Sharpton Panel on MSNBC Frets Over Trump 'Killing the Dream' of Martin Luther King

On Sunday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, as Al Sharpton presided over a discussion of an upcoming march to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in the Civil Rights Movement, the MSNBC host fretted that President Donald Trump is "killing the dream" after one of the guests claimed that MLK Jr.'s "dream" had become a "nightmare" for many.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner of the leftist Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism complained about "mass incarceration" and "voter suppression" as he commented:

We will be marching and praying with our legs because this is not a nostalgia march, right, we are marching to protect and defend the dream, which for too many people has become a nightmare with mass incarceration, with voter suppression, with people afraid of losing their health care benefits. So it's important that we march -- but that we march for the dream getting protected for the future, not just nostalgia for the past.

Host Sharpton then dismissed President Trump's decision to keep a bust of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office as he responded:

It is not a nostalgia march because we saw when President Trump came into office, President Obama put the bust of Dr. King in the Oval Office. President Trump said, "I'm going to keep the bust, but I'm adding Winston Churchill." But did he put the dream out? Because in the dream of Dr. King, he talked about voting rights -- which is now under siege -- he talked about poverty -- which we are really clearly dealing with as the rabbi just referred to rather.

The MSNBC host then added:

And he talked about criminal justice reform -- he talked about the idea of health care. Dr. King said that in a speech all of this is in danger right now. So this thousand ministers march is to say, "Wait a minute, you can't commemorate the dreamer and kill the dream."

The hand-wringing continued as the Reverend K.W. Tulloss of the National Action Network responded:

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You're so right, Rev, again, August 28, ministers are coming beyond the wall of the church to really focus on the needs of our community, and these last several months are dismal. Many of our -- many of the policies that are being proposed are aimed at cutting down on the backs of our members, and it's very important again for us as religious leaders to reach out beyond the walls and the press and to make this administration know that our members are at stake.

He then added:

This is why we're here where they're representing our people. We are there to let the folks know that we are there with them, and we want this administration to take notice that, "Hey, this is important, you are messing with people's lives."

Below is a transcript of the relevant portions of the Sunday, August 6, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

8:16 a.m. ET

RABBI JONAH PESNER, RELIGIOUS ACTION CENTER FOR REFORM JUDAISM: We will be marching and praying with our legs because this is not a nostalgia march, right, we are marching to protect and defend the dream, which for too many people has become a nightmare with mass incarceration, with voter suppression, with people afraid of losing their health care benefits. So it's important that we march -- but that we march for the dream getting protected for the future, not just nostalgia for the past.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON: Reverend, it is not a nostalgia march because we saw when President Trump came into office, President Obama put the bust of Dr. King in the Oval Office. President Trump said, "I'm going to keep the bust, but I'm adding Winston Churchill."

But did he put the dream out? Because in the dream of Dr. King, he talked about voting rights -- which is now under siege -- he talked about poverty -- which we are really clearly dealing with as the rabbi just referred to rather -- and he talked about criminal justice reform -- he talked about the idea of health care. Dr. King said that in a speech all of this is in danger right now. So this thousand ministers march is to say, "Wait a minute, you can't commemorate the dreamer and kill the dream."

REVEREND K.W. TULLOSS, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK WESTERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR: You're so right, Rev, again, August 28, ministers are coming beyond the wall of the church to really focus on the needs of our community, and these last several months are dismal. Many of our -- many of the policies that are being proposed are aimed at cutting down on the backs of our members, and it's very important again for us as religious leaders to reach out beyond the walls and the press and to make this administration know that our members are at stake.

This is why we're here where they're representing our people. We are there to let the folks know that we are there with them, and we want this administration to take notice that, "Hey, this is important, you are messing with people's lives." And we recognize that everything is at stake, and that's what we plan to do August 28.

SHARPTON: You know, Rabbi, when I look at the fact that you referred to mass incarceration -- when I look at, when we see the continued cases of police brutality that all of us support good policing, but that we're not dealing with the bad police as well as the fact that this attorney general as said, "I'm even questioning consent decrees." I look at our colleagues in the NAACP this week talking about a travel warning for the state of Missouri because of any number of situations with black motorists in the state of Missouri.

And yet, in the midst of all of this, I look one morning, and ministers are in the Oval Office laying hands on President Trump and praying and saying, "God bless him and strengthen him in what he's doing," without questioning what he's doing. That's why I think some other faith leaders need to come and say, "We're not here to condemn the President, but we're here to uplift justice and fairness. While y'all are blessing this, let's look at what is going on.

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