Transcript: Dexter Scott King

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, January 15, 2003. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Personal Story segment tonight: Today is Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. He would have been 74 years old. The national holiday is celebrated on Monday.

Joining us now from Los Angeles is Dr. King's son, Dexter, the CEO and president of the King Center and author of the new book Growing Up King: An Intimate Memoir.

Mr. King, who do you think the most influential African-American leader is in America right now?


I think, depending on who you speak with, Colin Powell certainly would rate high in the heap. And I think Jesse Jackson would rate up there, as well as Al Sharpton. And there are a couple of others I think that would also be in that list.

O'REILLY: Okay. In your opinion -- see, that is a pretty thin list. I mean, Jackson has been around forever and his influence is slipping, according to the latest polls. Sharpton is a character, to say the least. And Secretary Powell is pretty much a creature of the system. He doesn't devote himself exclusively to African-American issues, as you know.

So, why aren't there more black leaders? Why aren't there more Dr. Martin Luther Kings really raising the concerns of black Americans?

KING: Well, I think it's a combination of factors. One, the issues today are more polarized as opposed to the '60s and '50s. The enemy was very clear. No pun intended, but they were in black and white. Those issues were clear.

Everybody was focused, whereas today, we're in an information age where people are frankly overwhelmed. I think there's so much coming at us, it's difficult to decipher really what -- where you should be focused.

O'REILLY: Wouldn't it be better if we all dropped the color deal and we all became Americans and looked out for one another, exclusive of color, or is there value to carrying on the race debate?

KING: No, I think you're absolutely right. The ideal would be to get to a place where that is not a concern. Unfortunately, it still is an issue for many.

However, my father's ideal in the "I Have a Dream" speech was to come to a day where people would not be judged, you know, solely by the color of their skin or by...

O'REILLY: I don't think that color of their skin should have anything to do with anything.

KING: I agree.

O'REILLY: I don't think it should have anything to do with admission to college. I don't think it should have anything to do with getting a job, with going to a restaurant. I just believe that we all should wise up and say we're Americans, you know?

Al Qaeda doesn't care what color you are. They'll blow the hell out of you, no matter what color, if you're an American, you have an American passport.

KING: Well, I think -- I think we have to work to that goal.


KING: It should be that way ideally, but it's not there yet.

O'REILLY: But some of the leaders, particularly Reverend Jackson, seem to polarize people, and that disturbs me, and that's why I'm all over Jackson. I think he's a self-aggrandizing guy, not a guy that's looking out for the people. I could be wrong.

Now you have been criticized, your family has been criticized for making money off your father's image and legacy. Any validity to that criticism?

KING: I don't think it's fair criticism. The fact of the matter is my father copyrighted and protected all of his speeches, and, certainly, he gave a lot away, but he also licensed his intellectual property, and he litigated to protect it, and, as heirs, by law, we are required to do the same.

However, we do give it away to schools, churches, charities, and only in a commercial use sense do we get what is considered an industry standard royalty, which all copyright holders tend to receive, and we don't do that as a family. It's handled by literary agents that, frankly, my father hired back in the '50s when he published his...

O'REILLY: No, listen, it's your family. You have the right to do whatever you want. It's just that you're taking some bad press, particularly with the memorial in Washington, the proposed memorial, and things like that. And I don't like to see your family get bad press, to tell you the truth, Mr. King. I respect your family.

KING: Thank you.

O'REILLY: I think that your father was a great man. I think he was a flawed man, but what man isn't flawed? What man doesn't do things that are bad, you know? We all do. And I think that his doctrine of non-violence and equality for all -- I mean, how can you argue with that?

KING: I don't think you can, but...

O'REILLY: You can't. You can't. You can't argue with it.

KING: The fact is, Bill, unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation in the media, which is one of the reasons I wrote the book, to try to dispel some of that.

And I remember once seeing you on Charlie Rose, and you were saying the very same thing, and I respected what you were saying because my family went through a lot of the same where misinformation was in print, and then it just went on and on and on.

O'REILLY: Well, we -- we encourage people to read your book, Growing Up King: An Intimate Memoir. And we appreciate it.

KING: Thank you.

O'REILLY: And we respect you. Thank you very much, Mr. King.

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