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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 20, 2013 4:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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well. we can be part of this dialogue as leaders so i'm not talking about advocating our own leadership role and for those of us who were in the academy in ebony and ivory towers we have to connect the access we have two places like schomberg communities in oakland boston where i live right now and if we do that and we connect on social media and i invite people to join this conversation we will have enough leverage where mainstream communities trying to talk to barack obama he understands their other voices who are substantive to have power who are telling him something else and that is what we need to do. we need to be the voice that same look we want substantive public wolesi and we are not just going to settle for the cultural release and cathartic release of barack and michelle michelle obamaand such and malia. we love them and we love their
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existence and they are are safe and they are beautiful but we want public policy transformation for our communities and our young sons and daughters who are living and dying all over the united states. we are optimistic that they can be better and we have to organize. stokely carmichael said organize organize organize and that is what we need to do. [applause] >> you know, i love anything sasha and malia and so any kind of image of them is beautiful and i do love them and i believe the notion put forward of that kind of new generation set of conversations but i also think and i know that is a set of possibilities as kendall said that is very limited, very small, very narrow and very elite. the two images that are notions
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of communities talking to each other and having dialogue has stuck with me this week where the interview with juror 37 that anderson cooper did and i'm really glad for that interview. i am very thankful for the honesty of juror p37 and what she said and the insight that she gave us in when she referred to people like rachel gentile and those people, they don't live like we do. we don't see -- they don't see the world like we do so clearly she is not having dialogue with people who are just different from ourselves. when she sees a picture of trayvon he is unfamiliar to her except as a predator. that same night there was -- she kept using a refrain. she said where we are from. this is what we think that people like that where i am from. i don't know what it means where you are from, right?
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those images of those ways of belonging that do not talk to each other, that do not in any way -- i think rachel jentel said you don't understand really come from and the juror was saying i don't recognize that. i don't know who that is. that's different from sasha and malia and their friends in school on the basketball court. so our measure of how far we are moving can't just be the measure of two beautiful little girls with great access but it also has to be the measure of these people who don't necessarily, into contact with each other for the kinds of dialogues we are talking about until it's too late, and till it's in the courtroom and a juror can't fathom, can't comprehend this young woman who is sitting in front of her. so that is one thing that i will say. the other thing that i will say is all of these are important. they are all a mess.
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they are all places where we struggle and where we fight with each other. we fight with her colleagues colleagues and they're all sites where work has to be done and i think a new site that we are seeing and that we really need to attend to much more is the side of social media. twitter frankly gives me a headache. it really does. it gives me a headache. but twitter, i get angry at the ignorance. i get angry at the access that raises have to me and especially to my husband. i get angry about that but i don't think there is anyplace with a kind of dynamic dialogue where people are back and forth, where people are strategizing and organizing. the immediacy of the organizing around trayvon was extraordinary. we haven't seen anything quite like that so i think for all of its messiness, no more messy than all the other ones, it's just bigger.
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it's messy and there is a lot of ignorance but there is a lot of educating that goes on. there's a lot of organizing that goes on. there is a lot of democratic debate that goes on so i would add social media to those arenas that tina talked about earlier as well. [applause] >> now i'm going to invite you to pose your questions to this conversation and add your voice is. there is a microphone there. i would ask that you take that microphone so we cannot hear what you are trying to say and in the meantime i do want to thank our panelists so far for their powerful statements. [applause] >> first of all thank you very much for the conversation. it's really enlightening for all of us i think. how do you sell and left-wing juror p37? i asked specifically because she
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is a voter and it's kind of obvious that the thrill is gone in the black community with reference to president obama and i'm certainly no difference myself. i found these comments yesterday yesterday -- anyway the important point is that those people who dislike the idea that george zimmerman isn't completely within his right to waste trayvon martin like like he is trashed in the street as people vote. they have been voting against us the entire time and they weren't attacking us or being more violent and president obama has been dealing with the fact that they voted number structurally that his side simply can't win against. we have watched democratic african-american politicians essentially get edified into certain districts where they can always win there but never statewide so i'm kind of wondering what happens next when we bring an antiracism agenda to
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all the people of color in this country and around the world, bring together latinos and asian-americans and the and the straight and everyone went structurally speaking we still have a tea party that was doing better than us for most of president obama's administration when he came to demographic organizing in the same people who are voting in the "stand your ground" law and keeping people and ideas like like stop in frisco life today here. so i'm just kind of wondering given the opposition that is still very much as entrenched as it was 50 years ago, what happens next? >> i think we are talking here about a long revolution. and in the president's defense, one of the great things about his speech had to do with that moment in which he asked the people listening to him to
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imagine trayvon martin in that situation with a gun and what the response would likely be if trayvon martin had had that done. the great british cultural theorist from whom i have learned a lot, stuart hall, said right after the election of margaret thatcher that one of the things that those of us who were on the left needed to understand about why thatcher won is that people don't always, or maybe not even most of the time, vote on the basis of their rational self-interest. politics is much less a matter of calculated interest than it is of how we imagine ourselves.
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how we imagine ourselves in relationship to one another and so one of these potentially fruitful things about the strategy that the president shows was that he was inviting the juror of b37's of the world and indeed all of us to think about the ways in which we imagine ourselves in relationship to one another. another great british theorist benedict anderson said in answer to the question what is a nation? a nation is an imagined community and so 50 years ago when martin luther king talked about this dream he had, he was inviting the people on the mall and all the folks who heard his speech on the media, to imagine themselves in a different way. now this politics of the imagination, some folks have
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called it politics and fantasy, is not the whole of politics and it's not going to be a substitute for hard roll up your sleeves organizing but it's one of the things that motivates people to think critically about and maybe even refuse the primary identity that is being imposed upon us under late neoliberal capitalism, mainly to see ourselves not as citizens but as consumers, people who buy stuff. and that's understanding of who we are, of who we might be and who we have been, that a politics of the imagination makes possible edits a culture politics. it has producing meanings, making black mean something other than criminal, and car
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serval, dangerous. that kind of work is cultural work which has to do with the politics of making new meanings, and that work is down here and takes us here and takes place at the level of the mass media. so i think that is a very important component of the work that lies ahead of us, is this what someone once called the politics of meaning. this politics of imagination. so that is why i -- on this question. >> i would add to that also that we might not get juror number b37 and we probably won't convince you of anything and i know it's the job of electoral the electoral politicians to get every single vote and not offend people and all of that so maybe we don't get b37, maybe we
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looser but i heard one of the representatives, one of the black representatives from the area say that one of the problems down there is that we get so excited about national elections and we mobilize for barack obama but many of those people uphold and maintain the "stand your ground" law's at intellectual positions at the local level and jesus blood people don't vote in the same numbers so juror p57 -- b37 and -- so the mobilizing we are talking about we are very good at mobilizing at the local level. we let that go. we put so much in behind the election of barack obama but those in between elections where we maintain laws like stand your ground we sometimes seek those out and we need to be just as vigilant and those kinds of elections as well. [applause]
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>> i came a little late. many of you may be old enough to remember -- many of you may be old enough to remember, we had a trayvon martin called michael griffin and we had a trayvon martin called yousef hargis and we had an attorney by the name of alton maddox junior who won those cases and the people who killed those young black men went to jail for 30 years to life. [applause] so the question is how calm the
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expert at doing this, how come he is not on "msnbc"? how come he is not on cnn? he is an expert when it comes to these racial slight motivated cases. he was illegally suspended from the practice of law because he absolutely dominated the criminal bar. they couldn't beat him. and so i ask when you go about talking about these things mention alton because our children need to know. we have a lawyer, still alive, that one these cases and if he was working as an adviser in the trayvon martin case b37 may not have made it on that jury panel. [applause] and that's what i have to say. i heard you refer to somebody that is the cultural whatever and you look up to him. i look up to attorney alton maddox junior.
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[applause] see it's very painful but i have been told i need to cut our conversation short now, so please i invite you to come and talk to the panelists afterwards please do and in the meantime i thank them again and i thank you all for the conversation. >> thank you, tina. >> you are welcome. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> continue lowlife coverage of the 15th annual harlem book fair in harlem new york, new york on west 135th street. we are at the langston hughes auditorium at the schomburg center and we have been watching a panel on african-americans and joining us is columbia university professor farah griffin who has a book coming out called "harlem nocturne." professor griffin what is your book a life -- about? >> guest: it's a book about three women artists featuring novelist. their involvement not only in the arts but in the rest of politics during world war ii. >> host: that will be coming out in the fall and you will see an extended conversation on booktv and a couple of months. let's start this call-in segment with a to be that we received. this is from free one month and
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as a professor of english and african-american studies should an african-american and african diaspora and -- diaspora curriculum vitae that? >> guest: very good question. there've been efforts to create an african-american curriculum that is taught in public schools philadelphia is one that is tried that. i certainly think the conclusion of work about african-americans and they african diaspora should be included in the public school curriculum. public school curriculum should be representative and utilize that so in addition to learning about the history of our nation in general included in that should be the experiences of people of african descent and a specialized curriculum would help inform that effort. >> host: the first call for professor griffin comes from frieda in fresno california.
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good afternoon freda. you are on booktv on c-span c-span2. >> caller: thank you so much. i would like to ask about the sad demise of trayvon martin. i am so sad that a young black male had to lose his life all because of the stand your ground racist law. i just wonder what you think about blacks since we are galvanizing, if we would just boycott walmart which is the leading store that sells a lot of ammunition and has made a huge profit because of the "stand your ground" law because it supported -- >> host: thank you, frieda. if you could professor could you put trayvon martin and historical context as well? >> guest: certainly. free debt that was a very good
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question. trayvon martin's murder it is one of many that we see throughout the history of our nation and historically we can think about the murder of a 14-year-old emmett till in mississippi which was mentioned on our panel earlier but they're a number of young black men have lost their lives to racial violence. it's not just historical. this particular moment we see a number of young men who have recently, their case has been brought out in courts throughout the united states including florida. just yesterday a jury decided that the man who killed a young 13-year-old was not only guilty but that he was perfectly sane when he did it so there is a history but there is also a kind of contemporary moment where these unfortunate tragedies are happening. you mentioned the boycott of something like walmart. i think boycotts have always been effective.
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they have been used throughout african-american history successfully from the montgomery boycott on, not just african-american history. for instance nursing products for children who are incensed friend -- for instance of boycotts are effective and we should be thinking about them and organizing them that they are only one part of a multidimensional strategy. >> host: professor griffin do you see as frieda does "stand your ground" law says racist? >> guest: i don't think that they are distinctly racist in themselves but they are problematic because they don't help control the epidemic of gun violence in our country and the way they are applied a think has proven to have racial implications. there is a woman right now, the trayvon case has brought attention to a woman who was tried by the same prosecutors that did the trayvon martin
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trial who was convicted of shooting a warning shot at her abuser, her husband who had a history of domestic violence. she shot a warning shot into the ceiling and she is now doing 20 years. the stand your ground was when they are applied are not applied anyway that is race-neutral. a number of murders have happened to young black men were people, not just white men but gang member cities the "stand your ground" law and have been able to use it to their benefit grade i think it has racial implications. >> host: the next call for professor griffin comes from ray lane in tuscaloosa alabama. hi. >> caller: hi. thank you for the call. i have a statement to make and i would like to know if dr. griffin agrees to the statement. should we follow for -- [inaudible]
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in order to have -- [inaudible] >> host: i apologize. we are going to have to move on. i couldn't hear you. we are going to move on to robert monroeville pennsylvania. please go ahead with your question or comment for professor farah griffin. i'm sorry, robert we are going to have to move on again. we have a tweet. if you're going to make a comment turned on your phone and make it short and concise so we can get to it and get a lot of calls and here. here is another tweet their receipt for you professor from j.d.. a lot of the conversation on a panel was about president obama. what are your expectations of the resident post-presidency and some of the issues he discussed especially mass incarceration and disparity of opportunity?
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>> guest: that's a wonderful question and as we know in the united states presidents also often have a great deal of influence after their presidency. president barack obama's relatively young and hopefully he will have a long life ahead of him a long and active life ahead of him. i would love to see him do something around issues like mass incarceration, health disparities various forms of racial inequity in the united states, something similar to what president clinton did with his global initiative and what president carter has done to his various initiatives but one that would be much more specifically focused on the issues of race. to place a strict emphasis on that certainly post-presidency he could do something like that. i would love to see him add an initiative on racial inequality and economic injustice and mass
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incarceration. >> host: sharon is in oakhurst california. good afternoon sharon. >> caller: hi. i am curious. i see many successful blacks who are businessmen like charles payne who has an investment company and i just wondered why so many blacks keep supporting politicians who keep them in poverty. the republicans have tried to get vouchers and laws for school so that kids can go to a school of their choice and yet it's always killed by the democrats essentially. i think they keep them just comfortable enough in their poverty so they don't work hard to try to get out of it. and -- >> host: sharon, are you
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white? >> caller: yes, i am. >> host: let's get an answer from professor griffin. >> guest: thank you so much for your question, sharon. i don't know that i agree with you that african-americans vote for politicians that keep them in poverty. nor do i believe that they vote for politicians to give them just enough so that they don't work hard. i would have to disagree with your narrative. i know too many hard-working african-americans to say that would be the case and that i think they vote for politicians that act in their best interest. perhaps the school voucher issue aside, when they look to the republican party or the look to the people who fall under the umbrella, certainly not all republicans, they also see people who are not representing their best interest and they see a kind of tolerance of racism that i think they find very problematic. and so i think perhaps they float like many people for the
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people they think represent their interests and those are not people who they are voting to -- for to keep them in poverty. >> host: arthur in silver spring maryland, please go ahead with your question or comment. arthur? last chance for arthur in silver spring maryland. >> caller: hello? >> host: we are listening. >> caller: strong people don't need strong leaders which was -- [inaudible] >> guest: certainly, thank you. that is a comment by ella baker and if you don't know about her i suggested that for her. she was an organized and helped create the student nonviolent square dating committee and she believes you give people the tools, the critical tools for critical thinking and critical organizing to organize themselves and they select leaders who represent them and when those leaders are not representing their interests
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they get rid of them. really leadership comes from the ability to serve a constituency and a group of people and she believes in the power of communities to organize themselves and to best address their needs in ways that are leaders oftentimes did not. strong people cannot need strong leader she says because they don't need to be led by some charismatic figure. they can democratically decide on the direction of their communities. ella baker is her name and there's a wonderful biography by barbara ransby if you would like to learn more about her. >> host: farah jasmine griffin. "harlem nocturne" is coming out in august. the next panel is just about to begin a second annual coverage of the 15th annual harlem book fair continues. this is a panel on rosa parks
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and eslanda robeson. >> good afternoon. good afternoon. it may be hot outside but it's buried very stimulating and a cool kind of way inside. i am honored to stand on the stage to introduce the moderator who is going to introduce the panelists this afternoon. the panelists will be discussing conversations in black free game celebrating the legacies of rosa parks and eslanda robeson. i am happy to be on the stage with mary frances berry who i last saw in rome italy. she was on a mission to present the plight of the haitian refugees to the pope john paul ii. but moderating the panel this afternoon is dr. weathered, a professor at sarah lawrence
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college author of a nation within a nation editor of freedom north and groundwork's about the civil rights movement. dr. weathered. see thank you. [applause] it's good to have everybody out this afternoon. we have got a distinguished conversation here with my professor mary berry at the university of pennsylvania. [applause] barbara ransby is the author of a tiger free of ella baker of eslanda robeson and jeanne theoharis the author of the new biography on rosa parks. [applause] we want to start the conversation by talking about rosa parks. what do we know about rosa
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parks, jane? >> i wanted to start today with an evening meeting. that evening is november 27, 1955. on that november 27 rosa parks came to a meeting at dexter avenue baptist church to hear tm howard, dr. tm howard talked about the recent acquittal of the two killers of emmett till. dr. king introduce fascinating and howard was there to spread the word. howard had been one of the key organizers in trying to get even a trial of those two men and after those men he had been acquitted was on a tour through the country to spread the word and to continue the organizing after that travesty had happened as the two men who had lynched emmett till have been found not guilty.
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so this is november 27, 1955. rosa parks sits there and she is talking about the lynching of emmett till and he is talking about the deaths of two other organizers in mississippi who would try to register to vote and have been killed and she is angry and she is sad and she is despairing because she came to that night having spent more than a decade organizing around cases like this and what was particularly sort of exciting about this case was there have been enough organizing and enough awareness that there had been a trial and yet still the two killers go free. and i wanted to start there because i think many people would have made the comparison between the lynching of emmett
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till and trayvon martin, but i think we can go deeper in that comparison and to think about that comparison not just as a comparison of sadness and of anger but of what follows. because i know all of you know what's going to happen four days later on december 1, 1955 and that is rosa parks who has spent two decades organizing. she begins her adult political life around around the scottsboro case in spent the past decade turning it into a more activist branch and so she comes to december 1, 1955 with a tremendous amount of organizing experience in a tremendous amount of activism and she comes with that evening fresh in her mind. and so she is going home from work december 1, 1955 and at the third stop the bus driver
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realizes that the bus has filled and one white man is left standing and four people are going to have to get up. as she tells it, she thought about her grandfather who is a supporter of marcus garvey. she thought about -- but the bus driver said you all better -- and she thinks to herself this is not making it light on us as a people. she thinks about emmett till and she decides she had been pushed as far as she could be pushed, that to get up would have been consenting and she did not consent. and she said no. and so i guess i wanted us to start there today because i think the comparison and i think it's a very important comparison to be thinking about trayvon martin and the light of that history but i think that history offers us something very
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profound and that is also the history of how people are moved to action, because she in that moment of all of the things that many of us are feeling denial, the anger, the sadness, then comes action and hopefully we can talk more about the kind of rest of her political life but i wanted us to start in that moment with her and then in that moment four days later where she makes, where she takes that and she turns it into agency and she turns it into action. thank you. >> now tell me -- thanks jeanne. [applause] i only got a chance to meet rosa parks one time and it was quite an experience but mary did you get a chance to work with rosa parks? >> well, i am sitting here thinking that my rosa parks is probably different from most
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peoples. people's. i really like your book because your book tells the public a lot of things about her that most people don't know and they just see her sitting down on the bus. and i was up at the congress on mandela's birthday. my dear sister maxine waters from california organized a great celebration. they even had african dances, beating the drums. you can even see it on c-span. it was terrific. i never heard that much much noise and the laws of congress and speaker banner on the look on his face when he began to speak, he hadn't heard that much either. [laughter] but i was thinking and we all spoke about the movement and so on and brother nelson had a birthday but i was thinking about rosa parks. knowing i had to come up here because i knew rosa parks.
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she came to the three south african movement demonstrations that we organize for a couple of years to get sanctions and all of that but i knew her before that. the first time i encountered her in 67 i have been in vietnam as a reporter when the riots happened and i came back right after the riots and there was a people's inquiry set up in detroit and rosa parks was a member of the commission. it was the people's commission. the sit down on the bus woman, she was on this commission and a radical lawyer who we all loved, a young black lawyer who was a radical, was the guy who organized it and after that to me was a parks was not just an icon. she was a person who i saw that had all kinds of activist things
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that we were all up to all the time. she was spared and she spoke at the south african movement demo. we told her to speak and she spoke eloquently at that and before that was at the convention where she and i were both and gary when all the civil rights people were denouncing us. the convention and gary, she was there. rosa parks was there when jimmy carter had an anniversary of round and i was speaking because i was running education and i made a freudian slip and said something about the president i didn't mean to say and she just died laughing. and please do all the time, correctly used to say to me the reason why you have to go you have to go all the these things and you won't get involved is so we can see each other. i was used to seeing her and
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talking to her all the time but to me she was on joanne littles committee. think about rosa parks in that kind of context. rosa parks believed like malcolm that you should use anything that comes to hand in the circle of freedom. yes. [applause] and so to define her as those meek woman who sat down on the bus and all i want to say about that is being up there and the congress and going through statuary hall where she is now and looking at sojourner and the emancipation hall and so on and i thought to myself, if people knew what we know about rosa parks she wouldn't be in there. if they knew what i am saying about rosa parks, she wouldn't be on this stamp. rosa parks, with these historians have done is what we call a work of recovery, recovering the real deal about
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people. what barbara has done, eslanda robeson was overshadowed but her whole life was a wonderful activist and intellectual person they have recovered them like some years ago i recovered to callie house and the reparations juggle. rosa parks was at the first meeting of the revelations. you guys have to know what in culprit is. reparations, you all heard that. so when i think about rosa parks i think of her and those sad conversations and all those places and i think of her as a full-bodied kind of reformer and radical that she really was and how wonderful it is to have her up there sort of like when i passer at statuary hall i kind
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of smile and say, if they only knew. [applause] >> speaking of recovery but are recovering in terms of eslanda robeson? >> well you know i think these two women, first of all its great to be on this panel was such fun historians and mary has bought the good fight for a long time with such integrity. but when i think of a comparison between the two on the surface there might not seem to be a lot in common but in some ways that both were the shadows of larger-than-life male political figures. rosa parks in some ways in the shadows of dr. king as far as how a story and has treated her and eslanda robeson because of her husband paul robeson and rosa parks as one dimension away and eslanda robeson almost invisible. i can't tell you how many people
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said paul robeson's wife. i knew he had a wife but i didn't know much about her. eslanda robeson indeed was a remarkable person and a biographer's treasure because she had such a rich life and she spent a lot of time documenting that life so that made my job a little bit easier but she began her career as a chemist working at at columbia presbyterian hospital then quickly shifted to serve as the architect of paul's early career. she was his manager, publicist etc. but that's not really her main contribution our accomplishment. i was most drawn to her and interested and excited to do this work because of her largeness of her life and i mean that on a global stage. i think the importance of telling her story in particular and rosa parks is the international significance of their political contributions and eslanda robeson in particular was an anticolonial activist, a writer and human
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correspondent, an anthropologist. she was someone who was there the founding of the united nations in 1945. she traveled to the front lines of the spanish civil war in 1938. she traveled to africa in 1936 to sub-saharan africa after a light -- italy occupied ethiopia. she took a ship to south africa and then uganda when the time that it was not only difficult but dangerous for a black woman to be traveling in colonial africa. spent a number of months there and met with someone about that antiapartheid activist oracle conference in the free state in south africa. that began her internationalism, her emergence as a world citizen if you will and it reminds us all i think of a very rich tradition of black internationalism. the other thing, she also goes
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to the congo in 1946 after she writes a book and becomes quite a public activist and in congo she is followed by british intelligence. and my five follows her around belgium and the french congo worrying she is going to go into british colonies and write these rather -- and years later they were probably scared that she done at the time -- but to write this chronicle of her travels talking about the incendiary ideas she is promoting like africans being moved by their own kin in the words of one of agents. so she lived a very large life and really forged her own political identity and her identity as a black woman in a global context and in the context of embracing an african struggle and in the context of anticolonial struggle. she had a class with -- and chinook kwame and coma and a good friend of the first prime
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minister of india and his sister so there was afro-indian, afro- asian solidarity which was pretty remarkable. in fact it was the sister of nehru the first woman president of the general assembly a good friend of eslanda robeson. their mother was in prison for independence activities in india. their daughter spent time at the robeson home and considered eslanda robeson their second mother so this rug-based third world solidarity that we saw in that period after world war ii, eslanda robeson was in the thick of it writing and speaking and of course this comes at a price. she and paul robeson are persecuted during the mccarthy era. she is called for joe mccarthy's anti-communist
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committee and interesting way people thought because of her connection to paul which i think was part of it but joe mccarthy leans over and grills her about her political affiliations and she asks her about her 1945.african journey which was seen as subversive because it was an anticolonial document. the inquisitor, leans over and says are you sure you wrote this book? she was somebody who was not short on attitude so she said do you think i could not read a book like this all by myself? how dare you ask me that question. the other thing she ultimately goes to the committee issue sort of flips the script and she says i don't even recognize these people. this committee has on it southern senators who don't allow black people to vote in their states. so you know she had that kind of
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defiance and that kind of toughness about her as she went into sometimes very dangerous political terrain. people have just gone to jail and then exiled and so forth and she was also outspoken on her anticolonial activity. >> i wanted to ask all of you, why is it, how does it come to pass that all of these great women have taken such giant steps and are visible in textbooks when our kids go to school? >> that's a tough one. >> i don't know. i don't think -- rosa parks of course is not invisible. just for sitting down on the bus part is everywhere but all the other stuff i told you because they don't want the children to understand that you know you can make good triumph of evil by doing a whole bunch of different things and this woman had many dimensions and they don't want them to get ideas in their
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heads. the other part of it is that when people write books and when they do stuff they keep writing the same thing over and over again. for example when they write about the history of black people in the period after reconstruction up until the 1920s or 30s until the great migration to the north, they write about booker t.. wb and booker t. and then more recently there are people writing about the club women, the color club women bound and social organizations. even after i recovered the reparations that bend and even after i documented that this woman started a movement with 300,000 women asking for reparations in 1890 for all those legs and she was an ex-slave herself, even after that was documented and
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everybody gave praise and gave their prizes and all that, when they went about the reconstruction of the great migration they write about w.e.b. and booker t.. and then they migrated to the north. and so it's really hard. part of it is that she was a washerwoman and these ex-slaves were poor people. i think eslanda robeson has a better chance of being included in the narrative then making a full picture of rosa parks. you did a wonderful book, both of you good but since robeson was, you know she was -- rosa parks was a working-class woman, down-home woman. didn't go to college and all that stuff but robeson wrote things. the other thing is if you write something historians take you
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more seriously and will put you in books than if you just have records like the records of the people that were in the movement and so one and all the rest of them. so i think that's it. >> unless, unless you write really radical things. i was just thinking, clearly in one of the contradictions and interesting things about eslanda robeson was her class privilege which she ultimately risk and they lost a lot of what they had of course because of the left-wing views but in some ways paul robeson was blacklisted during the mccarthy era and he actually in some ways have been black worsted in history because even though that a certain amount of privilege and were educated at a time when certainly most black people were not, what even known about most of the places that they have traveled to so there was that privilege but when they allied with a radical movement of the
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world and embrace socialism over capitalism and all that they become very dangerous and so you will see book after book where eslanda robeson would have been a logical person to include and she is just painfully absent. that is why rosa parks is reduced to one dimensionality and eslanda is kind of kept in the wings. i agree with you, people who don't leave a paper trail which eslanda definitely did that the people who don't leave a paper trail or don't have the skills and the lecture to do that. >> i think part of the other, one of the other issues in one of the other ways i think we see the civil rights movement represented over and over and we are seeing it again as we come to the run-up of the 50th anniversary of the what march on washington is the movement is only southern movement. we talk about rosa parks full
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political history. that has to include her political life in the north. in 19578 months after the boycott and she loses her job during the boycott. her husband loses his job during the boycott and they're getting constant death threats. they had to leave montgomery even after the boycott ends because they are still getting death threats. they leave for detroit which is where her brother, her brother sylvestesylveste r. if you see this represented even in schoolbooks, this tends to be a little epilogue like a happy ending. rosa parks goes to the north, the vacation house. [laughter] when the rosa parks parks calls detroit the promised land and she will then spend more than half of her life, more than half of her political life fighting the jim crow north.
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and keeping rosa parks in the south like mary and barbara have said the one dimensional picture of the placenta to southern bus. part of what she will do with the second half issue will be talking about transportation in north. she will be talking about housing in the north. she will be talking about police brutality, about criminal justice. these are issues he was working on in montgomery in the 40s and 50's but then she takes those and they don't stop. and as she puts the shoe doesn't find too much difference between what she leaves in montgomery and what she finds in detroit. yet i think our public history is much more comfortable with the civil rights movement in the south because that has a happy ending and it has an ending. we have the civil rights act and the voting rights act and those
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are crucially important, but then the struggle continues and the struggle continues not just in montgomery and atlanta but continues in detroit and continues in new york and continues in pittsburgh and so if you look at what rosa parks is doing she is in all those places. and she keeps struggling against the death penalty, against the war in vietnam, against apartheid in south africa. she is working for conyers. she is looking at things like welfare and social services and housing and urban renewal. although the issues that face us today so i think part of why this doesn't get included is as mary said i think it gives us more tools to struggle with, to imagine if we have these histories that are northern, better international, that go into the 70s and 80s and 90s. and i think that is again what
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this history of recovery or reclamation, i think part of what it does i would argue that helps us see today differently. >> look, people -- those be the other thing is if you think about it no one ever let rosa parks. she would not talk. she would be at all of these things and she would be the symbol. rosa parks sat down on the bus. the only place where she got to make an actual talk about what she felt was when she came for the protest and got arrested that they were having on apartheid and they said you've got to speak. we don't want you just to calm and march. you've got things to say. talk to the people. but nobody was really interested in all those things just like the national council -- i told them one time you go to all these things with this for
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years. the men don't let you say anything from the beginning and usually people don't want you to say anything in the old days when he first started. they just wanted her to be there. rosa parks, they wanted her to be there so they could say ms. rosa parks stepped out of the bus and no one ever asked her what she thought about whatever it was. that tells you something because some people knew what she was saying. if they didn't, they were taught >> look, a lot of people in response to this horrible verdict are thinking about how do we organize ourselves and it seems to me that part of cutting these stories out of a woman like callie house who organizes the movement before -- organizes his movement or a rosa parks and the washer women and the working people in montgomery who marched and boycotted the process all those times.
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although these are stories about how people build a movement and it seems that one way to demobilize us after these certain elections is to take away the tools of how did they get to these triumphs in the first place? you have to be organized and that is why i was so glad you wrote about callie house. it's embarrassing after decades of studying these things to realize you were always kind of a beginner because these very important stories that we need to know about. now one civil rights leader -- i was at the memorial and this was years ago. the young people in the movement came up and said he was illiterate. he was always late to meetings and things like that and on and on. i realize the young people who have come in living on the triumphs of this poor man who founded one one of these black r organizations didn't understand who he was elated to get up
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there and it occurred to me that jesus did not write any books. everybody knows he made history. so just like jesus all these people i'm making history, and they rejected my first book. who are these people? they said they are the people who made history. so i think that's part of why i think we get one image and not another because it's demobilize is us. >> use raise the issue of book publishing at a literary event and merry talk a little bit before about why is it that history has been distorted and repetitious in terms of repeating certain myths and not including others which you know reminds me particularly of the way in which eslanda robeson approach to work. she wasn't intellectual but she resisted a elitism and formality. she was trained as an anthropologist and never got her
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ph.d.. she was never recognized formally as a scholar even though she was a researcher and so forth and in a way that liberated her to say what she wanted to say outside of a canon or outside of restricted boundaries that academic institutions and sometimes publishers put on people and that is part of the myth making. there are knowledge industries that regulate the distribution of certain narratives and certain information and the center of that. they don't call it censorship. that is not an interesting story or that doesn't speak to me. ..


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