SPECIAL EDITION: THE UNKNOWN M.L.K.: BEYOND THE DREAM

If you think you know all there is to know about Dr. King and his “I Have A Dream” speech, there’s much more to his story. We have the details.

Aired on January 21, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' CELEBRATING THE LIFE AND THE LEGACY OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS ICON LEFT HIS DREAM OF EQUALITY FOR GENERATIONS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS TO FOLLOW AND FULFILL.

AND ALSO AS A BLUEPRINT FOR OTHER MINORITY GROUPS SEEKING EQUALITY.

BUT IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW ALL THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE ICONIC SPEECH AND THE MAN HIMSELF, YOU ONLY KNOW HALF THE STORY.

IN MOMENTS, WE'LL INTRODUCE YOU TO A MORE RADICAL LEADER, A KING WHO YEARNED FOR EQUALITY, BUT WANTED JUSTICE FIRST.

A SOCIAL OBSERVER WHO QUESTIONED WHETHER OR NOT INTEGRATION WAS REALLY BEST FOR BLACK AMERICA, AND A CRUSADER WHO SAW POVERTY AMONGST ALL AMERICANS AS AN URN CONSTITUTIONAL SIN EQUAL TO RACISM.

SO HOW DO THESE FACETS GUEST LOST AMONG THESE FOUR FAMOUS WORDS 'I HAVE A DREAM'? FIND OUT AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT FUNDING COMPANY.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS,' EXPLORING THE VISION OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING.

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

ON AUGUST 28th, 1963, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING KING STOOD AT THE PODIUM FOR THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON, AND DELIVERED HIS WORLD FAMOUS 'I HAVE A DREAM' SPEECH, OR SO MOST OF US TAUGHT.

THE EVENT WHERE KING DELIVERED HIS LEGENDARY REMARKS WAS MORE THAN JUST A SYMBOLIC MARCH ON THE CAPITOL MOLL.

IT WAS THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM.

AND WHILE KING DID END HIS ADDRESS BY SHARE HIS DREAM WORLD WHERE HIS FOUR LITTLE CHILDREN WOULD ONE DAY LIVE IN A NATION WHERE THEY WERE NOT JUDGED BY THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN, BUT BY THE CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER, THE BEGINNING OF HIS SPEECH IS LARGELY OVERLOOKED BY POPULAR HISTORY.

KING BEGAN BY SPEAKING CLEARLY AND SPECIFICALLY ABOUT AMERICA'S UNFULFILLED PROMISES THAT NEARLY 100 YEARS AFTER THE 14th AMENDMENT GUARANTEES CITIZENSHIP TO ALL PERSONS BORN OR NATURALIZED IN THE UNITED STATES.

KING SAID, QUOTE, THE NEGRO IS STILL NOT FREE.

THE LIFE OF THE NEGRO IS STILL BADLY CRIPPLED BY THE MANACLES OF DISCRIMINATION AND THE CHAINS OF DISCRIMINATION.

KING CALLED THIS A SHAMEFUL CONDITION.

HE ALSO INFORMED THE MULTIRACIAL AUDIENCE BOTH IN D.C. AND ON TELEVISION SETS ACROSS THE COUNTRY OF THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW, SAYING, QUOTE, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO ENGAGE IN THE LUXURY OF COOLING OFF OR TO TAKE THE TRANQUILIZING DRUG OF GRADUALISM.

NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE REAL THE PROMISES OF DEMOCRACY.

NOW IS THE TIME TO RAISE FROM THE DARK AND DESOLATE VALLEY OF SEGREGATION TO THE SUN LIT PATH OF SOCIAL JUSTICE.

NOW IS THE TIME TO LIFT OUR NATION FROM THE QUICK SANDS OF RACIAL INJUSTICE TO THE SOLID ROCK OF BROTHERHOOD.

NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE JUSTICE A REALITY FOR ALL OF GOOD'S CHILDREN.

ALL OF THIS AND MORE WAS SAID BEFORE KING EVER UTTERED THE WORDS 'I HAVE A DREAM.'

SO TO HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND THE TOTALITY AND THE INTENTION AND THE WORK SO MANY OF US KNOW SO LITTLE ABOUT, I'M JOINED NOW BY MICHAEL MEYERS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK CIVIL RIGHTS COALITION, DR. CRYSTAL FLEMMING, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AND AFRICAN THAT STUDIES AT STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY AND THE AUTHOR OF 'HOW TO BE LESS STUPID ABOUT RACE', AND AND JOSEPH PINION, CO-CHAIR OF THE CONSERVATIVE COLORED COALITION, AND BOARD MEMBER OF THE LISTEN FIRST PROJECT.

WELCOME TO EVERYONE.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

THANK YOU.

SO FIRST I DO WANT TO START WITH THAT LEGENDARY SPEECH THAT WE ALL KNOW AND YET DON'T KNOW ABOUT WHAT IT WAS THAT MARTIN SAID BEFORE HE TOLD US ABOUT HIS DREAM.

YEAH, A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE THAT THE DREAM WAS BEING CONTRASTED WITH THE REALITY, RIGHT?

THE REALITY WAS THAT MARTIN LUTHER KING WAS POINTING OUT THE UNITED STATES WAS A RACIST SOCIETY, A SOCIETY WHERE 100 YEARS AFTER THE EVOLUTION OF SLAVERY, YOU STILL HAD THE PERSISTENCE OF GROSS INEQUALITY, OF POVERTY THAT WAS CONCENTRATED IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.

SO THE WHOLE FIRST HALF OF THE SPEECH WAS DENOUNCING THAT REALITY.

AND THEN WHAT I THINK IS INTERESTING, AND MAYBE WE CAN TALK ABOUT ON THE PANEL IS HE NONETHELESS BELIEVED THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE AMERICAN DREAM, RIGHT.

AND HE REFERRED TO SOME OF THE FOUNDING DOCUMENTS, RIGHT, WHETHER IT'S THE CONSTITUTION TO SAY THAT THERE WAS A CHECK THAT WAS -- A BAD CHECK GIVEN TO AFRICAN AMERICANS.

CAME BACK WITH INSUFFICIENT FUNDS IS HOW HE DESCRIBED IT.

THE QUESTION WAS THE CHECK BAD OR WAS THE BANK BAD.

THAT'S A GOOD POINT.

THE ISSUE WAS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE AMERICAN DREAM, AND THE AMERICAN SOCIETY, AND THAT'S WHERE THERE WAS DIVISION IN AMERICAN SOCIETY, EVEN AMONG BLACKS ABOUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE INCLUDED.

KING WAS AN INTEGRATIONIST, WASN'T AN ASSIMILATIONIST.

HE WAS AN INTEGRATIONIST.

THAT MEANT TO INTERACT.

DO NOT BE AFRAID OF PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEIR SKIN COLOR, AND DON'T EXPECT PEOPLE TO BE AFRAID YOU HAVE BECAUSE OF YOUR SKIN COLOR THAT WAS HIS DREAM, THAT WE WOULD GET BEYOND THE FLIMSY NATURE OF SKIN COLOR THAT CAN JUDGE AND PREJUDGE PEOPLE.

THAT WAS HIS GOAL.

BUT THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT WAS A TURBULENT ONE BECAUSE HE TRIED TO KEEP PEOPLE IN THE FOCUS OF INTEGRATION WHEN THE BLACK POWER MOVEMENT CAME ON THE SCENE.

AND THE YOUNG BLACKS, THE MILITANTS, THE SO-CALLED RADICALS WERE TELLING WE DON'T WANT TO BE WITH WHITE PEOPLE.

AND THAT WAS THE DILEMMA.

AND THAT'S WHY KING IS SO REVERED TODAY BY INTEGRATIONISTS AND ASSIMILATIONISTS AND MAINSTREAM AMERICANS, BECAUSE WE HAD THE HOPE THAT SKIN COLOR WOULD NO LONGER BE THE BASIS FOR JUDGING PEOPLE AND DISCRIMINATING AGAINST PEOPLE AND EXCLUDING PEOPLE.

BUT YET STILL, IN CURRENT AMERICA, WE HAVE BLACKS WHO HAVE REJECTED THE NOTION OF INTEGRATION, WHO HAVE SUPPORTED THE NOTION OF SURRUGATION.

TO ME THAT IS WHY THE MESSAGE OF KING IS SO TIMELY I THINK IN THESE PARTICULAR TIMES.

WHEN WE TALK ABOUT INDIVIDUALS WHO, YOU KNOW, ARE UP IN ARMS ABOUT THE SECOND VERSE OF THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER, BUT HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE FIRST THREE PAGES OF THE 'I HAVE A DREAM' SPEECH.

PEOPLE WHO ARE SEEMINGLY SO CONSUMED WITH THE ANGER THAT KING ALSO WARNED US NOT TO ALLOW THAT TO CONSUME US.

THEY'RE NOT ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT THE FACT THAT AS HE SAYS, IN THOSE FIRST TWO PAGES, THAT THE BANK -- THE JUSTICE -- THE BANK OF JUSTICE ALSO IS NOT BANKRUPT.

IT IS CONSTANT PROGRESS, THAT WE ALSO HAVE THE ABILITY TO DEMAND JUSTICE, TO RECOGNIZE WHAT IS WRONG, BUT WE CAN ALSO ACHIEVE PROGRESS BY WORKING TOGETHER WITH THOSE INDIVIDUALS THAT YOU RECOGNIZE THERE IS A PROBLEM.

WITH THE INDIVIDUALS THAT YOU RECOGNIZE THERE IS A PROBLEM, BUT OF COURSE FINDING, MAKING SURE THAT THE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THERE IS A PROBLEM AND WHAT THE PROBLEM IS ALSO SEEM TO HAVE BEEN PART OF THE MESSAGE.

IS THAT FAIR TO SAY?

KING WAS PERFECTLY MISUNDERSTOOD.

AND HE KNEW THAT.

AND PERFECTLY UNDERSTOOD.

FOR EXAMPLE, IN TERMS OF HOW YOU GET OUT OF THE RACIST SOCIETY, HOW DO YOU GET OUT OF THE SITUATION WE'RE IN, HE BELIEVED IN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.

HE BELIEVED BECAUSE BLACKS WERE EXCLUDED BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE, THERE WAS NO OBJECTION TO AFFIRMATIVE USE OF RACE TO INCLUDE BLACKS, NOT IN SEPARATE STATIONS, NOT IN SEPARATE WAYS.

THE NOTION IN NEW YORK CITY, FOR EXAMPLE, WHERE WE COULD HAVE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS AND HAVE ONE DOOR FOR WHITES AND ASIANS AND A SEPARATE DOOR FOR BLACKS AND HISPANICS, TO ME THAT IS OUTRAGEOUS.

TO ME THAT IS AGAINST THE DREAM AND THE CONDITIONS OF EQUALITY BASED ON EQUALITY.

SINGLE STANDARD PERFORMANCE AND EXCELLENCE HAS A STANDARD FOR ALL OF US.

BLACK PEOPLE HAVE GOT TO PURSUE EXCELLENCE IN TERMS OF EDUCATION, IN TERMS OF TEACHER, IN TERMS OF PUPILS, AND WE'VE GOT TO STOP WITH THEIR APOLOGIES AND THE EXCUSES AND THE ALIBIS THAT WE ARE BEHIND THE 8 BALL BECAUSE OF A RACIST SOCIETY.

NO.

WE HAVE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.

WE HAVE CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS.

LET'S USE THOSE LAWS.

LET'S USE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.

LET'S USE OUR WILL TO INTEGRATE TO AMERICAN SOCIETY AND STOP RUNNING AWAY FROM WHITE PEOPLE.

ONE OF THE THINGS I WOULD SAY, THOUGH, IS THAT MARTIN LUTHER KING WOULD DISAGREE WITH A LOT OF WHAT WAS JUST STATED.

ONE OF THE REASONS HE WOULD DISAGREE IS THAT HE WAS VERY ADAMANT THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO CALL OUT WHITE RACISM.

IT WAS IMPORTANT TO CALL OUT WHITE SUPREMACY, NOT AS AN EXCUSE --

AND HE CALLED OUT BLACK RACES.

-- NOT AS AN EXCUSE, BUT AS A REAL EVALUATION OF THE SOCIETY IN WHICH WE LIVE.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT GETS LEFT OUT IN DISCUSSIONS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING TODAY, IT'S HIS RADICAL VISION.

YOU TALK ABOUT YOUNG RADICALS.

MARTIN LUTHER KING WAS A RADICAL, AND HE WAS HATED FOR HIS RADICALISM.

HE WAS HATED FOR HIS CRITIQUE OF WHITE SUPREMACY.

HE RECEIVED DEATH THREATS, RIGHT?

HE WAS KILLED BY A WHITE RACIST.

YOU TALK ABOUT I WANT CONGRATULATION --

AND MALECON X WAS SCARED OF BEING ASSASSINATED BY BLACK PEOPLE WHO HATED HIS MILITANCY.

HOW ABOUT INTEGRATIONISM?

OKAY.

WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT OTHER LEADERS IN A MINUTE.

INTEGRATIONISM, BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT THAT THAT WAS PART OF HIS DREAM.

BUT HE WAS ALSO SKEPTICAL OR IT.

TOWARDS THE END OF HIS LIFE, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MARTIN LUTHER KING ASKED WAS ARE WE INTEGRATING INTO A BURNING HOUSE, RIGHT.

SO WE HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT, THAT THAT'S PART OF HIS LEGACY AS WELL.

I THINK TO YOUR POINT, AS WE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT THAT, THE RESPONSE IS WE MUST BE FIERY.

AND TO ME THAT IS THE REALITY.

WE AS A PEOPLE, BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE IN AMERICA HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CALLED TO WORK OUT OF LOVE, THIS PLACE OF LOVE.

I'VE ALWAYS SAID WE TALK ABOUT PATRIOTISM AND ALL THESE THINGS, THAT IT IS ABOUT LOVE.

IT'S ABOUT UNDERSTANDING THAT WE LIVE IN AN IMPERFECT NATION FOUNDED BY IMPERFECT MEN, BUT WE CAN FIND A WAY TO LOVE OURSELVES --

MEN BEING THE OPERATIVE WORD.

MEN BEING THE OPERATIVE WORD, YES.

THAT TO ME IS THAT OPPORTUNITY.

THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAY THAT I THINK THAT KING WAS A RADICAL, AND ALSO IMPLORES US TO REJECT WHAT HE CALLS THE TRANQUILIZING DRUG OF GRADUALISM.

BUT HE ALSO UNDERSTOOD THE POWER OF INCREMENTALISM.

HE WAS AN INDIVIDUAL WHO UNDERSTOOD THAT YES, IT MIGHT NOT BE IDEAL, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO END THE REVOLUTION TO UNDERSTAND THAT CERTAIN STEPS MUST BE IN ORDER, THAT YOU CAN GET A CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 BEFORE YOU GET A VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965.

RIGHT.

AND I THINK THE BLUEPRINT FOR HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD AS A NATION EXISTS IN THE LEGACY OF DR. KING.

OUR GOAL AS A PEOPLE IS NOT TO DO WHAT WE OFTEN ACCUSE OTHERS OF DOING AND WHITEWASHING THAT LEGACY OR CRAFTING THAT LEGACY TO WHAT WE WANT IT TO BE IN THE HERE AND NOW.

BECAUSE, AGAIN, THE WORK THAT IS REQUIRED TO MOVE US FORWARD IS NOT EASY.

THAT'S WHY WHEN THEY CUT OPEN THE CHEST OF A KING 39 YEARS OLD THEY FOUND THE HEART OF A MAN TWICE HIS AGE, BECAUSE THIS WORK IS NOT EASY.

ONE OF THE WORKS HE DID FOR RACIAL JUSTICE, RACIAL INCLUSION, HE ADDRESSED THE ISSUE OF POVERTY IN THE COUNTRY.

HE HAD HIS POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN.

YES.

WHICH I THINK NOW IS SLOWLY STARTING TO GET A LITTLE MORE ATTENTION, BUT SORT OF GOT LOST IN HISTORY.

AND A LOT OF WHAT HE WAS SAYING, HONESTLY, TODAY, WOULD MIRROR SOME PRESIDENTIAL PLATFORMS IN MY OPINION.

AND I'M WONDERING HOW IS IT THAT DID THIS DID NOT -- THIS NEVER GOT ANY MOVEMENT.

IT JUST GOT LEFT BEHIND.

YOU HAVE TO SEE IT IN THE CONTEXT OF HISTORY.

KING WAS NOT JUST ON AN ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAM AND AN ANTI-POVERTY CRUSADE.

HE WAS FOR JOBS FOR BLACK PEOPLE WHO WERE EXCLUDED FROM JOBSES, WHO WERE BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BY UNIONS, THE CONSTRUCTION UNION, FOR EXAMPLE.

BLACKS COULDN'T BECOME CONSTRUCTION WORKERS BECAUSE OF DISCRIMINATION IN THAT INDUSTRY.

I REMEMBER HE WAS THIS THE CONTEXT OF THAT.

THE HERBERT HILLS USED TO ATTACK THE EXCLUSIONARY UNIONS FOR THE DISCRIMINATING AGAINST BLACKS.

SO KING WANTED UNIONS TO BE DEMOCRATIZED AND BE INCLUSIONARY, AND HE WANTED BLACKS TO HAVE JOBS, GOOD JOBS, UNION JOBS, HIGH PAYING JOBS.

SO IT WANT AN ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAM HE WAS AFTER, IT WAS AFTER THAT PHRASE IN THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON, 'I AM A MAN' TO USE HIS WORDS OF HISTORY, I AM A MAN, A PERSON, AN INDIVIDUAL.

I HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE A JOB.

I HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE WHERE I WANT TO LIVE.

I HAVE A RIGHT TO GO TO SCHOOL.

I HAVE A RIGHT TO EXCELLENCE.

THAT WAS THE KING DREAM.

THAT WAS THE KING LEGACY.

THAT WAS THE KING AGENDA.

KING WANTED THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY.

SO I THINK IT'S A COMPLETE DISTORTION OF HISTORY TO SUGGEST HE WAS NOT IN SUPPORT OF AN ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAM.

DR. KING THOUGHT THAT RACISM WAS CONNECTED TO POVERTY AND THAT THE FIGHT AGAINST BOTH OF THOSE THINGS ALSO REQUIRED FIGHTING AGAINST MILITARISM.

HE CONNECTED THESE THINGS IN HIS RADICAL VISION.

THE OTHER THING THAT HASN'T BEEN STATED BUT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE, DR. KING WAS A DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, AND THIS IS A HUGE PART OF HIS LEGACY THAT IS OFTEN ERASED AND IGNORED.

SO YOU THINK ABOUT TODAY HOW WE HAVE SOME PROGRESSIVES WHO ARE MERGING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, BUT ALSO OUTSIDE OF IT, WHO ARE ADVOCATING THINGS LIKE MEDICAID -- MEDICARE FOR ALL, ADVOCATING FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE, ADVOCATING FOR FUNDING TO BE TAKEN AWAY FROM, YOU KNOW, ENDLESS WARS TO COVER EDUCATION AND HOUSING.

THAT WOULD BE IN ALIGNMENT WITH KING'S VISION.

I THINK THE JUXTAPOSITION BETWEEN THE THEN AND THE NOW IS THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE LEGACY OF A MAN DURING A TIME PERIOD IN WHICH THE CRY WAS JOBS AND JUSTICE.

AND THE NOTION IS SAYING THAT JOBS COULD EQUATE TO PEOPLE BEING ABLE TO ESCAPE POVERTY.

CURRENTLY WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING MULTIPLE JOBS, STILL TRAPPED IN THE THROES OF POVERTY, RIGHT.

SO THAT TYPE OF DIFFERENCE RIGHT NOW MAKES IT DIFFICULT I THINK FOR SOME PEOPLE TO MAKE THE CONNECT, TO FIND THE CONNECTIVE THREAD BETWEEN THE THEN AND THE NOW.

AND I THINK TO YOUR POINT, I WOULD PUSH BACK SLIGHTLY SAYING THAT, YES, I THINK HE WAS FOR JUSTICE.

AND I THINK YOU CANNOT PURSUE LIFE, LIBERTY OR HAPPINESS OR JUSTICE IF YOU'RE SICK YOU.

CAN'T PURSUE LIFE, LIBERTY OR JUSTICE IF YOU DON'T HAVE EQUAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION.

PUSHBACK, IT SOUNDS LIKE --

I THINK HE WAS ALSO FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN EMPOWERMENT.

OH, ABSOLUTELY.

AND CHANGING BLACK INSTITUTIONS.

BUT I ALSO THINK COMMERCIAL EMPOWERMENT.

I THINK WHEN YOU START TALKING TO YOUR POINT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT I AM A MAN.

INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE WILLING TO LITERALLY ALLOW THE TRASH TO PILE UP IN MEMPHIS, TO DEMAND THAT THEY WERE GOING TO GET TONS AND TONS OF TRASH PILING UP, THE STENCH LITERALLY CHOKING THE CITY BECAUSE THEY WERE WILLING TO DEMAND FAIR PAY.

IF YOU LOOK AT A MODERN DAY MOVEMENT, WHY WE HAVE PLACES LIKE WALMART THAT ARE BE SUBSIDIZED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BECAUSE SO MANY OF OUR WORKERS CAN'T GET PAID A LIVING WAGE.

WELL, THE REALITY IS YOU HAVE TO STOP SHOPPING AT WALMART.

THAT TO ME IS NOT A MATTER OF, YOU KNOW, DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM.

THAT IS A MATTER OF ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT FOR PEOPLE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE WORK HAS TO GET DONE.

BUT THOSE THINGS CAN GO TOGETHER.

AND KING WAS CLEAR.

HE SUPPORTED BLACK ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT.

RIGHT.

AND HE ALSO SUPPORTED SOCIALISM.

ONE OF THE SEMINAL ISSUES THAT MADE DR. KING WHO HE WAS HIS OPPOSITION TO THE VIETNAM WAR.

I THINK THAT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN WITHIN -- WITHIN THAT THREAD THIS NOTION THAT SOMEHOW THAT THE NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES OF COLORS HAVE BEEN SUBLIMATED FOR THE NEEDS OF THE NATION MILITARILY.

I THINK THAT THE CURRENT REALITY IS THAT YES, WE DO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON MILITARY DEFENSE.

BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY WE SPEND ON MILITARY DEFENSE IS THE REASON THAT SCHOOLS IN BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES ARE NOT PROVIDING US WITH THE EDUCATION THEY DESERVE.

I THINK TO ME, AGAIN, WHEN WE LOOK AT THE DOLLAR PER DOLLAR AMOUNT WE SPEND ON CHILDREN, THERE IS NO EARTHLY REASON WHY THAT MONEY DOES NOT EQUATE INTO BETTER OUTCOMES FOR THE CHILDREN WHO NEED THOSE OUTCOMES THE MOST.

SO I THINK WE CAN TALK ABOUT BOTH.

WELL CAN TALK ABOUT SHOULD WE SPEND LESS ON MILITARY AND ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT IT IS NOT A DOLLAR ISSUE THAT IS THE REASON.

IT'S A MORAL ISSUE.

WE CAN COME BACK AND HAVE LITERALLY AN ENTIRE ROUND TABLE JUST FOR EDUCATION FUNDING, AND YOU'RE RIGHT, WE ABSOLUTELY SHOULD.

BUT I DO WANT TO MOVE ON AND ASK MY FINAL QUESTION THAT ALWAYS SEEMED TO PUZZLE ME.

WHY IT IS, AND I BELIEVE I LOOKED IT UP, SENATOR CORY BOOKER FROM NEW JERSEY WAS THE ONE WHO SORT OF COINED THE TERM SANTA CLAUSIFICATION OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, AND THAT WAS THE SENSE THAT HE OUT OF ALL THE OTHER CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS HAS ASCENDED TO THIS MYTHICAL STATUS ALMOST LIKE OUR FOUNDING FATHERS WHERE THE MYTH IS WHAT WE ALL KNOW ABOUT AND THE MAN WE KNOW A LITTLE BIT LESS ABOUT.

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS OR TO THINK ABOUT THAT, WHY DOES HE GET LIFTED UP AS A KIND OF SANTA CLAUS IN TODAY'S RACIAL POLITICS, ONE OF THE REASONS IS THAT FOR ALL OF HIS RADICAL IDEAS, FOR ALL OF HIS IMPORTANT ACTIVISM, RIGHT.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WANTED SOMETHING THAT ALMOST EVERY WHITE AMERICAN WANTS, AND THAT'S TO FORGIVE WHITE AMERICA FOR EVERYTHING THEY HAVE DONE TO BLACK AND BROWN AMERICA.

HE WAS VERY ADAMANT.

PART OF HIS CHRISTIAN ETHIC OF LOVE WAS LITERALLY TO SAY THAT WE HAVE TO FORGIVE WHITE PEOPLE NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO TO US, TO PARAPHRASE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

AND I THINK THAT IS SOMETHING THAT WHITE AMERICA IN PARTICULAR HAS ALWAYS YEARNED FOR, ANSWER LOSING, TO BE FORGIVEN.

THAT IS WHY HIS LEGACY HAS BEEN ABLE TO BE COOPTED AND APPROPRIATED BY PEOPLE WHO ERASE HIS RADICAL CRITIQUE AND JUST WANT TO FOCUS ON FORGIVENESS, CONSENSUS, AND FORGET REALLY THE URGENT MORAL CRITIQUE THAT HIS WORK REPRESENTED.

IT WASN'T JUST ABOUT BEING INTEGRATED INTO THE UNITED STATES.

AGAIN, GO BACK TO THE VIETNAM WAR OPPOSITION.

HE WAS AN INTERNATIONALIST.

HE WAS ALSO A PAN AFRICANIST.

HE WAS PRESENT FOR THE INAUGURATION OF QUAME NEKRUMA.

NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THAT.

HE SUPPORTED DECOLONIALIZATION MOVEMENTS.

HE WAS AGAINST NOT JUST THE VIETNAM WAR, BUT AGAINST WAR PERIOD.

WE NEED TO REMEMBER THAT AND NOT JUST GET CAUGHT UP WITH THE DISNEY VERSION OR THE SANTA CLAUS VERSION OF LET'S ALL HOLD HANDS AND SING KUMBAHYAH.

THAT ISN'T THE KING THAT HISTORY WILL REMEMBER.

I THINK THAT TO ADD ON TO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, I THINK ACROSS HISTORY YOU GET TO BE THE PROPHET OR THE KING.

WE HAVE A KING WHO WAS A PROPHET.

HE GOT ELEVATED.

YOU HAVE THIS NOTION THAT YOU HAVE TO BE SELECTED BEFORE YOU GET ELECTED, RIGHT?

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT MY GRANDFATHER ALWAYS TOLD ME.

EVEN US BEING ABLE TO SIT HERE AT THIS TABLE, THERE WAS A DECISION MADE BY SOMEBODY IN THE ROOM THAT WE WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ELEVATED TO HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS.

AND I THINK THE MESSAGE OF KING WAS ONE THAT LENT ITSELF TO YOUR POINT TO BE SANITIZED SO THAT IT WAS PALATABLE FOR THE BROADEST SWATH OF PEOPLE.

AND THAT IS NOT UNIQUE TO DR.

KING HIMSELF.

WE'VE DONE WIT PEOPLE LIKE JACKIE ROBINSON.

YOU UNDERSTAND IN HISTORY WE TEND TO RECOGNIZE THE FIRST, THE LAST, AND THE BEST.

AND WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE LEGACY OF KING, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE LEGACY OF THOSE TRAIL BLAZERS THAT MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO SIT HERE, THOSE ARE KRIDS VIDS WHO ARE OFTEN THE FIRST, THESE WERE INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE OFTEN THE BEST, AND THESE ARE INDIVIDUALS WHO ON SOME BASIC LEVEL, TO YOUR POINT, WANTED A THE CORE OF THEIR BEING TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER.

I THINK THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHY YOU CAN ELEVATE A KING AND WHY PEOPLE HAVE NOT HAD THAT SAME AFFINITY IN QUOTE/UNQUOTE WHITE AMERICA FOR SOMEBODY LIKE MALCOLM X, WHERE THERE ARE CERTAIN ASPECTS OF WHO HE WAS THAT INHERENTLY STILL BURN TO THIS DAY.

AND THE MALCOLM X, THE TRANSFORMATION OF WHICH CAPTURED MORE AMERICANS THAN HIS BLACK NATIONALISM EVER DID AND IN TERMS OF RESPECT, CREDENCE AND CREDIBILITY.

AND MALCOLM X, WHO REJECTED, WHO CAME TO REJECT BLACK NATIONALISM, BLACK EXTREMISM, TO THE BLACK NATIONALIST MOVEMENT.

AND HE WAS ASSASSINATED BECAUSE OF THAT.

WHY WE THINK ABOUT KING AND WHY HE HAS BEEN ELEVATED SO MUCH IS BECAUSE HE WAS ASSASSINATED.

JFK WAS ASSASSINATED.

AND MALCOLM X WAS ASSASSINATED.

THAT'S WHY THESE FIGURES ARE SO LARGE.

BUT I CAN REMEMBER, I CAN REMEMBER, I CAN REMEMBER, I CAN REMEMBER, I CAN REMEMBER OTHER FIGURES THAT WERE NOT ASSASSINATED, BUT WHO DESERVE EQUAL STATUS IN TERMS OF BEING A GIANT IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

LAURIE WILKINS.

PEOPLE IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, OF COURSE WE KNOW THIS IS WORK THAT CONTINUES TODAY IN 2019.

WHAT ARE THE MOVEMENTS THAT YOU'RE SEEING NOW THAT ARE SO CLEARLY STANDING ON THAT LEGACY OF KING, ESPECIALLY THE RADICAL LEGACY?

I MEAN, I THINK THAT HE APPOINTED A LOT OF RADICALISM HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.

YOU CAN MAKE THE ARGUMENT THAT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS IN THE MIDST OF A RADICAL DECOUPLING RIGHT NOW.

THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN STAYING THE COURSE AND THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE URGENT OR THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW.

I THINK THAT THAT IS A VERY MUCH A PART OF OUR CURRENT POLITICS.

I THINK THAT THE DILEMMA IS THAT THEY IN MANY WAYS HAVE LOST THE BLUEPRINT.

THAT THE RADICALISM EXISTS.

THE DESIRE FOR FERVENT CHANGE EXISTS.

BUT THIS NOTION THAT DR. KING IS SOMETHING WHO BELIEVES IN THE NOTION THAT WE SHALL OVERCOME, AND OVERCOME DOES NOT MEAN THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO GO AWAY.

OVERCOME MEANS THAT YOU'RE GOING TO FIND A WAY TO THRIVE IN SPITE OF IT.

IF YOU OVERCOME BLINDNESS, YOU FIND A WHICH TO THRIVE IN SPITE OF YOUR INABILITY TO SEE.

IF YOU OVERCOME RACISM, YOU FIND A WAY TO THRIVE.

I DON'T WANT TO CUT YOU OFF, BUT I DO NEED TO KEEP GOING BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO RUN OUT OF TIME.

CRYSTAL, YOUR THOUGHTS.

ORGANIZATIONS THAT --

KEEP IT GOING, KEEP IT GOING.

AS THE ONLY WOMAN ON THE PANEL, IF WE'RE THINKING ABOUT ORGANIZATIONS TODAY THAT ARE IN KING'S TRADITION, I THINK WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT SOCIALISM.

WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT ANTI-MILITARISM.

SO ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE BLACK ALLIANCE FOR PEACE, RIGHT, WHICH IS ANTI-WAR.

ORGANIZATIONS LIKE CODE PINK, WHICH IS AN ANTI-WAR ORGANIZATION LED BY FEMINISTS ARE WORKING IN KING'S RADICAL TRADITION.

IF WE'RE THINKING ABOUT ACTIVISTS LIKE MIRIAM CABA, WHO HAS ORGANIZED MANY ACTIVIST MOVEMENTS, INCLUDING PROJECT NIA, WHICH CENTERS THE EXPERIENCES OF PEOPLE OF COLOR, YOUNG PEOPLE OF COLOR WHO HAVE BEEN INCARCERATED OR HAVE BEEN CAUGHT UP IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

SO PEOPLE WHO CENTER A CLASS POLITICS WITH ANTI-RACIST ACTIVISM, BUT ALSO WITH ANTI-WAR ACTIVISM I THINK ARE WORKING IN KING'S TRADITION.

OKAY.

I WAS SAYING WE HAVE SO MANY DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE IPO AND PROGRESSIVE AND SO MANY THAT ARE NOT.

THE POSITIVE AND THE PROGRESSIVES, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN HUMAN RIGHTS OR INTERESTED IN CIVIL RIGHTS OR INTERESTED IN WOMEN'S RIGHTS OR INTERESTED IN GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS, THE POSITIVE ADVANCE WHICH COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THE RACIAL EQUALITY MOVEMENT THAT CONSTITUTES PUTTING THE CONSTITUTION ON THE SIDE OF THE BLACK PEOPLE WHO DID NOT WANT TO BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST ON THE BASIS OF THEIR SKIN COLOR.

NOW ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF IT, WE HAVE ALL THESE ORGANIZATIONS WHICH WE HAVE THANKFULLY DEFEATED IN TERMS OF THEIR PURPOSES.

I REMEMBER A TIME WHEN THE BLACK SOCIAL WORKERS OF AMERICA OPPOSED TRANSRACIAL ADOPTIONS.

THEY DIDN'T WANT BLACK CHILDREN TO BE ADOPTED BY WHITE CHILDREN.

AND THAT'S AGAINST KING'S LEGACY AND IDEAS AND CAMPAIGN.

YOU DON'T TELL A CHILD YOU CAN'T BE LOVED BY A FAMILY BECAUSE THE FAMILY'S SKIN COLOR OR YOUR SKIN COLOR.

SO WE HAD TO DEFEAT THOSE PEOPLE.

WE HAD TO DEFEAT THE SEGREGATIONISTS ORGANIZATIONS, THE BLACK ORGANIZATIONS THAT STILL BELIEVE IN SEGREGATION.

BUT THE ONES YOU'RE SAYING WHO DO STAND ON HIS SHOULDERS STILL EXIST?

THERE ARE, BUT THEY'RE VERY FEW.

NAY HAVE -- THEY ARE -- THEY HAVE DEFIED THE AGENDA OF INTEGRATION.

AND I BELIEVE THAT YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE INTEGRATION.

YOU'VE GOT TO SUPPORT INTERACTION WITH PEOPLE.

POOR PEOPLE CAMPAIGN THAT'S BEING REINVIGORATED AS ANOTHER EXAMPLE.

OKAY.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

THERE IS SO MUCH MORE, AND I WOULD LOVE TO KEEP GOING.

TO BE CONTINUED.

I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU ALL BACK SO WE CAN CONTINUE THIS CONVERSATION.

WE TOUCHED ON A LOT OF SUBJECTS THAT ARE REALLY IMPORTANT.

THANK YOU, MICHAEL, THANK YOU, CRYSTAL AND THANK YOU, JOSEPH.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

THANK YOU.

THAT WRAPS UP THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS,' EXPLORING THE VISION OF DR.

MARTIN LUTHER KING ON THIS HISTORIC DAY.

GOOD NIGHT.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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