WATCH: Martin Luther King III says his Father Would Not Just be Concerned About Police Brutality, but About "Brutality and Misconduct Within Our Own Communities’
As activists prepare for nationwide protests, MLK III discusses the “Justice for All” marches and their impact.
TRANSCRIPT BELOW from CNN’s “New Day Saturday” (12/13/14)
BLACKWELL: Let’s talk more about these demonstrations with our guest, Martin Luther King III. He is the eldest son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and president and CEO of Realizing the Dream.
Great to have you back on NEW DAY weekend.
MARTIN LUTHER KING III, PRESIDENT & CEO OF REALIZING THE DREAM: Thank you. Honored to be here.
PAUL: Thank you, sir.
BLACKWELL: So, first, let’s talk about the location of what’s happening in Washington. They’re at Freedom Plaza not far from the White House, named in part because of the hotel where your father developed part of the “I Have a Dream” speech nearby.
KING: That is correct. Dad, of course, developed — the speech actually was developed over the years. But the final touches would have been put on at the Willard.
And, of course, the goal and objective is for freedom for all. What I hope today, if that is of concern, is that there are specific type policies that are being looked at, either that need to be — that are already there that need to be reemerged or new policy.
Now, my dad, for example, when they marched in ’63 in Birmingham, the Civil Rights Act was created. When they marched with Selma with John Lewis and Jose Williams, the Voting Rights Act was created. When they marched in Chicago, fair housing in 1968.
So, policy initiatives must be encouraged to come right behind demonstrations.
PAUL: I mean, the fact it’s been more than 50 years, you know, since your father was fighting for equality, what do you think he would think now, 50 years later, that this conversation is still where it is today?
KING: Well, that’s — I don’t think any of us can totally say, even me as his son. What I think he would say is he’d be very surprised. What probably would be more revealing had he lived and others such as Robert Kennedy, our nation would be on a totally different trajectory. We probably would not be addressing these kind of issues. There may be new issues to address but certainly not these.
I also think that he would — he would have to raise the issue not just of police that brutality, misconduct, but brutality and misconduct within our own communities. I think he would raise that issue because he always talked about loving each other, sharing, caring, lifting each other up. All of that, I think, must be discussed while the nation’s attention is galvanized.
BLACKWELL: I want to pick up on this policy must come after these marches, after the action. Do you think that this can be legislated away, that this is something that is not a heart and mind issue but that Congress can pass and the president can sign something that will solve this problem?
KING: That’s a very good question.
The short answer is, yes, but it also entails constant training, not just training once a year or once every two or three years. If you’re in combat 24/7, which police officers are and we are certainly sensitive to those women and men trying to do their job everyday, it’s a very difficult job.
But if you’re in Vietnam everyday and then you’re asked to act civil, it’s hard to translation, unless you’re trained, reinforced sensitivity, diversity, human relations experience. That along with community policing, I believe, has the prospect of the appropriate kind of change.
PAUL: Bill Clinton addressed this yesterday and he said something that I think really hit with a lot of people. He said that “the fundamental problem is when people think the lives of their children don’t matter. If we want our freedom to be heard we need make people feel that everybody matters again.”
How do we do that?
KING: Well, I think to the initial concept is dialogue. I really think there is a communication breakdown between young people and forces that represent authority. So, there’s got to be — not a dictating scenario, but a conversation so that police truly get to understand what the rejection sometimes is of authority.
And then, at the end of the day, it really is treating everyone equal. We don’t seem to do that quite yet. When everyone feels they’re treated equally, people, wrong, right, whatever, when you feel you’re treated fairly, I should say, that disappears.
BLACKWELL: You know, one of the — I’ll be honest — difficulties reporting this story compared to I imagine it would have been to report on the march in ’63 and the civil rights movement, there is not one singular leader to whom you can go and discuss these messages with. There are small groups, sometimes on social media, you never know who to call. What do you think the difference is, the impact of not having one singular leader, and is that the right way to go for this?
KING: Well, perhaps it is. We have to continue to monitor to find out. What I do believe, however, in one since, it could become disjointed. But then, on another level, if you don’t know who the leader is, you can’t neutralize it.
BLACKWELL: That was —
KING: That’s the beauty of it.
BLACKWELL: That was the difficulty for some with the Occupy movement. Everyone was the leader.
I think we’re coming into a new age, particularly as it relates to young people. I think that there are some in our society who see these issues differently, and they should be. That’s the beauty of what America is about.
But I think as it relates to young blacks and whites and others, they see injustice and they want justice for all.
PAUL: All righty. Martin Luther King III, we so appreciate your voice in this and thoughts and time this morning.
KING: Thank you for the opportunity.
BLACKWELL: Thank you so much.
PAUL: Thank you.