MLK praise scrubbed from Bill Clinton speech
March 28th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
4 months ago

MLK praise scrubbed from Bill Clinton speech

Washington (CNN) - A pair of lines praising Martin Luther King, Jr. were scrubbed from an early version of President Bill Clinton's 1998 State of the Union address, apparently after someone in the White House raised questions about how the rhetorical flourishes would play with white people.

A rough draft of the 1998 speech was included in a new batch of previously withheld documents released by the National Archives and the Clinton Presidential Library on Friday. It included a passage about racial healing, tentatively titled "One America In The 21st Century."

"It is now two centuries since we proclaimed our ideals to be self evident ... 134 years since we wiped the stain of slavery from our soil ... 30 years, this April, since a rifle crack ended the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of America's greatest patriots," the draft read.

The brief portion of the text pledged enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and called for "a true dialogue among people of different races and backgrounds and religions."

A quote from King's Nobel Prize acceptance speech about his faith in America was also included in the initial version of the speech.

But someone in the White House - from reading the handwriting, it's not clear who - scrawled a note in the margin expressing anxiety about the passage.

"Is there some way to be a bit more positive and speak to white people?," the note reads.

By the time Clinton delivered his annual address in the House chamber that January, the speech included a handful of nods to racial harmony, and various proposals aimed at expanding educational opportunity, reducing crime and creating jobs. But the references to King were gone.

The early version of the address was among the papers of former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, one of thousands of pages of documents included in Friday's document dump.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Martin Luther King
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Tim Halbert

    Hey, how about all of you Democrats and Republicans who tell the American people that "YOU'RE" party is not responsible just tell the truth one little time. Both political parties in this country would rather see the country fail than to work with each other to solve a problem. Christie knew, who would believe a guy who hired his own independent investigator to investigate him? He spent 1 million dollars of NJ taxpayer money so that the independent investigation would arrive at the conclusion he paid for! Let us do an independent investigation with the FBI and find out how innocent he is.

    March 28, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. NC

    Does not surprise me one bit.

    March 28, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    OMG!!! Let's impeach Clinton!!!

    FIFY.

    Do you really think this is going to stop blacks from voting for Hillary over any GOP candidate? Get this we know exactly how the GOP/Confederate party feels about us. Your treatment of the duly elected POTUS shows most of us exactly how you feel about us. And he's only half-black.

    March 28, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Bill is about Bill is about Bill and thats all there is.

    Elvis has left the building

    March 28, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. Chris-E...al

    MLK was someone who tryed to bring us together the best he could . This Prez is a divider an not much more . Can He Help It ???? He himself is a slave to the old dem guard and is just a puppet ! Im really starting to rethink this deal ! I think the dems have just used this prez .

    March 28, 2014 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. Pajama Boy

    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    OMG!!! Let's impeach Clinton!!!

    FIFY.

    Do you really think this is going to stop blacks from voting for Hillary over any GOP candidate? Get this we know exactly how the GOP/Confederate party feels about us. Your treatment of the duly elected POTUS shows most of us exactly how you feel about us. And he's only half-black.
    ----------------------------------------–
    Lighten up.

    March 29, 2014 12:59 am at 12:59 am |