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Dr. King's Unfinished Agenda: A Call for Economic & Social Justice in the 21st Century

02/09/2006 7:30 AM Walker Morss Hall
Donna Brazile, Founder and Managing Director of Brazile and Associates, LLC

Description: Donna Brazile's informal but impassioned address illuminates her role not only as a mover and shaker in the halls of power but as a great national conscience.

Brazile mourned the passing of Coretta Scott King at this event held ten days after Mrs. King's death: "I loved her spirit and determination." But she reminds us, "The most important thing is not just to cry and weep but continue her work." She calls for the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, which she describes as "the most important civil rights law that was passed," and chides President Bush for not endorsing the legislation at Mrs. King's funeral.

Brazile was pressed into organizing the funeral cortege for another national icon, Rosa Parks. "I've been in presidential motorcades, vice presidential motorcades. I'd never been in a motorcade that a black woman was leading." When the procession wound its way through Washington, D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods on a cold, winter night, "people were lined up with their children outside to wave goodbye." While we owe so much to those who championed freedom and justice and equality, says Brazile, "it's fitting we continue to spread the gospel of peace, love, mercy and justice."

Brazile's most involved, and involving, tale, involves her large family, stuck in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Planes flew over as family members begged for water in the scorching heat. When she learned that the authorities would not evacuate her disabled sister from an assisted living facility, because senior citizens and people in public housing were "not a priority," Brazile took characteristic action. "I combed my hair, put on some makeup, and I went to CNN. I said, "Wolf, I need five minutes."

Now, her aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters "are scattered in eight states in 14 cities. In order to keep up with them and to communicate I have to pull out an Excel sheet because they're still on the run from the worse storm of all, and that's the storm of indifference." It's time for a "frank conversation about the poor in America," says Brazile. Today, "our country's moving in the wrong direction and we need a course correction." Current policies are damaging racial equality, and economic and social justice, she says, and it's time for citizens to take a stand. "Don't wait for the president or vice president or any member of Congress to tell you what you know in your heart is the right thing to do. If you believe in justice, if you believe that Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King served a greater cause and a more noble cause, then give back and help lift someone up."

About the Speaker(s): Donna Brazile, Chair of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute (VRI) and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, is a senior political strategist and former Campaign Manager for Gore-Lieberman 2000 -- the first African-American to lead a major presidential campaign. Prior to joining the Gore campaign, Brazile was Chief of Staff and Press Secretary to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia where she helped guide the District's budget and local legislation on Capitol Hill. Brazile is a weekly contributor and political commentator on CNN's Inside Politics, and American Morning. In addition, she is a columnist for Roll Call Newspaper and a contributing writer for Ms. Magazine. A veteran of numerous national and statewide campaigns, Brazile has worked on several presidential campaigns for Democratic candidates, including Carter-Mondale in 1976 and 1980; Rev. Jesse Jackson's first historic bid for the presidency in 1984; Mondale-Ferraro in 1984; U.S. Representative Dick Gephardt in 1988; Dukakis-Bentsen in 1988; and Clinton-Gore in 1992 and 1996. Brazile earned her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Host(s): Office of the President, MIT Annual Breakfast Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape #: T20896.

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

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