January 20, 2009

Larry Reflects on the Civil Rights Movement

Posted: 04:58 PM ET

The following is the text of Larry's reflections on the Civil Rights Movement that aired on Monday's LKL.

Did you think you'd see an African-American elected president in your lifetime? I've asked a lot of people that question since November 4.

Some - especially the kids - told me, "Heck yeah! Absolutely!" Some just said "I hoped." Others answered flat out: "No. I never expected to live to see the day." And a few simply choked up, and I knew, they were remembering....

It's April 15, 1947, and the place is Ebbets Field. Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball's color barrier, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I was 13 years old, and I was there.

I later interviewed Jackie Robinson, three times, and he was a great athlete and an even greater man. But on that historic day, while I believed in equality on the ball field, the idea of a black man in the White House never really entered my head.


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Marsha Myers   January 20th, 2009 6:41 pm ET

The inagugral was very nice. It was good to see the Bush sisters, but wherethe heck was Chelsea Clonton?

Denise   January 20th, 2009 7:01 pm ET

There has NEVER been any doubt in my mind that the President of the United States could be any color, race, pursuasion. The most qualified person in the running for the job gets it!
I believe that as long as the discussion of color (black vs. white) exists, descrimination will remain. We are all of God's making and the Bible says "man is created equal" - it is man that won't let go and move on! We all not to let it go and move forward!!!!

Charles Meier   January 20th, 2009 7:55 pm ET

You caught my attention when I heard we reacted similarly when first arriving in Florida. I got stationed in Pensacola in Jan. 1958. I also had to use the "wrong" water fountain. I got in trouble when I offered an elderly lady with an arm load of packages my seat in the light green section of the bus. Did you try to buy a ticket from the wrong section of the bus terminal? No they wouldn't sell one. I wonder if they charged more? An appliance store tried to charge my neighbor more for the same appliance on the same day as my wife had bought it. My wife intervened with "you want me to call shore patrol? 50 years of change. I am glad for this moment. I had not met anyone else (until the movement) who reacted as we did. I hope there were many more.

Melissa B ~ California   January 20th, 2009 8:08 pm ET

America is finally beginning to tackle inequality. Obama is only a first step. People who say the job is done only want to live in the past.

Theresa   January 20th, 2009 9:45 pm ET

Trivial on the surface but an undertone highlighting that we have a long way to go... the "white, do right' ideology showcased at the close of the benediction inappropriately generalized to all 'white' Americans that they are singularly responsible for the plight of minorities.

Hello, neither I or my ancestors oppressed anyone.... my ancestors came to the US prior to WW-1 as indentured servant-laborers in order to pay back the debt. Disenfranchisement knows no color.

That said – race is a social construct, without a genetic basis. Obama is an American, neither black, white ,nor bi-racial. I voted for an American whose philosophy resonates with my own. Nothing more, nothing less.

We will attain MLK's vision only when we can genuinely acklnowledge that we are 'Americans' and relegate race to the myth that it is. We are genetically mutts from the same puppy pound and all equally worthy of opportunities for success broadly defined.

Laurie Donaldson   January 20th, 2009 9:49 pm ET

When my father whom fought in World war 2, Korea and Vietnam retired on a beach front paradise on Denman Island in Canada truley was living his dream. Illness later forced him to move to the larger Island Vancouver Island. While there I asked him "Do you miss Denman Island?" He said "no because you never can go back because it will never be the same." During the last years of his life he moved back to Washington. Later when he died I used those words in obiturary as my life will never be the same without him and I use those words now as our world will never be the same after January 20, 2009. We have moved into another era in history. I agree with First Lady Obama "I have never been so proud of my country." I was fortunate enough to see John F Kenedy in Montana just prior to his assasination yet I was young however, I still remember as I will always remember as I will this day in history. So many people of all races were as one. I am greatful to my parents for raising me not to be predjudice. The United States of America is truly the best place in the world to live and I have lived in many different countries in my life time.

hugh ~ california   January 20th, 2009 10:12 pm ET

What a wonderful world it would be if race was not an issue but merely a social construct. Yes, it is unfair and untrue to suggest all whites are responsible of the plight of minorities, but far too many whites in America were. The past is over, what we do in the present is what shapes the future. Denying the past keeps us from moving forward.

Alex L. Williams   January 20th, 2009 10:52 pm ET

(Hello, my name is Alex Williams and I am a 20 year old African-American college student. I am writing this letter because I have inspired and deeply impacted by this Momentous Inauguration. Please Read as Followed)

Well, a change has definitely come in dramatic fashion! After months of campaigning, million of dollars being of spent, and hours of non-stop, restless work, Senator Barack Obama was finally transformed to President Barack Obama on November 4th, 2008. The 44th President of the United States is a man who seemingly had the ability to capture the hearts and spirits of millions of Americans from all backgrounds. Barack Obama is the son of an Islamic, Kenyan native. He’s also the son of a Caucasian, Christian woman. A husband to an African-American woman; a native of Hawaii, and resident of Chicago, Illinois. This man had the unbelievably capability to relate to America and its new generation. This factor helped to elect this man as President of the United States of America.
Personally this election had significant relevance to me. I am a young 20 year old African-American who strives to be the best that I can be; so now, the statement that “You can be anything that you want to be” can finally be fulfilled without compromise and without negotiation. This shows how far America has come in its outlook and approach to the democratic process. My sixty seven year old father often tells me stories of how he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in a struggle for inequality when he was in college. It was an overwhelming feeling to see my father and my eighty-seven year old grandmother shed tears when the results were displayed.
It will be very delusional to believe that an African-American President will suddenly produce instant change, and immediate positivity in the U.S. However, the symbolism of Barack Obama’s election and Inauguration is empowering. This black man is a living representation of change and progress. Americans feel as though, Barack Obama is now an Iconic figure, and I believe that this is true. No longer can minorities blame the “man” on being their resistance; hopefully this change can affect the physique of all Americans to do better, and take responsibility for their circumstances and outcomes. From the slave boats, to the plantations; from the back feeding door, to the kitchen table; and from the back of the bus to the White House, finally, Change is Now!

Jaison   January 20th, 2009 11:57 pm ET


We are in 21st century and these young Americans don't believe in race too much. at the same time they use lots of Internet and they know reality, so they wont get caught up in dirty politics. and at the same time they were really inspired by President Obama and they really had faith in him. and these young Americans inspired older folks, it's okay to vote for this black person. at the same time President Bush helped him big time
due to economics crisis and Iraq war. so President Obama was at right time at right place. he is very very smart man, he knows how to present he also knows how to give respect even though he is president now but him self holding very well. but this is for sure he made it very easy for next African American person.

MARION MILLS-PERRY   January 21st, 2009 12:23 am ET

FIx the econcmy,stop home foreclosures,give stimulus to taxpayers as he promised.

ed ,vancouver canada   January 21st, 2009 12:45 am ET

we in the vancouver metropolis do not have the racial issues.
white people are now a minority.
59%of surrey is from india
40%of burnaby is from china
70%of richmond is from china
15% of richmond is from india

my friends daughter has 31 kids in the is white,her daughter.whites are now the minority.
we have sections where there is no english on a sign for 2 miles
yet it is federal law to have french on everything.
have faith,sooner or later things balance out.

Sunny   January 21st, 2009 12:49 am ET

We are in serious economic peril and yet people are worried about what Michelle is wearing. Give me a break Jason Wu doesn't design for JCrew and we are paying for all these balls to take place. I believe we as Americans who pay our taxes should be awarded the money spent instead to spend as we see fit. Give me a break people Obama is all about show and it's one big joke. We should have a real president in office who has actually suffered like the rest of us. Three more schools have closed in our area and yet Obama's kids are enjoying school. Who the heck cares. Make Obama live like the rest of us and I guarantee he wouldn't be in office. Also who the heck cares what people wear instead how about our economy and people who are suffering.

Benazir Maratuech   January 21st, 2009 12:55 am ET

It never crossed my mind until I took a Social environment class 2 years ago. My Proffesor at the time, covered the civil right mmovement topic with passion, wisdom and a dreamfull mind. He made few of us believe that someday it could come true; not only that, but also that a woman could be. Today, as I look onto the TV screen I remember that class, that thought me more than I can imagine, but one thing is for sure, it thought me that perseverence has no limits, and today is living proof of that. I feel proud to be part of a nation that has wisely opted for hope and positive change. May America stay stronng and united

melinda   January 21st, 2009 12:56 am ET

the day was wonderful and i hope that the children remain as sweet as they are. is it necessary to have all these balls isn't it more prudent to have just one since the rest of the country is struggling financially, i am looking for a job myself and since i am over 60 it is hard to find someone willing to give a senior a chance give us a break, cut down on all the excess spending

jenn lock   January 21st, 2009 12:57 am ET

As I sit at home watching reports on the inauguration of Omaba it makes me realize how fortunate my life has been ... I grew up in a home and town where racism of any kind was not tolerated. It was only tonight that I understood the significance of the first African-American to be elected President ... it happened when I saw a granddaughter with her grandfather who saw Nelson Mandella in Chicago and participated in marches in Washington for Malcolm X who was brought to tears knowing he was about to witness the first African-American become president that I realized the significance to not only African-Americans in the US but to people all people all over the world. Obama not only brings new leadership, he also brings inspiration to people (not only in the US, but all over the world) to act and take an active role in determining their future. I can only hope that Canada one day too has a leader who is as charismatic and inspirational as Obama has been. Congrats to all.

Pat Collins   January 21st, 2009 1:00 am ET

Hi Larry,

Just want you to know I admire you as a a talk show host. Getting right to the point...Why is it that people no matter what their color always try to find something wrong with other people's dreams and accomplishments? If Michelle would have worn a simple gown there would have been critisizm., she wore an elegant gown and there's words said that a more simple gown was expected! Just let them be who they are and see if they can carry out or attempt to carry out the things they've stated. The ones who are talking are the main ones who can't hang which is the reason they are reporting and not ordering.

Much love!


Tony   January 21st, 2009 6:59 am ET

Larry, tonight you asked for a list of things to do w/ this historic new president's White House but I feel it' s not one person one president who can really turn things arond we the people can hold his office feet to the fire abut letting things get out of hand but we all have things that must be done on any list. 1) get him to have open disussions when big businees says their now sure why things are not working for them so that they will try harder to work out what ever it is that's not working but just giving them money when they don't even now how they got there? 2) See Jan. 20, historic say but not go along with all the things that don't happen when it was the very thing you said was going to be "YES WE CAN" tha't's not taking any no's from big business! 3) Lets really try working on the right & the left to make all this happen now we are saying the playing field is equal lets do it stop being like letter rich kids but doing it the old way work harder as a nation to come to gether saying things like it takes a villeage for kids but that just some kid as others just go to jial due to mum & dad having no moneys, ed., be there for them and not just say it even if it not your kid! when someone tells a kid you can to it and really makes them feel they can it open so many door, if I know a kid that I never see his Mum or Dad sit down and start reading to him buy him a book to get him stated in thinking yes, I can!

lyn   January 21st, 2009 11:00 am ET

could someone please set the record straight....great we have a new president...but let's not confuse our children or our grandchildren
obama is NOT our first black president...he is our first "bi-racial" president...sure hope that whoever writes the history books doesn't put that lie in the books that he is our first black president!

hugh ~ california   January 21st, 2009 7:36 pm ET

If Barack Obama is not our first black president than either you're in denial or Barack Obama is in self-denial. Stop suggesting that others are trying to confuse the facts, if anyone is trying to confuse our children or grandchildren it's words or statements from "unique" individuals like yourself. Since nearly the entire world believes Barack Obama is America's first black president, I guess nearly the whole world is in denial!

Arrest Bush/Cheney   January 21st, 2009 8:34 pm ET

Did Larry really hang out as teenagers with Medgar Evers and MLK? Havin' milkshakes at the corner store. Or was that another story.

Ed Lubo   January 21st, 2009 10:00 pm ET





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