tv Democracy Now WHUT July 10, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
07/10/12 07/10/12 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> we must say we do not want our freedom gradually. we want to be free now. we're tired. we are tired of being beaten by a policeman, people locked up until over and over again. how long can we be patient? we want our freedom, and we want it now. >> we spend the hour looking at the bloody struggle to obtain a protect voting rights in this country. our guest is the former chair of the student nonviolent coordinating committee arrested more than 40 times, beaten almost to death, now 13-term
georgia congress member john lewis. >> it is so important for people to understand that people suffered, struggled people died for the right to participate. the boat is the most powerful non-violent tool that we have in a democratic society. >> today, "across that bridge: life lessons and a vision for change." congressmember john lewis. all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has renewed his spat with republicans of the bush-^ tax cuts, calling on congress to approve a one-year extension only for those making under $250,000 a year. obama said the tax cuts for the wealthiest americans should expire.
>> we believe it is time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest americans, folks like myself, to expire. i am calling on congress to extend the tax cuts for the 98% of americans who make less than $250,000 for another year. let's not hold the vast majority of americans and our entire economy hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy. we can have that debate. [applause] we can have that debate, but let's not hold up working on the thing we already agree on. >> republicans plan to vote in the coming weeks, a move the white house says would draw a veto. the u.s. has broken a yet theher heat wavrecord, with first six months of 2012 now officially the hottest first six months of a recorded in a
calendar year. in the last two weeks of june alone, more than 170 all-time heat records read their broken or tied. blistering heat and drought have fueled record wildfires, damaged the nation's corn crop, and killed scores of people. the fires have consumed 1.3 million acres, the second- biggest area to burn during any june on record. while the plants are facing the worst drought in a quarter century, drenching rains in florida made last month the wettest june on record there. as the midwest and east the respite from the heat, storms are predicted across swaths of the country. , experts have described the recent spate of extreme weather as a preview of the planets long-term future of global warming. you in arabic kofi annan says his reached an understanding with president bashar al-assad to stop the violence raging in syria. >> we discussed the need to in the violence and ways and means of doing so.
we agreed in approach which would -- which i will share with the armed opposition. i also stressed the importance of moving ahead for the political dialogue, which the president accepts. >> kofi annan did not provide details of his new plan, which he says he will take to syria's opposition. and then flew to tehran for talks with iranian government. the international criminal court has sentenced thomas lubanga to 14 years in prison. he was found guilty in april of recruiting and using child soldiers to the democratic republic of congo's 1998-2003 war. is the first suspect to be convicted and sentenced at the hague since the icc was established a decade ago. the bangor in up spending eight more years behind bars. a prominent human rights activist and bahrain has been
sentenced to three months in prison for publicly criticizing the u.s.-backed monarchy. he was detained last month after criticizing the bahrain government in for messages and media appearances, including one on "democracy now!" in may. rajab had only been out of jail for a few days after spending the previous three weeks behind bars. his next hearing will not come until mid september. in israel the government committee has a firm is also proclaimed right to build settlements throughout the occupied west bank and represented the -- the international court of justice has already ruled all of israel's west bank settlements are illegal, but israel said it would only consider dismantling scattered outposts it had not officially approved. the settlers use the outpost to steal even more palestinian land that has already been seized, using the jewish biblical terms,
the panel's findings affirmed settlers rights to maintain the outposts as well. >> it is a higher authoritative document which spells out the right of the jews to settle, as was originally decided upon by the legal nation. >> texas governor perry has rejected parts of obama's and mark health care reform law saying the state will not expand medicaid or creed a health insurance exchange. secretary kathleen sebelius, perry said he will lose money. texas has the highest percentage of the uninsured people in the country with that one quarter of its population lacking health insurance. rick perry dismissed concerns for the plight of the state's uninsured on fox news. >> one out of four texans is without health insurance, one
out of four is on medicare or medicaid. the health crisis is big for your country and state. what is the solution? >> the idea that this federal government -- which does not like texas to begin with -- to pick and choose and somehow say texas has the worst health care system in the world is fake and falls on its face. the real issue is about freedom. >> six republican governors have rejected obama's medicaid provision keeping out millions of low-income people from the expansion. the supreme court upheld the core of obama's health care law but also ruled states could opt out of the provision that expands medicaid by broadening eligibility requirements. those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we spend today's hour looking at the bloody struggle to obtain a protect voting rights in this country. since 2010, at least 10 states have passed laws that require people to show a government issued photo id when they go to
the polls. while supporters of the laws protect against voter fraud, others argue it is more likely to suppress voter turnout among people of color, poor, an elderly who may lack the proper id. in total, 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that could shape the 2012 election, including the vital swing states of florida and pennsylvania. on monday, naacp president and ceo benjamin jealous made voting rights the center of his address to the group's annual convention in houston. >> with 120 days left until the election, we have a choice to make. we can allow this election to be stolen in advance. a politician bragg 20 thought no one was listening, talking about the state's voter id law, or we can double down on democracy and overcome the
rising tide of voter suppression with a higher tide of voter registration and mobilization and activation and protection. >> today we're joined by a leader of the civil rights movement who risked his life numerous times marching for the right of all americans to vote. 13-term democratic congressmember john lewis of georgia. he was a leader of the civil- rights movement marched side-by- side with dr. martin luther king and served as chair of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, helped organize the freedom rides, and spoke at the 1963 march on washington. he has been arrested more than 40 times. his just written a new book called, "across that bridge: life lessons and a vision for change." he visited us in our studio and i asked congress member lewis about the voter purge in florida, where the justice department had sued to block republican governor rick scott's controversial effort to remove thousands of registered voters from the rolls, using an outdated driver's license database to ostensibly identify
non-citizens registered to vote. >> it is unreal, it is unbelievable that at this time in our history, 47 years after the voting rights act was passed and signed into law, that we're trying to go backward. i think there is a systematic, deliberate attempt on the part of so many of these states -- not just florida, but all across the country. it is not just southern states. to keep people from participating. i think there is an attempt to steal this election before it even takes place, to make it hard, to make it difficult for our seniors, for our students, for minorities, for the disabled to participate in the democratic process. it is not right. it is not fair. it is not just. >> why do these voter purge his target these groups?
how do they target them? maybe you could explain why your so pivotal and having passed the voting rights act of 1965. >> i think this make believe that we do not purge, [unintelligible] these people are going to come out and vote and not vote the way people would like them to vote. they're primarily democratic voters. it makes me want to just cry after people gave their blood, after some people were beaten, shot, and murdered trying to help people become registered voters. i can never forget the three civil-rights workers that were murdered in the state of mississippi on the night of june 21, 1964.
other people shot down in cold blood. the march from selma to montgomery or 17 of us were seriously injured -- where 17 of us were seriously injured. we passed the voting rights act, renewed the act, extend the act, and then the state of florida, the state of georgia, alabama, and other states throughout the nation, along with tactics to make it hard, to make it difficult for people to participate. we should not be -- we should be making it easy and simple and open up the political process and let all the people, in. >> explain what the voting rights act said. >> the voting rights act of 1965 said in a fact that you cannot use a literacy test, you cannot have a port tax, you cannot use
incendiary devices, cannot harass or intimidate. and before you make any changes in election laws, registration, changes to the precinct, local lines for any political position, you have to get pre- clearance from the departments of justice or the federal district court in washington, d.c. so the state of florida, for example, never sought to get clearance to purge and they're hiding behind there may be fraud. >> your on the selma to montgomery march. you had your head bashed in for this. can you explain what happened, as we go back, what, almost half a century now? >> an march 7, 1965, a group of
us attempted to march from selma to montgomery, alabama to show to the nation that people wanted to register to vote. one young african-american man had been shot and killed a few days earlier in and injuring county called perry county. the whole county, as the home county of andrew young, martin luther king. because of what happened to him, we decided to march. in sum, alabama, only 2.1% of blacks or registered to vote. you could only go down to the courthouse. you had to pass a so-called literacy test. people were told over and over again they could not pass deliverliteracy test.
on one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of jellybeans and a jar. if there were african-american lawyers, doctors, teachers, housewives, college professors the could not pass the so-called literacy test. we had to change that. we sought to march. we got to the top of the bridge and sought alabama state troopers. we continue to walk. we came within hearing distance of the state troopers. a man identified some sunset, i am major john cloud of the alabama state troopers. this is an unlawful march and you will not be allowed to continue. i give you three minutes to disperse and return to your church." one of the young people walking with me leading the march josé williams who was on the staff of dr. martin luther king jr. said, "major, give as a moment to
praise." the major said, "troopers advance." use all these guys putting on gas masks. they came toward us trampling us with their horses. i was hit in the head by a nightstick. i had a concussion at the bridge. my legs went out from under me. i felt like i was going to die. all of these many years later, i don't recall how limited across the bridge, to the church. after i got back to the church, the church was full to capacity. more than 2000 people on the outside trying to get inside to protest what happened on the bridge. someone asked me to say something to the audience. i said something like, "i don't understand how president johnson can send troops to vietnam, but cannot send them to selma, alabama, to protect people whose only desire is to register to vote." the next thing i knew, i was
admitted to the local hospital critical works explain the moment when he decided to move forward. i do not think the history we learned records those small ax or actually gargantuan acts of bravery. talk about -- i mean, you saw the weapons, what propelled euphoric, congress member lewis? >> law, my mother and my father, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and people all around me had never registered to vote. i have been working all across the south. the state of mississippi had only about 16,000 registered to the boat out of over 400,000. on that day, we did not have a choice. i think we have been struck down by what i call the spirit of history. we could not turn back. we had to go forward.
we became like trees planted by the rivers of water. we were anchored. i thought we were dying. i first thought we would be arrested and go to jail, but i thought it was a real possibility that some of us would die on that bridge that day. after the confrontation occurred. i thought it was the last protest for me. but somehow, in some way, i dared to keep going. you go to a hospital, you go to a doctor's office and get mended. you get up and try again. >> what was the next act you engaged in? >> we continue to organize, continue to try to get people registered. we testified that federal court to get an injunction against governor george wallace and alabama state troopers.
the federal court said we had a right to march from selma to montgomery. president johnson spoke to the nation and condemned the violence in selma, introduce the voting rights act. that night he made one of the most meaningful speeches in any -- that any american president had made in modern times. he condemned the violence over and over again. near the end of the speech he said, "and we shall overcome. we shall overcome scram we call it the "we shall overcome" speech. as we listen to president johnson, i've looked at dr. king. tears came down his face. he started crying. we all started crying for the president's st., "we shall overcome." dr. king said we will make it from summit to -- summit to montgomery.
people all over america started walking from selma to montgomery. by the time limit it to montgomery five days later, there were almost 30,000 black and white citizens, protestant, catholic, jewish, men, women, young people. it was like a holy march. congress debated the act, passed it on august 6, 1965. president johnson signed into law. >> congress member john lewis. we continued our conversation after the break. ♪ [music break]
>> the morehouse college glee club performing "we shall overcome." morehouse college was, moderate dr. martin luther king, jr.. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. i continue my interview with congressmember john lewis. he risked his life numerous times marching for the rights of all americans to vote.
he marched side-by-side with dr. martin luther king, helped organize the freedom rides, spoke of the 1963 march on washington. congressmember lewis was also a leader of the now famous voting rights march from selma to montgomery. on july 6, 1964, he led 50 african americans to the courthouse in selma, alabama on voter registration day. this sheriff jim clark arrested them rather than allow them to apply the vote. i played a clip of his close friend and ally martin luther king, jr. speaking in 1965 about jim clark. >> i am here to tell you tonight that the businessmen, the police commissioner of this city, and everybody in the white power structure of this city must take responsibility for everything that jim clark says. [applause]
it is time for us to say to these men, that if you do not do something about it, we will have no alternative but to engage in broader and more drastic forms of civil disobedience in order to bring the nation to this whole issue in selma, alabama. >> you were in the church, john lewis. >> it was an unbelievable speech. dr. king spoke from his gut. sheriff clark was a very mean man. he was ambitious. i think maybe he was a little sick. he wore a ban on one side, a nightstick on the other side. he carried an electric broader
and his hand. he did not use it on cows. >> electric california product? >> that you used to move cattle along. on one occasion, there was a button on his left lapel the said "never." he thought he was a general. he would wear a helmet like general patent. he forced a group of young children on a forced march, which was so cruel, so vicious and evil. he took them down a highway and said, if you want to march -- he had people chase these little children on horseback. i saw him one day with a group of black women who were tried to march from a primarily black schoolteachers, that he
literally put his foot on the neck of a black woman. we were peaceful, orderly, we believe in the philosophy of non-violence. we were trying to appeal to the conscience of everybody. >> well, he somehow reached the conscience of the kkk man who beat you. i want to get your response after almost half a century since the ex-klansman here at lunch counter at a south carolina bus station. after years of regret, he finally apologized to you in 2009. his spoken out against bigotry and intolerance. i want to go to a clip of him speaking on the "oprah winfrey show" about the day he attacked you. >> were you a member of the ku klux klan? >> yes. >> was he the only person you
beat up that day? >> no. >> no progress after he was beaten and bloodied and all, police and came up and said, "do you want [unintelligible] >> press charges. >> yes. he said, no. he said, we're not here to cause trouble. >> that was alan apologizing to, the text klansman. describe what he did to during the freedom rides and tell us what they were. >> on may 9, 1961, my seatmate, a point gentleman, we arrived at the greyhound bus station in south carolina. we got off the bus. >> what were you doing there? >> we were testing the facilities.
the lunch counters, the waiting room, the restaurant facility. during those days, the stations were marked white waiting, colored waiting, white man, a colored man, white women, colored women. we were following the decision of the human the state's supreme court, banning segregation in interstate travel. when we started to into the so- called white waiting room, we were attacked by a group of young white men, beaten and left in a pool of blood. the local police officials came up and wanted to know whether we wanted to press charges. we said, no, we believe in peace and love and nonviolence. years later, to be exact, 48 years later, mr. wilson and his
son came to my office in washington and said, "mr. lewis, i am one of the people that beat you. we forgive me? i apologize." his son had been encouraging his father to do this. the sun started crying. mr. wilson started crying. he hugged me. his son of me. i have them both back. all three of us stood there crying. that is what the movement is about, to be reconciled. >> when we hear about the voting rights, we do not hear about the struggles that you and so many others that you lead with 350 years ago. >> that is why it is so important for people to understand, to know that people suffered and struggled. some people bled and some died.
it was for the right to participate. the vote is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. it is precious. it is almost sacred. we have to use it or we will lose it. >> of years after that, two years after you had your head slammed in and so many others were beaten in montgomery, with the 1963 march on washington, dr. king spoke and you also spoke. i want to go to a clip of that moment. august 28, 1963. >> the patient and wait. we must say we cannot be patient and wait. we do not want our freedom
gradually. we want to be free now. we're tired. we're tired of being beaten by a policeman. we're tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again and you say, be patient. how long can we be patient. we want our freedom and we want it now. we do not want to go to jail, but we will go to jail if it is the price we must pay for love, brotherhood, and true peace. i appeal to all of you to get in this great revolution that is sweeping this nation. get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village until true freedom comes, until the revolution of 1776 is complete. we must get in this revolution and complete the revolution. from mississippi, southwest georgia, alabama, harlem, chicago, detroit, philadelphia and all of this nation, the
black masses on the march for freedom. they're talking about, slow down and stop. we will not stopped. all of the forces -- we will not stop this revolution. [unintelligible] the time will come when we will not confine our march into washington. we will march through the south, through the streets of cambridge, birmingham. [applause] we will march with the spirit of love and dignity that we have shown here today. our determination, we shall [unintelligible] segregated south.
we must say, wake up america. we will not stop. we cannot and will not be patient. >> that remarkable speech to give august 28, 1963, the young speaker at the march on washington. you spoke before dr. king. >> i spoke no. 6. dr. king was the last speaker, no. 10. randolph introduced man and said, "i present you, young john lewis." alec to my right and saw many other young people. they were cheering me on. left.ed to myselmy i said to myself, this is separate i must do my best and that is what i tried to do. when was working on the speech,
i was reading a copy of "the new york times. i saw a group of young black women in southern africa carrying signs saying "one-man, one-vote." i started my speech, "one-man, one-vote is the african cry and it must be hours, to." that became the rallying cry for many students. >> and yet you had to change that speech that you gave on that day. >> i was asked to change the speech. some thought it was too radical. , to militant. i thought it was a speech for the occasion that represented the people we were working with. some people did not like the use of the word "revolution." randolph came to my rescue and said, there's got anything wrong with the use of "revolution." i use it myself some time. there's nothing wrong with black
masters. so he kept that in the speech. you're the end of the speech, a says something like, "if we do not seek meaningful progress today, the day may come and we're forced to march to the south the way sherman did non violently." people thought we could not make a reference to sherman. so we deleted that. >> the text i have exactly, "the next time in march, we will not march on washington, but through the south, to the heart of dixie the way sherman did. we shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn jim crow to the ground nonviolently." why did you give that? >> one of the reasons randolph, this wonderful man who always dreamed of a march on washington, you could not say no to him. and many had dr. martin luther
king, jr. said to me, "john, this does not sound like you. i love those two men. dr. king was my inspiration. i made a decision to change the speech, to delete some of those words. >> you also asked, "i want to know which side the federal government is on." >> i did ask a question or raise the question, "i want to know which side the federal government is on." it appeared the federal government was not on the right side of history. it appeared the federal government was not a sympathetic referee in the struggle for civil rights. we felt the federal government could do more, the department justice could do more, the fbi
could do more than just stand back and take pictures. we thought they could prevent some of the violence and protect people that are being arrested, being beaten, and killed. >> i want to play danny glover reading the exurbs of the speech that you did not give. >> to those who have said, be patient and wait, we must say that patients is a dirty and nasty word. we cannot be patient. we do not want to be freed gradually. we want our freedom and we want it now. [applause] we cannot depend on any political party for both the democratic and republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the declaration of independence. we won't stop now. all the forces of eastland, barnett, wallace and thurman
will not stop the revolution. the time will come when we will not confine our marching to washington. we will march through the south, through the heart of dixie the way sherman did. we shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn jim crow to the ground pretty >> john lewis, you also said a part that did not get included. -- did not getting credit, we cannot support the ministrations of a rights bill for it is too little, too late. there's not one thing or protect our people from police brutality. >> i thought, and i believe the proposed civil-rights bill was not enough. president kennedy took the position that if a person had a sixth grade education, that person should be considered literate, it should be able to register to vote. those of us in the student nonviolent cordoning
committee took a position. it should be age and residency should be the requirement, nothing more or less. we wanted a much stronger bill. but the whole idea of the march was not to support a particular piece of legislation. it was a march of jobs and freedom. it was a coalition of conscience to secular congress don't-say to congress and say to the president of the united states, you must act. we did not think the proposed bill would put an end to all the suffering. to the beatings, to the jailing, to the killings that have occurred in the south. >> congressman john lewis has just written a book called, "across that bridge: life lessons and a vision for change." i will continue the interview in a moment. ♪ [music break]
>> the group traveled the country singing and fundraising for the student nonviolent coordinating committee. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we return to my interview with a now 13-term democratic congressmember john lewis of georgia, arrested more than 40 times as you fought for voting
rights and in segregation. just before malcolm x was assassinated, they spent several days together in africa. i asked john lewis where they met and what they talked about. >> we met in nairobi, kenya. it was at a hotel. he happened to be staying there and we did not know he was staying there. we were also staying there. we are on our way to a celebration. we had an opportunity to talk and chat with him about what was going on in america. i think at that time, malcolm x was speaking to find a way to identify, is seeking to find a way to identify with the southern man. he wanted to be helpful, wanted to be supportive. as a matter of fact, he came to selma. he came to selma february 14.
1965. we were in jail, including dr. martin luther king, jr.. the local authorities refuse to let him come and meet with us. he spoke at the brown chapel church with mrs. king to a group of high-school students. seven days later, he was assassinated. >> on february 21, 1965, he was gunned down. >> i will never forget it because february 21 is my birthday. i was in a car on my way from southwest georgia. >> your 25 years old? >> 25. i was going back to selma. i had come to new york, attended the service for him. >> what is your assessment of
the significance of malcolm x? >> i think he played a major role in helping to educate, inform, and dramatize the need for mass movement. people read about him. many of the young people, black and white, red his story. many did not agree necessarily with his techniques or tactics, but if malcolm x had lived, i am convinced he would have been part of the southern nonviolent reign over the civil-rights movement. >> and what did dr. king think? >> i remember malcolm being in the hotel before we even saw him in kenya. the night of the march on washington, the evening before the march on washington, he was
at the hilton hotel in washington. he did not like the way the march turned out because it was like a picnic. >> and he was not invited to speak. >> he was not invited to speak. i did not have anything to do with that decision. >> after the civil-rights act and voting rights act was signed, dr. king increasingly started speaking out against the vietnam war. his inner circle say, don't give that speech at riverside church april 4th, 1967, a year to the day before he was assassinated in memphis. you have the president of the nine states behind to, got him to sign the civil rights and voting rights act they said, to dr. king. do not take him on and a war that is not ours. yet he defied them and said, it is. were you a part of that circle? what position did you take, john lewis? >> i supported the position of
martin luther king, jr. as chairman of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, at the time, we had already taken the position against the war in vietnam. so many other young people that we worked with all across the south were being drafted and going off to vietnam. so we came out against the war. we came out against the wall or in january. it was january 1966. it was at riverside church. it was at 04, 1967 when he spoke -- it was april 4, 1967, when he spoke. a lot of people talk about the march on washington. it was a wonderful speech, but the speech against the war in vietnam, dr. king said, "i am not one to segregate my
conscience against violence at home and violence abroad." he said america was the greatest purveyor of vows in the world. he was the preacher, at a profit. >> you agree with him? >> i agree with him. >> that the u.s. was the greatest purveyor of violence. >> we spend millions and billions of dollars on weaponry. we are supplying the world, sell arms to everybody. dr. king was saying we have to put an end to this. he was influenced by gandhi. gandhi said, nonviolence is nonexistence. don king went on to say, "we
must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish as fools." he was saying in effect, we have enough bombs and missiles and guns to destroy the planet. it was true then and still true today. >> at the time, "time" man singh called the speech demagogue it slander that sound like a script for radio hanoi. washington post declared king had to cut diminished his usefulness to his cause, country, and people. >> i think that the publication like "time" magazine and "the washington post, click clac," he those articles that dr. king was right. he was right. and so many others,
politicians who came out against the war, weather was eugene mccarthy or others, later bobby kennedy, but that were helped to destroy the hopes, dreams and aspirations of some many people. or is bloody. it is messy. >> today, the war in afghanistan, the drone war that president obama is conducting in pakistan and yemen and other places with the kill list that "the times" called it, that he personally keeps and names the people he puts on the list, your thoughts? >> i think it is time for us to end the efforts in afghanistan. we cannot justify the killing of people that we do not see, we do
not know anything about them or very little. or is obsolete. - is obsolete. it is barbaric. we must come to the point and say, war no more. >> heavy talk to president obama about this? >> i have not had a chance to, but i have spoken out on the floor of the house against the war in afghanistan and iraq. >> you voted in three days later to give president bush the ability to retaliate and a vote. you describe it as one of your toughest of votes. talk about how you decided to do that. >> i was very disturbed about what happened on 9/11. when i look back on it, if i had
to do it all over again, i would have voted with [unintelligible] it was raw courage on her part. so because of that, i do not vote for funding for war. i go against perforation for the military. i would never again go down that road. >> what to say to those who say, then you're not supporting the military? not supporting these soldiers? >> i support the soldiers. i see young men in uniform and i say, "thank you for your service." i tell them, "i want all of you to come home." i see them in airports and in washington and i said, "it is time for you to come home." >> president obama will be giving his renomination address
of the democratic convention in the bank of america stadium. i saw you four years ago at the mile high stadium in denver where there are honoring you. it was august 28, 2008. it was the anniversary of dr. king's speech in washington, as well as your own. but now president obama will be speaking in charlotte at the bank of america stadium and the economy is a major issue, also deeply linked to the war. what are your thoughts today about where we have gone in this for years? >> it is my hope that president obama and the democratic party will recapture the hopes, dreams that people had for years ago. and have a platform, a program
where we must go now. how to we rescue and save people? how do we give people the feeling they can survive, they can make it in america? many people have lost their homes, jobs we must say, there is a way out. there is a better way. they cannot be shy because the convention is taking place in the bank of america center. they have got to be strong. they have to tell the truth. >> do you think people should be protesting as president obama is speaking? >>, well, i don't know. if people feel something is not right, not fair, they have a right to protest. >> do you feel it is not right? >> i don't know what i am going to do.
i believe that the time is always right to do right as dr. king said that people have a right to protest of what is right. >> how did you decide to go from activist, real street fighting activist -- you yourself are not physically fighting, but you are being fought by the police every step of the way -- to a congressmember? talk about the moment he made the decision and how old you were. >> i made the decision after the assassination of dr. martin luther king, jr. and robert kennedy. i was with robert kennedy in indianapolis, indiana on the evening of april 4, 1968 when i heard that dr. king had been shot. i did not know his condition until robert kennedy spoke at a rally i was having to organize.
>> i want to go to that clip. >> i have some very sad news for all of you, and i think sad news for all of our federal -- fellow citizens and people who love peace all over the world. and that is that martin luther king was shot and was killed tonight in memphis, tennessee. >> that was robert kennedy breaking the news to some money. john lewis, you were there. >> i cried with so many other people. i said to myself, "we are still here, bobbie." i went back to atlanta and attended the funeral. robert kennedy and hundreds and thousands of others were there. after the funeral was over, ipad bac on the kennedy campaign -- i went back and got on the kennedy campaign. later, went to california. i campaigned for kennedy.
it was a wonderful actor. we went all over los angeles going into wealthy neighborhoods, knocking on doors, urging people to vote for body. that evening, the primary was over the kennedy came up and said, "john, i'm going downstairs to make my victory statement. why don't you remain?" i was in the suite with his sister and several other individuals. we were listening to body -- to boggy. in moments, minutes later, it was announced he had been shot. a drop to the floor and cried and cried. i just wanted to get out of los
angeles but i left the next morning to atlanta. i think i cried all the way from los angeles to atlanta. i came back to new york for the funeral. before the funeral, i stood as an under guard. then i rode the funeral train. the family asked me to ride with them. they went from new york to washington. someplace along the way, i fell to the some now and in some way i had to try to pick up where dr. king and robert kennedy left off. these were my friends, my heroes, too young men that have inspired me -- two young men that had inspired me. some of my friends had encouraged me to get more involved in politics than just register people. i made a decision years later to run for politician. >> your new book, "across that
bridge: life lessons and a vision for change." you're right, just as gandhi made it easier for king and king made it easier for poland and poland for ireland, ireland for serbia, serbia made it easier for the arab spring, the errors bring it easier for wisconsin, made it easier for occupy. talk about these connections. >> i believe there is something in human history. i call it the spirit of history. it is like a spring, a stream that continues to move. and individuals and forces, long to become symbols the --, along that become symbols of what is good, right, and fair. that is why i wrote this book to say to people that you, too, can
allow yourself to be used by the spirit of history. just find a way to get in the way. when i was growing up, my mother and father, my great grandparents and grandparents were telling me, tick that don't get in trouble. don't get in the way." i was inspired by a margin of the king, jr. and rosa parks and others to get in the way, to get in trouble -- could trouble, unnecessary trouble. we all must find a way to have the courage to get in trouble, to do our part. every generation must find a way to lead the planned -- planet, to leave the earth, this little piece of real estate a little better. a little cleaner, a little
greener, and a little more peaceful. i think that is our calling. we have a mission, a mandate, and more obligation to do just that. >> john lewis, 13-term congressmember, former chair of the student nonviolent coordinating committee arrested more than 40 times, been repeatedly as he fought for voting rights and against a segregated america. he has just written a new book called, "across that bridge: life lessons and a vision for change." democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]