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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Aired January 19, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, it's inauguration eve. Barack Obama will be America's new president in less than 24 hours.
Is Martin Luther King, Jr. 's dream at long last realized?
His son is here with the answers.
And we've got stars who are celebrating the date -- Seal, Sean Combs and Obama's buddy, Hill Harper, have something to say about the magnitude of the moment.
Plus, CNN's own D.L. Hughley breaks the news from the A-list event of the night.
Obama mania in full frenzy -- millions are gripped here at home and around the world. The nonstop, all star parade continues right now on a special inaugural eve edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening from Washington.
I say this just once every four years -- America's president will be sworn in tomorrow. This is a serious, a somber occasion, celebrated the night before with lots of big parties.
We have a great panel joining us in a moment.
But first, CNN's D.L. Hughley is at one of those parties. We're going to go there right now -- D.L. where are you and who's there?
D.L. HUGHLEY, HOST, "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS": I am at the Huffington Post pre-inauguration party at the Nuseum in Washington, D.C. . And everybody is expected to be here.
Before you -- you came to us, there were people actually doing the electric slide. So I'm sure nobody's ever seen anything like that at an inauguration party.
Everybody is going to be here. There's going to be Jamie Foxx. We're going to have Sting, Will.i.am there performing right now; Bon Jovi; and even Oprah is rumored to -- to be appearing tonight.
KING: That's good, D.L.
We'll be checking back with you.
And I'll see you over there later.
I look forward to being you in person.
KING: Just to be in your presence, D.L.
HUGHLEY: Well, you know, that's going around these days, Larry.
KING: D.L. Hughley hosts his own show every week on this channel -- on this network.
Now we welcome three incredible, incredible guys.
Sean Combs, musician, producer, actor, entertainer, entrepreneur, a vocal supporter of Barack Obama. During the campaign he worked to energize the youth vote.
Seal, the Grammy-winning singer and songwriter. Even though he's British, he's considering becoming a citizen of the United States. He campaigned for Obama. And he will entertain at the end of the show.
And returning tonight is Mayor Kevin Johnson. He was elected mayor of Sacramento in November -- the first African-American to hold that position, a former great star of the NBA, retired in May of 2000 after 12 seasons with the Phoenix Suns.
Well, it's finally come, Sean.
How do you feel?
SEAN COMBS, MUSICIAN, ACTOR, SUPPORTED OBAMA: Oh, it's really hard to describe in words. You know, it's such a proud moment. I'm so happy that the world gets to see that this is truly what America is, what America is about.
I've never seen an inauguration that has been so well represented, from a multicultural standpoint. What you're seeing on your television sets is what America's about -- people of all colors and creeds together celebrating the greatness of who we are.
And as African-Americans, this is like the proudest day of my life, to be able to see the first family that represents us -- represents all of us, but truly represents us, as African-Americans, be sworn in tomorrow.
KING: What's it like for you, Seal, as a non-American?
SEAL, SINGER, CAMPAIGNED FOR OBAMA: Well, it's -- the only word I can think of, Larry, is magical. You know, I've lived here for 20 years. You're right, I'm not American, but I do have three American children. So I have a vested interest in the future of this country.
And I think that one of the most amazing things, to me, about the whole historical event is the resounding effects that it had -- that it is having on the rest of the world.
I was in France and England the day that the results came through. And people were just rejoicing when they heard that he had won the election.
And I think that was -- that was always one of the big issues, wasn't it?
It was -- you know, there were two problems that were facing America. There were the internal problems, such as the economy; you know health care -- insufficient health care, etc. And then there was the external problem, which was the popularity of America...
SEAL: ...you know, as being the leader of the free world. And I think over the last sort of eight or so years, that popularity had been somewhat damaged. But it was certainly restored when the rest of the world saw just how great this country is (INAUDIBLE).
KING: Are you going to be a citizen?
SEAL: Am I what?
KING: Going to be a citizen?
SEAL: Am I going to be a citizen?
Well, my wife's a citizen. And I have three American children. And one of us is a citizen. I think that's -- that's a good thing.
KING: We're just the colonies to you, then?
SEAL: Well, no, no, you're not.
SEAL: You are not the colonies at all, Larry.
KING: Kevin, how do you explain this -- a generally unknown guy, he draws 200,000 people in Germany?
Seal just describes the reaction in France and Britain.
How do you explain that?
MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON, SACRAMENTO: He has a charisma. He has something that somehow has ignited and struck a chord, not just with Americans, but in people across this country.
People are so disillusioned and cynical about government and politicians. You get this guy with a funny name who comes out of nowhere and he's captured the imagination of people all over this world. Truly amazing.. And it's a true testament to who he is.
KING: Sean, do you think it gives him two balls and no strikes?
Is he ahead of the game?
COMBS: I think that -- that one of the reasons why everybody is so receptive to him is that we feel like he's telling the truth. I mean, it feels honest. For so many years, it feels like we've -- there's something that somebody's not telling us.
And I think the thing that, you know, gives him -- and, you know, the thing that makes him special, that -- the way he connects with us, because he's telling the truth. He feels like the truth.
KING: According to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, Seal, 69 percent of blacks say the United States has fulfilled Dr. King's dream. Forty-six percent of whites think they have fulfilled the dream.
Do you think the dream is fulfilled?
SEAL: Well, I think President Obama is the typical, the quintessential example of the American dream. I don't necessarily think it's an exclusive -- it's a black dream or a white dream. I think it's -- he embodies the very strength of -- of this country.
Just to go back on what Sean was saying earlier, you know, he's really struck a chord, because I think that, for the first time, along has come someone who is able to really read and assess the situation -- the climate in this country.
You know, there's that old saying that people can't handle the truth. Well, I think that his greatest strength -- and his campaign strength -- is that they were able to assess the climate in that America was ready for the truth. And he came out straight-talking. And that had a resounding effect with people, particularly the young people. And so he is really kind of -- I think he's the symbol of the quintessential American dream.
KING: We'll be right back with our panel.
By the way, we have this very special essay coming in a little while.
Sean, Seal and the mayor are staying put.
Hill Harper is going to join us, too.
As we go to break, there's a shot of the Huffington Post party. We'll be checking in there soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day when I walk into that Oval Office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's inaugural eve -- a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Joining our panel now is Hill Harper, actor, co-star of "CSI New York," a friend of Barack Obama. They go back to classmates at Harvard Law School.
Did you expect anything like this, Hill, back then?
HILL HARPER, ACTOR, FRIEND OF OBAMA: Well, you know, he...
HARPER: I looked up to him back then and not just because he was taller than me. You know, I looked up -- he had a sense of gravitas and a sense of purpose. He had -- he had actually -- he was older than most of us, because he had been doing now what is now famous community organizing for five years before he went, after undergrad, to grad school.
So I certainly looked up to him. He was extremely intelligent, extremely driven and extremely authentic.
And I think...
KING: Are you a lawyer who acts, by the way?
HARPER: No. You know, I'm just an actor who happens to have two graduate degrees from Harvard.
KING: All right.
So, therefore, you're not really surprised by all of this?
HARPER: No. Not at all. Not at all. In fact, when people say things like "never in my lifetime," "I never thought it could happen," I'm astounded by that. Because I grew up in a family where -- where my parents taught me that anything is possible -- that anyone's dreams can come true. And someone who -- and there's still one binding thing that -- that really causes dreams to happen. And that's hard work and dedication. And he represents that to the utmost.
KING: You know, Kevin, you could be told you can make it in basketball and you'd believe it. And certainly Seal and Sean could be told you can make it in music and you'd believe it, no matter what the color.
But wouldn't it be hard to believe, when Hill is told you can be anything you want, to believe that? JOHNSON: I think when I was growing up, anything you want meant most things, except for one or two things. A story the other day -- a little kid, a friend of mine named Troy had a nephew. And this nephew wanted to be Michael Jordan growing up. And they asked him what he wanted to be growing up about a year or two ago. He says he wants to be the president of the United States. And now he wants to go to Harvard and he's getting 4.0 -- 4.0 grades in the classroom.
So there's a -- there's a glass ceiling that's been -- that's been blown up because of this guy with a funny name named Barack Obama. And I think it's creating new realities for each and every one of us. I mean, I talked to Dr. King's son and he said the dream -- an aspect of the dream have been realized. There's still much more work for us to be done.
KING: Sean, though, this is a giant stride, isn't it?
COMBS: Yes. Yes. But I would have to agree. I think that -- the beauty about it, on this Martin Luther King Day is that, yes, there is a portion of the dream that's becoming a reality. But there are so many -- so many more elements of his dream and his speech that still needs to come to fruition.
One of the beautiful things about believing and faith -- the ones -- us -- the ones of us that do believe, I believe can move mountains. And this man had to believe, I had to believe, you had to believe. We can't take for granted anything in life that we've been able to accomplish.
And I hope that's something that -- that this moment is able to inspire to young people all around the world is that power of belief. Because in so many communities, there is not that belief. And I would have to thank my parents, like you have to thank yours and Barack has to thank his, instilling in us to be crazy that we could believe that anything is possible. That's a crazy thought.
But if you truly believe anything is possible, you could achieve anything in this world.
SEAL: See, I do think, though -- I have to say, though, that this kind of realization of this dream, it really is a testament to just how great this country is. And because it is such an historical moment that I -- and I don't really see that happening -- or something of that magnitude happening in a country like England or France, let's say.
I think one of the things that America has going for it, which people don't really talk about so much, is its youth. You know, it's like 350 odd years old. And so it has the ability to change and to -- to try something and if that's not working, to just turn on a dime -- do a 360.
And who would have thought some eight years ago that, you know, we'd be looking at a man by the name of Barack Hussein Obama who is president of the United States of America?
KING: Hill, does he have to succeed for the dream to happen?
HARPER: There's no other option but success. I mean, I think that if you look at his life and the struggles he's overcome and, also, his level of excellence, that he will succeed. Now, the question that I think is most appropriate is will all the people that actually are working below him be just as effective?
Can we break what's been, you know, for the -- at least the last 30 years in U.S. government -- and it's very -- we're entrenched in this muck.
And can we actually create the change that the campaign represented?
Because if you really look at the campaign, it was so well organized. And if we can bring that level of organization to the U.S. government, people are going to be happy about the government, because it's going to be working for them and it's not going to be a place for just lobbyists and major corporations.
KING: Are you optimistic, Kevin?
JOHNSON: I'm very optimistic. And I think what -- what Hill is talking about is his confidence. I mean, that's the thing that Barack has. He has a confidence that we have not seen.
JOHNSON: When he was in the Silicon Valley a couple years ago, when everybody didn't know who he was, he went to people in the Silicon Valley and said will you invest in me?
They were like, you haven't ever run anything before. He said, watch how I run my campaign.
And then he's run the best campaign this history...
JOHNSON: ...that the country has ever seen.
KING: We'll be...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're absolutely right.
KING: We'll be seeing a lot of you, be assured, during the next four to eight years.
Seal will be singing at the end of the show.
Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
KING: Sean Combs, Seal, Hill Harper, Mayor Kevin Johnson.
And you sing at the end.
SEAL: I do.
KING: I'll wait.
KING: We'll be back with D.L. and more from the Huffington Post ball. And we'll have the party's host, Arianna Huffington, live from the party in 60 seconds.
KING: Back to the Arianna Huffington -- the Huffington Post pre- inauguration party at the Nuseum here in Washington.
And our host at the party is D.L. Hughley, the host of CNN's "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News".
And there he is with the lovely Arianna -- D.L.?
HUGHLEY: I am. I'm here with the hostess of this shindig.
And we were talking earlier. And she -- they're -- everybody's wearing shirts that say -- I don't know if you can see this -- but they say "our inauguration."
And I was asking Arianna about that and you were explaining to me that this is America's inauguration.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, EDITOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Exactly. The theme of tonight's party is that it's not just Barack Obama who is being inaugurated tomorrow. All of us are being inaugurated, because as he has said again and again, the problems we are facing are so enormous, that he cannot -- he cannot solve them by himself.
We all need to do our part. That's why today was a day of service. It's imperative not to just look to him as a knight in shining armor who's just going to do it all for us. We have a big responsibility. We have to do our part.
And that's the theme of tonight. And that's why we are having stations everywhere where people can make pledges of how they want to get involved, how they want to participate. The rise of the new media and the Internet have made it possible for millions to be involved, to just not sit by the sidelines waiting for others to change the country.
HUGHLEY: Well, you know, there are many people who said -- and I happen to be one of them -- that believe that Barack took advantage of the -- of technology. And a lot of people, including I, myself, believe that this might not have been such a -- such a solid victory had he not had the support of the Internet and people like, for instance, your post. So how do you feel about being...
HUFFINGTON: Well, absolutely. There are 13 million people who are on the Barack Obama list, who get regular e-mails and texts and everything. And I believe categorically that were it not for the Internet -- which he used brilliantly -- he would not be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States tomorrow.
The other thing that is really great and we are in partnership with Meetup doing that. We have people walking around with name tags so they can meet each other and connect with each other and create Meetups and find ways to help in their communities.
HUGHLEY: Well, thank you so much.
Well, Larry, I'm going to go back to enjoying our inauguration. And I'll see you later, man.
KING: I'll be over there.
HUFFINGTON: Bye, Larry.
KING: I'll see you, Arianna.
Hey, just ahead...
KING: ...has President-Elect Obama reached the mountaintop?
Well, Martin Luther King, Jr. 's son and others will join us on this day that honors a fallen soldier of the civil rights movement.
Stay with us.
KING: 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 4th. Some, especially the kids, told me absolutely. Some said simply, I hoped. And some answered flat out no, I never expected to live to see that day. A few choked up and I knew that they were remembering.
KING (voice-over): April 15th, 1947, Ebbets Field, Brooklyn -- Jackie Robinson breaks Major League's baseball color barrier, playing for the Dodgers. I was 13 and I was there.
I later interviewed Jackie Robinson three times -- a great athlete, 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 entered my mind. I went to Florida in the '50s to break into broadcasting. At the train station in Miami, I saw separate water fountains. Never saw that before. I drank from the one marked colored.
The bus into town had a sign, "Negroes in the back." I sat in the back.
As the '50s became the '60s, I interviewed every major leader in the civil rights movement, including a young preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr. . I was with him once when he tried to integrate a motel in Tallahassee, Florida.
"What do you want?," the manager demanded?
"My dignity," said Dr. King.
August 28th, 1963 -- Dr. King shared his hopes for the future from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed -- we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: But did he really dream in his heart of hearts that America would elect a black president less than five decades later?
I remember LBJ signing the Voting Rights Act in 1965. I remember Watts erupting in riots less than a week later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are fires, little clouds of smoke. I can count, offhand, 26.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Hate and racial hostility consuming hope.
1968 -- the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- blood, burning.
For some that I interviewed, it seemed the dream was in ashes. For others -- Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis, Jr. -- the dream survived, but in different forms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States of America, the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In the 1980s, I watched Jesse Jackson's political bid change the political landscape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JESSE JACKSON: We must all come up together. We must come up together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: As the country moved into the 21st century, black men did sit in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "DEEP IMPACT," COURTESY PARAMOUNT/DREAMWORKS PICTURES)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cue the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: But only in movies and on TV.
And then came July 27th, 2004. I was on the convention floor in Boston when an obscure politician from Illinois keynoted his way into history.
Who is this guy?
His speech gave me some clues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I got more from his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We know in our hearts we are ready for change. We are ready to come together.
And in this election, we are ready to believe again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The ultimate answer came November 4th. Barack Obama is the man the American people have elected as their 44th president. I've lived to witness it.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: And tomorrow, I'll be here, in our nation's capital, to see him sworn in. Appropriately joining us on this day, celebrating his father's life, is Martin Luther King, III.
How do you feel?
MARTIN LUTHER KING, III, SON OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: Well, I mean, great jubilation, great pride. Perhaps most of all, I feel tremendously blessed to have been able to be with the president-elect this morning, as we engaged in a service project.
KING: How old were you when your dad died?
MARTIN LUTHER KING III: Ten years old -- the precious age of 10. I sometimes remember some of the activity around that time. Every year, of course, in April when I see pictures, as I've seen this evening, an incredible tribute to him.
Did you ever think this would happen, what's going to happen tomorrow, honestly?
MARTIN LUTHER KING III: I did. I...
KING: You really did?
MARTIN LUTHER KING III: Oh, yes. I knew that in my lifetime, I'd see a black president. What I did not remember -- I saw an earlier clip on ABC -- that my father said that within 40 years -- on BBC, he was on BBC -- that a Negro may be president -- could be -- achieve the level of president. He said 40 years, maybe 25 years.
But I was -- I had already stated that I knew that if my father were in our midst, he would say, oh, yes, this definitely can happen.
KING: Martin Luther King, Jr. 's dream -- is that work done?
I'll ask his son, after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
OBAMA: Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
L. KING: We're with Martin Luther King III, the son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., human and civil rights leader, and founder of Realizing the Dream Incorporated. Has the dream been accomplished?
KING III: An aspect of the dream with the election of President- Elect Obama achieved. But I would say we've got a long way to go before we really achieve the dream. My dad talked about triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism. Obviously, in relationship to race, a monumental step has been made with the election of the first black president. But poverty and militarism, they are at epidemic levels. Poverty at epidemic levels, militarism, we just yet don't know how to learn to live together without destroying personal property.
L. KING: What makes him so special?
KING III: Him?
L. KING: Barack Obama.
KING III: Oh, my goodness. You name it. Number one, he's visionary. He has been able to galvanize and capture the imagination of young people and Americans broadly. That's, I think, probably one of his greatest assets. I mean, obviously, he's one of the most intelligent men that we've seen, has the potential to be our greatest president yet.
L. KING: That potential is there?
KING III: Absolutely. No question about it.
L. KING: How do you explain the tremendous public affection for him? Widespread, worldwide?
KING III: Well, I just think that he rose to the occasion for such a time as this. And I would have to say that we have been, for eight years, living in a polarized environment and consumed with one thing, terrorism and militarism. President-Elect Obama came with a totally different vision and appealed to the best of Americans.
Americans are wonderful people. When the tsunami occurred around the world, Americans rolled up their sleeves and helped. When Katrina occurred, America helped. They just have to know and be given a little guidance as to what to do.
Today, in fact, probably several million Americans were engaged in a service. The goal, though, is to be engaged not just on the King holiday, but throughout the year.
L. KING: You were with Obama today?
KING III: Yes.
L. KING: What were you doing?
KING III: We were actually painting a home for young men and young women who initially were homeless. But the kids were there involved also. And to see the president come in, president-elect now, tomorrow president, come in just to watch them, I mean, was just amazing, you know. And, of course, those who were outside waiting. People waited for a long period of time. When the president-elect left, there probably were three times as many people there in about a half an hour. L. KING: What goes through you when you see your father speaking at the Lincoln Memorial, which you must have seen hundreds of times?
KING III: What goes through me is the hope and aspiration of a vision for our nation and world that we can achieve within our lifetime. It's not there yet. Some aspects -- as I said, a huge aspect in relationship to this election occurred around race. But until we fulfill poverty and address militarism -- and there's some other issues that relate, such as education.
I mean, something is wrong with our nation when we allow young black and young Hispanic and Latino children to drop out of school at the age of third, fourth, fifth grade. That's not right. That's unacceptable. But we're going to -- we now have an opportunity to change that entire paradigm.
L. KING: Where will you be tomorrow?
KING III: I'll be right here with everybody else watching this inaugural and hopefully participating. But I must say, on January 21st, the president-elect has challenged us. And we all have to got to roll up our sleeves, as you already have and often do, get to work.
L. KING: Thank you, Martin.
KING III: Thank you so much.
L. KING: Martin Luther King Jr. When we come back, the civil rights movement and America's first black president. Did leaders ever think they'd see that day? There were two men president right around -- in fact, one was there when Martin Luther King was shot. We'll meet two of them when we come back.
L. KING: Two men of history reflect on tomorrow. Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow Push Coalition, civil rights activist, worked with Dr. King, was with Dr. King when he was shot at that motel in Memphis. And Reverend Ralph Abernathy III, son of Reverend Ralph Abernathy Jr. He was one of Martin Luther King's closest friends. His father was with Martin Luther King, and Martin Luther King died in his father's arms. What's this night like for you, Jesse?
JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: You know, it's so full of emotion. It's a huge accomplishment for President Barack Obama, but a huge achievement for our civil rights struggle, that litigation, those litigations, legislation, martyrs that were murdered all really made it happen. It's a big day for many people.
It represents to me -- it represents hope, offsetting so much cynicism. It represents redemption. For so many Americans, this is overcoming many years of sordid relations. And so the hope and the redemption and the magic of this moment us just a really big deal.
L. KING: What's it for you, Reverend Abernathy? REV. RALPH ABERNATHY III, FMR. GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, it's a great day in America for me. It means so much to all of Americans. I think it represents hope, most definitely. It symbolizes how far we have come in such a short period of time, that in a lifetime, we as African-Americans have gone from our segregated society to elect a president of the United States, chief executive officer of the United States of America.
L. KING: You set the standard in a sense, Jesse, because you ran for president, ran a hell of a campaign, made one of the greatest speeches ever made at a convention. Do you feel you're the forerunner?
JACKSON: No, really, I see this really as a 50 year race, and president-elect Barack is running the last lap of that race. When people like Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker, Martin, Jack Greenberg, Dr. Frankton, Kenneth Clarkmen, that group won the '54 Supreme Court decision, made racism illegal. They broke the backbone of the Plessy decision.
Next year, Mrs. Parks sit in and Dr. King and Dr. Abernathy begin to work in that movement. And they won the lawsuit in '56. By the '64, the Public Accommodation Bill, the '65 Voting Rights Act.
L. KING: So all of that were forerunners?
JACKSON: This is not a generational issue, as I hear often. This is an inter-generational issue. And the logical conclusion of making America more civil, more humane, less fearful has resulted in this magnificent political victory. But if Dr. King were here today, I'm sure he'd be effusive in his praise of Barack Obama. Then say, Mr. President, with abounding poverty and exploding wars abroad must be high up on our agenda.
L. KING: What would your father think of Barack Obama?
ABERNATHY: Well, he would be very proud, most definitely. But to come on the heels of what reverend said, I think it is so important that we look at it in the totality of the issue. This has been a 390- year relay. And the civil rights movement, being the last leg in that relay, to get us to the point, because African-Americans have been struggling and bleeding and dying for 400 years to be able to be considered equal, to participate equally in society.
And now today, tomorrow, we elect an African-American as president of the United States is the chapter in the book of life has ended for us. But new chapters must begin.
L. KING: Do you often think of that moment, Jesse, when that gunshot rang out?
JACKSON: Ever so often. I try not to think of it, try to suck it up, because we were well on our way to the next phase of our struggle. The dreams of public accommodations had been won and achieved. The dream of the right to vote had been achieved. The dream of open housing had been achieved. Then abounding poverty -- on this day, 1968, Dr. King's last birthday, he, Dr. Abernathy, Andrew Young, we were all convened. Al Lawrence from New York, some Jewish allies, some whites from Appalachia, some Native Americans, some labor leaders on how they were going to Washington to fight for jobs, for income. It had to be a multi-racial process.
And Al Lowenstein came back in the afternoon with how do we end the war in Vietnam. He saw the relationship between losing lives, money in the Army and the war and reinvesting in America.
So for Barack to emerge at this stage so magnificently, with such taste and such preparation --
L. KING: Impeccable.
ABERNATHY: Impeccable. It has captured the world's imagination. Let me say this to you. I say that the primary seasons was a courtship. The movement forth was the engagement. Tomorrow's the big wedding and then the marriage. That's where the challenges really set in.
L. KING: Will you be there tomorrow?
ABERNATHY: Yes, I'll be there tomorrow. I'll certainly be there and I'll be very proud for where we have come. And I'll be looking forward to where we go in the next chapter for us as a people in this country.
L. KING: And your father's spirit will be with you.
ABERNATHY: Oh, absolutely. My mother, thank god that she's still alive. And she has been invited personally by the president to sit on the stage as he takes his Oath of Office.
L. KING: Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Ralph Abernathy. We're going to go back to that party to hear what you think. Your blog comments are next. And there are some surprises on our website tonight. Stick around. We check out the blog.
L. KING: We're back. Here's David Theall blogging for LARRY KING LIVE from the "Huffington Post" Party at the Newseum. David?
THEALL: Larry, I know that you've checked out the Newseum. This place is fantastic. We're having a good time. We have brought the entire blogging operation to the Newseum, to the "Huffington Post's" Inaugural Ball.
You know we've been asking, of course, for a couple of days now, and we have heard from people around the world "what does this inauguration mean to you, good, bad or otherwise?"
And Larry, like I said, we've heard from people around the world. We've heard from people like Darly, who says "whenever I see this man, President-Elect Barack Obama, my heart fills with joy."
We've also heard from somebody who says "words cannot describe my feelings about the events unfolding."
Some people concerned about the cost of the inauguration. And as to whether or not we're going over the top. Jane asks, "do we have a president or a king?"
We're going to continue blogging from here, Larry. I will tell you some of the celebrities that have shown up so far. We've seen Ben Affleck. We've seen Sharon Stone. We've seen Jamie Lee Curtis. We've seen "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David. They're all here, as are we, blogging throughout the night at CNN.com/LarryKing. As always, look for that blog link. Click it, join the conversation. Larry?
L. KING: I'll see you over there. You're my man. Mr. Theall, right on top of it. Seal's coming up.
But first, D.L.'s back at the bash, too. See who's with him next. Join the party.
L. KING: Tomorrow night, we'll be on live at Midnight eastern with our wrapup of all of the day's events. Back to the "Huffington Post" Pre-Inauguration Party. There he is, D.L. Hughley, the host of his own "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News." How's that going there?
D.L. HUGHLEY, CNN ANCHOR: It is a blast, man. Like they alluded to earlier, I talked to Larry David, Ben Affleck, Sharon Stone. I think it's just a party. Everybody knows that Wednesday the hard work starts. Until then, they're going to party like it's 1999, literally. So it's a lot of fun. I talked to any number of people who've been here for certainly a lot of inaugurations. No one has ever seen anything quite like this.
L. KING: A couple questions for you. You've got kids. What do you think this is going to mean for them?
HUGHLEY: My children, for the first time, voted -- my 21-year- old daughter, my 19-year-old son voted for the first time. They got a chance to vote for Barack Obama. I think it tells them -- literally, I remember when I was a kid growing up and you would hear people saying you could be anything in America. I would kind of roll my eyes. As a young black kid growing up in South Central, I never believed it was possible.
To see stuff like this, my children are going to know a world I'm not even familiar with. I'm so glad for them that they get a chance to see things I never believed were possible.
L. KING: Are you going to be there tomorrow? HUGHLEY: Of course. I will be there tomorrow. And you know I must really want to be there, because I hate cold weather. I'll be there on the mall with everybody else. We'll get a chance to talk to people for the show. I think we'll just kind of tap into what everybody's feeling now, which is this sense of optimism and euphoria. We're going to have a good time talking to people and watching what happens, watching history unfold tomorrow.
L. KING: How amazing is this for you?
HUGHLEY: It is personally -- look, all I can think is that I wish my father were here. He certainly -- he's still alive. But I wish he were here with me seeing something that we never -- it's something -- I imagine it's something for my children to me, but it's even greater from my father to me. I think to see something like this and to have my father be around and my mother be around while something like this happens, frankly, it overwhelms me a little bit.
So I'm just amazed that I was glad to see something, and happy that I was glad to see something like this. For my children, it means endless possibilities. I'm so glad for that, too.
L. KING: How is the show going?
HUGHLEY: The show is going great. We're doing really well. And I'm having a great time. You know, it's funny, Shelby Coffee (ph), who was the curator of this museum, was my boss, along with Tom Johnson at the "LA Times." Now, Tom went on to work for CNN and so did Shelby. So I got a chance to see my old boss with my new bosses.
So we actually smiled at each other. I didn't leave under bad circumstances and he didn't either.
L. KING: Is Shelby over there?
HUGHLEY: Shelby is drinking and hanging out with Sharon Stone.
L. KING: I love Shelby. He's a great guy and he's pioneered a lot of things in the newspaper and television business.
HUGHLEY: He really is.
L. KING: I'll see you there soon. I'll be there soon.
HUGHLEY: OK man, thank you, Larry.
L. KING: A couple program notes. On Thursday night, we're going to have quite a night here, because we're going to have John McCain and Maureen Dowd of the "New York Times." It's Maureen Dowd and John McCain. And we're going to have -- it's been a long day. We also have T. Boone Pickens. Now there is a trifecta, as they say in the realm of things.
Seal is on deck. He'll sing for us next. Sit down, relax and come on back.
L. KING: The late great Sam Cook wrote "A Change Is Going To Come." That became an anthem of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Seal has recorded his own version of the classic to honor Barack Obama. Here now, Seal and "A Change Is Going To Come."
L. KING: Seal and the anthem that may become a classic all over again. Go to CNN.com/LarryKing and check out our blog and other great web features. We've got a special inaugural quick vote, too.
A big day tomorrow. We've got a big night planned too. Will.i.am will be here. He'll perform and Usher will join us. And fashion guru Tim Gunn will give us the inaugural wardrobe and he'll tell us the once over all about it. We're on late, so wrap up what surely will be an incredible day with us, LARRY KING LIVE, Tuesday night at Midnight Eastern.
Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?