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The View in Review

The View Celebrates MLK Jr's Legacy: 'We're Going to Continue to Fight' for Justice

The co-hosts sat down with Sen. Raphael Warnock and Respect star Jennifer Hudson for a special pre-taped episode.
  • The co-hosts reflected on MLK Jr.'s life and legacy in a special episode. (Photos: ABC)
    The co-hosts reflected on MLK Jr.'s life and legacy in a special episode. (Photos: ABC)

    On Monday, The View commemorated Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy in an emotional, pre-taped episode. After Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin vowed to "continue to fight" for equality and justice, Sen. Raphael Warnock stressed the importance of passing voting rights legislation, and Jennifer Hudson reflected on playing Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, in Respect.

    The co-hosts spent the bulk of last week discussing voting rights, so it was no surprise that the topic loomed large in Monday's episode. Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin were particularly eloquent as they rallied behind the cause, with Hostin saying that she's "the first person in [her father's] family to enjoy full civil rights," and she refuses to go backwards. "MLK Jr.'s legacy is under direct attack, right now. His legacy of voting rights. That saddens me, and I'm frustrated by that," she said. "I'm reminded on a day like today that we have so much more work to do. And I think we're up to the task, and I hope that voting rights laws will be strengthened. I hope that work will be done. But I will say that I'm saddened that we are where we are today."

    "When I think about Martin Luther King, Jr., I always remember the work is not finished. It doesn't stop. It's ongoing," replied Whoopi. "It's tiring because you thought we'd gotten past this, but clearly we haven't. Clearly we are still dealing with the kinds of attitudes that many of us grew up with, and saw legislators look at us like we weren't really American citizens, like we didn't matter, like our education wasn't important, our right to vote wasn't important."

    "And here we are again, with the same kind of lies being told about what our needs are as Americans, like we're not really here," she continued. "Well, we are! We are here. And we're going to fight. We're going to continue to fight because as an American citizen, you don't have the right to get in my way if I want to vote for somebody that's not you. You don't have the right to block my hopes for a better America. You don't have the right. And we fought you before many times, and we will fight you again, because we're America, and we are not putting up with this from anybody."

    After the commercial break, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock reminded viewers that the fight for voting rights is "a moral moment," not a political one. "Our colleagues on the other side have chosen power and politics over a commitment to democracy," he said of Congressional Republicans. "Those who would speak today the name of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was the greatest of Americans, have to stand where he would have stood. And that is on the half of democracy, on the half of inclusion, on the half of that sacred ideal, 'One person, one vote.'"

    In the episode's final 20 minutes, the co-hosts sat down with Jennifer Hudson, who recently earned a SAG nomination for her performance as Aretha Franklin in Respect. Franklin herself chose Hudson to tell this story, which the actress insisted was both an honor and a challenge. "It's a dream to have one of your ultimate idols say, 'I want you to play me,' but at the same time, it's the scariest thing when you consider who she still is to us, the legacy that is being transitioned to you to uphold and to portray," said Hudson. "Being a fan, I've always been aware of that, and I still am. So, with all of that in mind, it makes it scary at the same time. But the biggest dream and honor, for me, in my entire life and career."

    Hudson went on to say that she was surprised by "the depth" of Franklin's real-life relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. "When we think of legends, icons, and world-changers like the two of them — especially when you come from a different era, you don't necessarily put them together," she told the co-hosts. "So, in doing the research and finding the timeline of the film, it's like, wow, you got to see just how in sync they were, to the point she called him 'Uncle.' And she was part of the movement, and helped move that and used her own gifts and talents and platforms just the same, and they came together, her father funding Dr. King and his efforts. They all had a role and a part to play in it."

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: The View, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Luther King Jr., Raphael Warnock, Sunny Hostin, Whoopi Goldberg