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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  October 6, 2013 12:00pm-3:01pm EDT

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in the obama era and political partisanship on capitol hill. the former chair of the student nonviolent coordinating committee is the author of three books, walking with the wind, across that bridge and his 2013 release, march, book one. >> host: congressman john lewis, who was out when wilson? >> guest: out when wilson is a man that i first encountered on may 9 culminate in 61 in south carolina at the greyhound bus station. in 1961, i was at the freedom ride. we left washington ecma four, 1961, 13 of us. to test a division of the united states supreme court. been in segregation on public
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transportation. my seatmate on the greyhound bus from washington d.c., you must understand and 1961, black people in white people couldn't be seated together. ..
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>> not a single person engaged in violence against us. that was my first arrest. and that day when i was arrested, i felt so free, i felt liberated. i felt like i had crossed over. because growing up in rural alabama, i asked my mother and my father, my grandparents and my great grand parents about segregation and racial discrimination, about those
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signs, white men, colored men, white women, colored women, and i said, why. that's the way it is. don't get in the way. don't get in trouble. but dr. king and rosa parks inspired me to get in trouble. so by sitting in, we were arrested, and we went to jail. 89 of us were arrested on that day. >> host: did you pay a fine? were you in jail for a while? >> guest: we were in jail for a few hours. matter of fact, the local school officials came down and bailed us out. that was my first arrest. that was my introduction to southern jails. and i tell people i grew up sitting down on those lunch counter stools and going to jail in places like nashville and birmingham, jackson,
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mississippi, atlanta, georgia and a few other places across the south. >> host: john lewis, what was the ultimate result in nashville prior to the larger civil rights movement? >> guest: the nashville community became probably one of the first major cities in the american south to segregate lunch counters and later desegregated all of its theaters. in nashville we took the, we started talking about the beloved community of making nashville an open city. nashville was considered the essence of the south, and there was people in the white community, very progressive, liberals that really wanted to see nashville make the great transition to a peaceful and open city. >> host: how'd you get to nashville? >> guest: i left rural alabama in september 1957, 17 years old,
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traveling by bus to study. i wanted to attend a school outside of troy, alabama, near where i grew up. i grew up 50 miles from montgomery, 10 miles from troy, and i applied to go to a school called troy state college, now known as troy university. submitted my application, my high school transcript. i never heard a word from the school. so i wrote a letter to dr. martin luther king jr. he wrote me back and sent me a round trip greyhound bus ticket, invited me to come to montgomery and meet with him. but in the meantime, i'd been accepted to college in nashville. i went off to nashville, an uncle gave me a $100 bill, more money than i'd ever had, gave me a big foot locker. i put everything that i owned, my books, my clothing and went to nashville, and i literally grew up in nashville. it was there that i started studying the philosophy and the
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discipline of nonviolence. >> host: who are shorty and sugarfoot? >> guest: shorty was a name that my mother and some -- my father called my mother sugar season foot. >> host: what did they do? >> guest: they worked on the farm. and i remember when i was 4, my father was a tenant farmer. but in 1944 he had saved $300, and he bought 110 acres of land. my family still owns that land today. and on this farm we raised a lot of cotton and corn, peanuts, hogs and cows and chickens. and i would be out there some days working in the field, and i would say to my mother, this is hard work, this is hard work. and she would say, boy, hard work never killed anybody. and i kept saying to myself, if i can just make it to the end of
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this row. and i complained, i said working in the field like this is just like gambling. you spend all this money on fertilizer and plants and seeds and sometimes you get too much rain, and you don't know whether you're going to make anything or not, and my mother would say that's all we can do, that's all we can do. but as a young child, when i was only about 7 and a half or 8 years old and later 9, 10, i would get up early in the morning and get my book bag and hide under the porch and wait for the school bus to come along to run -- to get on the bus to go to school. i didn't like working in the field. i didn't like being out there in the hot sun. >> host: would you get in trouble for that? >> guest: i did get in trouble, but they encouraged me to get an education.
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but at the same time, they needed me to work in the field. but it was -- i guess it was part of my first protest. on the farm it was my responsibility to care for the chickens, and i fell in love with raising chickens like no one else could raise chickens. >> host: you write about this in your most recent book, "march: book one," it's a graphic novel. and in here you write about preaching to the chickens. >> guest: well, as a child, as a young child, i wanted to be a minister. i wanted to preach the gospel. so from time to time with the help of my brothers and sisters and cousins, we would gather all of our chickens together in the chicken yard, and my brothers and sisters and cousins were lined outside of the chicken yard, and i would start speaking, preaching. but the chickens along with my brothers and sisters and cousins would help make up the audience of the congregation. and i remember very well, i fell in love with raising those
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chickens. the chickens taught me patience, they taught me hard work, they taught me not to give up and not to give in. if you don't know anything about raising chickens on a pardon fau have to take the fresh eggs and mark them with a pencil, you place them under the setting hen, and you wait for three long weeks for the chicks to hatch. the reason you mark with a pencil before you place them under the setting hen were from time to time another hen would get on the same nest. there were be more eggs. and sometime i would take these little chicks and give them to another hen, either take the little chicks and put them in a box with a lamp and raise them on their own. i was never quite able to save $18.98 to order the most inexpensive incubator for the sears roebuck store, this big catalog, some people called it an order book, other people
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called it the wish book -- i wish i had this, i wish i had that. so as a child, it was my duty, my responsibility to care for those chickens. and i tell children today some of those chickens would bow their heads, but i'm convinced that some of those chickens tended to listen to me much better than some of my colleagues listen to me today in the congress. they were more productive. >> host: what would happen when one of the chickens became sunday dinner? >> guest: oh, i would protest. [laughter] i didn't like the idea of my mother, father, some relative coming, getting one of the chickens we're having for dinner. it was probably my first nonviolent protest. >> host: john lewis, why is your most recent book on your life in this form, in graphic novel form? >> guest: a staff person of mine back in, oh, '08 came to me and said, congressman, you should
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write, you should write a comic book. well, the way it started he was going to -- the campaign was over, and he was going to go out to fandago to come -- comiccon. ore staffers -- other staffers started laughing about it. and i said to the staff, you shouldn't make fun of him, you shouldn't laugh. there was another kind of book that came out in late 1957, early 1958, i believe, and it was called martin luther king jr. and the montgomery story published by an organization called the fellowship for reconciliation, a pacifist group. and i said that comic book, that little book sold for ten cents, but it influenced many of us in the early days of the civil rights movement including the four students in greens burg, north carolina. and many of us in nashville. and so this young man named
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andrew, my co-author, came back to me and said, congressman, really you should write a comic book. and i finally said to him, yes, if you would do it with me. so the rest is history. and the book is doing very, very well. and this is just book one. we still have book two and book three. book two will come out in the pall of '14. -- in the fall of a '14. >> host: john lewis in both walking with the wind and march: book one, you write about june 1951 and a trip with uncle otis. >> guest: i could never forget that. i had never traveled out of alabama before i was 11 years old. and i remember so well my mother and her sister and aunt staying up late at night baking pies and
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cakes, frying chicken, wrapping the cellophane paper, putting food in shoe boxes for us to have something to eat as we traveled from rural alabama, through tennessee, through kentucky, through ohio on our way to buffalo. it was my first time out of south, and i remember 11 years old being in buffalo, new york. it was my first time seeing an elevator, my first time seeing an escalator. and it was so, so different. it had an impact on me. i saw black people and white people working together, living together. it was a different world. >> host: why did you make that trip? i went there to spend part of the summer with another brother, my mother, an aunt and some of my first cousins.
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>> host: another date in your history, september 2, 1986, democratic primary. >> guest: that was the election day in atlanta in the 5th congressional district of georgia. that was the, that was the runoff. it was a very difficult race with a close and dear friend of mine by the name of julian bond who we had worked to together in the student nonviolent coordinating committee, we had been wonderful, wonderful friends. he had served in the statehouse, the state senate. he wanted to come to congress, and i wanted to come to congress. and it was a race that i never wanted to repeat one like that. >> host: you won? >> guest: i won. i prevailed. people, some people thought i didn't have a chance, that i didn't have a prayer.
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julian was so well known not just in atlanta, but around the nation. i probably was better known outside of georgia in alabama, mississippi and other parts of the deep south. well, especially nashville where i spent six years as a student. >> host: how did you get to atlanta? >> guest: i moved to atlanta during the early summer of 1963. i was 23 years old. i became the chair of the student nonviolent coordinating committee better known as sncc, one of the civil rights organizations. it was based in atlanta. i had just finished school at fish university in nashville. i spent four years at american baptist college, it was called the american baptist theological seminary and later became american baptist college, and i spent two years studying
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philosophy. so when i became the chair, i had to move to atlanta. i loved nashville. i fell in love with that city. it was the first city that i lived in. but i went to atlanta and spent a lot of time traveling all across the south going to arkansas, southwest georgia, to delta, mississippi, and to louisiana and north carolina, south carolina. but atlanta presented me with an opportunity to be the place not just to be there, but to come to washington to meet with members of congress, to come and meet with president kennedy, with martin luther king jr. and others. a few weeks after i'd been elected chair of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, i was in washington in the white house with president kennedy, and i will never forget that first meeting with the president and then
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getting on a flight, flying from washington back to atlanta and preparing for the march on washington. that was 50 years ago. >> host: who are the big six? >> guest: the big six was the head of the major civil rights organization. you had a man by the name of a. philip randolph. mr. randolph was considered the dean of black leadership. he was born in jacksonville, florida. just a wonderful, wonderful man. prince of a man. in some of those meetings, he would say things like, brother man? let's stay together. we've come this far together, let's stay together. in his baritone voice, he would say something like if you cannot say something good about someone, don't say anything. there was so much respect for this man. but along with a. a. philip randolph who organized the brotherhood of sleeping
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carporters, represented the men working on the railroad. and when you come to washington and walk through union station, there's a bust of a. philip randolph. he's been honored, his own postage stamp. you had martin luther king jr., young martin luther king jr. who was the president of the southern christian leadership conference born in atlanta, georgia. and then there was roy wilkens, head of the naacp, the national association for the advancement of colored people, born in minnesota. wonderful man. and then there was whitney young who was born in kentucky. he was the dean of the school of social work at atlanta university and later became the head of the national urban league. there was another man by the name of james farmer. farmer had attended a college in texas, and he was part of the debating team.
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this little school, this little debating team debated harvard, and they won. later he did graduate study at harvard university and became very involved with the naacp and later was one of the founders of the congress of racial equality. and i guess i made the sixth person. it was the six of us that met with president kennedy in late june of 1963. >> host: in july of '63, you were planning the march on washington. and you write in "walking with the wind," i saw for the first time during that july 1963 trip to new york city, our meeting took place at the roosevelt hotel, and it provided my first real look at the personality of roy wilkens. i can't say i liked what i saw. he had held himself back when we met with the president, but now here among just us, wilkens was really asserting himself.
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we met in one of the hotel's private dining rooms, and from the moment wilkens entered the room, he came across to me as some sort of new yorker who thought he was smarter than the rest of the group. what was memorable about the meeting that day -- much more than the details of planning the upcoming march -- was watching the dynamics among the participants. it was a real exercise in power and positioning and political rivalry. when wilkens entered the room, about a dozen or so people were there chatting, waiting to take their seats around the large dining table. wilkens immediately shook his head and began walking through the room, tapping people on the shoulder saying who would stay and who had to leave. these were powerful people he was ordering around, and he was not very polite about it. he was particularly nasty to bayard rustin, very hostile, and he was hardly more cordial to the others. he didn't suggest that anyone leave the room, he demanded it. congressman lewis, you write: it was amazing to me that a he would do that, even more amazing
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was the fact that the others obeyed. >> guest: well, at that meeting -- and there's not any way that i can forget what happened -- most of the members of the big six had representatives, their tenty sapt assistant -- deputy assistant. and only the head of the organization remained. and that's exactly what happened. we stayed, and there was a long, drawn-out discussion about who should head the march on washington. who should be the director. and many of us felt that bayard rustin, this man, this thinker, this brilliant man, this planner, this organizer, that he should be the head. and there was this discussion
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because by involvement and he was gay and the senator like strom thurmond, maybal imagine of georgia would use that against the march on washington. so we caucused, we had a caucus. dr. king, james farmer and myself. and we said we would select a. philip randolph as the chair of the march on washington. and let mr. randolph select his deputy. and that's exactly what he did. because we knew bayard rustin some people said was so close that mr. randolph would turn to him, and that's exactly what he did. no one, but no one was going to question a. philip randolph. >> host: good afternoon and welcome to booktv's "in depth" for october 2013. this month we're talking with
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congressman john lewis, democrat of georgia, and the author of three books: "walking with the wind: a memoir of the movement" was his first. the second came out in 2012, "across that bridge." and finally this past year, "march: book one" was released as the first in a series. if you'd like to participate in our conversation, we'll show you how. here are the numbers. 202-585-3880 if you live in the east and central time zones, 585-3881 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. you can also send in a tweet, an e-mail or post a comment on our facebook page. @booktv is our twitter handle, and is our facebook page and finally, is our e-mail address. mr. lewis will be with us for the next two and a half hours, so go ahead and we'll begin taking those calls in just a minute.
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august 28, 1963, what was that day like for you? >> guest: august 28, 1963, the day of the march on washington. for jobs and freedom. i remember the morning very, very well. i got up, i got dressed, and i left the hilton hotel at 16th and k, downtown washington d.c. i believe it was called the capitol hilton hotel. most of us stayed there except for dr. king who stayed at the woolard hotel. we walked up or someone drove us all up to capitol hill, and we met with the democratic leadership on the house side and the senate side. we met with both democrat and republican leadership, i should say.
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and it was a wonderful meeting. i remember meeting the republican leader from the state of illinois, dirksen, wonderful man. today in my office i have a photograph of him, meeting with him. we met with emanuel sellers who was the chair of the judiciary committee from new york city. i believe he was from brooklyn. we left the meeting with house leaders, senate leaders, and we were coming down constitution avenue, and we looked toward union station. we were all walking together, and we saw the sea of humanity. just hundreds of thousands of people pouring out of the streets coming from union station, and we knew then it was going to be more than 50 or 60,000 people. the people were already
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marching. and literally, i know all of us felt like saying there go my people, let me catch up with them. sea of humanity just literally pushed us toward the washington monument, on toward the lincoln memorial, and we just went up those steps and took our seats and started preparing for the program. >> host: you're the only surviving speaker. >> guest: out of the six, the big six, and out of the ten speakers, i'm the only one still around. i feel more than lucky. i feel very blessed. >> host: in "walking with the wind," you write: a real leader doesn't see himself as standing out in front of the people, he sees himself as standing beside them, among them. he doesn't tell people to dig a ditch, he gets down in the ditch with them and helps dig it himself. >> guest: well, i believe that leaders must be there. you don't el people to -- tell
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people to go someplace that you're not prepared to go. you go together, you work together. you pull and push together. real leaders must be servant leaders. you must be one of the people. during my chairmanship of the student nonviolent coordinating committee during the early days of my participant, someone from the media would come up and say are you one of the leaders of group, i would say i'm just a participant. i still believe that today. i'm just one of the participants. i'm just trying to help. >> host: john lewis, who succeeded you as chairman of sncc? >> guest: stokely carmichael sucked me as the -- succeeded me as the chair in may of 1966. why? >> guest: there was a feeling on the part of some people during those days that i was not militant enough. i got the image of being a militant, a radical during the march on washington.
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but i've always believed in the way of peace be, the way of love -- peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence and that we must come together and not be divided, that we must not tear down, we must build. and i don't believe in a lot of rhetoric. i believe in the one, two, threes and the abcs of producing and doing something. and that was the way of the student nonviolent coordinating committee. >> host: yet at the same time in "walking with the wind," you talk about the generational differences between the traditional black leadership and you as a young leader of sncc. >> guest: well, during those, during that period, during those days, many of us felt that some of the traditional, older leaders were moving too slow. even at the march on washington, i said you tell us to wait, you tell us to be patient. we cannot wait, we cannot be patient. we don't want our freedom gradually, we want it here, and
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we want it now. so the sit-ins, the freedom ride was not just a revolt against segregation and racial discrimination, but it was also a revolt against part of the old guard leadership. >> host: march 7, 1965. >> guest: march 7, 1965, on that day -- on that sunday -- a small group of us, to be exact, 600 people, attempted to march from selma to montgomery to dramatize to the state of alabama, to the world that people wanted to register to vote. in the state of alabama like so many other southern states, it was almost impossible for people of color to register to vote. there was one county in alabama in march of 1965 where the african-american population was more than 80%, but there was not
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a single registered african-american voter in the county. in the little town of selma in dallas county, selma is the county seat, this is in the heart of the black belt, only 2.1% of blacks of voting age were registered to vote. and the only time that you could even attempt to rebelling isster to vote -- register to vote was on the first and third mondays of each month. you had to pass a so-called literacy test. on one occasion a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. on another occasion a man was asked to count the number of jelly beans in a jar. people have been arrested, people have been jailed, people have been beaten, and what provoked the attempted march from selma to montgomery in a little town of marion, alabama, this is in perry county, this is in the black belt, this was the home county of martin rutherer king jr., coretta scott king,
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the late mrs. andrew young, this is the home county of mrs. ralph abernathy, juanita. there was a march in february, and a confrontation occurred. a young man by the name of jimmy lee jackson -- he was a veteran -- attempted to protect his mother, was shot in his stomach. and a few days later he died at a local hospital in selma. and because of what happened to him, we decided to march from selma to montgomery. so on that sunday afternoon, 600 of us -- orderly, peaceful -- had a prayer. we started walking in two. i will never forget that day. i was wearing a backpack before it became fashionable to wear backpacks. and this backpack had two books,
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an apple, an orange. i wanted to have something to read, i wanted to have something to eat. and i also had toothpaste and toothbrush since i thought i was going to be arrested and go to jail, i wanted to be able to brush my teeth. we get to the highest point on the bridge crossing the alabama river, down below we saw a sea of blue, alabama state troopers. and behind the state troopers there were sheriff clark posse. sheriff clark, a man by the name of jim clark was the sheriff, he was a very big man. he thought he was general patton, tried to dress like him. he wore a gun on one side, a night stick on the other side, a button on his left lapel that said "never." he had a cow broader in his hand, and he didn't use it on cows. we kept walking toward this line of state troopers and the
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sheriff's posse. and a man spoke up and said major john clark of the alabama state troopers, this is an unlawful march, it will not be allowed to continue. i give you three minutes to disperse and return to your homes or to your church. this march will not be allowed to continue. a young man from dr. king's organization who was leading the march with me, he was walking on my right side, said, major, give us a moment to kneel and pray. and the major said, troopers, advance. and you saw these men putting on their gas masks. they came toward us, beating us with night sticks, tramping us with horses, releasing the tear gas. i was hit in the head by a state trooper with a night stick and had a concussion at the bridge. and i remember my legs going out from under me and falling to the ground. i thought it was the last protest, i thought i was going
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to die, and i kept thinking what was happening to the other people. i don't recall 48 years later how i made it across that bridge, back to the streets of selma, back to that little church that we left from. but i do recall being in the church full to capacity, more than 2,000 people on the outside trying to get in to protest what had happened. and someone said say something, john, speak to the people. and i stood up and said i don't understand it, how president johnson can send troops to vietnam and not send troops to selma to protect people who only desire to register to vote. the next thing i realized, i had been admitted to the good samaritan hospital with 17 other people. but early that next morning dr. martin luther king jr. and reverend abernathy and his colleague came to selma, came to the hospital to visit us, and he told me that he had made an
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appeal for religious leaders, for priests and rabbis and nuns to come to selma, and they did on tuesday, march 9th. and a few days later to be exact, president lyndon johnson spoke to the nation on march 15th, 1965. he made one of the most meaningful speeches any american president had made in modern time on the whole question of civil rights, of voting rights. and near the end of that speech, president johnson said, "and we shall overcome." that was the first time hearing an american president using the theme song of the civil rights movement. he introduced the voter rights act. the congress debated the act, passed it, it was signed into law on august 6, 1965. >> host: and a little bit later in "in depth" we're going to show you a little bit of that speech. final date i want to ask you about for right now, april 4, 1968.
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>> guest: april 4, 1968, there's not any way i can forget that date. i was in indianapolis come paining with robert kennedy. i had -- when i order that senator robert kennedy was seeking the democratic nomination, i had sent him a telegram and told him i wanted to help. and he invited me with some of his staffers to go and work in anna, in annapolis to get people registered, to help organize. so i was there mobilizing a rally, a meeting when we heard that dr. king had been shot. we didn't know his condition, just heard he had been shot. and robert kennedy came in, and it was robert kennedy who made the announcement that dr. king had been assassinated. and we all just cried, and it
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was very sad. if it hadn't been for martin luther king jr., i don't know what would have happened to me, i don't know what would have happened to america. but this man had emerged as the moral leader of the nation. he was my friend, he was my inspiration, he was my big brother. >> host: rfk made a speech in indianapolis, didn't he? >> guest: robert kennedy did make a speech. it was an impromptu speech. he stood up on the back of a car. he spoke out of his guts. and because of what he had to say that evening, there was not any violence, any disorder in the city of indianapolis. it's just hard for me, there have been people that have been trying to get me to go back and go to that spot, but it's just very difficult. and one day i hope to have an
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opportunity to go back to indianapolis and go to that very spot where i was that a night when we heard that dr. king had been assassinated. >> host: you've traced a lot of your history and gone back to the geographical places. why not that spot? >> guest: it's just so painful. because that's when i heard that dr. king had been assassinated. i think when you remember places where you were -- i was in nashville when i heard that president kennedy had been assassinated, indianapolis, as i said, when we heard about dr. king. i was in robert kennedy's room at the ambassador hotel when i saw on television that he was shot. it's just very pain. it took me -- painful. it took me years to go back to
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mississippi, motto the state -- not to the state, but to the site where these three men came up missing in 1964. >> host: in "walking with the wind," you write: something in the civil rights movement died for good in 1966, but something died in all of america in 1968. the sense of hope, of optimism, of possibility was replaced by horror, the worst of times, the feeling that maybe, just maybe, we would not overcome. it was a dark, dark time. >> guest: oh, i do think something died in america, and i think something died in all of us. that's why it's so important to find a way to reveal that sense of hope, that sense of togetherness, that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, a sense of one family, one people, one house. because we all live in the same house, the american house.
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>> host: representative john lewis is our guest on "in depth" on booktv, and david in hope sound, florida. hi, david. >> caller: how you doing, peter? >> host: good. >> caller: always good to speak to you, and always good to say thank god for c-span. congressman, we have skirted together in a lot of ways. i went to pace at 30 -- excuse me, 41 park row in manhattan, and next door was core's headquarters, and i used to eat breakfast many mornings at a lunch counter in that building with james farmer. and as it happens, i went to high school with two of stokely carmichael's sisters in the bronx. so, you know, we've skirted our lives -- we've never met, but we've skirted. i want to take you back to a speech you made on the floor of
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the house in 1995 which i, frankly, find offensive in which you said they're coming for our children, invoking pastor knee muller on hitler. that was a terrible thing to say, and i think you deserve -- well all, america deserves an apology from you for it. >> host: do you think what speech he's referring to in. >> guest: yeah. i remember the speech. it was dealing with some of the things that the republicans and especially speaker gingrich had been proposing. and if you felt offended, if others felt offended, i don't mind saying i'm sorry, and i apologize for it. >> host: congressman lewis, newt gingrich represented the district next to yours for several years. >> guest: for several years. >> host: what was your relationship? >> guest: well, we respected each other. i would always say hello, my
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friend, my brother. when he became speaker, i always called him mr. speaker. and we never disrespected each other. it was a -- we got along. he was part of the georgia congressional delegation. and even on the floor today there may be some of my brothers and sisters that i disagree with, but i respect them. they're my colleagues, they're my friends. we're brothers and sisters. we all served in the house. so many times i see members, pat them on the back and say, hello, my friend, hello, my brother. how you doing today, sister, how you doing today, brother. >> host: well, in your memoir, "walking with the wind," there's several instances where you make references to what i'm about to read here, and i want to get your reaction to it. i am and have always been focused on and dedicated to doing the right thing which does not always mean doing the black thing. this kind of attitude did not
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sit well back in the '60s with some of my colleagues in sncc, and it has not sat well in the '90s with some of my black colleagues in congress. >> guest: well, i've always tried to do what i felt and what i continue to feel is right. i believe in the depth of my heart and my soul that we must pull together to create a society at peace with itself. not a black society, not a white society, not a hispanic or asian-american, native american. we're one people, one family, one house. in my book "walking with the wind," i tell the story about growing up in rural alabama when i was only 4 and a half or 5 years old, and we were visiting an aunt. and a storm came up. we had been planting her yard. and she got us all inside of the house, and the wind started
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blowing, the thunder started rolling, the lightning started flashing, and the rain started beating on the tin roof of this old shotgun house. and she just started crying. she was terrified that the house was going to blow away with all of us little children inside of the house. that's where i got the name of the book from. and as the wind continued to blow and the thunder rolling and lightning flashing, one corner of the house appeared to be lifting, she had us walk to that corner to try to hold the house down with our bodies, and when the other corner appeared to be lifting, she had us walk there. so we were little children walking with the wind, but we never left the house. so it doesn't matter whether we're black or white or latino or asian-american or native american. we're one people, we're one family, we're one house. we're the american house. but we're also part of the world house. and we must do what we can to
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save this little piece of real estate called america. call it some other part, call out this little planet, call it this little spaceship, but we must try to save it. and live here together in peace. >> host: john's in virginia beach. hi, john. >> caller: hello, congressman lewis, it's an honor to speak to you. i have just a couple questions, i'll try to be brief. first of all, i would like to hear more about the women involved in the civil rights movement. some people think they don't get enough credit for what they did. in particular i'm thinking of diane nash and seeing her ask a direct question to the mayor of nashville. the mayor of nashville just had to agree with her. another question i have is i don't know if you ever met lyndon johnson, but what you thought of lyndon johnson, and if you did, what you thought of him as a man.
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and irrespective of whether you met him, what you thought of him as president, what you believe his legacy is and what it will be in the future. and finally, i remember seeing you in chicago on the night president obama was elected. crying, in tears. i just want to hear you describe the wave of emotion you felt that night when barack obama was elected in 2008, and i'll take my answer off the air. >> guest: well, thank you very much for your question. i've always felt -- and more and more, i feel it more so today -- that women never got their due. women played a major role in the civil rights movement. i worked with diane nash. she was our leader in the nashville student movement. and she became a leader south wide and nationally. she was the chair of our movement. we had what we called the central committee of the student
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movement in nashville, and diane was a student at mys being, she was from chicago, and she would attend those nonviolent workshops, she would hold us together, she would help organize the sit-ins, she coordinated our efforts on the freedom ride. but it was diane nash and ella baker who should be considered the mother of the student nonviolent coordinating committee. she had worked with dr. martin luther king jr., and she was the one that planted the meeting for sncc, the student nonviolent coordinating committee, was founded. she went back to north carolina and went to shaw university, the school that he had graduated from, but you had on the eastern shore of maryland a young lady by the name of richardson. go back to rosa parks and the women. it was not dr. king's idea of a bus boycott in montgomery, it was a college professor at
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alabama state, a young lady by the name of joanna robertson that used hand mimeograph machine to get those leaflets. but all across the south and all across america there was women, black women, white women standing up, organizing. so women should be highlighted, and the women lawyers like constance baker motley who was so brave and courageous. they would come south to defend people. now, people -- i don't want to forget your question. you mentioned -- >> women, lbj and then barack obama's first election. >> guest: yeah, lbj. i met president kennedy, yes, but at that meeting where i met president kennedy the first time, i also met lyndon johnson. and i said before the speech that lyndon johnson gave on
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march 15th -- and i wish every student of american politics, every high school student wants to know anything about the civil rights movement, about voting rights, should read that speech of president johnson. he started that speech off that night by saying i speak tonight for the dignity of man and for the destiny of democracy. time, history and fate meet in a single place. he went on to say it was more than a century ago at lexington and concord, so it was this last week in selma, alabama. he condemned the violence, introduced the voting rights act, and as i've said before, he was the first one to use theme song of the civil rights movement in a speech or in a statement when he said "and we shall overcome." the morning of august 6, 1965, he called james farmer and
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myself -- the only two of the so-called big six -- to meet with him that morning when he signed the voting rights act many 965. no, lyndon johnson was, he was very colorful. he used some choice words that i cannot repeat, but he told us that we had to go back to the south and really get people registered. he was committed. he later spoke at howard university and other places. he was committed to civil rights. he has never received the credit that he should receive. he ushered in the great society. not only the civil rights bill, the voting rights bill, medicare and medicaid, we got the fair housing act during his administration. i have high regard and nothing but respect for what he did.
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the day president barack obama was elected i was at dr. king's church -- not the old church, but the new church -- speaking when i saw the state of ohio and the state of pennsylvania go for him. i knew then that he was on his way to being elected president. i jumped so high, i didn't think my feet were going to touch the floor. and i started crying. and a reporter asked me that evening said, john, we noticed you're crying so much. and i said, well, they're tears of happiness, they're tears of joy. he said what are you going to do, you're crying so much tonight, what are you going to do when he's inaugurated, when you come to washington? i said, well, if i have tears left, i'm going to cry some more, and that's exactly what i did. when i was sitting there as he was being inaugurated, i kept thinking about president kennedy, robert kennedy, johnson, about dr. king, the three civil rights workers in the mississippi that was killed,
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countless people that never lived long enough to cast their vote or to get registered or live long enough to see a man of color elected president. >> host: john lewis, is diane nash still living? >> guest: diane-and-a-half is still very much alive -- nash is still very much alive in chicago. i see her from time to time. she's a wonderful, gifted organizer. >> host: if you can't get through on the phone lines, you can send a tweet, @booktv is our twitter handle. also or send an e-mail, cal in new york city, thanks for holding. you're on with congressman and author john lewis. >> caller: hello, hello. thank you, thank you. it's a real privilege to speak to you, representative lewis. i was, i was part of the occupy wall street movement in that early month, and i felt that the
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moment that i knew personally that the occupy movement would fail was when you were denied a chance to speak at one of their rallies. i don't remember where it was taking place, but i felt that occupy at the time was -- they thought they were being very clever in rejecting a lot of the basic strategy that you and the other members of sncc had laid out, the basic bylaws of civil disobedience back in the '60s. i thought that they felt that they were being clever, that, you know, if you didn't have a mission, you couldn't be contradicted. if you didn't have leaders, they couldn't be jailed or assassinated, and if you don't proclaim your goal, you can never be told that you failed or that you're off message. i would love to hear anything you have to say about the organizing strategies of modern organizations and how they have learned or failed to to learn
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from what you and other great men and women did way back then. thank you. >> guest: well, the only thing i tried to do that particular day in atlanta, i left my office which was only half a block from where they were occupying a park just to walk out and wish them well, and some of the people wanted me to speak, but i didn't feel offended or anything. i understood are well. -- very well. but i tell young people and people not so young to read the literature, to study the movement, watch the videos. before we went on the city, before we went on the freedom ride, before we marched, we studied the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. we studied the great religion of the world. we studied the role of civil disobedience. we studied what dr. king and rosa parks had been all about in montgomery, and we were ready.
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study is very, very important. you have to be prepared, and you have to have a vision and get other people to share in that vision. and be on one accord. we said to people to study nonviolence as a way of life, a as a way of living, not simply as a technique or a tactic. >> host: and in "across that bridge," you write about the occupy movement as well as the issues in egypt that egypt faced over the last couple of years. steve's in harrisburg, oregon. steve, go ahead with your question or comment for john lewis. >> caller: hi, representative lewis, a great honor to talk to you. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: i was interested in your take on the legacy of the civil rights movement and what you're most proud of how other moments throughout the world have used it to mote rate their
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own -- motivate their own progress against oppression. and contrarily, i was wondering what was the greatest example of the misuse of the civil rights legacy to really use, try to motivate people to be more oppressive rather than to encourage freedom. i'll take my answer offline. >> guest: well -- >> caller: thank you very much. >> guest: the little book that i have completed with one of my colleagues, "march: book one," it's a graphic novel, but it was really to help inspire another generation. earlier i spoke of dr. king's book, "the martin luther king story of montgomery." it was a comic book. but people in egypt and other parts of the world, in south africa and others use this book as a tool, as a technique to get
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the message, the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. you create a mass movement, and i appreciate the fight that when you travel almost any part of the world told, people know something about the american civil rights movement. they know the words "we shall overcome." and it's my hope that people will not just sing the words or speak the words, but they will try to live the way of peace, live the way of love, live the way of gandhi, the way of king, the way of others that that found a way to get in the way. people have to find a way to make some noise, to push and pull and not be satisfied. disturb the order of things. >> host: john lewis, after your election victory, upset election victory over julian bond in
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1986, what happened to your friendship this. >> guest: oh, our friendship was not destroyed. for a few months, maybe almost a year, we didn't have much to say to each other. but we're as close as ever today. >> host: you also write about andrew young, that there was some tension there in your relationship. >> guest: well, andy young, some of us thought that andy who had said he was going to be neutral, we felt he was not that neutral, but today we're the best of friends. >> host: one other politician from georgia, former carter. >> guest: president carter, i see president carter from time to time, i run into president carter, i worked for him for three years here in washington, and during the 50th anniversary of the celebration of the march on washington, i spoke before he did, and we spent some time together talking and reminiscing. he's a wonderful man. a wonderful friend. >> host: you work, you worked for him for a while.
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>> guest: i worked for him for almost three years. >> host: well, john lewis has referenced president johnson's speech on voting rights a couple of times. we want to show you just a little bit of that. >> we cannot, we must not refuse to protect the right of every american to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in. [applause] and we ought not and we cannot and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. [applause] we have already waited 100 years
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and more, and the time for waiting is gone. [applause] so i ask you to join me in working long hours, nights and weekends if necessary to pass this bill. and i don't make that request lightly. far from the window where i sit are the problems of our country. i recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation. the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts. but even if we pass this bill,
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the battle will not be over. what happened in selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of america. it is the effort of american negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of american life. their cause must be our cause too. because it's not just negroes, but really it's all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. and we shall overcome. [applause]
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>> host: congressman lewis, almost 50 years ago that speech was made in the house of representatives. what's -- when you look back, what's, what's changed? >> guest: because of the work of individuals in the congress and like lyndon johnson, john f. kennedy, he made a speech in may of 1963 -- june, rather,1963 -- and the involvement of hundreds and thousands of our citizens, i think we have witnessed in america what i like to call a
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nonviolent revolution, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. and our country's a better country, and we're better people. i know that there are some people say, john lewis, you're just too hopeful, you're just too optimistic. but you have to be hopeful. you have to be optimistic. the fine souls when i was growing up, they're gone. those are gone and they will not return. the only places our children and their children will see those signs will be in a book, in a museum, on a video. the reason -- the region that i grew up in is in better region. the people are better people. we're on our way to the creation of a truly multiracial, democratic society. when i go back to troy, alabama, or to montgomery or birmingham or places in mississippi or south or north carolina, the
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people, they want to see us take that great leap forward. i think that people are far ahead of the leaders. we need leadership in parts of our country at the local level, at the state level. >> host: back to "walking with the wind," something was born in selma during the course of that year, 1965, but something died there too. the road of nonviolence had essentially run out, selma was the last act. >> guest: the selma movement was so peaceful, so orderly, people were so committed. and we didn't follow through, we didn't follow up. there is a need to pick up where we left off. we made it from be selma to
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montgomery, on to washington with the passing of the voting rights act. people got elected. but we can learn from selma. we can learn from the mistakes, the blunders. that's why during the past 13 years with a group called faith in politics i've been taking members of congress back to birmingham and montgomery, to selma. on our last trip we went to tuscaloosa, and i wish the whole of america could have been seen what happened. to have governor george wallace's daughter and his sister, one of the young people that governor wallace stood in the door and tried to block who's now married to the attorney general of the united states, to have these two young women engage in a dialogue on the campus of the university of
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alabama and the president of the university of alabama -- a woman, i believe the only woman president of an sec school -- as the moderator was amazing. and when these two women finished, there probably was not a dry eye in the building. or to go back to a place like montgomery where i was beaten, where i almost died on the day of the freedom ride when we arrived on may 20, 1961, and the local police chief meet this delegation, several members of congress, members of the kennedy family, members of the johnson family in reverend ralph abernathy's church. and he came in to speak to us. he was not even born during the
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days of the freedom ride. i doubt he's -- he may be 40 or 45 years old maybe. but the chief came in and spoke and said, mr. lewis, when you were here during the freedom ride, our police department allowed a mob to beat you and leave you. i want to apologize for that. i want to show you that our police department today is different. we teach people about the civil rights movement, about montgomery, about selma, about birmingham, about nonviolence. but he said, i want to do something else. i want to take off my badge and present it to you. i said, chief, you can't do that. i said, don't you need your badge? he said, i can get another one. i said, i'm not accepting your badge. he took his badge off and gave it to me.
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and the members of congress, other police officers there and people from all over america, four or fife hundred people -- five hundred people just all moved by this. the south is changing. and it's my belief that the american south one day will lead the way, make america a better america, the good america. >> host: terry e-mails many to you, congressman: are you hopeful, pardon me, about the future in light of recent developments like the supreme court decision on voting rights and the trayvon martin case? >> guest: in spite of the supreme court decision on the voting rights act which i consider a setback because i believe that decision put a
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dagger in the very heart of the voting rights act of 1965, even with the decision in the trayvon martin case i'm still hopeful, till optimistic. still optimistic. i say to people all the time and i'll say it again today that you must never, ever get lost in a sea of despair. you must be hopeful, you must be optimistic, you must continue to fight and stand up and do what you can to create a better society. we have to work. we just cannot go to sleep. we have to be in the arena and be fighting for what is right, for what is fair and what is just. >> host: paul e-mails in to you. with the increase in gerrymandered districts, what are your thoughts regarding the future of american politics and the two-party system? >> guest: it is my belief that in spite of the gerrymandering of congressional districts
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around the country -- and i think that's why we have such polarization today in american politics -- the american people are smart. they get it. and one day, and one day very soon, we're going to see a transformation in american politics. the people are going to vote for individuals and not simply because someone happened to be a member of a particular political party. >> host: congressman lewis, arvin tweets in to you: what are your objections to a picture id requirement for voting? it is amazing, he writes, that voting is based on trust here. >> guest: voting should be based on trust. we should open up the political process and let people come in. we shouldn't be afraid. i said at the march on washington in 1963, i said one
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person, one vote. i saw a group of black woman in southern africa carrying signs saying one man, one vote. so i said in my march on washington speech, one man, one vote is the african cry, it is ours too, it must be ours. it doesn't make sense in a country such as ours to say to some man or some woman 95, 93 years old who never had a driver's license someplace in rural pennsylvania or rural north carolina or georgia that you must have a id to be able to vote. some people say we're afraid of fraud. but people in alabama, in georgia, in mississippi and other parts of the south and before them women for many, many years could not register and vote here in america. just open up the process and let everybody participate.
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>> host: another date, december 21, 1968. >> guest: december 21,1968, was the day that i got married to a beautiful, beautiful young woman who was born in los angeles, attended los angeles high school. i guess it was called hollywood high. and went to ucla and usc and later to the peace corps. she became a librarian. she loved books, and she loved to read. and she came south. she followed the civil rights movement, kept up with the movement. we met in '67, and we were married on february the 21, 1968. >> host: and she just passed -- >> guest: she just passed last new year's eve, december 31st of last year. >> host: you were married by
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the, by what you refer to as -- by who you refer to as daddy king. >> guest: daddy king, dr. king's father -- we all called him daddy king -- performed my wedding. and daddy king said in the ceremony, he said obey lillian -- lillian, you obey. and everybody in the audience just broke up laughing when he said you obey. will you obey? >> host: why did they laugh? >> guest: because they thought he was instructing lillian to listen, because she was a little feisty and taught she needed some encouragement to obey her husband. >> host: what's the last year of your life been like without her? >> guest: well, i think about her all the time. i still wear my wedding band. it's just hard to take it off. i miss her.
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i wish she could be here and witness the changes that have occurred with our son and my own life and be able -- she was my closest and dearest friend. she was a wonderful companion. she gave me great advice. and she worked so hard in campaigns, and she kept up with everything. she read everything. the newspapers, the books, everything. when someone told me said, you should meet this young lady, they said you travel all the time, you love to go to the airport, she would pick you up, and she would take care of you x so you need someone to keep up with your papers, your writings and that type of thing. i'm sure she looking down from heaven, and her spirit is still with me. >> host: and where is john
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miles, your son, today? this. >> guest: our son is at home in atlanta. he's into music and technology. he loves sports, but he really loves music more than anything. >> host: norman in haslet, michigan, please go ahead with your question or comment for author and congressman john lewis. >> caller: hi, peter. congressman lewis, first of all, my con doll lens on your loss. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: second, you've been one of my heroes, and as a disabled man for the last 25 years, i have some idea of what it is to be discriminated against. but i wanted to ask you if do you think that part of the
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right-wing conservatives, the tea party folks, do you see like an inherent racism and what their agenda is against social services, against the president? i think it's very disturbing some of the things that they propose, and i was wondering what you think about that. >> guest: well, i don't like labeling people. i don't like -- i believe we all have a capacity and an ability to change. that's why i take members of congress and try to get them to walk in other people's shoes. on one occasion a few years ago, a senator from one of the southern states went with us to birmingham, montgomery and selma, and he came back, and he
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said to me, he said, john, if i had been on this trip earlier, my voting record would be different. i think sometimes you have to get people to walk in other people's shoes. people have to see and feel and sort of taste something for themselves. so i'm not one of these that are quick to label someone. you know, i don't think any of us are born, we don't come into this world putting people down because of they're able or disabled, whether they're of a certain race. i think we're taught to dislike, we're taught to hate. because we come in here so innocent. and i try to look up and is see every person -- and see every person that sometime along the way they were innocent little children, just little babies, and something happened to them along the way. on the other hand, i think in our society today i think that
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the individuals maybe in american politics feel that in order to get ahead or stay elected they must be seen as crusading against something rather than for something. >> host: in "across that bridge" in the reconciliation chapter, congressman, you write: at the root that is why we were engaged in a struggle now in congress led by one group of people who i truly believes their role is to defend the privileges of the elite. >> guest: well, you know, they -- i think feeling that somehow and some way that they've been elected, i think they're individuals that this is my role, this is the role i must play, i've been chosen to play this role, and i must play it well rather than looking out for
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everybody. it would be important for people to try to walk in the shoes of others. i don't understand how people make it in our society. poor people. they're black, they're white, they're latino, they're asian-american, they're native american. they need help. and the government, our government, this powerful government should be there to assist and to help people, to help the children, to help women and the disabled, feed the people, clothe the people, provide housing. that is a role. stop spending so much of our limited resources on bombs and missiles and guns. we should be a little more humane. i think there should be some way that we can humanize america, humanize our institutions. our educational institution, our financial institution and
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humanize our politics. >> host: in the faith chapter in "across that bridge" you write: faith to me is knowing in the solid core of your soul that the work is already done even as the idea is being conceived in your mind. it is being as sure as you are about your dreams as you are about anything you know as a hard fact. >> guest: yeah, i believe that. i believe that there's a sun that's already dying. you have this idea, you have this goal, and you have to actualize it. you have to make it real. because it's already done. when we started talking about the sit-ins or the freedom ride or the march from selma to montgomery, you know in your gut, you know the victory is already won. there can be no turning back. >> host: when you said when you first got arrested in nashville
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in february 1960, you said you felt set free. >> guest: oh, yeah. i felt, i felt free. i felt liberated. if individuals become liberated, then the greater society, the country will be liberated. you have to believe it. >> host: gerdine in new jersey, did i butcher that name? >> caller: hello? >> host: hi, is this gerdine? >> caller: yes. i didn't even know you had me on the line. >> host: what's the name of your town, ma'am? >> guest: i'm in new jersey. >> host: there you go. >> caller: it was meant to be. >> host: please go ahead, we're listening. >> caller: can't hear you. >> host: we're listening. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hello. i wanted to speak to representative lewis to tell him how happy i am today that i happened to be flipping through the tv x -- and there you were.
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i have admired you for many, many years. your spirit is love and empathy and hope, and it's the same spirit that i have. but i do want to read the books that i see you have come out with. i have two grandsons that i certainly want to read that cartoon book to. and also the hard cover book. i just want to check and see if i got the right title. is it called "walking with the wind"? >> guest: yeah. one book is "walking with the wind," yes. >> caller: and the other one is the cartoon book, and is that also called -- i couldn't get it as they were saying, as he was saying was the title was when i first turned to it. >> guest: it is called "march: book one." >> host: there it is on the screen. >> caller: yes. i do hope that my family and i will be able to come to washington, d.c. and visit the
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capitol, and i would love to meet you in person. i think you are a wonderful, courageous man and a man that's full of love. and as martin luther king said in one of his letters from prison, love will always be stronger than hate. i believe that. and i know you believe it too. >> guest: well, thank you. when you come to washington, come to my office, and in my office we have a gallery of historic photographs from the '60 with dr. martin luther king jr. and with others. >> host: now, congressman lewis, in "walking with the wind," you write about after your election, september 2, 1986, you beat julian bond in an upset. 15,000 applicants for those positions. do you still attract that national audience of people who
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want to work for you? >> guest: well, that was a lot of applications then. even today we get hundreds and thousands of letters, e-mails from people from all around the country and from people around the world. there's not any way that we can hire or see everybody, but we get -- around king's birthday celebration major cities and towns, state government, places abroad want me to come and speak about dr. king. it's impossible. i have a day job, a a full-time job as a member of congress representing the people in georgia. but everybody would like for me to come to address a group or college or university. and we get requests from hundreds of thousands of student groups to meet them on the
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capitol steps. and we see a lot of young people from around the world. and i enjoy talking with students and telling them about the movement and showing them photographs and videos. one thing, it keeps you young to engage with the students. and a lot of these young people, they don't believe it. they do not believe that i got arrested 40 times during the '60s. so how do you do it? did you think about giving up? i never thought about giving up. i couldn't give up. i couldn't give in. >> host: doug brinkley writes in the forward to "across that bridge" about you. he forges onward, that rarest of politicians who draws the respect of every colleague on both sides of the partisan aisle. when he steps to the podium, people hush. everyone wants to hear the spirit of greatness, that is the fruit that john's life has borne.
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do you ever get tired of reading things like that about yourself? >> guest: well, i try not to read it, because you start reading and keep reading it, you start believing it, and i don't want to believe it. as i continue to say, i just tried to help out. i just tried to make a little contribution. i didn't want like what i saw growing up -- i didn't like what i saw growing up, and i knew there was a better way. and people like gandhi and martin luther king jr. and rosa parks provided a way out, maybe a way in. >> host: in "march: book one," the graphic novel, the most recent, one of the early stories in here you kind of flip back from current day to your past life, and one of the stories here is a woman bringing her two sons to your office, and you were there. is thissal gore call, is this a real story, and how often does this happen? >> guest: this is a real story. people come all the time. and i believe on that occasion
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it was the day of the inauguration that the woman came in. but i get letters, telephone calls i want my children to meet you, i just want to come by for five minutes. and we try to accommodate people. and sometimes people will wait, and they come from a distance. some will write a letter, make a telephone call and come all the way from california to washington, d.c. or from some other part. if i make it to washington, i want to come by and see you. and i have people come up sometimes, and it's not just -- are you human? i say, yeah. and another problem we have, and i get so embarrassed, and my staff people will tell you, that people walk in, and they start crying. and people say i'm going to cry, i'm going to pass out. and i say, please, don't pass out, i'm not a doctor. please don't do that. and we have that problem
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sometimes. if i'm someplace doing a book signing, it's -- i think people, the american people are good people. as human beings, we are good, and people want to share their feelings and their emotion. and i understand that. and people say i want to hug you, and i will say things like, it's okay, i need a hug. >> host: charmaine is calling from anchorage, alaska, hi. >> caller: hello, how are you today? >> host: please go ahead, ma'am. >> caller: hi. i'm a native of alabama, i attended alabama a&m university, and one year with dr. ronald slaughter from the political science department, we attended selma for bloody sunday. and i had the excellent opportunity to of meeting you alongside with rosa saw parks
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and a lot of -- rosa parks and a lot of outstanding people that i've always studied about. and i've been living here in anchorage, alaska, for ten years. i'm an employee for the bureau of land management, and i was able to receive my master's degree in urban and regional planning, and i was so gung ho about coming here and working and everything, but i'm working here in anchorage, alaska, in corporate america. i find it very hard to advance as a black female. and i was just wanting your intake and your words of encouragement for helping me to keep hope alive and just being accepted more as an individual. ..
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so i would just like to hear some of your thoughts to kind of help they keep that fire alive. >> host: thank you for calling. >> guest: thank you very much for calling. i've been to your university. i've been to huntsville and i get there from time to time. in thank you for your service and your work in the government.
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don't become bitter or hostile. keep the faith. never give out. faith and hope and love and continue to work and hang in there. pursue your dreams and your dream will come true. >> host: jason kosar facebook page, congressman, thank you for helping devise an effective use movement. i am a student at the university of pennsylvania who was held for a youth led statewide social justice organization directly based on snake. often, gun advocates are marginalized in community work. could you please talk about when others, how you and others were able to negotiate a voice to the front of the civil rights movement. what lessons can you people learned today? >> guest: jason, you're doing
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the right thing by studying what we attempted to do in the student nonviolently dead coordinating committee. as you know, before we went on any protest at the same end of freedom right that we study. we study and we abuse ourselves with the philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence. we never, ever try to put someone down. we will always try to respect your opponent and our fellow human beings. be organized and be honest and truthful and how the bowls and follow your sense of what is right, your sense of what is fair and just. not only be persistent, but also be insistent and operate on three principles. hang in there.
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postcode galas card for lame deer, maintain eye. you watching the tv on c-span 2. our guest is john lewis. >> caller: thank you for all your hard work over the years. the indian price of the united states. [inaudible] we realize that most of the rights to we can, some voting rights act to poverty initiative. what i find perplexing is that the bureaucracy that the federal government creates, the bureau of indian affairs and now a new one called the office of special prestige take 85 cents to 90 cents of every dollar the congress appropriates and also omitted that gets to renovation. and i believe that some of our most brilliant talent to these federal bureaucracies.
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they are not coming back to the reservations in the top bureaucracy. how can we switch that around? >> guest: i have a great deal of concern about what happened to indian people and the indian nation. during the carter administrationcannot have an opportunity to get out of this it a few years ago to be exact, about three years ago i had an opportunity to travel to oklahoma and they fit the cherokee nation. on one occasion went to arizona and visit the navajo nation. organize and continue to bring people together and get people to never forget the land hits come from.
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and get politicians, elected officials, members of congress, people in the obama administration to come out and visit and to see what is happening to indian people. >> host: in "march, book 1", utah about how you planned and studied and got ready for civil rights activity. you also planned and studied and tested each other on how to prepare to get arrested or harassed. you go through and there's a great visualization in this book about how you would torment each other essentially prior to going to a cnn. we each try to do everything we could to test ourselves to break each other's spirit and try to dehumanize each other. you can see some of the drawings and captions here on this page.
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you've literally spit on each other, to smoke in each other's space, called each other names? >> guest: we really did. we called the role-playing. we called the social drama. one worries that we shouldn't use -- no one should ever use it. >> host: you right downward and there appeared a >> guest: we put the and word in there. uh are said to one of the participants, she said we don't serve in here. we don't serve in here. and this young man said we don't eat them. people thought this was really, really funny. and i guess it was funny to her and funny to bump the participants. but it was an attempt to prepare people for what can happen and
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to be ready. people are ready. and became one of the most disciplined movements. we had a young man bear by the name of jim lawson, wonderful teacher, young methodist minister and even bill university in nashville. he worked for the fellow said for reconciliation, yet traveled to india and studied the way of gandhi. and dr. martin luther king jr. would come to nashville in 1960 and who is the student movement was the most disciplined. it was well organized and the people that were except in the way of nonviolence have a way of life, has a way of liberty. and it was there that many young people like diane nash, bernard lafayette, who is going to be honored by the president in a
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few weeks with the matter of freedom and these young people not only went to jail and got arrested, but they went on the freedom ride and they became organizers all across the south. today, many of these young people are still working for social change, for social justice. >> host: december 1st, 1955, 50 miles from your house near troy, alabama. what happened in montgomery, alabama? >> guest: december 1st, 1955, young woman, rosa parks was arrested for refusing to get up and give up her seat. to await gentlemen. because of the action of her as a part, davis a few days later in that meeting for martin
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luther king jr. and others spoke in a decision was made to have the boycott. i remember 15 years old in the 10th grade. but i remember it like it was yesterday. i'd call that a person, growing up there, i followed the drama of montgomery. it inspired me. at the time, we didn't have a subscription to a newspaper. but my grandfather had one in each day when finished reading the newspaper, we would get a newspaper every day. be with us into the radio about what was happening in my country. many of my teachers that i had in school, they would come during the week to teach in over the weekend they would go back home to montgomery. and they would tell us about the montgomery bus boycott. and when i had an opportunity to
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meet rosa parks two years later in 1957 and to meet dr. king three years later, he changed my life. dr. king and rosa parks during the market ripostes boycott the 1956 with some of my brothers and sisters and cousins we went down to the public library and the little town of troy, alabama. i was only 16. to try to get library cards, to try to check out some books. we were told that the librarian at the library was whites only and not the colors. i never went back to the public county library in troy, alabama until july 6, 1988, when by this time not to congress for a book signing of my book, truth or do you have a wonderful program.
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many whites and african-americans showed us here we had food, something to drink. at the end of the program, the end of the book signing they gave me a library card. >> host: leslie, chopin, new york. >> caller: thank you so much. it's a little touching, hard to speak after what you just shared and how poignant that you married a librarian, to how wonderful that they knew the story and could give you a library card. that's beautiful. so i built a whole week around watching the live because it's been a hero for me for so long. i just had a question, congressman. as you shared in 1968 come as something died in the american consciousness. i was only 10 years old. but watching dr. king and bobby kennedy being assassinated for me and fifth-grade helped to
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inspire the fire in the belly that we talked about today. and been inspired by the civic engagement and hurt during the commitment to racial justice and social justice and economic justice. so if you have some thoughts you could share on what we might bring to young people. i really am thinking third grade through graduate school, young adults and how we can inspire that vision. and be very grateful. thank you. >> well, "march, book 1" i've been using a broad number of schools. when making college or university in america is used in the book.
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other schools are considering i'm going to be speaking on a convention for social studies teachers in st. louis before the end of the year. .web "march, book 1", there is a teaching guide. you could contact the publisher, top shelf, in the book. but what i would recommend it is for young people to learn about the civil rights movement, but to learn the way of peace, the way of love, the way of non-violent. >> host: scott rainey e-mails into you, congressman. as a nonliberal, sixtysomething white guy from the northwest, i'm enormously proud to claim he was a fellow citizen of these united states, despite our differences of opinion on many,
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many topics. thank you for how you've accomplished our country. affirmative action has succeeded in many ways. however, like all good ideas but also has unintended side effects. we all know that it must end someday, that it seems nobody wants to talk about that. so when can we begin to talk about the clearing affirmative-action of success, the monuments to it in all big cities and then send that. >> guest: well, we are not there yet. we have not yet created the beloved community. we have not yet created one american, one house, one family. there is still a need to affirm the inclusion, to affirm the participation of all of our citizens in the american wine. it doesn't matter whether they are black or white or latino or asian american, whether they are straight or whether they are
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protestant or catholic, jewish, buddhist, religious or nonreligious. all of us must be included. so there is still a need to affirm the involvement, the inclusion and participation of all of our citizens. hosts got another e-mail from looks like mrs. rainy as a lover of statistics and the pursuit of truth, i feel that civil rights act to this, julius hobson could be a colorful and serious role model for young people's imaginations. however, many parents might object to his staunch atheism. question one, did you know julius hobson and you think a picture book on him could be acceptable? >> guest: i did know julius hobson. he was a wonderful, wonderful man with the vision, with great ideas, a true activist.
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i think it would be fitting and appropriate for there to be a picture book on him. there's great stories of julia hobson that need to be told and shared not just at the washington community, but the american community. postcodes it is a hold him back? >> guest: i don't think he did because i don't think many people knew his views when it came to the faith community. >> host: and "march, book 1", you read the first time you ever saw your name in print was in the montgomery advertiser newspaper, front page and the headline boy preacher. >> guest: i do remember that. i do remember that very well. the picture of me holding the bible in the montgomery advertiser. the paper back then had what we
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call up the colored section of the paper. and they had a white person is the editor of the colored section of the paper. >> host: why were you in a quiet >> guest: it was a local committee they are of young people, the boy preacher from troy, alabama who receives his life as a bat this minister. >> host: are you still a baptist minister? >> guest: i consider myself baptist and from time to time i called the phone to deliver a sermon. i just recently spoke at the charlotte baptist church in washington. there is celebrating the 150th anniversary. so i tied it all together in a sermon in the 150th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation. this was started in virginia and
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later the church was bombed, or rather. many members of the congregation left virginia and moved to washington and hear the church grew and grew and grew and today this church is one of the strongest church is, please have faith in washington d.c. i remember coming with dr. king and others, holding meetings at this church back in 1963 and 64 and 65. there's a wonderful place. but i also tied it to the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. and later, 50 years. >> host: next call comes to nancy. >> caller: hayek. i consider this a great honor.
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i really appreciate it. i think congressman lewis is a perfect example of the words the greatest among you shall be a servant. i recently moved to georgia and i've been learning about a woman here in truth townie who was the granddaughter of slaves, but she was a principal of a segregated school. her name was batna made bodie. she lived in my branch college and not only the grants college has a servant scholarship. i wonder if congressman lewis is familiar and knows robert greenleaf by the efforts at the university of virginia for servant leadership. >> host: thank you very much. i've been to the green college a few short years ago. i delivered a commencement address there and have an honorary degree from the green
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college. on my way from atlanta to alabama sometime to visit my younger brothers and sisters before my mother and father passed. on i 85 who would come right through the heart of downtown the green. i know the whole idea i servant leaders and leadership. that's what i believe in. that's why i encourage you don't leaders to do, to try to be servant leaders. leaders must lead. they must show the way and not just get out front each time, but be prepared to do the nitty-gritty hard work. >> host: fredette, fresno, california. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> guest: hello, thank you good sir, it's an honor to speak with you.
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at the time of his stats, dr. king was fighting for economic justice. sir, i would would like to ask about reparations for the buck. what happened to the 40 acres in the mall promised? blackmon overpopulate the present. our voting rights have been chipped away. why aren't black politicians mobilizing blacks to fight for economic justice in the form of reparations? something like the marshall plan to go into urban cities but they sustained after to erase the poverty, which is the root of the problem of all blacks. >> guest: >> host: thank you am afraid that.
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>> guest: many african-american speakers stand up, organize them i talk about economic justice. we try to get more resources. it's been thus ongoing fight to get resources for black farmers that were discriminated against, women farmers that were discriminated against. two native american farmers and others. we don't think in this climate in this environment that we are going to see outright payment of something called preparation that has been afterwards that legislation has been introduced. but our efforts must be to do what we can come in to see that all young people, doesn't matter whether they're black, white, latino, get the best possible education to get jobs and make contributions to the larger society and stop warehousing
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people and our institutions. >> host: or "walking with the wind," congressman, it was at this time they began believing in what i call the spirit of history. others might call it fate or destiny or a guiding hand. whatever it is called, i came to believe that the forces on the side of what is good, of what is right and just. it is the essence of the moral force of the universe. what is the spirit of history? >> guest: i had a teacher. i don't know how this came. i had a teacher and the seizure is named john lewis powell, a philosophy teacher at american baptist college. he would run around the black board with the same ideas. he was like a flying saucer. and we would just run with a lot of energy. he was not a very young man, but he could move.
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i just had this believe that whether you want to go someplace or not, you may want to go another direction. or maybe you just want to stand still. but there is some and i caught the spirit of history that track you down and said this is the way he must go. this is what you might say. this is what you must do. and i feel today, i felt it back during the 40s and it is when i was growing up very, very poor on a farm in rural, alabama that something was pushing me, that i had to answer the call. when i heard the words of martin luther king jr., when i read about rosa parks, i knew then. i didn't know what to call it,
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but i started calling it the spirit of history. that's it. this is your calling. this is what you must do. dedicate yourself to the call of justice, the call of what is right and what is fair for all mankind. >> host: john, one of the other side shaking his head, you got to stop preaching the gospel according to martin luther king and start preaching the gospel of jesus christ. >> guest: that was a young man by the name of james balogh comment and meant that i'd love to iron. he was so smart. he was smart at the same time. she could be very. he was my roommate for a semester. i couldn't take it anymore. he would just walk in preaching and he would go to the shower preaching and everything was just preaching. but he called that dr. jesus.
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are they talking about what dr. king was saying. the preaching of martin luther king jr. is the preaching of jesus. as the social gospel. he's making it real. he's not talking about over yonder, but is talking about that here in the. i tried to convince him to attend a nonviolent workshop. and not until he heard we had beaten arrested and gone to jail if he became. he became the great prophet and a fence. ..
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i wrote her a letter back and was trying to paraphrase the words of martin luther, saying something like act according to the dictates of my conscience. i don't think she understood what i was trying to say to her. and she was afraid. she was afraid i would be in jail a long time, that i would be beaten, be killed, and she feared for me. and many years later, one of my younger brother told me that, when they were growing up, much
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younger, they would get telephone calls, and my mother would tell them, don't say anything to me about it. don't tell me. don't tell me. because she didn't want me to be afraid. she didn't want me to worry. and they live in constant fear. the thought the house would be burned or bombed. thought they would lose the land. thought they wouldn't be able to get credit. but after the voting rights act was passed and she was able to register to vote, my grandfather was able to register, she became a crusader. everybody should become registered to vote, and she was so proud that i was elected to the atlanta city council and litter -- later to congress, and i regret so much she didn't live to see president barack obama being elected.
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she lived to meet president clinton in atlanta, and come there and see local people elected in troy, alabama. >> host: where they ever threatened in the sixes -- 60s. >> guest: phone call but no one ever burned a cross. they got telephone calls. my father was so proud. he was a little afraid but so proud i was involved and when people asked him, it thatture blow? is that your son? and he was very proud. say, yes. >> host: the producer of the program always asks our guests what what they're reading. here's john lewis' answers:
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book tv's selection is john
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lewis' walking with the wind. >> as a young child i faced racial discrimination and i didn't like it. i asked my mothers' and my father, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, why racial discrimination? they would say, that's the way it is. don't get in trouble. don't get in the way. but in 1965 when i was in the tenth grade, 15 years old, i heard of rosa parks. i heard the voice of martin luther king, jr. on our radio, and the words of dr. king inspired me to find a way to get in the way. in 1966 was my brother's and sisters and my first cousins weapon down to the public library in troy, alabama, trying to get library cards, trying to check some books out, and we were told by the librarian that the library was for whites only,
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and not for coloreds, but on july 5, 1998, i went back to the library for a book-signing of my book, "walking with the wind" and they gave me a library card. [applause] walking with the wind is a book of faith, hope, and courage. it's not just my story. it is the story of hundreds and thousands and countless men and women, black and white, who put their body on the line during a very difficult period in the history of our country to end discrimination. >> no need to register to join the club. read the book and post your thoughts on our book club chatroom. club. every day we'll post items
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including l.s to the author, book reviews and videos from our archives. >> host: congressman lewis, one of the people you listed as your greatest influences is the reverend kelly miller smith. who is that? >> guest: this man, one of a kind. was born in mississippi, in the heart of the delta. he attended moorehouse college in atlanta, undergrad, and then his divinity degree from howard university in washington, dc. i met him when i was attending college in nashville. he was a great orator, wonderful, wonderful minister. he was pastor -- the first baptist church in downtown nashville.
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the church was old red brick building, with overlapping roof, and the membership came out of the back of the white church. the church has existed since the days of slavery in tennessee. it was located less than a block from the state capitol. it was one of the meeting places during the height of the movement. you go down here, talk about someone preaching the social gospel. this man did. his sirons were -- sermons were short, son-in-law to 12 minutes, but when you heard him speak, you were ready to get up and move your feet. he became a -- with martin
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luther king, jr. he was tall, handsome, he spoke with authority. he believed what he was saying. and he lived it. he was concerned about all of nashville, white nashville, black nashville, low income, middle income, wealthy nashville. he wanted to bring the city together. i admired him. i loved him. he inspired me. he lifted me. >> host: we have a little less than an hour left with our guest this month on book tv, congressman john lewis, author and civil rights leader, ambrose in rochester, new york, blows go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: congressman lewis. --
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[inaudible] remember going there and -- -- >> host: ambrose, i apologize. it's a little difficult to -- there's some breakup in the phone. >> oh, okay. let me take you off the speaker phone. >> host: thank you. we're going to put you on hold but we'll come back and we'll chat with you for just a minute in the control room, and we'll get you back, but speaker phones don't work with all the technology, makes it clearer for everybody to hear if you just use the hand set. melissa in tucson, arizona. hi, melissa. >> caller: high. i'm a child of the civil rights, lived in suburban detroit, and i
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spent my life studying these things, desmond tutu, south africa, and i live in tucson, arizona, however, and one of my great disappointments over the last couple of years is that the ground zero for the civil rights movement didn't happen here. for me, this is -- getting evolution in school, desegregating schools, and -- >> host: melissa, are you saying they don't teach civil rights in tucson schools? >> caller: tucson unified school district in tucson, cancelled a -- banned african-american
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studies. aclu, the southern poverty law center made a big deal but the people didn't come. our university based intellectual community didn't come. the civil rights community didn't come. african-american studies was banned, and i feel like people like john lewis, if they had been here, it would have been a honest of reinforceed, we were one house, one people. >> guest: maybe one day, in the not too distant future, i will have an opportunity to come and visit, come and see. several of my colleagues in the congress have urged me to come to tucson and to phoenix, another part of arizona, and i look forward to the day when i will have the opportunity to come and visit some of the schools and organizations. >> host: congressman when you
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see or hear hour civil rights are taught, are we learning enough? are we teaching the next generation enough in your view? >> we need to do more. we need to do much more. in some places, in places like california, individual organizations and groups, student groups, study groups, one high school teacher based in northern california, organized something called, sojourn to the past. and then the past few years he brought more than 5,000 high school students to the south for ten days. and i spoke to every single group -- they come in groups of 100, and i've spoken to every single group except one. they come to atlanta, visit tuskegee, go to montgomery, to selma, birmingham, jackson, mississippi, little rock, memphis, and they recruit students from other parts of the
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country, from cleveland, new york city, from new orleans, to travel. it's a way of learning. it's not a tool. they have to do papers, write papers. read books, watch videos. i get students in my own city of atlanta, and rather than going on vacation someplace or going someplace and having fun, maybe you should do a field trip, just a day trip, to birmingham to montgomery to selma, to learn, to walk in other people's shoes. >> host: september 15th, 1963, is -- >> guest: it is impossible to forget september 15, 1963. on that sunday morning, i was home in alabama. visiting my mother and father and my younger sisters and brothers. we heard that a bomb had gone
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off in the 16th street baptist church in birmingham, and i received a telephone call from my office in atlanta, saying you must make it to birmingham. my mother and my father did not want me to go. they didn't want me to board a bus. so an uncle, the same uncle i traveled with to buffalo, was visiting, uncle otis, who lived about 0 miles south of troy, said i know what to do. so he took me to a little town called dolphin, south of troy, so people wouldn't see me getting on a bus in troy, and i would board the bus there and travel through troy, to make it to birmingham, and so i made it to birmingham that sunday afternoon, and met my friend julian bond there, and that's a great photograph of the two of us, standing across the street
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from the church. that was a sad and dark time, to see what happened when these girls was killed on a sunday morning. i cannot forget that. i stayed there, for the funerals of the four little girls. dr. king delivered a eulogy for three of the little girls. and it was there, because of what happened in birmingham that sunday, that we worked to get the right to vote in mississippi, in alabama, and especially in selma. >> host: what's the longest stint you did in jail or prison? >> guest: the longest time i spent in jail was in mississippi, during the freedom riot. it was about 44 days. jail is not a pleasant place.
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and to be in jail in alabama, in mississippi, anyplace in the south, but to be in jail, you lose your freedom. the goal in just being a crowded cell or crowded cell block. the food. it's not the best. but you're there and while in jail we conducted nonviolent workshops. we would sing songs. go down moses, tell old pharaoh to let my people go. had no money to got on their bail. but it was there that we became a circle of trust, a band of brothers and sisters.
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and when young people, white and black, get arrested and put in jail, we'd get arrested together. we on a bus together in a waiting room together. when we get to the jail they segregate us. >> host: when is the last time you were arrested? >> guest: the last time i was arrested was here in washington, dc. at the an embassy. i got arrested there twice. we were protesting against the way people in darfur had been treated. since i've been in congress, i've been arrested four times. twice at the sudanees embassy, one at the south african embassy, and one at a stockholder meeting of a major corporation in atlanta because of their investment in south africa.
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>> host: coca-cola? >> guest: not coke coke la. it was -- they was trying to use their influence to change the plight of things in south africa. another major corporation. >> host: dave, washington, please go ahead with your comment or question for representative lewis. >> caller: thank you very much. thanks for c-span. watch daily. love it. thank you, congressman lewis, for your citizenship, your endurance, and your hard work to build more perfect union. i'm going to try to -- i'm a little nervous, so -- the consecutive movement, i was watching bill maher and he had a guy on there part of a tea party, and he was saying they're winning. agree with them. the conservative movement has been win big using a narrative that pulls this country further and further to the right, and my
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question is, aren't the so-called privileges of the elite really entitlements taken off the backs of the working class, and isn't there a way we can take some of their words, like entitlements and other phrases they use, and flip the script on them and flip it back on them and show them how they're actually the ones that are -- chair cheating. they cannot win without cheaty. they jerry maunder to win districts they couldn't otherwise win. what can we do to flip the script. >> host: all right, dave thank you, very much. >> guest: we must continue to pull together and work together and somehow i our means means ad
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methods must be caught in the end we seek. we want to create a more peaceful union, not a perfect union, a more just union. then the way must be more peaceful. more just. more -- we cannot use this method and the techniques of another group. we all in this thing together, and we must look out for each other, and we must care for each other, to build and move toward the beloved community, community at peace with itself. >> host: ed, bringfield, georgia, e-mail: never had the pleasure of meeting you. someone i deeply respect and admire. however i am a former school mate of justice clarence thomas am deeply disappointed in his judicial philosophy.
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do you have any comments in. >> guest: well, as a member of congress, i remember -- i had been invited to testify when he was being considered to become a member of the supreme court, and i was one of the people that testified against him being seated. i just didn't think he had the temperment and i didn't share his his political philosophies to be a member of the united states supreme court. i just think as a nation and as a people we can do much better. >> host: have you gotten to know justice thomas? >> guest: over the years i -- i met him long before he became a member of the supreme court, as the member of -- i was one of the few african-american members of congress at the time, maybe the only one, to meet with him.
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>> host: ambrose in rochester, new york. ambrose, please go ahead. >> caller: hello, john, how are you doing? >> guest: hello. how are you doing? >> caller: i was a member of -- i was a member of a group that you were chairman. matter of fact, i worked with the -- >> guest: i remember the atlanta civic con -- convention very well. i got to know senator lou hamer and mentioned her as one of the women that stood up. she was so brave, so -- and as she was talking, she was daring, and she was -- she had a great voice, she knew how to use her voice to organize people through her fund, and she was courageous, courageous.
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>> caller: she had been to jail and been beaten from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet if you remember correctly. matter of fact, i was there with -- we were guarding her. >> guest: i remember lance very, very well, another fighter, another leader from the delta of mississippi. >> caller: he got me involved. >> host: ambrose, if you could, give us a brief synopsis of your life. tell us what you have been doing since 1964. >> caller: okay. i was in mississippi in 1963 and 1964, and i came to california in 1965. as a matter of fact i've been working with a group that take the kids to college, that takes the kid out ten days to the black college. he recruits black college
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students and i started working with the grad school system, and i worked there for 28 years, and i just retired. i'm about four years younger than john. >> guest: thank you. >> sorry about that, ambrose. i thought you were finished. >> guest: well, thank you for all your good and great work over the years. >> host: juan in palm bay, florida, go ahead. >> caller: representative lewis, i want to thank you so much. you put your life on the line for what you believed in. now, i know what that is like. i called richard butler and a legislative hearing, i was testifying at, a big got to -- bigot to his face and i got a lot of threats but i am still alive. i was at the sanford, florida, deal for trayvon, where sharpton was talking. 30,000 people there. i was so excited.
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i was mad, less than 50 white. what i am disappointed in civil rights movement is this year, in february, was the 100th 100th birthday of rosa parks, in central florida we did nothing. in july of this year, which is 65th anniversary of integration of the military, which i got to thank truman for because when i went in the marine corps i serve in an integrated organization, and it would have -- i would have philadelphia terrible if i had to serve in a segregated -- my philosophy is organize and educate because i find so many people don't know about the -- how the civil rights movement moved out. and a lot of my -- >> host: thank you, sir.
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>> guest: thank you very much, sir. i agree that we must continue to organize, mobilize, and also educate and inform. that is i would knowing your history, and studying hoyt, and people need to read. when i was very, very young, growing up in alabama, i had a wonderful teacher who said to me, over and over again, read, my child, read. read. and i tried to read everything. >> host: this is an e-mail from christine, and she writes: sir, thank you for serving our country. what is your point of view on the use of the n-word, which is my generation? >> guest: thank you so much. i don't think we should use the n-word. i don't think we should use it. it is negative. we should use it in music -- shouldn't use it in music. it just shouldn't be used.
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we should respect the words and dignity of every human being. >> host: elizabeth tweets: could mr. lewis tell us something about biard ruston we may not know. >> guest: a great deal about ruston. he grew up in chester, pennsylvania, he was early committed to the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence, back in the late 40s he was on something called the journey of reconciliation, similar to the freedom riots of 1961. early on he was looked upon as a socialist. he was smart. wonderful. organizer. a real thinker.
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he believed in organized labor. he was a fighter, a crusader for social justice. he was very hopeful, very optimistic. he believed as somehow and some way we can truly build integrated society, a society where no one, but no one will be left out or left behind. he was a wonderful friend. >> host: was his homosexuality a big deal at the time? >> guest: i think during the '60s, that people within the movement, within the civil rights movement, discriminated begins -- against him because he was gay. they didn't want to see him out front. they tried to present him but keep him from being the head leader of the march on
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washington in 1963. but without mr. ruston there would have not been a march on washington. >> host: was at it known fact he was gay. >> guest: most people within the hierarchy of the civil rights movement knew, and at one time he had been arrested on a charge of -- i believe it was in california, someplace, because he was gay. and people tried to hide that. about he never tried to hide. his homosexuality. >> host: in "walk with the wind" thissing somebody you quote, somebody writing about you. and if you could tell us who this is: the poker game continued, as i moved away into the bear hollow sounding living room. one of the guys on the floor caught my eye. he had a round body.
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he was john lewis, the secretary of snik, and one day he would be castigated by his own people for not being militant enough. john was love and soul and just to be with him made you smile inside, even though you knew heed never make it because he was too sweet. his dancing was laced with mischief. we grooved to the center of the floor and in two minutes were putting on a show. >> guest: i think that was the actress. i think that was shirley mcklein, writing that about me. >> host: do you remember this? >> guest: i remember very well. she wanted to meet people within the movement. >> there was a gathering at my place and she was there, and i talked many times after that, but she was wonderful.
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she, like so many of the people from the entertainment world, they wanted to get to know people within the civil rights movement. it was not injures surely mcclaine, but individuals who became very supportive, like hari bell-do -- tony ben net, and barbara streisand, and at the end of the march from selma to montgomery, they wanted to identify the march on washington. they wanted to say, we stand with you. i remember bob dylan, coming to the delta of mississippi, out in the field, singing, and playing his music. joan biaz and others, peter,
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paul and mary. those were the days of hope optimism, that people were prepared, literally to put their bodies on the line, to use their sense of feeling that artistic ability, capacity, to say, yes, we stand with you. yes, we are with you. >> host: you're 73 years old. any plans to retire from congress? >> guest: i am 73, but you know, i don't feel like i'm 73. i feel much younger. and my own staff, most of them -- they're all much younger than i, but they cannot keep up with me. >> host: is that a point of pride? >> guest: it's a point of pride. i'm very proud. we have the raid in atlanta. i don't usually ride in a car.
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i run. and there would be hundreds and thousands of people. literally run through the streets of atlanta, shaking hands with people. >> host: congressman, the night after you won your election, september 2, 1986, one of your staffers arranged for a limo to take you to the victory party. what happened? >> guest: i said. no. we're going to walk. i've always wanted to walk up and down b -- peach street in atlanta, and question got ute and walked. that's my wife, lillian. walking with me. and that was a proud and happy, wonderful evening, to be able to walk, and nothing like a victory march or victory walk.
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>> host: bill, massachusetts, thanks for holding. your on with john lewis. >> caller: how are you? representative lewis, i want to offer my exception to the racial situation. i've been an riding this -- analyzed this for half a century. i believe a lot of tragedy could have been diverted if people assessed the situation properly. i believe that there is obviously white racism and i believe there's -- racialism. i believe there's black racialism and the white racialism and. black -- sexual in nature, and no one has the guts to talk about. i the only people who do talk about it are comedians. want your opinion, and i want to also add that the emma till case was a sexual crime. all they tide was make a comment
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about a white woman and look the price he paid, all because of whistling. people don't talk about it in terms of the sexual basis of emma till's murder. so, i would like your assessment. it's really this racial situation ultimately -- it's spiritual but ultimately just above that, would you tend to agree that there is a sexual aspect to racialism that people won't broach? >> guest: well, it is my hope and it's my belief that somehow in some way, we should never put anyone down, despise or hate someone, or castigate someone, bus of their race or color or bus of the agenda. we should look up on each other
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as being a fellow human being, our fellow brother, fellow sister, we're all members of the human race, and that hate is too heavy a burden to bear as martin luther king was saying, as his father heard him say many, many times, hate is too heavy a burden to bear. >> host: how old were you when emma till's murder happened? >> guest: when emma till was measured, august 28, 191965, i was 15 years old. i was working in a cotton field when i heard it, and it shocked me. i had cousins, first couscous first cousins the same age,
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living in new york, and they would come south during the summer, and i kept thinking, it could be one of them. could have been one of them. >> host: did it scare your family, your neighbors? >> guest: i would hear people saying, you must be careful of what you say. and what you do. but my family at the time -- a lot of things they didn't talk about. they were very quiet. but every so often i would hear things like, the knight riders may be coming, and i -- they didn't mention the klan but that i would say the night riders, but years later i still say the night riders were the klan. that's been -- the klan would come in certain areas, but i never knew of the klan coming in
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to troy or that part of alabama, but i would hear the klan being in montgomery, or in birmingham, someplace there, but not around where i grew up. >> host: do you remember the first time you met a it would -- a white person? >> guest: oh, yes, i do. i do. we had people come by from time to time, called the rolling stone man, that would be selling a product, or selling something, be an old broken down bus or pickup truck, been converted into a mobile store. so the rolling store man used to come in, and he would be selling things like maybe sugar or flour or bacon, maybe a flavor or something. and sometimes my mother would
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want to trade a chicken for -- which i didn't like -- trading a chicken for some flour, for cooking oil or something. >> host: and were you -- but were you -- that wassure first interaction with white people? >> guest: yes. >> host: the rolling store man. >> guest: uh-huh. >> host: here's a picture right here. do you remember the first time you realized that black people were treated differently than white people? this country? >> guest: oh, when we would visit, when i would visit, with my parents or cousins, the little town of troy, and go to a theater, to see a movie on a saturday afternoon, all of us little black children had to go upstairs to the balcony. all the white children went downstairs to the first floor,
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and i started crying in the corner of the store. at a water fountain. it would be a shiny fountain marked, white, and then a little spigot in the same corner marked, colored. or going to a star -- a store and you see a sign saying, white men, colored men, white women, colored women. i saw that as a child. >> host: did you ask your parents? >> guest: i would ask my mother and my father and my grandparents, i would ask my uncles and -- why this? why that? and sometime they would say, by, that's grown folk business, and sometime they would say, that's the way it is. don't get in the way. don't get in trouble. and that's why i tell young people today, rosa park, dr. king, inspired me to get in
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the way. to get in trouble. good trouble. necessary trouble. i didn't like those signs. i didn't like those signs. so, i wanted to do whatever i could to bring down those signs. >> host: sandra, fresno, california,. >> caller: hi. congressman lewis, it's an honor to speak with you. it is my deepest conviction we need economic justice and a thrust to lift blacks out of poverty, similar to a mar which will plan in world war ii. contrary to what many people say we have too target blacks in particular for economically so downtrodden due to our legacy of slavery. what can we be done to target the erat indication of black poverty, because symbolism without substance is nothing.
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>> host: second time we have gotten that call. >> guest: well, back in 1963, and ' 64 and '64, phillip randolph made a proposal, to the president, to congress, to introduce something called the freedom budget, and i believe -- i'm not sure about the numbers but i believe he proposed something called a budget of $100 billion to free people, to liberate people, from the legacy of slavery. and it's never considered by the president or by members of congress, but we do need something that would free and liberate hundreds of thousands and millions of our citizens. not just african-american but all people.
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>> host: rusty e-mails in: since you are so close to both bobby kennedy and martin luther king, jr.s, peel tell us your warmest memory from your working with both men? >> guest: martin luther king, jr. was a special human being. i admired him. i loved the man. he was my inspiration. he was my leader. he was like a big brother. he -- to be at the march washington 50 years ago and to be there when he said, i have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the american dream, a dream in keeping with the american dream, to see him transform the steps of the lincoln memorial, into a
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modern day -- it -- i could hear him now. i can see him now. i just wish more people would understand what he said and what he did. and years later, to the exact -- on april 4, 1967, he delivered a speech at the riverside church in new york city, and i wish every student, every young person in america, every member of congress, could read that speech. listen to that speech on tape. >> host: is that where re came out against the vietnam war? >> guest: that is the speech where he came out against the war in vietnam. he spoke about the bombs we were dropping in vietnam. the aftermath, the result would
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affect america. and exact year later he was assassinated. >> host: when is the last time you spoke with him? >> guest: i was in a meeting with him in march of 1968. in atlanta. at a place called pasco's restaurant, one of the few peoples in atlanta for years where black people and white people could meet and eat together, sit down together, for a long time. it was in the area of atlanta university, where you had moorehouse college, and atlanta university, and clark college, -- clark university. he would organize people, low income people, black people,
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white people, asian american, native american, hispanics, coming together, to go to washington for the poor people's campaign. he was unbelievable. he was a man that was so funny at times, and so serious at other times. on one occasion i remember us being in alabama and we were passing by some little hole in the wall restaurant, and he said we should stop here and get something to eat because if we get arrested and good to jail, at least we good to jail on a full stomach, and he thought it was so funny, and sometime he would say to the, john, do you say a preach said, yes, especially when i'm taking a shower, and that would make him laugh. >> host: you called him dr. king? >> guest: i never called him to his face martin.
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always said, dr. king. i had so much respect and love for the man. he was unbelievable. and bobby kennedy, i admired him. i admired him, too. he -- i thought he was -- he inspired me. he was very fond of paraphrasing the words of george bernard shaw. i dream of things that never were and say, why not? he believed that. he was a dreamer, believer, and one over indication he -- one occasion he said, in the spring of 1963, john, i now understand. the young people, the students. you have taught me something. he understood, and he felt in
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his heart, he felt in his gut, what the struggle was all about. so, when dr. king was assassinated and he came atlanta for the funeral, he was one of the few white politicians in america that could walk the streets of atlanta for more than a mile to the second -- for dr. king in the heart of the african-american community. >> host: did you ever meet with or try to meet with sirhan sirhan or james earl ray? >> guest: i never tried to meet with either one, never tried. never. en in. >> host: jackie in louisville, kentucky, go ahead, please. >> caller: yes, it's an honor to
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meet you, mr. lewis. hear in louisville, -- here in louisville, the -- here in louisville, -- >> host: jackie, turn down the volume on your tv. >> caller: turn it down, dominic. here in louisville, and in hopkinsville, i have a son locked up, and he has been locked up for a -- for six years now. didn't live in hopkinsville or anything. and the judge that, which is named andrew self, he is the one that is trying too -- is keeping my son locked up, all because of the law that he is quoted to them, and the law that he done learned by being locked up, and all the racism is still there in hopkinsville, and there are
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other guys still there doing -- they're doing it the same way, in -- like they used to do it in the '60s but doing it now in a different, sneakier way, and it's still there. it's still there. >> host: jackie, what's the charge? >> caller: they got my son charged with 38 robberies. 38 robberies. and he didn't know where he was going. he didn't know the people. plus he had his son there with him. and all of it is because of this judge. he still -- my son have did a 60.02 on this judge. the he didn't supposed to be on his case, and the prosecutor, which was named westerfield, he is doing everything, too. >> host: jackie, let's hear what the congressman has to say. >> guest: jackie, as a member of congress, and not being a lawyer and not from louisville, i
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cannot give you any advice. i would suggest you talk and speak to the local officials and community leaders in louisville and in hopkinsville. >> host: a couple of callers have raised the issue of young african-americans in prison. michelle alexander's book, the new jim crow, about the size of the black prison population, much of it because of drugs. how do you feel about the legalization of drugs? >> guest: i tell you, we got to find a way to break the cycle. we got to end it. this pipeline with so many of our young people and african-american are being sentenced for many years. we got to stop it. the attorney general has said we're going to find a way in
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this administration to lessen some of these convictions. the prison system has become a real industry in many parts of cower country, and most of the crimes are nonviolent. we got to redirect people away from the prison system. >> host: carmen, right here in washington, dc. hi. >> yes, hi. good afternoon to you, our host. i don't think anybody said good afternoon to you yet. >> host: well, thank you. >> all right. we appreciate this. and this is indeed a billion times honor to speak with you, congressman. let me just say, all of this stuff is going on -- i called your office about, oh, i guess about two weeks ago now, and
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before this shutdown, and i am -- i was talking about the health care in this country, and i have -- i was telling your office, and i left my phone number but i know you're busy, and i live in d.c., and they say, well, he is in georgia. and i said i understand that. but we all have health issues in this country no matter what city or county or state we live in, and after hearing you speak back -- the 50th anniversary of the march on washington, said i'm calling job lieu -- john lewis. and what i wanted to -- i was trying to express to your office and wanted to speak to you so much. i can'ted to get in touch with you. i am a diabetessic, and for 19 years, congressman, i have -- the doctors couldn't do a thing about my diabetes. i'm a very active person. i know what to do.
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i know how -- >> host: carman, i apologize for interrupting, ma'am. we are little short on time. if you can get to your point. >> okay. just want to say, i held my diabetes, i have cataracts in both eyes dish had. i held those now going on ten years, and i held my kidneys. i didn't have to have any of that stuff done. and i just wanted to talk with somebody to see if i could get in touch with somebody on capitol hill to help, and i just thought about you, after seeing you, and ill -- i know your history. if i could call your office bask tomorrow -- >> guest: why don't you call me tomorrow, i will be in the office. and just call the capitol operator and they will connect you to the office, and leave your number, and i will call you back. >> host: congressman, do you get a lot of calls nationwide. >> guest: a lot of calls from all over the country.
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and some of -- we get a lot of calls and our staff is very -- a lot of people -- we have a very small staff, and we try to be responsive and we try to answer the e-mails. >> host: but at the same time you're elected by the people -- >> guest: of georgia, and each congressional district is 770,000 people, and it's very hard to keep up with everybody, but we try to be responsive. >> host: congressman, do you feel that president obama has been vilified? >> guest: i think, if my mother were alive, she would say, this president, president barack obama, she would say, has been called everything but a child of god. that's the way she would put it. i think president obama is one
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of the most committed -- i i've known a lot of presidents. i met every president, been in the company or had a one-on-one for the most part with every president since president kennedy. president reagan, on one occasion, invited me to come to the white house, and i didn't understand why he wanted me. he was signing some piece of legislation. and invited me to come. and he made a point of saying that there's a young man here today who is here so many years ago, with president kennedy. he was signing a housing bill. and someone on his staff, and i had a wonderful chat with him. >> host: your first term. >> guest: right. that's right. i only serve two-year-old with president reagan. and i remember president ford, the only president that i didn't
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meet with in the white house was president nixon. >> host: why not? >> guest: he never invited me, and president nixon, i saw him after he was out at the airport, at washington, and he said to me, you're jerry lewis, and i said, no, mr. president, i'm john lewis. i said, jerry is from california. i'm from georgia. and so we chatted for a while at the airport. >> host: what wassure relationship with george w. bush? >> guest: wonderful. i got along with him. i talked with him, and with the other bush, the young bush, i remember said to one of my staff people, how too you feel working with an american hero? and the staff person was --
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didn't know what to say. and i enjoy working with him or something like that, but i got to know both of them. screw bill clinton. >> guest: bill clinton was a friend. he is a friend. he is a friend. he wrote the -- wrote something about march one, and just wonderful. what he wrote, -- >> host: congressman john louis haas has been a resounding moral voice in the quest for equality in more than 50 years and i am so pleased he is shear his mentalries of the civil rights movement. in march he brings a whole new generation with him across the bridge from a past of clenched fists into a future of outstretched hands. that's bill clinton. in march. >> guest: he came to selma. president clinton came to selma,
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and he is the first president and the only president that came and walked across the bridge as president. he did it. and president obama came, when he was running, and today i consider -- to have president clinton, president obama, and president carter, to have these three presidents at the 50th 50th neaves -- 50th 50th anniversary of the march on washington and to speak to the three of them, it was too much. i don't know what my mother or father would have said. to be standing on the steps of the lincoln memorial, with three presidents. it was almost too much. >> host: walking with the wind is john lewis' memoir.
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life lessons and a vision for change, came out in 2012 in march, book one in 2013, been watching in depth on booktv. ... >> one of my, vi


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