MARCHING THROUGH HISTORY

This weekend kids and families will join the March For Our Lives event, demanding an end to gun violence in our schools. The rally follows a long history of student uprisings here in America. Tonight we’ll take a look back with Dr. Yohuru Williams in an effort to look forward.

Aired on March 22, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS WEEKEND, THOUSANDS, IF NOT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS WILL DESCEND ON THE NATION'S CAPITOL.

THE EPIDEMIC OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS THAT FOR MANY STARTED A COLUMBINE.

THROUGHOUT RECENT HISTORY, WE HAVE SEEN STUDENT UPRISINGS, THE TUMULTUOUS '60S AND '70S COME TO MIND.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK BACK IF WE WOULD AND YOU AND I OFF CAMERA BEFORE WE GOT STARTED HERE WERE TALKING ABOUT THE LATE '60s AND THE EARLY '70s TALKING ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTS, THE A ANTI-WAR PROTESTS.

LET ME START WITH THE CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTS.

TALK ABOUT THE ROLE THE STUDENTS PLAYED IN THE EARLY '60s, THE MID 0 THE LATE '6 IN TERMSHE PRT EFFEESS OF TI NT ACTIVISASRIL TO THE CIVIL LRIGHTS MEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES.

WHEN WE THINK ABOUT THE PROTESTS IN THAT ERA, THE STUDENTS WHERE ARE DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY IN TERMS OF PROTESTS AGAINST THE VIETNAM WAR, THIS WAS AN ERA IN WHICH STUDENTS REALLY TOOK TO THE STREETS TO PROTEST WHAT THEY SAW AS PROBLEMS THAT WERE FUNDAMENTAL TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, BUT PART OF THE MOTIVATION FOR THAT MOMENT IS THOSE WERE IMPACTING THEM.

WE HAD STUDENTS FROM NORTH TO SO SOUTH--IN THE CASE OF ANTI-WAR PROTESTS, AND THAT OBVIOUSLY WAS VERY DAMAGING.

SO THEY HAD DESIRES TO PROTEST THE VIETNAM WAR, FROM THE STAND POINT THAT THEY BELIEVED THAT IT WAS AN IMMORAL WAR.

AS YOU SEE YOUNG PEOPLE, WE'RE LOOKING AT THIS EPIDEMIC OF THE SHOOTINGS TOSAY,HIS IS DANGERANRIMENT TO US WE NEEDO DO SOMETHING TO RESPOND.

ME TAKE LOOK AT BOTH OF THOSE AREAS, WE'LL START WITH CIVIL RIGHTS, YOU MENTIONED, YOU HAD YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WERE SAYING, THERE'S SOMETHING TERRIBLY WRONG WITH THIS NOTION, SEPARATE BUT EQUAL, IT TOOK UNTIL 1954 FOR THE UNITED STATES TO SAY YOU CANNOT BE SEPARATE AND STILL BE EQUAL.

AND EVEN AFTER THAT BOARD OF EDUCATION DECISION, IT TOOK DECADES FOR THAT TO BE IMP IMPLEMENTED, SO WE SAW STUDENTS WHO SAID WE'RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING HERE.

GIVE US A SENSE OF SOME OF THE THINGS FOR THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT THAT STUDENTS DID MORE THAN JUST SAYING WE'RE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS, RATHER THAN SAYING WE'RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?

THAT'S THE ESSENTIAL PIECE IS THAT THE STUDENTS RECOGNIZE THAT THERE IS LIMITATIONS TO WHAT THE NAACP WAS ABLE TO DO IN TERMS OF THEIR LEGAL STRATEGY, SO FOLLOWING BROWN VERSUS BOARD OF EDUCATION, WHEN THE STATE STILL PROVED TO BE RETICENT GUILT ENSURES THE RIGHTS ABOUT AMERICANS, YOU HAVE THE NAACP -- BUT THE FOREFRONT OF THAT WAS STUDENTS, LIKE THE STUDENTS AT NORTH CAROLINA WERE SITTING AT A LUNCH COUNTER.

TO GO AND TO MAKE THE PRONOUNCEMENT TO THE COURT REAL BY ACTUALLY TESTING THE BOUNDARIES OF THE LAW.

YOU HAVE STUDENTS IN 1960 WHO ENGAGED IN THE FREEDOM RIDE, THERE HAD BEEN A RULING BY THE SUPREME COURT IN 1946 THAT THERE WAS NO SEGREGATION IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE.

YOU HAVE YOUNG PEOPLE IN COLLEGES, BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES WHO SAID THE ONLY WAY TO TEST THIS IS TO GO OUT AND TO ENTER THOSE ESTABLISHMENTS AND MAKE THE NATION RESPOND, MAKE THOSE STATES RESPOND, MAKE THOSE GOVERNORS RESPONDS TO THOSE DEMANDS.

YOU ALSO HAVE ACTIVISM IN A MYRIAD OF WAYS.

AGAIN THE STUDENTS WERE DOING THIS, BECAUSE NOT ONLY WERE THEY IMPACTED BY IT, BUT THEY RECOGNIZED THAT THE POWER OF THEIR EXAMPLE COULD REALLY CATCH FIRE, THAT IT COULD INSPIRES OTHERS TO ACT.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ANTI-WAR PROTESTS, AS WE KNOW IT TOOK A WHILE FOR A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THIS NATION TO START TO OPPOSE THEIR PRESENCE IN VIETNAM.

WE KNOW ABOUT THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON NOVEMBER 1969, TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE THINGS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE WERE DOING IN TERMS OF FOCUSING ON WHY WE NEEDED TO GET OUT OF VIETNAM.

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YOU HAVE ENOUGH YOUNG PEOPLE DURING THE 1960s TAKING A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT STRATEGIES TO PROTEST THE WAR IN VIETNAM, MOST OF THE TIME WHEN WE THINK OF VIETNAM WAR PROTESTS, WOULD BURN TH THEIR -- YOU HAD YOUNG PEOPLE REALLY CLAMORING FOR INFORMATION, TRYING TO PUT PRESSURE ON GOVERNMENT TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN SOUTHEAST ASIA AND AN EFFORT BY ACTIVIST ORGANIZATIONS TO REALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT WOULD OFFER THE BEST OPPORTUNITY TO GET THE NATION TO RECOGNIZE WHAT THEY SAW AS A FUNDAMENTALLY IMMORAL WAR IN VIETNAM.

LONG BEFORE DR. KING COMES OUT AGAINST THE WAR IN 1964, WHITE STUDENT ACTIVISTS AT A HOST OF INSTITUTIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY RAISING THE SAME ISSUES SAYING THIS WAS A FUNDAMENTAL -- THIS WAS A WAR THAT WAS FUNDAMENTALLY AGAINST THE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCRATIC PRACTICE.

WHAT SORT OF LESSONS DO YOU THINK THE USE OF TODAY WHO ENGAGED IN IN MOVEMENT, WHAT SORT OF LESSONS DO YOU THINK THEY CAN GLEAN FROM THE ACTIONS OF THE STUDENTS IN THE 60s AND THE 70s.

THE FIRST IS TO HAVE VERY CLEAR DEMANDS.

ONE OF THE REASONS THAT CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTS PROVED TO BE SO FRUITFUL BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE -- WHEN YOU HAVE A MOVEMENT THAT'S ILL DEFINED, IT DFILT TO PREST A TANGIBLEET OF DEMANDS.

ONE DAY OF ACTION IS NOT GOING TO PRODUCE THE TYPE OF SYSTEMIC CHANGE THAT YOU WANT TO SEE.

THIS DAY OF ACTION COMING UP THIS WEEKEND, IS IMPORTANT, BUT ALL IN ALL, THE FACT IS THAT THIS PRESSURE WILL HAVE TO CONTINUE.

WE SAW THAT WITH THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, WE SAW THAT WITH THE PROTESTS AGAINST THE WAR IN VIETNAM.

AND THE LAST THING PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND, IT'S GOING TO TAKE A MASS MOBILIZE AND MASS ORGANIZING IN ORDER TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

AND THAT'S THE IDEA THAT YOU MARCHED ON WASHINGTON BECAUSE IT'S THE PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE.

IT IS THE NATION'S EPICENTER, IN THE SAME WAY THAT IF YOU WANTED TO MARCH ON ALBANY, YOU DO SO IN LARGE NUMBERS AND SUFFICIENT NUMBERS TO COMMUNICATE THE DEPTH OF THAT ORGANIZATIONAL STUFF AND HOW COMMITTED YOU ARE TO SEE CHANGE.

WE'RE TOLD ALSO THAT THE PAST CAN BE A PRO LOG, AND YOU HAVE GIVEN US A GREAT UNDERSTANDING OF THE PAST AND HOW THEY INFLUENCE THE FUTURE.

I WANT TO COME AND TAKE ONE OF YOUR COURSES THERE IN ST. THOMAS SOMETIME.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AND WE'LL HAVE YOU BACK ON TO TALK MORE.

> FOR MORE ON THE MARCH FOR OUR LIVES, YOU CAN GO SEARCH MARCHFOROURLIVES.COM.

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