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tv   James Robenalt Ballots and Bullets  CSPAN  August 25, 2018 11:59am-1:05pm EDT

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it takes place in the 14th century. brother william of the bastard will is among this bright and to investigate allegations of heresy and before things get fully developed and you reach a conclusion there something like six or seven murders. it's a terrific book. was a international bestseller. of course, probably my favorite book of all time "to kill a mockingbird", which was published in 1960 and made it a great film in 1962 starring gregory peck, starring one of my favorite actors, by the way robert duval in his film debut role. it was written, adaptation of the book by horton foote who also wrote my favorite movie of all time tender mercy which also starred robert duval. this is about books and i hope i will be able to get back and reread "to kill a mockingbird"
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which will be my seventh or eighth time reading it and that's my summer reading. >> book tv wants to know what you are reading. cynosure summer reading list. look to be on c-span2. television for serious readers. ..
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i am happy to introduce james robernalt. vietnam and the month that changed america forever which has been called by reviews originally source and meticulous way, his new book is called ballots and bullets. that covered politics and early warfare in 1968 cleveland, could
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be taken from today's headlines but the incident he reports happened on july 23rd, 1968 in a clash between black nationalists and police and six people were killed and the shootings led to heavy risings but what set them off is unclear recreating the days in question robenalt puts them in cleveland's history. the ballot for the speech, had elected first black mayor months earlier, these weren't enough to mitt good day decades of injustice nor to prevent national list leader from facing all-white jury who found them guilty and sentenced them to death, review calls it
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pain-stake reported. >> thank you very much. can you hear, is it loud enough? so i've got a presentation today that includes some audio clips from malcolm x, videos with martin luther king and various photographs that i want to share about the book. the first thing that i want to get to is first slide right now, that's martin luther king shaking hands with a guy named fred amed evans, leader of nationalists in cleveland in 1968 and he would be the guy involved involved in the shootout 50 years ago, king came to cleveland because cleveland was about to elect first african mayor and the first african american mayor of major city in
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the united states. the guy between them is fbi informant. part of my researching in getting to the book is finding here in washington the fbi files on fred amed evans which nobody had ever seen before. they were 400 pages, the guy who is the informant there literally is giving hour by hour account leading up to the shootout while he calls fbi agents from the road to say this is what's going on, so it's incredible story, highly nuance and so i think you'll enjoy some of this but also very disturbing story, so first question and this by the way, is a photograph of stokes walking through a place, had riot two years earlier and commemorating the riot, the two
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guys on each side of them have rifles on their shoulders. 3 days before the shootout. the very first book which you can't see very well, linking raids, it's about my grandfather who came in 1980 and became democrat of the chairman and he helped woodrow wilson and any family is a new deal family but he was also the president of the brotherhood of magicians, politics and magic, how can you lose? that was the first book, it's really about his life and after
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my mother died, his granddaughter. the second one dick cheney and john edwards debating in cleveland. you remember in 2004, very forgettable debate, in fact, awful debate and i was asked to do a program on ohio and its presidents, ohio boosts 8 presidents and i had asked people recently written about ohio presidents and descendants of ohio presidents to come and one of the guys who i asked to come john w. dean, nixon's council, was doing this series on the presidency and john grew up in marian, ohio which is where harding was from. and so he wrote a book about harding, when he came to do this
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program, i asked a local historical society, do you have anything of interest and the boy on the phone said to me, i can't tell you on the phone, you to come see and i thought, really, went out, he closed the door, got everybody out of his office, pulled up this mike film box and he said do you know who gary phillips is, and i think it's one of the mistresses, this was, you know, long before they were going to come out so we went to look at them, turns out 900 pages of love letters and i sent out a freedom of information request and came back because nobody asked about her husband jim phillips that they were german spies during first world war.
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the harding affair, love and espionage during world war, it's quite a story because harding, you know, this view of him as seen through love letters that he wrote to her that she kept is pretty shared and that was enjoyable book to write. we do what's called a continuing legal education program together and we have done 150 programs. in this book it's relevant today here in washington, it is about a month that changed our history, it's about watergate, the watergate burglar trial and it's about the back story of roe v. wade. i talked to lewis law clerk who helped him write or help write the court's opinion on roe v.
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wade and gave me the whole back story and was released by the whole justice, by his justice to write about what his justice had talked to him about and turns out powell was very involved in putting the viability standard into roe, so that, this book is all about of the events happening at once, to tell you how extraordinary that book is on the day that henry kissinger goes to fly back to end the war for us, the peace accords, two hours later justice blackman reads the opinion in roe v. wade and 3 hours later lyndon johnson drops dead in texas. it's really this, you know, this thing that i love about history, so that's that book. so this book, ballots or bullets, again, i didn't go looking for this. the reason i wrote it and there's a picture of me with john dean. the woman all the way to your
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left, diane, secretary of a law firm that i work in cleveland, the guy in the middle is her father and the other sisters, her father was one of the guys badly wounded in shootout 50 years ago, in fact, they hold him up there, he lost part of his leg in the shootout. so diane had always told me that her father injured and wounded as a policeman but never talked about this particular incident until 2016 and for some reason that summer i -- i said tell me about your dad and she brought in a little book which i will show you, i started to read it and this is where her father was shot at that intersection. this is the little book, it was a book done about the shootout a year after it happened by a professor. it's full of errors i now know, it was done quickly before the trials were completed, but as i
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literally as i was reading that this -- this is about the riot, as i was reading that, what happened dallas, in fact, we stand here today on the second anniversary of the shootout in dallas, it was july 7, 2016. and what happened on that day is exactly what happened 50 years earlier in cleveland, it was a group of black nationalists targeting police, white police in particular to kill them and this guy who went to dallas with this terrible event that you all remember -- yes. yeah. [inaudible] >> the 5 policemen were shot and killed in dallas. yeah. >> okay, so the question that was asked, which one was it,
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they are starting to blur, what happened here this guy is army veteran and it's result of two african americans being killed by policemen and at an event that's protesting those killings he comes with his weapons and begins to shoot white policemen on purpose to sabotage them and hit the echo to the guy back in cleveland the spread amed evans is pronounced, both army veterans. evans was korean war veteran, both of them black power black nationalists, both of them were responding to what they considered police abuses. so the question that i had done as i was reading this book was why are we here 50 years later, why is this happening 50 years later that we have somebody who gets that upset that they would actually go out and deliberately shoot white policemen and why do we replay this.
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so in getting to understand the story, obviously racism in the united states goes back 400 years but i wanted to understand in cleveland what happened and turns out that this church which is in cleveland is central. this church is about a mile away from where the shootout in cleveland happened in july of 1968 and it's a magnificent church. it is originally -- it was originally built as a jewish synagogue in 1920's and sold to african-american methodist church near 1950 and what i like about this is that this brings together the strands of the story, you take a look at the cross there, look at that picture, there's martin luther king in 1963 at the church and i will explain why he's there and in addition if you look at the pulpit, that's malcolm x a year later.
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so here we have in one place in cleveland that's a mile away from the shootout happened, the two ends of the spectrum of the black freedom movement, martin luther king who was christian and believed in integration and believed in nonviolence, on the other hand, you had malcolm x who was a black muslim who was for the separation of the rakes and who believed in armed self-defense as the way to black freedom and both spoke at the same church within a year of each other and malcolm's name speech is why i named book and so let me go back and tell you a little bit more, there's a couple of other views, the church is huge. why did king come to cleveland? in 1963 he had the birmingham campaign, went to birmingham to
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oppose the jim crowe laws and the segregation and the images changed the civil rights movement. this is connor going after the people in protest. on scraps of paper he wrote what became known as the letter from birmingham jail. he came the cleveland because cleveland was considered alabama north, a lot of migrants from alabama came to cleveland. he liked cleveland a lot. he loved the people there but coming to raise bail money not only for adults but a lot of kids took part in protest and were also put in cages during birmingham campaign. he comes and gives a speech and they pass the hat around, 3,000,
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4,000 people crowd intoed the church, there are about 15,000 outside the church, it's an enormous event, it's a big happening, the people who are still alive who remember this event tell me that he had the letter from birmingham jail in briefcase when he came to cleveland under scraps of paper, so very important time in the life of this country. a couple of months later delivers i have a dream speech in august of 1963 and then the 16th street baptist church in birmingham is bombed. a month after he gives the i have a dream speech and so the question arises, does nonviolence works, is it effective, what's the best way to go to look for freedom and so, you know, four young girls were killed in that awful event, in cleveland we were having a lot of violence because to have integration of the schools.
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there was an attempt to integrate the schools because they were very segregated. the migrants who came to cleveland were really located in two ghettos that became severely overcrowded, 70,000 people in each and today there's like 17,000 people in these neighborhoods. severely overcrowded, lots of problems, this is a picture of the time, there was a lot of violence that was going on and so the people, the congress on racial equality asked malcolm x to come to speak, now what's important is malcolm x had just broken with elija mohamed and the nation of islam and this speech the ballot of the bullet was one of the most important speeches and it was in cleveland that he first delivered this. this is right after the malcolm x story, he had spent all the time with cash's clay on his way to becoming muhammad ali and he
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is -- malcolm x is moving away from the idea that you had to keep separate within the black community, time for everybody to unit and not worry about their religion and not let that control what was going on. this speech by the way, considered one of the top 10 most influential speeches in the 20th century. 9 days later after giving it in cleveland he gave it in detroit at a church there, a guy named reverend lee who was friends with reverend franklin, a good friend of aretha franklin's father. this would have been same speech in cleveland so this is in detroit -- so -- >> mr. moderator, the reverend, brothers and sisters and i see some enemies.
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[cheers and applause] [applause] >> he would be fooling ourselves and didn't realize that there were some enemies present. this afternoon we want to talk about the ballot or the bullet. the ballot or the bullet explains itself but before we get into it, since this is the year of the ballot, of the bullet, i would like to clarify some things that that refer to me personally in sending my own position. i'm still a muslim, that's any religion, it's still islam. >> he's in a christian church and he's saying, you know, we should not let our religion divide us and the next
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statement, i've only got 3 clips from this, but the next one he says we should be united together despite religious differences. >> whether you are a christian or a muslim or a nationalist, we all have the same problem. they don't hang you because you're a baptist, they hang you because you're black. [applause] >> they don't attack me because i'm a muslim, they attack me because i'm black, they attack all of us for the same reason. all of us from the same enemy, we are all in the same bag, in the same boat, we suffer political oppression, economic exploitation and degradation. the government has failed us,
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you can't deny that, any time you live in 20th century, 1964 you sing we shall over come, the government has failed. [cheers and applause] >> you do too much singing. [laughter] >> today it's time to stop singing and start swinging. [cheers and applause] >> so you get the idea of what he's saying at this point and the thing that he wants to do is to explain his new philosophy of what he wants to follow, it's black nationalism and what he says is, that this is a time in the world when in asia, africa, liberation movements had come up after second world war and
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people were overthrowing colonial oppressors and what he's saying isn't the philosophy behind black nationalism, the united states did not have colony in africa, they brought the colony here and established it principally in the south and the idea of black nationalism is that group needs to be cohesive work together and it's a spectrum, all the way from political involvement together, owning your own stores within community, all the way to black nation established in the south. and he was along that spectrum. here is the last segment i will play from the ballot or bullet. >> when we look upon where we live, we found white, black, in africa and asia they are getting
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independence. they are not getting it by singing we shall over come, they are getting it through national, nationalism who brought independence from asia. every nation in asia gained independence through nationalism. every nation on african content that brought independence bratt through philosophy of nationalism. it would take nationalism to bring freedom of 22 million after row americans in the country where we have suffered colonialism for the past 400 years. [cheers and applause] >> that's what he was talking about. people working together and that's why he says it's the ballot or the bullets. we could vote as a block and make a difference f it doesn't make a difference it's the bullets and he encouraged people to have rifle clubs, he encouraged armed self-defense as opposed to letting people get beat up during civil rights demonstrations. i mean, host really coming in a
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totally different way from martin luther king, the problem is he did not survive much beyond 1964, the day after he gave the speech in detroit, he went and did his hash in the middle east and came back a changed person. he was saying, we shouldn't worry about civil rights, this is a human right's issue and it's not civil rights here in the united states, it's more of a united nations, human rights question and we have the support of the world and so he comes back, the problem is he was in deep trouble with the nation of islam because he broke with elija mohamed in a very ugly way and eventually, you know, when he leaves he's a marked man, and so by february of 1965 he's killed and assassinated in new york city. but that doesn't end obviously black nationalism. one of the guys who is sitting
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in the church listening to malcolm x speak about the ballot or the bullet is fred evans, the guy who comes nationalist in cleveland and lead the shootout in 1968 and he listen today this -- listened to this and he said once you're a colonial people and you have someone with superior power to you, the best method to counter that power is through guerrilla warfare, it was happening in africa, asia and that became his mantra. it isn't about drugs, it isn't about territory, the deep south had started to think about in 1964 so 4 years later that happened, so these things then happened in the united states, malcolm x is killed.
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what happens that summer in '65, that comes out of nowhere, two white americans who come out of nowhere, the people who lived in washington it did not come out of nowhere, what people couldn't understand is lyndon johnson had just passed the ' '65 voting rights act and what white africa didn't know these ghettos build up during wars were festering places of injustice and police brutality and it was just too little too late and so we begin with '65, in cleveland in 1966 we have the huff rebellion and comes out of almost nowhere,
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again, the community has no idea that this is coming but it has been building up in the african american community certainly knows it's coming. the mayor of the city who is the tallest guy in this picture had no -- he was not a bad guy, he had no clue how to deal with most of his african-american citizens, he didn't relate to them, he didn't know what the issues were, he walks through huff and the huff rebellion happening during this time. now, on the other hand, on the other side of black freedom movement we have martin luther king and he had had '64 act in the south, birmingham '64 times man of the year and then '65 after selma, voting right's act, great achievements for king and he decided he will move north, out of the south to the north. first place he goes to is chicago which has actually, i
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think, more african americans in chicago at the time than mississippi and, again, they have been crowded in to ghettos, king moves to ghettos to understand the conditions and he's troubled by two things that happened and surprised by two things, one is he's surprised by the level of animosity in the north, he thinks it's worse than what he faced in the south and i will explain in the second and the other thing he's surprised is the african males did not believe in nonviolence, they believed in malcolm x, they believed in armed self-defense and they just did not follow with him so he was having kids walk out of speeches that he was giving and it was just -- the whole thing turn intoed a disaster for him in chicago, he decided that the biggest issue and he was right was that the
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schools were not integrated, they were segregated and that was a huge problem and why were they segregated, because the neighborhoods were segregated, how do you address it? open housing, he did a lot of marching for open housing in chicago and that brought out the worst in many people, a lot of stone-throwing and so forth. an awful picture of king getting hit on the side of the head on one the marchs, it's one thing to get on the south and give people right to sit on the bus and right to vote, it's different to say they will move to neighborhood, invoked the anger that he was astonished by how strong it was, he's not surprised people felt that way but astonished by the strength of it, so he literally leaves chicago after negotiating a deal with mayor richard daily that's not much of a deal, it has no teeth, it promises a lot of
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stuff but he knows he can't win in chicago and he gets out, so where does he look? he looks to cleveland, ohio, why does he look there? he knows that carl stokes, african-american lawyer in town almost won the mayorship in cleveland. but this time cleveland had almost 40% african-american population, so he knew that this was the place to go to because he now we wanted to move from civil rights into black power and the other guy really pushing him on this is stokely carl michael, he comes to cleveland because he sees as opportunity. listen to what he says, u clip i found when he comes to cleveland, 1967, not long after he declares opposition to vietnam war which he did, this is a little bit later, listen to
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how he explains why he's coming to cleveland. >> we feel over the last few years through nonviolent struggle we have achieved the moral power and we have literally subpoenaed large segments of the nation to appear before the judgment seat of morality on the question of civil rights. now it is necessary to transform this moral power into political power so that we can bring about the necessary political reforms that will solve the problems that we face. >> all right, so big deal, he comes to cleveland, you see april 26th, speaks to the beautiful speech that he gives to high school students in glenville, which took place in huff rebellion earlier and gives speech that i think is one of the best speeches because it's saying to the kids, you know, don't let anybody ever tell you
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you're not somebody, the somebodiness concept, you are somebody, i knew i was somebody when i was little. my parents made me feel that way. he talked about getting on a bus and going to school in atlanta, every time i got on the bus i left my mind on the front seat and some day i knew i was going to put my body there with my mind. very inspirational speech but the speech is really more, now, you guys go home and tell your parents to vote. we are going to now -- we will get to exercising political power, so this just gives you a little feel for this. i highly recommend listening to the whole speech but listen to this. this is about 20 seconds. >> passionately and unrelentlessly for first-class citizenship, but we must never use second-class methods to gain it. we've got to get smart. we've got to organize. we've got to organize so effectively and so well and
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engage in such powerful creative protests that will not be a power in the world that can stop us. >> so king has a problem in cleveland, carl stokes does not want him to come to cleveland. he wants to win and he thinks that king will alienate the few white votes, even though he came to cleveland almost every other week during 1967, this is not written about in the history books, i'm surprised when i go and read most of the biographies, they don't emphasize cleveland but cleveland was what it was ant for him, moving civil rights into black power and in a lot of ways, martin luther king and malcolm x moved towards each
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other at the end of their lives, interestingly they were 39 year's old, it's hard to believe how much influence they had in the world but you have malcolm x moving towards human rights and martin luther king moving towards more aggressive black power as he's being pushed by it. at the same time cleveland is the center of the universe here on this picture is known as the al summit, talk about somebody taking a knee, you know, this is june of '67 and what i like and the reason -- i love this photograph it's jim brown, the greatest running back of all time and he calls in all of the black athletes to talk to ali who is saying he's not going to join the army, that he's going resist the draft. this is in cleveland, ohio and you can see bill russell, dan, later karim abdul jabar but the
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guy all the way to the left, you see carl stokes, the only nonathlete and carl stokes two weeks from the photograph will declare race for the mayor -- to become mayor of cleveland. next is walter, with brown that is won championship in 1964, they shut down, 27 to nothing, he was the cornerback, but walter is still alive and walter and i have probably talked 25, 30 times about all of this. when he was going through his life as an nfl player, he was from detroit and met malcolm x, the one we listened segments of but he will be one of the last guys to talk to fred evans
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before shooting starts. he's a very important guy to me. a wonderful human being, in fact, most of our telephone conversations end with him saying, peace and love, jim, peace and love. and that's appropriate, i think. that's his big tag line. so stokes is running, again, you won't see king with him, but king was there very much and when he came to cleveland he met with pastors but he made sure to include ahmed evans who was the militant black nationalists at the time, so this is a picture of them, this is also that picture i showed you, this is the day before carl stokes is elected and so king and to me i love this part of the story, i don't know if you know this or not but after he violated the injunction in birmingham, the case went up on appeal so he served so many days in the birmingham jail and let out 5 days early on bail, it went to
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united states supreme court and in 1967 the u.s. supreme court, the war in court ordered him to go back to jail for 5 days because he violated the injunction, we just had a president who pardoned somebody for violating injunction in arizona. king went back to jail, and went back to birmingham jail right before picture was taken and he had three books with him, economic's book, turner's book, confessions of turner and he had one other book and i can't believe what it was, he comes back to cleveland, he wants to be in cleveland when carl stokes does wins, he does win but barely wins. he was in hotel by carl's brother who became very-well known congressman, wonderful human being, i never met carl
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but i met lou many times. carl stokes didn't want martin luther king there, by the way, cleveland elected somebody on tuesday and the following monday they were in office, he didn't have any time to do anything, he just did it. this is a victory of carl stokes in cleveland, martin luther king as i said was not happy about this. this is a short clip, a day after stokes win and you would think this would be happy day for martin luther king but he's very unhappy, prescott king ebony magazine that this was the greatest snub of his life not to be included in the celebration, so the next day, though, king gives this talk, it's a very apocalyptic and goes to churches right before leaving, listen to tone and message of what he says
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in this. >> as a result of what it's taken place in congress concerning the poverty bill, for the first time we face the possibility of winter riots and escalated summer riots and if these omnibus development, should take responsibility for not making it so. >> all right, so he leaves cleveland and this is what happens four months later. he's killed in memphis. what he's talking about the poor, how many people know about the poor's people campaign. he had come up with the idea, a lawyer here in georgetown peter who is married to marian and
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marian comes up with the idea through bringing bobby kennedy to mississippi to see the poor to start the poor people campaign, kennedy says tell dr. king to bring the poor to washington, have them camp here all summer until the antipoverty bills are passed. the ones that should be passed. they were mimicking the veterans from world war i who came in the 30's, the bonus army camping that they did, so that was the idea and king was in the midst of putting that together and the only reason he went back to memphis, by the way, he had gone there the week before, sanitation workers strike, guided front of the line of protests, the southern christian leadership conference had not organized it and at the back of the line some of the younger times began rioting and broke windows, et cetera, the police became inflamed and one of the kids was killed and martin luther king was spirited out and he we wanted to bring the poor
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people's campaign and he knew he couldn't control something so he decides that that night that he's going to abandon the poor people's campaign, talked out of it, that's on a thursday, on the sunday which is march 31st, 1968 he comes here to washington cost national cathedral and gives last sermon and the reason he comes here to assure washingtonians that he's not bringing people that are going to tear up washington and so he goes back for what would be redemptive march and he's killed. we had that happened, by the way, right before it happened, the commission comes out, the johnson had put together about why are the short riot brought about in '67, they were looking at why all the violence was happening and they came back with a stunning report, at the end of february '68 that said
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it's a white problem, it's not a black problem, you know, it's the insanity of blaming the victims of racism with the consequences of racism and so they very clearly said two things, it's a white problem to be solved and secondly it's going to cause a lot of money and we have to spend that kind of money and so the threats are now coming to part, king is killed, and of all things, you know, you know in washington this is the picture of washington goes up in flames, a lot of place goes up in flames but not cleveland, cleveland had elected african-american mayor and walked the streets with evans to keep things cool but if you notice this is cleveland, look at the corner there, rfk to give eulogy on king, the next day after king was assassinated, bobby kennedy came to cleveland, ohio, he came to cleveland, ohio
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as part of his running for president, he had announced march 16th and came and gave speech, a lot of people talk about courageous talk in indiana -- indianapolis the night king was killed, he came to cleveland and scheduled to speak, the place was packed with people, it was a solemn occasion, i want to play two segments of this speech and becomes known as the mindless speech and this is bobby kennedy in ohio. >> it is not a day for politics. i save this one opportunity, my only event of today to speak
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briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in america which again stains our land and every one of our lives. it's not the concern of any one race, the victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown, they are most important of all human beings whom other human beings love and needed. >> oops. let me go back. actually makes you emotional just to hear him. >> our lives on this planet are too short, the work to be done is too great to let this spirit
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flourish any longer in this land of ours, of course, we cannot vanish with a program, nor with a resolution, but we can remember if only for a time that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life, that they seek as do we nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness winning what satisfaction and fulfillment that they can. >> across the street from where he was speaking the scene was developing, people outside the church called old stone church in public square, inside stokes was sobbing over the assassination of martin luther king and out of this tragedy he came up with the idea of
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antipoverty program that he's going to call cleveland now and freedom now in the south, cleveland now and look at the number there. this is 1968, $1.2 billion over 10 years for education, housing, health care, it's like the mini great society, like the mini war on poverty and that commitment is made in may of 1968 and comes out of all the tragedy, bobby kennedy is killed in june, another threat unraveling at this point and at that point hubert humphrey comes to cleveland. he comes and delivers to me one of his most important speeches at the same place where bobby kennedy had spoken three months earlier and he says, we have a problem with our cities and my plan is to have a marshal plan
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for our cities, it's that big of a problem and we need to make commitment on the part of the united states and he deliver that is in cleveland because of the program and in american history changes for all sorts of reasons but the total tragedy of this is the day that he delivers that speech fred evans and some of his nationalist go out and buy riffles with cleveland now money to shoot policemen. so it's this horrible turn of events and this is money that was for a summer program in cleveland now used to buy rifles, 3 days before the shootout, stokes walking through the streets and then we have the shootout, this is the neighborhood where it happened, i won't describe it because i don't think we have time for it but you can read the book. [laughter] >> it is dramatic and it's very
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violent. 3 policemen are shot dead on the scene, 12 of them are badly wounded. the nationalists had the high-powered rifles including m1 and m2 and they were shooting and really causing havoc and the policemen had 38 revolvers, the policemen didn't know what was coming but the fbi did because they had informants and the hierarchy to have police knew it, so you can read a lot about this in the book and let me just say these are the three policemen that were shot dead, unfortunately two of them had alcohol blood levels of .2 and .25, they didn't know they were going to be killed that night. that's like 13 beers, this is a tavern next to nationalist house where it all took place and these are the various places, the nationals ended up barricading in the house, sniping out of it and the police burned it to the ground, nobody knows if or how many were killed
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because they -- mayor stokes bulldozed it two days later and nobody looked for remains. so it was national guard coming in, fred evans going to jail, he was convicted, this is a picture of him on death row, he ended up dying in prison of cancer in 1978 but here is the -- i will conclude with this point, this cause -- this violence like the other violence caused the great counterreaction and brought in richard nixon. and two weeks after the shootout, this is nixon in miami beach and he gives a very dark speech saying, you know, we need law and order, sirens everywhere, and does that sound familiar to you? it should because donald trump used that exact speech in 2016 two weeks after the dallas shootings. so we are in a cycle that started in 1968, we were on the
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right track in 1968, the commission was right, cleveland now is right, this is a huge problem that needed resources and this backlash that nixon brought in, guess what's the first thing he did, he got rid of office of economic opportunity, the war on poverty clearing house, who do you think he put in charge? a guy named donald rumsfeld. so this all happened, repeats itself 50 years later, this is trump in cleveland giving his nixon law and order speech, that dark speech and, you know, it's just -- it's a remarkable story but it holds in it to me the hope that if you could hit a reset button and go back to 1968, to back to february of 1968, the turner commission, go back martin luther king is still alive, bobby kennedy is still alive and we are moving in the right direction and the violence
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oddly enough that was sparked by all of these problems swallowed it and caused the great backlash which we are still living through. we have been doing nothing by cycling through it since then. and so that's why i think this book is important. this is taylor branch who won the pulitzer-prize winning series, the trilogy on king. he says nonviolence is an orphan among democratic ideas, nearly vanish from public discourse even though the free element to vote has no other meaning, every ballot is a piece of nonviolence to raise politics above fire power and bloody conquest. so cleveland has a lot to teach us about today, has a lot to teach us about what went wrong and has a lot to teach us about what should go right if we get the national will to move in a direction that we need to move, one of the things when i was writing this book i went to
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glenville and huff in cleveland and they are decimated. i mean, it is a war zone and, you know, all sorts -- imagine, just imagine $1.2 billion spent on the ghettos of cleveland over 10 years, 40 years ago and how we've lost that and instead we've spent money on military, all the things that bobby kennedy and hurbert humphrey turning away the idea that u.s. is military giant goes around the world exercising power, what if we spend it here? that's my talk, i don't know how much time we have for questions but we can open it up for q&a and you're not allowed to sit in silence. any questions?
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by the way, while we we we are t for somebody come up i would like to thank politics and prose. >> i want to thank you very much for bringing forward this very important history and making the connection to today also. did the black militants, were they familiar with humphrey's speech or didn't think it would go anywhere? >> about his speech? >> yeah. >> you know, in writing this book i had to -- i neither black nationalist or somebody from police family, i had to kind of understand both and one of the guys who was a black nationalist back at the time who is now 70's became a very good friend of mine through interviewing him, he was a poet back in the time. and what he said was, and what he still says and walter beach
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says, both black nationalists. jim, things are not going to change, they have a dim view of things that are really changing and i think that they would agree that a huge amount of money needs to be spent to solve this problem, national will to solve this problem but they are highly skeptical and whether younger african americans today would feel different or not, i don't know, i doubt it. i think in just looking at the situation it's pretty dire and that's -- that's what they've said to me so i don't think they believe that it was ever going to happen. you had another question? >> okay, jim, you teased us, you told us that the fbi and that the higher ups at the police
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department knew about ambush and officers didn't, you have to give us more. [laughter] >> so what happens is the fbi had put together a program which i didn't spend a lot of time, you all probably know it, the code and tell program, counterintelligence program and started in the 50's with hoover going after communists and the whole idea was to infiltrate and destroy from within in particular misinformation, disinformation, spread stories to newspapers and things like that. well, guess what that, that co and tell group, morphed into black nationalists who they considered a hate group so they at that point ended up getting informants all across the country. if you know fred hampton story in chicago, he is killed six months after this shootout, by the way by the -- by an fbi
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informant telling the chicago police where he was and where he would be in the bed and they came in and assassinated him. so this program was in high gear and hoover felt strongly about it. he was getting reports and there are 40-page memos on fred evans and who he is, what he's doing and what's going on. and so they had in particular one guy, that guy in the photograph was so inside his group and he was dug -- drug addict and he was getting money, by the way, this was supposed to be multicity kickoff. it wasn't just supposed to be cleveland, it was supposed to be chicago, pittsburgh and it was supposed to be coordinated assault on police by black
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nationalists. they drove to detroit to pick up rifles and made sure they were ready to go and he drives back and when he gets back to cleveland this guy calls the fbi and says it's about to happen, it's about to go down, the fbi then reports to cleveland police, there's a meeting at city hall, but unfortunately and this again is the tragedy, carl stokes is here in washington speaking to a group about all things is -- are our inner cities dying, he came to speak here, he was there, this was left to law director who was about 36 year's old, had been lawyer for 6 years to deal with the crisis and the safety director came in and said, okay, we know these guys have rifles, but guess what, in the united states you can have rifles, so we can't do anything about it and they didn't anything about it. they had more than enough to get search warrant, to arrest them
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and go in and get this stuff but that was the idea and so what happens is they say, okay, let's surveil what's going on, we will at least do that but whatever you do don't have stationary surveillance cars, have them go through the neighborhood. somehow between that meeting and what happened, the police and was aggressive and didn't like the fact they had african-american mayor and wasn't happy about shootout, told them to be stationary lookout and so there were two cars parked right out of fred evans' -- the house and those two cars had four white guys in them with shotguns and evans thought he was about to be attacked. his attack was supposed to start next morning but he thought he was supposed to be attacked and that's what happened. so the shootout starts and all police who respond have not been
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warned about the fact that these guys had these rifles so does that answer your question, bill? okay. yes, sir. >> thank you so much. it's nice to learn about your other things i was reading. talk about timing. anyway, to try to get the timeline a little bit better as far as date of this event and nixon you said was in miami, that was a convention, was it? >> yes, it was. >> the convention in miami and how all that kind of momentum -- because i didn't quite understand what i thought maybe the riots in chicago, later on -- >> yeah. >> i didn't quite understand what had given nixon the momentum and how that all took place. >> okay, so good question. it's not just the shootout that causes the turn, all the violence, all the rioting in chicago and so forth. by the way, i saw a tweet on
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this day 50 years ago hubert humphrey led richard nixon and then things changed. what happens is the shoot happens two weeks later and nixon gives speech in miami beach, few weeks later democratic convention. .. ..
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there were things going on at the time. >> yes your crime was on the rise. >> i know that, but we don't know about these little instances that is was interesting about your project. >> this was new to me because i was probably about your age and i was in a town in western ohio a new nothing about any of this. its way when i first had looking into it i was thinking why isn't this story here and it was buried in cleveland because police didn't really want to talk about it. posted one to talk about it because it ruined his mayorship. he was a bright chinese model of someone getting this and all of a sudden money was used to buy rifles to shoot police. it was over for him at that point so he was ruined by this guy and he was trying to do the right thing. that's the tragedy of all of
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this. that's the tragedy of 68 and why are we-- why we are still removing this. >> the date of the event? >> july 23, 1968, 50 years ago. the assassination april 4. >> kennedy was june in mystic place in july-- july what? >> july 23, so that is your timeline. >> unfortunately that's also our timeline. can we get one more round of applause? [applause]. we are like totally out of time. i'm sorry. >> yes. please keep your chairs where you are. the books are behind the rest-- register and he will be right up here happy to sign. >> thank you all for coming.
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