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Clinton Reflects on an Early Meeting of King

By Krissah Williams
MEMPHIS -- Sen. Hillary Clinton recalled being taken to meet the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by a church youth leader in Chicago as a teenager, and choked up today as she spoke of the day she learned of his death. She was here to remember the slain civil rights leader on the 40th anniversary of his death as this city held dozens of events in his honor.

Clinton gave her speech to a group of ministers at the Church of God in Christ's Mason Temple -- the same place that King gave his last speech, "I've Seen the Mountaintop," on April 3, 1968, before retiring to the Lorraine Motel, where he was assassinated.

"I stood in line for a very long time that night to shake his hand," Clinton said, recalling meeting him in 1962. "He was gracious, and he was kind enough to lean over and shake the hand of a 14-year-old girl from the suburbs of Chicago, who went to an all-white church and an all-white school and lived in an all-white suburb. But he didn't ask me as I reached out my hand, 'Where do you live, what's your experience?' He just took it and looked in my face and thanked me for coming. That Dr. King has such a profound impact on a young white girl, he had that kind of impact on millions of people of all colors faiths ages and walks of life tells us something about the reach and power of his vision."

Clinton spoke slowly, and her voice cracked with emotion when she talked about learning of King's death as a junior in college.

"I walked into my dorm room carrying my backpack and hurled it across the room. I felt like everything had been shattered," she said. "I joined a protest in Boston. I wore a black arm band. I worked to try to convince my college to hire more faculty of color, but it felt like it wasn't enough."

She quickly left the emotion of that memory for more familiar ground -- policy proposals, announcing a cabinet level position tasked with ending poverty.

Clinton left the church and stopped for a quick visit to the National Civil Rights Museum, which houses the Lorraine.
She was greeted warmly by the mostly African American crowd, though some shouted Obama '08 as she stood in the lobby.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 4, 2008; 2:48 PM ET
 
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Comments

If she's so choked up with sincerity and the vivid remembrances of that day, how come she has to keep looking down to read the next line of her speech? She's as phony as a 3-dollar bill.

Posted by: rose_la | April 6, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I think the World is very sick of Hillary's 'theatrics' and drama. Trying to compete with MLK's speech that fateful night by 'once again' changing her delivery of 'HER' speech. It's always about her.
Perhaps thinking 'she can perform a much more significant speech that her rivals or even the deceased Mr. King.

They both (Clinton Corporation)are disgenuis, pathological and truthfully frightening. As if have a "psychotic' or 'anti-social' element in their personalities.

Thirty five years of this duo is enough for the global community. National Security and Domestic Security is at risk here with a couple of irrisponsible people, that do anything to win. Shameful, arrogant and stupid.

Posted by: canadagirl | April 6, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Hillary says she threw her 'backpack' against the wall, If I remember correctly backpacks weren't used then at school. But hey what's a little embelishment. She was being sincere, right?

Posted by: AverageJane | April 5, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I really do not believe at this point, that Hillary knows what is real and what isn't. If she can mistake people sniping at her a few years back, one might question her memories of 40 years ago.

She will saw whatever will give her a perceived advantage.

Posted by: wolfi101 | April 5, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

rreyes--Who was it that brought up Jesse Jackson after Obama's huge win in South Carolina? Who is trying, repeatedly, to change the rules in the middle of the contest in order to deny the first viable Black presidential candidate? Which campaign has publicly referred to the other's supporter as Judas?--And refused to back away from it? Who voted to authorize the war? Whose campaign manager, Maggie Williams, made $200,000 from families being tossed into the street? Who has registered millions of new, young, excited Democrats?

Real Democrats will vote Obama, march against Hillary, and then tell you about it.

Posted by: gmundenat | April 4, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I think Dr. King would be ashamed of a lot of the naysayers and the lot who try and question Hillary's heart. Her timeline DOES NOT conflict, because for anyone who can even claim to know what she stands for, knows that she supported Goldwater, and that HE was one of the earliest supporters of the early Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960 and abolishing the Poll tax.

Hillary had already stated she was moving away from Republican attitudes and values that her family felt and finally broke away while at college.

Obama and his ilk, are pre-emtive attackers of the race card and are using a scorched early policy to make anyone who is not of their cult damaged goods for the GE. While it is Obama's chickens that will come home to roost, he will never win in the GE and will drag down Democrats and the down-ticket races making the Republicans again the majority in the States and U.S. legislatures through his own cults hatred.

What it should be instead of "our" turn is "America's" turn, but instead there are those who would rather hate with their guts than use their conscience and knowledge to make change and move forward.

America will move forward w/out you.

Posted by: rreyes130 | April 4, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe it. Why should we, in light of Tuzlagate?

Posted by: Charlene-K | April 4, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton and her ilk have taken Black America for granted for the last time! We saw what you were made of following South Carolina, and numerous times since. In the words of Harold Washington, "It's our turn". We are taking you for granted this time! How does it feel? You're out, Hillary. It's our turn!

Posted by: gmundenat | April 4, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

To have seen Dr. King and touch him in person is an experience anyone would cherish, and I imagine the effect would last a lifetime. Good for you, Hillary...

Posted by: hariseldonsr | April 4, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

By the way -- the CLINTONS JUST RELEASED TAX RETURNS -- yep at 4:15 pm edt on Friday afternoon. $109.2 Million in income since 2000. Yeah ... I'd have held on to those babies as long as I could too .... I wonder how that political profiteering is gonna go over in PA, home of a shot & a beer???

Posted by: Omyobama | April 4, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I believe Hillary had a change of heart (from Republican to Democrat) at some point in her early life but her reaction to Dr. King's murder and the historical timeline conflict.

As Omyobama, jganymede, and davestickler have mentioned, Hillary was a Republican for most of the 1960s. She mentions seeing and meeting Dr. King in 1962, but still campaigned for Barry Goldwater for President in 1964. Barry Goldwater is considered one of the founding fathers of the Conservative movement. Goldwater was passionately against the Great Society programs of the 1960s, which involved all the Civil Rights programs, War on proverty programs, Education programs such as Head Start, and Health Programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

How does Hillary credibily say "I was against the programs that Dr. King stood for in the 1960s, but I am all for it now"?

Go Obama in 08!

Posted by: ajtiger92 | April 4, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Omyobama is right. I don't doubt that she met Dr. King, or that she was upset when he was killed. But, if civil rights was such a big cause for her back then, she shouldn't have been supporting the anti-civil rights candidate in the '64 election.

Posted by: davestickler | April 4, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

for most of the folks, who are not sociopaths, being caught in so many lies would be an embarrassment but not for our shameless Goldwater Girl. One would think after a lifetime of lying she would be good enough to not get caught. wrong, this is just another one of those times that experience doesn't help.

Posted by: jganymede | April 4, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The statement that Hillary "choked up" as she remembered the death of Martin Luther King makes me want to THROW UP. She's as phony as a three dollar bill.

Posted by: rhbate | April 4, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Dr. King had such a profound effect on that 14 year old Hillary Rodham ... that 2 years later she became a "Goldwater Girl" ... actively supporting the presidential campaign of one of the very few members of Congress to oppose the Civil Rights Act, Dr. King's signature effort. Barry Goldwater had a later-in-life conversion but people forget his abominable early civil rights record. And what that says about his early supporters, like Mrs. Clinton.

Posted by: Omyobama | April 4, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

God forbid that any candidate besides The One reflect on where she / he was that fateful day -- was The One even born then, or was that Immaculate Conception -- we have already been chastized on the McCain thread for him bringing up the fact he heard the terrible news in a Vietnamese POW camp.

Posted by: JakeD | April 4, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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