All-Star Panel: Reflecting on 50 years since 'I Have a Dream' speech

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 28, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They did not die in vain.


OBAMA: Their victory was great. But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn't bend on its own.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama marking the day 50 years ago, really to minute, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered that powerful address. We're back with the panel. The March on Washington, its message, various speakers, Juan, your thoughts?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, it's a speech, it's a moment in American history that continues to have a grip on the American imagination. Obviously that speech in '63 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation really moves us forward in American history. And today you heard the president. He is no prophet; he's not Martin Luther King Jr.; he is no great speaker in that oratorical tradition. But he tried to speak in a way that would convey what King expressed, articulated in terms of American ideals, carries across the 50 years, carries across the generations, and hopefully carries across the races in a meaningful way.

He said it's a matter of courage to face down your fears for change. And I thought it was very interesting from my point of view, that he spoke about race politics in the country in 2013 cutting both ways. And I just was taken by that. He said, in terms of the minority community, you can't use race or bigotry as an excuse not to raise children, not to educate children, and not to believe in yourself and simply believe in recrimination. I thought that was a real positive step for a guy who I think is often reluctant to speak out in terms of tough love with the minority community.

BAIER: Jonah, there were a number of speakers, including former presidents Clinton and Carter, all saying that the fight is not over, and stop complaining, according to Clinton, and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Yeah, he also said it shouldn't be harder in a great democracy to vote than to get an assault weapon, which was a profoundly dishonest and partisan thing to say.

That said, I thought President Obama's speech was pretty good, I think for mostly the reasons that Juan lays out. But over the course of the day this was very much like a Democratic Party convention. I thought it was sort of outrageous that there was no role that they could carve just out of generosity of spirit for a single Republican or even maybe the only black Republican, black senator, in office today. Tim Scott was not invited to speak at all. Instead it was a rally of some impressive people, some true historical heroes, and a bunch of hacks like Al Sharpton. And I thought that was really unfortunate.

WILLIAMS: Can I just quickly chime in? I noticed that Clarence Thomas was not invited. And I just thought, again, Republicans had a session this Monday at which they had people talking, including Bob Brown, who was an aide to Dr. King, talking about Republicans and the Civil Rights movement. Somehow Republicans had been excluded from today's celebration.

BAIER: Now, there's some reporting that there were invites and that some of them did not show up. But we'll try to get to the bottom of that.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the real tragedy is that the prestige and the glory and the courage of the original Civil Rights movement and many of the martyrs, including Dr. King, has left people living in that age and imagining that that's where the struggle ought to be today.

In those days the struggle was terrible laws, a legal system of segregation and discrimination. That was abolished in that generation. That fight is over. The idea that it's now the voter I.D. law -- I heard one speaker said in the past the problem was the men in sheets who did all of this, wearing hoods on their heads, and now it's people in black robes who strike down the Voting Rights Act. If you're going to equate the Supreme Court with the Klan, you're really living 50 years ago.  Today the challenge is the social issues. It is not changing laws. It's not stand-your-ground. It is the breakup of the family, and it is the terrible education that young people in the ghettos are subjected to which ruins their lives from the beginning and in which Democrats, particularly the teachers unions, are complicit, and they simply will not face that fact.

BAIER: Final word, Juan, for a lot of people, it was an emotional day.

WILLIAMS: It's tremendously emotional. And I can feel it myself. Look, I was just a nine-year-old. But I got to tell you, the idea that my dad could have been there is something that's really special to me.

BAIER: Thank you. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for our Bing highlights and something you really have to see to believe.

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