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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 17, 2013 7:00am-8:15am EDT

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so alexander hamilton wanted the government to assume these debts. james madison was against that, but madison and the virginians wanted the capital on the potomac river. so there was a famous dinner that was held at monticello, thomas jefferson's house, where thomas jefferson invited james. and over dinner, they struck a compromise of 1790 which was the federal government would assume the debt, the wartime deaths from the revolution war, in exchange for the capital being placed writer on the potomac river. so the compromise was the key deciding factor in creating the district of columbia. they came nea here to this spote are standing on now and had a masonic ritual. this is, the masons had the apron and trial and corn oil. they give some speeches writer on this spot, and the ceremonial
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laying of the southernmost county marker which is what we are standing over now. that was how the district was created. >> for more information on booktv's recent visit to alexandria, virginia, and many of the cities visited by our local content vehicles, go to >> up next, peter dreier, politics professor at occidental college, profiles a collection of americans who championed social and political reform, including w.e.b. dubois, gloria steinem and billie jean king. this event from busboys and poets and washington, d.c. is just over one hour. >> hello everybody. thanks for coming. don't chew too loud. i really appreciate being invited to busboys and poets. i've heard a lot about it over the years, and it's great to be
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here. and i've been going around the country talking about my book, and i was surprised about a week and a half ago when this guy named barack obama stole my theme. you probably remember in the inaugural speech a week and a half ago he talked about the lessons we need to learn, the important milestones from seneca falls and selma, stonewall. the milestones of the women's rights movement and the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement. and that was a great, a great speech for reminding us how important it is that we stand on the shoulders of these great people who came before us, and who have turned radical ideas to commonsense ideas, and expanded our democracy and made our
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society more democratic. but one of the things i noticed in the speech and you probably noticed it yourself was that there was something missing in that litany of great moments, great milestones of progressive history, seneca falls, selma and stonewall. and that was really nothing about the labor movement and that speech. and i thought to myself, like, why not? and why was a later movement missing. and then i thought welcome maybe it's because there was no great milestones of the labor movement that begin with the letter s. i was trying to think if i was a speechwriter and is trying to inject the labor movement into the obama and niger speech, but what i have advised him? i was thinking that what are some of the great moments of labor history, some of which i talk about in my book. one of the great turning point
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is the lead, the flint sit down strike of 1937, but flat starts with f so you can do that but siset down starts with s. there's a great set down strike in seattle, 1919. there's a great general strike in san francisco in 1934. san francisco starts with s. one of the great moments of labor history in the united states in the most recent great was the great salinas grape boycott. with hugo chavez. i wish i had a chance to talk to obama's speechwriter and inject at least one s into that speech for the labor movement. but other than that, i thought the speech did a great job of reminding us how important it is to know our history and to know how far we've come, and to know, to learn some lessons from history and i'm going to talk a little bit about those lessons,
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going to give some examples from my book about some of the people i wrote about. and then because i'm a college professor, and because some of my former students are here, i'm going to give you a quiz at the end of tonight's presentation. so we think about 100 years ago, and you think about if i were standing here at busboys and poets had existed 100 years ago, or the beginning of the 1900s, and died said that what we need in this country is old age insurance so that old people don't have to die in poverty, they can retire at some reasonable age and not live in this dilution. or if i said that what we need is -- destitution. or if i said what women need the right to vote or workers should have the right to unionize. we should have a progressive income tax. or maybe the government should take some responsibility for
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protecting consumers against dangers medical products and medicine and unhealthy food and unsafe and unhealthy workplaces. if i said that maybe we should have a law protecting people from being harassed if they are gay or lesbian. if i said that we should have some kind of national health insurance, if i said that what we need in this country is an end to lynching and the right for african-americans to have the right to vote, all of those things and many more you think i was a utopian. you would think i was maybe somewhat crazy. i was unrealistic, i was impractical or maybe i was even a bolshevik or communist or socialist. and everything i just said is
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now taken for granted, things that our society accepts as normal. so one of the themes of my book is that the radical ideas of one generation are often the common sense of the next or subsequent generation. and the book is really about the 100 americans who made that happen. so people who helped to build the labor movement, help to build the women's suffrage and the women rights movement, helped to build the civil rights movement, the environmental movement, the gay and lesbian rights movement, the peace movement. and to advance our society towards more justice and more equality. i think there's equality that progressives have, both the god quality and a bad quality, which is progressives are never satisfied. we never accept the status quo. sometimes that can make for kind of an irritable situation because we never think things are good enough.
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if you look back 100 years and you realize how far we've come and the struggles that were necessary to bring about a better society, that actually gives me hope about the future. the last chapter of the book called the 21st century so far, i itemized some of the incredible impressive changes just in the last 12 years, 12 or 13 years that have moved our society continuing in the direction of more social justice and more democracy. as you wil all know, martin lutr king had this great phrase, at the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. but what he did notice that somebody has to bend it. somebody has to take responsibility for moving the arc towards justice. the people that are wrote about in my book are the people who were the vendors of society. let me tell you about a few of them. then draw some lessons and give your quiz. i was in milwaukee about three
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or four months ago giving a talk at the university of wisconsin in milwaukee, and one of the great heroes in my book is a guy named victor berger. victor berger was the first socialist congressman, elected from milwaukee in 1911. and while he was in milwaukee he organized the labor movement and the socialist party take over the city government. they instituted some incredible changes which other cities replicated all over the country. they built the incredible parks. they kept the waterfront from being overdeveloped by wealthy people so the working class people could have access to the waterfronts. they develop a great public education system, a great public health system, and the developed incredible sewer system which improve the quality of public health in milwaukee. they were so proud of their sewer system that they started calling themselves sewer
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socialist, unicom and it was very well run, very efficient. so victor berger spent a lot of time, he was an austrian immigrant, and he built up the progressive and socialist movement in milwaukee. in 1911 was elected to congress. when he was elected he came to washington and he introduceintroduce d a lot of very progressive legislation, most of which didn't go anywhere at first, but some of those ideas later he became, including women's suffrage, later became law. one of the ideas he had in 1911 was something called old age insurance, which today we called social security. back then that was considered a radical idea. so radical that he couldn't get any votes for it. in the house of representatives. in the 1930s, obviously franklin roosevelt, the new deal, progressive congress and the grassroots labor movement and protest movements of the time pushed the system to be more progressive.
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they passed social security, but even at the time the business community, conservatives said this is a socialist radical idea, it will ruin the economy. so it still considered a radical idea, but it was nevertheless now law. about a year ago a poll was done of tea party members, and asked them a lot of questions about their views, about many things. and one of them was how they felt about social security. and about 70% of all the tea party members that they pulled said that congress and business committee should not mess with social security. they thought social security was sacrosanct. so how did this idea of social security go from being this socialist radical idea 100 you to g go to something that today, even right wing tea party members feel is so embedded in our society as part of our
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mainstream that it shouldn't be messed with? it doesn't mean that the art of some conservatives as people want to reduce social study benefits but almost all americans agree that social security is something that we need. so when i was in milwaukee, i thought everybody in milwaukee is going to know who victor berger was because you such a remarkable public figure. so as people in the audience, you know, are there any buildings in milwaukee named after victor berger? are there any streets named after him for boulevards, or are there any monuments to victor berger? and not only did hard anybody in the audience even know who he was, but they couldn't identify any public monuments or streets named after victor berger, except that in the back of the room there was a guy who looked like he was in the '60s and he raised his hand. he said, i went to victor berger elementary school.
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oh, great, finally, victor berger. let me know who victor berger is. so i asked him. i said what is a? and he told me what was. i said i want to go there. i want to see it and i want to touch it. is there a plaque on their? he said it's not a victor berger school anymore. what happened? he said they changed the name to the martin luther king school. and i looked it up later and i find out sometime in the 1970s they changed the name to martin luther king and didn't explain why. and so i asked the crowd, you know, shouldn't do something about victor berger? to revive his name. and i had this idea that maybe you should rename that school to victor berger school again, so that today's children will know who he was and celebrate the remarkable person he is, and so every time someone goes to one of those great parks on the waterfront of milwaukee they will do it was victor berger et
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al. to build those part. of people thought it wasn't a good idea to eliminate martin luther king's name, and replace it with victor berger's name. i said what if you added a victor berger's name to the school and she named it after both of them? then i realized that if they did that it would be called the burger king school. [laughter] and so that wasn't a very good idea. but i think i sparked something because i've been getting some e-mails from people in milwaukee who have been saying that there is an attempt to find something they can them after victor berger again. so i'm sort of proud that i have some role to play in reviving victor berger's memory. there are lots of other people in my book who have schools named after them, have boulevards named after them. martin luther king, we have a national holiday after him. in california they have a date holiday after cesar chavez. but a lot of people forgot or if
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they have things named after them but people don't really know who they are. one of my daughters goes to mckinley middle school and i asked her a couple days ago to mckinley was? she had no idea. i don't really care. mckinley was a right wing awful president but it would be nice if she knew who president mckinley was. and so one of the people of the book is kind bayard rustin. probably some of you know used to bayard rustin had four strikes against them. he was born in 1919. he became an active civil rights and pacifist leader. he was black. he was gay. he was a pacifist, and he was a communist. so those are the four strikes that were against in the nevertheless, he made an incredible impact on our society. he was one of the early conscious objectors against world war ii.
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he was an early freedom writer. he was one of the first freedom riders, he and audrey the first freedom ride to integrate the interstate buses in the south. he was very active in, was a. philip randolph, was his mentor, a civil rights leader, fighting to get african-american jobs in the defense industry before and during world war ii. he threatened other will march on washington and eleanor roosevelt arranged to have a. philip randolph meet with president roosevelt and say, if you don't integrate defense industry was going have a march on washington, will have 100,000 people come and roosevelt caved in and integrated the defense industry. and many years later, 1963, bayard rustin was the organizer of the 1963 march on washington,
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at which martin luther king gave his great "i have a dream" speech. he was the one responsible for making sure that the buses got there on time, to make sure they have the permits to bring the speakers. the biggest march on washington in history of america at the time, and nobody knew bayard rustin was because he was gay and, therefore, he was always in the shadows of the civil rights movement. he had been a mentor to martin luther king. he had taught me a lot about nonviolence and civil disobedience but it wasn't a public figure. and then he died in the 1970s, and he was from a small town outside of philadelphia called west chester, pennsylvania. the school district in pennsylvania and west chester was building a new school, a new high school, and it had to decide who they were going to name it after. and so they decided to have a contest, and they had people from all the cities recommending people to name the school after,
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and there's a group of people in westchester that advocated that bayard rustin, this black, gay, pacifist colonies, although he renounced his communist beliefs but he wrote remained a socialist, had the schooling after him. and so bayard rustin became a public figure again in his home country and they did name this, republicrepublic an school board named iso after bayard rustin. when i was writing my book, i called up the principal of the school and asked her, does anybody in your school no addressing his? i know his name is on the school and it's been around 10 years now, how do you tell your students who bayard rustin is? she said they have a picture on entrance of the school, every year we have a week of where we remember bayard rustin. it was his 100th anniversary of his birth a couple years ago, so they had -- now, 75th
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anniversary, so they had a birthday cake with the bayard rustin's picture anymore. so at least the kids and west chester, pennsylvania, now to bayard rustin is. but most people don't know. he was one of those great figures of american history on his shoulders we stand but he was and still is something, something of an invisible public figure. to our quantity people in my book who are famous, but they're not famous for the politics. i'll give you two examples. one of them is helen keller. now, everybody knows who helen keller is, one of the most well-known people in the united states, but what she's well known for is being blind. and which is also well-known for is having been a young girl, kind of a wild child who became blind at an early age, and kind of step for us. our potential kind of lost of what to do and they brought a
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woman to mentor her, to teach her how to speak and how to sign and how to communicate. and so what we remember, what most americans know about helen keller is that she was standing at a water pump -- this is a great scene in the movie, the america worker, starring patty duke as helen keller. she standing at a water pump and her teacher is pumping the water, and helen keller feels the water on her hand, and for the first time she makes the connection between the feeling in her hand of his liquid and the word water, which she pronounces wa wa. that scene is kind of frozen in our mind as but who helen keller was. it turns out that helen keller
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was more than just a seven year-old girl who learned how to say wa wa. she's an international figure, and she became a socialist and a pacifist. she campaigned for eugene debs when he ran for president on the social party ticket. she was a militant and outspoken feminist, and she did a lot of research about the causes of blindness when she went to radcliffe college, one of the first blind person to -- the first blind person to graduate from radcliffe college. she connected the causes of blindness to economic and social injustice, and so she became quite a radical, and choose off on picket lines during strikes. at one point because she was so well known, a filmmaker made a silent movie about the life of helen keller, a dramatic movie.
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and she was invited to, to the opening of the movie, the opening night of the movie in new york, and so she shows up at the movie theater. and our people picketing outside the movie theater, and she's wondering why that is. and so they tell her that they're on strike but these are the workers in the movie theater that are on strike. so she has to make a decision, am i going to go into the movie theater and attend the premiere of the movie about me, or am i going to stand outside on the picket line with the workers. and she made the choice to stand outside with the workers, the people wanted to go see the movie. but they wouldn't go in it helen keller was outside picketing, right? and so the owner of the movie theater settled the strike that night and they were able to go in and watch the movie and settle the strike. that's the sort of helen keller, the remarkable story of this
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girl who lived will arrive old age and meant a radical all her life. but what most of us know and heard about her was kind of frozen when she was seven or eight years old. so she was famous but not for her politics. another person like that is dr. seuss, whose remain is theater guys a. i don't know whether they sell dr. seuss books in a bookstore here but i would encourage you to go read some of his books. theater guys all is the most popular children's author in history of the world ever. more popular than face a. more popular than the grimm brothers. more of his books are sold in more leverage than any other children's author. he became an editorial cartoonist in the 1940s for a left wing newspaper in new york called pm, which was founded by
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marshall field, a left wing millionaire, quite a few people like that in the book who were traitors to their class. upper-class radicals. and so theodor geisel was a cartoonist who adopted the name dr. seuss, and he drew some incredible cartoons during that period of time when he worked for pm newspaper, including really dramatic and hard-hitting cartoons against us, against mussolini, against southern races and anti-semite. he was quite a remarkable cartoonist buddy want to be a cartoon with. he failed the first time. but eventually was cat and had, i thought the children's author. but quite a few of his books
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reflect his underlying philosophy, which he told, which he told a reporter in an interview, i don't like people that bully other people or push other people around. he really was about many of his books are about teaching children, about the abuse of power, and to stand up for yourself. and to not allow others to bully and a future. and so there's a couple books that are my favorites of dr. seuss. and, of course, all over the world that people are still reading dr. seuss books. they probably don't know that they're and doctor nate in their children through radical propaganda. one of them, one of my favorite is your goal the turtle. you know that story about the turtle, a total exports the other turtles in the pond, makes them stand on top of each other so that he can stand at the top and look at the empire that he controls. and the turtle at the bottom is
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begging to let them breathe because it's uncomfortable down there. and so let me read to you one of the lines in this. this is from mac, the little turtle at the bottom. i don't like to complain, but down here below we are feeling great thing. i know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights. and so mac, yertle doesn't listen to them, and so at one point mac moves and the whole pyramid comes crumbling down. and yertle falls into the pond, and he becomes just like all the other turtles and the poem, the
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story ends, and the turtles, of course, although turtles are free as turtles, and maybe all creatures should be. so that's a pretty radical idea, right, dr. seuss. that's clearly a metaphor about hitler. clearly what he was writing about. he wrote another book, called the speeches which is about the weird characters that had to wear yellow stars to different shape themselves. that's good about anti-semitism, the yellow stars. another one of his great books is the lorax which is remade into oklahoma about the power of big business. and destroying the environment and how we have to stand up for corporations and business to stop them from destroying our pristine environs. and when my other favorite dr. seuss books is the butter
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battle book, which is clearly about the cold war and the arms races, about these people for our own two sides of a wall and they're exactly alike but they hate each other. at some point in the past and that nobody can remember they're willing to dislike each other. so they think they should hate each other. so they keep building bigger and bigger weapons knowing that someday they may have to use them over the fence. and at the end of the story, both sides of both these incredible weapons to kill each other, and destroy each other. then the story ends. even the youngest child can figure out what dr. seuss is trying to say in the story, which is that the arms race is a waste of money and a waste of resources, and not a good way for people to learn how to live together in peace and in harmony. so dr. seuss is another one of
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those characters in my book, one of those people in my book, who is famous but most people don't know about his politics. another theme of my book is everybody in the book, all 100 of them, our heroes, but they are not saints. all of them are human beings that have flaws and were products of their time. i'll give you a couple examples of that. we all know margaret sanger, right, who coined the phrase birth control, who started the organization which today is planned parenthood. she was a nurse, a socialist in the early 1900s. she became a nurse during strikes and helping organize strikes imports massachusetts and elsewhere. but eventually she settled in new york, started a clinic and choose a lot of poor, immigrant women were pregnant and having children that they didn't want.
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and it would ask her as a nurse with vice what to do about, you, not getting pregnant and should nothing to say to them. but she said i will find out. and she went to europe and children about birth control. birth control ideas, and she came back and she sort of topic and dicing about birth control in the call which was the socialist newspaper, in her own newsletter that she started and women's magazines. she began to distribute leaflets in new york in different neighborhoods, telling women about birth control. and she was arrested many times and brought to trial. she was an incredibly courageous person for doing there. and eventually the courts sided with her ottawa took a long time, and doctors and nurses and other organizations, including the organizations that he came to planned parenthood were allowed to distribute birth control information. so she really was at the cutting
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edge of the women's rights movement. and as i said, she coined the phrase birth control. over some part of her life margaret sanger toyed with this racist idea called eugenics, which was the science of manipulating our genetic makeup in order to create a better race. the person most associated with eugenics is hitler who would sterilize jews and gypsies and other women to try to improve the knots erase. and a united states, the eugenics movement was an racist movement and the movement against immigrants. margaret sanger did not share those beliefs, but she nevertheless of it may be eugenics could help improve the conditions for women. and so she started hanging out and communicating with and going to meetings with some of the really ugly racists and
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anti-semites that were around at the time that eugenics were. she later recanted and thought it was mistake but she was a product of her time. and so that's an example of somebody being a hero but not a saint. martin luther king might as the great, not only civil rights leader but and economic justice later for the end of his life. he was outspoken as the socialist. he believed in the redistribution of economic wealth and power. he also was clearly, towards the end of his life, involved in the antiwar movement, and one of the great phrases was that the bombs that we sent to vietnam fall in our inner cities because they take away the resources we need to rebuild our country right here at home. but martin luther king was clearly a flawed human being in many ways, at least in some ways. he cheated on his wife quite often, and that's well-known in
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the biographies of him. and historians have now discovered that he plagiarized his dissertation at boston university. i hate to disillusion you, and i know none my students would plagiarize. we don't know whether he did it consciously or unwittingly, but, you know, he was a human being and he had his own flaws but i don't think any of those things take away from the majesty and the wonderful activities and the wonderful progress that martin luther king was responsible for, but that was part of who he was. one work sample, there's three athletes in the book door in my book not because their athletic prowess but because they use their athletic fame and their celebrity to help promote social and economic justice. one of them is muhammad ali, another one is billie jean king
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who is as responsible as anybody for title ix and women's equality in sports and in creating more parity for women in college and in high schools to have more active in sports, and also she, early on in her career, also a few slivers of know she had an abortion which at the time wa of different controversial thing to say. she said in an article. she is also one of the first athletes to come out of the closet as a gay person, as a lesbian. so billie jean king was in my book, but the person i want to talk about it jackie robinson. jackie robinson was the first african-american to play professional major league baseball. he broke the color line in 1947. he became a major celebrity. he used his celebrity, and he was a great baseball player. he used his celebrity to advocate for civil rights.
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he became a fundraiser for the naacp. he wasn't lots of picket lines. he wrote a column in the "new york post" and then some other newspapers where he was always voicing his views about civil rights. and use quite an outspoken athlete. out a lot of his fellow baseball players, including some of the black players that came after him like roy campanella kept telling him jacky, shut up and play baseball. it's not your job to be an activist. he said no, that's who i am. he wanted to do that. and he was quite outspoken. in the early 1950s, the general manager of the brooklyn dodgers asked and i think this is probably more reasonable, told jackie robinson to testify before congress about the situation of african-americans, but there was a hidden agenda in his testimony and it was earlier
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that year, the great singer and activist and actor paul had given a speech where he said he had gone to visit russia. he thought that russia did not have a lot of segregation or racist beliefs. and so he admired the tolerance and openness of russian society. he probably didn't get a full you obviously of what russian society was like but that's what he believed. at one point he barely said, although there's no evidence of his exact words, that american negroes would not fight in a war against the soviet union. this is at the height of the cold war. and so when jackie robinson went to testify before congress, he was probably one of the two or three best of african-americans and america at the time, part of a hidden agenda was to criticize paul on behalf of all african-americans for whom he
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was allegedly speaking to fully testify before congress and he was quite courageous and principled. he made a point of saying even though i've done well as a baseball player, that american negroes today faced enormous amounts of discrimination and prejudice and the condition of african-americans in america, debate and early 1950s has a long way to go. and then asked him about paul, andy criticize paul saying americans, african-americans are patriotic and we would fight any war against the soviet union. and paul does not speak for negro americans. the next day in all the newspapers in america, jackie robinson comments about paul robeson were on the front page, but none of his comments criticizing american racism made it into the newspaper. and so his criticism of paul robeson really stung a lot of people who believed that paul
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robeson was a heroic figure, one of the great americans of the 20 century. he spoke about 15 languages. he could sing and all of them. he was a great opera star. he was a movie star, he was a broadway star. he was an all-american football player when he went to rutgers. he went to columbia law school. his resume is just remarkable. but he was a radical. he was close to the communist party and his passport was taken away. jackie robinson is reflecting that tendency during the cold war. later when jackie robinson, before he died in the art of making sevens, he wrote his autobiography and he said, human pashtun key making mistakes in his life he really regretted. what is he really having endorsed richard nixon for president in 1960, which he did because it interviewed both nixon and kennedy and he thought that nixon was more pro-civil rights and kennedy. he had originally endorsed
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hubert humphrey, but when humphrey didn't win the 1960 democratic presidential nomination, he endorsed nixon. he regretted doing that. and he said he regretted his criticism of paul robeson. he said, looking back i realize that paul robeson was principled and heroic and courageous figure who basically gave up his career and his fame for his political principles. and he felt very bad about that. by then robeson had died so we couldn't personally tell him he was sorry. and so there's another example of somebody who was a hero but not a saint. jackie robinson regretted it, but he was flawed and he made a big mistake, what he thought was a big mistake. a few other examples of some people in my book that may be af heard of and maybe you haven't heard of, but i think played an important role in building our
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society. in the last 10 years in america, the issue of same-sex marriage has come to the forefront. only if you years ago, 10 or 12 years ago, public opinion pollsters didn't ask the question what you think about same-sex marriage? because that wasn't on the agenda. and now more than half of all americans and a 75 or 80% of americans under 40 believe that same-sex marriage is a good idea. so we've come an enormous weight on this issue, and that the gay rights issue is just in the last few years. harry hay would be very excited to know about this. harry hay was the founder of the gay-rights movement in america whose name is basically unknown to most people, including people in the gay-rights movement. he started the first gay-rights organization in los angeles called the mattachine society in
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1950. their issues were primarily around discrimination on job and police brutality and harassment. and it was very secretive in 1960, and accommodate people in america back then were considered mentally defective. it was considered a disease to be gay. it was really an awful time to be gay during the cold war when people were fired, if people were just thought there gave from the federal government. and harry hay was a courageous figure. he had been economies organized an actor in los angeles. he was kicked out of the commonest party because they were homophobic, too, and he became the leader of the very small and quite secretive gay-rights movement. how did he come out -- how did he come to be this heroic figure? although people don't know about them.
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in 1948, when he was still in the communist party, harry hay wanted to organize homosexuals to support henry wallace who was running for president on the third parties to get their candy balls have been the vice president of the united states under fdr. even kicked off the ticket in 1944 for being too radical. harry truman became the vice president a year later fdr died. had just written an article which will be published next sunday, but what would america have been like if henry wallace had stayed on the ticket, and when fdr died he became the president? he was the guy who believed and racial integration back in 1948. racial integration, strong labor unions, universal health insurance, women's rights, and end of the cold war, and of the arms race did he would've been the most radical president we would've had the o. henry a
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dashing harry hay wanted to support while specular to get his agenda to support henry was there but he wasn't about to start an organization called homosexuals for wallace, that wouldn't have been a very good political idea. so instead they started an organization called bachelors for wallace. and, which was a codename but which was nevertheless effective, least effective in getting their organization together. if they didn't do very well because henry wallace only wound up with 2% of the vote. and his name is almost erased from our national history. but having had that experience of organizing the man into this political campaign, harry hay thought, well, maybe we can build a movement, an organization for gay-rights. and so we started the medicine
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pashtun american society in 1950 and he later became active in the early stages of the gay-rights movement. that's a lot of my friends who were involved in gay-rights issues at the new harry hay is come and very few knew who use. there's an autobiography about them, or biography abiding. that's a document from about in and he still a very well known figure. another person in my book do i like to talk about who is both quite a remarkable human being but also someone who is not well known for the politics is albert einstein. albert einstein was a socialist. albert einstein was very active when he came to this country from germany in the civil rights movement in the 1940s and '50s. he believed very strongly that there should be a jewish state in the middle east but it should be a binational state with arabs
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and jews joining forces and it should be a socialist country. he was probably the first celebrity scientist. everybody in the world know who albert einstein was. they had done mostly because of his frizzy hair and his baggy sweaters. very few people know about the area felt of it but it's they know something that e=mc2. and because he was so famous and his face and his name was done all over the world in the 1940s and '50s, he was come and '30s, he was a public figure. he used that platform to advocate for social justice, for women's rights, for racial justice. he was a big critic of mccarthyism during the 1950s. he signed lots of additions -- petitions advocating good causes. because his research was instrumental in creating the atom bomb, he later felt somewhat responsible for the bombing at hiroshima and not be
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such. and he later was part of a new -- nagasaki. he was quite a remarkable figure and albert einstein was not as a great scientist. he was quite an outspoken radical. one or two more things. there are lots of people in the book who i knew something about, but was a great labor of love to learn more about them. and people often ask me, how did you pick these 100 people? one of the great, one of the things that was the most fun about the book was reading about not only these 100 people but i had a list of about 250 people. i contacted friends and others that i didn't know out of the blue, from historians, journalists, biographers and asked them for the recommendation of people. and i made a point of trying to
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identify people, some of them were famous and many of them were not well known. there are three kinds of people in the book. three categories of people. one group of them are organizers and activists. people like eugene debs from the socialist party in the early 1900s. people like alice, the great suffrage leader was probing more responsible than anyone else for women getting the right to vote. the leader of the women's suffrage movement in the early 1900s. also an advocate of civil disobedience. she and others would chain themselves to the white house fence and get arrested in order to drop attention to the cause for women's rights. up until now, more recently, cesar chavez, tom hayden, gloria steinem, rose schneiderman was an immigrant, jewish farmer
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worker ended with one of the leaders of farmers workers movement and union movement in the early 1900s, particularly after the triangle fire tragedy in new york. there were people who built this great movements, labor, for women's rights, for environmentalism, civil rights and for peace. the second group of people were politicians, and judges. and this is by the most controversial because all politicians at some point have to make compromises. and so calm and progressives don't like compromise. we don't like to learn to live with compromise. my view of compromise is is some compromises are a stepping stone for greater change. some compromises are a sellout, part of what progressives need to do to understand the difference between a sellout and a stepping stone. when you are compromising.
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when we were debating the health care bill of couple years ago, in 2010, there was a lot of debate about what moves us forward and what is a sellout. and it's really important for us to make that distinction. so politicians are always making compromises, but sometimes they're making compromises on behalf of social movement. so the politicians that i include in the book include hiram johnson, a great governor of california who is responsible for the first minimum wage law for worker's compensation law, for the first major regulation on the railroad industry and on big corporations. floyd olson who was kind of his counterpart in the 1930s, radical mayor -- sorry, radical governor of minnesota. vito marcantonio the great congressman from new york it was a protége of laguardia who is also ago, the mayor of new york,
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and the great paul wellstone who died a little more than 10 years ago in a tragic airplane crash was a great hero, and a principled politician. the great feminist and peace later it was in congress, but for the sheep involved in the women's rights in peace and civil rights movement as a lawyer. of the one people, about 20 of them are people who either ran for office or who were elected to office a lot of them ran for office like upton sinclair ran for governor of california, almost one on an end poverty in california platform that didn't win. eugene debs was never elected to anything. victor prokofiev and was a member of congress. and so the second category of politicians, the two people are most controversial in my books -- book i think his theater was built was a militarist and imperialist, but also a growing advocate of labor rights and consumer rights. he was responsible along with
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sinclair for the passage of the first consumer rights legislation, and food and drug act. and some of the people who ran for office but didn't win. and a third category and the ones that was some of the most fun to read about were musicians, everyone from paul robeson and pete seeger, won the nobel peace prize, hopefully before it passes. we find a way to get in the nobel peace prize. bob dylan, joan baez, bruce springsteen, writers and playwrights like arthur miller and tony kershner, who is the author of the film, playwright and the author of the film lincoln. photographer like lewis hine, an unknown figure among most
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americans who is responsible as anyone for ending child labor by being a great photographer who did some incredible document with photographs of the abuses of children working in factories and in mines and other dangerous workplaces. he really held a mirror up to america and say, these are your children, and these are the conditions they are working. and the child labor movement really took off with the help of people like jane addams and florence keller and other people that are in my book your untrained. and the national consumers league which was a leader of that movement against child labor, with sally greenberg in the room tonight who is the coming of the national consumers league. and thinkers like abraham joshua henschel, the great theologian, william kaufmann, mentioned dr. seuss, langston hughes, the
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great negro poet, and w.e.b. dubois, who was a sociologist and academic but also a propagandist and a writer, most famous for the souls of black folks. and people who were in the arts and inhumanities and who inspired us to think about a better world, think about a different kind of society, to think that people organizing together can win victories to make society more livable, make it more humane, make it more democratic. and so we have activists and organizers, politicians and judges and, of course, supreme court judges in my book, including thurgood marshall, and he was an activist on civil rights before is on the supreme court. thinkers, writers, theologians, singers and artists. and come up with that list, you know, i realize that it was
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going to be controversial. and i've gotten lots of feedback on the book and they're sort of two kinds of feedback i get. one is, how dare you include that person in your book, they don't deserve to be in the bucket and the other is, how dare you leave off this person should be in your book and isn't, right? i have to admit i cheated a bit, and in the introduction of the book there's a list of 50 people who i would have put in the book if i had more room, right? sort of the second tier or the pinch hitters would come up to bat if i had more room in the book. and the last part of the book is about the future. the last chapter of the book is called the 21st century so far but i think what's important is to realize that the book is a book of social history and it's a book about great heroic figures who changed america, who made it a better society. and there are people today, probably there are some people
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in this room who might be watching this on c-span, who are the florence kelly's and the walter and the martin luther kings, and the john lewis is and the upton sinclair's of the 21st century. and so somebody someday is going to write a new addition of this book called the 100 greatest americans of the 21st century, and the last chapter of the book says, nominates and describe some of the people who are active today in the women's movement, the gay rights movement, the immigrant movement, and the labor movement that had better days but is revitalizing itself as we speak, and the movement for living wages, in the movement for
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environmental justice who are fighting the same fight, although standing on the shoulders of the people in my books. and is there any lessons from the history of these 100 people and the movements that they represented, i think there are three things that i learned from, from doing this book. number one is the importance of an inside outside strategy. that all progress happens, frederick douglass once said, when our protest, when are people on the streets mobilizing. when are people that are angry and expressing that anger not themself not inward through violence but through nonviolence protests, and activism. but there are also from people on the inside who are the allies of this great social movements. and so franklin roosevelt have franklin roosevelt had a meeting
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in the oval office as an activist during the depression if you listened to their grievances and demands for change and he said i agree with everything you just said. now go out and make me do it. create the conditions that make it easy for progressive liberal allies of yours to pass these laws. i think that's a lesson that obama is learning right now. that he learned from the first four years of his presidency, when he didn't encourage active movements, even during the health care debate, but now in his inauguration speech, he said we can't do this from the white house. we can do this from inside. we need the outside. that's why we're talking about seneca falls and selma and stonewall it and so we will see whether on the gun control issue, on the immigrant rights issue, on the issues for climate change whether the movements around the country really build up to a point where president
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obama will say like roosevelt, go out and make me do it, create the political climate of protests and fear of rebellion that will make it possible to pass this progressive legislation to so that's lesson number one, important of an inside outside strategy. the second lesson i learned from writing this book is that social change doesn't happen overnight, and we have to have the long view, that long arc of history that bends towards justice. we have to force it to bend further and further. michael harrington, great socialist writer and activist who was my mentor as a political activist, once said if you're going to be involved in social change, you have to be a long distance runner. you can't be a sprinter. the seneca falls convention for women's suffrage in 1840, women didn't get to vote until 1920.
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victor berger proposed social security in 1911. it didn't pass until the 1930s. there were people fighting for gay rights and civil rights, environmental justice, and we don't want to be too patient, too much patience can be paralyzing, but we have to realize that the fights continued and whenever when everything all at once and we have to have that long view. that's the second lesson, we have to be long distance runners for social justice and not sprinted. and the 30th we have to be part of movements, and individuals and single issue groups can't when things on their own. the thing i learned about the people in my book is that almost all of them are identified with particular issues, but they also saw themselves as part of broader movements. they saw the mosaic, the
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interconnection, the web, the network of all these movements coming together, that there is a labor movement, there is an environmental movement, there's a gay-rights movement. they are all in it together fighting for more social justice. think about jane addams, one of the heroes in my book. she was a founder of the naacp. ..
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but where are all working this theme basic cause, which is to make america and the world more humane, more socially just and more democratic. so here's my quiz. i want to and with this. the people in the early 1900 popcorn and believed in the possibility of social security, of women's right to vote, a civil rights, as consumer rights, government protection of workers against unsafe and unhealthy work bases were thinking for the ages. they were thinking beyond their immediate battle. the day for immediate battles at the same time. for those of you who are here,
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think 50 years from now. think about your children or grandchildren. and when they look back on their society, they are screened to our mom or dad, what was safely when you were my age and you can talk them back then we had this, but that was considered -- there were people fighting for a better world and the things you know take for granted say in the year 2063, 50 years from now, it seems we now take for granted were radical ideas in 23rd team. what are some of those things your children or grandchildren 50 years from now we'll look back on and take for granted but look at the ideas that are today considered radical. any ideas?
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[inaudible] >> -- that americans should have the right to a job. private right of action to provide enough job. >> sunni or 2063, jubilee people might take for granted ever as a legal right to a job? [inaudible] >> okay, all right. anyone else? [inaudible] >> we will have global warming and 50 years? >> what was the world doing when the environment was going to have. i think that's this generations bidding issue. the look and see you guys sat around and did nothing about it.
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>> i don't want people to be angry about it. i want them to take for granted that there will be an end to global warming. so what that actually means? you have to answer that. would that mean for children or grandchildren to live in a world where global warming is no longer a problem that has been addressed and solved by what has happened, environmental and other movements between militant. any other ideas? [inaudible] >> so in the year 2063, it will be kind of like same-sex marriage. people take it for granted that a woman has the right to an abortion in no longer a controversial issue. as opposed to right now, where
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it is the law of the land, and they are trying against tape. okay, any other hands? >> health care. >> what about health care? >> everyone will have health care. we'll have universal high-quality comprehensive health care. that's what her grandchildren were take for granted. [inaudible] >> consumers will notice in their products for medicine to food to automobiles if we still have automobiles in the year 2063. couple more. [inaudible] >> so there will be an end --
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our grandchildren will say daddy, granddad, what was a present? kind of like make it past me, did you ever used a typewriter? so they can imagine what a person would be like, release least not prison industrial complex we have no and the present pay plan that's so destructive of human life. [inaudible] >> housing will be a human rights and people won't pay more than a third of their income for housing is is supposed to know what people think warty%, 50%, 60% of their income for housing. one or two more. [inaudible] >> okay, so when i grandchildren ask me, when you went to college, did you really have to go into debt, that would be a
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crazy idea. and many other countries public higher education would be free and high-quality and go into enormous debt to pay for education. i can think of a few more but i'll just end with. one is the end of the death penalty. i like to think my children when they are older and think how barbaric it was in the year 2013 or so say to penalty, although it's true fewer and fewer states today still have the death penalty. one that often comes up when i asked this question, some people wonder whether there will be, whether we'll still have automobiles. whether there'll be any any forms of public transportation as both a condition of the
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wafers changing cities, but changing the the problems of global warming. so all of these things than many others are today considered radical ideas outside the box that are considered many people would say an impractical idea that's about to get happening. that's a chain items and florence kelley and john lewis and a beauty beach boys and lots of people in my book faced when they have these ideas including victor berger on nature district to security and old-age insurance. they thought they were crazy. so the lesson i take away during this research, which is a labor of love is the radical ideas of one generation are often the common sense of the subsequent generations, the next
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generations. but it doesn't happen inevitably. there has to be movement for justice. people have to fight the fights, engage, get off their and be part of social movements. but that's the case, martin luther king's idea that the airport history is long but it bends towards justice, we will have a new generation of arc vendors to remove the society in a more democratic direction. in my book is about the great heroes of the 20th century and some of the ones acting today in the 21st century, who've moved the country in that direction. i'm sure many people living today and watching on c-span are part of the movement. it's a great tradition to be part of and i hope whether or not you buy the book, that you learn that history of the people whose shoulders we stand because our democracy really depends on it. thank you very much.
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[applause] >> we have a lot of human rights nightmare to occur on our watch. in the years since that are king's death, a vast new system of racial social control has emerged from the ashes of slavery and jim crow. a system of mass incarceration that no doubt has stopped or came turning in his grave today. the mass incarceration of poor people of color in the united states is tantamount to a new caste like system, when the shuttle is young people from decrepit underfunded schools to brand-new high-tech presents. it is a system that locks poor people overwhelmingly poor people of color into a permanent
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second-class status, nearly if effect of late as earlier systems of racial and social control went did. it is then a few of the morally equivalent of jim crow. >> here's a look at books that are being published this week:
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the >> here's a look at upcoming book fairs and festivals
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happening around the country.
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>> benn steil is next on


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