Carl Bernstein’s Vest Remembers


Legendary reporter Carl Bernstein came on Morning Joe today to talk about the day he will remember while sporting a vest we will never forget. First, the historic event.

On this day in 1963, Carl covered the March on Washington and saw the speech Pulitzer Prize winning historian Jon Meacham called the most important in US history. Carl recalled watching the tides of American culture shift on that day even before Martin Luther King took the stage to deliver his speech. You could tell, Bernstein recalled, that race relations would never be the same again.

The speech was delivered against a deep skepticism among white politicians, including JFK himself. President Kennedy discouraged the organizers believing the march could hurt chances for the passage of a comprehensive civil rights bill.


Kennedy was wrong. The King speech, along with Selma and the Birmingham church bombing, created a tidal wave of support that swept away even the strongest segregationist resistance. It was a time that Americans will never forget.

Which leads us (not really, but work with me here) to Carl Bernstein’s mohair vest. The troubling questions his sartorial selection raised will keep us awake tonight. America needs answers. Where does one purchase a vest like that? What members of Three Dog Night wore the vest before the band sold it to a Soho thrift shop? And does the vest compete with my pink pants for worst MJ fashion statement of the year?

These may be questions that no one can properly answer but at least we can agree on this: that Martin Luther King’s speech followed through on the promise of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Today, we are much closer to that day when the dream of King becomes a reality because of what happened 50 Augusts ago.