Below is a transcript of Glenn's opening monologue
The year was 1900, when a poet, not a famous poet at the time, his name was James Weldon Johnson, wrote this song, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing. It became hugely popular in the black community, and its author, years and years later, became the organizer, the national organizer, for the NAACP.
This song became the Negro national anthem. That’s what people called it. It’s a song that I had never heard of until Alveda King taught it to me. I love this song, because it’s not a song about oppression. It’s a song about the “harmonies” of liberty. It’s not about raising our voice in anger or marching in the streets angry and burning things down. It’s about letting our rejoicing rise and letting it resound loud as the rolling sea, to quote the poem.
It’s a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, a song full of hope that the present has brought us. It was written at a time when we all still agreed on the good guys and the bad guys. This was written in 1900. It wasn’t written as the black national anthem, but it was written to commemorate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, the American Moses.
Here we sit on Martin Luther King Day, a day that should unite us, but I fear now in today’s America it divides us. Last week, I saw Oprah Winfrey’s movie Selma. I said that it was critical that every American go see it. The media seemed surprised by that statement. I don’t know why. Is it because I favor smaller government? Is it because I believe in personal responsibility? Why?
Martin Luther King is an exceptional American hero that belongs to all of us. He is our modern-day Abraham Lincoln, our modern-day Moses, delivering people from slavery. As we were planning the show today, I thought about all of the bizarre emails that I have seen and the bizarre Facebook posts that I have seen—very few. I am really proud to say very few, but enough, enough—the people who said, “How could you possibly like Martin Luther King?” And some of this I get, because the smear on him being a Communist. I don’t know if he was a Communist or not.
I don’t believe anybody about Martin Luther King. I don’t believe his family anymore on Martin Luther King. He is a business. Do you know that they couldn’t use the words of Martin Luther King in the movie because the Martin Luther King words are now copywritten, and you just can’t use them? There’s too much money involved, and I know that people have put words in my mouth or taken the words that I have said and twisted them so much I could look like anybody as well, and I’m still alive, so I’m not going to believe anybody.
I’ll talk to Martin when I get upstairs and I see him. But there are also people who say he’s not upstairs because he was a philanderer, you know? Yeah, he was. He was. He cheated on his wife, a really bad thing, which makes me wonder at first, thinking out loud, how could God use somebody like that? Pretty easily.
I think we all have our roles to play, and we all have opportunities, and there comes a time that we either step to the plate or we don’t. Most people don’t. Most people can talk a good game, but most people don’t. It’s those people who are the most comfortable. It’s those people who are the leaders who have the most to lose that usually don’t, because they’re comfortable.
It’s like the rich man that came to see Jesus. That story is not about his money. That story is about the guy coming in and saying “Don’t you guys know who I am?” Please, apostles, can’t you tell this Jesus cat who I am? I can help him here. I’ve got connections. I have power. I have influence. I have money. They’re going to kill him. And what does Jesus say? Go, leave all your stuff, come follow me.
I see that story as the guy looking again to the apostles and saying, “What the hell is wrong with this guy? Tell him who I am. I can help him.” How many people did God go to before Martin Luther King? They were like no, I’m not going to do that. That’s crazy. Listen to me. I can do this. I can do this. I have power. I have influence. As imperfect as MLK was, cheating on his wife, he at least said yes, I’ll pay the price. How many people said no before he got to that guy?
I want to talk to you about a cartoon world, not a real world, cartoon world, full of cartoon people. I’m a cartoon person. You’re a cartoon person. Black people are cartoon people. The people on the border coming across, they’re cartoon people. Everybody’s a cartoon person, and if you look at the world as cartoon people, black and white people, well, a cartoon white person will see the cartoon black person as somebody who’s lazy, who wants to steal, who lives off the state, right?
That’s the cartoon black person according to a cartoon white person, and the cartoon black person sees the cartoon white person as the oppressor, as a fat cat who is a Klan member, who’s an elitist, who never sees anything. That’s the cartoon world. No, I take that back. That’s the political world. That’s what we’re being taught. Listen to that—that’s what we’re being taught.
Instead, if we were just brave enough, if we were just quiet enough, if we were just humble enough, if we were just willing to see each other as we really are, we would see that we’re none of those things. We’re humans. We’re moms. We’re dads. We’re brothers. We’re sisters. We’re sons and daughters. We’re all alike. All men are created equal, and so we have the same basic hopes and dreams.
We’re not living in a Henry Ford world where everybody wants the same thing. Henry Ford, you could have whatever car you wanted as long as it was black. It took Chevy to come by and say I think people want more variety than that. There’s a lot of stuff we’re never going to agree on. We’re always going to vote differently. We’re always going to have different policies and politics. We’re always going to like different styles, different hamburgers. We’re all going to be different, always. It’s the way we’re supposed to be, but there’s a few things that we have in common.
I don’t know how to teach this. We all in the end want the same thing. We all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves, something good, something great. Nobody gets up in the morning and says, “I want to be mediocre for the rest of my life.” None of us as kids said, “I want to be a zero. I want to be somebody that nobody notices.” All of us want to be noticed. All of us want to do something great. All of us want to have true love.
How many people are in dead-end marriages? I don’t care what their color is. How many people are in dead-end marriages or in dead-end relationships where you’re just like, “This isn’t it, man,” but you’re afraid. You’re in that relationship. You’re not going to get out of that relationship because you’re afraid that that’s as good as it’s going to get. That’s a lie.
We all want control of our own life. We don’t want to be manipulated. We just want some control. We want to know that justice is real. We’re willing to take the hard knocks. We know that justice isn’t served all the time. We don’t always get what we want. We don’t always get what we deserve, but in the end, the good guys win.
We all want peace. We all want our kids to work together and to play together. What am I telling you? I’m telling you Martin Luther King’s dream. Martin Luther King wouldn’t have been effective if what he wanted, what he articulated on those steps that I was not allowed to stand on—I wouldn’t have done it anyway, but I was told by the government I can’t stand on those steps to deliver my message when I was in Washington. A month later, a black man, Van Jones, stood on those steps and delivered a message of politics.
When he stood on those steps, he articulated something that touched the heart of all of us, anybody with an open heart, something we all wanted. It’s this. Think about this message, not in today’s world, in the 1960s. Think of this—I am a man. What is that? What I just told you, we’re all the same. We want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want a fair shake.
He didn’t say I want stuff; I want equal stuff in my house that that guy has. That’s not what the message was. It was give me a chance. Let me prove myself. I might be the most naïve man alive. I believe this. I believe the only thing that is stopping us is our faith in one another. All we see is the cartoon of the other person.
I don’t know how many people are watching this or will see this clip and will say, “Listen to Glenn Beck. Who the hell does he think he is?” Nobody…nobody…probably the worst messenger that could bring this to you. I know that. A lot of people hate me. A lot of people think that I’m a racist. I got it. I got it. I guess some of it is deserved if we live in a world where you think out loud, and that is wrong, where you question authority. That’s wrong, but none of it was intentional. But it doesn’t matter.
I don’t care who you are, I think we’re a lot alike. I’m a guy that is a dad who is just trying to figure out what’s happening to our society. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m sorry, I don’t believe what the president said over the holidays that race relations are getting better. They’re not. They’re not. I know people who have never said anything ever about race relations ever, have never had a problem, who are now starting to say, “What the hell is going on in Ferguson? People are just trying to steal stuff.” They’re becoming the cartoon people. That’s got to stop.
We’ve made progress. It’s disintegrating in front of our eyes, and no matter what happens, it will disintegrate if we don’t stand, if we don’t say no, no, no, no, not going down, I’m not going to have that earth crumble beneath my feet. I won’t. We’ve never been perfect. Since the beginning of time, nobody’s ever been perfect. It’s never happened. Read your history. People have been enslaving people, whipping people, treating people like garbage forever. I got it. We’re never going to get past that. Why? It’s not a black thing or a white thing or a yellow thing or a brown thing or a red thing. It’s a human thing. Humans stink on ice. God is great.
Is there anybody else that looks around the world and says, “Where is Martin Luther King today? Where is Winston Churchill today?” Anybody else besides me say that? Because I don’t see them. I’ve looked. I’ve spent ten years. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had on my show—maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s you. Can I help you? How can I hold your arms up? Here, let me help you. Can I help you? Let me expose you. Please, maybe it’s you.
Maybe it’s you. Can I help you? Can I hold your arms up? Maybe it’s your children. My kids don’t have school today. Today is the day I want them to have school. I told my kids when I left this morning, I want you to tell me who Martin Luther King is when I come home. Tell me who he is. He was a real. The problems in this country were horrible. They’re not that way now. Are they perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Are they getting better? No.
I saw the play South Pacific on Broadway a few years ago. I had never seen it. My mother used to always sing it, and I used to hate it. Oh my gosh, that’s a powerful play. It’s all about racism. There’s a song in it that says you have to be carefully taught. To hate like that, you have to be carefully taught. Don’t you see in all of society we are being carefully taught?
Whether it’s the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jackson, the Klansmen, the anarchists, whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s on all sides. All sides are doing it. We’re being carefully taught. Can we look past it?
Again, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so I have no place to talk here, and then again, I think I’m the perfect guy to tell you, because I didn’t grow up with all of this crap, and that’s all it is, it’s crap. It’s all crap that we keep inside, and it’s rotting us from the inside. I’m blessed that I didn’t grow up with all of this crap. I’m happy, but I look at my country and I look at my fellow countrymen and I’m like, “What is wrong with you people?”
Oh my gosh, they’re black. Oh my gosh, they’re white. Get over it. We just don’t speak the same language, that’s it. We all speak English, but not quite. I happen to believe for millions of Americans, especially those under 30, the Martin Luther King dream has been realized. For the most part, it has been realized. We work together. We play together. We marry each other. We love each other.
Martin Luther King talked about all of this as a mountain, a mountain to climb. Why? Because it’s hard work. Man, I posted something last night on Facebook that, I mean, I saw the haters come out—Oh my gosh, look at Glenn Beck, such a poser. Whatever, shut up. You don’t know me.
There’s a dear, sweet woman in my life who has adopted me as her son, and I have adopted her as my mom, but it started out with her hating my guts. I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. She didn’t watch. She didn’t listen. She only read what was written about me, and she hated me. She’s black. She thought I was a racist, and when God told her to pray for me, she did not want to.
She told me later, she said to God, “No, not him.” About a year later, she went to Dallas Cowboy Stadium for Restoring Love, and she said she cracked open, and she saw me for the first time. Several months later, it was on a Sunday night, she came to my house. I didn’t know this whole story. I didn’t know who she was. I didn’t know that she had spent years hating my guts, but she came to apologize to me, a woman of profound integrity.
Her name is Falma. She was at my house last night with a group of friends. What the headlines are saying today is Glenn Beck had a Martin Luther King celebration at his house. No, I didn’t. I had friends over at my house who happen to be gospel singers, and they come over, and they sing, and we pray together, and we have food together, and it’s great.
But last night, we were sitting there having barbecue in my kitchen. There are about 25 of us, and we started talking about the civil rights movement. They had just seen Selma, and Falma had lived through it. She remembered what it was like to be a young black girl in the 1960s in the South. Watch.
Falma: During the 60s, and Martin Luther King was talking about his peaceful marches and his protesters. In school, we all wanted to do it. You know, we loved him. You know, we loved him back then. We loved him back then more than the people love him now, but it was exciting just to know that this man wants to change things. We didn’t know the logistics. We didn’t know it was about voting. We didn’t know what it was about. We just knew we liked him.
All of the South was full of racism, and when I was growing up as a little girl, we had gotten accustomed to the white-only fountain, the white-only entrances. You know, when you’re growing up, you don’t notice things. There’s a system in place, so to speak, and what I did notice was that my mother took us downtown to take pictures one day. I was like maybe nine or ten, and she took us to take pictures.
Well, we had to get on the trolley, and we actually had to wait for the guy to get off the trolley, turn it around so that we would be seated in the back.
Well, actually, we lived in a neighborhood, and next door to our house was a bakery, a very small bakery, and we would go there and buy bread and stuff. You could buy it real cheap, $0.25. My sisters were on the back porch. It was a screened-in porch. The owner had employed a black man, and when he employed this black man, I came home, and they said, “Oh, it’s going to happen again. He’s going to do it again.”
And I’m looking at them, and I’m going, “Do what? What is he going to do?” And they’re saying, “He’s going to do it again. Let’s go see.” So, they had seen it before. The black man had done whatever he had done wrong, and this man, the owner, pulled off his belt, and he actually beat him.
We’re standing there looking at it, and I’ll never forget the look on that man’s…the black man’s face. It was shame, because we saw it. It probably wouldn’t have affected me if I hadn’t seen his eyes, because it was total shame.