April 3, 2018
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is largely remembered for his campaigns against segregation, his calls for racial brotherhood, and his unwavering commitment to nonviolence. He is less often remembered, however, for his fervent opposition to increasing global militarism, his all-consuming desire to eradicate poverty, and his vision for a transformed and truly participatory democracy.
Fifty years after his assassination, former Representative Donna Edwards and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, in conversation with the Brennan Center’s Ted Johnson, reflected on King’s life and examined the expansion of his activism from 1967 to 1968. Who was King at the end of his life? What is his lasting impact on issues of poverty, war, and democracy? And what must we do to bring about the revolution of values he envisioned?
This program was presented by the The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the NYU Brademas Center, and hosted by NYU Washington, DC.
Donna Edwards was a member of Congress for more than eight years, serving on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, as well as the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. She led a task force of House Democrats, Restoring People-Powered Politics, which focused on campaign finance and election reform. And she was the first African-American woman to represent Maryland on Capitol Hill.
A deep record of public service also marked Edwards’ career before Congress. As the co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, she led the effort to pass the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. She has also worked with Public Citizen, the Center for New Democracy, and Lockheed Corporation’s Spacelab program at the Goddard Space Flight Center. She also served as executive director of the Arca Foundation.
Michael Steele is President and CEO of The Steele Group, a company he started in 1999. The Steele Group works with institutional and individual clients to design overall business development, investor, networking, and communications strategies. Presently, Mr. Steele is Political Analyst for MSNBC, a frequent contributor on the Fox News Channel, and a regular host for the Salem Radio Network's nationally syndicated Morning in America Show. Steele’s experiences as a successful elected conservative African-American Republican, and former Chair of the National Republican Committee, as well as his engaging speaking style have launched him into national prominence.
Theodore Johnson is an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America. He will write a book about black voting behavior in the post-Obama political landscape. He is currently a national security research manager and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy. Previously, Johnson was a commander in the United States Navy where he served in a variety of positions including as a White House fellow and speechwriter for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has also written extensively on race, politics, and society for publications such as, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, National Review, The New Republic, and The Wall Street Journal. A native of North Carolina, he is a graduate of Hampton University and Harvard University, and holds a doctorate of law and policy from Northeastern University.