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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

August 28, 2013

Guests: Marcia Fudge; Martin O`Malley, Joy Reid, Joan Walsh, David Garrow, Gary Younge

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight`s lead, the dream lives
on 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired the nation.
America`s first African-American president reminded us -- reminded all of
us that today`s economic inequities mean there`s still much more work to

I was there for the day`s commemoration as some 100,000 people
gathered to hear more than 200 speakers. Everyone from former presidents,
Carter and Clinton, activists and civil rights leaders. At points there
was a spontaneous song.


ANDREW YOUNG, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: I don`t know about you, but -- I
woke up with my mind stayed on freedom.


SHARPTON: And even celebrities joined in echoing Dr. King`s words.


OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS: And as the bells toll today at 3:00, let us
ask ourselves how will the dream live on in me and you and all of us?


SHARPTON: And those bells did toll. On the national mall and all
over the country, they rang to commemorate Dr. King`s call to let freedom
ring. And then on the very same steps from which Dr. King addressed the
country decades earlier, President Obama brought the point of today home.

Today is not just about commemorating the dream, but advancing it.
Because those who came before us worked too hard, sacrificed too much for
us not to keep working.


heart breaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered and never
died. And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they
marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, a voting
rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and
education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a
life for themselves not shining somebody else`s shoes. Because they
marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress
changed and, yes, eventually the White House changed.


SHARPTON: America has changed. But this country still yearns for
economic justice and every one of us can help create change. No matter who
we are or what we do.


OBAMA: The mother who pours her love into her daughters so she grows
up with the confidence to walk through the doors as anybody`s son, she`s
marching. The father who realizes the most important job he will ever have
is raising his boy right even if he didn`t have a father. Especially if he
didn`t have a father at me, he`s marching. The battle scarred veterans who
devote themselves not only to help and their fellow warriors stand and walk
and run again but to keep serving their country when they come home, they
are marching. Everyone who realizes what those glorious patrons knew on
that day that change does not come from Washington but to Washington. The
change has always been built on our willingness, we the people, to take on
the mantel of citizenship, you are marching.

And that`s the lesson of our past. That`s the promise of tomorrow.
But in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can
change it. And when millions of Americans of every race and every region,
every faith and every station can join together in a spirit of brotherhood,
then those mountains will be made low and those rough places will be made
plain and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace and we
will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the
creed as one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.


SHARPTON: We are all marching. And just like the president, we`re
not going to quit until Dr. King`s dream is realized.

Joining me now are two people who spoke at the march today also,
Governor Martin O`Malley, Democrat from Maryland and Congresswoman Marcia
Fudge, Democrat from Ohio and the chair of the congressional black caucus.

Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.


REP. MARCIA FUDGE (D), OHIO: Thank you so much for having me.

SHARPTON: Governor O`Malley, a powerful day, first of all.

O`MALLEY: It was tremendous.

SHARPTON: And there is work to do.

O`MALLEY: Absolutely. And a lot of this work is happening in states
and sadly some of the examples are states that are going backwards. But
there are other states, like my own state of Maryland, where even in this
recession, we have done the things that advance the cause of justice that
are also good for creating jobs. We were named by the U.S. chamber number
one for innovation and entrepreneurship and we also have the highest
minority business goals and we are hitting them. Highest women`s -- number
of women-owned firms starting new business. So, this new cause of
expanding opportunity, creating a stronger middle class is tied hand in
glove with making our society more just and more inclusive.

SHARPTON: That`s the kind of things that concern me, Congresswoman,
is that we had the big march on Saturday that you spoke at for us. And
then, today, is that we don`t get caught just with the rhetoric and with
the commemorating, but not really do the work to really continue to fulfill
the dream and one of those things are jobs.

What can we see as a possibility of the Congress dealing with some of
the issues that we`ve laid out over the last few days like job creation,
like voting rights? What is the climate in Congress or do we have to put
more pressure on the congress?

FUDGE: First let me say, Reverend Al, thank you and National Action
Network for all of the work over the events of the last four, five days.
It has been tremendous. And I think I can say for myself, as well as other
members of the congressional black caucus, we not feel in any way tired.
We have been invigorated, we have been energized, and we are going to do
everything in our power to see that there is in fact a jobs bill passed.
And certainly we do need the help of everyone to say to your Congress
people, let`s get together and do some work.

We need to be talking about how we put infrastructure programs in
place. We need to talk about a jobs program. We need to talk about better
schools. We need to talk about a plot of things that here to for the
Congress has ignored. So, we would accept any help you can give us. But
understand that members of the CBC are going to continue to fight this
fight from the time we walk back into our offices in two weeks until we
have no more strength to fight.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor, the president also said that through
equality demands economic justice. Watch this.


OBAMA: The men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in
search of some abstract idea. They were there seeking jobs as well as
justice. Not just the absence of oppression, but the presence of economic
opportunity. For what does a prophet of man, Dr. King would ask, to say
that an integrated lunch if he can`t afford the meal.


SHARPTON: So as the president talked about economic justice in the
speech today and the march 50 years ago was for jobs and freedom. And you
are state, you say that is moving towards creating jobs, why are w not
seeing that in other states, Governor? And what do we do to really press
the nation and deal with the higher unemployment rate particularly in the
communities of color that the president and some others of us raise today
doubles that above is the same as it was in `63.

O`MALLEY: As the Congresswoman fights our noble fight in the halls of
Congress, there are examples of states that are actually making the
investments in infrastructure and creating jobs.

That`s what we`ve done in our state. Our state also invested more
rather than less in the education of our children and we closed the
achievement gap between black and white children by greater amounts than
virtually any other state in the country.

What does that mean for the bottom line of job creation? It means
that our state is now creating jobs faster last year than any state in our
region. We had the highest median income and we`re not done yet. And even
the U.S. chamber of commerce gives us kudos for being number one in

I think one of the things that is going on in our country in addition
to forwarding the justice agenda is our economy`s changing. And if we want
a more innovative economy where prosperity is growing and we are being more
creative, then we have to be more inclusive. They both go together. And I
think that`s when the president and others spoke about the brightness on
America`s horizon, I believe that`s what they were talking about. It was a
great day today because it reminded us our best days are ahead of us.

SHARPTON: You know, Congresswoman, the president reminded us that
change doesn`t happen on its own as well. And as I hear Governor O`Malley
talk about infrastructure and what he`s doing in Maryland, the kinds of
things that we need to see change doesn`t happen on its own. Let me show
you what the president said.


OBAMA: The art of moral universe may bend towards justice, but it
doesn`t bend on its own. To secure the gain this country has made requires
constant vigilance, not complacency and will suffer the occasional setback.
But we will win these fights. This country has changed too much. People
of goodwill regardless of party are too plentiful for those with ill will
to change history`s currents.


SHARPTON: So, we see this, the president is saying, the arch has to
be bent. Well, we got real problems. You have got voting rights of many
states changing the laws, we have unemployment. We have criminal justice
matters. What do we do? Do we leave here just feeling good? Are we going
to really have a real fight in these issues, Congresswoman?

FUDGE: You know what, Reverend Al? There are a couple of things we
need to do. First off, we have to understand there is a dignity and worth
that comes with being able to work a decent job for decent pay. We need to
first fight to make sure that we raise the minimum wage. Our corporations
in this country and businesses are making more money than they have ever
made. We need to be sure that the people who work hard every day benefit
from some of that. So we have to raise the minimum wage because young
people today cannot afford to live on $7.25 an hour.

We have to not only do that, but we have to give people a decent and a
safe place to live. We have to train young people so that they are
prepared for the jobs of the future. Education is still the pathway out of
poverty. And so we have to do the things as we can as a nation do very
easily by putting the resources in education, by making sure that people do
have a decent place to live, and by giving people a livable wage. Those
are things --

SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there, Congresswoman.

Thank you Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, chair of the congressional black
congratulations. And Maryland governor Martin O`Malley.

Thank you for being with me tonight.

FUDGE: Thank you.

O`MALLEY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, on this historic day we`ll hear more from the
president, the former presidents, the activists, and the celebrities and a
common theme from the day. There`s still more work to do. We`ll talk
about that ahead.

Plus, it`s a speech that lives forever and a day that`s celebrated but
not all political leaders embrace the dream. We have got footage from hour
after the speech.

And we will hear from Congressman John Lewis, the last surviving
speaker from the march from the same exact spot he spoke 50 years ago

This is a special edition "Politics Nation." Stay with us.


REV. BERNICE KING, DR. KING`S DAUGHTER: We must seize this moment.
The dawning of a new day. The emergence of a new generation who is
postured to change the world through collaborative power facilitated by
unconditional love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we freedom ring from every village and
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 Negro spirit free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are
free at last.



SHARPTON: The march to complete the dream continues. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Tens of thousands of people gathered today to mark the 50th
anniversary of the march on Washington. It was a celebration of the
progress we`ve made since Dr. King`s speech, but it was also a reminder of
the work that remains.

President Obama talked about fighting the economic disparities in the


OBAMA: This has already been noted. Black unemployment has remained
almost twice as high as White unemployment. Latino unemployment close
behind. The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it`s grown.

We must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who
marched 50 years ago was not merely how many Blacks could ranks of
millionaires. It was whether this country would admit all people who are
willing to work hard, regardless of race, into the ranks of a middle class


SHARPTON: Former president Clinton also talked about fighting back.


discouraged by a Supreme Court decision that said we don`t need this
critical provision of the voting rights act. A great democracy does not
make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.


SHARPTON: Barriers to voting rights, to economic rights, to civil
rights. These are the very real challenges we still face. But Congressman
John Lewis, the last surviving speaker from the march on Washington,
reminded us that we can`t lose sight of how far we have come.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Some time I hear people saying nothing
has changed, but for someone to grow up the way I grew up in the cotton
fields of Alabama to now be serving in the United States Congress makes me
want to tell them come and walk in my shoes. So I say to each one of us
today, we must never, ever give up. We must never, ever give in. We must
keep the faith and keep our eye on the prize.


SHARPTON: We have a long way to go, but our eyes are on the prize.

Joining me now are Joy Reid and Joan Walsh.

Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Joy, what a day. But why is it so important to remind
people of the work that`s still ahead?

REID: You know, I think it`s important first of all because I think
we never should lose sight of history and be cognizant of it. And just, as
a history buff, this is incredible seeing these three presidents hearing
President Carter speak of personal links to the King family, hearing from
two of Martin Luther King`s children and their sort of advancing their
father`s vision. But I think it`s also important because these kinds of
events, these kinds of marches, kinds of remembrance are a call to action
and a reminder that it takes every person that was in the audience, not
just the people on stage, to continue to advance that vision of economic
and social justice.

SHARPTON: Now Joy -- well, let me go to you, Joan. You know,
fighting economic inequality. That was one of the big themes of the
president`s speech. Let`s listen to what else he said.


OBAMA: The test was not and never has been whether the doors of
opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. This is whether our
economic system provides a fair shot for the many. For the Black custodian
and White steel worker. The immigrant dishwasher and the Native American
veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call, this remains our great
unfinished business.


SHARPTON: Joan, our great unfinished business. Why do you think this
is the struggle the president wanted to emphasize today?

WALSH: Well, Reverend Al, one of the things I love so much about this
entire week of celebration and commemoration, is that I fell that we really
recaptured something that had been lost to history to some extent. That
the march was about jobs and freedom. And that the march was organized
primarily in the beginning by A. Phillip Randolph, a wonderful labor
organizer. And the extent it had support from White people, it was
segments not all but major segments of the labor movement as well as the
churches and Jewish communities. So, it was really just White people and
it was White labor people.

And they knew a lot of things others didn`t seem to know at the time.
They knew about the coming industrialization. They knew people that jobs
for people, Black and White, without a college degree, without maybe even a
high school diploma were getting more scarce. They called for public works
jobs which we still to this day need to repair our infrastructure but also
to give -- to put people on that first rung of opportunity that we have
basically wiped out.

And I think they also saw that government had done a very good job of
creating a vast middle class in the years after World War II. It was time
to open the doors to a diverse middle class. And that`s when somehow we
didn`t seem to have the money or the will to do that. So it`s really -- it
was really crucial to reclaim that part of the history, because that was
always central to the march.

SHARPTON: But Joy, that`s part of the tension that I have because the
unemployment rate in the country has really gone up and down. But in the
last 50 years since the first march, Black unemployment has consistently
been twice as high as white unemployment. Income equality has never been a
greater issue in this country in the last 30 years. The richest 20 percent
have seen their income rise 281 percent. While the poorest only rose 16
percent. How do we fight this inequality?

REID: Yes, Rev., and even to add to that, you know, it`s a much more
complicated economy now, too, right? In 1963 you hadn`t had globalization
really take a bite out of the U.S. manufacturing that way it has. And as
the president said, a lot of those jobs, lot of those opportunities have
gone and are not coming back.

So we have to refocus on now how public and private can sort of work
together to create -- look. You want a sustainable middle class, but a
sustainable middle class. And on that chart, you showed when African-
American unemployment did dip down in the 1990s, well, all of those gains
in terms of wealth were wiped out by the 2008 recession. So, you don`t
have a middle class whether you are talking about African-Americans, other
minorities or White Americans who are sort of stuck at the bottom of the
middle class. You don`t have a way to keep those gains even when you get

So, this is a challenge especially when you have a Congress, I have to
say, where a large part of the House of Representatives won`t even look at
a jobs bill, won`t look at infrastructure spending. How do you do it if
the government is paralyzing itself because we don`t want to do any
spending domestically.

SHARPTON: Joan, another major inequality we face is the criminal
justice system. A problem that starts from birth. Take, for example, a
white male child born in 2001 had six percent chance of spending time in
jail. While a black male child born then had a 32 percent chance of
spending time in jail. The president also addressed this inequalities in a
criminal justice system today. Listen to this.


OBAMA: Whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the
vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all and the
criminal justice system is not just a pipeline from underfunded schools to
overcrowded jails. It requires individual vigilance.


SHARPTON: Why was it important for the president to talk about
underfunded school to overcrowded jails, Joan?

WALSH: Well, because the school to prison pipeline, Reverend Al, must
become a main stream part of our discourse and not something that only
progressives talk about and racial justice people. Because it`s real.
It`s the most effective machine of movement of social movement in our
society that we have. It`s just moving in the wrong direction.

And so I think people were happy to hear that from the president. And
they are happy to see the beginnings of attorney general Holder reckoning
with this and doing what he can do in terms of prosecutorial discretion on
sentencing for certain drug crimes. But there`s more to be done.

SHARPTON: Joy Reid and Joan Walsh, thank you for your time tonight.

WALSH: Thank you.

REID: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the historic link between President Obama`s rise and
Dr. King`s legacy. That you may not know about.

And it`s a day to celebrate, but not all political leaders embraced
the dream. The tapes you might not have seen. Stay with us.



DOCTOR LUTHER KING JR., ACTIVIST: 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



SHARPTON: Americans across the country came together to commemorate
the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington. It`s a deeply emotional
for so many. On Saturday many came to march with us and tell their stories
about advancing the dream.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I was at the original march in 1963. That was 50
years ago, just being close to all of the people and Martin Luther King and
hearing his speech, that just did it for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m 75 years old. And I think this something that
everyone should be here doing trying to further the dream as well --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Martin Luther King did not die not for black
people, you know. He lived -- it`s not how he died but how he lived. He
lived for all humanity. And so, we ought to be that example, then we must
to forget about the of -- one stand but persevere to have --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The world is so much different. And just like
Reverend Al said today, there`s no way you would dream that we would have
had had an African-American president in this day and time. So, America
has evolved but there`s still more work to do for all people.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Everyone here to work together for the same
common cause. Make it happen.



SHARPTON: Today Dr. King`s I have a dream speech is widely
celebrated, but 50 years ago not everyone believed in the dream. Far from
it. Just hours after the speech, here`s what some southern senators told
NBC News.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Negroes in this country, more refrigerated and
more automobiles than they do in any other country. They have better feed,
they`ve got clothes, they`ve got a house here than in any other country in
the world. No one is deprived of freedom. I know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What I decided and plan to fight for is the right
of a man to choose the neighbors among who will live, the rights to decide
who he`s going to trade with, who he wants to do business with, who he
wants to associate with. When you see white folks on the demonstration, if
they want to -- mad, that`s fine. If somebody wants to be left alone by
those people, I think he`s entitled to be left alone too.


SHARPTON: And two months after the march, J. Edgar Hoover, head of
the FBI, began wiretapping Dr. King`s phone. A year after the march, just
10 percent of whites said mass demonstrations helped the cause of racial
equality. And 81 percent of whites said, demonstrations hurt the cause.
History did not render its verdict on the march on Washington overnight.
It would take time, decades even, before the full meaning of the march
became clear.

Joining me now is David Garrow, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book
"Bearing the Cross." Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, and Gary Younge, nation author whose new book is
called "The Speech: The Story Behind Martin Luther King`s Dream." Thank
you both for joining me tonight.

GARY YOUNGE, AUTHOR, "THE SPEECH": Thanks for having me.


SHARPTON: David, we celebrate the march on Washington, but tell us
about the criticism. What was the reaction some might not have heard of?

GARROW: It`s a tribute to the voting rights act of 1965, Reverend
that the sort of southern white segregationist opinion captured so
powerfully in that old footage has virtually disappeared from American
politics. And indeed virtually disappeared from American politics by the
time that President Carter whom we all saw today entered the White House in
1977. I think a lot of younger people today probably aren`t aware of just
how virulent that open segregationist racism against black people was. The
degree of violence that the civil rights movement encountered the south was
a reflection of just how intense some of that hatred was.

SHARPTON: But David, it wasn`t only in the south. Because three
years after the march in a Gallup poll found that most Americans period,
held unfavorable views of Dr. King himself. Thirty three percent had a
favorable view. Sixty six percent had an unfavorable view. David, you
wrote an extensive book, won a Pulitzer Prize on studying Dr. King. Dr.
King was not this universally loved figure at the height of his career.

GARROW: Exactly correct, Reverend. And it`s important to emphasize
especially on this anniversary day that Dr. King by 1966-1967, Dr. King is
focusing on racism and housing segregation in northern cities.
Particularly in Chicago. He`s also speaking out very strongly as a critic
of American foreign policy in American involvement in Vietnam. And at a
time when opposition to the war in Vietnam was not as popular as it became
later on in the Nixon years.

Dr. King was a very tough critic, very outspoken critic of inequality
in America. By the end of his life, he was pessimistic about how much this
society could change. And people should be reminded that time and again in
the last few years of his life, Dr. King warned that the dream he had had
in Washington in 1963 was turning into a nightmare. That`s his phrase, his

SHARPTON: Right. That`s a direct quote. Gary -- Gary, let me let
you weigh in on this, what David is talking about. The fact that Dr. King
was not universally saluted as you hear today. Some in the remake of
history that act as though everyone was supportive of Dr. King`s dream.

YOUNGE: Well, that`s right. I mean, America loves him now and
America celebrates the march now. But in the run-up to the march,
Americans were very skittish. Most knew the march was going to take place
and thought it was a mistake. And beyond the south, even Kennedy asked
them don`t march, don`t do this. He said we want legislation on Capitol
Hill, not a big show on the streets. And it was A. Phillip Randolph who
said the Negroes already in the streets. And I doubt if we call them, that
they would comeback. It`s very interesting if we look at and Drew Hanson
did some very good work on this in his book. If we look at what happens
after `63, to between `63 and `68, the dream speech is barely mentioned.


YOUNGE: It`s barely mentioned. It`s only after King`s assassination
when America thinks how can we remember this man?

SHARPTON: Well, it wasn`t even mentioned in the "Washington Post" the
day after the speech here in Washington.

YOUNGE: Exactly.

SHARPTON: You know, there`s also the rewrite David Garrow of some in
the tradition of the right wing. For examples today, the editors of
National Review wrote about the march on Washington, they say, the civil
rights revolution was in a crucial sense conservative. And then they
criticized the decrepitude of the days civil rights movement which trades
in grievances. So, they want to talk about how the civil rights movement
of `63 was crucially conservative, today we`re dealing with decrepitude.

But when you go back to `63, a week before the march, the founder of
national review William Buckley in National Review actually attacked the
civil rights movement and the march. He called it mob deployment in
circumstances that call for thought and discussion and mediation is a
dangerous resort. So we find that the right wing that now claim Dr. King
was far from claiming him in `63, `64.

GARROW: Exactly right, Reverend. You know, at that time in the
American conservative movement, there was widespread opposition through the
civil rights bill which became the civil rights act of 1964. You know, the
republican presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater in 1964 was focused on
opposition to that bill on the notion that the property rights of business
owners should allow for public discrimination against people based on race.
Again, that`s an aspect of American life 50 years ago that is virtually
evaporated from today`s America.

YOUNGE: And that opposition carries on even Reagan in 1993 when he
was asked.


YOUNGE: .Ronald Reagan was asked, do you still think King was a
communist. He said we`ll have to wait 35 years to find out. Meaning the
opening of FBI files.


YOUNGE: So the suspicion and animosity towards King and his legacy
carries on well into the `80s.

SHARPTON: All right. David Garrow and Gary Younge, thank you both
for your time tonight.

YOUNGE: Thanks for having us.

GARROW: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the last surviving speaker from the march.
Congressman John Lewis. My interview with him from the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial.

And President Obama`s symbolic link to Dr. King. Stay with us.


JAMIE FOXX, OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR: It`s time for us to stand up now and
renew this dream. That`s what we got to do. I was affected by the Trayvon
Martin situation. I was affected by Newtown. I was affected by Sandy
Hook. I`m affected by those things, so it`s time for us now to pick up.

BILL RUSSELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thank you for being here and to
encourage young adult, men and women to understand that progress can only
be measured with how far we have to go.



SHARPTON: Congressman John Lewis, the only living speaker from the
march on Washington stood at that same spot today with the same passion. I
had a chance to speak with him at that spot. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Congressman John Lewis is the only living speaker from the
march on Washington stood at the same spot today, with the same passion. I
had the chance to speak with him at that spot. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Congressman John Lewis is the last surviving speaker from
the march on Washington 50 years ago. Today he reminded the country
despite progress there`s still work to be done.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Whether it`s stop and frisk in New York
or injustice in Trayvon Martin case in Florida, or injustice in Trayvon
Martin case in Florida, the mass incarceration of millions of Americans,
said to each one of us today we must never, ever give up. We must never,
ever give in. We must keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize.


SHARPTON: I recently spoke with the congressman from the Lincoln


LEWIS: I must tell you, I feel more than lucky but very blessed to be
able to stand here 50 years later and to see the progress we`ve made. And
just to see the changes that 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 have said you`re crazy. You don`t know what
you`re talking about. The country`s a different country. And we`re better

SHARPTON: Now, when we get to Washington, when all of the marches and
the leaders get here, one of the big six is in jail in Louisiana James
Farmer, head of CORE couldn`t even come because he was in jail from
protests. The tension behind the stage here was over your speech.


LEWIS: By the forces of our demand, our determinations and our
numbers, we should split the segregated south into a thousand pieces and
put them together in an image of God and democracy. We must say wake up
America, wake up, for we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be


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

LEWIS: Near the end of the speech, near the very end I said something
like, if we do not see meaningful progress here today, the day may come
where we will not confine our march on Washington but we may be forced to
march through the south the way Sherman did non-violently. They said you
can`t say that. And the archbishop of the diocese of Washington said not
to give that invocation but in change besmirched.

We met right on the side of Mr. Lincoln.

SHARPTON: Is that right?

LEWIS: And we had a portable typewriter. And the executive secretary
Phillip Randolph was there. Dr. King and Wilkin. And he has some word on
Mr. Wilkin and you saw the -- and then Dr. King said to me, John, can we
change that? He said that doesn`t sound like you, John. I know you. And
Mr. Randolph said, John we come this far together. Let`s stay together.
Can we make those changes? I couldn`t say no to a Phillip Randolph. I
couldn`t say no to Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

LEWIS: When I stood here and looked out and saw the sea of humanity,
I was gratified. I was deeply moved and inspired that so many people had
turned out. You know, some people said, it was 250,000 people. I think it
was many more. I think it was a great undercount. 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 many 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.


LEWIS: 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


LEWIS: Two days after the march is all over, was the terrible bombing
of that church where the four girls was killed. That was a sad and dark
hour for the movement. It just tore out the essence of our heart. I went
to Birmingham that Sunday morning. And I cried and I cried. But I made up
my mind to go to Selma and other parts of the south. And that`s exactly
what we did to gain and fight for the right to vote.

SHARPTON: You were beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge within inches
of your life, Williams, and death really led to the voting rights act of
`65. You`re the hero and 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`ll 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: We got to inspire another generation of young people. Blacks
and whites, Latinos, Asian-American, Native-American. All of us got to
push and pull. We got to get out there because they`re 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`ve got to say we`re not
going back. We`ve come too far now to go back. I think the march 50 years
ago had set so much emotion that changed this country forever. And we will
never be the same.


SHARPTON: Yes, it has changed this country. Thanks to Americans like
John Lewis. We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: We mark this day for many reasons including this one. On
this day in 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered by two white men in
Mississippi for flirting with a white woman. He was tortured, brutally
beaten and he was shot in the head. Till murderers were acquitted of
kidnapping and murder, and months later they admitted to the killing. A
day never to forget. But today we also remember a hopeful day. Five years
ago today, Senator Barack Obama accepted the democratic nomination for
president in 2008.

The arc of history bending toward justice. That`s why we in our own
way must never stop marching, never stop fighting, never stop doing
whatever it is we can do. Because at the end, right will always over power
wrong. And as the president quoted an old gospel song today, weeping may
endure for a night. But if you keep going, joy will definitely come in the
morning. We need to keep going because there are mornings that are waiting
us if we would just fight through the night.

I`m Al Sharpton. Thank you for watching. "HARDBALL" starts right


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