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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 20, 2015 1:00am-2:01am PST

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it is one of the most famous courses in the country. by design, it was for whites only. augusta was not just whites only, they did not admit it's first black member until 1990. and after the 1950s, the rules of augusta national not only say that only white men could be members, it specified that all of the caddies at the club had to be black. clifford roberts said as long as i am alive, all of the golfer wills be white and all of the caddies will be black. augusta maintained a 100% white membership for more than in a decade after his death.
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occasionally a nonwhite player would play in a tournament, but there was no black members. in 1983, ronald reagan was president and he decided to spend a golfing weekend at the augusta national club. and that decision turned out to be a very awkward one for him. see if you can spot andrea mitchell in this clip. >> we delay the start of our regularly scheduled program to bring you the following nrgs bc news report.
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a presidential news conference. >> good even i'm tom brokaw. president reagan is pabt to hold his first press conference. >> you said a year and a half ago that you had reservations about a national holiday. you said it might be there is no way we could afford all of those holidays that with have with people who are also revered figures in history. so i'm wondering why have you changed your mind now about the holiday for dr. king. >> because i think this has become so symbolic of what was a very real crisis in our history, and the discrimination that was foreign to what is normal with us, and the symbolism of him is worth it. >> can you explain why you decided to spend the coming
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weekend at augusta that has no black members. >> there are no by-laws at that club. i saw blacks playing in a tour m. i was invited as a guest to come play a round on the augusta golf course. i think i covered all that i know about it. >> president ronald reagan went ahead with that trip to augusta national, and it was a weird trip. he ended up overseeing the invasion of granada that produced one of the all time great commander in chief in wartime. at one point, some dude crashed
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his pickup truck through the front gates of augusta and then took hostages in the pro shop. the president was not hurt, all of the hostages at the pro shop got away from this guy, but he had a loaded gun on him. it was a weird weekend at augusta national in october 1983. president reagan, that weekend, also had to call the widow of dr. martin luther king jr. he had to call her to apologize to her personally for things he said about her late husband while he was expressing his opposition to establishing a federal holiday honoring dr. martin luther king. john conners first filed legal conclusion -- legislation after he was assassinated. by the time he was at augusta
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national, it was 15 years of struggle to get that martin luther king holiday recognized. just before his weekend at augusta, a letter surfaced to president reagan to a leader from the far right john burkes society. he was similar opposed to dr. king being honored. they said it was based on an image, not reality. a conservative republican senator mounted a filibuster that lasted 16 straight days. at the press conference before the golf weekend, this is how he responded about jesse healms filibuster. >> senator helms was saying that he was a communist sympathizer,
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do you agree. >> we'll know in about 35 years, won't we? >> we'll know in about 35 years about this alleged communist sympathizer they want to make a holiday for. after that comment and his letter to the john burkes society disparaging dr. king, he had to apologize to his widow for the comments he made. right before teeing off the whites only golf course. ronald reagan did ultimately sign the legislation that created the martin luther king holiday. it is often forgotten now how reluctant he was at the time to do it.
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>> it's official now, the dream of his family, friends, and followers when president reagan, not an enthusiastic supporter of the bill, signed the bill to make it a holiday to remember martin luther king jr. >> there was a under lying tension in the white house. today, mr. reagan did not repeat his recent statements that raised the possibility that he was a communist sympathizer. >> traces of bigotry still mar america. so each year on martin king day, let's recall dr. king and rededicate ourselves to the commandments that he sought to
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live every day. they discussed the king holiday and his role in it. >> weird stuff happens in the political arena. i'm just glad we got that bill signed. >> maybe that's what today was all pabt, that blacks now have the power to make politicians do things. as the president left today's ceremony, many in the crowd stayed and they sang. chris wallace, nbc news at the white house. >> the blacks now have the power to make the politicians do things. there are six members of congress that voted against establishing the king holiday who are still in congress today. most of them, including orin hatch and john mccain. today, the elephant in the room is the new number three
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republican in the house of representatives. they decided to keep steve scalise in his job after he confirmed talking to a white sprem cyst group in louisiana in 2002. he not only spoke before that white supremacist group, but he said they should not have the martin luther king day holiday. the country had been celebrating it as a federal holiday for more than 20 years. he was still against. in fact he is still today. he put out a vaguely positive statement on the occasion today talking about how our nation has been strengthenned by his legacy. there is a lot of personal awkwardness and the surprising list of politicians who disagree.
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it has come to look worse as time goes on. but beyond those personal decisions, and individual embarrassment, there is hard questions about not just the people, but the policy. the corner stone civil rights achievement the voting rights act was gutting two summers ago. congress thought they could fix it, rewrite the voting rights act and satisfy the court. eric cantor went to march ape cross the edmund pettus bridge. now they say they're not going to do that. republicans in the house have studied the issue and now decide they're not going anything about it, at least no time soon. that is the voting rights act signs with lyndon and johnson with martin luther king looking
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on. lbj gave dr. king the law with which he signed the law. now republicans say they'll leave it for dead. on wednesday of this week. the supreme court will take up another corner stone civil rights act, the fair housing act, passed by congress in the immediate aftermath. it was signed into law within a week of his death. basically a tribute to him. corner stone civil rights legislation for fighting racially segregated housing in this country. the supreme court did not have to take up the act at this time. the fact they went out of their way to take up the fair housing act this week raised the expectation that the only reason their taking it up this week is because they want to gut it. we're at a weird moment between
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our hits tire and our present on civil rights issues. core civil rights achievements, policies themselves are being taken apart at an unprecedented pace flp is a real effort to remember how hard won they were in the first place. how hard civil rights activists of a previous jep ration had to push to get those victories. how hard they had to push specifically because the push back was so brutal, widespread, and long standing. today at the martin luther king memorial, jay johnson put some of the edge back into that history. >> the reality is that in his time, the man we honor today with a national holiday was divisive. to many he was a troublemaker. he challenged the social order of things and pushed people out of their comfort zones.
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when dr. king arrived in many of the same cities where a street is now named for him, they viewed his visit with dread and could not wait for him to leave. >> on the eve of the state of the union, with another martin luther king civil rights law poised to go on the chopping block, the 29dth congressmen ration of the holiday, what feels like it resonates this year more than ever is not just the fight that dr. king waged in his lifetime from the things he achieved, but the fight that was waged against him. it is parts of that fight that are still very much alive today. here is secretary of state jeh johnson. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me, rachael. welcome to washington. >> thank you, i spend as little time here as i can. i was struck by those remarks, why did you highlight those
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aspects. i thought you were putting the edge back into history that has gotten soft. >> i thought it was necessary. i went to school with martin the third, and there was faculty members at moore house in the '70s that taught dr. king. they were there when he was there. and benjamin maize, his mentor, was on campus in the 1970s. and i'm old enough to remember the 1960s and when he was assassinated in 1968. and his image and memory now is one that we associate with "i have a dream" and with a national holiday. it's hard to remember the pain and suffering that he personally went through to push for social change.
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it is never easy in a society because you're knocking people out of their comfort zones. that's what he did. i think it is important to remember how hard that was to achieve in the 1960s. i also, in that same speech, talked about what he devoted himself in the last two years of his life which were largely antipoverty efforts and opposed the vietnam war. >> today a lot of the congressmen rations of dr. king were about history, about his legacy, about the civil rights era. but there was sort of a new generation of protests this year that i think dove tailed and more accurately sprung from protests about police violence. police conflict between the african-american community, unarmed men being killed by police, and the perception that
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this is something that happens with impunity. many of them saying that part of his legacy is something that we don't feel as comfortable with. what, when you look at those protests in the street, you see that movement today, do you feel optimism or despair? >> i want to believe that we're able to harness also of that energy into something positive into what i have said to people in communities who were angry, upset, take that energy and change it into something positive. it could be political change, if you're unhappy, with the criminal justice system in a community, then you go to the ballot box, you can bring about change, which then leads to judicial change, or change in a district attorney, or the mayor, or a city council. channel it into something positive, into a positive engagement in the political process. that's what i think we ought to
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be doing and that's what i certainly encouraged when we see all of this energy being generated in this direction. >> do you think there is -- >> i think dr. king believed that as well. >> do you think what we remember him for, mostly, is his nonviolence philosophy of direct action being in the streeting doing civil disobedience. do you think we still respond to that as a country? is there a role for direct action? >> i believe there is a role certainly for civil disobedience. one of the reasons that dr. king, and this is portrayed in the movie "selma" would not lead his followers on that second march because he knew he would be marching in violation of a court order. he did not want to be in violation of a federal court order. after judge johnson ruled they had a right to go to montgomery, they went on that famous 60 mile march. he believed in civil
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disobedience and challenging the system at the right moment and he was not afraid to accept the consequences. >> one of the big unknowing is whether or not your department gets funding. congress is holding up funding because they're upset with the president about immigration. does that have a material consequence for your department yet or are you worried it will in the future? >> yes and yes. right now the department of homeland security is operating on a continuing resolution which means that we're allowed to spend money until february 27th at the same rate we spent money last year. that means that as long as we're on a cr, we cannot engage in new spending, in grants, to fund homeland security missions.
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we can't put in place the things that the independent panel that recommended changed to the secret service suggested that we do. our counter terrorism efforts are limited. and my concern is that we not play political volleyball with our budget. we need a appropriation that is stood up on february 27th so we can go forward with a full year's funding. so i'm talking to every member of congress that will listen to me about the importance of putting in an appropriations bill free and clear of anything that will defun the executive actions. get that in place so we can fund what is vital to homeland security. >> do you think you will get it? >> yes. i think there is enough bipartisan support for a bill.
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let me tell you why defunding the executive actions doesn't make sents. the language in that bill right now defunds all of the executive actions that we issued in november. a lot of those were things to enhance border security. a lot of things, for example, up with of the executive actions is to give the immigration enforcement people a pay raise which they have been asking for for years. this bill would defund that. we enhance enprioritize more border security. this bill would defund that. it makes to sense in that regard. again, we're frozen and we can't do new things to fund homeland security as long as we're in this state right now. >> jeh johnson, thank you for being here. >> good to see you, rachael. >> more ahead on what turned out to be a surprisingly busy news day. rs were just as simple?
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today is an official holiday in all 50 states honoring dr. martin luther king jr. in three states, they're not just celebrating the martin luther king jr. holiday today. this is the official state calendar in arkansas. this is the one from mississippi, and this is the one from alabama. today is martin luther king jr. day and robert e. lee day. seriously the same day. a confederate general. we are a complicated country. >> in november 2013, congress
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>> in november 2013, congress was hit with a narcotics scandal. he was busted for cocaine possession. shortly after he resigned from congress. that's how they got kurt claussen. he was assigned to the house foreign affairs committee. to top american officials from the u.s. congress and state department came to testify before that committee. american government officials testifying before that committee, now watch. >> i am familiar with your country, i love your country, and i'm hopeful with the new change in regime that the future and the land of promise and opportunity of india can finally
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become so, and i understand the complications of so many languages, cultures, and histories. just as your capital is welcome here to produce good paying jobs in the u.s., and i would like our capital to be welcome there, and freedom of capital, and i ask cooperation and freedom in your government from so doing. can i have that? >> i think your question is to the indian government and we certainly share your sentiments and we will certainly advocate that on behalf of the u.s. >> of course. i am familiar with your country. they're american. i am familiar with your country. that was last summer, congressman clawson apologized. up with of the hall marks of the obama era republican party is their politics.
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in the obama era, they now offer a republican tea party response to the state of the union in addition to the republican rp response. this year it seems like they might be giving up on that strategy. first they announce they picked the new senator from iowa, joni ernst to give the reply to the state of the union. she is perhaps the only one to the right of senator ted cruz. that was their pick, and once they picked her, there was no immediate announcement there would also be a tea party republican response. so, half of the republican party finally decided to merge into itself. to clerk it's official response
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and the tea party response into one big unified response in joni ernest. have they finally found someone right wing enough to be for the party party and the tea party. is there just one republican party in this country? no. not at all. they have since announced that once again there will be two republican responses to the state of the union. joni ernest, and the i am familiar with your country guy kirk clawson will be giving the other response. full speed ahead. >> the character on the left is i know, i told you so. on you can compare our progressive direct rates with our competitors' rates, so shopping is easy. you don't sound like flo. [high-pitched] yeah, i do. [ clears throat ] who you talking to? [ normal voice ] what? what's on your hand?
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noth-- my wedding ring. [chuckles] symbol of our love and understanding. comparing rates for you. now that's progressive. [ high-pitched ] nailed it!
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>> in 1965, amelia boyton was seriously injured. she was physically right there on the front lines in selma and on montgomery. that front line role is why she has a key role in the new film about selma. the past is not just the past. look at this news in the "selma times journal." 103 amelia boyton to attend the state of the union. she is still with us, 103 years old. she has been invited to the president's speech as the guest of a alabama congresswoman.
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[ male announcer ] are you so stuffed up, you feel like you're underwater? try zyrtec-d® to powerfully clear your blocked nose and relieve your other allergy symptoms... so you can breathe easier all day. zyrtec-d®. find it at the pharmacy counter. since the midterm elections when republicans took control of congress, president obama's approval numbers are way up.
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yes, as of today his approval rating is at 50% according to a new washington post. that is the highest approval rating for this president since the spring of 2013. since december, his approval ratings have gone up 19 points among young people, millennials, 22 points among hispanics, since december, his approval rating with democrats is up an additional ten points, up 11 points among conservatives. must be nice. and surely part of it is that the economy is doing well and people feel better in general. but there is also some mysterious green chutes of a specific kind that we are not used to seeing. maybe i'm just happy because the patriots won, but it seems to me like there is a suspiciously large pile of things looming on the occasion of the state of the union tomorrow.
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first off is the nomination for the attorney general. loretta lynch. second there is the president's nomination for defense secretary, ash carter. he is also enjoying wide bipartisan raise from the senators about to vote on his nomination as well. now that tom coburn has left congress and the hold that he had on the suicide prevention bill, it looks like that legislation is about to pass, possibly with unanimous support. last week, eric holder spoke about stopping police from seizing cash or assets without a warrant. when the attorney general announced his policy change on that last week, he was praised by republicans in the house and
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the senate. eric holder, praised by republicans. yes, that eric holder. the president will talk about his policy of changing our relations with cuba tomorrow nigh. one of the people praising that change is the republican senator from arizona named jeff flake. some are willing to raise the gas tax to pay for infrastructure repairs, roads, bridges, and highways. seriously. no, you're not drunk, and no, i don't know what's going on. on the eve of the state of the union, things are looking rosier than they have in a long time for this administration is this something magic that happens to presidents after midterms? is this normal? am i drunk? joining us now is a presidential historian -- >> you sound really positive
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tonight, if is nice. >> in presidential historian terms, is this normal, do other second term presidents find themselves in this kind of a position with all of this possibility at this point in their terms. >> even more specifically when they begin year seven, they do find this sort of thing, and a couple things are operating here. one is there are some things that an opposition congress and a president really do agree on, are for instance ronald reagan in 1987 found in many cases the democrats in the opposition agreed with him more than the republicans did. another thing that is going on is barack obama is no longer as intense of a political threat as he may have been when he still had a midterm election ahead. and opposition congresses, and you have seen this, they realize if they want their nominee toe
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be elected the next time, they have to demonstrate that if they get control not only of congress and the white house, that they will not run out of control and they will be able to get swing voters and possibly win the presidency the next time. if they're too confrontational, that's unlikely to happen. >> the last point is the one i thought would apply to all previous congresses, and not this one. but we're seeing the qualified praise for loretta lynch and ash carter, it seems like the foot is off of the gas in terms of that partisan fighting. let me ask you this as we. in terms of his executive actions. they don't usually have presidents on their side. presidents act alone. i think that has a lot to do with the president's approval ratings right now.
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has he been making the kinds of executive actions? >> bill clinton was the model of this after he lost congress, he went to the people on his staff and said what can i do to use the powers of the presidency in a way that i will not have to depend on the republicans and the house and senate, so absolutely. some of the things we heard that president obama is apparently going to suggest starts with a tax increase for the wealthiest americans. they realize they're not going to get this through congress, and they're trying to send a message that this is something i think you should support, and the interesting dynamic here is if it is something hillary clinton would welcome. >> so he could be sending a message to the 2016 democratic nominees? >> i learn ten things every time
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i talk to you. thank you.
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around midnight on july 2nd, 2011, residents were evacuated after an oil pipeline suddenly burst. it was an environmental catastrophe in a beautiful spot. it dumped tens of thousands of gallons of royal into that river. it took months to clean up. exxonmobil had to pay $135 million for that spill and the clean up that followed. and after that spill was over, a big study was conducted to assess all of the pipelines to see if any others might be vulnerable to the same kind of
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rupture. it was a pipeline that crossed under the yellow stone river in eastern monday, and there was a moderate risk thatpipeline would fail in eastern montana. that was 2011. this is today. that same pipeline that was described as a moderate risk to fail failed. it happened on saturday morning, it is a 12 inch pipeline. this is a section of it on the river bank. there was a rupture of some kind, and after that it kept pumping for nearly an hour. the big 2011 spill dumped about of 60,000 gallons. they're estimating 50,000 gallons have spilled so far. they have been hampered by icy conditions in montana, and in addition to the clean up, there
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is concern about possible contamination of a local drinking water. so far a number of residents have complained that it smells or tastes like oil or diesel. the tests should come back tomorrow, but this spill has stopped drawing in water from the yellow stone river all together as a precaution. still a developing situation in montana. watch this space.
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>> he was my brother.
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james craig anderson lived in jackson, mississippi. he worked at the nissan plant outside of town. he had a partner of 17 years. together they were raising a young member of their extended family. craig anderson was loved and cherished by his family. he was stylish, he was funny, he was just going about his life in jackson, mississippi. just before dawn on june 26, 2011, a group of white kids from the next town over drove into jackson and they spotted craig anderson in a hotel parking lot. the kids had driven into jackson specifically to look for black people they could harass and beat and terrorize until their victims begged for their lives. they had been doing this kind of thing for months. a group of half dozen kids, sometimes more, they drove from their white county in mississippi into the majority black jackson, the state capitol, and they basically made a sport of it. get a group together, get drunk, drive into jackson specifically
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to find black people to attack. they threw beer bottles at people, they hit people with their fists, they used slingshots. the first kids to spot craig anderson that night, they kept him in the hotel parking lot until the rest of the kids could arrive they beat him. they screamed at him, called him names. one of the kids was driving a big ford f-250. he gunned the engine, took aim and then ran craig anderson over with his truck. he called his friends in a second vehicle and laughed and told them, quote, i just ran that n word over. then he drove off. and james craig anderson died. he died of his injuries in a local hospital. he was attacked by those high school kids specifically, and apparently only, because of his race. and the attack included running him over with a truck. and now he was dead at age 47. that was in june 2011 in a modern day state capitol.
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less than two years before that murder, president obama had signed an expanded hate crime bill into law. it was named the matthew shepherd bill. he was killed in wyoming in 1998. he was beaten and tortured and left tied to a fence to die because he was gay. another one was dragged down a road by white supremacists. a decade after those deaths when obama signed the federal hate crimes law named in their honor, it was news partly because that law added sex to minorities of partial hate crimes. but that law also made one more important change about prosecuting these kinds of crimes. previously for the federal government to get involved to help prosecute a case like this, the victim would have had to be doing something or trying to do something that had specific federal protection, something like voting or going to school. the new law closed that loophole, allowing federal prosecutors to step in when, say, a man was attacked in a hotel parking lot for no reason
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other than the fact that he was black. because of that new law, because of the closing of that loophole, that killing in that hotel parking lot in jackson in 2011, that became a federal case. the killing of craig anderson became the first time the u.s. justice department used that new law in a murder case. and listen to what happened. first of all, the driver of the truck that ran craig anderson down, the guy who said, i ran that n word over, first he pleaded guilty in state court. 19 years old, his name is darrell dougman. he received two life sentences in state court. then the next day he pleaded guilty in federal court as well. that next day in federal court, two more suspects in the case also pled guilty alongside darrell dougman. and since then even though the local community has sometimes been impatient with the pace of the investigation, look at what has happened since then. prosecutors have continued to reel in suspects, and that murder of craig anderson. and in the string of racist
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assaults against other black people that led up to craig anderson's murder. as the case developed, prosecutors believed that 10 separate people had some level of involvement in these attacks. he dead men and the other two who pled guilty, that gives you three of the 10. then they got two more suspects to plead guilty in federal court. that was in 2012. of the ten, that was five down, five to go. the following month, january 2013, they got guilty plea number 6. that leaves four more still to go. and those final four indictments were handed up this summer, and that led to two more guilty please last month, then they were up to 8 out of 10. now in federal court in jackson, mississippi, the final two suspects have just pleaded guilty. standing before the first african-american federal judge appointed in that state, they described what happened that night. these are the last two suspects. a local paper reports that one of them wept openly as he recalled the earlier assaults
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and the scene at the hotel parking lot when craig anderson died. when the judge asked this young man what he did while his friends beat craig anderson, the young man whispered his reply: i watched. from the beginning, james craig anderson's family asked for the prosecution of everyone involved. ten out of ten, using the new shepherd-berg hate crimes act, prosecutors got them all, ten out of ten. at the first victim, the family member thanked the authorities. she called for justice and prayed for peace. >> our lives are richer with love, respect and the love of god. we, the anderson family, are praying for racial reconciliation not only in mississippi but all over this
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land and country. we are praying for the defendant and his family, that they find peace. >> some of the old civil rights cases took decades to solve and prosecute. a lot of them haven't been prosecuted yet to this day. but in this one case with this new law, they finished what they started. ten of ten. today, this afternoon, on martin luther king day, we got the announcement finally of federal sentencing dates next month for all of them. they're looking at maximum sentences ranging from a possible five years for one defendant to life in prison. if the point of holidays is to mark change over time, to have a commemorative event each year that marks time, then with this case and this verdict and these potential huge sentences, we can see that our nation has at least shifted in how we deal with these crimes.
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we are not past the days of racial violence, even on a grand and terrible scale. but neither are we lost in the days that racial violence inevitably went unprosecuted and unpunished. "first look" is up next. good morning everybody. right know on "first look" tonight is the night. the president will deliver his state of the union address. could a bump in the polls help his case? deflate gate. 12 days to the super bowl. and the nfl is looking into one team who might have had extra help getting there. and a tractor-trailer speeds toward a car with nowhere to go. good morning, everybody. i'm betty nguyen. thank you for joining us today. so tonight, president obama will deliver his state of the union address. he's unveiled several major talking points which include more spending on the middle class and poor, along with the tax increase for the rich. nbc's tracie potts is live in washington following all of this. so what ca