Right, Left Battle Over State of Civil Rights

Sunday, 25 Aug 2013 01:22 PM

By Greg Richter

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Republicans and Democrats spoke about civil rights on the week of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, but their views on where America is in the struggle for equality didn't always line up.

NBC's "Meet the Press" dedicated most of its hour to civil rights, with activist the Rev. Al Sharpton accusing the current Congress of "trying to revoke any remnants of the Great Society."

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who attended the original March on Washington in 1963, said that while individual stories of inspiration still exist, "The question is, is there a generation where too many people are not having that inspirational moment?"

Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho didn't like what he perceived as negativity from the "Meet the Press" panel and guests.

"It saddens me, actually, to hear some of the things I'm hearing here because I think the American Dream is alive," Labrador said. "I was born four years after the March on Washington. I was born to a single mother who lost her job because she got pregnant by me, who decided to give me life."

Labrador described how his mother sacrificed to send him to military school, then private school. She moved the family to the United States from Puerto Rico when he was four and encouraged him to get an education and learn English.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made sure people were not bitter, Labrador said. "I think that the African-American leadership needs to start thinking about that hope that Martin Luther King gave us, instead of trying to get the community to think that everything is hopeless and without a future."

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