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tv   After Words  CSPAN  December 6, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

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visiting scholars to see and also had a sample of the manuscript was written by robert browning. ..
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up next on booktv "after words" with guest host michael meyers executive director of the new york civil rights coalition. this week jason sokol in his latest book "all eyes are upon us." in that the historian argues that while the northeast enjoyed a reputation as a bastion for racial equality in reality blacks were relegated to living in ghettos and working menial jobs until northern leaders challenged citizens to practice what they were preaching. this program contains language that some may find offensive. >> host: jason it's very difficult to decide where to begin with your book. we are going to make a teaser to the audience. we are going to get to the conflict in a clash between at brooks and joe biden. that's a teaser. let's begin where you you began
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and that is with some history. this is a history book but the precipice to brown v. board of education and the springfield locale. >> guest: right. well the sense of history, i do have an argument they are about the way that northern history operates versus the way that southern history operates. that is, woodward famously wrote about the burden of southern history where southerners have all around them the trappings of slavery and segregation and history was something to unload, a burden to unload whereas people who grow up in the north they think particularly white northerners don't think of their own past and their own heritage and that way. and that they think of it as something to live up to. northern history is something to aspire to. so that's what i mean about the sense of history at the beginning and the first story i started out with is about
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springfield massachusetts and that city, a small city in massachusetts of 150,000. in 1939 just as world war ii was starting, the leaders of that city and the school superintendent tire data plan if they -- they say what apologists credit shows and racism. from a school system and from the city at large. so they adopted the curriculum in these principles with this high-minded goal of eradicating from young people's minds racism. >> host: they came upon it on their own or something pushed them to that? >> guest: well they drew upon curricula that was being developed by a bunch of professors at columbia teachers college which went along with these broader movements toward
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teaching pluralism basically in the world war i to world war ii period. >> host: why did they care? >> guest: why do they care? probably the threat of racism from hitler's nazi germany seem so real it's a tangible on one hand. this is the northeasterners in massachusetts and new york so they sought overseas this terrible threat of fascism and nazism. they also saw below the mason-dixon line the threat of what you might call southern segregation and northeasterners pictured themselves, and this is what my book is about, the northeast massachusetts, new york connecticut this area that pictured itself as the land of racial progress and tolerance and political liberalism. i think what you are getting by the president of brown v. board was in springfield for
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kenneth clarke famously. >> host: your book is full of great names but names that have been forgotten. kenneth clarke, famous social psychologists, african-american from harlem who pioneered this way of studying the effects of segregation upon schoolchildren. and his most famous test was the doll tests which he gained renown during the brown versus board case where he was the star witness for the naacp for thurgood marshall. so what clark did was he when into segregated public schools
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and he did a test on children where his two instruments were dolls. a wide doll and a brown doll. >> host: segregated public schools in the south and integrated schools in the north. >> guest: the interesting thing is that my book brings out is this precursor story in the north where clark began his test in springfield in 1939 and the idea was to pick springfield because it was supposed to be the model of integrated school system. it was the home of the springfield plan which was the program i was describing so clark chose springfield as his northern testing ground to contrast with the segregated south. he would later talk about the segregated south on the brown v. board witness stand that these tests in the north, so the result of the tests were that he would ask black children about
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the dolls and he would say give me the doll that looks like you. give me the doll that looks pretty. give me the doll that you want to be friends with her things along that line. without a doubt the vast majority of them would associate the white doll with a positive associations and feelings and they would associate, they would pick the brown doll when the question asked them something negative. clark argued, he concluded from that that black children at a very young age had already internalized these feelings of inferiority what he called the badge of inferiority which the supreme court agreed with. >> host: is there difference between the southern child in the segregated schools in the northern child in the integrated schools in south based on that test? >> guest: the fascinating thing is there was a difference
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but not the difference we might expect. the difference was the children in springfield in fact usually pick the white doll at a higher rate than the children in arkansas or in south carolina. that is, the northern black children that supposedly integrated schools seemed to be associating the white doll even more readily with these positive characteristics. but clark argued that didn't mean that his conclusion was not necessarily that these northern children worth us more traumatized or more scarred by segregation. in fact clark said that you know, he used all these quotes when the children were in torment. and they had to pick the white doll and they realized they weren't white. >> host: the black child would say well this is me and affect
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but i was 10 at the beach. >> guest: they would try to explain away the fact that their raise. so clark said. >> host: where's the southern black child would accept the black doll but accepted in the sense that he accepted or she accepted the fact that to use the word that's me, i am a -- that was the southern black. >> guest: this was clark's argument that the southern black children therefore accepted segregation with much less inner turmoil or outward torment and the northern children were wrestling with their decisions with which doll to pick much more expressively and emotionally. so clark took that to mean that northern children had not accepted their condition in a segregated society to the same degree that southern children had.
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>> host: the bottom line being northern black children in southern black children were all damaged by segregation. >> guest: they all were and this is what later psychologists would argue this when northern schools came under the light of court decisions and when the naacp would litigate northern segregation. psychologists would say look, the effect on black children in quote unquote you know integrated schools or schools that just had de facto segregation was the term for the segregation in the north. later psychologists would say that the damage was the same. >> host: is a big deal about brown v. education in 1954? >> guest: is a big deal. the big deal was that the supreme court ruled that segregation was in itself unconstitutional.
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separate but equal in public schools. >> host: but that was a big deal? >> guest: it was a big deal at the time in 1954 where southern leaders, political leaders rose up in massive resistance. >> host: because they believed in segregation? >> guest: of course they believed in segregation. a lot of northern leaders, that is white northern leaders when the brown v. board decision came down in 1954 they believe that mandate did not apply to them. for instance new york city schools certainly have a high instance of racial segregation. so did boston schools. so did most all the public schools and white northerners thought the mandate of brown v. board really only apply to those school systems where the system of segregation was on the books as mandated separate but equal where in the north it was
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something not quite as explicit but where the results were still often the same. >> host: there's also something odd abrupt brown v. education besides the monumental decision mandating segregated public schools unconstitutional. the supreme court did two things. number one they said the basis for this decision is not law per se but we fight social science plus the studies about the effects of segregation on children. they use their famous footnote 11 citing kenneth b. clark studies as the basis for their decision for declaring public schools that were segregated unconstitutional. that was a big deal because a lot of people, social scientists and lawyers said what is the core doing? >> guest: right. so wasn't grounded in the
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president of legal history so much as it was grounded in kenneth clark's findings. >> host: it waited a whole year and that was unusual for supreme court decision. usually you find a constitutional violation the supreme court says you got to do it right away but they didn't do that. >> guest: no in fact they waited until 1955 wants the court released a ruling known as brown to and that ruling famously said that desegregation in the south had to occur with all deliberate speed in white southerners interpreted that as meaning it could occur on whatever timeline they wished. >> host: as you allowed it -- diluted i knew kenneth clarke in his now deceased that he was one of my two mentors in my life. kenneth clark had great hope for brown v. board of education but he also thought that the court had erred in the sense
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that it did not absolutely say what his study said. a study suggested that segregated public schools not only harmed the intellectual and psychological development of black children that but segregation also harmed white children. the court never said anything about that. and then in his later life he kept saying the courts to anybody who asked him was he cannot delay. any sign of delay from the courts to implement their decision would embolden and encourage the opposition and that's exactly what happened. >> guest: right and the reality was particularly in the rural south but the school didn't segregated from 1969 and 70 with the segregation of holmes county. and of course many schools in the north remained beyond the reach of brown as they thought
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up until the 1970s. we know what happened in boston at that point. >> host: but did springfield feel that they were on beyond the reach of brown or do they have a more enlightened disposition about bringing black and white children, and those days, black and white children together in the school system? they thought they were different in the south and they thought there was no impetus to it. >> guest: the interesting thing is they felt they had more enlightened disposition and they often did have a more enlightened disposition that dispositions did not add up to integration. they practiced segregation on the ground in the schools in the neighborhoods just at the same time as the city leaders pioneered this plan to eradicate racism from like minds. what you found in the north, what i found in the north, one of the conundrums is that you
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can have all of these people, talking about white northerners, who prided themselves on a sort of racial progressivism, prided themselves on being colorblind and at the same time were deeply committed in their policies to segregation in the schools and in the neighborhoods. he found this in springfield. for instance springfield had to, the springfield leaders had to fend off a case from the naacp in 1964. the case was called barksdale versus springfield school community and this was where the naacp under the leadership of robert carter and lewis steele filed the suit against springfield schools and said your schools are segregated, just as segregated as any others and it doesn't matter that you have this plan to eradicate racism and it doesn't doesn't matter to you in a forward-thinking people. or schools are still segregated and you got to do something about it.
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>> host: your focuses on progressive senate talks about the differences in attitudes of the liberals who really had good intentions versus the south that believe segregation was the way and that was the way of life, leave us alone and you quote very famous figures, famous to people who know history live history. he talked about james baldwin. i've been heard james baldwin's name for many years. he and other liberals, he was black but he said the north was no different from the south except in attitude and frederi frederick. i know lots of liberals is to say the north is upsell for example. your book talks about that and demonstrates it many many ways.
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>> guest: i think one of the things that i found really fascinating when i decided to tackle the subject of racism in the northeast and my first book was on white southerners. i started this project back in 2006 and a trip to study or at least i read everything that had been written on it before and i found that most books on race in the north either call the upsell and that is the boston busing crisis might as down the mississippi. they were the same because racism was exhibited on the one hand. on another hand you have a lot of books that portrayed the north is a land of liberty, as a place without jim crow was in without a long history of lynching and with a lesser history of secession and slavery. but i found something in the middle was much more truthful.
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you have to write a book about the ambiguities of northern race relations. you had to write a book that honored the northeast claims to progressivism and its realities of racial segregation at the same time and that war between those traditions, that conflict, that duality was at the heart of race relations. >> host: your book is very sophisticated but it also reminded me about malcolm x. malcolm x said there is no such thing. of the south. it's america. she said the sons of slave traders still deal in doubletalk though they have swapped for ghetto in gun. they have swapped the selling block for ghetto and gun.
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i read those words when i was quite young and those words came back to me. how did it happen that blacks didn't come to new york as you said? blacks came to harlem. they didn't go to chicago. they went to the south side. how did that happen? >> guest: how did that happen? exactly. this first happened during the first migration of world war i but then you had several million african-americans coming in the second migration during world war ii and the years afterward. for instance they would come to a place like new york city. they would go to harlem where they already had relatives and they would find that there weren't many places to live in harlem. harlem had become packed in a way so a lot of them trickle down to beds die or to brooklyn. that's where they met with the blockbusting realtor who was not
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quite like, the blockbusting realtor was the north analogy to the southern billy club will then share it. that is the north didn't have these bull connor type really went out with the fire hoses and attack dogs in the streets. but the north had with something harder to see and yet more insidious which was a system of real estate practices and housing covenants and stonewalling banks and this system of economics and sometimes politics that would corral african-americans in certain neighborhoods and keep them there. in fact you could also see the lines of bedford stuyvesant itself change over the years to envelop wherever african-americans had gone to. so as the neighborhood expanded as black people expanded to the outskirts of that neighborhood
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city leaders simply change the definition of neighborhood. >> host: some people have a different view of the blockbuster and of violence in the north. for example there was a long period of time story of police brutality and misconduct by the police towards blacks which we will get to on later on. don't forget we have to get to the current report. but the blockbuster used scare tactics. they use it as a scare tactic. your property value will go down. it will go down and people who weren't racist and said they weren't racist. guess that i was an article of faith among many northerners. they felt their real estate values will plummet if african-americans came into their plot. one thing i try to do what i tell the story of deptford
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stuyvesant and the story of how bedford stuyvesant became basically this ghetto, the interesting thing that happened in the same years when jackie brockington was playing on the brooklyn dodgers. you can see right in the heart of brooklyn the two northern stories going on at the same time. brooklynites welcoming jackie robinson and rooting for them on the one hand and on the other being frightened of moving into bed sty and a lot of people moved out and this is one a lot of faith whites move to bay ridge and even statin island across the water. >> host: also known as white flight. >> guest: basically. >> host: but those were the years when whites were discovering blacks. they were still talking about the and they never met them and
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didn't go to school with them. they were distant and they saw jackie robinson. that change a lot of people's minds because jackie robinson became a symbol that blacks could play baseball and blacks had talent and they were not only just athletes because jackie robinson was not just an athlete. he was an academic. he went to colleges that were rigorous colleges. that is one a lot of whites, conservatives or liberals change their attitudes are adopted new attitudes because jackie robinson was a breakthrough in race relations. except when jackie robinson started out. he didn't start out in brooklyn. >> guest: you into brooklyn's minor league team which was up in canada, montréal and he was
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beloved by many fans in montré montréal. there was a famous line where jackie robinson helped to win the championship and he was mobbed by white canadians. the first time a white man and circle circle the black man out of love, that's how the story goes. >> host: is that the case when he went to massachusetts? >> guest: the first team that had the chance to sign jackie robinson were the boston red socks and they had the chance after world war ii and of course jackie robinson served in world war ii. the way he got to tryout was a city council in boston named isidore of bunch neck said, while the larger story is the boston baseball teams and able to play games on sundays they needed basically to get a waiver
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from the city council because there were laws against playing games on sundays. he said he was going to refuse to vote for the waiver unless one of the boston teams gave african-american players a fair trial. so this brought jackie robinson along with a couple of other african-american ballplayers to fenway park. he was of course great in the tryout. he was lightening on the base path and never got a call back. boston flopped on its face when it had the chance to emigrate baseball and to sign jackie robinson and it would be two more years before brooklyn sees the chance. >> host: but to close out the springfield project. what they accurately did as i recall from your book they try to teach tolerance. it was an early experiment in
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teaching tolerance and understanding and acceptance in terms of different races. >> guest: this was called the springfield plan was the name it went by and it was pioneered by the superintendent of schools, a guy named john bram broad who tried to implement this plan. the idea was to have a curriculum who would teach about all races and ethnicities and nationalities. a public school system talk about reconstruction is the time of inter-racial democracy and not about some nightmare in which blacks ruled the south. that was downright futuristic in terms of the really 1940s, any school system teaching reconstruction in that way. so springfield did make some real advances that i think were important at the time. the problem was that didn't amount to integration in the
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schools, integration and the city. still you had african-americans coming to springfield during the great migration and ending up living in springfield version of ghettos and getting filtered into menial labor jobs and things like that. i wouldn't want to downplay the efforts of the school system but at the same time you don't want to say they ended up achieving any sort of racial justice. >> host: your book is a must-read because one of things you point out in the book is even those who felt it was an important educational effort eventually got around to those who were supporting it had a film about it to teach other people and other systems how to do a springfield was doing. >> host: >> guest: warner bros. released a film in 1940 by saying it happen in springfield.
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i grew up in springfield mass. when i heard about this film it blew my mind. i never knew that my anonymous small city named springfield because there weren't anonymous names would have a movie made by warner bros. in its effort to abolish racism from the schools. so that was a big deal when it came out at the time. we have got to remember what the time of world war ii was like. this was when americans, many americans truly believed they were ridding the world of fascism and ridding the world of racism and they took their country's claims to freedom and racial democracy seriously. a film like it happened in springfield and a film like the springfield plan which minis city started to copy the springfield planned those were serious efforts during wartime. and when the war ended it seemed like it was a bland and all the air from it was released.
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the war was a time when the nation was thrust together despite some obvious instances. it was a race riot in harlem and there was one in detroit and some portrayed wartime is a time of absolute harmony but in relative terms it was a time that the nation pressed together in tickets ideal seriously. >> host: one of the things he made very plain is that northern blacks had an advantage over southern blacks. they had their franchise. >> guest: that's right and that's where i think the books that paint the north is similar to the south, you know i think those books are correct up to a point but in the north african-americans could vote and they did vote. in some instances they built their own urban political machines. in chicago and in brooklyn and
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in new york city and harlem of course. in some instances they built multiracial. >> host: multiracial -- husk of a used segregation to their advantage. >> guest: anyway because if you have a city where you voted by district as you often did in the cities a place like harlem where you have a vast fast black majority could elect their own and send them to office and deputy mayor of new york often became a position held by african-americans. since very early in the 20 century. >> host: african-americans also voted for liberal whites. let's pause there and we will come back and we will eventually get to the report and ed brook versus joe biden or should we say joe biden versus ed burke. >> guest: okay.
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>> host: we have to skip over unfortunately a lot of history in racial riots that scared america and frightened everybody and lead to the current report in which they were to african-americans and they were at brook and roy wilkins who was the executive director of the naacp, my other mentor. but something about the kerner commission report that was appointed by lbj lyndon baines johnson suggested there was something about civil disorder
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in terms of the explanation for it. there was a long eccentric report and he said in effect white americans had to learn that racial justice cannot be defined as being kind to their black cooks. i thought that was devastating on white race in american society but also said that roy wilkins was an portrayed by many blacks. they regarded roy wilkins as not black enough, as an uncle tom. the same thing as you point out in your book with ed brook who was criticized. he was appointed by black voters and by white voters obviously to the senate from mostly white massachusetts but he was criticized for not being black enough. >> guest: that's right. at brook had a remarkable political career. he was the first african-american ever elected to the senate by popular vote in the first african-american to
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serve in the senate since reconstruction. so ed burke was first elected in 1966 by massachusetts which was 97% white at the time and brook was a republican, a liberal republican and also a protestant in a state that was overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly democratic in overwhelmingly catholic. but brook pulled it off winning in 66 and he won again in 72 and he was the only african-american to be reelected to the senate until cory booker i guess. so he had a remarkable career go -- political career. as you suggested he relied on white voters and because he was a republican there were many african-americans of a more radical ilk who thought of burkas to moderate and so when
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the kerner commission was formed after the urban riots of 1967 a lot of people said hey wait the people said hey wait the only two african-americans on the commission are -- and brook but the irony was the conclusion they came to as damning of white america as damning as white institution is any radical would have offered himself or herself. the kerner commission said the responsibility for the urban riots lies at the foot of white america, white american leaders. it said america is moving towards two separate societies, white and black separate and unequal. and so you know broke actually burnished his credentials on civil rights throughout his career in the senate. at the same time he had to perform this balance where he had to keep white voters voting
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for him while he worked in the senate. he worked hard for school desegregation was dear to him. open housing was dear to him and of course his work on the kerner commission. >> host: this was the same ed burke they came from the same status that liberal ted kennedy. ted kennedy had no problems being reelected because ted kennedy was white and catholic and iras? >> guest: i think that's part of it. ted kennedy was also part of political royalty and being a kennedy in massachusetts. >> host: what this world to have to do with chappaquiddick? race has everything to do with the liberals in massachusetts. i found your book revelatory in the sense that here we have according to going back to the 70s wow america was really inter-racial tinderbox. there was an uproar in the nation about busing, busing,
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busing. there you had ed burke standing up to a republican president and at this time you had richard nixon who had run on a campaign of law and order in what they called southern strategy. he felt it wasn't time to change the united states supreme court. he had to put people in the court with school desegregation. >> guest: this thing is burke supported him as a republican. burke supported him. he thought that nixon would be a little more progressive on immigration that nixon ended up being but nixon show the southern strategy for him which was a strategy where he played to white racial fears to win the presidency and 68, that was not just a temporary electoral strategy to get elected.
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it was also a way of governing treaty show that with us this for supreme court nominees where he nominated clement haynesworth who was infamous and that he cited with the leaders of prince edward county virginia and the leaders of prince edward county. >> host: the officials. they close the schools rather than integrate them. >> guest: haynesworth sided with them in a judicial decision and then after haynesworth nomination was defeated nixon offered -- in great part due to ed brooks standing on the senate floor and saying this person does not have a record to equal rights, a record in terms of equal rights that's respectable. that is why we should vote it down. the senate did vote down haynesworth and then.
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and -- >> host: mediocre because it was upheld. >> guest: the second one was harold carswell. even his supporters called him, they use the term mediocre and they said nevertheless he should pass muster. so carswell had an even worse record on civil rights on desegregation and then haynesworth had. >> host: if i recall cosgrove was willing to overrule the appellate courts on civil rights matters 15 times. >> guest: i think 15 out of 15. [laughter] i think a lot of senators couldn't believe that was nixon's second choice was cause
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well because he was just, he was trying to call the senate's bluff. nixon was saying you will bow down one of my nominees that you are not going to vote down the second nominee. ed brooks looks at carswell's rulings in ed brook was silent about the carswell nomination which angered ed brooks and anchored in the congressional black caucus but he eventually came around and he stood up on the senate floor and he said you know this guy is a segregationist. he showed all of carswell's declarations, personal declarations and his rulings on the bench and eventually carswell was voted down as well. in no small part due to the work by ed brooks. >> host: no question about how black ed brook was. >> guest: this was part of it. when he came into the senate there was a lot of question
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about what kind of african-american was ed burke. >> host: the interesting thing is what your book reminds me of is the closest in the proximity of the civil rights movement in the race movement to the expansion of liberty and civil rights to other groups for example. who did nixon appoint when hollingsworth and cause well went down. who do you appoint? >> guest: haynesworth and cause lower both voted down in nixon -. >> host: who was a conservative. >> guest: who was a conservative bent supported unanimously by the senate and wrote the majority opinion in roe v. wade which nixon did not see that coming. this was also a problem for broke after roe v. wade was decided in 73.
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burke came out for a woman's right to choose. he supported roe v. wade in this heavily catholic state of massachusetts. that was 73 and a night in 74 is one school busing began in massachusetts. burke had to deal with being a liberal on both of those issues and being an african-american. >> host: here to stand to the electorate and be confirmed to the electorate and let's go to the title of your book. all eyes are upon us. i kept saying to myself what is this title about? i finally found the evidence to support your title. so tell us about all eyes are upon us in terms of ed brook and the massachusetts law that provided for racial equality in the schools.
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>> guest: right, so all eyes are upon us as that quote from the puritan. >> host: more than just a quote. >> guest: let me rephrase that. all eyes are upon us is a quote from john winthrop who said we shall be as a city on a hill and all eyes are upon us. >> host: but the puritan, the governor of massachusetts. >> guest: later on during the civil rights struggle leaders of massachusetts would look to that lofty heritage and try to live up to that lofty heritage so massachusetts is a 1965 pass a law called the racial imbalance act which was the first state law, imbalance act. the school was dissent gated which they defined by a certain number of black children than white children that no school could be racial imbalance. that is no school could have
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segregation. the school systems had to achieve integration. so the law was passed by the legislature in 1965 and the two cities in massachusetts that had a large number of african-american schoolchildren, those two cities of boston and springfield didn't lift a fing finger. [laughter] they didn't lift a finger in terms of abiding the law and integrating. this is why we finally got busing in boston. it's not because some judge decided to just order busing. it's because for nine years and more the city counselors and the school committee of the city of boston decided not to comply with the racial imbalance act. so this sort of pushed the judiciary a long to wear in 19
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1974, 1974 is when you have this battle of the legislature where state legislators were trying to repeal the racial imbalance act and this is what you're getting at. the republican governor francis sergeant stood up and said he wasn't going to repeal it. he kept vetoing the repeals and he looks to that john munter parroted and he said all eyes are upon us. >> host: we have to be that beacon he said. >> guest: we are the model and we are what people look at. john f. kennedy use the same kind of words. all invoking that history in terms of massachusetts obligation, historic obligation to lead the nation forth in the civil rights. >> host: and then what happened? >> guest: and then what happened indeed. [laughter] so that was governor sergeant
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vetoing the racial imbalance act. sergeant finally caved. >> host: ultimately. he collapsed. he collapsed. >> guest: after many years he exceeded to the racial balance that but after was repealed by the legislature judge garrity of boston federal district court ruled that the boston school committee had indeed segregated schools and had not only segregated schools by some accident of housing, geography but had done it through a series of intentional decisions over many years, transferring students from one school together to the other, redrawing district lines intentionally keeping certain schools. >> host: laws by the naacp. >> guest: lawsuit brought by the naacp said garrity ruled the boston schools had integrated than they had to do it by
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sending white children on buses to roxbury which was the black ghetto and not only any white students but white students from south boston and then sending students from roxbury to south boston. >> host: yet a class struggle and array struggle all mixed together. >> guest: a racetrack with the same time and there was a great explosion of racial violence out the city. mostly it started out as whites whites attacking african-americans and there was some retaliation. basically you have a city on fire for a couple of years. >> host: and i read the history of that i was quite young but when i read the history of that i remember the civil rights community saying the phrase was it's not the bus, it's us. most busing in america was done for purposes not a denigration but getting students to school for convenience. but when they put blacks on those buses to go to the
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so-called white schools and the white schools -- kids about this black schools that's when all hell broke loose. we have to get ed brook and joe biden. joe biden rode the bus all the way to the united states senate. >> guest: that's right. you had to parallel busing struggles going on and one was the struggle going on in boston when judge garrity had ruled busing had to occur in that way and then you also had on capitol hill for many years beginning in the early 1970s after the supreme court had ruled in the case of swan versus charlotte-mecklenburg the supreme court ruled in the early 70's that school systems could use busing to integrate their schools. there was all sorts of
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anti-busing sentiment on the floor of the house of representatives and the u.s. senate. house members would enter one anti-busing bill after another saying it's illegal to bus a child passed school. anyway they could get an anti-busing bill on the books they would do it. these bills often passed the house but for a time period they were often stalled in the senate where people like ed brook could filibuster them were people like philip hart or ted kennedy or other liberal senators could stop them and they did this throughout the early 1970s. but then 1970 for busing head in boston and white americans started to view the issue a little differently. they started to worry that their children would have to go to black schools.
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the anti-busing sentiment became the dominant one among white americans. >> host: and how some people got elected to congress. >> guest: that's right, that's right. certainly massachusetts and all over the midwest and the north this was a hot-button issue. >> host: delaware, delaware. joe biden. >> guest: and so for many years ed burke had been one of the last lines of defense against the anti-busing issues and usually he could derail the anti-busing legislation because it was often offered by southern segregationist. jesse helms for example offered an anti-busing amendment and burke said this is just another segregationist ploy and a lot of segregationists agree with him. in 1975 however the freshman senator from delaware and joe biden was the freshman senator from delaware. he was 32 years old in 1975.
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he had big sideburns and an almost full head of hair. and he had a liberal voting record. but he was from a border state, delaware. biden started to offer anti-busing amendments. when the anti-busing amendments were offered by a young liberal from delaware rather than old conservative from the south those amendments started to get much more nationwide appeal. >> host: there was a unity of purpose there in the north and the south were so different anymore. >> guest: a lot of senators jumped on the anti-busing. i don't want to say train but jumped on the anti-busing bus. >> host: and the white liberals abandoned the black liberals. the only african-american in the united states senate who was trying to enforce the constitution according to him.
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>> guest: that's right sue brooks tried to stop the biden amendment. he was basically voted down. bret, had the chance to interview brooke and i asked him about busing. he insisted that he was no great lover of busing. he was no great defender of school busing but he weighed the issue in his conclusion was that it was the best instrument available at the time. he was a defender of desegregation and he was going to go down fighting for an integrated america. at that time places like the boston school committee had simply rejected every other kind of effort to integrate schools. the only time left at the moment were to try to put kids on buses and put them into different schools. brooks said this has to be done to remedy a constitutional wrong for black children. >> host: is the only thing left.
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the massachusetts racial imbalance act once i got repealed, that's not all that happened. massachusetts stripped the state board of education. the massachusetts board of education stripped the board of education of its power in terms of redistricting in busing. you no longer have the authority to bus. the litigation was the only backup. >> guest: that's right and congressman would put forth a bill saying you can't keep statistics in terms of race and schoolchildren. so if you don't have statistics of how many white children and black children are in a school you don't know. >> host: in context to be faithful to your book the whole notion of the rule of rope was the color behind society and therefore you cannot use race. we don't need to know the race in statistics and the liberals came forward with the colorblind
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strategy as a response, as an answer in the reputation to those that said you needed racial remedies to racial discrimination. the only way you can remedy segregation was to use a race-based remedy. that was the context which her book brings out brilliantly. >> guest: yeah this ideology of colorblindness that -- through the years and this ideology of colorblindness about white voters to vote for black politicians like ed brook and shirley chisholm and later on david dinkins and duvall patrick and even like barack obama. white voters would say i'm colorblind when i go to the polls. i'll just pick the best candidate and they proudly chose african-american candidates. at the same time they said i'm also colorblind when it comes to redistricting student so i'm not
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going to look at their race in that context leaving a segregated school system were leaving a segregated. >> host: that is where i kind of lost two in the book because i never saw ed burke and david dinkins in the same way. david dinkins, the reason why he got elected in new york city were not reasons why ed burke got elected in massachusetts. new york city was completely different situation terms of racial tensions and it wasn't racial progress but it was trying to calm those tensions. and like others, i won't name names on c-span but others it was a situation where they were incompetent or unable to do the kinds of things he promised or wanted to do for all kinds of reasons. so you had david dinkins who was thrown out of office by the
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likes of rudy giuliani and you had ed brook who was thrown out of office who was doing the right thing and was acting competently according to brooke. >> guest: broke lost his next election in 1978. if his re-election occurred in 72 before roe v. wade and before the busing crisis and the next election cycle came along and 78 amber cat, well we have problems with his tax returns and financial scandal. he had a divorce but he also defended busing. i think many voters in massachusetts no longer saw him as the colorblind candidate. this is how he had sold himself and packaged himself in 66 and 72 s. colorblind candidate and after the fires of the busing crisis that kind of packaging. >> host: it was interesting
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the way he put it because when i read your book i got to feeling the voters no longer -- in colorado. >> guest: he was in a conundrum and 78 because he didn't know whether to go with this colorblind theme again and in 78 he started to use this appeal, i'm the only african-american left in the senate and try to tug on massachusetts liberals, tug on our heartstrings and say do you want to vote down the only african-american left in the senate? >> host: playing the race card. >> guest: right so he actually did start to rethink the colorblind strategy and as you say the voter started to rethink whether they themselves were colorblind as well. >> host: i was so hopeful reading the first half of your book. by the time we got two more recent history because you really did suggest in the early part of your book that the northeast was different from the south and malcolm x
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notwithstanding notwithstanding the selling block notwithstanding all that there was a sense of hope in your book that there were people that were liberal minded and people who would say all eyes are upon us and they want to do the right thing. virtually by the end of the book even the blacks collapsed. my mentor kenneth clark at the time i read your book i said he must be turning over in his grave. >> guest: what you had to the 1970s and 80s and into the 90s, so something like the school busing crisis really battered the north in terms of its claims to racial progress. and then what you had in the 1980s were a lot of these northeastern cities like
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hartford, new haven and these places becoming very poor and very littered with racial minorities. and then of course as you alluded to in new york city the ways of racial violence in the crown heights riots in the 90s. my last chapter is called the north rises again where i tell the story of duvall patrick elected and reelected the massachusetts and ice tell the story of northerners as barack obama's support. if you look at the voting stats how white southerners voted for and against barack and against barack obama and white northerners voted for and against barack obama i think you can find hope for the north they are. whether you can find hope for the nation is. >> host: one last hopeful note to be continued. [laughter]
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