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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  August 24, 2013 9:00am-11:01am PDT

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associate myself with the remarks of those from congress who have spoken before me. that's officially. personally it is my very personal pleasure to be here with each and every one of you because i was here 50 years ago. so who among you is going to be the speaker of the house, the president of the united states or whatever. you're a beautiful sight to behold, and at that time 50 years ago we heard dr. king inspire us with the "i have a dream" part of his speech, the part that was the call to action was the fierce urgency of now part of his speech. in that time dr. king says we refuse to take the tranquillity drug of gradualism. we must move forward, and
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forward we will. if it was fiercely then urgent, it certainly is now. 50 years ago there were only five african-american members of the house of representatives. there was no congressional black cauc caucus. today there are 43 members. we want more but there are 43. they're led by congresswoman marsha fudge who you heard from and they are the conscience of the congress. in that blauk caucus we have the privilege of serving with john lewis, some of us for over 25 years in the congress, and aren't we proud of that. i also want to mention that 50 years ago, though he was not a member of congress at the time that john conyers was one of three people invited to the white house to meet with president john f. kennedy following the civil rights march, the march for jobs,
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justice and freedom, who is with us. 50 years ago we had the first catholic president in the white house. today we have the first african-american president and the first african-american first family leading our country so beautifully from the white house. you know we come together here at a time when there is a monument to reverend martin luther king on the mall. here he sits with presidents of the united states so appropriately. we have a day set aside as a national holiday to celebrate his birthday. but he would want us to celebrate him, his birth and his legacy by acting upon his agenda, by realizing the dream, by making the minimum wage a living wage, by having not just family and medical leave, but
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paid sick leave for our workers, by having quality affordable child care so that our families can be -- the power of women can be unleashed in our economy and in our society. and do you know what? this just happens to be women's equality weekend. when women succeed, america succeeds. when people of color succeed, america succeeds. he would also want us to be fighting for voting rights. certainly we must pass a bill in the congress to correct what the supreme court did, but we must also be sure that every person who is eligible to vote can vote and that their vote would be counted. when i was here 50 years ago, people said -- and that includes voting rights for the district of columbia. when i was here 50 years ago people say, what do you remember
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most? and the music is playing, so i'll say this. dr. king said this 50 years ago, the music of the march, the harmony of the civil rights movement, the notes of dr. king's inspirational words must continue to inspire us to compose as dr. king said on that august afternoon a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. are you ready to beat the drum for that beautiful symphony of brotherhood? are you ready to realize the dream? thank you all very much. >> that was representative nancy pelosi. she has represented california's 12th district for more than 25 years. she is, of course, the first woman speaker of the house. i am joined now here at the table by msnbc's own ed schultz who addressed this crowd earlier
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in the day. >> melissa, good to be here. a great experience to see all these people here all over america. it's absolutely fantastic. great experience. >> hold for just one moment. it is true live television. i'm hearing there are various folks coming, but not yet. tell me, what was it like for you earlier to address this crowd? >> i think it's important personally to get up there and when you talk to talk about your personal experiences, talk about some things that have been impressionable in your life when it comes to diversity and civil rights, and when i was 9 years old, of course, dr. king was doing the march here. then i went to an integrated high school, forced busing for racial equality. i talked about that. and i see a movement away from diversity right now in public education. last night i was in birmingham, alabama, did a radio town hall. some of the stories that i'm
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hearing about what schools are being resourced and what schools aren't. it's unbelievable that 50 years after the march we still have a long way to government my message was that diversity is our strength as a country. when we start picking and choosing neighborhoods which we're seeing in major metropolitan areas because the tax base is not as strong as it should be because of income and equality, that income and equality bleeds down into the educational system. so it strangless the chance of young kids in certain school districts. we have to watch out for that. yesterday president obama was talking about early child care. what message are we sending to young people in america when your school doesn't get fully resourced, when we have a political party that attacks teachers, that finds problems with public education instead of mending the fences and realizing that every child in america has the potential to learn if we are the professionals and make sure
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that the schools are resourced. >> of course, public education has been the engine for social mobility in america. without it there is no possibility of moving. >> the main thing here is that we need to send a message to the next generation that this fight is not over, that income and equality and equality in schools still has to be achieved because that is the key to closing the gap. you're not going to close the gap overnight when it comes to income and equality. >> hold for me just one moment. murley evers is addressing the crowd now, the widow of medgar evers. >> unfortunately for me i was unable to make the first march on washington and i never really got over that until president obama said please lead us in the invocation, and that was in january of this year.
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thank you reverend sharpton and others for asking me to lend a few words to this most precious gatheri gathering as i look out at the crowd, i find myself saying, what are we doing today? where have we come from? what has been accomplished and where do we go from this point forwa forward? i think of one theme that has been played over and over in the past few months and it's one that bring great controversy. stand your ground. and we can think of standing your ground in the negative, but i ask you today to flip that
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coin and make stand your ground a positive ring for all of us who believe in freedom and justice and equality, that we stand firm on the ground that we have already made and be sure that nothing is taken away from us because there are efforts to turn back the clock of freedom. and i ask you today will you allow that to happen? take the words "stand your ground" in a positive sense. stand your ground in terms of fighting for justice and equality. we've had wonderful speakers here and will have even more who will outline those things to you, but i think you know what i
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mean. stake a negative and make a positive out of it. assess where we are today, assess where we are come from, assess where we can go. standing our ground for justice, for freedom, for equality, and i stand here today and i ask the question ain't i a woman? where are the women that need to be acknowledged in this movement for freedom and justice? we must not forget them. we must not forget coretta scott king. we must not forget betty shebaz. we must not forget all of the other women who poured in the sweat and the tears to move us
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further. so if you do nothing else, if you take nothing else from my heart and what i have said, stand your ground for freedom and justice and do whatever is necessary that's legal to move this country forward, because we are on standstill today. standstill that looks toward the back, and we must not have that. and i think of us as trees in a forest of people, trees with a network of roots that reach far and that reach deep. the strength of a tree comes from its roots. we have young people in here today who were not born.
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people who have embraced the movement of justice and equality for all. stand by them, guide them, for those of my generation i say to you, sometimes it's necessary to step aside just a little bit, reach out a hand and bring up these young leaders that we have for we need them in america today. this is our country and we are the trees standing tall for justi justice, and we realize that the deeper we place our roots in this society, the less afraid we are to say to those who represent us, you do represent us and we will hold you accountable for all of the things because we are the trees and we have the roots through
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the strength and the power to turn things around. never become so depressed that we think we can't make it. 50 years ago dr. king and so many others helped to show us the way and give us the strength to move forward. i stand here today to be thankful to be 80 years of age and see all of those changes that have taken place and realize that there were people like dr. king and so many others and yes, medgar evers who gave a life and lives for justice and equality. let us move forward, i'm going to move off the stage because i hear the music being played, but i thank you for your time, i thank you for attention and i am
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thankful to be here with you today. >> myrli evers, the wife of medgar evers killed just weeks before the march on washington. i'm melissa perry lee here with ed schultz for the 50th anniversary for the march on washington. >> the message this is our country, it's only our country within the rules when we function and stay involved to make sure it's our country. i think these speeches that are being given are to the point, they're inspiring in a historical perspective. it makes us understand what the fight is going forward. intellectual curiosity is something our young people have to understand. we can't have a dumbing down of
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society and not understand the importance of what was done here 50 years ago and where we are today and now we have to pick the torch up and move it forward. it's only our country if we make it our moment. >> this is congressman john lewis, the only living speaker from the 1963 march on washington here to address this crowd. >> 50 years ago, 50 years ago i stood right here in this spot, 23 years old, had all of my hair and a few pounds lighter. so i come back here again to say that those days for the most part are gone, but we have another fight. we must stand up and fight the good fight as we march today for
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there are forces, there are people who are going to take us back. we cannot go back. we've come too far. we want to go forward. back in 196300 dreads and thousands and millions of our brothers and sisters could not register to vote. when i stood here 50 years ago, i said one man, one vote is the african cry. it is ours, too. it must be ours. i also said some people tell us to wait, tell us to be patient. i said 50 years later we cannot wait. we cannot be patient. we want jobs and our freedom now. all of us, it doesn't matter whether we're black or white, latino, asian-american or native american. it doesn't matter whether we're straight or gay. we're one people. we're one family.
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we're one house. we all live in the same house. so i say to you my brothers and sisters, we cannot give up, we cannot give out, we can cannot give in. we must get out there and push and pull. i a few short years ago, almost 48 years ago, almost 50 years ago, i gave a little blood on that bridge in selma, alabama, for the right to vote. i am not going to stand by and let the supreme court take the right to vote away from us. you cannot stand by. you cannot sit down. you have to stand up, speak up, speak out and get in the way.
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make some noise. the vote is precious. it is almost sacred i. it's the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society and we've got to use it. back in 1963 we didn't have a cellular telephone, ipad, ipod, but we used what we had to bring about a non-violent revolution. and i said to all of the young people, you must get out there and push and pull and make america what america should be for all of us. we must say to the congress fix the voting act. we must say to the congress pass comprehensive immigration reform. it doesn't make sense that naa
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million of our people are living in the shadows. bring them out into the life and set them on a path to citizenship. so hang in there. keep the faith, i got arrested 40 times during the '60s, beaten, bloodied and unconscious. i'm not tired, i'm not weary. i'm not prepared to sit down and give up. i am ready to fight and continue to fight, and you must fight. thank you very much. >> congressman john lewis. congressman john lewis, the only living speaker from the 1963 march on washington just addressed the crowd. there is no person, ed, with greater moral authority on these issues than congressman lewis. sf sf . >> no doubt about it. he speaks from the heart, speaks
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from the soul of what has to be done in america. he made a profound point, no fax machines, no cell phones, no social media. he's appealing to the heart, to the soul of the people of what has to be done. all the tools are in front of us to make this happen for the next generation. it's a real great challenge. i thought it was a fabulous speech. >> the next speaker, randy wi winegarder in, president of the union of teachers. >> august 28, 1963, dr. martin luther king, junior, and thousands of others marched on washington for jobs and freedom. congressman john lewis was the youngest speecher and now 50 years later, i am the youngest speaker. [ cheers and applause ]
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>> and i am marching for education, justice and freedom. all over the country public education is under attack. public schools are closing in african-american and latino communities. in chicago we had 50 school closings in african-american and latino communities. budget cuts in all public schools and increase in charter school budgets and new charter school openings. every child deserves a great education. [ cheers and applause ] every school deserves equal funding and resources. i encourage all of you to keep dr. martin luther king junior's dream alive. help us fight for freedom, racial equality, jobs, public
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education because i have a dream that we shall over come. >> an internet sensation. weeks ago there were protests in chicago, illinois because of the budget cuts that were taking place in the city. this young man guided by his mother and educated by his mother stepped up in front of a crowd and stole the moment in chicago and made people realize that kids are paying attention. he became an internet sensation. he's a very intelligent young man. we brought him down to the essence festival in new orleans. he is so impressive and he is driven. his main message is every child must have the resources. he sees at a young age there are some schools being resourced and other schools that are not.
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i asked him when we were traveling down to new orleans do you understand now you're in the eye of the storm. this kid is a gift from god. this kid is a gift to america's democracy and a young voice that i think we're going to hear for years to come. >> he just made history. he just became the youngest speaker to march on washington 2013, coming after john lewis, the youngest speaker 50 years ago. >> i want you to know this kid, he knows it and he believes it. he is so genuine. he's a little football player, too. i said what position do you play? he says i'm all over the place. >> exactly. >> confidence just pours off this young man. he was very pointed about ram emanuel. he was asking the mayor of chicago why are you doing this
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to our schools? he was challenging authority and challenging the decisions that were being made. he has really been a leader. he has proven that leaders come in all shapes, sizes and age. how refreshing it is. >> a reminder of the legacy, 50 years ago, the march on washington immediately on the heels of the birmingham children's crusade. it was young people just like asean johnson who led the way and al thousand dollar the moral authority to occur. not just a future leader, but our leader right now. we must follow him right now. >> i was in birmingham last night and i heard similar voices just like asean johnson, the call for young people to get engaged, the call for young people to pay attention to what's going on and understand that there is an inequity taking place. there are resources for some schools and not to others. that was my message earlier,
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when the kids are recognizing it, if they recognize that at a young age, we've got some real correcting to do. >> of course, we are listening now to randi weingarten of the american federation of teachers. she's there next to asean johnson because of the continuing fight for labor questions, for teachers all around the country. >> in districts that fail to invest in public education, that turn their back on public schools. we can't let asean down. we can't let generations of students down. that is my we march. that is we march. that is why we march! >> let's give asean another round of applause. he is our future, isn't he? [ applause ] >> you know, in 1963 afsmi
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members were part of the historic march on washington for jobs and justice. juanita steel was one of them. now juanita is 81 years old. sister steel, a former day care teacher from new york city is here today participating in this march for justice and freedom and jobs. 50 years ago sister steele prayed that the march would change hearts and minds. she listened. she listened as dr. king spoke about the fierce urgency, the fierce urgency of now, the whirl winds of change, the new militancy. five years later she mournd with all of us when dr. king was killed in memphis, where he had gone to support the 1300 sanitation workers of afsme local 723. decades have changed, times have
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changed, the new militancy of 1963 changed america and inspired the world. but the promise of democracy has not been made real for all of us. the promise is not real for people who work hard and play by the rules every single day, struggle to pay the bills. the promise is not real for retirees who work hard all their lives but don't now how they'll make it day to day. the promise is not real for students who graduate under so much debt they wonder if they'll ever climb out of it and the promise is not real for all of us. if it's not real for all of us, it's not real for any of us. we are here to replenish our spirit, restore our faith and renew our activism today. today we march for a nation of workers with decent pay, good
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benefits and rights on a job that no one can steal. today we march for a nation where the golden years of retirement are spent in peace, not in poverty. today we march for a nation where our children, no matter what they look like, where they live or what they wear can walk our streets in freedom and not in fear. today we march for a nation where we can cast our votes and have a say in our democracy without jumping through hoops. we march for a nation whereas spirg citizens are respected as moms and dads, sons and daughters and neighbors who contribute to america. we can't just march for this nation. we have to do whatever we can to build it. don't let this moment pass. make this moment count. don't simply commemorate. agitate. don't only memorialize.
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mobilize. take this spirit. take this spirited back to your communities, your neighborhoods, your schools. take this spirit back and keep it alive. take this spirit back and let us raise our voices together. let us demand justice together. let us demand fairness together. and together let us restore the american dream. >> lee saunders, the president of afsme, took over for jerry mcatee who retired after 40 years in that position. lee saunders, a very emotional speaker. their big focus is what has unfolded in detroit, protecting the pensions of people attacked by a financial manager. they were affected by the changes of what took place in detroit. they've been spending a lot of time trying to straighten that out. >> a reminder 50 years ago this
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was a march for jobs and freedom, organized largely by a. phillip randolph, the great labor leader and the issue of union rights, labor rights, workers rights has always been deeply interconnected with civil rights in this country. >> there's no question about it. the unions are a little nervous as this continuing attack on collective bargaining, continual attack and the introduction of legislation in right to work states, this is being introduced. local elections are taking ahold and attacking workers and depressing wages. this is a big part of what afsme has been focusing on. they're at the pinnacle of the fight right now of what's going on in michigan. >> it's almost impossible to imagine how we can talk about closing a racial inequality gap without also talking at the exact same time about the economic equality that is so critical in our nation. >> the economic inequality starts with education.
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you're not going to be able to close the gap of income inequality through a totally different taxation of the american people. i don't believe you can do that overnight. i believe you can bend the curve over time. this is a generational fight and a generational investment that needs to be made if we truly are going to address income inequality in this country which severely affects minorities in america. we're talking about education investment. we're talking about infrastructure investment. we're talking about job training, talking about a philosophy to keep jobs here in america. all of this ties in, and there are so many attacks taking place on our rights right now in america. the most recent, the voting rights. in preparation -- >> let's pause. martin luther king, iii, is
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about to address this crowd. five decades ago, my father, dr. martin luther king, j., stood on this hallowed spot. the spirit of god summoned a nation to repent and address the shameful sins long visited upon its african-american brothers and sisters. 50 years ago he delivered a sermon on this mountain which crystallized like never before, the painful pilgrimage, aching aspirations of african-americans yearning to breathe free in our own homeland. but martin luther king, junior's
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utterings of 1963 were neither forlorn laments of past injustices nor a despeiering diatribe of cruel conditions of the day. no indeed. his words are etched in eternity and echo through the ages to us today, were a tribute to the tenacity of an intrepid people who, though oppressed, refused to remain in bondage. those words of martin luther king, junior, were a clarion call to all people of good will to rise up together to make this nation live out the true meaning of its creed and to perfect within us a more perfect union. and so i stand here today in this sacred place, in my father's footsteps. i am humbled by the heavy hand
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of history, but more than that, i am -- i, like you, continue to feel his presence. i, like you, continue to hear his voice crying out in the wilderness. the admonition is clear. this is not the time for a nostalgic commemoration, nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. the task is not done, the journey is not complete. we can and we must do more. the vision preached by my father a half century ago was that his four little children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. however, sadly, the tears of trayvon martin's mother and father remind us that far too frequently the color of one's skin remains a license to
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profile, to arrest and to even murder with no regard for the content of one's character. aggressive stand your ground laws must be repealed. federal anti-profiling legislation must be enacted. comprehensive immigration reform must be adopted to end the harassment of our brown brothers and sisters and to provide a path to citizenship for them today just as was done for the millions who passed through ellis island's splendid gate yesterday. 50 years ago my father insisted that we could not rest and be satisfied as long as black folk in mississippi could not vote and those in new york believed that they had nothing for which to vote. today the united states supreme court having recently eviscerating the voting rights
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act and with numerous states clamoring to legislative codify voting suppression measures, not only must we not be satisfied, but we must fight back boldly. too many of our unknown heroes and sheroes fought for us to have the precious right for us to vote for us to sit back and timidly allow our franchise to be taken away or diminished. we must not rest until the congress of the united states restores the voting rights acted protections discarded by a supreme court blind to the blatant theft of the black vote. paramount to martin luther king junior's fervent dream was the commitment that african-americans gained full economic opportunity and not be confined to basic mobility from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. today with 12% unemployment rates in the african-american
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community and 38% of all children of color in this country living below the level of poverty, we know the dream is far from being realized. with the ones mighty city of detroit in the throes of bankruptcy and countless other cities teetering on the brink, there is a fierce urgency to act now. if the big automakers and major financial institutions were too big and too important to fail, why is not the same true of the major urban centers which are populated by millions of poor black and brown and whites hungering for nothing more than a decent job to provide for themselves and their families? why shouldn't historically black colleges and universities desperate for financial stability be given the assistance which will enable them to continue their noble mission of educating both the best, brightest as well as the
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least of these? as we struggle to recover from the worst economical lambity since the great oppression, america needs a new marshall plan for our cities to provide jobs, infrastructure improvements and a true lasting stimulus to the economy. while we're inspired today by the magistery of power of my father's exordation, he sought the be loved community where we would live together in peace, justice and equality. we must embrace that love and cease the violence. no more senseless newtowns or columbines. no more daily killings of our young people by our young people on the streets of chicago and countless neighborhoods across the country. we need more gun control, but we
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also need more love. yes, we all need love for each other, black, white and yellow, red and brown, gay and straight, christians, muslim and jews and all of god's children loving one another. we must embrace love and hold on to that powerful spirit which inspired my father's generation and inspires us still today. we ain't going to let nobody turn us around. we ain't going to let nobody turn us around. we gonna keep walking, we're gonna keep on talking, we're gonna keep on voting, we're gonna keep on job building, we're gonna keep on educating, we're gonna keep on mentoring, we're gonna keep on community building. we're gonna keep on ending violence. we're gonna keep on creating
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peace. we ain't gonna let nobody turn us around. we're going to keep marching down to freedom land. so when i stand in your presence today and reflect on the fact that my be loved sisz center yolanda denise did not live to see the full realization of the heartfelt dream held by our father for his four children, i am sad, but not entirely sad, for i'm reminded that he knew the arc of the moral universe is long but it does bend toward justice. so another yolanda, our daughter, has been sent by god into this world, and the dream will live on through her. thus i know that dad is smiling up above knowing that your presence here today will assure the fulfillment of his dream in the lifetime of yolanda renee king. i can almost hear my father humming that anthem of the movement.
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people get ready, there's a train coming. a train where we have decent houses and not dope houses. a land where we have schools that teach our children sand do not defeat our children. a land where we have enterprising entrepreneurs and not incarcerated inmates, a land where we have fathers who create stable families and do not merely procreate innocent babies. yes, a train to the freedom land. 50 years ago martin luther king, junior, boldly ignited a mighty torch to guide our freedom to our freedom train land here. we are today standing in the midst of that eternal flame. if we could all catch a flicker from that ferocious flame, we could each light a small candle of corneal and in our own voice
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cry out this little light of mine, i'm going to let it shine. if we each let our own little light shine, then we shall truly over come. yes, if we each do our own small part in our homes, in our kur chs, in our schools, on our jobs, in our organizations, in every aspect of our lives to advance the cause of freedom, then surely a change is going to come. and take it from me, some day we will all be free. and on that triumphant day we will offer up our praise to the god of our weary ears, the god of our silenced tears who has led us into our light, and together we as a people, we as a nation and indeed we as a world will proclaim in unison, mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord.
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glorly, glory, hallelujah, glory, glory, hallelujah, glory, glory, hallelujah. his truth is marching on. god bless you. >> we have just listened to martin luther king, iii, the eldest son of martin luther king, junior as he addressed this crowd 50 years after his father's historic "i have a dream" speech. >> well, a heavy emphasis on what has to be done moving forward. of course, this summer what unfolded was the ruling by the supreme court going after section 4 of the voting rights act. there's a lot of conversation about that at this rally. and ha is the linchpin to success for all equality in this country.
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>> now i believe we'll hear from our own colleague, reverend al sharpton. >> on behalf of the staff and the many members of the national action network, i greet you today as chairman and to celebrate this high moment. we've come here today to culminate a long journey that began 200 years ago, the moment an african-american, enslaved african rejected slavery. 50 years ago we came to a high moment n. the past 50 years we've had tremendous achievement, tremendous accomplishment. it is not achievement that makes us believers in the future. in every generation we have had great voices and great leaders. today it is my privilege to present our keynote speaker, the one who has become the voice of
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this era. for the last 40 years the reverend al sharpton has been evolving as a great and stirring leader shaped by these times to lead us into this era. he has sacrificed his life, his body, he's been mistreated, misunderstood, but thanks be to god he has been consistent. he has not given up. he's always been a voice for the voiceless. he's always aligned with the marginalized, always representing the hurting and always been a voice for justice. he's our leader, the president of the national action network. it is my privilege to present pour the keynote moment the reverend al sharpton, president of the national action network.
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[ applause ] >> thank you. 50 years ago, they did not take a bus outing to come to washington. there will be those that will miscast this as some great social event. but let us remember 50 years ago some came to washington having rode the back of buses. some came to washington that couldn't stop and buy a cup of coffee until they got across the mason dixon line. some came to washington sleeping
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in their cars because they couldn't rent a motel room. some came to washington never having had the privilege to vote. some came having seen their friends shed blood. but they came to washington so we could come today in a different time and a different place, and we owed them for what we have today. i met a man not long ago -- i tell it often -- he says i'm african-american, but i don't understand all this civil rights marching you're talking about, reverend al. i've accomplished. i've achieved. look at my resume. i went to the best schools. i'm a member of the right clubs.
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i haired the people. read my resume. civil rights didn't write my resume. i looked at his resume and said, you're right, civil rights didn't write your resume, but civil rights made somebody read your resume. don't act like whatever you achieved you achieved because you were that smart. you got there because some unleaded grandma whoever saw the inside of a college campus put their bodies on the line in alabama and mississippi and sponsored you up here.
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today we face continuing challenges. what do we want? we want the congress to rewrite a voting rights act, and we want to protect our right to vote. they are changing laws all over this country that congress needs to make federal law that will get through this congress and deal with what the supreme court has done. right now in texas and north carolina and other places they're coming with all these schemes. voter i.d. well, we always had i.d. why do we need new i.d. now? we had i.d. when we voted for johnson. we had i.d. when we voted nixon. we had i.d. when we voted for those that succeeded him,
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carter, reagan, bush, clinton, bush again. why when we get to obama do we need some special i.d.? but i tell you what we going to do. when we leave washington, we getting ready to march. we're going to go to those states. we're on our way to north carolina. we're on our way to texas. we're on our way to florida. when they ask us for our voter i.d., take out a photo of medgar evers. take out a photo of viola, they gave their lives so we could vote. look at this photo. it gives you the i.d. of who we
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are. second, we need jobs. we didn't come here to just talk. we want voter legislation. we need jobs. if we can't get jobs, we need to continue these marches and if we get tired, we need to sit down in the offices of some of those here that don't understand folk want to work and earn for their families. 50 years ago, dr. king said that america gave blacks a check that bounced in the bank of justice and was returned marked insufficient funds. well, we've redeposited the check, but guess what.
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it bounced again. when we look at the reason this time, it was marked stop payment. they had the money to bail out banks. they had the money to bail out major corporations. they had the money to give tax benefits to the rich. they had the money for the 1% but when it comes to head start, when it comes to municipal workers, when it comes to our teachers they stop the check. we going to make you make the check good or we gone close down
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the bank. let me say that three, we need to deal with building what must be built around gun violence. we cannot sit around and watch the proliferation of guns in our communities and in any community. we've got to fight against this recklessness that make us so insensitive that we shoot each other for no reason. let me say that to our young brothers and sisters, many that were on the program, we owe a debt to those this thought enough for you to put their lives on the line.
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we owe a debt to those that believed in us when we did not believe in ourselves and we need to conduct ourselves in way that respect that. don't you ever think that men like medgar evers died to give you the right to be a hoodlum or to give you the right to be a thug. that is not what they gave their life about. we need to talk about how we address one another. how we respect one another. we need to teach our young folk. i don't care how much money they give you, don't disrespect your women. no matter what they promise you, make it clear that you know that rosa parks wasn't no [ bleep ]
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and fannie wasn't no [ expletive ] we got some house cleaning to do. and as we clean up our house we would then be able to clean up america. let me say as we fight for voter rights, as we fight for jobs, as we fight for immigration, as we fight for equality, let us not try and limit to coalition. we need all of us together. these bogus arguments about well, they didn't suffer like us or they are not as bad as us. the most insane for sick people to do is to lay up in the hospital debating who's the
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sickest. we all need to unite and get well together. we should not be comparing pain. we ought to strategizing and coalescing for us to have equal opportunity. i want to do something special and then we mark. i keep hearing people talking about dr. king's dream. when i was younger, i said to my mother, my friends say why are we dreaming. you need to be awake to fight. my mother said to me, you got to
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understand what dreams are for. dreams are for those that want accept reality as it is, so they dream of what is not there, and make it possible. they will romanty size dr. king's speech but the gene yous was not just the poetry of his words, the genius was after medgar ever was killed. he didn't discuss the pain and express the raanger. he said many the face of those that wanted him dead that no matter what you do, i can dream above what you do. ipse a nation that will make
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change if we pay the price. others saw voting booths we couldn't use. king saw the possibility of an obama 50 years ago. the world is made of dreamers that change reality because of their dream. what we must do is we must give our young people dreams again. that's what lee sanders was talking about. you take the funds. you take the expertise and you tell the children they're nothing and you tell them they're not expected to be nothing. you build jails and close schools and you break their dreams and you wonder why they're walking around where their pants down because that's what you wear in jail. if you think that's where you're headed, you might as well get dressed before you get there.
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we need to give them dreams again not to worry about sagging pants but sagging mentality. if we told them who they could be and what they could do, they would pull up their pants and go to work. we've got to change how we deal with this. we come to say that we're leaving here as they did 50 years ago. we're going too nonviolent what is necessary to put the climate in this country that will lead to a voting rights act. we're going to do what is necessary to do what we have to do nonviolently, to have a jobs bill based on the
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infrastructure. we're going to register voters in each state. we're doing town hall meetings in the next 60 days. we're going to target numbers and target districts. we need to bring new voters to the polls based on the principles and objectives of the movement. i don't know much about cooking, but i did learn how to make pancakes. my mama taught me all you got to do a put down the stuff and just flip it over. i don't know that much about politics, but i know how to do some flipping. we need to flip some folk in congress next year. as we march today, we march with a determination to let you know that we don't have amnesia. we did not forget the price
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that's paid. we fought too hard. our parents shed too much blood. there was too many nights in jail for you to take our vote from us now. our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs and you can't take it from us like we don't flow who we are. we earned the right to vote with protests and we will regain what we lost in the supreme court. we'll protest that is focused and on its way. there was another dreamer, as i close. a dreamer in the bible called john. john looked up and said i see a new heaven. i see a new earth. all things are passed away. i come to tell you i know why there's screeching and hollering
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and talking crazy because all america has passed away. old america that only worked for white males have passed away. old america that only worked for english speaking have passed away. old america that tell you who to sleep with but don't put food in the kitchen has passed away. old things have passed away. we see a new america. we see an america of equality, of justice, of fairness. we march because we're going to bring a new america. one nation, under god, in indivisible with liberty an justice, not for some, not for who you choose, not for who you like, but for all. we believe in a new america. it's time to march for a new
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america. it's time to organize for a new america. it's time to register and vote for a new america. we're on our way. we're on our way. we're on our way. as we prepare to march, i want some of our leaders to stand with me. we want to honor and dedicate what we're doing to a man that made the long road and long journey. kevin powell, reverend
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richardson, mary pat hector, tamecka mowry. domin dominic. i want us to show respect and regard for a man who is every day in the last decades have fought for us and we're not ending no program without thanking those that made a way. bible says honor thy father and mother. not for their days but your days will be long on the land which god giveth thee. reverend joseph lowry has paid a
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price. because of people like him, we are here today. another warrior who was slapped, who was abused and took it so we could vote is here with us today. never got recognition, but now he's a winner of the medal of freedom from the first african-american president in the united states. he will come and have words and present an sclc, southern christian leadership conference. that's the organization dr. king and dr. lowry and others founded. that's organization that did tre direct action. i grew up in the new york city branch of sclc. i tell these young folks that
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work with me, i don't hear excuses. i grew up in a single parent home on welfare. reverend william jones in sclc, reverend jesse jackson told me i was somebody and i believed him. that's why e don't care if nobody gives you credit, i will. you helped turn my concept around about myself. let us hear from the legendary c.t. vivian. >> thank you, my brother. >> i don't want to leave out.
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>> hello good people. well, we're here again. after a half century here again. let's think about what it was that we really came to do. this 50 anniversary was to remind us of a time when we did not have too many leaders as we have today. more than that is to remind us of what we did in the past, but only for a minute for we have to really thank what are we going to do when we go home. what are we going to organize around? what problems are we going to solve? what are we going to do because we have to position ourselves really to be, to create, to solve the problems of our
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immediate future. in a short time we changed the most powerful nation in the world. we really made it speak to us when it didn't want to speak to us. we made it lift its head and pay attention to black plerk twlame the day was gone in their mind when they wouldn't have to think about it. the most powerful nation in the world had the listen to us. it became the greatest drama of our time. we won. our methods worked. we gave faith to a people all over the world. the greatest spiritual leadership in america has been by african-americans and it can be again if we choose to do it. if we do not choose to do it, we
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will not be, but if we choose to do it, we can create the future not only for ourselves but for america itself. our movement and struggles in the streets and the courts and the churches was more than political struggle. it's been moral and spiritual struggle against hate and violence, racism and culture hypocrisy. we see it coming back around the corner we think of florida both in the capital and in streets. when we think about it, it makes us understand that the problems we have to solve immediately, the now problems is that the long term problems we will wait for later. right,000 we have to organize to deal with the immediate problems so that we can have the victories we need to solve the long term problems. we can solve them.
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among them must be drop outs. we cannot be a people. we can't be a people allowing 45% of our young people to drop out of school before they graduate from high school in a world where it's taken for granted that you have to have a college degree in order to do anything. we can solve that problem if we choose. we can do it on a daily basis for the next year. we can't be a thriving, successful, forceful nation of people. how did w.e.b.dubois call us, we are a small nation of people within. if we can organize it, we will be the future not only looking at those who create the future, we can be the future.
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this is what we have been working for during the last 50 years. we must organize. let them be those who educate, those who have dropped out. organize around people who have the knowledge just like we do when we're listening to al talk about politics it wasn't a quick minute. he's been at it for a long time. we listen to him on tv because we know he has the knowledge we need. when we think of that let's think of those who have the knowledge and plan to educate every drop out who wants to lift themselves above it. we can do it because we have the people to do it. if we organize the people that we have, the tomorrow is ours.
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if we fail to organize, whether he not have it. add any and every problem of now, is these problems of now voter registration. we'll have about 700,000 people organized in every block in black america in order to make it work. if you doints want n't want to can't have it. we can solve any problem we ve. all our major organizations talk of joining together. every organization knows that this could create a new movement and a new movement we need those that can lead it. we need those that are their own leaders to create a world in which we with operate. let us not fordpet we're still
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the new movement for change. the new people's movement for change. every struggle makes a greater struggle necessary. this is what we're here for. let us leave here to do it. [ applause ] >> let us call the chairman berna bernard lafayette to join in presenting this award.
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>> thank you for those kind words. thank you. i thank god for the privilege and honor of being with you today 50 years later. never dreamed when we chaired the committee, to take the march to george wallace, governor of alabama. we never dreamed not only would we be here 50 years later but we never dreamed we'd see an african-american president. thank god we lived long enough not only to see the 50 years of the march on washington but to
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see an african-american president. i was looking the other day through some old sermons and i found one that i dusted off and i'm going to preach it again. the name of it was everything has changed and nothing has changed. that's where we are today in america. everything has changed and nothing has changed. as we look at the parents of the young man from florida, as we look at people like johnny ford and others who are gathering on the platform, i'm not sure what they're doing but they're getting ready to do something on the platform. everything has changed and
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nothing has changed. we've come up here for two reasons. not just to come to washington, we come to washington to commemorate. we go back home to agitate. i don't think you heard me. we come to washington to commemorate. we're going back home to agitate. while many things have changed, some things have not changed. we want to go back loam to complete the unfinished task. we come to washington to commemorate. we go back home to agitate. i don't think you heard me. we come to washington to commemorate. we're going back home to agitate. we come to washington to commemorate. we're going back home to agitate. somebody ought to help me. we come to washington to
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commemorate. we're going back home to agitate. one more time. we come to washington to commemorate. we're going back home to agitate. i want to hear from the people down there by the pool. i want to hear from the people by the pool. we come to washington to commemorate. we're going back home to agitate. we've come a long, long way. we've got a long, long way to go. god bless you and god keep you. thank you for acknowledging me. i see sister bernice king over there. she's up here. i stand with the women. you're not going to get me to take a position against the women. hello. hello. god bless you and god keep you.
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we're going to work for that day when justice rolled down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. work for that day when black will not be asked to get back. when brown can stick around. when yellow can be mellow. when the red man can get ahead, man and when white will be belaif all right. god bless you and god keep you. we come to washington to commemorate. we're going back home to agitate. >> reverend joseph lowry. give him a hand. wait one minute. are we ready to march? don't start ganging up. we doing this orderly. elder bernice king is going to give us a prayer. we're going to line up. y'all that's lining up, be cool,
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you ain't going to be up front no how. why do we march? governor patrick is here from massachusetts say he don't want to talk. he come to march. we march because in the '50s it was emmett teal. now it's trayvon martin. let me bring to the platform together the family of emmett teal and the mother and father and brother of trayvon martin. [ applause ] >> thank you. they say i have one minute. i wish they had told me that in
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mast mississippi when they tied that cotton sack on me. they were very generous with the time. it was from sun to sun. on this day, 58 years ago, was the occasion for the dream. my cousin and i emmett teal, maurice, my brother, my nephew, we went to a little town in money, mississippi. while we were there emmett whistled. he was shot in the head and thrown in the river. we cried. our hearts were broken. the bible said there's a time for all things under the sun. there's a time to weep, but what had just happened in our country when an american stalked another american, shot him down like a
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dog and the jury said not guilty, it's crying time again. we need to do something. young people, listen to me. i was so upset that i take the programs. i want to see who was supporting them. i wanted to see who was buying or paying for the advertising time. i saw two japanese automobile make makers. i have one of them. before i buy that again i'll ride a skateboard. go lohome and see who is supporting these bigots. don't buy their products.
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they tell me the british kept them coming. they fired their guns. the british kept coming. they fired once more. the british began to run. we're not going to run. they fired the first shot when they shot emmett. they fired the second shot when they shot medgar evers. the first shot when they shot dr. king. we're not going to run. thank you so much. >> the mother of trayvon martin, mrs. sybrina fulton. >> as i said before, trayvon martin was my son. he's not just my son.
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he's all of our son and we have to fight for our children. it's very important that we not forget that we make sure we m d mindful of what's going on with the laws. remember that god is in control. thank you. >> let us prepare to march. we will be led in prayer and we will line up. they will get you grid by grid. let us hear from the one who convene these five days, the ceo of the king center in atlanta, georgia elder bernice king. [ applause ] >> if you would connect hands to whoever you are near, we're going to pray.
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god of our weary years, god of our silent tears, god who has brought us thus far on the way. lord, god, we thank that you continue to be with us through every situation and circumstance. we bless you lord, god, for this great august body of people who have assembled here at the lincoln memorial 50 years later. we thank you god that the spirit that inspired those 50 years ago is inspiring us today, father. we have determined to continue the struggle. as my mother said struggle is a never ending process. freedom is never really won. you earn it and win it in every generation. in this generation, we are taking up the baton and we're
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determined to be vigilant until justice rolls down like water and right usness like a mighty stream. we pray even now that you would bind us together like never before. regardless of our backgrounds, even regardless of our differences, father god. give us the strength and the courage and the humility to transcend those differences that we might be able to join together as a freedom force. to continue to move this nation and this world toward creating the beloved community and ultimately the kingdom of god. we thank you on this day old things passed away and we thank you for all things flu. we thank you there's a joshua generation who hears the sound and ready to run with the vision. as we leave here on today. as our feet march with every step we take, we thank you that we're stomping on the enemies of
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our progress. we thank you lord that we're stomping on those that would seek to keep up separated and divi divided. we thank you we're stomping against discrimination and inequality. we thank you we're stomping against violence and crime. we thank you that we are stomping against those who think they have the audacity to stand their ground, to take lives senselessly but we thank you as we stomp that the stand your ground laws are defeated. we thank you for this day and as we march together, we walk together like children and we will not get weary. we hold on together like children and we will not get weary. we struggle, we fight, we fuss if we have to but we get over it. we continue to march together like children and we pray together so we don't get tired. we know that at some point we
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all will be able to join with dr. king in saying free at last, free at last. thank god almighty we're all free at last. thank you, god. in jesus's name i pray. amen. >> reverend michael come up. let us set up our front line. >> you're watching msnbc's coverage of the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. we just heard from bernice king, the daughter of martin luther king jr. he was only five years old when her father was assassinated. she just finished the days speeches doing so with prayer. asking that the people who are here today and all who are watching would be bound
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together, working together, movi moving towards the sorts of things we heard. attorney general eric holder, congressman john lewis and other leaders spoke today from the steps of the lincoln memorial standing in the same place where martin luther king jr. articulated a dream for the american democratic project 450 years ago. joining me now for ongoing coverage of today's event is ed schultz, schultz. so nice to have you. >> a fabulous last hour. a number of different speeches. there's no doubt that reverend sharpton is the contemporary civil rights leader of our time. >> he's fearless. >> i thought his recognition of jesse was so profound and
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important for the generational uniting moving forward. it was a theme reverend sharpton stepped forward with. he lived the fight. he's a man of very strong conviction. he's a man who believes in a new america and equality for all. he's man with a unique platform in a social media with a television show and a national action network and the social following that he has and the very tremendous importance that rests on his shoulders for the black community in this shoulder. when he talk eed about unity, which i thought was important, he talked about it just not about the black people of america, it's about all people. i thought that reverend al sharpton was at his best today. no question about it. he was one of the organizers of
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this march in recognizing the importance of it and moving it and passing the torch to the next generation of a challenge that has to be marked. according to a senior administration official president obama moved by all of this, connected with congressman john louewis a couple of days a and spoke with the congressman about his memories from the particul march on washington. the president called congressman lewis the last survivoring speaker. very emotional and in tump with what needs to be done now. he's the last surviving speaker of the 1963 event. the president was very young and being a student of history he wants to make sure he captures the tone and understands the feeling of the moment which president obama is so talented at doing. he does not want to overshadow these events. the president is not in a
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competition to be in a position something greater than anyone else who has been great contributor to society. the president is trying to motivate the country, make the country recognize what we need to accomplish. there's been a tremendous amount of emphasis on voting rights throughout all the the speeches today. that's the next great collahall. you can go back to the meet the press appearance on march 28th of 1965, dr. king was asked about some of the most outrageous things. the influence of the communist party infiltrating the southern leadership conference. there were detractors back then in the mainstream media that didn't believer this could being a reality. dr. king in that interview was asked about the voting rights. it's almost deja vu. here we are fighting for rights
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back then for voting and now gathering the torch and moving it forward and making young people realize that we're in that same fight again today. >> absolutely. let me bring in our panel. joining us now is president and ceo of the leadership conference. he was at the 1963 march on washington. also msnbc contributor and georgetown university professor, michael eric dyson. i want to start with you, michael. reverend sharpton chose a very different biblical passage in his conversation today. martin luther king jr. referred to the great prophet, amos. today reverend sharpton drew
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from revelation. this idea of a new heaven, a new earth and a new country. reflect on that. >> what reverend sharpton did today was magnificent. first of all, he concentrated his remarks about the broad landscape of american political culture. then he drew in to chide with love but criticism, african-american people and then said in the words of barbara christian let's not have an oppression derby. let's not compare one form of oppression to the other. he does two things brilliantly. first he reflects upon the revelation from god but revelation is a fail ee eed cri of the broader culture.
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to talk about who god is in revelation but a critique of the broader society. today reverend sharpton emerged as the preimminent leader of his generation. >> he walks away from this moment peer less. >> every leader of african-american culture from a. phillip randolf to particular tin luther king, jr., he's done an incredible job. >> how important was his connection to reverend jackson? what did it signal? >> let me tell you how big the spirit of al sharpton is. there's no secret there's been some grumbling and tension generationally between reverend
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jackson and reverend sharpton. the people at the top clash. reverend sharpton put an end to be any sense that he would not pay homage to the man who made him possible and a lot of people have forgotten reverend jesse jackson, don't understand how he held us together after the death of martin luther king jr. and reverend sharpton restored him to his just recognition. it was a magnificent gesture. >> i want to also point out that part of the magnificent jesse jackson was the rainbow coalition. maria, we heard repeatedly today that this is the big coalition and the questions of not only african-american voting rights which we see reflected but a coalition of people of color of women, of poor people, of
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workers, of young people. reflect on that. >> the fact that al sharpson came together today and brought so many people together is where we're going. this is a new generation of america. reverend al sharpton was the very first person to touch on arizona soil the moment they passed that immigration law. he recognizes there's no freedom for anyone if we're enjoying 11 million people who are living as indentured servants to provide them with citizenship and provide them with a vote. that's what we're talking about when it comes to voting rights act a act. it's not just african-americans. it's north carolina, texas, florida, new mexico not surprisingly, the same sftates where you see a huge latino
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population. >> the appearance on meet the press by dr. king in the '60s, he was talking about a poll tax. that's what we're talking about today. i think the parallels are terribly striking to suppress the vote to make sure it's socially engineered to concentrate the wealth, to keep the money and the power at the top. that's what i think is the struggle back in the '60s. in a sense we're reliving it today. >> we'll pause for a moment. mara is out on the mall as people begin to march. >> forgive me. i think that was melissa. we're down at the beginning point of the march. you don't see me because the crowd is so thick with people trying to get to the front and get as close as they can to the beginning of this process. you see a number of key figures of this event.
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specifically, reverend al sharpton who gave a rousing speech from the steps of the lincoln memorial. they're getting ready to begin their march. the way this is going to work is the crowds are going to come all the way down independence avenue from the lincoln memorial down to the washington monument. on the way they're going to pass the martin luther king memorial which on this day has special significance. just a quick moment to note. that monument to martin luther king is the only one on the national mall that's not to a president. it's extremely significant monument to that man and it takes on extra meaning today on the 50th anniversary on that march on washington. they're going to march down independence avenue. that's where the marchers are told to gather to meet their buses and the like. in terms of the scene now, there's a tremendous am of ki
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excitement. we're starting to walk. there's a huge turn out here. we don't have official estimates for crowd sizes. there are tens of thousands, if not over 100,000 people here. maybe as high as 200,000. we haven't had the benefit of seeing any aerials that would help us get a betterest plait. the turn out has been very significant. a lot of interest in this vent and the marches are just starting. prior to the march starting the participants were surrounding the area. there were a number of barricades up. we were told when the march began the barricades would be opened up so that people could begin to begin this march honoring the 50th anniversary of this event. we are hoping in a short time we can speak with reverend sharpton about the significance of this event and what he hopes will come of it and the little more about the impact an significance of this 50 anniversary.
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half a century since martin luther king made this exact same march. melissa. >> stlooung much. l let me bring in wade henderson. what do you take away from this moment? >> it's an extraordinary day. this was both a commemoration of a historic event and lifted up in way that made it part of the national moment. this was mom and apple pie. americans of all races and class and groups celebrating this great moment. it was also a rededication to change. there's so many parallels between the challenges we face today and what those marches 50 years ago face. it really does make a striking reenforcement of how america is moving forward.
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voting rights is the huge issue. immigration reform was lifted up as a significant element and marginalized groups were recognized an brought into this moment. there's a real sense to build upon this momentum for change. one oflt almosts that's different, we now have a social media component. that was not there. >> john was talking about that. >> now we can amplify the impact of what we do in ways that would never have been available to us before. that's herbal important to that younger generation who turned out if great numbers and whose leadership has been a part of this effort. >> the young men and women of the other organizations involved were at the forefront of push and change. i think you're still seeing that element as a part of this effort
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as well. >> i think we also have to keep into perspective that dr. king offered solutions in a form of action. sdplp he did. >> in some of these interviews he had he was talking about a general strike with workers. he was asking on "meet the press" people not the buy alabama products. not to do business with alabama. when i saw that, you put that into today's context, is anyone willing to spep tep up and say e going to boycott your part of the country until you get it together socially. the only way to force social change to make sure there was going to be equality was to say this is the action we're going to take. when it comes to the voting rights act, what is the next move?
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how do we fight back against this ruling of the supreme court? what do we do in north carolina. what do we do in texas? what do we do in the states taken over by people who view the constitution differently? >> there is a real interest on the part of even republicans. i spoke with several members of the congressional black caucus yesterday and they said they have been meeting with eric cantor and he recognizes it's critical to get a new section 4 formula in order to get it back to the pre-clearance aspect of section 5. >> not only eric cantor but men like james who was a former republican claire. a long time leader in the voting rights effort who is helping to galvanize republicans so that there is bipartisan support for a repair bill. >> i think to that point is the republican leadership recognize they have to become inclusive.
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with the voting rights act they're on the wrong side of history. when it comes to immigration they're on the wrong side of history. when you're talking about women's rights they're on the wrong side of history. they have to have a piece of paper saying this is not how they will change, they have legislation that opens them up to the majority of americans. >> let's not leave out the role of direct action. when you think about north carolina and having grown to a statewide effort involving all races and involving groups that have previously not worked together, that's a significant development. >> michael, as ed was saying part of the brilliance of martin luther king jr. was his giving us action. i so appreciate what reverend al sharpton did today was the reclaim the prophetic imagination and the possibility to imagination, a country so even as we begin to take action, we must be able to dream a different world. >> that's a beautiful point.
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look at the multiple layers that sharpton signified on today. some men things as they are. what he tapped into was the prophetic imagination, the ability to counter act the negtivity of what you see with what you can imagine. howard thurman said you have to resist the temptation to reduce your dreams to the level of the event which is your immediate experience. he knew that the slave parents imagine a day we couldn't see. what sharpton did is he manifest another element of dreaming but one that was dipped deep into the waters and healing stream of prophesy but linked to item networks. he named one, two, three. this is what we must do. he joined the best of an
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activist tradition and a prophetic imagination as well. >> for me, sitting here, i don't know if folks can see but we have the lincoln memorial beliebehind us. we have the washington monument in front of us and then the dome of the capital building. when you think about the idea of an imagined possibility, what we can be as a nation, there's tho place optimistic as this space. we know we began as a slave nation. we know we began as a nation where our very founding fathers owned other human beings. look at where we are at this moment. it is important that we can both rise the challenges we face but also a kind of optimism about what we have overcome and what we can create. >> it's a can takerrous
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hopefulness. the beauty of what happened today is that so many people are allows to dream before the nation to say the tea party doesn't just define us. right wing conservatives don't define us. people who want to bash through bigotry do not define us. the people who have the least, it seems to be to be able to be grateful for are the ones the most grateful. >> mara, what's happening out there? >> the march has gotten under way. there's a little bit of confusion but in the name of restoring order. the media has been pushed back. they're doing that to create space between the marchers and media. there's a tremendous amount of media coverage. what you're seeing is police officers on horse back as opposed to be marchers.
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i'm right at the front of the march. it's probably a little difficult to hear me. you can see reverend sharpton, nancy pelosi, trayvon martin's family and looks like representative lewis as well. i see jesse jackson. these are some of the main figures of this march here that are leading this march. you have a number of people who have come to attend. you have people with little kids, young adults, older folks. some people who appear during the first march and coming to relive that experience and continue the fight and people who are participating for the very first time in something of this magnitude and this scope. you have people from all over the country. i found a lot of people are here from the northeast. this march is just getting under way. it's led by police officers on horse back and then you have the marchers behind them. it's going to go down
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independence avenue. it's going to go specially the entire length of the national mall from the lincoln memorial to the washington monument. passing on the way the martin luther king jr. memorial. that memorial was dedicated two years -- and the is only to a non -- of course, it was very significant at the time of its unveiling. >> thank you. mara is out along the mall and on this route. >> the challenge is going to be mobilization, motivation, mobilization and being brilliant on the basics to go down do voter registration. there are new challenges. all of these folk who is are marching in washington here
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today need to accept the challenge that they just won't march. they will stay involved. they will dpo home to their communities and they will do the due diligence to to push back against the obstacles of shutting down the elderly and making it harder on the economically depressed, closing the polls earlier, restricting early registration, and also going after young people. to make it harder for them to get involved in the process which of course was part of the law in north carolina. then along with the social engineering of the jerrymandering taking place on a state level which of course is affecting the congress. we now have in front of us an hour of awaken field goal america is going to realize the dream, there are new challenges and there are forcing working against democracy as we see it, and we see these two political entities in america that see the
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country differently, and whoever can mobilize, whoever can be brilliant on the basics, whoever can do the foot soldier work that has to be done is going to be the ideology and the america that moves forward. >> one of the speeches today was from rosalyn brock, the chair of the naacp and she talked about the importance of midterm elections and voting when you don't have a charismatic leader to attract to the polls and in essence she was harkening back to the consequences of the 2010 election when the turnout among african-americans and progressives wasn't perhaps as high as it should have been and the consequence of course was statehouses became under single party control with a focus on doing the very things that you talked about, disfranchising voters. >> and disenfranchising voters is what they're doing and not
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implementing obama care. they are cutting back on public education. they are turning back federal money when it comes to the infrastructure. >> and i think what you are describing is exactly where we were 50 years ago where all of a sudden there was a friction between the federal government and where the country was and where everything was at the state level, and all of a sudden 50 years later we're battling the same fights and how do we make sure that the majority that elected barack obama, our country, our fellow americans at the federal level are taking action so we can go back and take it back. >> this is such a critical point i do not want to lose. there was a central aspect 50 years ago in the march on washington was a demand for aggressive federal action to make sure that the states understood that we already fought the civil war and in the 1860s and that it was already clear that federal action mattered for keeping states in line and we're once again there.
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>> isn't that what the eric holder speech touched on. >> and having eric holder there is huge. >> elections matter. >> he shifted from section 4 to section 2. >> solution. >> only an attorney general that understands the internal machinations said i will take from one pot here and hook this pot up over here and still get the job done. >> and look at the response he got from the audience. >> it was extraordinary, the applause and the response to eric holder, before he even spoke. i think only reverend sharpton and some of the critical civil rights leaders of 50 years ago got a similar response and the idea that the attorney general would get that kind of response from activists on the ground is remarkable. >> he is moses. they understand. he has the law. >> if i could profoundly point out that probably one of the most important people in our government right now is the attorney general. >> absolutely. >> president obama has got to say, brother, you have to stay with me. you can't go anywhere. >> absolutely. >> if he were to ever step down,
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do you think the conservatives would give president obama, the next attorney general, obstruction after obstruction, and then of course they would not be able to challenge the voting rights and issues taking place. >> the attacks on eric holder were basically for that reason. >> exactly. he becomes the most pivotal person in america functioning right now when it comes to the right to vote. eric holder is a very necessary man to the movement. >> and he understands the critical role of history as an agency of both consciousness and of constructing and crafting his own policies. he has been very explicit about that. >> and i would harken what is so important. we heard -- let me pause for a moment. maura has msnbc and national action network leader, reverend al sharpton. let's go to maura and reverend al right now. >> so they're live with us now. we can -- there is a little confusion, guys. i am not sure if you can see
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him. i am not sure if you can hear me. we are hearing we are live. there is confusion right now. they're trying to get this march process under way. you can see them with reverend sharpton. he is not ready to speak at the moment because they're ready to get things under way. you can see who is here at the front, reverend sharpton and mark morial and nancy pelosi and the family of trayvon martin and there are a number of people lining the route trying to get photos of the figures and a tremendous amount of media attention. we will wait until things calm down and we will speak to reverend sharpton about this march and what it means for the civil rights movement. i will toss things back to you guys. >> wow. >> up next, please continue to stay with msnbc's continuing coverage of the 50th anniversary of the march on washington that is currently under way. when we come back, craig melvin
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in the last five years - making bp america's largest energy investor. our commitment has never been stronger. by the content of our character. i have a dream today. >> when they say no, you can't, we say yes, we can. >> it is time for us to get uncomfortable. it is time for us to be inconvenienced. >> as we gather today, 50 years later, their march is now our march. it must go on. >> this is our country, and we
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are the trees standing tall for justice. >> you cannot stand by. you cannot sit down. you have to stand up and speak up, and speak out, and get in the way. make some noise. >> a live look at the crowds around the lincoln memorial here on the national mall as tens of thousands have gathered from all over this country and to mark the 50th anniversary of the march on washington, and the good saturday afternoon to you, everyone. i am craig melvin coming live from the feet of the lincoln memorial continuing our coverage. we heard speech from civil rights and political leaders ranging from attorney general eric holder of course here


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