy two years ago when
donald trump was inaugurated, yesterday two years ago, mr. biden, we marched here in washington. it was sleeting that day. we had the we will not go back march. martin the third called me and said i'm on my way to washington, but mr. trump is invited me to talk to him, what do you think you should do. i said the king way is to talk. i'm going to walk while you talk. because walking and talking is what we do. you know i come out of brownsville, they had the good cop/bad cop. i'll be the bad cop even though it's sleeting outside. he tried to reason for him. i've known donald trump 35 years and i gave up on the doubt side a long time ago. but i felt if anybody could talk to him, martin would. the answers have been today, he's not only not meeting with martin, he's not even discussing his daddy at an official
ceremony. but i give martin the credit for doing what his parents taught him always extend yourself and let the other person show who they are. he is here with us like i said from jail cells on, we've been together national action network. may we here words from the oldest child, the son of dr. martin luther king jr., martin luther king iii. [ applause ] >> good morning and let me thank god for the wonderful opportunity to be back in washington.
as we observe the 33rd federal holiday. on last tuesday, my father would have been 90 years old, january 15th. challenging to even imagine that because he did not live to see 40. my family and i are so honored to be here this morning for the national action network. and to thank reverend sharpton for what he does every day. keeping it real for all of us throughout our nation and our communities. whenever i get to this period, it always is reflective. this year is probably more reflective than ever.
because i wonder what my father would be thinking and ask. especially since we have an administration and administrators and rev said the vice president -- i forget exactly what you said, but the vice president attempted to compare the president to martin luther king jr. martin luther king jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder. [ applause ] >> martin luther king jr. would say love, not hate, will make america great. did you all hear that? love, not hate, will make america great. we hadn't -- we've had spurts of greatness. in 1986 when president reagan, we celebrated.
in 2009 when president obama was inaugurated and vice president biden, we celebrated. i don't know how we celebrate when every day workers can't work right now. aren't you all concerned? you should be concerned. the coast guard isn't even getting paid, the folks on the first line of the defense. and don't nobody seem to care. there's something wrong with that. and i apologize for my passion. but it bothers me that people who live check to check and many of us have to go through airports today and every day less and less folk are showing up and i don't blame them. yes, i wish they could come, but they got to figure out how to make ends meet because the government is shut down. so we observe dr. king's birthday, we don't celebrate. we can't celebrate as long as there's police brutality and
misconduct. we can't celebrate as long as women make less than men for doing the same job. we can't celebrate as long as children are being divided from their families. they may never be reconnected. but you know what, i will never lose hope. my dad said the one institution that keeps the flame burning alive is the church. that was true in '55 when he said it. it was true in '65. it was true even in 2019. it will be true to the end of time. churches have got to come together. every area is where we worship. and even people may not even believe. we are better than the behavior we are exhibiting. america is far better. dad showed us it only takes a few good men and women to bring about change. so no matter what our conditions
are, i am in no ways tired and i hope you are not. why? because we've come much too far from where we started. no one ever told us that our roads would be easy, but i know our god did not bring us this far to leave us. thank you, national action network. [ applause ] >> martin luther king the third. let us know hear when martin talked about the church and national action network is a church based organization but we work across lines. our partner, we did the 1,000 minister's march last year that
ended up 3,000. and he brought three hundred rabbis. we're part of each other. a couple of tables of our rabbi friends are with us. they march with us and, you know, you and i haven't been to jail together yet. we see got to really bond. [ laughter ] >> but i have somebody that can arrange it, the mayor of washington, d.c. let us hear the mayor. [ applause ] >> good morning, everybody. i am just delighted to see you and to welcome you to washington, d.c. to martin luther king and his beautiful family, thank you for being here. and as i sat there looking at your beautiful daughter, i thought, can you imagine what it is that martin luther king jr.
was your grandfather and you get to see your father stand up and talk about a national celebration in honor of a man who began his sacrifice for our country at the ripe old age of 26. what a remarkable legacy. please help me appreciate the king family once again. [ applause ] >> reverend al, i was just telling your daughter as i was getting dressed, i was watching you on morning joe and here you are here in washington, d.c. so feel free to tell all your friends at msnbc you can do your show right here, you're more than welcome. mr. vice president welcome back to your second home. we're always happy to have you here. and i always like to tell my friend, mayor bloomberg, welcome to the best city in the world. so with that being said, i just
want everybody to know, i know i speak for the more than 700,000 of us that call washington, d.c. home how appreciative we are of the national action network. not just on the king celebration day, but on the many events that reverend al host including lobbying in congress and marching for the rights of every american. we know that the national action network is focused on things that cities like ours need and require and are going to need even more in the coming months. there cannot be one standard of decency or equal opportunity for people who are growing up and paying taxes in washington, d.c. and reverend al and dr. king stood with washington people to demand state hood for washington, d.c. [ applause ] >> in fact dr. king 50 years ago was among the voices who said
that the people of washington in our city should not be treated any other representative democracy in the world. and now selfishly, when we go to the title basin and look up at the beautiful statue of dr. king, we know in addition to challenging all of us for racial equity and economic justice, he's also standing guard to wait for the people of washington to become the 51st state in our union. we are calling -- we're especially concerned as americans around our nation are, 800,000 people not working because people call it a partial government shutdown. i call it a lockout. people who want to work, people who have jobs that are essential to the functions of our nation can't go to work. and our city has been in the spotlight because a lot of the people of washington work for
the federal government. we have 20 million visitors that come to our city every year and we've stepped up where the federal government has shutdown to pick up trash, to make sure the national mall is clean. but why can't people coming to washington go to the national museum of african-american history and culture? because it's shutdown. i stand with all americans on calling on the federal government to get back to work and separate it from our issues of comprehensive immigration reform, open the government now. what we see in this year, in 2018 is how many americans are living paycheck to paycheck. and the idea, the callousness, the heartlessness of putting their good credit, their good mental health and their family's futures at stake because of this partisan bickering is certainly not the way that dr. king taught
us. and that is what we have to continue to focus on and not take for granted the sturdiness of our american institutions is real. but we can see even in cities as resilient as ours, how our people are being tested. i shared before we started, all of us probably have the experience of, you know, that automatic debit of your mortgage, you know when that happens every month? and you just put yourselves in the footsteps of these workers. people of washington allow me a great living but when that mortgage payment hits on the tenth of january, i wouldn't -- even me, be able to make up that few thousand dollars. so this is what people are dealing with right now when that automatic debit hit, they couldn't make their mortgage payments.
and they wouldn't be able to make their childcare payments or their car payments. all of the things that regular people with regular jobs are used to doing every single month. and this is what is at stake with this lockout of our federal government. so as we observe dr. king's celebration day, day of service in our city, let us all remember that the things that we get elected to do and if you're in a position where you're leading a big organization, at the end of the day real people, real people, are affected by our decisions. so let us start this day wherever we go today and remember that we're called onto deliver for the people who put us here. god bless you all. [ applause ] give it up, mayor browser.
[ applause ] >> as i look around i see the board member, i see a lot of people passing me notes of who to acknowledge. i want to acknowledge special guests. would you turn to your right and shake hands with the person next to your right and say you are reverend al's special guest. now for all of you, no more notes. go on and eat and get outside and put your clothes on and bundle up because i ain't -- no more notes. this is about dr. king's day. this is not your day. [ applause ]
>> talking about mayors, our next speaker was mayor of new york for many years. one of the things that dr. king taught was how you can find common ground even if you may disagree on some issues. and when this person became mayor of new york, his predecessor was one that prided himself in not even meeting with people like the civil rights community in new york. we had various issues and he would not even talk with me but leaders of those government agencies. the night that michael bloomberg won for mayor, a few hours after his victory, i got a call and it was him on the phone. i was stunned. i had not talked to the city mayor in eight years.
and he was mayor-elect only a few hours and he said to me, reverend al, we're not going to always agree, but i will always be accessible. and we met a couple of days later and he can tell the story. and then he committed that every martin luther king day i'm mayor, i will come to national action network house of justice and every day for 12 years martin luther king day, even when we was marching on him, he's come to martin luther king day. [ applause ] >> we disagreed on stop and frisk, but we agreed on education and we agreed on many other issues and i will never forget, i used to always talk about how dr. king taught us how we must find that common ground even if we disagree and really
do disagree on issues. all of us have disagreed on issues, but we never stopped talking and we never became like the folks we were fighting. and i think that that is what is in the king's spirit. of course he got even with me because in march of 2009 right after barack obama became president, he and i met with the president and president obama said to me, i want you to tour the country five cities on education and the person you're going to tour with is newt gingrich. bloomberg says now we'll see how far you can reach out and reconcile. for some reason, bloomberg didn't make that tour. it was me and newt. but i heard his plea around
climate change and around what's happening to the environment and i heard some of the issues he was dealing with now and i called and said you remember you used to spend king day with us, i think that no one could articulate where we are in terms of climate change and the environmental disproportion impact in our community. i always have a little edge to my invitations. and he said, all right, i'll do it. and he, like many other king days, is here, and we're glad that he is. the former mayor of the city of new york, the head of bloomberg -- what is it? bloomberg inc.? head of bloomberg, mayor michael
r. bloomberg. [ applause ] >> thank you, everyone. thank you up there. reverend sharpton, happy king day to everyone. it is great to be with you all and also let me thank the washington, d.c. mayor for having us. my foundation's always been happy to work with the mayor on some big issues. i think she's doing an outstanding job. and it certainly is nice that in washington, at least one executive knows how to keep a government open and running. [ applause ] but, mayor, i might point out that the house of justice that the reverend was talking about that i went to every time is located in new york city. let me also acknowledge a great american who we'll hear from
soon, my friend vice president joe biden. [ applause ] >> whatever the next year brings for joe and me, i know we'll both keep our eyes on the real prize and that is electing a democrat to the white house in 2020. [ applause ] >> and getting our country back on track. i haven't had a chance yet to talk to the vice president at length today, but i want to get some pointers from him on how it's like to live in washington, d.c. [ laughter ] >> i thought that was funnier than you did. [ laughter ] >> as the reverend said, he and i go back a very long ways. i was elected in 2001. racial tensions ran high in new york city. but i knew back then that if people couldn't work together, we would get nothing done in the city. and so as he pointed out the
night i was elected, i called him and i said what are you doing tomorrow? he told me that he was attending a dinner for a black civic group named 100 black group, and i as whether i could stop by to publicly shake his hand, in front of all of the guests, and the press, just to send a message. and he said he said of course but he said you know, maybe it is a big crowd, maybe nobody will recognize the two of us together, and i said sarcastically, i'm sure al, no one would notice either of us. and al couldn't be noticed if he tried. and i point out he doesn't try very often. i went that night because i wanted to send a public message that as a new mayor, i was determined to bring the city together. and to listen to community leaders, who have been shut out of power for much too long. and after i was sworn in, i called al to come down to the
city hall for a meeting, so i could hear his views on the challenges that we were facing and what we should do about them. he said the last time he was in the mayor's office, he was arrested for a sit-in at ed koch's desk. i pointed out that ed has forgiven him so, that i would as well, and when he arrived i was standing on the steps of city hall to greet him, rather than him waiting for me, and we went through the front door together. and from the get-go, i was determined to ensure that city hall would always be open to everyone. and while reverend sharpton and i disagree from time to time, even today, we certainly knew that we could do it without being disagreeable. when we had an issue in city hall, i never hesitated to call him. and when he saw an issue around the city, he sure didn't hesitate to call me. [ laughter ] >> every year, i went to martin
luther king day with al, just as i'm here this morning, and i can just tell you that, i was always welcome. now, i was thinking about this breakfast when i was out in tulsa, oklahoma, last week. and this is serious. i was there because my foundation had just given a grant to help that city commemorate the black wall street massacre that took place there in the 1920s. and that killed hundreds of african-americans, american african-americanss. black wall street was a thriving neighborhood in tulsa, if you don't know, and it was destroyed, violently, by racism. but for decades, the whole thing has been swept under the rug. now, i read a lot of history, and i'm sorry to say, like a lot of people, i never knew about it. it was one of the worst and deadliest racial outrages in american history. it is another example of an
injustice that isn't well known or understood. and i think it is up to us to bring those stories out of the shadows, so that they will never happen again. [ applause ] >> over the last couple of years, we've heard a lot of people on the right say, when talking about civil war statues, you can't erase history. but what about all the history we haven't taught? what about all of the injustice that americans don't know about? the massacres, the lynchings, and the rapes. we don't need to erase history. we need to face up to history. and we need to decide which statues reflect the people and events that we want to honor as a country. when i think of the lessons dr. king taught us, i often think back to something my father taught me when i was a young
boy. i remember at the kitchen table watching him write out a check to the naacp, for what for him was a lot of money. i asked him, dad, why are you writing this check? and he told me, because discrimination against anyone is a threat to all of us. if you accept it for others, he explained to me, you should expect it for yourself. dr. king expressed that idea so powerfully in his letter from a birmingham jail. he wrote, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. now, my father died 12 days after dr. king wrote those words. but i know that my, he and my mother couldn't have agreed more. and when i think of what i've done in my life that would have made my father most proud, had he lived to an old age, it would not have been my success in business, or being mayor of new york city. it would have been the work that he and my mother taught me and
my sister to do. to help others. to right wrongs to. fight injustice. and to stand up for what you think is right, even when others disagree. now, i think it is fair to say that while important progress has been made towards realizing dr. king's dream, the pace of progress is still too slow. but there's not a doubt in my mind, that it is possible to accelerate the pace, because i've seen it happen. in new york city, reverend sharpton and i worked together on many civil rights challenges, where we jump started and accelerated progress. beginning with education. now, i know this will shock you, but when i was elected, surprise, surprise, schools in poor neighborhoods had been neglected and underfunned for decades. changing that was one of the many reasons that i decided to run for mayor. and we did change it. and thanks to the strong support we got from reverend sharpton
and many others, we really made a difference. we believe that every child, regardless of color, could learn and could achieve. and we insisted that every child, regardless of color, must have the chance to attend a quality school, no exceptions, no excuses. i've always believed that the best way to reduce poverty is to prevent it in the first place. and that starts with teaching our children the skills and knowledge they need to pursue their dreams. so we close schools that have been failing, mostly minority communities for decades. and we opened new ones in their place that outperformed the old schools. we gave new york city teachers a 43% raise to attract and retain the very best. and we more than doubled the education budget while i was in office. we also got some important help from president obama, who worked
closely with his team and us on new york's race to the top application, and which helped us raise standards and increase quality school options, including charters, for families who had long lacked them. all of this work helped us increase graduation rates by 42%, and substantially reduce the racial achievement gap. you should also know that since leaving office, i have made education and access to college a major focus of my philanthropy's work. and we have accelerated progress there, too. but as dr. king would have been the first to say, we still aren't moving fast enough. in fact, i think if he had seen the progress, the little progress that we've made in giving all minority children a sufficient education to succeed, over the past four years, he would be shocked at how little has changed. and i think the same is true for
other issues, that the reverend sharpton and i worked on. including another problem that will not surprise you. and that's the environment, as the reverend mentioned. the worst air pollution in new york city was in poor black and hispanic neighborhoods. you know this if you live there. children from those neighborhoods suffer much higher asthma rates than white children do. so we eliminated a lot of the dirty heating oil, built new parks, and reformed the garbage hauling system. instead of having all the city's garbage trucked through the poorest neighborhoods, we spread the burden more equally and reduced pollution across all five buroughs. and when i left office, now,'s air was cleaner than it had been, new york city's air was cleaner than it had been in 50 years, and clean air and clean water should be a right that is protected for every american and every community. [ applause ] reverend sharpton and i also saw that we could accelerate
progress in juvenile justice. together, we worked, together, to reduce the number of kids held in the city's detention centers, by more than 40%. and we closed down upstate juvenile prisons that were located so far away, relatives couldn't get there to visit their families. we brought young people together, back home, to their families. and their schools. and where they'd have a better chance of getting their lives back on track. it is one issue reverend sharpton and i worked on that i would like to touch on before i finish this morning, because i think it is impossible to mark dr. king's birthday without remembering how he died. eight years ago, around mlk weekend, we held a gun violence prevention event in city hall, with family members who had lost loved ones. and we were honored to joined by martin luther king iii, we talked about it before in the
speech, and it was one of the most moving events i've ever been part of. i didn't know famous people like the reverend, or martin luther king, or martin luther king jr. or martin luther king iii, and had dr. king, i have no doubt, we have made gun violence an important part of this life. and i have no doubt he would have been at the very front of the national march for our lives last year. but his spirit was with all the millions who marched and rallied, including so many young people, like nate tindike, who you will meet later this morning, and a very special 9-year-old dr. king's granddaughter yolanda. yolanda, you just got to learn how to be forward and not be shy anymore. she was beaming when you jumped up faster when your mother did. yolanda once said, i have a dream that enough is enough. and i've spent enough time in churches over the years to say
amen. dr. king is still our drum major for justice. and as we celebrate his birthday, let's remember that to truly honor the way he lived, we must redeem the way he died. now, as many of you know, i've been fighting gun violence, and the nra, for many years, spending hundreds of millions of dollars of my own money, and traveling around this country, rallying voters, of gun safety candidates, and causes. and i'm glad to say i have never seen more energy behind the movement than i see right now. it's a movement that i think dr. king would have been proud of. every color, every gender, every religion, every background. we're making real progress. and i'm happy to say in both blue and red states. and here in washington, the democratic house that many of us work to elect has already introduced a universal background check bill. [ applause ] >> i think dr. king would have
been especially proud to see the election of an african-american woman named lucy macbeth, from a district just outside his hometown of atlanta. lucy lost her son to a senseless shooting. but she turned her grief into activism. and became a volunteer leader in a group i've supported named moms demand action. this year, she ran for congress. and i helped pay for radio and television and direct mail ads that i think had something to do with her success. not a lot of experts thought she would win. but she did. in a district that had once elected newt gingrich. so thank you, yes, a round of applause for that. [ applause ] >> so thanks to lucy and many others like her, our movement is on the march. over the years, i've spoken with so many people who have lost family members to gunshots and i can tell you, those talks never
get any easier. when i was mayor, an innocent young african-american named shawn bell who was wrongly shot and killed by new york city police the night before his wedding, when it happened i called the reverend sharpton and i said, al, i want to meet with his family and fiance to apologize, to accept responsibility for the city, and to promise them i would do everything i n-my power to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again. i have never walked away from something i believe in and i've never advocated for something i didn't put my heart into delivering. and i knew in this case, it wouldn't ease their pain, but it was the least i could do. now, i can't stand up here and tell you that every decision i've made as mayor was perfect. i've listened to concerns. and i tried to be responsive. but i can tell you, we were always guided by the goal, first and foremost in all cases, of
saving lives of those who faced the greatest risk of gun violence, young men of color. and by cutting murders in half, i'm glad to say some 1600 people are alive today, who otherwise p would not be, and most are young men from black and hispanic communities. others are young children, teenagers, grandparents, mothers and fathers, thankfully, they were not killed, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. i can't tell you the names, but i can tell you that all yoacros america there are still far too many who aren't so lucky and far too many politicians who don't seem to give a damn about them. they care more about politics, and getting re-elected than saving lives. i'm not going to accept that. and i hope you won't either. and it is up to all of us to take up this fight, and to start bending the arc of justice faster than we ever have before.
so tomorrow, let's get back to work. and let's honer the way dr. king lived. by saving others from the way he died. thank you. and god bless. [ applause ] >> michael bloomberg. [ applause ] >> i'm going to present our honorees and i want you to respect that as well as our youth honoree, and we again, this is a breakfast, they will make sure the acceptances, and then we will hear from the last one, this is a breakfast, not a luncheon, we're not going to be here till lunchtime. i know some preachers have
breakfasts that end up lunches. i'm not one of them. i'll be in new york by lunch. as we have talked about, the government shutdown, let us remember that the government workers have a union, that have fought for them, and worked for them. have stood with them. throughout the years. no time like this time do we need the american federation of government employees. because their strength in organizing ability is what i believe will ultimately keep the pressure on the congress to force this president to do the right thing. even before the shutdown or the shutout, we had asked everettt to become one of our hon yerore
this year because of work in florida, protecting voter's rights, no one symbolizes fighting for working people, government workers than everett kelly, no one is more needed today in the 31st day of this shutdown, than the everett kelleys of this country. will you help me, in saluting, from the american federation of government employees, our first honoree, everett kelley. [ applause ] >> good morning, brothers and sisters. >> good morning. >> first of all, to reverend al
sharpton and the national action network, to my esteemed cohorts of honorees, to my afg e family, my beloved wife, elizabeth, and other distinguished guests, all of you that are here on this commemorative occasion, good morning. i am humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award. not only is this a notable achievement, but it is even more special as i am receiving this award in honor of a man who had a dream of which he hoped for the realization of equality and justice for all people. 51 years ago, dr. martin luther king jr. stated the following words. i say to you today, my friends, so even though we face this
difficult of today and tomorrow, i still have a dream. it is a dream deeply rooted in the american dream. i have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. even now, these words still have a resounding effect on those who hear them. dr. martin luther king jr. was a man wise beyond measure, for he knew that every triumph, there would be trials, that every joy, there would be pain, and with sunshine, there would be rain. but with hope, faith, and perseverance, we're all able to press toward this mark together. as the national secretary of treasury of the american federation of government employees, i know too well that too many people, especially our federal employees, are currently
facing difficulties that could be avoided. i received an e-mail after my interview, that said you should be ashamed, laying the blame on our president. i said, look, the president took ownership for this shutdown. and so should you. i'm here to tell you, my brothers and sisters, that i believe this work that we do is god's work. i believe it because i remember the question was asked, so if we didn't see you hungry and did not feed you, we never have seen you naked and did not clothe you, he said listen, the greatest teacher of all said this, he said if you did it to the least of these my brethren, you've done it under me, so i believe this to be god's work, and i am here to tell you today, as long as breath is in my body, i will fight this fight. i believe that god is still looking for a people that will go and tell pharoah to let my people go.
i submit to us today, that we all are a part of this movement, and we must tell pharoah to let my people go. thank you for this award. thank you, my brothers, and sisters. i love you. and god bless you. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you. everett kelley. government worker. i have been in the civil rights movement since i was 12. and i've met many that i've worked with, some to be candid, i've liked, some i've loved, some i didn't like at all. but you have to work with them. and those that are on the field for the last several years, as i look around, spencer overton, and so many that are with us,
and fight with us every day, there's melanie campbell, black women's round table is with us. [ applause ] >> mr. civil rights from the naacp is with us. [ applause ] >> there's none that i respect more, and like, but respect, than our next awardee, because she speaks what she means. and she is ready to fight in her lane that is unequalled by anyone else. we all don't do sifrtcivil righe same way, but if we do our way to the best that we can, then it makes the whole highway progress. and i've watched in coalition meetings, meetings at the white house, or meetings wherever we
work, that everyone knows when she comes in the room, you better be ready, because she's ready. she has taken an historic organization and breathed new life in it. and because of that, it has breathed new life in the civil rights community. we have a long way to go. but we would be further back if we did not have this tenacious committed hard-working self-sacrificing hero named sherrilyn ifill at the naacp. join me in honoring sherrilyn ifill. [ applause ] >> good morning and thank you.
so i'm told i have four minutes and they seemed like they wanted to cut to three, but i'm taking my full four. i'm 'the only woman getting an honor, an honoree this morning, i lead the civil rights organization, and we are in a moment that requires me to give you some work, some assignments, so i'm going to do that. so i'm going to take the first few seconds to say thank you to all of you for being here, to acknowledge, reverend sharpton and your extraordinary work, and your commitment to constantly bringing us together, which is so important, especially at this moment, i keep telling people we have to come out and see one another at this time in this country to remember that there are more of us than there are of them, and so i thank you for that. the king family, i just have to acknowledge, you, your sacks fice, your extraordinary work, many of us set ourselves on the path to become civil rights activists and lawyers because of the extraordinary work of your dad. i'm one of them.
lock before the lock, long before there was eyes on the prize there was king from montgomery to memphis and my father made us watch it every year, so i thank you so much, and i acknowledge your sacrifice and your work. to vice president biden, to mayor bowser, to mayor bloomberg, to all of the mayors and officials who are here, i acknowledge you as well. there is a thing called public service. i know people pretend that it doesn't exist. but it is real. and you all are examples of what that is. and i thank you for it. i had a nonpartisan organization. i don't show for candidates, so i acknowledge your service. it is not an endorsement. but i am happy that there will be a field of competent ethical candidates running for the presidency this year. i want to acknowledge my board member who is here, tony west, with is tony west, general counsel, there he is.
this morning, his sister-in-law kamala harris announced she is running for president as well. and i want to by name acknowledge my civil rights leadership colleagues, anita gupta, christian flock, head of the lawyers committee for civil rights. melanie campbell is here. we talked about spencer over ton. hillary sheltton. all of you who are in the room. and it is really important, because at this very difficult time, these are the people that we walk, when we went to go see jeff sessions, only once, only once, these are the people who stood shoulder to shoulder with reverend sharpton in that room to face down these difficult moments, and their competence, their intelligence, their commitment, their ethics, and their energy, this is exhausting at this moment, really makes it possible to do this extraordinary work. so let me take one minute and tell you a story, because sometimes we forget how we got over and where we came from. in 1949, a man named bill
coleman was the first african-american to serve as a clerk on the united states supreme court. he was a clerk to justice felix frankfurther. and bill coleman became the lawyer's lawyer, he later became the chair of the board of the legal defense fund. he was brought in to the work of brown v board of education by thur goode marshall. he was part of the lawyers who were in the brain trust. they didn't work at ldf, they were partners at law firms and law professors but they were part of the brain trust and he was one of them. first african-american clerk of the united states supreme court. one holiday he was working for his justice, and all of the clerks decided that they were going to go down, and have lunch, at the mayflower hotel. and he said i'll join you in ten minutes. and his best friend, co-clerk, elliot richardson, a name we have been hearing a lot lately, reminding ourselves of, elliot richardson said i'll wait for you, and when bill coleman came out elliot richardson said listen, why don't we go to union station, it is closer, we have so much work to do, let's just eat there and go back. and bill coleman said fine, and
did he only learn that the elliot richardson called over to the play mayflower hotel and found out they wouldn't take black people. and it was a case am 1953, dc versus thompson to ensure that all facilities had to serve as african-americans. so as we look around this room, i want you to remember, it wasn't always like this. and that it takes the work of civil rights lawyers to move us forward as well. i told you i had assignments. here's the assignments. take out your phone. a pen. i'm totally not playing. because this is a martin luther king day commemoration. and you have to work. so the first thing you have to work on is dealing with the government shutdown. this is mcconnell's shutdown. i know people say trump shutdown. i say mcconnell shutdown. and that means that you have to call your senator, and you have to tell your senator to tell mcconnell to vote on the bills
that have already been passed by the house, and that the senate have previously approved of, that would reopen the government. we don't know what your senator's phone number is call 202-224-3121. and they are going to tell you, they are going to connect you, the switch board will connect you with your senator and you will take that number and you will text it to your family members who live in other state, and you are going to tell them to tell their senators to call senator mcconnell and tell him that the united states senate does not belong to the president of the united states. that the united states congress has to vote on bills, whether or not the president likes it. and this government has to be reopened. while you're on that line, you can also tell your senator that they should be opposing this attorney general nominee, william barr. we heard a lot last week about where he stands on the mueller investigation. but we hear about where he 1257bds on civil rights and where he stands on civil rights is not where we stand on civil rights.
this is a man who wrote an article called the case for more incarceration. this is not the attorney general you want. so make sure your senator knows that. number two, i need you to support the bill that has been introduced in the house of representatives, hr-1, it is a comprehensive voting rights bill. and we must restore the strength of the voting rights act. everything that you have seen around voter suppression, it is no longer in the south, it has jumped the shark, it has metastasized, it is in wisconsin, it is in kansas, it is in north dakota, it is all over the country. and we now need a comprehensive fix to the voting rights act to reverse the harm of the shelby county versus holder decision from the supreme court in 2013. listen, this is important. hr-1. it is easy to remember. so you're asking your representative about hr-1. we need a fix to the voting rights act. and then finally, i'm asking you to vote, now, listen, i know when i say that, people are thinking about the presidential
race, maybe they're thinking about a senate race, maybe they're thinking about their mayoral race, and this is why we give away political power. there are not elections in this country every two years. there are not elections every four years. there are elections every year. maybe that election is for the railroad commissioner. the school board. the town council. the county commission. the con stable, the justices of the peace. that is where power is developed. and we have failed to exercise our right to vote in every one of those elections. if you're honest with yourself, you go into the booth, you vote for the governor, you vote for the mayor, maybe you vote for your city council member, then you're not really sure about the d.a. candidates so make you pick one because of the political party, then you look at the sheriff candidates, you don't know who they are so due vote, maybe the judicial races say pick three and you don't know who any of them are so due vote in that election. i want that to stop today. i want you to vow to yourself, i want you to stop telling young
people that martin luther king jr. died for their vote, and that they have to vote when due even you don't even vote in every race. that sends today. decide, that if we are going to have true political power, if we are truly going to live up to the sacrifice of those who came before us, that we will cast that ballot, not only to vote in every election, but for every race and build political power from the ground up. and here's the last thing. i'm a lawyer. i know it is boring. i know people don't like to hear about civil rights lawyers. i'm not a preacher. preachers are fantastic. they're exciting. but listen to me. the courts are critical. they are critical. the reason we're sitting in this room having this breakfast is because of the work of civil rights lawyers in the courts. so we need you to support us. we need you to pay attention to the supreme court. we need you to go on our web sites, i need to you follow me on twitter, i need to you keep up and know what i'm talking about when i start telling you about these cases that are
coming up. the supreme court is getting ready to rule on gerrymandering. they're ruling on a case involving a man who was tried six times by a d.a. in mississippi. six times. they're ruling on cases involving black people being excluded from juries. this is our lives. so i need you to pay attention. i know i can count on you. eat your breakfast. get to work. thank you. [ applause ] >> sherrilyn ifill. there are those that serve in public office. and then there are those that are public servants. many are in office, or in position, to be served. others are there to be of
service. no one has shown america more the example and per son fy cation of public service than joe biden. he's taken on the tough issues. he's stood when it was popular and when it was unpopular. he's been solid. he's been a person that did not find being out front, or being secondary. it didn't matter. as long as we were moving in the right direction. that is why barack obama chose him. twice. to be his partner in the white house. and that is why many of us saw a man that would take down and put his shoulder to the wheel, to move america forward. and when i look around, and see
this audience, and i look and i see those that have different persuasions politically, and recently, as my friend nate said, i have not found one, that has not had the respect for this person. i took the train down yesterday, because of the weather, and many of you know, when i was younger, james brown took me as his son and he would take me on the road with him, some. folks thought i was his manager, but i really wasn't but i would just hang out with him with civil rights work, and i kept, after he passed, one of the things was a fold wer his initials and so when i got off the train yesterday, one of the people at union station said, i told you he was running, and the guy said what do you mean? he said there go reverend al. he go got a jb thing.
joe bid en is running ya'll. so right now, already traveling for jb. he didn't know that was from 30 years ago, james brown. so my journey has brought me from the godfather of soul, to the godfather of poll, vice president joe biden. [ applause ] >> well, i have an announcement to make. i'm not one of the famous flames. those of you who knows james brown. good morning, everyone. rev, thank you for that introduction. folks, you are looking, the one
title i can claim is i am mr. amtrak. when i travel -- no, no, i tell you, the press will tell you, they kept fastidious miles of how many miles you fly on an air force plane, and about six and a half years in, the headline in the paper, biden travels a million miles on air force two and i didn't want to take the g 5, and it cost too much money and i would take the train and the secret service didn't like that, they thought it was more dangerous and a guy grabbed my choke, and i have been riding since 1973, joey, joey, a million miles, big deal, the boys and i figured out how many miles you traveled on amtrak. and i said you did? yesterday, averaged 119 days a year for 36 and years and vice president, we figured 8,210
round trips. 259 miles a day. joe, you've traveled over two million miles on amtrak. i don't want to hear any more about air force two. so folks, ride amtrak. look, let me be quick and get to the point. everybody knows today isn't about looking back on the legacy of your dad. it's about carrying that legacy forward. in october, i was invited to the national civil rights museum in memphis, to receive the freedom award. a thing when i sat in black churches, and decided, we can get ready, and by the way next to two jewish rabbis, getting ready to go out and desegregate movie theaters in delaware, i never, ever thought in my life i would be worthy of it, and i'm not sure i'm worthy of it. but i stood in that balcony in the lorraine motel, where your dad was assassinated, and it brought me back, brought me back
to that moment in 1968, the balcony leads back into dr. king's room, and nothing has changed. beds are still unmade. the coffee cups are still scattered around the room. and when you walk in, you can feel that restless spirit. you can feel it. you can taste it. it's still in the room. of a dream deferred. of unfinished business. right before your dad, as you well know, martin was assassinated, he stood in the pulpit of mason temple talking to 2,000 people. what was he talking about? there was a strike, it was about wage, ultimately about dignity he was insisting that these garbage workers be treated with dignity. dignity. and ladies and gentlemen, the fact of the matter is that many
of you remember exactly what he said. it may not have been the last sentence, but it was close to the last sentence, he said, let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make america what it ought to be. to make america what it ought to be. we all know what it ought to be. that was his last, among his last words spoken. to make america what it out ought to be. america has been made better. all of the struggles many of you in this room have endure and led. but we've learned, in the last two years, it doesn't take much to awaken hate. to bring those folks out from under the rocks. that part of american society has always been there. will always be there.
but it has been legitimized. 50 years later, the hate that cut your dad down is still nurtured by those forces of darkness. we saw it in charlottesville. clansman and white supremacists and neo nazis literally shrunked out of their darkrooms and their digital hide-aways, their crazed and vicious faces, literally, contorted, illuminated by torch light. we could make up a hollywood movie like that. an historic city. and confronted by decent honorable americans who said that's not us. dr. king knows those faces well. those same lost souls that once
stood like cowards, hooded, behind burning crosses. they have been deliberately reawakened again, those forces. it is not an accident. they have been deliberately reawakened again. unearthed by loose talk, by direct appeals to prejudice, from the alt-right, and then something i never thought i would live to see again, having a president of the united states make a moral equivalency between those who are spreading the hate and those who were opposing it. saying there were quote very fine people on both sides. no presidents of civil war have
ever, ever, ever uttered words like that. one thing we know for certain, we learned it over and over again through history, whether it was the holocaust or the civil rights movement, silence is complicity. silence is complicity. and so we have to do what you've been doing, reverend, and you have been doing, everybody has been doing in this room for a long time, you have to speak out. we have to, we have to challenge these forces of hate. stand up and simply say what the vast majority of americans agreed to. this is not our america. now, for real. this is not who we are. this is not the image we wish to spread around the world, which is happening.
this is not who we are. because it's not who we are. years ago, there used to be a poll tax. now, as our last speaker pointed out, just last year, 24 states, 24 states introduced or enacted at least 70 bills to make it hard harder for people to vote. they now use the voter i.d. laws, like the poll tax used to be used. simply designed to keep people from being able to vote. we saw it in georgia in the governor's race. we saw it in florida. we saw it in other parts of of the country. 2017. these guys never give up. we knew. that they never will give up. it is like cutting grass, man. you cut it, it looks nice, but you let it go for a while, it gets a little ugly.
then it grows into a forest again. we can't let this happen. you know, i've been in this fight for a long time. it goes not just to voting rights. it goes to the criminal justice system. i hadn't always been right. i know we haven't always gotten things right. but i've always tried. rev, it was your help, back in 2010, that barack and i finally reduced the disparity in sentencing, which we had been fighting to eliminate, in crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. it was a big mistake when it was made, we thought we were told by the mistakes, that crack, you never go back, it was somehow fundamentally different, it is not different, but it has trapped an entire generation. as vice president i saw firsthand the courage of barack, excuse me, the president, he's my buddy, no, he really is my buddy, all those names are true, except he did the first friendship bracelet, not me.
but every day, i've always been proud of his courage. never more than when he commuted over 1,700 sentences. more than the past 13 presidents in a row. i was proud that our reforms helped the federal prison population be reduced by 38,000 people. most people don't know, 91% of all the people kept in prison are in state prisons. they're not in federal prisons. that's where the overcrowding is. in state prisons. ladies and gentlemen, we have to say to the states, no more. no more mandatory sentences. enough is enough is enough. we should be reducing those sentences. and folks, look, federally, we need to once again, and finally for all, eliminate all the disparity between crack and
powder. we need a legacy of debtor prisons and we have a legacy of debtor prisons called cash bail. my daughter runs the delaware criminal justice system, she is fighting for two years, finally the attorney general of general just announced they are going to eliminate cash bail in the state of delaware. it can be done. folks, the fact of the matter is, that the bottom line is we have a lot to root out, but most of all will is systematic racism that most of us whites don't like to acknowledge exists, we don't consciously acknowledge but it has been built into every aspect of our system. because when your schools are substandard, when your houses are undervalued, when your car insurance costs more for no apparent reason, when poverty rates for black americans are still twice that of white americans, when barack says that
your name is jamal and your name is jim, and you have the same qualifications, and jim gets the job, there's something we have to admit, not you, we, white america, has to admit, there is still a systematic racism. and it goes almost unnoticed by so many of us. when all that is surrounding us, is there any wonder that there is still a spirit of restlessness out there? how do we ensure that every american can live a life of dignity? how do we fulfill the promise that working people who still go to bed like my dad used to, staring at the ceiling, thinking, god if i get prostate cancer for if my wife gets breast cancer, we lose everything. we lopse, the single biggest reason for bankruptcy. we lose everything. how can we stand by guaranteeing
that every single american can get affordable health care and medications, because your health shouldn't depend on the color of your skin or your zip code. but it does. one study found that there are 30 million u.s. jobs waiting to be filled that don't need college degrees. a bachelor's degree. when i wrote for the president, a year of study of jobs in the future, right then and there, there are 100,000 factory jobs going unfilled, for high-tech, because we didn't train people for those skills. the average salary, according to the study, is 55,000 dollars a year. 30 million u.s. jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree that pay $55,000 a year. whether it's college, trade school, certificate, apprenticeships, community colleges, six week coding
programs, every single solitaire child is capable of doing something consequential, and filling these jobs. it's not rocket science. no, it really isn't. it's an absolute simple commitment. folks, what the hell are we arguing about a $15 minimum wage for? why is it even a question? no, no, really? below that rate is below the poverty level. people working. busting their necks. ladies and gentlemen, we need to eliminate what you probably don't even realize, there's 40 million people out there that have to sign a noncompete agreement. you work for the equivalent of a wendy's, you can't go to work, you can't compete and go to work for mcdonald's if they pay you five cents more. the fact of the matter is, that these are hourly jobs. people are having to sign noncompete agreements. what the heck are we going?
folks, we need better public transportation. and so much more. and it will literally change the lives of ordinary people, black, hispanic, and some whites as well. rev, i'm optimistic. the reason i am, and i will end on this, is i know i'm, i was always referred to as the mayor knows as the white house optimist. i always kind of liked that, it made me looked like the young guy, younger than all of them, as my grandfather would say i didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday. but folks, new generation millennials, those born after 1980, a study at georgetown university showed not only are they the best educated, the most engaged, they are also the least prejudiced generation in american history. and they have been awakened like my generation was by your father. they had been awakened. ladies and gentlemen, over 60%
of this millennial generation believes that increasing, not accepting, increasing diversity, is good for them and good for america. that has never, ever happened in at any point in american history. folks, we have a whole army out there that is ready. i said to the reserve, or you actually said to you, martin, thanks have changed. turn on the television. how many biracial ads do you see? i'm serious. they're normal. what is behind is our government. what is behind are these people of prejudice that have found their voice again. and ladies and gentlemen, we've never come this close before. they've been awakened, they are ready to speak, they are ready to vote, they are ready to win, and all of a sudden, ten years ago, when people tell me things can't change, ten years ago, yesterday, rev, i stood on a
platform, in wilmington, delaware, at the amtrak station, and i was at the end of the platform, when we call over looking the third street bridge, the neighborhood i used to represent as a public defender, in southeast wilmington, i got back from law school and i had a job where the white shoe law firm, because my state was the only state in american history, my city occupied by the national guard for several months i quit my job as a public offender and i would go down to those neighborhoods and interview folks and as i looked out and i am stand there with my two sons and my daughter and my wife, waiting for a train, i looked out over, what used to be, there were houses there, and vacant lots where kids used to play. and people used to live. and i thought things would never get better again, because they had been burned to the ground. and never get better. and here i was, it just hit me, standing, waiting for a black
man, to come 28 miles from philadelphia, to pick me up, and take me on a 128-mile ride, to be sworn in, as president and vice president of the united states. don't tell me things can't change. don't tell me it can't change. folks, you know, i apologize. i have gone too long. but my friend reverend barber put it this way. it isn't enough he said just to remember dr. king. he said we have to quote reach down in the blood, pick up the baton, and carry it the rest of the way. i know that's met for cal, but it is literally true. the next generation is coming to carry it forward. so don't tell me there's no reason for hope. i've never been more optimistic than i am today. i still believe that dream's
within our reach. as your dad said, let's move on. in these powerful days, in america, make america what it ought to be. because in fact, it can be. please, please, please, don't give up hope. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, we're now going to present what i believe, and i feel is the most important, most important award, it is the youth award. and this young man is amazing. the youth award is designed to highlight a young person who has shown outstanding character and leadership within the community.
nate tenbite is a 16-year-old from montgomery, county, maryland, currently serves as the president of the montgomery county student government association, leading the district's 163,000 students to fight for english language learner programs funding and frank classroom discussions. he is a young leader. nate is also one of the founding members of the montgomery county students for change, an advocacy organization that in 2018 led 5,000 student walkouts to the steps to the capitol to protest guns violence. and he had a registered voter drive, that registered high school students and currently working in the maryland state legislature to pass a law mandating at least one voter registration drive in maryland high school. this is a 16-year-old young man. you know, bobby kennedy said the future does not belong to those who are fearful of projects but the future belongs to those who
can blend courage and more into society. nate represents the best of america. i would like to present the 2019 youth award to nate. [ applause ] . come on up. come on, nate. come bless us, if you would. >> good morning. thank you. for the introduction. and the amazing work that you have done throughout these past few months and years. thank you reverend al sharpton and the national action network for using your platform towards fighting for equality and social justice in many underrepresented communities. once again, my name is nate tenbite. i'm a junior at kennedy high school in montgomery county, maryland. in truth, i could have never imagined standing here today.
less than two generations after the civil rights movement. as a proud black american, in the presence of many of our national leaders. speaking about my ideas, this breakfast is also a particular honor for my family as well. my mom and dad immigrated here in ethiopia over two decades ago, bringing the values of hard work, perseverance, and compassion. and most importantly, a firm believer in the values of this country. their fundamental traits continue to serve as the driving force in my own life. martin luther king, my parents, and most importantly god have taught me that we all have a rightful place in our country. and our communities and on platforms like these. and that so long as we believe in unity, fear-mongering cannot divide us. now, at the braces and lack of facial hair aren't a dead give-away, i will just put on the table, i'm 16.
[ applause ] >> but the lessons and experiences that i've learned and gained throughout the past few months, often have me checking for balding patches. in all seriousness though, throughout each endeavor, i've had a major take-away. as a student advocate for march for our lives, i witnessed the first-hand, the power of our voices, we the young people, and our nation, when we mobilize, for a common cause. that same power is seen in almost every major social justice movement in this nation. just this year, recognizing the lasting and bitter remnants of defacto segregation in my home country my friend and i pushed and mobilized and got our school board to pass a resolution forcing our district to restudy its boundary lines.
echoing the words of dr. king. we fought to make sure that racial background and socioeconomic status never determine the quality of one's education in our county. our workplaces and schools increasingly consist of cultural, racial and ethnic groups who can learn and grow from each other. our schools should reflect that. when i joined the poor people's campaign, i got arrested fighting to keep families at our border together. [ applause ] and i learned the sense of fulfillment one finds when going to the greatest lengths to fight for what they believe in. the lessons dr. king leaves behind remind me of the importance of maintaining morality in our nation's political decisions. and that america's bigger than the sum of our personal ambitions. now today and every other day that follows, we must honor dr. king's legacy.
on this day, we must come together to remind ourselves to choose love over hate, morality over immorality. on this day, we must band together to build bridges over walls. and on this day, we have to remind ourselves to be the beacons of hope for the stories we cannot hear. a great man once said that in justi injustice is a threat to justice everywhere. darkness cannot drive out darkness. only light can do that. a great man once said the time is always right to do what is right. that man died fighting for our nation, for a better world that he wanted his grandchildren to see. we can't let his efforts be in vain. we need to reflect on the impact that we choose to leave the world with, be it enacting
positive change in our own communities or taking our fight to a national scale. we need to take each step in a positive, purposeful direction. let's continue the work of this organization. let's continue the legacy of dr. king and champion equity for all. thank you. >> that's the future of our country. it's a bright future. fantastic. now i would like to introduce kenny thompson junior. mr. thompson is senior director of government external affairs of pepsico. prior to joining pepsico, kenny served in the obama white house and held several positions including message event for joe
biden and special assistant advanced lead for president obama. kenny thompson junior, ladies and gentlemen. >> thank you so much. thank you so much rev. this day -- this week took on a little new meaning. i called my grandfather in preparation just to get his thoughts. i do this regularly. he actually shared with me that he met dr. king once. he told me that in 1961 while serving in the air force, he was stationed in montgomery, alabama. one day while walking out of a drugstore and dr. king was walking into the drugstore, they exchanged a few words, brief conversation. dr. king said, thank you for your service.
my grandfather replied, no, sir, thank you for yours. this was the first time my grandfather shared this story with me. i'm not sure what took him so long to pass this information along. this week i've been reflecting on it. how incredible is it that same young serviceman who met dr. king outside of a segregated drugstore in 1961 would 50 years later be introduced to the first black president by his own grandson? so for me this day is about three things. reflection. reflection on how far we have come with an eye toward the future. you are the future. service. how can we better serve one another? and saying thank you to all those who have come before us and who have sacrificed so much. on behalf of pepsico, i want to thank reverent sharpton and the
national action network for leading the fight for justice for all americans. pepsico is proud to stand with you and partner with you. i would like to say congr congratulations to today's honorees. to vice-president biden, i have learned so much from you. i thank you so much for the service you have given to this country. thank you all and happy king day. >> i would like to bring michele banks back up. we want to give a special thanks to our sponsors. in fact, can reps of these organizations, if you a rep, please stand up as we acknowledge you. our dreamkeeper level sponsors, seiu, afge, at&t, afk, come cca
pepsico, rai, t-mobile, uber, justice partner level, facebook, google, nab, friends of nan, eastern star church, sciu. michele. tonya can't be here. but she's here in spirit. and we truly thank you for what you have done and bringing us together here. we couldn't be here without you. give it up for michele. >> thank you, hill. thank you, everyone. if tonya were here today, she had a very special presentation to you, hill.
that on this mlk day on behalf of at&t and the humanity of connection, here is for you the visionary award, hill harper. thank you for all the work you do, hill. thank you for your manifest, your destiny foundation serving underserved youth so that they can achieve academic excellence. hill, every day you walk the talk and we are grateful for you. we are grateful that you are here with us today, for your leadership and your service. may god bless you. >> this is unexpected. thank you so much. we want to close today by thanking reverent al sharpton.
hopefully, we will be doing this for years to come. in a time where so much is riding -- this is a wonderful opportunity to get together and listen to key voices and driving conversations that are vital. it's a difficult time. we reflect on 1968, a very difficult year for this country. in many ways, 2019 and moving forward toward 2020 represents some of the same challenges. without national action network and great civil rights organizations represented here, our work would be just that much more difficult. mary pat hector and others, we are in good hands. it's up to us to continue the work of organizations and support organizations like the national action network to keep these conversations happening. have a beautiful and blessed mlk day. god bless you.
unfolds daily. in 197, 1979, c-span was create. today, we continue to bring you unfilt e unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. on friday, february 8, acting attorney general matthew whitaker will testify before the house judiciary committee about the special counsel investigation into russian interference in the 2016 election. live coverage begins on c-span2 at 9:30 a.m. eastern, a week from today. the national judicial conference held a con fence on judicial attacks on the press. we will hear from peopleho