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PoliticsNation, Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Read the transcript from the Friday show

August 23, 2013

Guests: Joseph Lowery; Martin Luther King III; Taylor Branch; Myrlie Evers-Williams, Marc Morial, Tom Joyner, Joyce Ladner, Dorie Ladner, Bernice A. King, Randi Weingarten, Lee Saunders, Dennis Van Roekel, Michael Grunko; Edith Lee-Payne; John Lewis


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: The day that changed America
forever. The march on Washington, August 28th, 1963. People of all races,
regular people from all walks of life, marching against injustice, marching
to change history. A day when the voices of the movement echoed across

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are of a massive moral revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long can we be patient? We want our freedom
and we want it now.

SHARPTON: A call to action and a call for peace. The words that
inspired a people, a nation, and the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we
are free at last.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a special two-hour edition of
"Politics Nation," the march on Washington. The dream continues.

SHARPTON: Good evening. I`m Al Sharpton live from the Lincoln
Memorial here on the national mall.

Fifty years ago hundreds of thousands of people stood where I am,
right now watching history. Millions more watching at home seeing the
leaders of the civil rights movement, call for justice and equality.
Powerful speeches and powerful music from singers like Mahalia Jackson,
Marianne Anderson, and Bob Dylan. Tonight, we will hear those voices.

We will also hear from Congressman John Lewis. I talk to him today
from the exact spot on the Lincoln Memorial where he spoke 50 years ago.
And we will hear from some of the young people who traveled hundreds of
miles to attend the march and helped change the course of history.

I`m honored to begin this show tonight with Martin Luther King III and
the Reverend Joseph Lowery who many call the dean of the civil rights
movement and he was also a cofounder of the Southern Christian leadership

Thank you both for being with me on this historic occasion.


CONFERENCE: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: Let me start with you, Martin. Tomorrow, we are having the
continuation march that you and I have spearheaded saying that we must
combat today`s ills and what remains. But let`s go back 50 years ago.

Your father made a speech that has been called one of the great
orations in American history. And yet to him -- to you he was just dad.
And you continuing to fight in his tradition, what does it mean for you to
be he where your father literally changed history?

KING: Well, Rev., what it means to me is that while we reflect,
recognize what he and his team, Dr. Lowery being one of those and many
others, were able to do was to transform this nation in a most positive way
so that people -- he took the words interestingly enough, the words of our
history and really made poetic music out of it. It was quite remarkable.

Now, that`s the positive side. The challenge and opportunities that
exist today in a sense state that in many senses we have made individual
progress, but collective progress we haven`t made enough of. When we look
at the unemployment rate in African-American communities, 18 to 30,
anywhere from 18 percent to as high as 40 percent. When we look at the
fact violence and murder is up, violence in our nation and murder. When we
look at the fact that unemployment overall is not where it needs to be. So
it`s exciting, but it`s a challenging time as we approach this 50th

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this, Martin. You and I and others
that are out here today dealing with issues like the voter suppression like
Stop-and-Frisk have no idea the kind of pressure your mother and father was
under. Reverend Lowery, your father had been indicted for income tax,
house bombed. You later had had lost your grandmother shot by someone
crazed. All these questions about your uncle, (INAUDIBLE).

Now, give us as a family member the sense of sacrifice, because
everyone sees the ceremony. But you had to sit at home and see your mother
deal with the anxiety and the pain.

KING: Yes, I did. But I`m so thankful that she sort of prepared our
environment and our home and sheltered us to some degree. But, you know,
one of the examples was oftentimes we received phone calls. Of course, our
home was bombed. Before I was born in 1955 in Montgomery. The home was
bombed. Fortunately no one was hurt. But we get calls all the time. Any
one of us, my siblings, and I could answer the phone and it would be an
ugly voice saying ugly things. I`m sure that had an impact on us.

But fortunately we were able to overcome that because mom taught us
the epic of love and forgiveness. And then, of course after dad was
killed, it had to be reinforced and learned again. Granddaddy King said I
refuse to let any man reduce me to hatred. I love every man. I`m every
man`s brother. The man that killed my lovely wife nor the man who killed
my son, I refuse them even to reduce me to hatred. And that -- all those
examples of granddad and mom reinforcing all of that helps us to make it
through this difficulty.

SHARPTON: And that`s what we have to pass to this generation,
generation behind us.

Dr. Joseph Lowery, the Dean himself. It`s a real honor that you are
here with us tonight as well as tomorrow. You are one of the only
survivors that was in leadership 50 years ago. A cofounder of the SCLC
where Dr. King chaired the board became president, and you lived to tell
us. And you live to do the invocation for the first African-American
president of the United States Barack Obama.

LOWERY: Benediction.

SHARPTON: The benediction.

LOWERY: Get it straight.

SHARPTON: You closed.

LOWERY: Last word.

SHARPTON: You had the last word. All right.

Well, Dr. Lowery, how do you feel? Tell us. First of all, let`s go
back. How was those times? Because people don`t realize this wasn`t just
a bus outing coming to Washington. There was major struggles in the south.
James Farmer who headed one of the civil rights groups couldn`t even make
it. He was in jail. There had been bloodshed. Tell us the environment
that this march happened in.

LOWERY: Well, you know, you sound like John Kennedy. He was assured
there was going to be violence. He was sure we would have turmoil and
turbulence of all kind at the march. But we had faith. God had brought us
along. Dr. King kept us under the commitment to let justice roll down but
let violence not roll down in our experience. And so, we trusted God. And
we prayed.

When I got Washington, I came in early that morning from Chicago, and
there was nobody around. I came on a plane and I got nervous that we made
a mistake. But then late morning, the place filled up. And we had been
telling to Martin to tell us everybody who came this would be a non-violent
experiment, a non-violent experience. And surely enough there wasn`t a
single arrest that I recall made. There was no violence. People were
joyful. People were warm and loving, and people were serious. People came
-- we didn`t -- excuse me. We didn`t come to play. We came to change
history. Really didn`t know we`d change as much as we did, but we knew
America would never be the same after those 250,000 people.

SHARPTON: When you came, Blacks across the south couldn`t vote in
most places, they couldn`t use public accommodations. I mean, people drove
here, couldn`t even stop and use the public toilet. It was not what we`re
going to do tomorrow.

LOWERY: My father was a Republican at the time because he couldn`t be
anything else. The Democratic Party had a slogan in Alabama where I was
born and where my father lived most of his life, had the slogan, White
supremacy. And that was the slogan on the emblem of the Democratic Party,
so my father voted Republican. And he couldn`t understand until Roosevelt
how any Black could vote White.

But that march changed America. It changed us. We came up and --
but, you know, let me say this, brother Sharpton. I`m grateful to you and
Martin. I call you Mr. King if you insist. But we didn`t come up here
just to commemorate the past. We came up here to celebrate the future. We
came up here to say that we`ve got a lot of things that have not changed,
and we intend to finish the job that we`ve started in 1963.

SHARPTON: Martin, I think that he is saying exactly what we`re

What does this generation and the generation behind us need to know?
Because not only did the movement open doors for blacks, it opened doors
for women, it open doors for Latinos, it open doors to Asian, gays. I
mean, it really opened up America.

KING: It certainly did. In fact, many of the suffrage movements
derived the inspiration from the modern civil rights movement that dad led
and others -- so many dad became one of the leaders. He is by far --
there`s not only one leader. He certainly personified something

But there were a lot of people, a lot of unsung heroes who were part
of this movement. What young people need to do is find what their calling
is and assume their rightful roles in a nation where, you know, we are
mastering run and rapping and rhyming instead of reading, writing, and
arithmetic. We need reading, writing and arithmetic to compliment the
running rapping and rhyming and then, we will be more successful.

SHARPTON: Reverend Lowery, you are now in your senior years. I
believe you`re 92.

LOWERY: I`ll be 92 in October.

SHARPTON: You will be 92 on October.

LOWERY: The lord willing.

SHARPTON: The lord willing, you`ll be 92.

As you look back over the decades, what is the things that you can say
you`re most fond and most proud of?

LOWERY: Well, that`s hard to say, but I`ll answer that because if you
give me a minute, I was looking through some sermons the other day and I
ran across one I preached in the 1980s. And the name of that sermon was
everything has changed, and nothing has changed.


LOWERY: And I`m dusting it off, because I`m going to preach it again.
Because it`s just as appropriate today as it was in the `80s. Everything
has changed, but nothing has changed. And we come up here not just to
commemorate the past, but to chart a course for the future. And everything
has changed. We`ve got more black elected officials than we`ve ever had.
We even got somebody who operates over here in the house somewhere in this

SHARPTON: The White House.

LOWERY: The White House. And yet at the same time, 30-some states
are charting a course to deny us the right to vote which we earned and
which we died for. Everything has changed and nothing has changed.

So young people have their work cut out for them. I don`t know what I
could remember as most impressive, Al, in those days except I remember that
I didn`t get to speak because every organization had one speaker.

SHARPTON: Well, you`re speaking tomorrow. Martin and I have you on
the program.

LOWERY: I`m going to give the whole sermon I planned to give if I had
spoken back in `63. All right.

SHARPTON: Martin, before we go, you had put out a book for children,
youngster to know about your dad. And Sunday after the march, we march
tomorrow at Sunday, we`ll go to the King Memorial between 1:00 and 4:00 and
you`ll sign books for kids.

KING: Yes. I don`t like to do this, but --

SHARPTON: I insisted you do this.

KING: All right. I have a children book entitled "my daddy: Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr." There are all sorts of historical books on dad`s
leadership and everything you can think of. But I`m blessed uniquely be
one of his children. I write from that perspective and lessons I learned
for children four to 8-years-old. And we will be signing those books on
Sunday at the Martin Luther King memorial.

SHARPTON: Martin Luther King III, Doctor Lowery, it is a pleasure to
speak with both of you on this historic day. And we will be together in
the morning and marking on the issues of today.

Thank you both.

Coming up, thousands came from every corner of this country, Black and
White, to make history 50 years ago. Tonight, we`ll hear from some of
those voices.

Plus, my interview with a living icon, a man who brought the crowd to
their feet that August day, Congressman John Lewis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not get legislation out of this Congress.
The time will come when we will march through the streets of Jackson,
through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Cambridge.


SHARPTON: A legend in her own right joins me on set, Myrlie Evers-

And as we go to break, the music that day was an essential part of the
event. It included a legendary rendition of "we shall overcome" led by
Joan Baez and sung by a chorus of hundreds of thousands of people.




SHARPTON: Bob Dylan singing a song he had written that summer about
an event that weighed heavily over the march on Washington, the
assassination of Medgar Evers. One of the most powerful voices of the
civil rights movement just two months earlier. Med Evers spent his life
trying to change b this country. He was the NAACP`s first field secretary
in Mississippi. He had fought for his country in World War II before
coming home to fight for justice here.

His assassination by a white supremacist in June of 1963 helped to
inspire the march on Washington.

Joining me now is Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers and
a legendary civil rights leader in her own right. And historian, Taylor
Branch, author of the Pulitzer-prize winning trilogy of books on Dr. King
and the civil rights movement.

Thank you both for being on tonight.



SHARPTON: Let me start with you Ms. Evers-Williams. Your husband was
killed in June of `63, and it was part of what really ignited the movement
that had already started around having this march. You were the speaker at
that march and didn`t make it. And one of the things that we are most
proud of is tomorrow you`re going to make that speech at Lincoln Memorial
for the march on Washington.

EVERS-WILLIAMS: Well, thank you.

SHARPTON: Fifty years later.

EVERS-WILLIAMS: Thank you ever so much.

SHARPTON: Tell us what was running through your mind as you fought in
Mississippi and the climate in 1963. Because I don`t think people
understand that we have seen a lot of marches, but they don`t understand
the climate and the danger that people faced. You had literally jus lost
your husband with your three children sitting inside.

EVERS-WILLIAMS: Not only were the children sitting inside, but they
also saw their father. The shots rang out. They did what he told them to
do. Go to the bathroom and get in the tub because it was the safest place
in the house. They ran out when they heard me scream and they saw their
father lying there in a pool of blood with his keys in his hand.

So, you know, as we talk about that period of time and the children of
the slain heroes, the children have sacrificed a lot. And I think we are
so proud of them to see how they have come forth in their own right to do
what they had to do. That was a terrific and terrible time, because the
momentum of the movement had gained a pace that we knew something terrible
was going to happen very soon. You live with the threat of death, and you
know that it`s going to come at any particular time.

Mississippi was the key state, if you will, and perhaps I`m saying
that because I`m from Mississippi. The key state for all of the brutality
and the changes that came along at that particular time. We go back to
Emmett Till, we go back to so many other cases that are not as well known
that Medgar investigated and was there on hand with all of it. And you
live with knowing that your days are numbered.

It`s not easy, but you do it because you believe and you care. And
all of those people who spent days in jail, who spent days out in the open
and food and drink brought to them and the cops would spit in the food and
here you are. That was a swell of young people who became involved at that
time as well.

SHARPTON: Taylor Branch, you wrote about the anxiety about the march
because in the rewrite of history, everyone was on the side of the march
and civil rights. But you wrote the city banned liquor sales for the first
time since prohibition. President Kennedy and his military chiefs were
poised to trigger suppression by 4,000 troops assembled in the suburbs.
The Washington senators postponed two days` games. So this march was not
welcomed with open arms 50 years ago.

BRANCH: Absolutely not. We have a terrible history in the United
States of rewriting our racial history to make it more comfortable to us.
The comfort was made by the people who came here and showed America that it
was wrong about what the march was going to be like. People were
terrified. I spent a lot of time interviewing Byron Rusten (ph) and
afterwards, he had a great a sense of humor. He was in-charge of the
logistics. And he said that he teased the reporters afterwards because
they had said it was going to be a disaster and Armageddon. And
afterwards, they said it would have been Armageddon except for this
wonderful guy Byron Rusten (ph) put port a party on all them all and made
those Negroes nice enough for tea.

But that`s what it was like. It was a different world. It was a
world of fear. And the movement was confronting those fears to try to make
Americans understand that our hope was living up to the best in the
American dream. And that people that didn`t even have the rights that the
rest of us took for granted were the ones that were pushing us forward.

As a white southerner, I look back and say it was the best thing that
happened to the white south. You never heard of the Sunbelt south when it
was segregated. It was poor and it was trapped in the segregation. So, it
liberated, as Doctor King say, it liberated the white south too and women
from things young people today cannot have a hard time imaging. That Black
people couldn`t go into libraries. They couldn`t go into public libraries
or rest stops. That women can`t serve on juries. They couldn`t go to my
university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill unless they
were nursing students by state law. Things like that.

The movement opened up those things and is the gateway to really
realize things. And so we all stand on the shoulders of this movement.

SHARPTON: And there was violence. I mean, Dr. King led a non-violent
movement. There was no violence during the march. But you were subjected
to violence and violent threats every day in Mississippi and Birmingham
happened that summer.


SHARPTON: I mean, tell people where the resolve where you might get
killed had to come from.

EVERS-WILLIAMS: I think one had to truly believe that America could
become the kind of country that we all knew that it could be. Medgar
fought in World War II for freedom. He came home, saw everything was
different. I, on the other hand, grew up in a very segregated society in
Mississippi and nothing was expected of me expect from our small community.
But you slept, you ate, you did everything looking over your shoulders and
being alert that one day something was going to happen to you.

I think of the radios that played Dixie almost 24 hours a day. It was
a kind of a brainwashing type of thing. The calls that come true, you knew
what sound was which. If a car backfired, you knew it. You knew the sound
of a motor of your car. We watched out for each other in our
neighborhoods. And we knew that something violent was going to happen. So
you`d better be prepared for it.

How do you prepare for something like that? You come together as a
group. You hope, you work, you play, you plot, you plan, and you wait.
But you don`t stop while you are waiting. And I think about our young
people today and as I look across and see camera crews, never would we have
thought that we would have young people of color in the positions that they
are in -- on television, nor you sitting where you are, Reverend Sharpton.
It would not be, because I recall the time when Lena Horne, Sammy Davis
Jr., and Roy Wilkins were probably the only African-Americans ever on
television and whenever they would come on a program, the TV would go black
and nothing was said. Nothing was done until they were off.

And then you usually heard Dixie being played and the original program
being restored. There have been so many changes, and I just -- I think
about all of those people that we don`t even mention or don`t know who paid
such a tremendous price. You are doing, and everyone else involved in
this, you have provided such a wonderful service of knowledge of the past
because we can move forward with that and hopefully, that`s exactly what
we`re going to do.

SHARPTON: That`s what we`re doing this for. And that`s what tomorrow
is about dealing with today`s issues. But we need to know what happened.

Taylor Branch, Dr. King`s speech "I have a Dream" is now one of
history`s high points. And you wrote in your book that President Kennedy
in reacting to the speech, actually, watched the speech. I`m going to read
from your book. Kennedy was witnessing a complete King speech for the
first time. He is damn good, the president remarked to his aides. Later,
he greeted King with a smiling I have a dream.

Tell us about how the president, at that time John Kennedy, had kind
of a complicated relationship with Dr. King in civil rights.

BRANCH: Very complicated. The president had just proposed a civil
rights bill in June that very night Medgar Evers was killed on June 11th,
he went on and gave a speech, proposed the bill. But he saw himself as
cutting loose from the solid democratic south which had been the base for
Democratic presidents for a hundred years. So he was petrified.

And when Martin Luther King came to see him about how are we going to
pass this bill, President Kennedy refused to talk to him until he satisfied
Jay Edgar Hoover that he didn`t want involved with anybody that Hoover
considered subversive.

So, there was a lot of tension there. But -- So, President Kennedy
said, you know, we`re with you now and we stand or fall together. So he
was frightened. But he knew a good speech when he heard it and he knew a
good line when he heard it. And it`s quite remarkable that none of the "I
Have a Dream" we remember was in Dr. King`s prepared speech.

SHARPTON: No and it was all extemporary. We`ll get to that in the

Ms. Evers-Williams, you know also that there weren`t a lot of women
because that you were scheduled and didn`t make it and Byron Rusten (ph)
who Taylor mentioned was told to take a back seat because he was gay. All
of that, we`re going to deal with tomorrow because --.


SHARPTON: Yes. I think that you can`t fight for some civil rights
without fighting for all civil rights. You undermine it. But the women
that were heroes in the movement never really got their recognition until
many years later. But women were just as important and just as courageous
and worked sometimes even harder than the men that got the recognition.

WILLIAMS: You have no idea how delighted I am to hear you say that.
Because you captured the essence of that entire issue. And I hope that
this time that we will see more women being recognized and being able to
move forward. If I may pull on the friendship of Coretta Scott King with
Betty Shabazz and myself, we were very close and very tight and we talked
about that very thing. Where are the women? Are we really being
recognized for what we have done and continued to do?

And they think of women who would come to our office on Saturdays
after getting their little paychecks and would reach in their blouses wet
with perspiration, pull out a few dollar bills and say here, this is for
the cause. We would say no, you don`t have enough. Keep that for
yourselves. No, we have to do something. We can`t march. We support our
children. We support our pastors. But this is what I can do to give.
Women helped to build all of this. And I really think -- I know that we
have not gotten the credit for what we have done. And I hope that will
change from this march forward.

SHARPTON: We`re definitely going to see today. Myrlie Evers-Williams
and Taylor Branch, thank you both for being here.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

BRANCH: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: Ahead, reliving the history. The march was an event, the
life of which this country had never seen. We`ll show you some of the
press coverage that day. From celebrities to activists, the march
electrified the nation. Among the voices that day, the Reverent Fred
Shuttlesworth renowned in the movement for his courage and fearlessness.


We`re going to walk together. We`re going to stand together. We`re going
to sing together. We`re going to stay together. Freedom, freedom,



SHARPTON: We are continuing our coverage live of the 50th anniversary
of the march on Washington. Fifty years ago and tomorrow as we continue
marching. We`ll be back with a lot more.



a grassroots ferment, a deep determination in the hearts of millions of
brown Americans to be free. And it is a tribute to them that they have
chosen to still appeal to their government in this type of dignified


SHARPTON: It was truly a grassroots movement. And one of the big six
organizers of that ground swell was the man you just heard. Whitney Young.
As president of the National Urban League, he helped rally the throngs that
gathered that day. They were marching for justice, but also jobs. In the
50 years since, much progress has been made, but those issues are still at
the forefront of what we all still fight for today.

Joining me now is the man who`s carrying Mr. Young`s torch today, Marc
Morial, the president of the National Urban League. And Tom Joyner, host
of the nationally syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show." He will host our
rally tomorrow and march.


SHARPTON: Thank you, both. Thank you both for coming on the show

Thank you so much, Reverend.


SHARPTON: Mark, we made tremendous progress as a country, but we`re
reliving many of the same battles today, aren`t we?

Particularly in the area of economics and jobs, Reverend. The
unemployment rate is twice as high as it is for whites for African-
Americans and Latinos are not much better off. And in fact, the
unemployment rate for African-Americans is higher today than it was in
1963. The economic divide, income inequality, that to me is an essential
part of why we march and what tomorrow`s going to be about.

SHARPTON: Now, you have looked at the -- you know the Urban League
puts out state of black America of the year. You look at these things with
the data. And as we march in Urban League and joined Martin, and NAACP,
and the National Civic Participation to spearhead where we`re going
tomorrow. What are the important things that we want this nation to know
about today?

MORIAL: We want this nation to think about the work that has to be
done in five areas. And that`s the agenda we put together and we announced
today. It`s economic disparities in unemployment. It`s education and our
children. It is protection of democracy and voting rights. It is reform
of the criminal justice system. And it`s helped disparities. We want the
nation to know that as far as we`ve come, the unfinished work means
Reverend, we need a new civil rights movement.

SHARPTON: Tom Joyner, you have one of the biggest microphones,
biggest megaphones in America. And you never hesitated to use it to rally
troops. We wouldn`t have done this march without you. We couldn`t have
done Trayvon Martin and other things without informing your audience. And
you are known all over this nation as one of the great voices of
entertainment but also with a purpose. But what a lot of people may not
know in the TV world, you come from Alabama. You grew up at a time the
movement was fervent. Tell us about how it was growing up in that time,

JOYNER: Well, if you saw -- if you looked at -- when you see the
people marching and you see the dogs and the hoses and Bull Connor in
Alabama, you see children. And I was a child then. I did get a chance to
march the last leg of the Selma to Montgomery march. But every weekend we
were doing something. We were marching for to desegregate churches, lunch
counters, schools. And that`s the way it was. Every weekend we would
march. The children. The children would march. And they had some great
sandwiches too.


And I was a fat kid. And I loved marching for sandwiches. I`d like
to tell you that I was out there for justice and civil rights. But as a
fat kid, I was really out there for the sandwiches. And it was a great
time. Because the whole community came together. The whole community came
together. And our parents didn`t want to risk their jobs, so the children
went out. And that`s the way it was growing up in Alabama.

SHARPTON: You know, when we look at the big six and I was just
talking with Myrlie Evers about the women who were unsung heroes, we saw a
diversity of leadership in the sense of every party played their lane,
everybody had different roles and everybody kind of complimented each

MORIAL: Yes. Yes.


SHARPTON: And that`s what you and some of us have tried to do.

MORIAL: Well, we are working hard, Reverend, and you`ve been an
important part of this creating a spirit of collaboration and cooperation
with coalition. Our ability to work together. And we`ve got dynamic women
like Melanie Campbell and Barbara -- Sherlyn Ifill (ph), who are part of
this movement. Like Judith Browne Dianis.

SHARPTON: That`s right.

MORIAL: And this new civil rights movement I think is prepared to
confront the challenges of now into the future. And I`m just proud to be
part -- in fact, I feel privileged to be a part of what will happen

SHARPTON: Tom, the entertainment world was front and center in many
parts of the civil rights movement including the march on Washington.
Today, though, many of our entertainers seemed to run away from issues
unless they get real hot. And you have insisted on calling them out saying
you need to help those that have made you successful. And you have not
been shy about calling them out in helping black colleges, helping
education and things that you put millions of your dollars in.

JOYNER: Yes, that`s true. That`s true. But the one thing that radio
-- black radio in particular has never been given credit for, and that was
our role in getting people to march. Getting people to come to Washington,
D.C. Let`s think back. This was 50 years ago. There was no MSNBC.


JOYNER: There was no social media. The best you had was U.S. mail
and with a nickel stamp you could get a flier in the mail within seven
days. You had the telephones but you didn`t have cell phones. So everyone
didn`t have a phone walking around. You just couldn`t call people. You
had radio. Dr. King didn`t have a mega church. The Dexter Avenue Baptist
Church in Montgomery, Alabama maybe had a membership of 250 people.


JOYNER: And only a hundred of them could get in the sanctuary at one
time. You didn`t have mega churches. You had radio. And radio was a part
of every black person`s life. So when Dr. King or Reverend Abernathy or
Joseph Lowery or any of the civil rights workers would come by the radio
station, we stopped playing the temptations, we stopped playing Aretha.

MORIAL: Stopped playing James.


JOYNER: We had to stop playing James. And we would hand the
microphones to the civil rights workers maybe sometimes drop it out the
window and they would tell us when and where we were going to march and
people showed up as they did here 50 years ago.

SHARPTON: Well, you`ll be hosting tomorrow and we`ll take it to the
21st century. Marc Morial, Tom Joyner.

JOYNER: Thank you, Rev.

MORIAL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Thank you both for joining us this evening. Thank you for
helping us bring tens of thousands here, Tom Joyner.


Still ahead, they came by train, by bus, even by foot across hundreds
of miles. Coming up, I`ll talk to two women whose lives were forever
changed by that day. And as we go to break, here`s legendary singer and
civil rights activist Harry Bellefonte on what the march meant to him.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: To be in Washington was for me today a beginning
really. A kind of a climax to generations of hope.



SHARPTON: Dr. King -- Dr. King mesmerized a quarter of a million
people at the march on Washington. But getting those people there wasn`t
easy. Joyce Ladner was just 19-years-old in the summer of 1963, but she
and her sister Dorie had already worked in the civil rights movement for
years. They grew up in Mississippi but worked in New York that summer with
a student non-violent coordinating committee. Helping to organize the
march. They raised money to bring bus loads of people to the march.
Particularly people from the south.

Joining me now are Joyce and Dorie Ladner. Thank you both for being

JOYCE LADNER, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thank you for inviting us.


SHARPTON: Now, Joyce, tell me about the badge around your neck you`re
wearing tonight.

JOYCE LADNER: This is my badge from the original march 50 years ago.

SHARPTON: That`s the badge they gave you 50 years ago right here.

JOYCE LADNER: Yes for the reserve section. I was on the staff of the
march up in Harlem working under Bayard Rustin. And this was for the
reserved section. As a staff member I was able to go on the Lincoln
memorial and move around in the crowd and so on.

SHARPTON: Why was it important for you to be at the march 50 years

JOYCE LADNER: It was very important because we grew up in
Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Went to Jackson State College got expelled for
organizing a civil rights demonstration and then went to Tougaloo College
which is now part of the civil rights college. Anyway, SNCC sent two
representatives to New York to work on organizing the march, Cordman Koch
(ph) and myself. And then Dorie went to work at the Snick office. But
that`s -- I was an organizer for the march. So, that`s why I was here.

Dorie, the morning of the march went and protested at the Justice


SHARPTON: And then you came over to the march. What was your
reaction when you got here and saw the march?

DORIE LADNER: I was overwhelmed, Reverend. I didn`t think that we
would have mobilized that many people. That that many people had the same
concerns that I did coming from Mississippi where we had been tear gassed
in 1961, Medgar Evers have been murdered June 12, 1963 just before the
march. And we had been expelled from as Joyce say from Jackson State
College for protesting. So we had a lot of grievances to bring. Also
voter registration, we could not vote, we didn`t have the right to vote,

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Joyce. Tell me why you feel the crowd came
that came. Everyone has said tonight that they didn`t expect the crowd
that came. What do you think caused it?

DORIE LADNER: I think it was because people were tired of what was
happening in the south. And they wanted to do something about it. One of
the things that happened that morning after we went to the Justice
Department, I got here on the mall about 7:30 that morning. It`s hard for
anyone here. And Bayard Rustin was here. Other people are standing
around. We are wondered, are the people really going to come?

We thought we`d get a hundred thousand. But 250,000 came. And
everyone was there very interested in this thing called civil rights. We
brought people up from the south so that they could see that they were not
alone. That they were not isolated. And I think it was the first time
that the march was nationalized.

SHARPTON: Tell me, Dorie, about Medgar Evers. You worked with Medgar

DORIE LADNER: Yes. Reverend, I was with Medgar Evers the night that
he was killed. We were at ways to boycott against downtown Jackson,
Mississippi. And the President Kennedy had spoken about the civil rights
bill that night. So, we went to the Elks announced to get some food --
myself and my cousin -- and about 9:00 we got up to leave. And we said
outside getting in our cars we`ll see you tomorrow. And we went home to
our respective houses and he was killed. And Reverend, that night I could
not sleep. The doors were slamming and shutting. And I had such a
restless sleep. When my cousin Maddie came and knocked on the door about
3:00 in the morning, she said, Dorie, Medgar is dead. I said I knew it.



SHARPTON: Bayard Rustin, you mentioned a couple of times, I got to
know him as a teenager. Tell us quickly about Bayard.

JOYCE LADNER: Bayard was an extraordinary teacher. Good organizers,
great organizer.

SHARPTON: He organized that march.

JOYCE LADNER: Yes, he did. Great organizers and great teachers.
Bayard had this unusual ability to see the big picture and all the little
parts that had to be put together piece by piece. He pulled together --
there were only about 12 of us working with him up on 135th street that
summer. And I understand he gave you a scholarship, by the way.

SHARPTON: That`s right. He did.

JOYCE LADNER: But he was a masterful tactician and a very practical
pragmatic person. So that, by the time we got to Washington the day before
the march, all the work was done. All we had to do is wait.

SHARPTON: Joyce Ladner and Dory Ladner, thank you both for your time

DORIE LADNER: Thank you, Reverend. Thank you.

JOYCE LADNER: Thank you, sir.

SHARPTON: Much, much more from our special two-hour edition of
POLITICSNATION live from Lincoln Memorial. Including Bernice A. King on
what her father`s legacy means now 50 years later. And my interview with a
living icon. Congressman John Lewis.



their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.


ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to a special edition of POLITICS NATION, "The
March on Washington: The Dream Continues."

SHARPTON: Good evening. I`m Al Sharpton, continuing our special
coverage live from the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. Fifty years
ago, the eyes of the nation were on this spot, where hundreds of thousands
of people converged on history, people of all races, from all walks of life
joining hands in the name of justice and civil rights.

In this hour, we`ll hear from some of the people who traveled so far
to attend this march, including the young girl shown in this iconic photo.
I`ll talk to her now, 50 years later, about how the march changed her life.

We also have my interview with congressman John Lewis from the steps
of Lincoln Memorial, where he spoke a half a century ago.

I`m honored to begin the second hour of our show tonight with elder
Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center. I`d say my favorite (INAUDIBLE)
Thank you for being here today.

BERNICE A. KING, CEO, KING CENTER: Thank you. I`m glad to be here.

SHARPTON: And you head the King Center, where you mother founded I
remember many years ago. And you have struggled and worked and been
tireless to keep the legacy of your mother and father alive. And this
march tomorrow is one of five days that you have helped to orchestrate and
push and pull and make sure it happened. But you were a child when this --
you were not even 1 year old.

BERNICE A. KING: I was an infant.

SHARPTON: Yes, you were an infant in arms when this march happened.


SHARPTON: And you were still very young when you lost your dad. But
you have become the minister, the voice (INAUDIBLE) How do you explain that
fire in you?

BERNICE A. KING: Well, I mean, other than the holy spirit -- that`s
where it comes from -- it also comes from growing up in a home where we
were taught about giving back service to our community, and also because my
mother was so passionate. And we could sense and feel and see her passion.
And I think that transferred to all of us in different and unique ways.
And that`s why I`m the person I am today.

SHARPTON: On Wednesday, the actual anniversary of the march, you have
the president, two former presidents, and cities around the country that
will be ringing a bell at the time your father delivered the "I have a
dream" speech. Tell us why that`s important and what the bell symbolizes
to you.

BERNICE A. KING: Well, as we know -- we hear a lot about "I have a
dream," but my father talked about freedom throughout his speech. And in
particular, he talked about, in the beginning, that five score years ago,
the great American, et cetera (ph). And he said, 100 years later, the
Negro is still not free. Then he talked about, Let freedom ring from all
these different places.

And so we`ve gotten, literally, cities all over this nation, including
the ones that he spoke about, ringing bells at 3:00 o`clock to symbolize a
moment where we reflect, remember and recommit to the ideals that he spoke

I really believe that when you create an energy field of something, at
the same time, there`s a human consciousness that is raised and it can
literally cause a tipping point. And we need that tipping point
desperately now, with everything that we`ve seen that has happened. The
convergence of so many things this year, in 2013, we need that kind of
consciousness, awareness in our nation and in our world.

It`s not just going to happen in America, it`s going to be all
throughout the world. And it`s important because this speech that he made
is not one of, but it is the only galvanizing speech in the world.

SHARPTON: You know, Elder King, that your mother, who I was
privileged to do some work with, with your brother, used to talk about -- I
remember one night, she said to me, Al, I have had to deal with racism and
sexism even in the movement.


SHARPTON: And one woman that has had to fight that is Randi
Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. And your
father had Walter Reuther and labor leaders that made this march happen 50
years ago, and she made this march happen this year because she said labor
and civil rights belong together.

Thank you for coming on the show with Elder King, Randi.



SHARPTON: Tell us why it was so important to you (SOUND DROP) and
teachers, teachers who, by the way, are becoming the scapegoats of layoffs
all over this country...


SHARPTON: ... why this march is important and this whole week.

WEINGARTEN: Well, you know, and I was a high school social studies
teacher, and I taught your father`s speech so many times in so many
classes. So -- and saw my kids have that galvanizing moment of saying this
man could speak in front of all those people and move them and move a
country and move a president. And you can see how it was a moment in a
classroom. And we do need it to be a tipping point.

So the point is the coalition in the march on Washington was a
coalition of labor and civil rights activists who knew that pulling power
together would be the only way to move a country. And the speech was -- if
I remember my history correctly, was for jobs and justice.


WEINGARTEN: And A. Philip Randolph talked about and your father knew
the essential intersection between economic justice...

BERNICE A. KING: Yes, he did.

WEINGARTEN: ... and civil rights. And so it was very important that,
coming together 50 years later, the issue about jobs, where we now have the
worst income inequality in the United States of America since the Great
Depression, where instead of the -- even though, rhetorically, people talk
about education all the time -- but we can`t just believe in something, we
must act on it. And we do not act on how to ensure a great public
education for all kids.

So instead of doing that, you see the scapegoating and the demonizing
and the marginalizing like you saw in the civil rights movement, just like
people did to your father. And so it felt like if we don`t bring the
coalition together of clergy, of civil rights activists, gay, straight,
black, white, brown, women, men and workers all together, we would not
actually do what we need to do 50 years later.

SHARPTON: What do you hope that we can lay in front the nation
tomorrow that will deal with working people and this economic inequality?

WEINGARTEN: Three things. Number one, if education is the highway to
economic opportunity, then we must together, not just parents and teachers
and kids, reclaim the promise of public education, great neighborhood
public schools that have -- that are welcoming and safe and have the
environment that kids need to thrive so they cannot only dream their
dreams, but achieve it.

Number two, we need as a society to focus on shared prosperity, to
focus on, as A. Philip Randolph said, a good wage -- a good job and a good
wage for all people who want it. And number three, we need to bring the
social and the economic justice movements together because -- and we need
to connect the dots because when there`s voter suppression, then there`s
wage suppression. When there is an inability for a black boy to walk in
the streets safely, then no one is safe.

And so we need to actually connect those dots between marriage
equality and immigration rights, and all of the other issues, to make this
a more just society and a more equal society.

SHARPTON: You know, Elder Bernice, one of the greatest honors in my
life was, I joined you and your brother on the balcony in Memphis on the
exact moment 40 years after your father was assassinated. I was the only
one up there with you all.

And I don`t think people understand the sacrifices that you all made.
You grew up without a father. And all he did was help people. Your mother
had to carry that burden and take all kinds of criticism even from other
civil rights leaders.

What has given you and your family the ability to suffer all that pain
and yet not take it personal, just keep going?

BERNICE A. KING: Well, I -- you know, I can just speak for me. I
said recently that, yes, I lost a father and lost many moments with having
that father at different intersections of my life. In some respects, we
lost some of the presence of our mother in the way we would have had her,
had my father still been here.

But my loss is the world`s gain. And I find comfort in that, to know
that he gave his life for the world, that my mother gave her life for the
world, for the advancement of the world.

And so even though there are moments when you say, Oh, you know, I
wish we would have had them more times than not, when you look at the fact
that our world is in a better place because of the sacrifice they made,
that brings me comfort and that brings me joy.

And me being in ministry and understanding the role and the sacrifice
that`s required for one who`s in ministry, then I have a peace about it.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m sure they are both very proud of you and Martin
and Dexter and what you all are doing and your ministry.

BERNICE A. KING: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Your mother was very proud of your ministry. Bernice King,
Elder Bernice King, and Randi Weingarten, thank you both for your time this

BERNICE A. KING: Thank you.

WEINGARTEN: Thank you. Appreciate it.

SHARPTON: Ahead, my interview with a living icon, a man who brought
the crowd to their feet that August day, Congressman John Lewis.


JOHN LEWIS, SNCC PRESIDENT: From the delta of Mississippi, in
southwest Georgia, (INAUDIBLE) Alabama, in Harlem, in Chicago, Detroit,
Philadelphia, and all over this nation, the black masses are on the march
for jobs and freedom!


SHARPTON: Plus, the force of labor vital to the civil rights
movement, vital to the success of the march on Washington.

And as we go to break, the beat of music at the heart of the day,
gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and her rendition of "How I Got Over" went
down in history.



WALTER REUTHER, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: I am here today with you because
with you, I share the view that the struggle for civil rights and the
struggle for equal opportunity is not the struggle of Negro Americans but
the struggle for every American to join in!



SHARPTON: Labor leaders from around the country were vital to the
success of the march on Washington because its focus touched the needs of
all communities. They were fighting for living wages, for decent
employment, needs that affect each and every American then and now.

Joining me now are Lee Saunders, president AFSCME, the nation`s
largest employee union, and Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National
Education Association. Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.



SHARPTON: Lee, let me start with you. It`s 50 years later, but the
message of the march still resonates and the issues are still before us.

SAUNDERS: Oh, there`s no question about it. We`ve still got to talk
about the creation of quality jobs in this country. We`ve still got to
talk about the fact that voting rights are trying to be taken away from us.
They`re trying to take it away. They`re trying to take our civil rights
away, workers` rights, collective bargaining, the issues that we were
confronted with in 1963, though we`ve made great advances, but the same
issues that were -- we confronted in 1963, we are confronted with right

And that`s why this march is so important. This is not just about a
commemoration. This march is about a rededication, a recommitment to what
we must do as a community. And it can`t be a one-day march. It`s got to
be a march where we sing the praises of 1963 tomorrow, we talk about the
challenges of today and tomorrow, and then we go into our communities from
now into the future and talk about what kind of country we want to really
live in.

SHARPTON: You know, Dennis, the educational policies in this country
-- the right wing has said, on one hand, we want to be the ones to bring
education to the next level, but we`re going to defund it, we`re going to
privatize it, we`re going to take away teachers` wages. I can`t think of a
more important civil right in this country than the democratization of
education and taking care of those workers that make it work.

VAN ROEKEL: Absolutely. You know, when we talk about jobs and
freedom, the road to make that happen all across this country, and
especially for every single citizen in America and the kids, our next
generation -- that`s going to go through education.

I think one of the really special things about this march -- we
reached back into our retired membership and we found a whole group who had
been there in 1963, and we`ve got them here and they`re talking to people.
And we also did a two-day training with young people.

We forget sometimes how young all those people were who were at that
march in 1963. And we`ve got to do both. And Lee hit it on the head. By
engaging and training these young people to be activists, we`re going to
make sure the dream lives on beyond this year way into the future.

SHARPTON: You know, Lee, Dr. King went to Memphis and was killed
helping a strike of the local of your union. And you go back every year
and help that local commemorate. But that showed how closely labor and
civil rights worked together then. Walter Reuther we saw from UAW, but
even Southern locals were so intricately involved in the movement.

And that`s what we`ve tried to rebuild and have done so with this
march this 50 years later. If we all are together, this is a power that
can`t be resisted.

SAUNDERS: I believe you`re exactly right. Dr. King understood this.
He understood that this was a fight about civil rights. This was a fight
about human rights. This was a fight about labor rights, economic rights,
workers` rights. And he was able to merge all of those kinds of arguments
and all of those kinds of segments in our society, and we came together.

That coalition came together because of his work, and we must never,
ever forget that. And that`s why we`re commemorating this march,
commemorating the 1963 march tomorrow, but we`re going to work towards the
future and ensure that we have quality jobs, quality education, workers`
rights, civil rights and human rights and voting rights.

SHARPTON: Dennis, when they left 50 years ago, by the next year, `64,
they had the Civil Rights Act, by `65, the Voting Rights Act. What do you
hope we can leave here and accomplish in the next couple of years?

VAN ROEKEL: Well, wouldn`t it be wonderful just to have them
introduced in this Congress? But we`ve got to get Congress to understand
that the road forward in this country is what Lee talked about, it`s about
economic rights and voting rights and engaging all citizens, not just some.

So as we look forward, I hope we start a new movement, something that
engages young and old and everyone in between to say the America we have
today is not the America we want in the future. And it`s going to take all
of us working together to make that dream come alive.

SHARPTON: Lee, we have a midterm election, people already doing voter
suppression, voter ID, ending early voting. How important is protecting
the vote, the right to vote and registering voters?

SAUNDERS: Oh, it`s the number one priority. I mean, we`ve got to
recognize that if we don`t have that right to vote, if we let these voter
rights advocates try to take away our right to vote, then we`re going to
lose in 2014, and everything that Dr. King fought for and so many of our
allies and coalition partners fought for would have been for naught.

We have got to make sure through Congress and through our communities
that we make people understand the importance of what they are trying to do
as far as trying to steal our voices and steal our voting rights away from
us. That`s why it`s so important. We`ve got to go back to our
communities, Al, after tomorrow. We`ve got to educate, we`ve got to
mobilize, we`ve got to organize not only for tomorrow and the next day, but
up until 2014 and beyond.

SHARPTON: Now, Dennis, we have these voter rights questions, but we
also have right to work states, union busters, where they glorify in trying
to break the unions, like if the unions are doing something wrong. I mean,
it`s the most ugly, anti-human climate I`ve heard since studying about it
when I was a kid. How do you combat that?

VAN ROEKEL: You know, I think sometimes we forget how we got rid of
child labor, how we got to 40-hour work week, how we got vacation and
health care for workers. None of those were given to us by benevolent
CEOs. It was by engaging the voice of middle class America.

What made America great was the fact that we built this strong middle
class, and that was done by labor in this country. It was coming together,
giving a voice to the common, everyday guy who`s going to work every day,
and every woman. That`s what we need again.

We`ve got to raise everybody`s level of compensation and rights and
responsibility, not just some.

SHARPTON: You know, Lee, in Detroit, where they just filed
bankruptcy, they are actually talking about messing with people`s pension.
A city that the auto billionaires` companies got bailed out, and they`re
talking about taking workers` pensions. I mean, and people want to know
why we`re marching?

SAUNDERS: You know, the retirees` pensions in Detroit average $19,000
a year. Yet they want to attack the workers. They want to attack

We`ve got to say no, we are not going to let that happen. They are
using workers as scapegoats. And that`s one of the reasons that we`re out
here tomorrow and we`re going to be here until we`re able to fight
successfully for workers` rights all over this country.

It is a shame that folks would go after a retiree who makes $19,000 a
year, expecting that they can sacrifice more. We`ve got to say no to that,
Al, all of us, our communities, our coalition partners, labor unions.
We`ve got to say that that`s unacceptable in the richest country on the
face of the earth.

SHARPTON: You know, Dennis, the speech we all remember was "I have a
dream," but the person that called this march 50 years ago was a labor
leader named A. Philip Randolph.

VAN ROEKEL: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Let`s watch A. Philip Randolph.


A. PHILIP RANDOLPH, MARCH ORGANIZER: We believe that it is one of the
biggest, most creative and constructive demonstrations ever held in the
history of our nation.


SHARPTON: So Randolph called the march and brought this coalition of
labor and civil rights together. And that`s really in a 21st century
version of what we are trying to do and believe will do tomorrow.

VAN ROEKEL: Absolutely. And one of the phrases that I think we all
need to take from this -- and Lee said it very well, but when Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., was speaking to us, he talked about the urgency of now.
It`s not a time to wait. It`s not a time to stand back or sit down. It`s
a time to rise up, speak out, and come together and say we can do better as
a nation.

And together, all of us, can make it right for the youngest, the
oldest and everyone in between. The urgency of now. We`ve got to make
something happen.

SHARPTON: Lee Saunders and Dennis Van Roekel, thanks for coming on
the show tonight. And we will certainly see you in the morning.

SAUNDERS: Thanks for having us.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, my interview with a living icon, Congressman
John Lewis from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. You`re watching the
continuing coverage of a special edition of POLITICS NATION live from
Lincoln Memorial.


DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: When we allow freedom ring, when we let
it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every
city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God`s children,
black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will
be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,
Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last!





FRANK MCGEE, NBC NEWS: We will attempt to define the whole course,
the scope, the methods, the purpose, the results so far of what we are
calling the American revolution of `63.


SHARPTON: Reporters were already calling it a revolution. The NBC
News reports from the march on Washington showed the entire country what
was happening in D.C. One reporter was literally surrounded by marchers
singing for freedom at Union Station.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) from the concourse at Union Station
while the marchers around me are singing their great songs (INAUDIBLE)


SHARPTON: Another reporter was staked out at the White House,
describing President Kennedy`s action that day.


SANDER VANOCUR, NBC NEWS: In approximately 30 minutes, the leaders of
the march on Washington will come here to see President Kennedy. The
president has watched the march -- he watched it this morning and then this
afternoon on television -- during the regular business he conducted.


SHARPTON: The march was front page news across the country. "The New
York Times" called it an orderly rally and included excerpts from Dr.
King`s speech. And an interesting note. "The Washington Post`s" front
page story actually made no mention Dr. King`s speech. Americans would
learn about it anyway. Fifty years ago, the march on Washington was
already on its way into the history books.


MCGEE: NBC News coverage of the march on Washington will continue
after this message.

MARIAN ANDERSON, CONTRALTO: He`s got the whole world in his hands,
he`s got the big round world in his hands, he`s got the wide world in his
hands, he`s got the whole world in his hands.




REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We are tired of being beaten by
policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and
over again and you holler be patient. How long can we be patient? We want
our freedom and we want it now.


SHARPTON: At 23 years old, Congressman John Lewis was the youngest
speaker at the march on Washington. He is also the last surviving speaker
from that day. He went on to become one of the key players in ending
racial segregation in this country. I had the honor of talking with the
congressman this morning about his memories from that historic day 50 years


LEWIS: I must say, I feel more than lucky but very blessed to be able
to stand here 50 years later and to see the progress we have made. And
just to see the changes have occurred. If someone had told me 50 years ago
that an African-American would be in the White House as the president, I
probably would ha said you`re crazy. You are out of your mind. You don`t
know what you`re talking about. The country is a different country and
we`re better people.

SHARPTON: Now, when we get to Washington, when all of the marchers
and the leaders get here, one of the big six is in jail in Louisiana, James
Farmer (ph), the head of court. Couldn`t even come because he was in jail
from protest. The tension behind the stage here was over your speech.

LEWIS: By the forces of our demands, our determination, and our
numbers, we should split a segregated south into a thousand pieces and put
them together in the image of God and democracy. We must say wake up,
wreck many, wake up. For we will not stop and we will not be patient.

SHARPTON: They wanted to change a line, I understand, in your speech.
Tell us about that.

LEWIS: Nearly end of the speech, near the very end, I said something
like if we do not see meaningful progress today, the day may come, but we
will not confine our march in the Washington. But we may be forced to
march through the south, the way Sherman did non-violently. They said no,
you can`t say that. And the archbishop of the diocese in Washington during
that said not to give implication but I didn`t change the speech.

We met right on this side of Lincoln and we had a portable typewriter.
And the executive secretary of the student non-violent organization, who
was typing. Phillip Randolph (ph)was there, Dr. King, Mr. Will
(INAUDIBLE). And Doctor King said to me, John, can we change that? I said
that doesn`t sound like you, John. I know you. And Mr. Randolph said
John, we have come this far together. Let`s stay together. Now, can we
make those changes? I couldn`t say no to A. Phillip Randolph, just
principle man. I couldn`t say no to Martin Luther King Jr.

SHARPTON: As you walked to the podium here to speak, what was going
through your mind. You have been in the trenches, you`d been arrested.
You faced all that. What were you thinking when you stood here and looked
out at that?

LEWIS: When I stood here and looked out and saw the sea of humanity,
I was gratified. I was deeply moved and inspired so many people had turned
out. You know, some people say there was 250,000 people. I think it was
many more. I think it was a great moment then. I looked to my right and I
saw all of these young people standing there, just cheering. And then I
looked to my left, I saw young men Black and White, up in the trees trying
to get a better view of the podium and the Lincoln Memorial. And I looked
straight ahead and I saw all of these people with their shoes off, their
feet in the water trying to cool off. I looked straight ahead and I said
to myself, this is it and I started speaking.

Those saying be patient and wait, we must say we cannot be patient.
We do not want our freedom gradually. But we want to be free now.

Two days after the march was over with was the terrible bombing of
that church with a full of (INAUDIBLE). It was a sad and dark hour for the
movement. It just tore at the essence of our heart. I went to Birmingham
Sunday morning and I cried and cried. But I made up my mind to go into
Selma and go to other parts of the south and that`s exactly what we did to
gain and fight for the right to vote.

SHARPTON: You were beat on the Edmond Pettus Bridge within inches of
your life, Jose Williams. And that really led to the voting rights act of
`65. And now as you will speak here tomorrow with Martin III and I and
others that have called this, you are the hero and the symbol to all of us
that grew up watching you like you watched Dr. King. And you have a Black
president in the White House, a Black attorney general who will be at the
march with us. But we still have challenges. How do we compare the
challenges of today with the challenges 50 years ago?

LEWIS: I got to inspire another generation of young people. Blacks
and Whites, Latinos, Asian-American, native-American. All of us got to
push and pull and we`ve got to get out there because there are forces and
not just forces in the American south. But forces all across our country
that want to take us back to another period. And we got to say we`re not
going back. We have come too far now to stop or to go back. I think the
march 50 years ago set so much in motion. It changed this country forever
and we will never be the same.


SHARPTON: That was my interview with Congressman John Lewis from the
steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was an honor to speak with him there in
that time and place.

Next, the powerful drive of the ordinary people who fueled this
movement. They inspired the man who inspired the nation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My country this of thee. Sweet land of liberty of
thee I sing. Land where my fathers` died. Land of the Pilgrims pride.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.


LEWIS: I`ll get reflections from two who were there including the
young woman in this iconic photograph now all grown up.

And as we go to break, the day was as lively as it was historic. It
included moments of humor from comedy legend Dick Gregory.


DICK GREGORY, COMEDIAN: I can`t tell you how elated I am over,
looking out at so many of our smiling faces and to be honored with you.
The last time I`ve seen this many of us was doing all the talking. Thank



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Dr. King came out, he was this little guy.
And I said look at this guy. He`s a little guy. But he came out and took
the mic and he just absolutely mesmerized a quarter of a million people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hatred left me that day because I saw a lot of
love permeating around this grassy knoll. Hot summer day in August of 1963
changed a 17-year-old girl.


SHARPTON: The march on Washington changed countless lives, but none
more than the young people who were there.

Edith Lee Payne celebrated her birthday on August 28th, 1963. Her
picture that day has become an iconic image of the march and the young
people fighting to make this country a better place.

Joining me now is that little girl, Edith Lee-Payne, all grown up now.
Also with us is Michael Grunko who was just 17-years-old when he went to
the march on Washington.

Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Edith, your picture has become a famous picture of the
march, but you first saw that photo just a few years ago. How did you find
out about it?

LEE-PAYNE: Well, my cousin, Marsha, was browsing a catalog of
calendars and she saw my picture on the back of this calendar and to my
surprise and amazement, it was me.

SHARPTON: Why were you here at the march on your 12th birthday?

LEE-PAYNE: My mother, Dorothy Lee, had experienced some of the
problems in the south in her travels as an entertainer. She wanted to
stand up with everyone else for the injustices that people were
experiencing and she of course wanted me to be with her to do that.

SHARPTON: Now, Michael, you grew up in Maine, far away from the
problems and obviously you were not an African-American. Why was it so
important for you to stand up and be a part of this march?

GRUNKO: I was a Jewish kid growing up in Bangor, and my father had
come over from Poland. My parents had experienced discrimination because
of their religion. My dad changed his name from Gruski to Grunko so that
he would be less somatic (ph), a person can change their skin color.

But I had the opportunity because almost by accident I joined the
NAACP in the spring of `63. And then in the summer in June and July I got
a phone call from the president of the Maine NAACP saying, do you want to
be a youth representative to the march on Washington? And I turned to my
family and I said I would like to go. And my aunt from Brooklyn, New York,
said they will kill him. He will die. And I waited until she left, and
then I talked to my dad and then my mom. And they said OK. So, I hopped
on a greyhound bus and the bus took me to Lewiston, Maine, and we met
somebody and went to Boston. And there were 30 buses in Boston. And the
six of us from Poorman (ph) climbed on and drove through the night and came
to Baltimore for breakfast and as I --

SHARPTON: How was it traveling to the march?

GRUNKO: Everything got erased by the sense of coming into a bus full
of people, people of color who were full of the spirit. Who were singing
the songs, who were going someplace to going to speak truth to power, going
to stand witness for the righteous cause that they were standing for.

And as we were pulling down route 1 down New York avenue here in
Washington, I noticed that not only was every -- was the lane of buses
going south full, but they turned the northbound lane into a southbound
lane and there were two lanes of buses streaming into Washington. At that
point what I thought was big, I realized was huge.

SHARPTON: You know, Edith, I want you to listen to the photographer
who took your picture. And listen to what he has to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was shooting and I looked over and saw this
young black girl, really beautiful, very serious and interested in what was
happening. And I did a picture of her that`s turned out to be the -- she
turned out to be the poster child for not only the march, but her image is
all over. It`s a terrific image. I`m very, very proud of it.


SHARPTON: You know, you were only 12-years-old that day. And do you
remember what you were thinking about during the march?

LEE-PAYNE: I do. I remember thinking, even before coming to the
march, but I remember thinking how important it was, because living in --
growing up in Detroit, Michigan, I lived the dream that Dr. King talked
about. I lived in an integrated neighborhood. We rode the bus. My mother
and I, she didn`t drive. We ate at lunch counters. I went to an
integrated church.

So, when I heard that people in the south couldn`t do the things that
I did, while I knew the constitution and the declaration of independence
and recited the pledge of allegiance every day, one nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, that`s what I expected the
entire country to do. Thankfully, Dr. King stood up for that, for those
people that weren`t able to do those things. And this was the passion that
I felt on that day.

SHARPTON: What do you most remember about the speeches and the
program that day, Michael? Anything? You were 17 at the time. Anything
stand out in your mind?

GRUNKO: You know, it was this sense, the sea of humanity of Black
people and White people, and the voices of the speakers, of John Lewis and
of all the other speakers, the music. I can remember Peter, Paul, and Mary
singing and it was this, you know, it was inspiring. It was a sense that
this was going to be a nonviolent, a hugely impressive show that people
were standing together and standing up for what was right.

SHARPTON: Edith, I see you brought me some banners of the march and
this is beautiful. And your mother brought you to the march. I understand
you brought your granddaughters. You all drove all the way from Detroit to
march with us here tomorrow.

LEE-PAYNE: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Bring them up. Come on up. These are your granddaughters
from Detroit, that drove with you to be a part of the march. So, you`re
doing with them what your mom did with you.


SHARPTON: Isn`t that wonderful?


SHARPTON: Well, we`re proud of you and we`re proud of you, and 50
years later, you lived to tell the story.

Edith Lee-Payne, and Michael Grunko, thank you both for your time

GRUNKO: Thank you.

LEE-PAYNE: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the dream continues. Lessons from the march on
Washington that we can carry with us as we march on.

And as we go to break, reflections on the march from one of our
greatest actors, Marlon Brando, and one of our greatest writers, James


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt there was no reason not to be involved with
what is one of the most significant, most important, and most noted
demonstrations to free Americans that has ever happened in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone said that the march is not so strong as an
idea whose time has come, and certainly the time has come for civil rights.
This is a northern problem, an eastern problem, a western problem, and it`s
our mutual problem and I think when you contribute to it and I contribute
to some solution of it, and all these people here in history will solve it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a dream. My four little children will one
day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their
skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.


SHARPTON: In 50 years, this country has made tremendous progress.
But the effort to change this country for the better still lives on. And
that`s something the president, President Obama reflected on during an
event at a university in upstate New York earlier today.


march on Washington and the "I have a dream" speech, obviously, we have
made enormous strides. I`m a testament to it, you`re a testament to it.
The diversity of this room and, you know, the students who are here is a
testimony to it.

And that impulse towards making sure everybody gets a fair shot, is
one that found expression in the civil rights movement, but then spread to
include Latinos and immigrants and gays and lesbians and, you know, what`s
wonderful to watch is that the younger generation seems -- each generation
seems wiser in terms of wanting to treat people fairly, and do the right
thing, and not discriminate. And that`s a great victory that we should all
be very proud of.

On the other hand, I think what we have also seen is that the legacy
of discrimination, slavery, Jim Crow, has meant that, you know, some of the
institutional barriers for success for a lot of groups still exist.


SHARPTON: A lot still exist, which is why on tomorrow, 50 years
later, we gather at the same place to march and to stand up and say the
dream that Dr. King expressed 50 years ago is a dream that has not been
achieved yet. Yes, we can celebrate that we have come a long way in 50
years. An African-American president, an African-American attorney
general, African-American governor, African-American CEOs. Women have
moved forward. The LBGT community have moved forward. There`s been
progress. But we still have a long way to go.

Look at the moves of trying to stifle voters, voter suppression. Look
at how women still only make 77 cents to a dollar to men. Look at the high
immigration problems and the great problems that we face for Latinos, for
workers. We`re not there yet. And we cannot have a celebration without a

We owe it to Dr. King. We owe it to Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner.
We owe it to Medgar Evers. Those that thought enough of us to lay down
their lives that we not sit back now and lounge on the couches of
indifference, when we ought to say, thank you to them, by continuing to
finish the course.

They ran the rough rounds. We can finish the easy rounds and complete
the manifestation and the actualizing of the dream of Dr. King.

I`m Al Sharpton. Thanks for watching this special edition of
"Politics Nation," live from Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., where we
all triumph to advance the dream.


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