Transcript 1/14/18 Politics Nation
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: January 14, 2018
Guest: Martin Luther King III, Vann Vewkirk, Yamiche Alcindor, Ali Vitali
AL SHARPTON, HOST POLITICSNATION: Good morning and welcome to
“PoliticsNation”, 50 years ago this April the life of Reverend Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. Was extinguished by an assassin`s bullet. His death is one
of this nation`s pivotal moments of reckoning, posing a tragic question as
to whether the social, political, and economic reconciliation he dedicated
his life to would or could ever come to pass.
As far as I and many others are concerned, that question is yet to be
answered, at least not definitively because while we`ve seen a black
President in the last decade, a flowering of the seed Dr. King directly
helped to plant. We`ve also seen a collective if not concerted reaction in
the last year from Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Against the inclusivity this man represented. But despite the darkness,
today I want to celebrate the light that was his life one of history`s most
dynamic and enduring to be rightfully revered by the nation and the world
tomorrow on what would have been his 89th birthday. And I can think of no
better way to do so than to speak with the torchbearer of his life and
his name, joining me now live in studio, Dr. King`s son, Martin Luther King
III, thank you for being with us.
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING III: Thank you, (Rev).
SHARPTON: You know, before getting to tomorrow which is a national holiday
and certainly a personal day for you and your sister and brother, I thought
about yesterday as I saw the news that for 38 minutes people in Hawaii were
terrified with this false text message, this false message of incoming
And the reason I thought about you and I thought about how your mother had
lectured me once that you had brought us together that Reverend Al, you
have to be careful with your words. You have to be careful with what you
say even if it`s unintended. I thought about how all the rhetoric between
President Trump and Kim Jong-un was what also exacerbated people`s fear
that this is very possible, maybe North Korea`s attacking.
And I went back to Coretta Scott-King and you saying, Al, your words. It
doesn`t matter if you`re not violent if you`re too vibrant. That`s part of
what your father did is set a high moral tone while he engaged in
confrontational battles. I think that it took time for people even that
came out of his movement like me to understand and something that we`re
saying to this President, tone matters.
KING III: Absolutely, Rev. The fact of the matter is we all know
logically cooler heads prevail. And when we lose our heads, we do
something irrational. And that was very frightening to see, because I
cannot imagine being in an experience in Hawaii yesterday having to run
because you thought your life might be over.
We are a better nation and a world than the behavior that is being
exhibited whether it is at the White House level or at the State House
level or at the Court House level. We can and we must do better. That`s
what Martin Luther King Jr. And Coretta Scott-King would be challenging us
on. We are far better than the behavior that we`ve seen certainly over
the last 12 to 18 months.
SHARPTON: A year ago I remember we were getting ready, (Nash Network) and
others to march in Washington. You were joining us. And then you opted to
go and meet with then President-elect Trump. And you got flack from it.
I would say Martin what are you doing? You said I have the moral
obligation to at least make an appeal to him, talk to him like my dad, your
father, talk to Eisenhower and Kennedy and Johnson.
And you went and spent an hour with him and talked about everyone and
debating everybody including me. And a year later, are you disappointed
in President Trump? Do you think any of what you said got through to him?
KING III: It`s not evident that it got through. It did not; it does not
seem like it. Yes, I`m disappointed. But, you know, we have to win
battles every day. My mom taught us, every generation has to work to earn
I think one of the things that happened that even created this climate so
that President Trump could be elected was that conservatives and the Right-
wing worked consistently, consistently. When the democratic apparatus
elected with some republicans, President Obama, they sat down. And for
eight years folks have been sitting down. I think President Trump is
finding a way to bring people together like never, ever before. We`re
going to see some incredible, dramatic, positive action.
SHARPTON: Brining us together in reaction.
KING III: Yes and but not in a negative way. I mean the negativity that
he is using. I would like to hope that that`s not his intention. But I`m
not clear. I don`t know what his intention is anymore. I`m not – but I`m
not un-persuaded. I`m very concerned. But I believe masses of people,
women and men and children, good people are going to stand up and do justly
love mercy and we all want to walk humbly with our god.
SHARPTON: Now one of the things that Donald Trump said when running was
what did blacks have to lose? I`ve seen they touted lately about black
unemployment is lower than it`s been. But when you look at the facts,
Martin, and I`m showing the graphics, when President Obama came in, black
unemployment was at 16.8 and it started under Obama dramatically going
down, down, down to 7.8.
Look at how far it went down under Obama and it just went down a little
more under Trump on the downward curve that Obama already started. So he
really hasn`t delivered for black America. He just continued something
that had dramatically began dropping.
But away from just Trump as a person and the ugliness and we`re going to
deal with that in the show of what he said about Haiti and Africa and all,
the question is the agenda that your father represented in these times.
What is the King agenda globally in 2018 coming from Martin Luther King
III? What do you think your father would be expecting you and those of us
in your generation and the generations behind us to be doing today?
KING III: You know, Rev, that`s one of most dynamic questions that has to
constantly be evaluated. I don`t know that any of us can speak for him.
One of the things I must quickly say is had he lived, we would be as a
nation on a totally different trajectory.
We would probably not be addressing these issues. There may be some
others. So I think though under the circumstances and what I believe is
there is a yearning for an engaging in a different way. And that`s why I
am focused on creating a nonviolent initiative along with a relative of
Mahatma Gandhi and a relative of Nelson Mandela.
KING III: And that`s a global initiative to teach people and train people
how to use nonviolence to resolve conflicts, particularly millennials.
Because it always took the young people, I mean you and I are older folks
KING III: I don`t like to say that. But we are. That`s the reality. We
need the energy of the young and, of course, connected with the wisdom of
those of us who are older.
SHARPTON: And, you know when I see a lot of the younger activists, even in
our organization (NASH Action), that what I see was going on with
immigration movements and women movements, we see this before. With your
father, they had the student movement that didn`t work with him. We saw
the beginning of women`s lib.
This is nothing new. The question is whether we can build it into a
lasting movement that brings about concrete change. So I`m excited about
you and Gandhi`s relative and Mandela`s relative. I mean you can`t have
more (semi-double, semi-double) global figures then that.
KING III: Absolutely. You know one of the things I want to add as I think
about that is not only the three of us coming together, but also going to
South Africa and India which puts in the framework of a global initiative.
And this initiative won`t just start this year. It will continue for a
long time. I mean, I think people want a different voice. They want to
hear some different information.
They want to hear the best. One thing that dad did as you know, Rev, is if
somebody was 90 percent bad, he didn`t focus on the 90 percent bad. But
he focused on the 10 percent of good and extracted that from the people.
That`s what we have to do. As it relates to leadership, you know, who
would have thought that a woman`s movement could happen like this in just
overnight? I mean it is huge and it`s tragic that –
SHARPTON: One of the young ladies –
KING III: It`s tragic that we treated women so bad in our society. But
we`re moving on the right trajectory. There are other movements, guess
what, that are going to come as a resolution
SHAPRTON: Absolutely. One of the young ladies marches with us in (selm)
every year. Brock comes out of there. Its Movements produce movements and
nobody owns them. But your father set the course; I just hope that we
follow along with you to do our part in our time. Tomorrow, you set the
stage for what we need to be doing, Martin Luther King III; you`ll be with
us in Washington in the morning at the National annual breakfast. But
thank you kicking off King Weekend with us on Politics Nation.
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING III: Thank you, thank you for what you do.
SHARPTON: Coming up, your voting rights under seize more than 50 years
after Dr. King fought for that very liberty. This is Politics Nation, be
SHARPTON: August 6, 1965, Sr. Martin Luther King Jr. was on hand for the
signing of the voting rights act, seeing that they come to fruition is one
of the corner stones of his life. But over the past 52 years, conservative
politicians have been chipping away at that historic moment.
On Friday, North Carolina asked the Supreme Court to put a lower court
ruling on hold that invalidated the state`s redrawing of congressional
districts, calling them unconstitutional, partisan gerrymander. And in a
separate story, reported by NBC`s Pete Williams shows the U.S. Supreme
court seems inclined to rule for Ohio in a legal fight over the state`s
method for removing people from its list of registered voters.
Joining me now is Vann Vewkirk, journalist with “The Atlantic” and Jack
Torry, D.C. Bureau chief for two Ohio newspapers, “Columbus Dispatch” and
“Dayton Daily News.” Vann, let me start with you. One of the fights that
we`ve had over the last couple of decades and has really come to more focus
the last couple of years is the right to maintain voting rights. I was at
the Supreme Court.
We had protests when hearings, all argument were at the Supreme Court
chipping away at the voting rights act. But then we`ve seen on the state
level things like North Carolina and Ohio. Give our viewers a sense of the
chipping away of voting rights achievements that Dr. King and that
generation was able to achieve and that it`s being, as I said, chipped away
at in these times.
VANN VEWKIRK, JOURNALIST, THE ATLANTIC: What I`d like to say is if you
take just the news now, you`ll see all the developments and think, wow,
people are rolling back voting rights all of a sudden the last couple
years. But when you say the voting rights act was signed in August 1965,
this campaign to roll back that act started in August 1965.
VEWKIRK: You saw the development of gerrymandering of the voter ID laws or
ways to circumvent all the courtrooms. Because it`s been 50 years of court
rulings too that have been enhanced the voting rights act. Politicians
have looked at ways to get around that with color blind policies.
So what we`re seeing with partisan gerrymandering is an outgrowth of people
trying to use racial gerrymandering and which courts have become more and
more sensitive to. So now the natural evolution is to say we`re not doing
this by race anymore. We`re doing it bipartisan politics -
SHARPTON: All right. Now, explain North Carolina in that context so
people understand from your broad analysis what the North Carolina case,
how that fits into that.
VEWKIRK: Okay. With North Carolina, they`ve created since voting rights
act these laws that allow people to, black people especially, to vote more
en masse. One of those is creating more fair political maps.
On the other hand, in the last 20 years or so, republicans especially, have
used the map making process and actually used the voting rights act as
justification for creating more districts that pack black voters into one
or two districts across the state and crack black voters` strength in other
That case went before a supreme court. That was racial gerrymandering.
And then the republicans in the state went back and said OK, we`re going to
get around this by doing this strictly on partisan lines. What they knew
was that black voters in North Carolina tend to vote democrat, that`s
something 80 percent to 90 percent levels. So what happened was the court
said, look, this still constitutes an illegal constitutional
SHARPTON: They changed the language but the effect is the same. And Jack,
Ohio, some would argue, at least I would, was just another way of do the
same thing, getting to the same result. Explain the battle in Ohio.
VEWKIRK: Well in Ohio in 1994, the legislature passed a law that allowed
the state to use failure to vote as a way to send a notice to voters to
find out if they were still in the district. The 1993 federal law does not
appear to allow failure to vote as a reason to take people off the voting
So what Ohio has does is they say no, we don`t take people off polls for
not voting. We send them a notice. It has been enforced by democrat and
republican officials. However, the reality is the higher percentage of
people who don`t vote tend to be democrats, African Americans, et cetera.
So it has that effect whether it was intended or not. And that -
SHARPTON: So, basically, if I don`t vote, I`m a resident in Ohio. If I
miss one primary vote or one off year election vote in terms of not being a
presidential election, I can be taken off the poll for not voting and they
say well, we sent you a notice.
You are saying that studies have shown that is disproportionately among
black voters and lower income voters which in effect comes to the same
thing of disenfranchisement. Because now they can no longer vote unless
they register and here we are going to the polls and you`re not a
VEWKIRK: you are correct except for one thing. It does take a six year
period before they can take you off the rules -
NEWKIRK: But the fact of the matter is it - one could argue it doesn`t
make voting easier and we have seen examples of that. I mean, to me the
key to Democrats right now because there are more Democrats than
Republicans is voting -
NEWKIRK: - and registering people to vote, to show up and vote. We saw in
Alabama. I mean, I didn`t think I would ever live to see the day where a
pro-choice Democrat would win Alabama. So, that is the key. We saw that
in 2008 and 2012 when President Obama had huge, huge turnouts, and
Secretary Clinton didn`t maintain those turnouts last in 2016 and it hurt
So, the future for the Democratic party is to get people in, registered,
and vote. And the states aren`t always going -
NEWKIRK: - to make it very easy for you, so it`s something -
SHARPTON: But Van, as we approach Martin Luther King Day in this, the 50th
year of his assassination, his birthday, his national holiday tomorrow,
voting rights - protection of voting rights is still a front and center
issue in this country.
KING: I look at it as the paramount issue to thinking about civil rights,
thinking about justice and equality in America because, like we`re just
saying, the one thing that seems to be in the way of change of people, of
the demographic change of America actually taking root in politics is
getting those people in the demographic shifting sectors of America to
vote, and when we see these voting rights restrictions, these voting ID
laws, this gerrymandering, they seem to almost universally target those
people. People of color, people on the margins who Dr. King fought for to
have the voting rights act enacted. So I think yes, we`re looking at -
we`re looking back on 50 years, but we`re looking ahead at 50 more years.
SHARPTON: Thank you very much Van Newkirk and Jack Torry. Coming up, a
politician applying his racist thinking to the evolution of this country`s
And now for this week`s Gotcha. A timely one comes on the heels of the
Justice Department`s recently announced war on legal marijuana which has
become a boone (ph) to several states, especially Colorado which saw about
a quarter of billion dollars to pot tax revenue last year. Generally,
economics are everything to Republicans. Trumping if you will concerns
about health, at least in minority communities, but when the question of
legalization came up at a community meeting in Gardencity, Kanasa, money
wasn`t enough for one Republican lawmaker. Representative Steve Alford who
told a crowd of constituents, none of them black, that they should look
back to the 1930s - yes, the 1930s - to explain why legal weed would be bad
for his fellow jayhawkers. Take a listen.
REP. STEVE ALFORD (R), K.S.: What you really need to do is go back in the
30s and when they outlawed all kinds of drugs in the canes (ph) across the
United States, one of the reasons why - I hate to say it - it`s the African
Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst
on those drugs is because their character make-up, their genetics.
SHARPTON: Along with representative Alford`s concern for black peoples`
character, his explanation channeled the grandfather of the drug war and a
vowed racist named Harry Anslinger who, as founding commissioner of the
Federal Bureau of Narcotics, spearheaded the prohibition of cannabis citing
its “effect on the degenerate races.” That was him being polite because he
also cautioned that “reefer makes darkies think they`re as good as white
I could get into a long, snarky take down of this logic, but I have more
important things left in the hour that we have to do, and frankly, I don`t
want to. But I will say one thing, Mr. Alford, because while you`ve issued
a public apology, your position illustrates just how pervasive racialized
thinking has been in the evolution of the drug war, a war that has put
thousands of minority citizens in prison while at the same time keeping
them off the voting roles even after their so called debts to society have
been paid. But since you brought genetics into it, please remember that
The Lion`s Share research shows that black and white Americans use
marijuana roughly at the same rate. Maybe what most Americans are truly
susceptible to is the truth, so have a toke on this. I gotcha.
SHARPTON: President Trump continues to deny his alleged diversion of the
black Diaspora, referring to Haiti and various African nations as well as
El Salvador, as quote, s-hole countries.
During a meeting where had allegedly had said this, during a meeting with
senators on immigration reform. Two – at least two of the senators
confirmed he did say that. But my concern is not what the President said,
but that he said it in the most crucial time and place. A policy
discussion about the future of immigration law, in the people`s House, no
Joining me now is Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS
NewsHour and NBC White House Reporter, Ali Vitali.
Let me go to you Yamiche, you know Lindsey Graham was quoted as having
taken the President on right there in the meeting reprimanding him and I
give him credit for that. Saying that, America`s is supposedly a place of
ideas and of course Senator Durbin said he said it.
But what is more striking to me and what he said, I consider and I`ve been
saying racist and abominable, but is the policy coming out of that, that
it`s – he`s no longer a 70-year-old man sitting on 5th Avenue just
sprouting words, he is affecting policy Yamiche and this could mean we`re
moving toward a race based immigration policy in this country.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR CORRESPONDENT: He certainly – his
certainly his ideas are affecting policy and there`s this idea that if
President Trump is there saying that Norway is – their immigrants are
essentially better than Haitians and Africans because they are somehow
essentially and Haitians are black, then that`s obviously problematic and
I`ve been talking to sources since this news broke out.
Obviously, the Haitian government summoned U.S. officials to come explain
themselves, so there`s an actual international relations where we have
countries essentially saying, what did you actually mean and then I, just
yesterday, released a letter written by Haitian diplomats who are saying
that is essentially creating heartbreak and despair across the world.
So there`s this idea that people are not just talking about the fact that
they didn`t like these comments. There`s this – it`s actually now
affecting how we deal with other countries including the people that are
working in the United States. These are the group of Haitian-American
people who are out there in our policies, in our bases talking to people on
behalf of American interest.
SHARPTON: They`re obviously even the African Union has come out. Tomorrow
I`m flying back from Washington to do a Harlem Martin Luther King Day and
then we`re going down joining other activist at 4:00 o`clock in Times
Square for a big protest.
People outraged by it. But one of the things that people need to
understand and we`re going to raise this Time Square, is that the facts
don`t speak that way. Look at this Yamiche, when you look at Norway and
the trade we do with Norway and the trade is we do – last recordings that
we have of data, rather that we have, is we did $10 billion in trade in
2013 in goods with Norway.
But look at what we do with Sub-Sahara, Africa, we do $37 billion in goods
with Sub-Sahara, Africa, in 2015. So, this whole thing of acting like that
African nations and Haiti and El Salvador are s-hole nations, we actually
do more trade with Africa and others than we do with Norway. So only their
whiteness would make you say, why don`t we bring in more people from
ALCINDOR: And that`s essentially what a lot of people feel and I should
tell you this is somewhat personal for me and other Asians out there. Both
my dad still lives in Haiti, runs a large non-profit there. My parents
emigrated from Haiti, both got PhDs in this country. I am now sitting, as
a reporter, talking to people all the time, giving people information.
So, there`s this idea that Haitians` have really, really contributed. The
Haitian ambassador reminded me that there`s literally a monument in
Savannah, Georgia, dedicated to Haitian free black soldiers that came to
help the United States fight in the Revolutionary War. So Haitians`, from
the very beginning of this nation have been pouring in and really
contributing to American society.
SHARPTON: Well Du Sable was Haitain, who founded Chicago, but let me got
Ali. Ali, there`s another issue here that I think we`re not talking as
much about and that is as we fight the war on terrorism and we need to
fight it in Africa where ISIS and we have, of course, Al-Queda and Boko
Haram who`s friendly there, how do we now tell African`s to be cooperative
with American Intelligence when we`ve told them that we look at them as s-
When we look – we have military bases all over Africa, Somalia, Nigeria, I
mean how do we say this without neutralizing or canceling our impact and at
the same time open the door for China and the Soviet Union and others to
even become more entrenched in Africa.
ALI VITALI, NBC WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well this is another example of,
actually, how Trump`s domestic controversies really do spill out then into
the international community.
He has really been someone who has talked about the bottom line for this
country in terms of the economy, but then also, he`s really targeted the
fight against ISIS and has made gains in that fight and I do think that
there are questions, like you`re raising, about how these comments impact
those international relationships.
But then I also think you made an important point about the policy debate
here, DACA is some that Democrats, obviously, want to get something done
on. And that the President himself has said he wants to get something done
Don`t forget, we started this entire news cycle this week with him saying
that he wants to deal with it with love. And he`s talked about dealing
with immigrants with love before, even when his administration canceled the
DACA program and said Congress needs to finally do something about it.
So, he says that he wants to get a deal and then this morning he`s coming
out and tweeting, “Well it`s probably dead, and it`s dead because of
Democrats.” And he`s blaming Democrats for the fact that his comments that
he made in this closed door meeting has leaked out.
And as much as these comments were stunning, they weren`t necessarily
surprising, because you and I both watched how he ran his campaign and he
really did run a way that was looking to really optimize the othering
factor and play into this idea that exists in some parts of white America
against black and brown people.
And I think that his immigration policy and the way he talks about
immigration in such a hard line way, was central to his campaign and it`s
been central to the way he has been a leader. So, it`s hard then when he
says we should deal with this with love and then you hear him talking about
countries in this way. It`s hard to square that circle then from a policy
sense because he`s kind all over on it.
SHARPTON: He says DACAs dead and clearly, you know, we were not shocked
when we heard it. Those of us that dealt with him and fought with him in
New York for years. He`s always been more profane than profound. Thank
you, Yamiche (ph) and Ali.
Up next, my interview with Congressman John Lewis on the eve of Dr. King`s
birthday and the 50th anniversary of his death. But first, in the same
week that our president is alleged to have referred to African nations as
well – well, you know.
We learned that Marvel studio`s upcoming film phenomena “Black Panther” set
mostly, and listen carefully, technologically advanced African country has
set a new record for ticket presales quickly becoming the most anticipated
film of the new year. Somehow I don`t think President Trump will be at the
premier because his head might explode. But we`ll be in the house. And
we`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: As we celebrate Dr. King`s 89th birthday tomorrow, I want to
remind the nation that strategically sanitized history of the Civil Rights
Movement that is too often promoted at this time of year is not only
reductive of Dr. King`s message, but also the era in which he lived.
A time where the rights considered to be linchpins of the American
experience were won only through the shedding of blood and under the
constant threat of death. Earlier I spoke with Congressman John Lewis who
was barely 25 years old when he joined Dr. King to march from Selma to
Montgomery, Alabama, pressing for voting rights and suffering a fractured
skull at the hand of Alabama state troopers.
(VIDEO CLIP BEGINS)
SHARPTON: Congressman Lewis, you worked with Dr. Martin Luther King. As
we approach the king holiday tomorrow and it kicks off a year of
recognizing and dealing with the 50th year since his death, how do you
assess the state of Dr. King`s dream today?
REP. JOHN LEWIS, D. GA: Well, we`ve coming a distance. We made a lot of
progress. But I tell you, his dream is being shaken by so much that is
happening in America at this time. When people around the world are trying
for freedom and independence, for justice, for health care, for peace in
America, we`re almost standing still.
And sometimes I feel like we`re taking steps backward. Dr. King would not
be pleased with the state of affairs in America today.
SHARPTON: Do you, as you look at the global picture, Dr. King in his last
years came out against the war in Vietnam, dealt with world peace issues,
was a Nobel Prize lawret (ph) and we see this present administration
dealing with a lot of back and forth globally and then domestically.
One of the things that Dr. King taught was having a moral movement and a
moral center to all that he did. And we`re seeing more division and
bickering and outright racism displayed at high levels, yet you keep going
You were the youngest member of what was called the big six, the top
organization heads at the time. What keeps you going and what would you
want young people that don`t even remember Dr. King, many of which – much
weren`t even born there to understand about the King principles that they
ought to be dealing with today in terms of the holiday and in terms of not
really taking a day off but a day on but to do what?
LEWIS: I would like to think that all young Americans and young people
around the world and those not so young would listen to the message of Dr.
King. Listen to the tapes. Watch the films. Dr. King was a man of
He believed in a way of peace, the way of love, the philosophy and the
discipline of nonviolence. I was in the riverside church with him on April
4th, 1967 when he delivered that unbelievable speech against the war in
He taught us the way of peace, the way of love. He taught us the
philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence. He taught us never, never to
hate, but to respect the dignity and worth of every human being.
So he taught me to be hopeful and not to get down, to keep picking him up
and putting them down. That somehow and some way we can redeem the soul of
America and create the beloved community, a nation at peace with itself.
SHARPTON: Yet as we approach this week, saw this week the present
president of the United States referring to certain nations of color,
specifically Haiti and African nations and – and Salvador as – as pots
(ph) or very derogatory terms yet this kind of bickering you even did not
attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Right Museum where you were
displayed because you had differences with the tone of this administration.
How do you assess Donald Trump in a Kingian kind of analysis as one that
walks shoulder to shoulder with Dr. King?
LEWIS: I don`t believe this man really understands what Martin Luther
King, Jr. was all about. Dr. King saw all of us, all Americans as being
citizens of the world and he believe that we shouldn`t put anyone down.
I`m reminded of what Pope Francis said when he came to speak to a joint
session of the Congress that we all are immigrants.
We all come from some other place and here in American we all are
immigrants except Native America. The late A. Philip Randolph said over
and over again in the presence of Dr. King when we were planning to march
on Washington that maybe our foremothers and our forefathers all came here
in different ships but we are in the same boat now.
And Dr. King put it another way. “We must learn to live together if not we
will perish as fools.”
SHARPTON: Dr. King worked with the farm workers with Cesar Chavez and
others so clearly his policies around - his principles around policies on
immigration would certainly not be anti-anyone and certainly he
demonstrated even when he was being criticized reaching out beyond just the
African American community.
So, in many ways have you challenged as a congressman your colleagues to
have a fair and humane immigration policy not a race based policy?
LEWIS: Well, I`ve been saying all along and I will continue to say it that
we are all brothers and sisters and it doesn`t matter whether we are black
or white, Latino or Asian American or Native American. We - our doors are
open. We are all immigrants and we should forget about race and see people
as human beings.
SHARPTON: On your body, you bared the scares of the struggle. You were
beaten under Edmund Pettus Bridge with Hosea Williams and others that just
sought to raise the issue of voting rights and you have now lived to see
some of those rights in question. We`re seeing what`s going on in North
Carolina, we`re seeing what`s going on in Texas and Ohio.
How do you look at the achievements you and Dr. King and others made with
getting the Voting Rights Act but now that voting right is being seriously
jeopardized in some states around the country with, it seems to be, the
support of the president of the United States?
LEWIS: We must continue to do what we did during the late 50s and during
the 60s, during Dr. King lifetime. When you see something that is not
right, not fair, not just we have to speak up and speak out. We must have
the courage to resist.
SHARPTON: Well, as one that grew up in the northern part of the movement
and always admired you it`s a great honor that you would share with us your
thoughts as we approach the eve of the King Day `18 and the year Dr. King
was taken from us. You`re still on the firing line, you`re still on the
case Congressman Lewis.
LEWIS: Thank you very much, Brother Al.
SHARPTON: Up next, my final thoughts. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Tomorrow morning, we will in Washington D.C. honor the garbage
workers. Those are the ones that Martin Luther King went to Memphis to
fight on behalf of, AFSCME members and he was killed while there standing
up for them. Then we`ll fly back to Harlem for our annual National Action
Network forum and then 4 o`clock go to Time Square to protest the ugly
racist words of this president.
Why? Because spends Dr. King`s day doing Dr. King things. If I came to
your birthday I`d eat what you like. I`d play the music you like. I would
not make your birthday in my own habits and feelings. I`ve been in this
all my life so it`s personal to me. I grew up a boy preaching Brooklyn.
I, at 12 years old joined Dr. King`s New York operation. At 13, Reverend
William Jones, an associate of his and Reverend Jessie Jackson appointed me
youth director in New York of Dr. King`s organization. I got to know, as
Martin and I talked about earlier, his widow, Mrs. King.
I was too young to Dr. King well but I got to know Dr. Corretta Scott King
well. And, I honored the times and investments they spent with me. That
is why I keep fighting. That is why on the night Barack Obama won I was
not in Chicago I was at Dr. King`s church in Atlanta with his sister, with
his children. 5,000 people celebrating the election of a black president
because right across from that church was the crypt of Dr. King was buried.
None of that would have happened if Martin Luther King hasn`t laid his life
down, if Martin Luther King had not died on a cold balcony in Memphis 50
years ago this April. I and other, black, white, Latino, Asian, owe it to
that man to keep the dream alive. I still have the fire in my belly that I
had as a kid to keep fighting. That does it for me.
Thank you for watching. Keep the conversation going. Like us on
Facebook.com/politicsnation and follow us on Twitter @politicnations. I`ll
see you back here next Sunday. Now to my colleague Alex Witt.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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