Tonight we have a special edition of 360. It’s called Race and Politics: Black in America and we’re going to spend the hour talking about race on the campaign trail. We’ll show you new polling data that offers insight whether or not America is ready for an African-American president. And we’re going to look at the impact race has on black superdelegates, and how it affects their decision on which candidate to support. All that and more tonight at 11p ET.
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As America remembers my father this week, I find myself reflecting on his great dream and the amazing strides we have made as a nation towards accomplishing the dream. We have had two African-Americans serve as Secretary of State and in this exciting election either a woman or an African-American will be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America. I am proud of the instrumental role my father had in bringing about systemic change and I draw strength from knowing so many people are working to continue this change and accomplish his dream.
My reflection on my father also leads me to his immense passion to overcome economic injustice. A passion that is evident in his final sermon, given at the National Cathedral on March 31st, 1968, in which he declared, “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.” Sadly, forty years have passed and absolutely no strides have been made to combat poverty.
Therefore, as I look back on my father’s great work and incredible life, I am also looking forward to continuing that work and honoring his life. I am looking forward to Americans rolling up their sleeves, joining together and working to bring about a systemic change that will forever rid the world of economic injustice, as my father asked us all to do forty years later.
For this reason, I recently urged our Presidential candidates to publicly vow to appoint a cabinet level poverty officer, an officer with the sole goal of ending the economic injustice that oppresses so many Americans. With over 36 million people living in poverty, 12 million of them children, something needs to be done and it needs to be done now. The President has a nation to run and a world to work with, but a cabinet officer can have the sole dedication to ending poverty.
It is a privilege to share with all of you today. Please keep the discussion going, roll up your sleeves and help us to realize my father’s dream.
– Martin Luther King III
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Editor’s note: B. Venson Hughes worked at the Memphis Police Department. He was working the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. 40 years later, he shares his experience here:
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, I look back and still remember that evening very vividly. I was the Police communications officer on duty when the words came over the radio saying, "Tact 10, we have information that Dr. King has been shot". Our response was immediate. We started to seal off the area around the Lorraine Hotel so no one could enter or leave. In just a few minutes, officers advised they had found the weapon on S. Main Street, just a block away from the shooting scene. The security perimeter was expanded to include those Main Street buildings. I am convinced our officers missed Ray coming out of the rooming house by seconds.
Those first moments set off the largest manhunt ever conducted in the U.S. It involved thousands of law enforcement personnel in this country and four or five other countries. Since retiring, I have been collecting all of the original investigative documents I could find in order to preserve the historic value of the investigation. As I collected information, I had occasion to see the many "mis-truths" others had written about the assassination to sell their books. I also found many unanswered questions among the investigative documents. Having an unanswered question does not, necessarily, imply anything nefarious. It simply means issues exists that have not been fully resolved. We may never know the complete truth surrounding the events of April 4, 1968 but we should not stop looking.
– B. Venson Hughes, Memphis Police Department (retired)
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Editor’s note: CNN viewer Michael Johnson sent us an i-Report (send yours here) on his account the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Below he describes in detail how he found out: "To go outside and see people crying. It's something about it that I'll never forget." We share his experience here:
I was 11 years old, turning 12 in August, 1968. I was sitting in a soda shop in Baltimore having a cheeseburger and a cherry Coke. The lady serving me was named Miss Mary. She was a beautiful older black woman who everyone in the community loved and respected.
As I was sitting down waiting for my cheeseburger, a gentleman ran into the Reads Drugstore and said, "They done killed the King. The King is dead."
In the beginning, I did not get what he was meaning, and I saw Miss Mary starting to cry… not just tears, but the crying that only an older lady could do... the type that a grandchild of a slave gave, it almost had a musical sound to it, and for the next 40 years I can hear it as clear and as sad as it was then.
I went out into the street and I saw men and woman, grown people, stopping what was going on in there lives and crying. I had seen King five years earlier, maybe six, as he stopped in Baltimore to campaign for Kennedy. But this was a death that took the sound out of the air. You could not hear cars or the sounds of the city…
It was as if the air stopped. And then the wailing began...
Editor's note: Randy Jones is now a commercial real estate agent living in Southaven, Mississippi, and father of 360 producer Kay Jones. In 1968, he was a senior at Whitehaven High School in Memphis.
This was my senior year in high school and we were all looking forward to graduation. I had gone with a friend to watch him play a few holes of golf at a local golf course. We were unaware of the shooting at the time.
When I got home, a Shelby County Sheriff's car pulled into our driveway behind me. Here's why: I was a white male with brownish hair wearing black-rimmed glasses driving a light-colored Ford Mustang. That was the description law enforcement officers were given of the suspect in the shooting.
As I got out of the car, the officers told me to open the trunk. This was my dad's car. My dad, also a Sheriff's deputy, kept a sawed-off shotgun in the trunk. I was not aware that it was in there. Imagine my surprise when I opened the trunk....
A crackdown is underway in Zimbabwe. The target: foreign journalists and others. Cha-ching! Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to raise kudos of cash. The FAA whistleblowers who were on 360 last night in a CNN exclusive are on Capitol Hill talking with lawmakers. Supermodel Naomi Campbell is reportedly in trouble with the law, once again. And, a hawk causes quite a scare at Boston's Fenway Park. Here's your Afternoon Buzz:
Raids in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean government forces Thursday began cracking down on the main opposition party, raising fears of a political crisis, according to witnesses and an opposition spokesman.
10 killed in Pennsylvania house fire
Ten people were killed Thursday after fire swept through a house outside Brockway, Pennsylvania.
Slayings rattle laid-back Wisconsin campus
Three unsolved killings in less than a year share at least one thread: They've spread fear among college students and downtown residents in Wisconsin's capital.
Dems rake in the campaign cash
Sen. Barack Obama raised more than $40 million from more than 442,000 donors in March, his presidential campaign announced Thursday.
McCain's wife's fortune over $100 million
On a spring day at a speedway in North Carolina, John McCain posed with his wife, Cindy, and racing star Dale Earnhardt Jr., highlighting the couple's political and business interests in a single snapshot.
Keeping them Honest
Inspectors: FAA failures put passengers at risk
A cozy relationship between Southwest Airlines officials and the manager of a Federal Aviation Administration office put passengers in danger of catastrophe, an FAA whistle-blower told Congress on Thursday.
Crime & Punishment
Ex-stripper gets 99 years in murder plot
A former stripper-turned-soccer-mom convicted of plotting to kill her former fiance 12 years ago was sentenced Wednesday to 99 years in prison.
Kids find gun in classroom; teacher arrested
A Santa Ana, California elementary school teacher was arrested after students found a handgun and ammunition in the drawer of a supply cabinet of her classroom, officials said today.
What YOU will be TALKING about TONIGHT
Naomi Campbell arrested
Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been arrested at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 for allegedly spitting at a police officer, Sky News television reported Thursday.
When a hawk attacks...
A red-tailed hawk lost its choice seat behind home plate at Fenway Park today after the raptor scratched a middle school girl on a tour, drawing blood from her scalp.
Today Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania responded to the fact Barack Obama is gaining on Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania polls. Rendell said, “Everyone expected the polls to tighten. Anyone who thought Senator Clinton would win the primary by 16 points was either ill informed or didn't give Senator Obama the credit he deserves as a campaigner. Hillary Clinton is a warm and wonderful person with a great heart, great ideas and the best interest of the country at heart. But 16 points was unrealistic.”
Rendell has been awfully confident about a Clinton victory. He's already endorsed her and has been campaigning for her in Pennsylvania. He recently told me, “She'll win a solid victory…because Senator Obama is a formidable candidate and the registrations, the new registrations I think will favor him. So i think it'll be closer.. but she'll win a significant victory.”
Gov. Rendell caught some attention with some other things he said in February, comments some called “insensitive” and “racist.” He said, “You’ve got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate,” is just the latest to get attention. RANDI'S ORIGINAL POST
Tonight in a special 360°: Race and Politics: Black in America, we'll look at Gov. Rendell's comments and the role that race plays in this election.
– Randi Kaye, 360° Correspondent
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Sorry to keep you waiting! I'm sure you've been on pins & needles waiting for tonight's ‘Beat 360°.’ So lets have a go at it!
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Here is today’s “Beat 360°” pic of the day: Wei Shengchu of China displays acupuncture needles in his forehead during a self-acupuncture performance last year. Wei inserted 1,200 needles into his head skin during the show. (show off!)
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“Actually, I think the headache has gotten worse”
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Good morning folks..
Tonight, as racial issues continue to roil the presidential race, we at 360 join CNN's sweeping on-air and digitial initiative in examining race and politcs in America.
Starting at 9PM ET, Black in America, reported by anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, begins with the two-hour premiere of Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination (watch a preview), a first-person account of what happened on April 4, 1968. In this first installment of CNN’s Black in America series, O’Brien investigates how James Earl Ray, an armed robber and escaped convict, had already spent an uncommon year on the run that included plastic surgery just a month before his path collided with that of the civil rights leader in Memphis, Tenn. Through interviews with witnesses and investigators, O’Brien retraces the steps of King, Ray, the FBI and Memphis police and explores alternative scenarios of who was ultimately responsible for the murder that, for some, represented the end of the American Civil Rights era.
Then, at 11PM ET, Anderson anchors a special edition of AC360: Race & Politics, Black in America:
Randi Kaye talks with PA Governor Ed Rendell about his belief that some Pennsylvania voters - "conservative whites" - are not ready to vote for an African American as president. The governor's comments raised howls of indignation that he was injecting race into the contest for his party's presidential nomination.
Joe Johns looks at the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.... no, not the words you usually hear, those inspiring words of hope. Instead, Joe looks at some other things he said that are, in some circles, controversial to this day. Dr. King was known for speaking truth to power. That didn't always make people comfortable.
Soledad O'Brien examines the intense pressure on some black superdelegates to vote for Barack Obama.
Candy Crowley looks at the racially charged moments in the Democratic presidential race: The Reverend Wright sermons, the Bill Clinton comments in South Carolina, Geraldine Ferraro’s comments…moments that some viewed as racist, others did not…sparking racial debate and tension in the campaign.
A panel helps make sense of it all: Soledad O'Brien, Roland S. Martin, Candy Crowley, David Gergen and more.
Please let us know what you think. Thank you for joining us.
-Barclay Palmer, 360° Senior Producer
When I learned about the third grade students in Georgia who plotted to attack their teacher, my heart broke. FULL STORY Essentially, three systems put in place for our kids—parental, educational, mental health–have not yielded an outcome of which anyone of us can be proud. And let me be very clear, this is not about blame. This is about raising awareness of our children and working as a team so that communities wrap around each and every child so they may have a positive outcome. These are the systems in which I believe awareness needs to be strengthened:
The parenting system. I would hope that parents of any child know and connect with the teachers and leaders of the school their child attends. It is their business as parents to know what their kids are up to. In this situation, we are talking about 8- to 10- year-olds, not independent teenagers who even legally have been given freedom. So I stress to parents everywhere: Know yourself, know your child. Parenting begins with you.