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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 26, 2012 7:00pm-8:30pm EDT

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federal judge from south carolina, matthew perry, who was a former civil rights lawyer. c-span: there was a big piece in the washington post about strom thurmond and, supposedly, a black child. i've got here from simon & schuster a pr letter. they highlight three or four points for this book; in one of them they say, "thurmond's unconventional personal life, his reputation as a ladies' man and his second marriage at age 65 to a 22-year-old woman and the persistent allegation that he has provided lifelong financial assistance to a black woman said to be his illegitimate daughter... "i looked in your book, and this is all i found. there is not a word mentioned in this paragraph here about financial assistance and all that. ..
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that was the case during slave society. >> we only have a minute. do you have any idea why the "washington post" made such a big difference of it? >> i think it was in the aftermath finding the person saying she is not her daughter and he is not her father, and
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somebody having, spent a lot of time doing it, it is certainly a tiltlating story. ly i have to say again, that the reason it is interesting to us in terms of political story is the length of his career and the change he has seen. some of when he put to against and survived. which is how you learn about political systems. >> what did does he think of the book? >> i don't know. he hasn't said a word to pee. >> he has spoken positively to me about it said to me that it was a fair presentation of the senator's career. >> this is what the book looks like. the politics of southern change. thank you very much for joining us. >> the redesigned book notes website features over 800 notable non-fiction authors interviewed about thes books.
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you can view the programs, see the transcripts, and use the searchable data base it has links to the twitter feeds, blogs, et. cetera. up next on book tv, michael long presents a collection of over 150 letters from civil rights leader bay area ruff ton. it as provider to martin luther king, jr. and an openly gay man. it covers over 40 years of the life and response the likes of roy will cibs, martin luther king, jr. it's about an hour and twenty minutes. i as a rights activist is excited to be talking about --
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he was really the in some ways sole voice in the civil rights movement who saw the linkages and there's a very sad story of the split between civil rights and human rights in the united states, that actually we're going to be looking at on march 30th. a whole another discussion, but it's one of the thins that's very inspiring in his story is that he saw so clearly that dignity and injustice, again, african-americans was connected to the discriminatings and the struggles against so many voices, and so, i was wondering for you could start off by talking a little bit about what brought you to his story. tell us for about him and what makes him so exciting as a
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figure. >> sure. let me say it's great to be with you, and especially great to be near the shon burg archive. so many so thanks for assisting me in the research along the way. [applause] i try to let my projects aorganically one from another. early on when i was studying martin luther king, jr. there was by yard rustin. when i was studying jackie robinson there he was. and when i was studying thurgood martial, the one who was the naacp attorney, there was rustin. it was easy to target him. it was all over the place. he was a fascinating character. to me, he's especially fascinating because he brings together my interests. he brings civil rights, human
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rights, progressive religion, gay rights, nonviolent and pass schism and the lymph goes on. there we have in one person so many many of these rights coming together and the rights that he saw the linkages between discrimination and prejudice in ways that i think a lot of other civil rights leaders missed. he did correlate because of who he was. somebody was somebody who was african-american and openly gay and a passist, and the list goes on from there. he understood the linkages of prejudices and descridges probably because of his own cultural and sober owe political identity. >> when i was looking at after reading the fantastic collection of letters that you have, i was
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looking for other information about him. i made the mistake of starting with academic sources. as you know, he isn't well studied compared to many of the other figures. everyone you mentioned. the much more house hold name from the civil rights movement. but then, of course i went to the wright's place which was is the children library the new york public library, there's a young adult children's story bio biography. it was a good story, we were looking at it before. in it, i found he has poem that he wrote in high school where he says, i "of you know shining gold, i seek not ep tap of fame. no monument of stone for me. for man need never speak my name. i thought that was fitting, in a
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way that's his story is not about having chosen the spotlight in the movement. having been behind the scenes in so many ways and having been a great leader but not taking the public role that martin luther king took. can you talk a little bit of about his role in the movement and maybe how he made those choices about what he wanted his role to be? >> sure. first let me say it's great to bye yard in a book for children. he felt deeply about children. there's great pictures of him with children especially ref refuge children and singing with them. i'm pleased to see this, and i wasn't aware of the resource exactly as i could have been before. i'm going to check it out after i leave here. now, yes, indeed he was not studied for a long time, there's
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no doubt about that. a couple reasons come into play. he did not have a natural face for constituency. he didn't have a base of voters to draw from. he didn't have a civil rights organization early on, and so he wasn't like roy will kins or thurgood martial both of the naacp. he didn't emerge and form the organization like martin luther king, jr. and the escle. he didn't have the organizational bases to tap into. another reason that comes into play. he was openly gay for the era. and for that reason, he decided, well, let me add another point. he was arrested on charges different -- at different points. those who were civil rights leaders as well as himself
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choose different times for to step into the shadows. he did that sometimes willingly and times not willingly. he would emphasis, was a great speaker early on he was known for his ability to be a great speaker. and that ability faded into the background as these arrest happens and as people became concerned about his sexually painting the movement, the arrests painting the movement, and about his roots in communism tainting the movement as well. his speaking abilities went to the background, and as that happened, his tactical abilities came to the fore gowned. as a tactician, he was behind the scenes in a sense distributing the players on the stage, and the players were martin luther king, jr. and roy will kins and others. so he was directing them but he was the man who was behind the scenes.
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>> like the technical folk here to be the. can you talk us through some of those examples of his brilliance of tactician. he was clearly a deeply appreciated by the civil rights niew. that way. and then he was sorely missed when he stepped back in part because of concerns about being public identified as gay and doing damage to the movement. martin luther king for awhile distanced himself from him. throughout the book we can see his brilliance as strategies starting from the begin when he's in prison for conscious objection to world war ii and he's organizing the prisoners in the prison into the planning what was precursor of the freedom rights ten years before rosa parks to the planning of the march on washington. can you talk us through some of those how that's reflecting the letters and how you, you know,
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how you kind of told that story of his . >> sure. >> about itics. >> sure. his tactics his tactical abilities is present in the prison letters where he's distributing the fellow inmates to stand against segregation if federal prison in lose berg. he can maps out careful strategies for the inmates and the wardens which is excellent. he tells the warden comactly what he's going to do. he gets the inmates to do it. the letters are striking because they go through detail. his tactical abilities really evidence in 1948 when east directing the journey of reck reconciliation. these were the first freedom riders. all of them were male at that point who decided to test the
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morgan v virginia decision that criminalized, that criminalized segregation laws for interstate travelers. so they tested this supreme court decision by taking a bus trip through the south, and bye yard and george were the main strategieses there. the memos they put together are absolutely breathtaking for their detail, and for their concrete ways they directed people with different points. they had everything mapped out carefully. it's absolutely stunning to me. i want to add that bayard had thought about marchs on washington long before the 1964 march in washington. indeed, the book includes a long memo i think it's 1 pages long where bayard was sketching out a march on washington in 1956. that's seven years before the march on washington.
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now leading up to that march on washington, bayard organized a three separate and successful marchs on washington. he organized a prayer pilgrimmic of 1957 which was the first national platform. he also organized the marchs for integrated schools. that's why jackie robinson plays convergence with bayard. he was smart enough to know that jackie was a good public figure and maybe we should get jackie to lead the march. jackie stepped up to the occasion. in all the memo, you see bayard's tactical brilliance at work. >> when, when we look at the letters in particular, can you talk a little bit about your process in finding the letters, deciding between them, choosing which ones to spotlight the -- and they the breadth in-depth of
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his response over the 45 years, maybe, that you have documented the book is extraordinary. tell us about how you did it. >> it's tough to pick letters, i'll say that. at first i wasn't sure whether there would be enough letters for the book. later, it became pretty clear to me that i had enough letters for several books. early on, after i start getting interesting in bayard's life. i decided i better call the executive of the -- he's also the one who was bayard's long-time companion the last ten years of his life. i knew that i needed to talk to warner to see whether i could have permission to reprint and publish these letters into volumes. he was so generous and kind. he gave permission after a short while. now picking the letters is not
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easy. what i wanted to do is for it to show the crinology of his life. i wanted to show bayard's personality, and i wanted to show different parts of it. i wanted to show bayard in the sensitive moments and i wanted to bayard in the angry moments spoipted to show that part of his personality. i also wanted show how his politics sort of evolved flu the years. i wanted to show his relationship with his family, and his relationship with his political friends, and his political enemies. i had the different criteria in mind. and there was some letters that didn't make it in. some beautiful letters that didn't make it in unfortunately. that's the process of trying to widle down a man script. >> when can you talk a little bit about the range of people that he responded with? >> sure. >> he wrote through all the progressives through his era. to a.j. musty for whom he worked.
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he wrote to the major politician of his day. he wrote to kennedy, he wrote to johnson, he wrote to local poll tissues at times. he wrote to international politicians as well. he had response spops with african leaders and civil rights and peace activists across the globe. any major progressive of the day really -- you be sure that they received a letter from bayard at some point in their lives. he was prolific. the thing that is interesting about it it. he didn't know how to type. coming from the typing generation, i found that especially odd, but he didn't know how to type. in fact last year, or earlier this week, i met somebody who typed letters with bayard, he would walk around with a manila
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i think enhave a lope -- envelope. it was an office that tried to bridge civil work early on. he volunteered to type the letters. he would pull out the letters and read them for her. she would type them. she also dick decaded -- dictated a lot of his letters. as his life went on and got busier he dictated most of his letters. there is wonderful man manuscript which is writing in his loopy style. it showed how fluid he was in his percent. i love looking at letters. >> what are some of your favorite letters in the book? >> i have some favorite letters. my favorite letters by bayard
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have to do with hope, and if you don't mind, maybe i can read one. i have some notes jotted down here. this is my favorite letter about hope. and the context of this is 1969, and bayard is writing a letter to a woman named maryann green san antonio. she had written him about antisemitism. she complained at the end of the letter about how tired she was in terms or having to deal with antisemitism. he writes, dear mrs. greene stone. i'm sympathetic to your point of view. but i am not sympathetic to your crief being tired. mrs. green stone, i am 59 years old, i am black. and i have lived with and fought racism my entire life. i have been in prison 23 times serving 28 months in a federal
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penitentiary and 30 days on a north carolina change gang. i have seen periods of progress followed by reaction. i have seen the hopes and aspirations of negroes rise during world war ii. only to be smashed with the eisenhower years. i have seen the victories of the kennedy, and johnson administrations destroyed by richard nixon. i have seen black young people become more and more bitter. i have seen dope addiction rise in the negro communities across the country. i have been at the bombed church. my best friends, my closest associates, and my colleagues in arms have been beaten, and assassinated. yet, to remain human, and to fulfill my commitment to a just society, i must continue to
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fight for the liberation of all. there will be times when each of us will have doubts, but i trust that neither of us will desert our great cause. sincerely bayard rustin. that for me, is one of the most moving letters in the book. he wrote that a little more than a year after the asash nation of martin martin luther king, jr. and a little more than a month after king was asass nailted. -- assassinated he wrote to his trend africa at the time that he was -- the letter followed bill's letter to bayard in which bill wrote, if you step into martin luther king's shoes,
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that's one reason i would come back to america. people thought very highly of bayard. it's partly because he had the steadfast hope, he kept bouncing back after people put him in jill, after they cast them in the shadows. he keeps raising again. this letter, it's the heart of that steadfast hope that drove bayard so many years of his life. >> how wonderful. >> is it? >> i think it is too. one of my favorites. >> one of the things i was struck by in the book and any bayard's story is how he drew strength from and reterritorial power from religion and from his quaker faith and from christiany in the ways that he writes about the that. and other parts, he uses that
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and i think fairly, it seems to me fairly self-conscious ways. >> i think so too. bayard is such a political figure, it's easy to miss his spiritualty, but from those early letters on, he constantly appeals to spiritual values. he does it for a variety of reasons. one of the reasons is that he was reared by in west chesser, pennsylvania. julia are his grandparents. they take him to the local african-american church. julia was schooled at the quaker school in west chesser. he mother had been a domestic at quaker homes. they insisted on schooling julienne at fl. she takes the quaker values of
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nonviolence, and the unity of the human family, and human equality, and she passes those into bayard very clear i. she also takes the black church values, those ane church values with the emphasis on the great story from the hebrew brees skiptures is the story of moses and god joining together to free the slaves. she pastas story into bayard along with convection that you night to free the slaves right here and now. you don't need to wait until you get to heaven to experience human liberation. you don't need to wait until you get to the bye and bye in order experience justice. you need to do it right now. these are the less sobs she passes on to bayard. she passes on to him a key lesson about the identity. one of the favorite sections of the bible comes from the osama bin psalms, and one of the
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favorite psalms is psalm 96 in which the psalm says, that i reside in the shadow of the almighty. if i do what is just and right and good. and he takes that lesson and bass it is into bayard saying it doesn't matter what people will to do you. it doesn't matter whether they will cast you in the shadows so long as you do what is right, and just, and good you will dwell in the shadow of the almighty. bayard has the confidence in himself and he also had this clear sense of mission. that is to make the world a better place. to make it a place of peace and make it a place of justice. he takes those con convictions from west chesser, pennsylvania into the rest of his life. i hope my answers aren't too long. >> no. it's great. he is, --
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you know, i can tell of course occur to everyone to read the book, it really is a extraordinarily rich and deep story about the ebbs -- extent of his fight and maintaining his hope throughout the challenges that he draws on the strength, and then he carries throughout the book. i was wondering for you can talk a little bit how it plays out in the sort of the -- kind of the last faze after the intensity of his voflts involvements civil rights movement. he has a period where he moves into work in activism on more international issues he's concerned about the refugees coming from the wars in
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cambodia, vietnam, he's concerned about the state of israel antipar tide strolling. again, as i see the connection with human right, labor rights anticlone yifm and independency. he's traveling all over the world, and he has become much more of a voice on gay rights. can you talk about the last third of the book? >> sure. i can do that. i'll talk a little bit about africa, maybe and saying way into gay rights. he was fighting against the par tide as early as 1952, 1952 the african national congress had developed programs and protests against those appar tide laws that were againing to emerge more clearly in south africa. bayard resisten is delighted to
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see the african national counsel do that. he and george howard start to work on african liberations. and george houser becomes to form a committee, it becomes the american committee on africa. that's decaded to fighting classroom yifm in africa. it's one of bayard's real loves at this point. he is very concerned about colonialism in africa. early on in 1959, he goes to africa and participates in this project called the sahara project. the point of the sahara project is to draw the world's attention to france's decision to detonate the first nuclear bomb on african soil. it's crazy! absolutely crazy. bayard knows it's crazy. he joins his fellow peace
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activists in developing this plan where they're going to cross the board into the al al gear began sort of invade french territory and make the way to the site. they never get to the site, it really wasn't the plan to get to the site. they get turned back constantly. doing so, they draw the world's attention to this spectacle and sector of a colonial power planning to detonate the atomic weapons on colon cool onized soil in africa. they don't stop france from doing it. he is involved in helping african independents movements stay focused on nonviolence. he works with the dennis for
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example on trying to keep his movement focused on nonviolence. now, when africa became decolon nice and the drve he has the idea that they should establish a nonviolence center in africa to assist liberation letters in terms of becoming familiar with began i did. gone i did. ghandi. he gives the best effort. he is concerned about the refew agrees as he goes on in his life. in fact, he's one of the first who call for the opening of border fortune vietnam refew agrees. he travels across the globe, ease specially with liz baaman and the international rescue committee. i think i got the name right there, and they are making -- the plans to assist refugees and
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travel to countries where they can live better lives if they want to do that. in terms of the gay rights movement. we have to remember that bayard is has been scorched for his gay sexuality countless times in his life. i'll give you one example and maybe we can talk about that. 1960, bayard is planning a demonstration on the democratic and republican national conventions for that summer. and representative adam clayton powell junior of harlem gets wind of the plan and for a variety of reasons he decides that he wants to stop the march on the democrats. and so he does it this way, or he tries to do it this way. he has intermediary call martin luther king in south america with a threat and the threat is this, if you don't call off the march own the democrats, i will go to the media and tell them
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that you and bay yard are having a gay affair. i'm baffled when i said that. i asked his long time companion whether there was any truth to the possibility to the two were having a gay afaired. he smiled and rolled his eyes and said please, he was not bayard's type. [laughter] and for those of you who know about dr. king, we can say that bayard was not dr. king's type. but king takes this threat very seriously. even though it's hollow. there's nothing to it. he takes it seriously because he's fright end of negative exposure. remember, this is a home phobic society that we live in 1960 even today especially in 1960
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and he's concerned about the negative exposure at that point. so eventually after several different steps, he decides to cut bayard out of his inner circle and bayard is absolutely crushed. and he goes into a funk. before this, in 1959, king had actually considered giving bayard one of the top positions in the fclc, and king's inner circle advised him not to do so because of the possible negative exposure that might rise because of bayard's gay sexuality and because of his past arrests related to lewd having vagrant sei. after 1960 bayard gets back into the inner circle. by 1963 he's strategized with king about birmingham.
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he becomes the leader on the march of washington. he becomes de facto. before the march on washington happens, senator rick santorum goes -- senator strom, he calls him a homosexual pervert. they pommeled bayard and civil rights leaders. they standby bayard's side. he says at this point, you need to judge me on my whole character, on my whole life. bayard does not talk openly about his gay sexuality in the media. he durchlt do that. -- he doesn't do that. he's of the school that says at this point one's sexuality is a private matter. in fact he, he writes this in a letter in 1985 do a man who is putting together -- of writing
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by african-american gays. bayard says he considers sexual orientation to be a private matter. that wasn't exactly true by the mid 1980s he stand up for gay rights and speaks on behalf of gay rights here in new york city. but he does so in part because walter, his long time companion had been encouraging him to do so. he hadn't done so up to that point. with walter's newing he begins to speak out on behalf of gay rights. since then, the gay rights movement has seen bayard as one of the early heros. i want to emphasis that it took a lot of courage to stand up as an openly gay man and move in the inner circles of civil rights leaders especially conservative ministers, and people who knew bayard knew that he was a gay man. so, i hope that helps answer
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your question. >> we're going to -- in a minute we're going open up the questions from everyone. if you have a question, if you can think about starting to move the mike and address your questions through the microphone. i'd like to give everyone a minute to think about that and ask a last question. which is, throughout the book especially starting the '60s there is a strand of discussion about bayard's relationship with the democratic party, the parties in politics, he's accused on various sides of being too close of the democrats or not supporting them enough. you see a lot of nuances and complexities of politics in there. i can hear his voice being very consistent on it. given all that, what do you think that bayard would say about the fact that we have an african-american president now. what do you might think he might
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say about obama's president sei? >> let me approach the question this way. in the mid 1960s bayard ant elevated for a move from plibs. he called for the fellow activist to recognize that sometimes you need to move awe the streets and into the quarters of power in order achiever the big goals. now, for bayard rustin big goals issue big. he's thinking about a massive redistribution of wealth and power, and in order to execute that, he believes that civil rights activists should start to work with liberal democrats, not the di x ie carats and to drive out the di x iecrats.
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he knows people who get things done are those on the appropriations committee. he knows that a lot of power can be wealed in the executive decisions and executive orders. and so bayard begins to make the move toward politics calling for the activists to take up political leadership. what about bayard -- what about president obama? can we say that the president obama and the white house is symptomatic of a move from protest to politics, absolutely, i think. would bayard be pleased with president obama's policies? i dare not say. but i do know that in 1966, bayard rustin pushed for what he
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called a freedom budget for all americans. and this was a budget, which i believe was about $18 6 billion designed to take everybody out of poverty. to give theme guaranteed annual income. to give people universal health care. to give people full employment. to make this society adjust where distinction of wealth is radical. with the disty distribution of power is radical. do we see that now? absolutely not. i'm taking a shot that bayard would be pleased with some move meps would stand up and criticize the failure to get to full employment. to universal health care, and
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affordable way, jobs for everybody, great education for everybody. i think he's very unhappy with the return to segregatedded education, for example. i think there would be a lot that he would be criticizing today. >> thank you. >> sure. thank you. [applause] just to reintegrate a couple thanks. thanks to walter the long time companion for making the book responsible. thanks for city lights book in san francisco which is a progressive publisher. i love publishing with them, they publish in the spirit of bayard. check them out on the website. thanks to my will for leading the great discussion. [applause]
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the question is whether he's here. he's to the right about half way back, and maybe you can see him at some point. but i think we have a question. >> yeah. >> i are a question we're going to. step to the mike. thank you. >> and why has not jackie robinson been herod as a great civil rights leader? >> that's good question. >> that's what i do. >> yeah. that's a good question. >> yeah. for me, breaking that full color blind baseball was something as be big as dr. king ever did. >> here here. >> sure. >> why is he not -- as a great civil rights leader and why is
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not his bitter day a national -- birthday a national holiday in this country for that reason? >> well, here's my theory. one of the things we do with heros is freeze them in particular points in their history. and so with jackie robinson, we freeze him in 1947 at beginning of his baseball career where he's being nonviolent and getting up and wiping the dust off his uniform and continuing on. we forget that jackie robinson was a fierce critic of racism and discrimination in the united states i don't yond the baseball. after he he left bob to work with the ncaap to working with martin luther. bayard knew he was a civil rights leader. we forget this part of robinson
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because we froze him back in 1948. we forget that martin luther king, jr. had a nightmare after he gave his i have a dream speech. we have frozen king as well in 1963. we forget that shortly after that four little girls were murdered in birmingham. king began to speak about his nightmare. we freeze king in 1963. befreeze bayard mostly know of him in 1963. we forget that in 1966, he's going for a radical redistribution of wealth and power of the united states. what we do with the heros is freeze them in the time that is lease threatening to us. we forget -- [applause] when they are coming into their own as civil rights leaders. i think that in jackie's case we
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should not only look as his dime on baseball leader. he is a great civil rights leader on the baseball diamond app hft he leaves, you should hear him rip people to sleds. i'm talking about politicians for the discriminate. >> my small, criticism, however, of mr. robinson was that he criticized willie mays for not being as active as he was not taking him into consideration willie mays was not college or is not college educated and not an officer in the military, that didn't have jackie's educational background. are you aware of that? >> i am aware. he found willie mays to be too conservative on civil rights. but also recognized at the same time when mr. mays did speak out
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on behalf of civil rights and robinson was grateful for the moments. he goes to show that civil rights leaders leaders are not monolithic there were huge differences between jackie robinson and many other sieve rights leaders and african-american athletes. there are huge differences between bayard and martin and malcolm x. he ha fierce debates debates with malcolm x. in fact by 1964 he's refused to debate malcolm x. he believes that malcolm x stepped so for a out of the mainstream of civil rights leadership. when malcom started to call for the formation of rifle clubs in 1964 bayard throws his hands up. he needed to focus on something constructive. your question gets for me points out an important fact. the leaders are not -- they have
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different strategies. different timings in mind. they have different sense of purpose as well. so don't lump them all together. thank you for your question. [applause] [inaudible] when i was a freshman. and talked about nonviolence. we stayed up all night afterwards thinking and i think many of us were altered in our perspective for the rest of our lives. it was the most effective spokesman i ever heard on the subject of nonviolence. i wondered in the response or otherwise his -- what the exchange was between the martin luther king and the bayard rustin. i would be interested to know where the letters are archived
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and where they are. >> bayard's letters are? bayard's letters are depochted primarily at the library of congress. they're scattered in very for a akiefs across the country. it if you go to the new york public library. if you go to the shong burg certainly go the archive grid plug in bayard rustin, keep it in and you'll see his name pop up in archives across the country. but the estate of bayard rustin was mart smart enough to deposit them in the library of congress. the united states government, though it had conducted surveillance on bayard rustin finally came around to recognize him as a patriot who's papers deserved to be depositive ited in the library of congress. back to the question about king and bayard and nonviolence.
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bayard got to montgomery, alabama near the beginning of the bus boy cot. he's there in february. when he gets there in montgomery, he discovers there are guns lying around king's houses. he discovers king has arnled body guards. he realizes that king is not deeply schooled in nonviolence techniques. bayard begins to the intense schooling of dr. king arch other nonviolence leaders. drafts papers and essays on this. so he helps school king in this, and king is deeply interested, and he takes up nonviolence, not only as a tactic, but also as way of life. partly because of bayard's work early on. now, they always remain nonviolent together. they separated on tactical issues related to nonviolence
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especially in temples of the vietnam war. early on 1965 he counseled martin luther king, jr. to speak out the vietnam war. he did so in 1965, so did bayard rustin in 1965. he gaffe a major antivietnam war speech at madison square garden. they got out of the seats and marched over to the u.n. shortly after that speech. but later on, he counsels king not to give a speech that ties the civil rights movement and the peace movement together closely. and so he opposes that famous speech that gave on april 4, 1967 at river side church in new york. king opposed that. he thought it would undermine the ability of civil rights leaders to extract sixty i ares
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from the johnson administration, for economic justice for african-americans, and indeed for all americans. remember, king is -- i'm sorry bayard is pushing the freedom budget at this point as well. he believes that tieing the movements together will undermine the freedom budget as well as calls for economic justice. that's part of the story. they separated tactically at different points on the issue of nonviolence. thank you. [applause] >> good evening. thank you for being here. my name is andrew bell. i'd like to know if you would think about mr. rustin as a spiritual being. you mentioned his incarceration, being beat ending with colleagues betrying him, colleagues become assassinated. is there any point of his letters does he mention his diet. what did he do throughout his life to maintain the spirit
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center the nonviolence status? >> thanks for that question. shortly after he went to jail, bayard wrote a letter to his grandmother julia and asked to read a particular psalm at 1:00 in the afternoon on his birth birthday. and so, he also said that he would do the same thing so together they could be together in spirit on the birthday. i want at 1:00 on march 17th, 1944, bayard sits in jail and his grandmother sits in her had homing with together they read a psalm that reads something like this: dear lord, be with me. my enemies trample me. this i know, god is with me.
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what can a mere mortal do to me? throughout his imprisonment, he reads the bible closely, and he writes about his reading the scriptture christian scriptture and jewish scriptture in the letters. he prays while he's in prison as well. after one particularly difficult event when he get thrown into administrative sec gracious because he is brought up on charges of engaging on sex with other inmates. he turns to the story of the prod call son. it is a story about a young man who squanders his inheritance and hangs out after he becomes poor. he decide he's going to rise again and go back and talk to his father and speak or so giveness and start a new life. many of you know him as the prod
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call song. she also for bayard rustin, the good son who came home again, sought forgiveness, rose again, and. he takes deep spiritual information. he returns to it several times in his life. he does have the spiritall practices and inspiration in prison early on. it seems later in his life, he becomeses less -- what do i want to say publicly spiritual? he doesn't wear it on his sleeve. i chatted with walter on this. he let me know that bayard method todayed regularly. he continued to practice those spiritual values he learned from bayard and from julia and his grandparents early on. i want toker size that as well.
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i think he was a deeply spiritual being and many people missed that because he was such political being at the same time. one other thing i want to let you know, he made sure that mar ting luther king kept his eyes on the prize of spiritual values. there's one speech that king has in hand it's drafted in part by stanley. it's 1958 in washington, d.c., bayard writes him a letter saying there's not spiritual content in this. we need do something about it. he pulls king and others back to the spiritual values. he wants them to stay focus on political tact ises. he wants them to remember they're after a spiritual goal. and that goal preexists in their means. and so he cease spiritualty, these spiritual means and ends as moving back and forth in the
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goal preexisting in the means and forming of the end. spiritualty is a fuse for bayard. it permuates the movement for him. [applause] >> i want to thank you for doing the book, the more materials, it means it stays alive and gets reknown by more and more people. i wanted to know in terms of the letters, i read the book when and it's extraordinary, and it's face neating sitting here nub of it captures in a way that the being in that moment. there are parts i would read i would cry. the pressure on him in the ways his life cools to the and having a perspective. knowing that much is overwhelming. the spiritual question is how do you stay steady knowing what you know and not losing it wanting to kill people.
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he struggled some of the parts being in prison and terrorist a difference on his face and he had to heal from that. in the letters, it talks about the letters did not -- a lot of letters got lost as well as the many that were kept. did you draw on new material that didn't exist then. were there more letters found or is this some of of the same material that provided a foundation for that but in being able to read the words and being able to read responses all of that. >> yes. the references to john's book which is titled, lost profit prophet" i encourager you to read fitness the landmark stoipped on bayard's life. i consul dated john's work and used it as a guide. i used his work to track down the letters the letters in existence. i went beyond his wok and tried
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to include letters that he did not draw from as well. now, there's overlap in the sen ha we draw from really important letters. there are topical letters that i draw from that he didn't use, and there's material that he uses that i used as women. there are missing letters, and one of the missing e letters is from a man named davis plat who was his lover and lived around columbia university. he wrote wonderful letterses. those among the emotion precious in the book. they are the ones that reveal his character more than others. i encourager you to check those out. some of the letters that davis pine flat plat are missing. it breaks a letter that is referred to in another letter and you can't find it. stanley is somebody who worked
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closely with bayard early on and stanley it seems had qebses to the communism pert and a lot of the material he wrote, which i believe probably included a lot of receiptors to bayard because they worked so closely together on civil rights issues was destroyed. it seems that he destroyed a lot of if not almost all of his letters that he had in his office before he died. and that is such a shame. because the record there must be incredible. i also believe that there are letters that bayard wrote that are still out there, that i haven't touched. and i wish i could. i'm still interested in looking at letters that bayard penned or letters that others wrote to bayard. if you know of them, feel free to send them to me. i'm elizabeth town college or
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send them to walter nagle. i shouldn't speak for walter. i'm sure both of us would be more than willing to receive the letters. i hope that answers part of your question. >> it does. one little bit after that. in terms of martin luther king was assassinated and it was the relationship with the garbage strike and the moves of the economic justice, which i know you said a thing about we get stuck in places. but i think there's a whole corporate media that wants us to be stuck in a place. they highlight what we pay attention to. it is important pay attention to the other features. as a kind of followup what's asked earlier in terms of your reading, was there any communication in terms of a economic distribution in the conversations between bayard and martin luther king? >> great question.
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early on, very early on, bayard is encouraging dr. king to see linkages between economic justice and racism. he's doing in in the 1950s. he's also encouraging king very early on before anybody else does so, to form alliances with the labor. ..
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>> he led a memorial march to the education of workers as well. so he encourages king with the labor movement. they give for raising the issue. [applause] >> it seems the book on the
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grandmother is highly desirable with her relationship with bayard. but is there any movement to public monument of bayard anywhere? >> i would love to see a book on and juliet and jennifer. to never sacrificed unbelievably as well. there is a beautiful letter shortly after jennifer died. it is very moving how they had a perfect union.
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and he always took bayard as his own. i would love to see that just on their lives. with the second point*. i don't know. >> there are some high-school s named after bayard. saying ku westchester. [laughter] [inaudible]
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also year the un with a park [applause] and. >> i wanted to ask a question, it seems to me one of the most significant developments has been the institutional as asian of the policy is to the right to that gained tremendous support by the way of the civil-rights movement. to the degree it was successful, with the significant shift of the movement, with the exception
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of the twenties zero or woodrow wilson, book ended by theodore roosevelt, the question that i have, here is a man who is not only black, painted red and day. carrying a tremendous burden with personal of power meant with politics that cost people their lives. at the height of the mccarthy era. certainly those make
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reference to those with the politics of action. what might we learn about his life and that takes us 1940's third 90 80's with the tremendous shift of the politics to the right to? the tremendous embrace of politics and resentment in this country? i want to offer one can textual clue. the high water mark of the 1950's, a 35% is unionized did is the source of a lot
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of hopefulness and optimism for the coalition politics for the economic interest of black and white workers. but looking back at the successes of neo-conservative is some the trade union movement is 5%. given the possibility for that coalition, what did he get right? what could he do it that transition 1964 through 1968 '70s and '80s to recover politics? i closed the question about
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what lessons we might learn to engage the world and the nation he was there to take it on. the letter written summer 1978 from the stanford economist. it is sitting on the dock bit of the supreme court. so we already see if the policy choice the retreat of the possibility of buckweed eight -- equity rather than equality.
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thomas sold not only discredits black leadership but the naacp was in hock to george meany been ahead of the afl-cio. but in his own voice to the russian is the way he defiance the civil-rights movement. at a basic commitment to social justice that includes a guarantee of their wages. that would be unsubstantiated millions of undignified jobs striking be as a realistic. that laissez-faire economics says if we follow the
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argument to the conclusions we could best achieve full appointment by lowering although wage rates. that is the animated discussion just as much of excepting the work with no guarantees of basic social benefits. i just want you to help us navigate the transition through of politics of resentment that a visit raided the collor of what he was attempting to achieve. >> that was a great question. i don't have a great answer. [laughter] the conservatives coming into leadership in the
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republican party more never to pure. radical on the left with those of the radical left for them to take it over in a sense they dismiss the strategy of politics. said the democratic party
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has never been as leftist as the republican party. because of the failure to see the value of having power to expect radical change in society. that partly reflects the failure to make a grab for power in any sustained way. i wish somebody had listened. i wish those had moved from
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politics to protest. to be as vocal and powerful as those of the right. those but what reseat is a failure to heed the movement but i will stop there. >> the other thing that i
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see is the message is coalition politics. but the decline of the labor movement. i completely agree but to embrace power. the direction and the way he embodied that the way that he fought on and this 70 france by the bit would be heartbreaking the splintering into so many battles to see the larger
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vision. >> he expressed frustration with the politics. where people go there separate ways with separatist politics not to coalition building. that has committed to power but it is very this hardening. i wish i could respond in more detail.
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[applause] >> we thank you very much for this conversation. thank you twos c-span. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> i am wrapping up citizens of london and history of the london during the war and merle who was reporting back to the united states with
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strongly held views to get into the war. and then said roosevelt to deal with our foreign aid program. the ambassador replaced joseph kennedy was partial to the germans. i suspect that is the way roosevelt brought him home. is a marvelous book about the three of them and their interaction and advocacy of the united states breaking out of the heche's -- isolationist mode and also of troubles of young men those who rallied
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behind winston churchill in orchestrating his rise when chamberlain fell. it will be reading those back-to-back the early stages of world war ii. i highly recommend them. >> the world is a big place corporations like goldman sachs. places like africana and the middle east i saw what happened when commodities were bought up like we to increased by 100% of i
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thought of the human consequences like the children who are malnourished and died could not afford to eat. the boris have little support before a hand full of corporations, northrop grumman, halliburton, lockhe ed they are profitable or a certain segment of the power elite. i think we created a world where power is centralized in the hands of corporations that are more powerful than the state itself. it is impossible to both
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against goldman sachs. wrote unless we thwart the power we're doomed to because corporations that wrote to a great book about this stirred everything into a commodity. human beings become commodities that you explain to a exhaustion or collapse. if we don't find a mechanism or a way to break the power of the corporation's cover they will continue to trash the ecosystem that huge segments will be unsustainable. >> host: do you see today's economic and political climate resembling germany in the 1930's?
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>> i am agree admirer of gnome chomsky. he made that comparison. it is always difficult to make that analogy because one has to be cognizant with the reparations the fact germany had no real tradition under the monarchy. but there are frightening similarities. the disenfranchisement of working men and women. it used to be in the country you could work in the auto plant or steel mill to make a salary to support a family and buy a car and medical
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benefits and all that has vanished. we put them into the service sector, but low wage, almost everybody in the house works. that is a devastating change. the rise of the christian right to is directly linked to the despair because the economic dislocation brains destruction of community, family, led domestic and substance abuse and people retreat from this reality world into non reality based system. historical inevitability
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inevitability, god intervenes, the only way to bring the people back is to read in franchise them. we saw it is despair with those who use despair as the starting point* to go into these frightening movements. that is very prevalent and dangerous and american society. >> host: losing moses of the freeway you write we watch passively as the wealthy and in the to rob us, defraud consumers, ruin the environment, making the oligarchy use a wild and
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power. we watch passively. we think we can enter the club. greed keeps us silent. >> caller. >> thank you for your thoughts that open our minds at least from my observation you attempt to give deep thought and objective reality. talk about the middle east. >> i don't speak hebrew. that is a conscious decision to work and syria adolor baghdad to have the hebrew
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words creep been the could land you in prison. although both iraq and iran i was jailed anyway. i have a great admiration for israel. the parameters of the debate to of of at middle east are far broader than the united states. my opinions are not controversial injures a lot lot -- jerusalem. but they are in the united states. the israeli newspaper has the best coverage of the palestinian
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it -- palestinians and many in the country and written by a the israeli jews. really great great journalist been due israel credit. the frustration for many other less we see the possibilities and oslo between rabin and cain hussain. and with the assassination we watched the hope vanished as it has become captive to the rapacious right-wing. those have called for the ethnic cleansing thinking this would be unthinkable
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for me it did said debates of the health of the israeli state. i don't think responding to the historical and justice of occupation at the same time there is the call for the destruction of the state of israel. those by where people can live in dignity
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