Al Roker: My first thought was, this is not going to be a normal kind of remote. It's not going to be, "Hey! What are you doing? Why are you here? Hey, hey!" So at first, I was wondering what we were going to do down here. But as we started to talk it out with our supervising producer on this project, Susan LaSalla, there was stuff we could do, people we could talk to.
To be perfectly honest, my very first thought was, "It's been 40 years?" It doesn't seem like it's been 40 years. Then you start to catalogue things and asking questions: How have we done? How are we doing?
You look at Barack Obama and you go, "Hey, this is great!" You've got an African-American man running for president. And yet, every now and then, race raises its head in this campaign. And then you realize, "Okay...maybe we haven't come so far after all."
Al: To shine a lot on a) this man's great accomplishments and b) to raise the flag that we still have to deal with this. If we're going to achieve our ultimate potential as a nation, we have to recognize everybody's differences, respect the differences, and move forward together. By not talking about it, we're never going to do that.
Al: He accomplished what he did in a pre-Internet, pre-cable news, pre-talk radio environment. This really was a grassroots effort. There was national media, but it was nowhere close to what it is today. And he was able to do this through word of mouth, through black churches and civil rights-minded people, black and white. It's still a pretty astonishing feat.
Al: Right, it was unbelievable. It gives you a sense of -- really, when you listen to those speeches -- of the power of the spoken word. Probably just as many people heard it on the radio as saw it on television. Certainly, in this day and age, he would have been on every news network, cable network and youtube.
Actually physically standing there and looking up at the balcony...it's something that you've seen, and it's funny, I never actually thought about it in color. Those black and white pictures of the Lorraine Motel are ingrained in your memory...it's a pretty powerful place.