167: Selma with Dr. Clayborne Carson

Dr. Clayborne Carson is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History at Stanford University and the founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford. He joins us today to compare history with the 2014 movie Selma. 

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Transcript

Note: This transcript is automatically generated. There will be mistakes, so please don’t use them for quotes. It is provided for reference use to find things better in the audio.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:02:13] The movie opens with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr accepting a Nobel peace prize. So that gives us a timeline for when the movie is in 1964. After this, the movie sets up a little bit of backstory. As Dr. King explains it in movie. There are four children, four little girls who were killed in a bombing at a church in Alabama.

And that’s just one recent example, at least in the timeline of the movie. But Dr. King goes on to explain that there have been thousands of racially motivated murders and not a single conviction because the people behind it were protected by white officials. And on the off chance they were charged, they were acquainted because all the juries were.

All white, because to be on a jury, you had to be able to vote. So that’s how the movie explains the context around the events that we see from a historical perspective. How well did the film do setting up the backgrounds of the events that led to Dr. King’s arrival?

Dr. Carson: [00:03:08] I think that it’s mostly accurate and the overall scope of it, some of the timing, obviously the church bombing that referred to takes place in 1963, not 1964.

So that’s kind of a step backwards, but you know, that’s understandable. Movies are not meant to be chronological necessarily. And I think it provides very graphic understanding of what the movement was up against because King’s most important campaign had been. And Birmingham. And, for most people they saw that as a success, you know, that the Birmingham campaign leads directly to the introduction of civil rights legislation by John F.

Kennedy. But then the fact that in September of that year, after the civil rights bill was introduced this bombing, it takes place. It’s almost like it’s a revenge against the movement. No, you might’ve thought that you gained an advantage by having these marches. Many of which were focused on 16th street, Baptist church in Birmingham.

That’s where the children congregated before they went into the downtown area where they were firehosed and teargassed. And some of them were attacked by dogs. So. The fact that after this, these bombers come and attack the church where these protests were mobilized, it was clearly retaliation for what had happened.

And the fact that the Klan was basically saying you’ve may have gotten some concessions as the result of these protests, but we don’t accept them

Dan LeFebvre: [00:04:42] directly relating to dr. King’s arrival in Selma. Then like he realized there’s more work in this area to do.

Dr. Carson: [00:04:49] Not at all. That’s what I’m saying, this all happens before that. So the Selma campaign comes a year later.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:04:56] Okay. Okay. I think the movie mentioned something about how there was a lot of work being done there by a group called, SNCC and in the movie, they don’t really, they’re not really a big fan of dr. King arriving there. They feel like they’ve been doing this work on the voting issue.

And now dr. King’s gonna arrive, which means a lot of press and a lot of media. And they feel like they’re. He’s almost encroaching on their territory. Was there already work being done there in Selma on the voting issue before dr. King arrived?

Dr. Carson: [00:05:26] Yes. For example, the Boynton family, we’re carrying on some civil rights work and voting rights work in particular as far back as the 1940s.

so long before there’s, a students arriving from, from Snick to help this local movement that happens around 1962. And that’s one of the differences between the student nonviolent coordinating committee and King King is more, he comes in for a short time. He’s basically assemble for the largers Southern movement.

When he arrives, the press comes with him. So many of the local people want King to come, but snack and feel like they’ve done the spadework. For example, in Albany, Georgia, where the same thing happens. Where the two groups are, are together. They feel like they’re the ones who have the pulse of the local community.

And that King comes in and wants to basically decide, but the local movement will do. And so to move up against the center around him, but in this case, I think you can see that he comes in for a good reason. Now, the, if a campaign has been succeeding, He wouldn’t have been necessary, but they face a lot of brutality.

And by the beginning of 1965, they’re staging, voting rights marches, you know, to the County courthouse. And these are often met with violence. So it’s in that context, that King makes a decision that he should. Come to Selma and help this local movement. Yeah. I think part of the snake workers accept the fact that that King is going to draw attention.

There’s some tension, but there’s also some cooperation. So it’s not, it’s not necessarily that they’re antagonistic. They just have a different way of doing it. Now the spec workers, once they arrived, their pattern is too stay in the community, whether that takes several years or not, that that’s the point is that you’re, you’re there to carry out, not only voter registration campaigns, but after you get the vote to try to mobilize the community, to actually exercise the vote.

Next objective is to bring like power. You know, that that phrase hasn’t come into the lexicon yet, but, but what they, what their longterm goal is to register enough voters in these deep South counties, so that ultimately they will be able to gain political power and change the lives of black residue.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:08:05] You mentioned the March to the courthouse, and I wanted to ask about that because the movie does show that as something that happens soon after. King arrives in Selma. We see a March to the courthouse. And then as a sheriff, sheriff Clark, I believe is name was, and he had some officers there on the steps of the courthouse, ordering dr.

King and the marchers to disperse. It doesn’t take very long for the sheriff to really start inciting violence. He pushes over an older man named Cager Lee, and then his son in law, Jamie Lee Jackson starts fighting back and then the sheriff is kind of wrestling with him and we see Oprah’s character annually Cooper, the sheriff from the back of the head, and that leads to the sheriff, then turning on her and his men started attacking her.

And then. The scene cuts to president Lyndon Johnson and sees a photo of Annie being pushed to the ground on the front page. How well did the movie do picketing that sort of violence at the courthouse with the sheriff soon after King arrived in Selma.

Dr. Carson: [00:09:08] Well, the way you’re describing it, kind of, conjoins a number of different events.

For example, Jimmy Lee Jackson is ultimately killed in Marion, Alabama, not in Selma, you know, that that whole incident takes place and a night March, somewhat not exactly Soma, but in that general area. So I think that what it does is it combines events that have to do with the voting and voter registration movement.

But yeah. Take some liberties in terms of the timing of them.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:09:38] Sure. Is that kinda like what you were talking about earlier with the timeline of the bombing and such? It sounds like

Dr. Carson: [00:09:43] yes. Yes. And the killing of Jimmy Jackson that leads some people to respond some activists. Most of them and snack who say, okay, what we need to do is March to Montgomery and put this on the doorstep of George Wallace.

that that’s the way you’re going to get attention. So the idea of the. March to Montgomery, to some degree that picks up steam because of the killing of, of, Jimmy Lee Jackson.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:10:17] The movie does show Jimmy Lee Jackson later on. And I, this initial one, I, it sounds like it might just in Selma, it might be to kind of introduce us, the viewers to him as a character because later on, we do see a nighttime March and.

The police show up and they disperse. And then Jimmy Lee Jackson and his wife and her father kind of sneak into a restaurant and then the cops come in walk right over start beating Cager Lee. Jamie tries to stop him. And one of the cops just pulls out the gun, shoots him point blank. I’m assuming, based on what you said before, that that’s sounds like that is how it happened.

Dr. Carson: [00:10:54] That’s pretty much what happened. You know, I I’ve heard various stories that it was his mother that he was trying to protect, but the main point of it is there’s the he’s killed by the state troopers. And that becomes a stimulus for the March. They were probably going to March at some point anyway, but that becomes a direct stimulus to get people to come to, to Selma and begin this March to Montgomery

Dan LeFebvre: [00:11:19] scene in the movie where we see dr.

King’s wife, mrs. Coretta King, and she meets with Malcolm X in Selma. And the movie implies when I was watching, I kind of got an idea that Malcolm and King didn’t really. See eye to eye on the way to move forward. Can you give a little more historical context on that? Cause the movie doesn’t really explain it very much.

There’s just this scene there. And then it just kind of implies that there’s some differences. They just, they don’t see eye to eye and how to move forward.

Dr. Carson: [00:11:48] Well, certainly in the years before that, Malcolm X date comes more and more prominent. He’s critical of King. But even more, he’s critical of the kind of politics that King represents, you know, the integrationist politics.

But one thing that happens in Selma is that he’s invited by the students who are going to be participants in the March and they want to hear him. And also this is part of Malcolm’s change is that when he’s at the March on Washington in 1963, but he’s not a participant in our he’s he’s. And an organization, the nation of Islam that forbids its members from participating in civil rights protests, because that’s not their, that’s not their goal.

They believe that divine intervention will bring about the liberation of black people. So Malcolm is breaking away from that. And after the Birmingham campaign, he recognizes that. He needs to speak to what’s going on in the black communities. It’s not enough to, to stand on the sidelines. And so he’s, he’s wants to get more and more involved.

And this comes particularly operate breaks with Elijah Mohammed and forms his own organization. So by the end of 1964, he’s no longer part of the nation of Islam. He’s part of his new organization that, you know, the organization for African American unity, he wants to forge ties, but he’s, he feels closer to the young people in the student, nonviolent coordinating committee.

You know, they kind of share his, his sense of militancy. some of them meet with him after he leaves the nation of Islam and travels in Africa. And after he comes back, he wants to forge ties with the Southern civil rights program. And, but he wants to forge ties with the more militant part of that movement and not necessarily with Kim.

So when Coretta comes, Martin is in jail by this time. And so one of the reasons why she comes is that he’s, he’s in jail. And so Malcolm is in town and they both speak to the students and she kind of gives the Martin message to the students. And on this occasion they actually talk and she makes it clear that he’s not there to make Martin’s life more difficult.

At least that’s what he tells her. And that he really feels that by going there, people will be more likely to actually accept Martin’s message because it will be. Staying against the context. So Malcolm being the alternative. And so if, if people don’t accept, Martin’s nonviolence, there’s another alternatives in the works and, and Malcolm represents that.

So they have a discussion that is cordial. And, of course, it’s just a few weeks later that Malcolm is assassinated. And so this possibly that Malcolm and Martin might have at some point gotten together, if he had not been assassinated, you know, that’s, there were a number of people trying to make that happen, but at least now come and Coretta.

We’re able to talk. And actually that led to a longterm time between the family and, and, Martin’s family. They got to know each other over time. And based on, on this initial interaction,

Dan LeFebvre: [00:15:15] it wasn’t a lot of holes that I think the movie you just glossed over. They, they, they left a lot of that out, which again, it’s a movie.

So. There is a scene in the movie where dr. King and his organization, they’re trying to figure out the priority to focus on for the legislation that they’re trying to, to back as the movie describes it, a black person can only be registered to vote if an approved. Registered voter vouches for you. And there’s a mention of Lounds County, where there are no black voters.

So no one can vouch for you to vote. Not only that, but if you do manage to get someone to vouch for you, you’re expected to pay for all the time that you weren’t registered to vote. And no one can afford that. As I was watching the movie, I got the implication that the March is really we’re trying to.

Push the legislation for vouchers as almost the first step in a chain of what quite frankly, a lot of problems that all needed to be addressed, but it sounded like King realized that not going to get. Everything all at once. So here’s the first thing that we can focus on was that the legislation that they were trying to change the vouchers,

Dr. Carson: [00:16:20] it was part of it.

But I think the bigger part of the barrier to the vote was the literacy test, because that was something that could be administered by a registrar or the voters. And it was that person’s judgment. And it could be an obscure question and you’d have to interpret, say a clause in the Alabama constitution.

I mean, how many people I’m a resident of California. And I don’t think I’ve ever read the California constitution. So very few white people failed the literacy test, but a lot of black people failed it because you’re trying to reach to the satisfaction of a white person who doesn’t want you to vote. It was a way of.

Limiting the vote. And even if was less evident among black residents, that was the point. That was the point of the educational system that in the deep South, yes, the educational system for black people was meant to prepare. Sanitation workers, you know, many people like Fannie Lou Hamer, for example, only get to the third grade.

Great. And then as soon as they’re able to go and work, there’s no need for any further. So it was, you know, it was a system that was designed to keep people ignorant in order to control them. And so one of the results of this is that the literacy task was outlawed, basically because once you have federal registrars coming in, there’s no longer that qualification.

And also when you think about it, having to go to the County courthouse to register to vote was itself a barrier. Most people who have grown up outside the South, Didn’t realize that there was one place in the County for people to write to vote. It wasn’t like going to the local shopping mall and finding registrars of voters, just sitting there eager to register you to vote.

It was purposely made difficult to do, and that reduced the white vote. But the difference also was that once you were registered, then it became easier to register the next time. They were already on the registration roles. So it was especially difficult for a new voter to be on the registration role.

And there were other sorts of intimidation, like publishing the names of people who had registered to vote and, you know, things like

Dan LeFebvre: [00:18:40] that. I think the movie does mention that briefly they publish the names and addresses of people who were registered to vote the way the movie implies it is that there there’s been a lot of violence because of that, you know, for the few black people who were able to vote had to fear for their lives because of racial violence.

Yeah.

Dr. Carson: [00:18:57] You can really see this more evidently right next door to Selma and Lounds County, which was by far I black majority County. But no black people. I’m pretty sure that none of the black residents in that County were registered to vote at the beginning of the, of the 1960s. So you have a overwhelmingly black County or black people don’t vote.

And we can see the result of that, that when they did get the vote there, there was no longer a white, a white sheriff. And, you know, I remember visiting there and, you know, going to the County courthouse and, and it was very interesting to see this, the change, you know, when I went there in the 1970s and you would say, you know, the black sheriff and the black County clerk and all of these things had changed pretty dramatically announced County.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:19:49] Heading back to the movie. The next it’s a major event that we see. There’s a, there’s a March. And then of course, another show of force from governor Wallace. And we get the report of what happens in the movie through a reporter named Roy Reed. And he’s relaying the information over the phone. Presumably.

Back to a newspaper somewhere as Reid explained it to both us, the viewers, and back in the newspaper, there were 525 people who left Brown’s chapel and walked the six blocks to Pettis bridge over the Alabama river. Now, on the other side of the bridge, they encountered troopers, posse men on horses and some hundred or so white spectators and the troopers advance on the marchers that.

Camera then cuts to dr. In his house with some others. And it appears, according to the movie, they’re watching this live on TV. Somebody mentioned that there’s some 70 million people watching this and then the camera cuts back to the bridge and it’s just pure. It’s violent. It’s, it’s hard to watch.

There’s there’s tear gas and the troopers are. Swinging a knife sticks at the heads of the marchers again. Yeah. It’s hard to watch for so many different reasons, but how well do you think the movie did showing the events that today we know of as bloody Sunday?

Dr. Carson: [00:20:58] Well, I think that’s the highlight of the movie and I think it was handled quite well in terms of conveying the violence.

Of course, there, the movie has to be fairly accurate because a lot of people have seen the actual news footage from the scene. So you get a sense of how violent that was. I think more, the film is not as accurate as theirs. There’s a central problem in the film. And you’ve probably noticed it in that is that this is a film that features King, but the historic event doesn’t involve King.

So you have to explain, well, you have this March from Brown’s chapel. Why isn’t King there? This is the most, one of the iconic events of the decade. And so why isn’t he there? So I think that’s where the film kind of makes it seem like he has to go back to Atlanta in order to patch things up with Corretta.

And that’s purely imaginary. I mean that, you know, that the reason why he has to go back as it’s a Sunday and he made the decision that he has to preach that Sunday, you know, then the question is, well, why didn’t they delay the March? Well, you know, that’s not just as a decision that King can make. You know the idea that this was going to be a long March, it was going to involve a lot of people.

This was just the first stage of the March. So there, there was that sense. Well, we’ve brought people here to Selma and, you know, they’re not going to sit around in Selma. I’ve been there many times. There’s not a whole lot to do. Know, it attracted people from all over the nation by this time. And certainly a large part of the civil rights activist community are congregated and Selma and they’re ready to go.

Why would King’s absence make a difference to them? Yeah, let’s, let’s get started. Let’s let’s do the March and I think that’s. That tension that’s, between snack and, you know, basically both groups have people involved in March. It’s simply it not there, but I think the well explanation, you know, he was going to preach that Sunday doesn’t seem to have enough strength.

So then you have this discussion between Hoover and Johnson. About King’s affairs. And it is true that in January he receives this anonymous note that was sent an order to stop him from getting the Nobel peace prize. And this note comes with a recording to his house, supposedly shows that he shows him in a compromising situation with women.

The idea there is that that’s why he has to go back to Atlanta as to, because print is disturbed by that I knew credit for two decades, even if she had been disturbed by that, that wouldn’t have, she would have wanted to go to Selma. It wouldn’t have had the effect of holding him in Atlanta. I think wanting to be there, but I think no one really expected that that was going to be the crucial March and probably that had been on a Saturday.

Probably King would have taken part or as it had been delayed, but there was a lot of pressing reasons why people wanted to March. Yeah, you can’t hold that back. And there was a lot of eagerness to get this March on, on the way, especially since they knew that it was going to be opposed by governor Wallace and why give Wallace even more time to prepare ways of placing obstacles in their way.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:24:38] Yeah. That’s a good point. There, there is something that you mentioned there that I wanted to ask you about, and that is with president Johnson. Cause the movie shows. I got kind of a mixed message there. I got kind of where I’m LBJ wanted to help with King’s position, but he also did didn’t really want King to March almost like he didn’t want to confront Wallace over it.

Did we see in the movie that Johnson sees things on the front page of the newspaper? I mentioned earlier, you know, with, with the violence against Annie there, and there’s one point in the movie where King tells him that. If we’re on the front page of the paper every day, then you can’t ignore us. So what sort of support did dr.

King get from the white house for the marches in Selma

Dr. Carson: [00:25:24] playing the story of both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson is that they had to be pushed. And that’s not that surprising the democratic party. When you start the 1960s, it’s a party based in the South where black people don’t vote. That’s the strength of the democratic party.

The Republican party is the Northern party party that has its base of support outside the South. So for the democratic party, under Kennedy and Johnson, they knew that they couldn’t get elected without the sound. Now that changes during the sixties. And know, we see the alignment that we see now where the Republican party is the strong party in the South.

And the Democrats are a stronger outside of the South, but that was definitely not the case during the sixties. So a democratic president trying to win the white house has. Walk that fine line of you might have sympathies because you you’d need, the Kennedy could not have been elected in 1960 without the blood.

And it was a very close election, but in 1964, Linda Johnson wins in a landslide. So for the first time, unlike Kennedy, he has the freedom because they, you know, I can do something big, but he wants to do on social issues as opposed to racial issues. He wants to build his great society. He wants to pass legislation where he needs white support and.

Civil rights. The learns very quickly is this divisive issue. You have a lot of resentment among whites outside the South, as well as inside the South, too, doing very much on the civil rights issues. So I think he would have preferred to play down to not make this kind of dramatic March. That was going to put pressure on him.

Just like John F. Kennedy would have preferred not to have a March on Washington in 1963. No, they reluctantly accepted it. And ultimately the Selma to Montgomery March becomes the crucial turning point for Johnson. And he makes that decision that, you know, as he says, we shall overcome and introduces the voting rights act.

And you can make the argument if you wanted to be pushed, but maybe not so quickly because he understood and he says, One of his comments about it, you know, that this will cause the democratic party, the South for the next generation, we’re talking about two generations later. He was exactly right. That the democratic party hasn’t carried the deep South in any election since then, or since his landslide in 1964, every single election, the majority of white voters have voted Republican.

And so he went from being the democratic party, being the majority party, to actually among whites being minority party. And the only thing that makes it possible for Democrats to win elections as the black vote. So that ultimately was his calculation that yes, you’re going to lose some, a lot of Southern white votes, especially, but you’re also going to gain.

The loyalty of black voters. So now some 90% of black voters vote democratic and without bat democratic candidates would not have very much of a chance of winning election.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:29:01] Give a lot more context. I think of LBJs position on that and why he had that position.

Dr. Carson: [00:29:07] Yeah. Yeah, it doesn’t get too much into that.

And you know, one thing that I felt about the film, I was actually at the time, writing a script for a Birmingham film, which never got made. And one of the reasons why it didn’t is that how the Selma movie got green-lighted before. And there was a sense that, Oh, you can’t have two civil rights movies out there at the same time.

So they kind of pull the plug on the Birmingham project and the Birmingham project would have been a lot more expensive to do and probably would have been even more difficult. Penn Sama films do without the support of the King family. Because as you probably realize at the end, the speech that is delivered is not the one that King actually delivers.

But the one Anna Gervin, a, she has to write his, his lines and I, her, the, the, the task of, can you write lines for Martin Luther King better than he would write for himself?

Dan LeFebvre: [00:30:09] And that, yeah, that’s a tall task right there.

Dr. Carson: [00:30:11] Yeah,

Dan LeFebvre: [00:30:12] I do want to ask you about, you mentioned earlier that the March from Selma to Montgomery and that’s kind of the big March at the end of the film.

And according to the movie, a big reason why it happens is because judge Frank Johnson, overturns Wallace has mandates against the March from Selma to Montgomery. So that’s able to happen. And in the movie itself, we don’t see any opposition from the police, but we do see things like King and others.

Marching arm and arm, they’re singing. There’s even some archival footage that I’m assuming is going to be from the actual March itself. The movie doesn’t explicitly say that, but the way it’s cut together, it kind of gives you the idea. Yeah. That that’s there. but you know, it’s not all happy. We see some spectators yelling at the marchers.

They’re waving Confederate flags as the marchers go by. How well do you think the movie did showing. The March from Selma to Montgomery, of course, ending with that speech in Montgomery, in front of a huge crowd, plenty of reporters there, the very end of the film, you know, I

Dr. Carson: [00:31:13] I’m sure that part of what is going on here is that the film was made on a shoestring budget by Hollywood standards.

To have large numbers of people marching. Yeah, no, there’s a number of events that go on during the March, but in the end it’s days of walking along the highway, I mean, one of the things that happens is they pass by lounge County. And that’s where people from Lounds County come down to the March and say, yeah, look, come to our County.

We need your help. And that’s how hopefully Carmichael ends up in Lowndes County, where they have the lounge County freedom organization, which becomes better known as the black Panther party. And that’s the group that, the Lance County freedom organization eventually gains power and lounge County.

So that’s, that could be an interesting side story, but yeah, I can imagine she’s probably already over budget and bring it out. We haven’t can’t have new sites stories going on. And then of course there were a lot of threats. But there’s also a lot of celebrities at the end who come in to the Selma March.

And that’s another factor that you kind of see at the March on Washington, where for the first time, these entertainment celebrities kind of make their. Preferences pretty clear. And that’s a trend that you see continued to today. You know, the, the notion that, that, Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general is going to play a pro civil rights role.

You know, that’s another thing that might’ve been. Part of it. There there’s actually some evenings where they have some entertainment along the way. People like Joan Baez and others who become involved in the movie.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:33:02] I know we’ve been talking a lot about the history of things, but as I was watching this movie, I couldn’t help a connect.

A lot of things from the film to things that we’ve seen in the U S just this year, there’s a lot of different connections there, but one in particular stood out to me and it was Colonel lingo said, too, governor Wallace, if you want fear, you need dominance in Selma and. That eerily echoed president Trump’s own words for state governors to dominate protesters earlier this year.

So my last question is, is kind of a two parter. One. How relevant do you think the message of the movie is even today? And two, for someone listening to this, now what’s something that they can do right now to help ensure that 55 years from now, we’re not finding history repeating it. So

Dr. Carson: [00:33:50] those are very good questions.

And I think that. There’s a lot of relevance to what’s going on right now. I think what we see is that the, the movement to make America a better country on talking about the long sweep of history from the abolitionist struggles of the 19th century to the present, there’s always the possibility when you mobilize a, a movement to bring about massive social change.

You’re going to disrupt the society as it is. And the question is, what is the response to that disruption? Is it turning motors to support law and order. Yeah, which this is a phrase that really becomes current or in the 1960s, George Wallace, for example, after this setback in Alabama, where he’s kind of overwhelmed by the, the force of the, of this protest, he can’t stop it.

It ultimately leads to the voting rights act, but George Wallace runs in the primaries and 64 and does well. And Northern States. And by the end of the 1960s, he’s a pretty serious candidate. One of the reasons why he’s not anymore, popular is that by that time, Richard Nixon has switched to the Southern strategy.

You know, Nexen makes this calculated move by watching Wallace. And he says, but basically he’s saying that the reason why Wallace is not. More serious as a presidential candidate is that he’s too out front with his racism. And Wallace recognizes that by the late 1960s, he’s kind of moderated as racism to some degree, but Nixon does it first.

And does it better, more convincingly that I’m simply for law and order? He learns that from Spiro Agnew, Spiro Agnew. Yeah. And you could have a film about the class between Spiro Agnew and H rap Brown in 1967. They trap Brown by that time there not as a black power speaker comes to Cambridge. Maryland gives a black power speech after he leaves town.

There’s some writing that goes on in Cambridge and Spiro Agnew comes to there as, as you know, we need to crack down on these militant black leaders and he’s going to put H rap Brown in jail and throw away the key. And it demands that other black leaders. Yeah. So at that point, Spiro Agnew is a newly elected governor, unknown nationally.

Within a year he’s vice president of the United States. That’d be a little bit more than a year, year and a half he’s he’s vice president of the United States. And interestingly, he would have become president of the United States because by the time next is thrown out of office Spiro, Agnew. This is stuff thrown out because he was at the same time, the law and order politician.

Was taking bribes right in the vice presidential office and got caught. So if he had been able to control his greed or bet while he was vice president, he would have become president. So that kind of shows the power of that. so when I think of today, yeah, isn’t that the question, you know, which massive protests can bring the country to the point of.

You have to pay attention to this issue, but once the nation pays attention to the issue where, how, what are they going to decide to do? They can decide to say, let’s make the problem go away or let’s make the protest go away. And those are the two basic options that I think Americans always have. We’ll be saying that in this year’s election and.

Elections to come, because I think that this is something ingrained and the racial politics of the United States that if black people push hard to correct the injustices of the past, there’s always the danger that you’re going to feed law and order politics and white fears and resentments. so the question is how do you push for what you want and what you need and what you deserve?

But at the same time, not get them a more reactionary response. Cause I read that it is very interesting, but, even though we’ve had some now the democratic party has become somewhat liberal Martin. That’s certainly more liberal than the Republican party, but since the sixties, it’s never really succeeded in gaining the majority of the white vote.

Yeah, so that prediction of Johnson has held true that what he did in 19, the mid 1960s caused the democratic party white support going into the 21st century.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:39:10] So easy to think of it as history that happened there. But I think you made some great points of how it is. It’s so relevant today as well. And I really appreciate your time to come on to chat about Selma.

I know you’ve done a ton of great work over your career. Can you share a little bit of information about what you’re working on now or where someone listening can learn more about your work and some resources.

Dr. Carson: [00:39:32] Well, I’m one of your competitors out there in podcast land. I do a podcast called the world house and it comes from a King quote late in his life.

And then when he wrote, where do we go from here? And he talked about humanity, inheriting this house, where all these different people with different religions, different backgrounds, different cultures have to learn to live together. And I thought that was a good theme to take up. Because it kind of encapsulates King’s life and the meaning of his life.

So, I do that. We have a wonderful a website, which I hope people will visit. I teach an online course on Martin Luther King. It’s on the annex platform. So for, for free, you can get a horse that students pay $70,000 a year at Stanford to my that’s. My goal. That’s my goal in life is to make her Stanford quality education free.

For all. And I think that with modern technologies like you’re using right now, that’s an achievable goal. I think that we will get to the point where anyone can learn any essential thing they need to learn for free.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:40:44] And I think that is a vital path toward changing the way votes happen, you know, who people vote for and being able to see who they really are when you go vote.

Dr. Carson: [00:40:54] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The whole notion of democracy is based around the idea of an educated citizenry and that was the whole point of setting up a public education system. But as we, now we have a public education system, but yeah, it falls short of providing equal education. You know, that one thing that the Brown decision didn’t do is it desegregated education, but it didn’t equalize education.

I don’t think any serious person would say that. It doesn’t matter whether you go to the dominant black school or be dominant white school, you’ll get the same quality education. It’s just not true. It hasn’t been ever. And we’re a long way from that reality today.

Dan LeFebvre: [00:41:37] Thank you again so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Carson: [00:41:41] Good to talk to you.

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