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tv   Politics Nation With Al Sharpton  MSNBC  January 14, 2018 5:00am-6:00am PST

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uh... huh. in business, there are a lot of ways to say no. thank you so much. thank you. so we're doing it. yes. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we help all types of businesses with money, tools and know-how to get business done. american express open. good morning and welcome to "politics nation." 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 reckonning, posing a tragic question as to whether the social, political, and economic reconciliation he dedicated his life to would or could ever come
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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 sea 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 inclusive ty this mn 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
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name. joining me now live in studio, dr. king's son, martin luther king iii. thank you for being with us. >> thank you, rev. >> 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 of incoming missiles. 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 young unwas also exacerbated people's fear that this is very possible, maybe north korea's attacking.
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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. >> absolutely, rev. the fact of the matter is we all know logically cooler heads prevail. and whether we lose our heads, we do something irrational. and that was very frightening to see. 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
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courthouse level. we can and we must do better. that's what martin luther king jr. and coretta scott-king are challenging us on. we are far better than the behavior that we've seen certainly over the last 12 to 18 months. >> a year ago i remember we were getting ready to march in washington. you were joining us. and then you opted to go and meet with then president-elect trump. you got flack from it. i said 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 debates 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? >> it's not evident that it got
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through. 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 a victory. one thing that happened that even created this climate so that president trump could be elected was that conservatives and the right-wing worked consistently. when the democratic apparatus elected with some republicans, president obama, they sat out. 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. 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.
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i'm not -- but i'm not unpersuaded. 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 with our god. >> 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, i'm showing on 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 a little bit more under trump. so you really hasn't delivered for black america. he justin continued something tt dramatically began dropping.
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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? >> 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
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creating a nonviolent initiative along with a relative of gandy and a relative of nelson mandela. and that's a global initiative to teach people and train people how to use nonviolence to resolve conflicts, particularly millennials. it always took the young people, i mean you and i are older folks now. 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. >> and, you know, when i see a lot of the younger activists, even in our organizations, i see what is 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. there 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
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gandhi's relative. >> absolutely. one thing 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% bad, he didn't focus on the 90% bad. but he focused on the 10% 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? it is huge.
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>> one of the young ladies -- >> it's tragedy that we treated women so bad in our society. we're moving on the right trajectory. there are other movements, guess what, that are going to come. >> absolutely. one of the young ladies marches every year. 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 annual breakfast. thank you for kicking off king weekend with us on "politics nation." >> thank you, rev. >> coming up, voting rights under siege. more than 50 years after dr. king fought for that very liberty. this is "politics nation." we'll be right back. we know that when you're spending time with the grandkids... ♪ music >> tech: ...every minute counts.
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auto. august 6, 1965, dr. 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
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invalidated the state's redrawing of congressional districts, calling them unconstitutional, partisan je y engine gerrymander and they show 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 van newkirk, journalist with "the atlantic" and jack torre, d.c. bureau chief for two ohio newspapers, "columbus dispatch" and ""dayton daily news."" van, 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
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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. >> what i 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. but when you say the voting rights act was signed in august 1965, this campaign to roll back that act started in august 1965. >> right. >> 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
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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. >> explain north carolina in that context so people understand from your broad analysis what the north carolina case, how that fits into that. >> okay. with north carolina, they've created voting rights act 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 used the voting ri voting rights act as
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justification for creating more districts that pack voters into one or two districts and crack black voters' strength in other districts. that case went before a supreme court. that was racial gerrymandering. and then the republicans in the state went back and said 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 8% to 9% levels. so what happened was the court said, look, this still constitutes an illegal constitutional gerrymandering. >> they changed the language but the effect is the same. ohio, some would argue, i would, was just another way of dealing the same thing getting to the same result. explain the battle in ohio. >> in ohio in 1994 the legislature passed a law that allowed the state to use voter failure to vote as a way to send
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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 roles. they say 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 -- >> 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, swewe sent you a notice. you are saying that is
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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 reregister and here we are going to the polls and you're not a registered voter. >> you are correct except for one thing. it does take a six year period before they can take you off the roles. but the fact of the matter is one could argue it doesn't make voting easier. and we have seen examples of that. the key to democrats right now, because they're more democrats than republicans, is voting. 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 dh s pro-choice democrat would win alabama. so that is the key. we saw that in 2008 and 2012 and president obama had huge, huge turnouts. and secretary clinton didn't maintain those turnouts in 2016 and it hurt her.
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so the future for the democratic party is to get people in registered and vote. and the states aren't always going to make it very easy for you. >> 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. >> i look at it as the paramount issue to thinking about civil rights, thinking about justice and equality in america. because like we were 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, voter id laws, this gerrymandering, they seem to almost universally target those people, people of
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color, people on the margins who dr. king fought for to have the voting rights act enacted. i think we're looking back on 50 years but looking ahead at 50 more years. >> thank you very much to my guests. coming up, a politician applying his racist thinking to the evolution of this country's drug war. need a change of scenery?
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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 boom to several states, especially colorado, which saw about a quarter of a billion dollars to pot tax revenue last year. generally economics are everything to republicans. trumping, if you will, concerns about public health. at least in minority communities. but when the question of legalization came up at a community meeting in garden city, kansas, money wasn't enough for one republican
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lawmaker. representative steve alfred 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 jay hawkers. take a listen. >> what we need to do is go back in the '30s and when they outlawed ail type of drugs and across the united states. one of the reasons why, i hate to say it, it's the african-americans, they were basically users and basically responded the worst of those drugs. it's because they're jamaican, it's in their genetics. >> along with representative alfred's concern for black people's character, his
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explanation channelled the grandfather of the drug war and a racist named harry anslinger who as founding commissioner of the federal bureau of narcotics spear headed the prohibition of cannabis. that was him being polite because he also cautioned that "reefers make darkies think they're as good as white men." i could get into a long isn't that correcty takedown 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. alfred. while you have 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
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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 lions share of research shows that black and white americans use marijuana roughly at the same rate. maybe when most americans are truly susceptible to is the truth. so have a toke on this. i gotcha. amanda's mom's appointment just got rescheduled - for today. amanda needs right at home. our customized care plans provide as much - or as little help - as her mom requires. whether it's a ride to the doctor or help around the house. oh, of course! tom, i am really sorry. i've gotta go. look, call right at home. get the right care. right at home.
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president trump continues to deny his alleged diversion of the black diaspra referring to haiti and various african nations as well as el salvador, "s-hole" countries. he said this during a meeting with senators on immigration reform. at least two of the senators confirm 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 less. joining me now is jamish
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alsender and nbc white house report ali vitali. let me go to you, yamish. you know, lindsey graham was quoted ad quoted as taken the president on right there in the meeting reprimanding and give him credit for saying america 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 fifth avenue just sprouting words. he is affecting policy. and this could mean we're moving towards a race-based immigration policy in this country. >> he certainly -- certainly his ideas are affecting policy. there is this idea that if
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president trump is there saying that norway, their immigrants are better than haitians and africans because they are somehow essentially white and haitians are black, that is obviously problematic. 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 is the actual international relations where we have countries saying what did you actually mean? and then i just yesterday released a letter written by haitian diplomats saying this is essentially creating heartbreak and despair across the world. so there is this idea that people are not just talking about the fact that they didn't like the comments, this is actually now affecting how we deal with other countries including the people that are working in the united states. this is a group of haitian-american people who are out there in our policies and in our bases talking to people on behalf of american interests. >> you know, there are obviously even african union has come out.
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tomorrow i'm flying back from washington to do a harlem martin luther king day and then we're going down and joining other activists at 4:00 in times square for a big protest. people are outraged by it. but one of the things that people need to understand and we're going to raise this in times square is the facts don't speak. we look at this, 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 what we do with subsahara africa. we do $37 billion in goods with su sub-saharan africa in 2015. so this whole thing of acting like african nations and haiti
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and el salvador are s-hole nations, we actually do for 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 norway. >> that's essentially what a the love people feel. i should tell you this is personal for me and other haitians out there. both my dad still lives in haiti, runs a large nonprofit. there my parents emigrated from haiti. they both got phds in this country. i sit as a reporter giving people information. haitian people really contributed. there is literally a plon umemon savannah, georgia, dedicated to haitian free black soldiers that came do help the united states fight in the revolutionary war. haitians from the very beginning of this nation have been pouring in and contributing to american society. >> the person that founded chicago was haitian. ali, there is another issue here
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where i think we're not talking as much about and as we fight the war on terrorism and we need to fight it in africa where isis and we have, of course, al qaeda, how do we now tell africans to be cooperate whiff american intelligence when we tell them we look at them as s-hole countries? we have military bases all over africa, somalia, niger, i mean how do we say this without neutralizing our cancelling 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? >> this is another example of actually how trump's domestic controversies really do spill out into the international community. he's 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
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and has made gains in that fight. 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 something that democrats obviously want to get something done on. and the president himself said he wants to get something done on. we started this entire news cycle this week with him saying he wants to deal with it with love. he talked about dealing with immigrants with love before even when he -- when his administration canceled the daca program and said congress need to do something about it. he says he wants to get a deal. this morning he's coming out and tweeting, well, it's probably dead because of democrats. he's blaming democrats for the fact that his comments that he made in this closed door meeting have leaked out. and as much as these comments were stunning, they weren't necessarily surprising. you and i both watched how he ran this campaign. he really did run in a way that was looking to really optimize the othering factor and play
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into the idea that exists in parts of white america against black and brown people. i think his immigration policy and the way he talked about immigration in such a hard line way was central to his campaign. and it's been central to the way he's been a leader. so it's hard then when he says we should deal with this with love and then hear him talking about countries in this way. it's hard to square that circle threat from a policy sense. >> he says daca is dead and we were not shocked when we heard it, those of us that dealt with him in new york for years. he's always been more profane than profound. thank you, yamiche 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
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learned that marvel studio's upcoming film "black panther" set mostly in 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. we'll be right back.
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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
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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 of fractured skull at the hand of alabama state troopers. 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? >> well, we're coming a distance. we made a lot of progress. but i tell you, his dream has been shaken by so much that is happening in america at this
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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. >> do you as you look at the global picture, dr. king and his last years came out against the war in vietnam, dealt with world peace issues, was a nobel prize winner 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
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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 forward. you were the youngest member of what was called the big six, the top organization head 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 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? >> 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 action.
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he believed in a way of peace, the way of love, the philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence. i was in a church with him on april 4th, 1967 when he delivered that unbelievable speech against the war in vietnam. he taught us the way of peace and love. he taught us philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. he taught us never, never to hate but to respect 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. >> yet as we approach this week,
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saw this week the present president of the united states referring to certain nations of color, el salvador as s-pots or in very derogatory terms, yet this kind of bickering you even did not attend the opening of the mississippi civil rights 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? >> 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 believed that
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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 immigran immigrants. we all come from some other place and here in america we are all immigrants except native american. the late philip randolph said over and over in the presence of dr. sing when we were planning the march on washington maybe our mothers and our forefathers all came here in different ships, but we're all 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. >> dr. king worked with the farm workers, with caesar chavez and others, so clearly his policies around his, his principles
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around policies around 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? >> well, i've been saying all along, and i will continue to say it, that we're all brothers and sisters, and it doesn't matter whether we're black, white, latino, asian-american, native american. our doors are open. we are all immigrants, and we should forget about race, and see people as human beings. >> on your body, you bear the scars of the struggle. you were beaten on the edmund pettis bridge with hosea
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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. >> we must continue to do what we did during the late '50s and early '60s during dr. king live time. when we 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. >> well, as one that grew up in the northern part of the
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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 still are on the firing line, you're still on the case, congressman lewis. >> thank you very much, brother al. up next, my final thoughts. stay with us. dad! dad!!! can you drive me to jessica's house? uuughhh! ♪ this is what our version of financial planning looks like. tomorrow is important, but so is making the most of the house before they're out of the house. spend you life living. find an advisor at discover card. i justis this for real?match, yep. we match all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year, automatically. whoo! i got my money!
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tomorrow morning, we will,
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in washington, d.c., honor the garbage workers. those are the ones that martin luther king went to memphis to fight on behalf of, asme members, and he was killed while there, standing up for them. then we'll fly back to harlem for our annual national network forum and 4:00 to go times square to protest the ugly racist words of this president. why? because spend 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 in brooklyn, i at 12 years old joined dr. king's new york operation at 13. reverend william jones, an associate of his and reverend
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jesse jackson appoint mood he 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 know dr. king well, but i got to know dr. coretta 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 where dr. king was buried. none of that would have happened if martin luther king hadn'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 others, black, white, latino, asian, owe it to that man to keep the dream alive. i still have the fire in my
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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, and follow us on twitte twitter @politicsnation. i'll see you back here next sunday. now to my colleague, alex witt. >> listening to your day what you have tomorrow i'm glad you're going to spend more time with me at noon today. >> i'll be here. >> i'm looking forward to that. we'll talk about dr. martin luther king as well as the president's colorful language and i apologize putting those two in the same sentence. we'll see you soon, rev thanks so much. good morning, i'm alex witt. 9:00 in the east, 6:00 a.m. out west. the ballistic missile attack false alarm that rattled hawaii. >> trying to get into bathrooms, i was with my two little girls who are 8 and 10, so the kids are cr


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