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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

August 28, 2013

Guests: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Isabel Wilkerson, Frederick Harris, Noel Paul Stookey; Steve Clemons

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Fifty years ago tonight, reporters filing
stories on a demonstration in Washington noted three things. It was
peaceful, it was far larger than anyone expected. And a young preacher
departed from his planned text. Those unplanned sentences have never been


ANNOUNCER: NBC News presents the march on Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifty years later, the dream lives on.

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: It was in the middle of battles to break
down the walls of apartheid in America.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Martin Luther King Jr. made a speech,
but he also delivered a sermon.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: My father watched from the White House as Dr. King
and thousands of others recommitted America to our higher ideals.

OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: Injustice anywhere was a threat to
justice everywhere.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: He gazed at the great wall of
segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Martin Luther King Jr. did not live
and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock.

universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn`t bend on its own.

The same flame that lit the heart of all who are willing to take first
step for justice, I know that flame remains, that tireless teacher, that
successful business, the mother her love into her daughters, they are

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you hear the sound of the bells today, let
freedom ring everywhere we go.


O`DONNELL: Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. dared to
publicly dream that one day in Alabama, little black boys and little black
girls would be able too hand in hand together with little white boys and
little white girls as brothers and sisters. But he did not dare to
publicly dream that one day, a little black boy would grow up to be the
president of the United States.

That was certainly implied in his dream of a nation living up to its
creed, that all men are created equal. And today, America`s first little
black boy who grew up to be president of the United States stood where Dr.
King stood and gave thanks to Dr. King and everyone who joined him there 50
years ago.


OBAMA: 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 beyond washing
somebody`s laundry or shining somebody else`s shoes. Because they marched,
the city councils changed and state legislatures changed, and Congress
changed, and yes, eventually the White House changed.



O`DONNELL: The organizers of the march on Washington 50 years ago
called it "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." The president
reminded us of that today.


OBAMA: For the men and women who gathered 50 years ago, we`re 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 it profit a man, Dr. King would ask,
to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can`t afford the meal?

And so, as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the
measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how
many blacks could join the ranks of millionaires. It was whether this
country would admit all people who were willing to work hard regardless of
race into the ranks of the middle class life.

The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity
are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system
provides a fair shot for the many, for the black custodian and the white
steel worker, the immigrant dishwasher, and the Native American veteran, to
win that battle, to answer that call. This remains our great unfinished


O`DONNELL: The president emphasized that there are many ways for
Americans to live Dr. King`s dream, many ways to keep on marching.


OBAMA: America, I know the road will be long. But I know we can get
there. Yes, we will stumble. But I know we`ll get back up. That`s how a
movement happens. That`s how history bends. That is how when somebody is
faint of heart somebody else brings them along and says come on, we`re

That tireless teacher, who gets to class early and stays late and dips
into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child
is hers, she is marching. That successful businessman who doesn`t have to
but pays his workers a fair wage, and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an
ex-con who is down on his luck. He is 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 home, he is marching.

Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day,
that change does not come from Washington, but to Washington. That change
has always been built on our willingness, we, the people, to take on the
mantle of citizenship. You are marching.

And that is the lesson of our past. That is the promise of tomorrow.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now on this historic night are: Isabel
Wilkerson, author of the book, "The Warmth of Other Sons: The Epic Story of
America`s Great Migration", Frederick Harris, professor of political
science and director of the Center for African American Politics and
Society at Columbia, and the author of the book, "The Price of Ticket,
Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics." And
congressional delegate for Washington, D.C., Eleanor Holmes Norton, who was
one of the organizers of the march in 1963, and she was there today.

In the face of this collective wisdom on this subject I am going to
bow in humility, and not presume that I can ask each of you the targeted
the question it will bring our your most insightful comments about this and
so I would just like to go through here and invite you each to react to
this day and to this day 50 years ago, beginning with Eleanor Holmes
Norton, the only one among us, of course, who was present at both.

were trying to make sure that the president of the United States was with
us. He was our ally, but he discouraged the march. To be sure, he was so
moved by the march, that afterwards he embraced the march and introduced,
of course, a bill that would later become the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Now, here we have three presidents. That in itself speaks to the
success of the march. But this was a terrible challenge to present to the
three living presidents. Of the three, it seems to me that Jimmy Carter
found his role and function, leaving aside the fact that he was the one
that understood the irony of being in Washington where the residents do not
have the same rights as the people.

What struck to me was that he spoke to us as a Southerner who had seen
the changes from his region and spoke from the heart. The president, on
the other hand, I must say disappointed me because it seemed to me the
moment called for him to be presidential.

We were bringing truth to power. This -- we were speaking to the
three most powerful men or three of the most powerful men in our country.
One of them was president of the United States. He gave a magnificent

But I would have preferred to have him say this time you`ve got a
president in the White House. I hear you. I accept the challenge that you
have given to me. Now, help me to get the Congress to accept the

He wouldn`t have had to say what the challenge was. But it would have
been the presidential thing to do.

Instead, he echoed frankly some of the rhetoric, terrific rhetoric, no
one does it better than he, that one would have expected of the
participants in the march like John Lewis, who was on the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee with me, and other speakers like Bernice,
of course, Bernice King.

O`DONNELL: Isabel Wilkerson, your reaction.

the people who showed up and his reference to all the individual things
people can do. I think it is almost impossible if you think about it, to
in any way compete with the greatest speech ever given in the 20th century.
And so, I`m struck by not only the president`s words, but also the
reiteration of the entire speech that Martin Luther King Jr. gave
originally that aired on MSNBC multiple times today. I had never seen it
before. And I was almost brought to tears by the magnitude of what Martin
Luther King Jr. said 50 years ago on this day and by what that meant, and
by all the pressures on him and on everyone else there. The fact that he
had earlier in the year, 1963, been in jail in the Birmingham jail, that he
had written his magnificent letter from the Birmingham jail in the margins
of a newspaper, and that just a month or so before, Medgar Evers had been

And even though they gathered there at that moment, did not know it,
but a month later, there would be this bombing at the Birmingham Church
where four little girls would be killed.

So I`m struck by the magnitude of the moment. The fact that he was
speaking in 1963, a quarter of a million people who had come from all over
the country, in order to bear witness and to beseech their country to live
up to its creed.

And I was also moved I must say by the leadership that Martin Luther
King showed by truly connecting to his audience, and connecting across the
decades to us even today by the importance of this message. By saying
ultimately that the country needed to live up to its creed, he was speaking
of humanity and of brotherhood and of love. And I think that that`s the
message that endures to this day, because he was speaking to his audience
and he knew so well what they needed to hear.

O`DONNELL: Professor Frederick Harris, please share your thoughts
with us.

are always an opportunity for the nation to reflect back on our legacy, a
legacy as a people. And surely, the 50th anniversary of the march on
Washington is that opportunity for us to reflect back and look at the
progress that we`ve made. And the president pretty much articulated that.

But I was disappointed, as well, as the president not speaking more
forcefully from the gut as he did in the aftermath of the Zimmerman
verdict, where he talked about the need to challenge the persistence of
racial inequality in this country, particularly around one of the major
civil rights issues of our generation today in the 20th century, and that`s
mass incarceration, and so, Dr. King doing that speech he gave in 1963
talked about the promissory note.

And I want your viewers to reflect back a moment when Barack Obama was
a candidate in 2007. He gave a bold proposal for criminal justice reform
at a speech at Howard University. This is what the president proposed. He
proposed a federal level Racial Profiling Act. He promised if he would
become president, loan forgiveness to law students who would become public
defenders as a means to level the playing field for poor Latinos and quite
frankly, poor whites, who couldn`t afford a defense in the criminal justice
system. He said he would do away with the death penalty. He said he would
eliminate the sentencing disparities in crack and cocaine. Sentencing,
which disproportionately affect black and brown people in this country.

And so, that`s the promise -- the promissory note that candidate Obama
in my view has not come through with. And so, I was expecting more policy
responses in this day where as the delegate, the D.C. Delegate Norton
mentioned is that advocates of racial equality in 1963 came and presented
an agenda before the president, which manifested in the passage of the
Civil Rights Act.

And so, it`s my hope that the momentum that we saw that came out of
the Zimmerman trial, the reaction, is not lost. And so in many ways,
again, I see partly disappointment in the president`s speech.

O`DONNELL: Eleanor Holmes Norton, is it your sense that the president
anticipated that there was some line, some invisible line, that if he
crossed it, he would have been accused of making the event political today.
And in a way that could possibly not have had much effect anyway, because
the things that we were just talking about there with Professor Harris
would all be legislative issues that obviously the Republican House of
Representatives that you serve in would not take any action on.

NORTON: Lawrence, you have really stated what I thought was his
dilemma. He knew that it was not be a political speech. And while I agree
with my friend here that there were more opportunities to say more about
policy, I think that -- he is not Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. managed to give a political speech and we
still don`t regard it as a political speech because it was so full of
poetry. And he was a master at it.

But I have to tell you, I don`t think you can stand before the
audience as the president of the United States and simply kind of echo the
rhetoric of the day. You are the power, you are -- excuse me, you the man,
as they say in the streets. You the man. We recognize that he cannot do
it by himself.

But it seems to me it would have been an act of taking onerous
responsibility, to acknowledge that the challenge has been presented -- to
all of us. And he named all of us who had responsibility. And to have
said, and I accept that the challenge has been presented to me, the
president of the United States, and to the Congress of the United States.

It would not have to spell out the policy underpinnings. It would not
have been political. But it would have meant the "I share" responsibility
with those of you who have come to the march. I did not hear that.

O`DONNELL: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Isabel Wilkerson, and Professor
Frederick Harris, thank you all very much for joining me on this important
night. Thank you.

NORTON: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Eugene Robinson joins me to talk about what
other speakers said today on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

And in the rewrite tonight, how John Lewis helped rewrite the
trajectory of the civil rights movement and joined it with anti-war

And Peter, Paul and Mary sang "Blowin` in the Wind" on the Mall 50
years ago. And Peter and Paul sang it there again today. Paul will join
me later.


O`DONNELL: President Obama, President Clinton, and President Carter
spoke today. And so did kid president, Robby Novak.


ROBBY NOVAK, KID PRESIDENT: I wasn`t here 50 years ago, but I hope to
be in the next 50 years. We all have a duty to make sure the world keeps
dreaming for better things. Keep dreaming, keep dreaming, keep dreaming.


O`DONNELL: Up next, Eugene Robinson.



CLINTON: This march and that speech changed America. They opened
minds. They melted hearts. And they moved millions, including a 17-year-
old boy watching alone in his home in Arkansas.


O`DONNELL: There was a three-president event today in Washington, the
current president, of course, and two former presidents.


CARTER: I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the
new ID requirements to exclude certain voters, especially African
Americans. I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the
Supreme Court striking down a crucial part of a Voter`s Rights Act just
recently passed overwhelmingly by Congress.

I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to unemployment
among African Americans being almost twice the rate of white people, and
for teenagers at 42 percent. I think we would all know how Dr. King would
have reacted to our country being awash in guns and for more and more
states passing "Stand Your Ground" laws.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Eugene Robinson, "Washington Post"
columnist and MSNBC political analyst.

Gene, it seemed the performers felt a little looser up there, a less
constrained politically in what they have to say.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: I think that`s always the case,
Lawrence. They are looser, they are less restrained.

I thought Jimmy Carter was full of fire and in some ways gave the most
direct and powerful of the presidential speeches. He is not -- his oratory
is not that of President Obama, certainly, and I thought President Obama
actually gave a very good speech. But Jimmy Carter`s was short, direct,

And Bill Clinton, of course, was Bill Clinton. He made his voice do
like this, the thing he does with his voice and scratched his head to the
side. He did all that Clinton moves. But the line about how King`s heirs,
King wouldn`t want his heirs to be whining about gridlock was one of the
most memorable lines of the day.

O`DONNELL: Well, since you liked Jimmy Carter so much, let`s listen
more to Jimmy Carter.


CARTER: And I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to
have more than 835,000 African-American men in prison, five times as many
as when I left office, and with one third of all African American males
being destined to being in prisons in their lifetimes. Well, there is a
tremendous agenda ahead of us.


O`DONNELL: Again, Gene, he felt it was in his jurisdiction certainly
to go right at the tough issues.

ROBINSON: Yes, he went right at them. It was -- it was an aggressive
speech. And again, to the point, he doesn`t have to worry about seeming to
be political. He doesn`t have the burdens that President Obama had.

How many burdens did Obama have? He is the president of the United
States. He`s the first black president, 50 years. I mean, all of this,
with this weight on it. And plus he is supposed to react to you know, one
of the greatest speeches of the century.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to one of our favorites. Both from today and
from other things he has done in his life, Bill Russell. And let`s listen
to what he has to say today.


BILL RUSSELL, NBA HALL OF FAMER: Lately, I have heard a lot about how
far we`ve come in 50 years. But from my point of view, we learned about
how far you have to go.


O`DONNELL: Gene, that`s a very Dr. King-like statement he said.

ROBINSON: It is. I thought he was wise -- you know, I have always
been a Bill Russell fan. You cannot say a bad word about Bill Russell in
my house when I was growing up. Because my dad just loved him, love the
Celtics as a matter of fact.

The rest of the program, you know, the other highlights of the program
to me, frankly as always, was the music. All the Wynans who came out, and
that was an important part of 1963, when Mahalia Jackson came out.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to actually have, Peter, Paul and Mary were
there. We`re actually going to have Paul join us later in the show. Bill
Russell was invited to speak 50 years ago. And he chose not to, because he
thought you know he didn`t want as a sports star, to in any way distract
attention from people who he thought deserved and had earned more attention
on that stage, 50 years ago. That`s the kind of spirit that I think is
hard to find in the modern media age of people rushing to microphones.

ROBINSON: It is. It is hard to find. It is awfully hard to find.
But you know who else I thought was good today? I thought Jamie Foxx was
good. And in a sense he kind of called out Hollywood to be active and to
be supportive. He mentioned some people who were doing things that he
thought were admirable.

And I thought he gave a good speech and of course did some good
impressions, too.

O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, thank you for being here on this important
night, thank you very much, Gene.

ROBINSON: Happy to be here, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, the only speaker that day 50 years ago who was still with
us, John Lewis is in tonight`s rewrite.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the crisis in Syria. President
Obama says he has not made a decision yet on whether he will order military
action in Syria, but made the case for a limited strike during an interview
with PBS` news hour today.


talking about chemical weapons in a country that has the largest stock pile
of chemical weapons in the world, where over time their control over the
chemical weapons may erode, where they`re known terrorist organizations
that I the past have targeted the United States. Then, there is a
prospect, a possibility in which chemical weapons can have devastating
effects could be directed at us. And we want to make sure that that does
not happen.

And if, in fact, we can take limited tailored approaches, not getting
drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of you know, Iraq, which I
know a lot of people are worried about. But if we are saying in a clear
and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot out saying stop doing
this, that can have an impact for our national security in the long-term.
And may have the impact that chemical weapons are not used again on
innocent civilians.


O`DONNELL: A senior U.S. officials tells NBC News quote "we are past
the point of the return," end quote. And U.S. air strikes against Syrian
targets appear inevitable, but 116 members of the House of Representatives,
98 Republicans joined by 18 Democrats sent a letter to President Obama this
afternoon calling for congressional authorization first.

We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from
Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. We stand
ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share
the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly
escalating Syrian conflict.

House speaker John Boehner also sent a letter today asking the
president to make his case to Congress. The administration officials plan
to brief key members of Congress tomorrow, including committee chairman and
congressional leaders.

Joining me now is the Washington editor at-large for "the Atlantic"
Steve Clemons.

Steve, I want to go to something the president said in the important
interview this afternoon. He said he raised the possibility in which
chemical weapons that can have devastating effects, could be directed at
us. The chemical weapons that he thinks exist in Syria, how would that
happen? How would the chemical weapons get from Syria to go directed at

most obvious possibility would be that the controls in Syria has
traditionally held on the chemical weapons statute that they have were
enormously distributed throughout the country, could be made available to
Hezbollah, other non-state actor groups. There has been a lot of concerns
in Syria that (INAUDIBLE) which is an extreme Islamist groups, which has
been holding quite shockingly western journalists and torturing them. We
have a lot stories recently about this. That anyone of these groups could
end up with this kinds of weapons and used them against either the United
States or its allies. And that possibility still exists after the
potential attacks against Syria. So these weapons are a real problem and
it think that --

O`DONNELL: But Steve, can I ask you technically, what would be the
transport method of those -- that kind of weapon from Syria to the United

CLEMONS: Well, I think that -- to the United States proper, they
would have to come over by boat, ship, or some other mechanism. I don`t
think they could be fired by any means.


CLEMONS: They could be fired at U.S. embassies there or something
there. So we have a geographical advantage. But they could be used Sarin
gas that hits highly populated centers wherever they maybe, malls, U.S.
embassy, other kinds of things. These are the concerns that I think are
genuine. And when these attacks happen, which I believe they will, they`re
not going to be attacking a chemical weapons. I think they`re going to be
trying to send a signal as President Obama has said to the regime saying
get these under control, stop using them and move forward. Because I think
that the fear is, there is always a chance that Assad could escalate, and
could in fact try and strike us in various ways or try and gain leverage by
threatening to give these weapons to other non-state actors.

O`DONNELL: Well, Steve, if the idea of American military intervention
in some form is to somehow create stable control over the chemical weapons
supply in Syria, what is it that the military mission is attempting to
accomplish other than presumably shore up the dictatorship that has up to
now controlled those weapons?

CLEMONS: I think the president is trying very hard to thread a
complicated needle. In April of 2010, Joe Biden and President Obama hosted
a major nuclear materials and WMD materials conference here in Washington,
D.C., and viewed essentially trying to create -- restoring a global commons
that prevented the proliferation and use of WMDs including chemical weapons
as a defining point of their administration.

So, not to act from their point of view is not really an option. I
think that when they begin looking at how they perceive to create a stable
outcome, the point is that you that send strong enough signal that you can
go in, I think ultimately, the question is how do you go from a strike on
Syria to a Geneva peace process that involves the Russian? You have both
sides squaring off. And I think it may sound odd and it would be nice in a
month with you to review it whether this happens. But if all things went
well and you were able to punish the regime enough so that people could
tell it was compelling but not part of a regime change strategy which the
administration has been bending over backwards saying we`re not trying to
knock out Assad, that is a signal to the Russians that we are open for
Assad or his regime staying in place in some change in the future. And
that allows us a possibility to go into a Geneva peace process. I know it
sounds like an odd equation, but it could happen.

O`DONNELL: I think everything sounds odd in this case. And the thing
I can`t quite get around is how through military intervention that we could
somehow find the people in that country that we could rely on to make sure
the chemical weapons could be kept safe and stable. I just don`t see how
we`ll get to there.

Steve Clemons, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a man who sang on the steps of the Lincoln
Memorial 50 years ago and sang here again today. Paul, of Peter, Paul and
Mary will join me.

And in the rewrite, John Lewis, in his own words.



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 has pastured
to change the world to collaborative power facilitated by unconditional


O`DONNELL: That was Bernice King, the youngest child of Martin Luther
King Jr.

John Lewis next in the rewrite.



REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: And I walked through that door, Dr.
King said, you are the boy from Troy. Are you John Lewis? And I said Dr.
King, I am John Robert Lewis. So from that moment on he started calling me
the boy from Troy.


O`DONNELL: John Robert Lewis was 23 years old when he spoke at the
Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago today. In the video interview with "the New
York Times," Congressman Lewis recalled how he felt that day and what the
march on Washington meant for American history.


LEWIS: This is all of us standing before the ceremony. You can see
hundreds and thousands of people coming towards Constitution Avenue. And
we knew then that we were going to have many more people than we expected.
It was a very special day. I felt so uplifted and so moved. If it had not
been for the march on Washington, the civil rights act of `64, the voting
rights back of 1965. For the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. and
involvement of hundreds and thousands of other people, there would be no
Barack Obama as president of the United States.


O`DONNELL: John Lewis paid for progress with his own blood. He was
beaten viciously by police more than once for the civil rights movement.
Police brutality was one of the cruel facts of life for civil rights
marchers which is why Martin Luther King Jr. referred to police brutality,
those words, police brutality twice in his remarkable speech 50 years ago.

Congressman Lewis and then senator Barack Obama marked one of the most
vicious police riots of that era at the Edmond Pettus Bridge in Selma,
Alabama on the 2007 anniversary of that horrible event.


LEWIS: When we got to the top of the bridge, the highest point on the
bridge, down below we saw a sea below of Alabama state troopers and we
continued to walk.

Had a concussion at the bridge. I thought I saw death. I thought I
was going to die. And I stood up and said something like that. I don`t
understand it, how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam, and cannot
send troops to Selma, Alabama, to protect people whom it desires to
register to vote.


O`DONNELL: And in that statement, John Lewis fused the civil rights
movement with the anti-war movement. And not long after that, civil rights
speeches were being written to include anti-war statements. Dr. King began
to join those two causes together in almost every speech he gave, until his
death in 1968.


DOCTOR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR, ACTIVIST: I have chosen to preach about
the war in Vietnam today because I agree with Dante that the hottest places
in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain
their neutrality. There comes a time when silence is betrayal.


O`DONNELL: Peter, Paul, and Mary were troubadours of first, the civil
rights movement and then the anti-war movement. They sang at the Lincoln
Memorial 50 years ago and they sang the same song there today.

Paul will join me in the next segment to share his feelings about both
of them.

Fifty years ago, most Americans believed that singing and preaching
and speech-making and marching could not change our world and certainly
could not stop a war. And everyone who thought that was wrong.


LEWIS: Our world is different. We live in a different world. It is
a better place. It is a better place. The fear is gone. And I think all
of us in America today, we`re a little more human.



O`DONNELL: Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary who performed that
day 50 years ago and performed today will join me next.



O`DONNELL: Peter, Paul and Mary sang 50 years ago at the Lincoln
Memorial. And Peter and Paul sang that same song again today, joined by
Trayvon Martin`s parents and Mark Barden, the father of Daniel Barden, a
first grader killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.


O`DONNELL: There were many people on the mall today who heard that
song there 50 years ago and then heard it again today.


BILL RUSSELL, ATTENDED MARCH: I was sitting in the first row 50 years
ago. And it is nice to be anywhere 50 years later.

MARLA DAVENPORT, ATTENDED MARCH: Dr. King was there and he gave
people hope that America would live up to its promise. That all people are
created equal. And so I felt that. When I came down to the mall that day,
I felt that hope.

SID LEVIN, ATTENDED MARCH: Everybody was there. It was a good crowd.
What else can I say? Black and white together and labor, jobs and justice.

WINNIE WESTBROOK, ATTENDED MARCH: I am almost 70. But I see -- but
now I can understand the importance of what my mom and dad saw when they
put me on the bus at 17. I could see the importance now of having my
grandchildren and my son-in-law march with me. That is a generation who
will bring another generation with them.

LEO BOOGHTON, ATTENDED MARCH: For me, is an effort on my part to
continue doing something. To try to say to the young generation that they,
too, have to march and demonstrate and be galvanized.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Noah Paul Stookey of the folk group,
Peter, Paul, and Mary.

This is a great more for me. I am a lifetime fan of you musically,
and then also of you as a crusader, a social crusader. And so, I just want
to begin with the words, thank you for being here and thank you for
everything you have done for so many years.

kind words, Lawrence. I feel a little embarrassed, I think, as someone who
has inherited an incredibly beautiful legacy from the `60s and all the
great folk music that preceded it from Woody, to you know, Josh White, to
Pete Seger, who is still with us. And the informing of community, which I
felt so strongly there today. And I don`t want to wax too early -- before
you ask me a question. But I just got to tell you that I was very aware of
the fact that love, with a capital L, was more prevalent, at least was
admitted to. The words I think agape was used by President Carter.

I really have the sense as the world shrinks that love is the answer.
As corny as they thought it was in the `60s and the `70 when all the flower
children made their recordings, music. The artist`s capacity to bring to
the connection between the human hearts together, I really felt it there
today more than I did 50 years ago and I`m feeling it in the world at

O`DONNELL: But that act was a deliberate act of making music part of
the movement. I`m not sure -- all of our younger viewers know that Bob
Dylan wrote "blowing in the wind" in 1962. So it was just a year earlier,
and he wrote it in the thick of what was then the civil rights movement and
was very, very conscious on how these words could be applied in situations.
The way you did, you, Peter, Paul and Mary did 50 years ago.

STOOKEY: I think that the production of lyrics has less to do with
focus, and more to do with feeling. Certainly, you know, Medgar Evers was
to the point. But I think Bob speaks -- I mean, blowing in the wind is
timeless, Lawrence.


STOOKEY: And it applied, as you indicated, the -- to the march
against the war in Vietnam. These are, as Mary used to put it, questions
of constancy. These are timeless questions of which you and I and the
people who were there today and around the world are the answer.

O`DONNELL: Could you talk about what it felt like and how conscious
you were of the period where the civil rights movement was gradually
blending with and joining with what was too mature of the anti-war

STOOKEY: I think it is pretty easy to see now that the arc of
concern, which first of all, we were empowered by the civil rights
movement. It not only was the issue, no pun intended, of black and white,
but it gave, as I think was also mentioned today -- it gave a sense that
when a large group of people get together, we can bring voice to the
government. We can bring power with our member. And so, the matriculation
or the evolution seem only natural that large numbers of people could bring
attention to the fact that we were fighting an undeclared war, an inherited
war, if you will, in the late `60s. But if you think of the arc of it,
don`t you agree that though it begin with the term civil rights, it quickly
opened into human rights. And when you talk about human rights, now we are
talking about gender issues. We`re talking about equality. We`re talking
about environments. We`re also talking about war. So I think it is only
natural. And folk music`s big impact truly, if you think, was that it
brought context to music. And now we can talk about anything to years

O`DONNELL: Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary, thank you very
much for honoring us tonight by joining us here. And again, thank you for
all of your work over so many years from your heart and from your talent.
Thank you very much.

STOOKEY: My pleasure. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Up next, a very special edition of Chris Hayes` show with
Martin Luther King Jr.`s "I have a Dream" speech in its entirety.


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