tv Stephen Carter Invisible CSPAN November 17, 2018 9:01am-10:01am EST
organization that supports programs to teach history, literature, philosophy and other disciplines, for the people of massachusetts. and pleased to have c-span's booktv, asking questions please know that you are recorded. wait for the microphone to come to you. and at this table, down this aisle, we have copies of invisible for sale it registers in the next room. it is 20% off this evening, this book discount is how we say thanks for buying books that harvard bookstore. to support his father series to ensure an independent bookstore. and i'm pleased to introduce
william nelson cromwell at yale university. talked for over 30 years and served as a law clerk for thurgood marshall, received eight honorary degrees delivering the web du bois lecture. he is an author of 15 books of nonfiction and fiction which includes violence abuse, confirmation mess, new england and emperor of ocean park. and the bestseller list. he is here to present his new book invisible, the forgotten story of the black woman lawyer who took down america's most powerful mobster. it is brimming with intellect and grit and new york times best-selling author walter isaacson, praises it as a riveting and moving story with enormous residence. and we are pleased to have his
other with us tonight. please join me in welcoming stephen carter. >> thank you for that reduction and thanks for coming out. last time i was supposed to be here there was an illness in the family, couldn't make it in the bookstore said we will reschedule and 3 years later, it is a pleasure, you know me much better for my fiction. this is a book that had been rolling around for a long time. talking backward. a historical moment that gave
rise to it, back to new york of the 1930s, there had just been a big gang war in which the black gangs of harlem had been wiped out or subjugated to a coalition of ethnic gangs and for organized crime largely because of members game that was played by more people in harlem and employed between 10 or 20,000 harlem nights. it was a big deal. the mob took over the numbers game when a violent war for that, in new york and there's a cry from civic reformers and newspapers, time to get serious about the mob and investigate. the problem was the district attorney in new york at the time, a man named dodge was in the pocket of the mob and had no intention of doing any kind
of investigation. so there came the runaway grand jury that said we don't want anyone, a prosecutor to investigate organized crime and dodge eventually gave in, thomas dewey ran for president. when dewey took over, and with any connection to the government in new york would work for him. he hired 20 young lawyers, labeled the 20 against the underworld and the 20 lawyers were 19 white males and one black woman. the black woman is the subject of the book invisible.
eunice hunton carter, she is my grandmother, you have to imagine being a black lawyer, a woman lawyer in 1930s, the bar was deeply segregated by race and the american bar association had a rule against black members, very few women lawyers, to be on the staff of the special prosecutor, and it was news, from coast-to-coast, dewey hires negro, you see this in newspapers, there were a lot of them about do we are tiring of the staff, a man bites dog.
so the job was to investigate organized crime. he wasn't interested in a conviction for tax evasion or something like that or prostitution. he wanted to convict for the real crime like loansharking or murder or simple corruption, drug running, various things. due to political ambitions. so various areas to get into this, in their own cubicles. there was a long row of offices for the assistants and there were 19 white men, the furthest from dewey was the black woman. this was loansharking, corruption and the unions and
drug smuggling and so on, there was eunice hunton carter at the end of the hallway and she was assigned to work on prostitution. what do we discovered was come to my office, tell me what crimes are bothering you, waiting for people to come, drugs are being sold and there was some of that but mainly concerned about streetwalkers, you may remember that term so do we had a problem. he had to take this seriously because citizens brought them in but he had no intention of prostitution cases so he gave it to the black woman on the staff to look into and they cleared her, this was not something that would ever be tried, to take the organized crime.
one of the things that happened historically was the few female prosecutors existed in the united states, almost all of them were signed to the women's courts, which tried prostitution cases and a variety of others and this was seen as a graveyard from which the career of a female prosecutor who never got out. eunice was essentially assigned to the same work. and a different person might have complained, figured her career was over but eunice took it seriously. alone among investigators in dewey's office she believed, experts at the time,
prostitution was not a mob activity but individual entrepreneurs. she believed otherwise. her theory was the mob looks at all the illegal activity in the city, this multimillion dollar activity pays nothing to the mob. long story short she spent a lot of time allowing this office and you can find in the records heaps of files that no one else will touch and finally put together what is a pretty good case the mob controlled prostitution in new york. around this time the man who was thought to be head of the mob was murdered and eventually luciano, who became the most powerful mafia leader in the nation's history which most historians seem to think, became the target and the
problems that do we had, eunice who spend a lot of time on the records, talking to the women, believe she could connect luciano to prostitution. so finally he allowed her to organize a red, february 1, 1936, 160 new york police officers know two of whom had ever worked together before were sent to raid 80 brothels simultaneously. the idea was to arrest all the women because their reviews people known as the fixers, when he gets out of jail, she won't turn states evidence, the night before, very quietly, they were all gone and arrested
160 women, and a judge who came to the building where his offices were to set high you arrest the people lower down but it is a controversial practice. there are a lot of serious lawyers, highly unethical to offer reduced sentence. if you did the crime you did the time. you shouldn't have some special way of getting out of that and it was viewed as inherently unreliable. the government of new york, dewey was the guy, he thought
it was terrible that trading, and eunice did most of the work. at the end luciana was indicted for prostitution, he fled to hot springs, arkansas where he was tracked down. he was arrested after offering a $50,000 bribe to the attorney general of arkansas, eventually extradited, and it was all because of the work done by this black woman in her cubicle at the end of the hall. this being the period it was. dewey hires this black woman, she's the one who gets the woman to turn against him, developed all the information to convicted at trial but when
it is time to try the case, dewey and three white male assistance, eunice had some responsibilities, she didn't have that particular one in this pattern repeated itself when dewey became district attorney of new york, decided to go after jimmy heinz, the most powerful politician in the state of new york and it was the same thing, she did the research and got people to turn to try the case. i am not saying she was ungrateful to her and when he became da he appointed her to head the special sessions bureau in the da's office where they gleefully report she was supervising 71 white mail lawyers so she had a career as a prostitute and very
successful one. i will tell you one other related story and draw a couple conclusions. her younger brother is alfieus, and their parents believed in education and both were phenomenally well -- in very different ways. eunice became a very prominent republican. this is a time most black people voted republican and the republican party was the party of civil rights in the 30s and 40s of the democratic party most emphatically wasn't. you have to get the players straight. she was heavily involved with political campaigns, and he cited eunice as evidence he was not prejudiced. he looked to this woman, head
of the biggest bureau and so on and so on but eunice was a conservative, a traditionalist it had a younger brother named alfieus with degrees from harvard where he was badly treated. and he was a tennyson scholar, he wrote a wonderful dissertation about tennyson's literary circle, multilingual but also he was a communist. i don't mean accused of being a communist, he was a member of the communist party. and a serious committed communist, something like twice as long as martin luther king's fbi file. the two of them took different paths.
one conservative traditional republican and a communist with no faith in american institutions and wants to burn the whole thing down. i mentioned that for the following reason. they disagreed but when their mother died in the 1940s they grew apart and eunice among other things not only did she think her brother was wrong but she thought what she wanted most of all was to be a judge and people from that office, for example william rogers who was secretary of state and attorney general was one of the 20 against the underworld. and a very distinguished federal judge was one of the 20 against the underworld. charles by tell was one of the 20, there were about 6 or 7 of them became judges.
she never got to be a judge. she told these stories but she never achieved that and always believed it was because of her brother. her brother went to prison for refusing to name names. those who know my work know that i'm very big on the tolerance of dissent, not shutting people down or shutting people out of jobs and so on because of their views and that comes from my great uncle's experience. after he got out of prison, he had been in academic before and he had a little bit of writing to publish, and to zambia, spent a lot of time traveling in the soviet union and china but he never came back.
i tell you this, my grandmother blamed him and in 1951 when he faced legal troubles here was his sister who had been a prosecutor in new york as a trial lawyer, he never went to her for advice, never asked her to help in any way. he went his way alone and after he got out of prison, he spoke again, 20 years later they died ten days apart from each other and all that period, the end of their lives they began to correspond a little bit when she was in new york and he was in africa but they never actually reconciled. there was a tragic side. i focus on the things she accomplished, i want you to think about the barriers of the time.
the stories about people breaking through barriers when these barriers were very high are stories that need to be talking about our thinking about. when i was growing up my grandmother was for me a very scary woman who had quickly corrected your grammar or which fork you used at the table and working on this book, i learned about her life. the things i saw, the fortitude and determination carried her through to succeed. and the most famous black woman in america. there were not a lot of famous black women in america in the 1940s but in life magazine,
liberty magazine doesn't exist anymore but the second largest magazine, she was on radio shows, television was young, she was very well-known in part because of the luciano trial and became prominent as a republican politico as well. i didn't do this alone, my daughter leah left law practice to be the principal researcher on the book and she dug through a lot of archives, did a lot of interviews and other things in the book reflects her work as much as mine. i thought she would be here tonight but she wasn't able to. two last points, any aspect you would like to talk about.
there is something else about eunice. in addition to the work she did as a lawyer, she was talking in the 1930s about the issue of sexual harassment, when nobody thought the treatment of women in the workplace was important, she talked in 1937 about men who use their positions of power to force women into she said intimate relationships and she said in the speech that burning and oil is too good for men of that sort. this was a time when you didn't see, this was not -- for civil rights factor didn't want to talk about it but they saw this.
this was a distraction that if they tried to free women at the same time they would never get to the heart of the cause. toward the end of her career, eunice gave a speech, a lot of national traveling later in life and she talked frankly about countries, women were not allowed to be full citizens including the united states and talked about it as a kind of dictatorship and she talked about the way after a while there is a voice that begins to whisper in your mind, the dictator within, warning you not to do certain things and no country can succeed, she was way ahead of her time on that issue. the last thing i want to
mention about eunice is she had an extraordinary family. her parents were both big and important activists. her father's name was william, worked for the ymca. imagine that is the big vital organization with chapters all over the world and he traveled around the world with the ymca, he had lunch at buckingham speech in tokyo and other places. he was a very conservative man, but a big activist as well. those things were hand in hand and in 19th century, when he came along, her mother who is known as andy did a lot of things, one of only three black women who went to europe during world war i with the black
troops. all these white women who went to work in what we think of as uso type job so they end up in the ymca, a place to unwind and so on before thousands of black troops or black women, a best-selling book about the treatment of black soldiers during world war i, referenced when historians write about the subject today. her mother was an actress, went to the naacp, called a field secretary and her job was to go to the midwest where it become so dominant the black community had become so subdued and she would travel by herself and give these rousing speeches, in
the face of clan intimidation and she was aware of the dangers of what she was doing but nevertheless believed quite unafraid. i should add in the end she left the naacp, one, the only female field secretary, began to feel mistreated as the only woman who did this at the time so concern ran deeply in eunice's blood. she was an accomplished woman. at the time she started out she was being shunted aside and she had a great period of being well-known but now someone who is largely forgotten and you can find her in compilations of american history and so on but a lot of what you find about a recent quite right.
her story, i published a novel that i realized had been meant to celebrate her generation of harlem nights called palace council but i wanted to tell her story and in the process come to realize this woman who once terrified to be has become someone i really really love and thank you very much and happy to take your questions. >> a microphone there, be aware that it is there. >> the material in this story, many historians believe dewey
became comfy and cozy and lucky luciano was let go from jail and exiled to italy. did you come across any information about that? >> i don't think dewey became comfortable, he was snookered into letting luciano go. united states naval intelligence pressured him when he became governor of new york to parole luciano because luciano arranged protection using mob connections in new york and all sorts of contacts with sicily's mafia, made it landing very easier, though stories are probably not true.
this was largely invented, but newspapers tell us he was very resistant to letting luciano go but luciano after the war was released on condition that he accept extradition which he did and luciano unfortunately has become a romantic figure to a lot of writers. .. >> we can differ over the wisdom of criminalizing prostitution, we can differ over whether it's it's -- it was the only crime he was ever convicted of. wait for the microphone, sorry. that'ses why i keep pointing to you. >> you alluded to your grandmother's brother's treatment at harvard. can you talk further on that?
>> yeah. so her brother came to harvard in 1921 to get a master's degree in literature. he had gone to howard as an undergraduate, and upon arriving at harvard he was informed by the legendary dean of harvard's graduate school, george robinson, who was dean forever, that because he'd gone to howard university, although it was a one-year master's program, he'd spend two years. now, when i first came across this, i thought this must be something special that happened to all the black students, but it didn't. it only happened to the howard students. black students, for example, had gone to amherst or hard voir dire itself, they were told -- harvard itself, they were told they could get their master's in one year. and, frankly, the reason he was resisting it, he couldn't afford it. he didn't have the money. college tuition rates were
relatively low compared to now, obviously, but they were relatively high compared to people's income at the time, and he had trouble stretching out the money for several -- a second year. but he was never able to get around it. he arrived at harvard right after the episode that involved the fabled president lowell that many of you may know about when -- so when they developed the house system at harvard, president lowell, who did a lot of great things for harvard, no question. but he decided that the three grow students as -- negro students as they were called at the time really should not live in the houses because they wouldn't be comfortable there. so they should board elsewhere in the city. this was a huge battle. it was in all the newspapers. he was finally overruled by the harvard corporation on that. but that, the scars in that battle lingered as civil rights
activists looked toward harvard in the 1920s. that didn't involve him was he was a graduate student and wouldn't have lived there anyway, but that was part of harvard's history that was very current at the time. this gentleman right here, and then we'll come over here. >> i've got a couple of inside baseball questions. one is what effect did carter's work with franklin frazier have on dewey's decision to hire her as an investigator? >> and what's the second question? i'll be happy to answer them both, but i just want to hear them both. >> the second question is the prosecution of jimmy hines began before the prosecution of luciano. and i'm wondering whether ewe thinks carter had -- eunice carter had a role in the trials of al hon degree -- alejandro
pompez, my great uncle, by the way. >> oh, really? >> yeah. so those are my two questions. >> okay. so let's deal with the first one first. so this 1935 there was a riot in harlem, and after the riot the mayor, mayor laguardia, appointed a commission to look into the cause of the riot. it was, it is said to be -- i have no idea if it's true -- the first commission in u.s. history where the majority of members were black. i don't know if if that's true, but that's what's often written about it. so eunice was part of the commission and, in fact, she was the secretary. there are some accounts that frazier was a member of the commission. that's not actually true. he was the research director. and came to prominence as a result of his work there. it's an interesting story if you look at the files of the commission which never had much money because city wouldn't give it the amount of money budgeted
for it. frazier even didn't get paid until eunice, the secretary the, would go and beg city hall for a check for money to pay him with. they became very close, although i quote in the book some private correspondence of his that was very critical of his first draft of the commission's report. but they became very close and stayed in touch for some while, although i don't know about in eunice's later years because i don't have those records. hines and pompez. so the raids that led to the arrest of himes took place in 1937, and the raids were initially directed against pompez and several other harlem numbers runners. now, pompez was enormously popular, your great uncle, along the harlem streets. and when he was finally arrested, it actually cost
eunice something on the streets. a lot of people turned existence her by the time. -- against her by the time. he was a great and colorful and wonderful man, owner of the new york cubans. she went to new york cubans games. he ended up taking a deal where he testified against, against hines. now, the reason i mention this is, this isn't hines in the book and all, is that what i said before, when eunice was simply involved in prosecuting white gangsters, harlem loved her. when dewey turned his attention -- this was after he was d.a -- to the numbers kings, a lot of harlem did actually turn against her at that point. the sense was that she was not -- now she was doing something that was wrong, was the view. and that was partly because pompez was popular and partly
because, as i said, 10 or 20,000 harlemites were employed there. he's a really colorful figure, and pompez is the only numbers runner who is in the baseball hall of fame. [laughter] he's in the baseball hall of fame. back over here. just wait one minute for the boom. sorry. >> i'm interested in more about your grandmother, how old you were when she, you know, you knew her or how, you know, how to close you were to her or how often you saw her, your grandfather, you know? a little more family stuff here. >> let me do a little more family stuff, that's fine. so my grandmother died when i was in high school. and i really didn't know any of these stories at the time. my grandfather had died sometime earlier. my grandfather was a dentist in harlem. and they met in the 1920s when she was involved, she was a social worker before she went to
law school, and she was involved in designing and creating a free dental clinic in harlem, and he -- and that appears to be when they met, because he was the first dentist to volunteer to work with the clinic. they had a troubled marriage. they had a troubled marriage. i make no bones in the book, make no bones of it here. he was quite the philanderer. and i told you about eunice's mother, there's something else i didn't tell you. eunice's mother addy first came to prominence in the late 19th century as a public speaker on the duties of black motherhood. and she preached that the future of the race was dependent upon black women basically staying home and raising children to be future leaders of the race. now, addy never stayed home, you know? she was always off giving speeches somewhere, but never theless, this is what she
preached. and this is what eunice grew up on. so even when eunice's marriage went bad, she tried everything to keep it together because she had this sense from her mother of a duty, a duty to the race, not to leave her husband and to try to find a way to patch things up. it appears that they did live apart briefly in the mid -- the late 1930, but we can't inif down exactly -- pin down exactly when, assuming even that actually occurred. they had a very rocky marriage, but they patched things up toward the end. and, in fact, when her husband was diagnosed with cancer in the late '50s and had to sell his dental practice, she suspended her other activities in order to care for him. as to my memories, i'll share a couple. just family stories. she used to come visit us every year at christmas. she would come on the train. we were living in washington, she was living in new york. she had a fear of flying.
she would come on the train, and i remember meeting her at union station in washington, and she would spend two days cocking the the -- cooking the virginia ham with more salt than you can picture. but it smelled and tasted very good. [laughter] the other memory i have is constantly either waving her off or meeting her at dockside because she was always getting -- we called them ocean liners in those days. she was always going to europe. she went to europe all the time. she had very expensive tastes. she had to go first class, you know? and she was always wearing expensive furs and so on and so forth. she was always, even back when her husband was alive, always trying to move to a fancier apartment, and finally she wanted a mansion instead of an apartment, and so they went and did that and so on and so forth. and her expensive tastes became for even we as children realized that this woman either had
money or wanted the world to think she had money because she was always wearing all this stuff. she came there a generation in harlem where people who could afford to were determined to be turned out a certain way to prove in a segregated society that they could do the same things that other people could do. you can decide whether or not to admire that, but i do find something admirable about it even though it's written about critically and frazier among them. but there's something admirable about the notion that they tried. they tried to build a society in harlem, it was a society that was deeply stratified. you were one of the people who was in it or you weren't, and that was very sad. but they tried to do something in the midst of segregation, to build someplace where they could have a sense of accomplishment. it's something i nevertheless admire even if i don't quite agree with the way they went about doing it. who else do we have? there's one over here.
>> what were her experiences, taking the bar and being admitted? i assume in new york? >> oh, yes, yes. i haven't told you much about her education. she went to smith college. she graduated in the class of 1921. her education at smith was probably paid for, we think, by -- [inaudible] a very prominent smith graduate who was quite wealthy, a wealthy activist and socialist. and we believe that she paid for eunice's education at smith. when she left, she tried being a teacher in the south. she didn't like that very much. she returned to new york and became part of the harlem renaissance. she was actually inducted into the harlem writers' guild which at the time was the kind of the top of what later became the renaissance. it only had between ten ask a dozen members at any one time, and all the people you could imagine were members of it.
she and zora neale hurston were lucketted at the same time. -- inducted at the same time. how did these people get in, meaning ewe thinks and -- eunice and zora neale hurston? i didn't vote for them, about five exclamation points. i guess she missed -- she did that for a while. and she was on a path that high made her one of what ann clayton paul used to call the star arenas who ran harlem society, were always in the newspaper at this party or that gala or something like that. that was the path that she was on. and evidently, it scared her. that wasn't the life that she actually wanted. and i have no idea how successful, publishes a lot of short stories, essays and
reviews, but who knows how that would have worked out. but she decided to go to law school. she chose a different path. she went to fordham law school, and it's interesting, we look at law schools at the time, most of the big law schools only admitted men at the time, and quite a few of them also had a color bar, although by no means, by no means all of them. and the catholic law schools that were called the women's law schools, i don't know if some of you have heard that term or not, tried to take up the slack. and the women's law schools were opposed by the big law schools. harvard tried to shut down the women's law schools in this area, to give you one example. the catholic law schools generally were co-educational, and they had a particular mission to immigrants, to people of color and to jewish students, most of whom couldn't get into the big law schools or couldn't get in without very tight
quota-like restrictions. and so if you look at the history of the catholic law schools especially in the urban areas, you'll find them replete with lawyers who couldn't go elsewhere. i don't know if eunice could have gone elsewhere or not, but fordham is where she went. she entered in 1927, then she got sick and left for a while, and then she got involved in politics and did some other things. she finally went back to fordham, she graduated in the early 199 30s. 1930s. and she hung out a shingle in harlem and immediately couldn't get any work. of course, most people wanted white lawyers at the time. some people would hire black men. some people would hire white women. but policewoman women was something -- black women was something people took a while to rm warm up. a very, very prominent black gossip
columnists, and she defend him when he was being extradited for not paying child support. she lost and he went to jail in michigan, probably deservedly because he hadn't paid child support in i can't remember how many years it was. she also ran for office. >> she ran -- i'm sorry, shortly after she went to law school she ran for the state legislature. she lost. and while she was running for the state legislature, she took a case involving two voters whose registration was denied because of some mix-up about the addresses and so on. she took the case on the eve of the election. she won that case and got free publicity from her friends at the amsterdam news where they were pals of hers. and so they wrote a thing about how she's out there protecting your right to vote. didn't work, she lost anyway in spite of, in spite of that. what else do we have? over here. >> i'm curious -- well, first, i
have a little side thing about your great uncle. you said he was a member of the communist party in the '30s, and i just wanted to note that the communist party was very active in fighting the case of the scottsboro boys. >> yes. >> i think it was -- knotts the most -- if not the most prominent, certainly one of the most prominent forces working on that. so when we think of the party, we might, you know, attach it to other ideas. but it's important to remember that history also. but i was curious about how your father talked about his mother. >> well, i will get to how he talked to her in a minute, but let me say something about the communist party. a lot of black intellectuals were attracted to the commune party in the '20s and '30s. the communist party came out for equal rights for black americans at least back in, i think, around the time -- not long after the russian revolution. i remember exactly when it was,
think it was around 1920 or so. and a lot of black intellectuals of the time looked at the soviet union, newly-established, and saw hope. they saw the future. there were a lot who went and traveled there and studied for a while and tried to learn from it. it was not at all unusual to have that atransaction. what was -- attraction. what was unusual was to stick with it. most of these people after a few years decided that wasn't the way whereas her younger brother would double down. and he would follow the party line. brilliant as he was. so you look at, for example, entry into world war ii when germany and the soviet union were allies, he was adamantly opposed to the u.s. entering world war ii. and as soon as germany turned on and invaded russian territory, he immediately said it's crucial that the u.s. get involved and so on and so on. as to how my father talked about, here things are a little
bit awkward because my father was eunice's only child. and when he was young, she sent him to barbados where her husband was from to study where he spent five or six years. and there's a story around the d.a.'s office that that was because they'd all been warned to take precautions, their families, because of the luciano case. the problem was that she sent him to barbados six months before she was hired by luciano, so that can't possibly be the reason. she always said it was for his health, but my father used to say she just wanted to get him out from under foot, because especially when he came back from barbados, she immediately sent him off to prep school as soon as he got back. nevertheless, he used to talk about her. she was an enormous influence in his life, obviously, mainly are e enormous respect. i'm not going to say with affection, but he learned a lot from her.
i'll tell you one little story that he used to say that his happiest moment p was this moment in the mid, late 1920s when he was a little kid, maybe it was the early '30s. and it's going to sound odd. his mother got very sick, and she had some surgery, so she went to florida to recuperate with one of her mother's best friends, mary mcleod bethune, where she spent some months, and he went down with her on the train. my father would say that train ride with his mother when, i think he was 7, 6 or 7 years old, was the happiest time they ever had together because she wasn't working. she was paying attention to them, and if that was something he had not experienced. so he really loved that time together. he had enormous respect for her, and he loved to tell the louis january know -- luciano story. what was interesting was it was only after she died that i started hearing stories about
the luciano case. i knew nothing of that when i was growing up. >> [inaudible] >> one or two more questions. right here. and i think there's one in the front. yes, go ahead. >> does this episode -- [inaudible] it seems like one of the things that propelled him to the how nomination against fdr? really must have made him look like a big shot. >> so i think that's a very good point, that the luciano trial made dewey a national figure, and like most national figures, he decided he ought to be president. [laughter] or or now, understand, we're talking -- so luciano is convicted in 1936. 1938 dewey's elected district attorney. 1940 dewey runs for president. now, he didn't get the nomination. he got it in '44 and '408, but in 1940 he ran for president basically on the strength of
convicts luciano, and he had the most tell gates when he got there. -- delegates. he didn't get the nomination. wendell wilkie got the nomination. it was the last dark horse candidate -- by which i mean a candidate who took multiple ballots and was a compromise at the end. and, of course, willkie got thrashed by roosevelt. willkie and my grandmother became or very close. actually, she campaigned for him also. and, yes, so in '40 -- so in 1942 governor of new york, and then in '44 and '48 dewey campaigns for president. and, again, when he runs for president, he runs in 1944 on the strongest civil rights plank that any major party candidate would run on in the nation's history up to that time. and eunice is involved with a group of black republicans drafting that party plank and persuading delegates to support -- this is back when political parties' platforms were really important and given a lot of scrutiny.
and if you see the book,en on the cover of the book there's a picture of eunice standing there pointing in a meeting down, and there's a man next to her with his hand up in the air like that. that was at a meeting of black republicans in 1944. basically, she was refusing to yield the floor during the battle over exactly what the platform ought to say. eunice campaign hard for dewey in both '44 and '48. and he talked about her a lot in both '44 and '48 when he was trying to bring the black vote back to the republican party. that was his plan for winning. his plan didn't work. and the other thing that hurt eunice, although she didn't like to admit it, was that she remained a republican forever even though by the late '40s this, the black vote -- which had been very heavily republican in the 1920s -- had largely switched in the wake of the depression the other way. we don't know, there are people who claim to know exactly when this happened, what the numbers
are. we don't actually know that. we know that it was different in the late '40s than it was in the 1920s, but we don't have the data to say exactly what happened. we only have a few little precinct numbers. we have time for one more question. if no one else, you get a second chance. last one. okay. >> did she have any relationship with eleanor rooseveltsome. >> oh, that's a great question. she was a great friend and fan of eleanor roosevelt. so how did she thread that needle when she was campaigning against him? so there's a speech that she gave, the same theme. basically, she would say when she gave speeches to groups of black voters, she would say eleanor roosevelt is one of the great women of our time, a towering moral intellectual presence, going on about how wonderful she was, but this election is not about eleanor roosevelt, it's about her husband. and fdr had a lot of virtues,
but he refused to allow black reporters at his press conferences in spite of being pressed to do so by civil rights organizations. that's a matter of record. but he wouldn't desegregate the armed forces but nevertheless lied to the public saying the naacp went along with this policy, which was not true. everyone has things they did that historically we wish we could get back in a sense, and he was very bad on a lot of race issues which is why there's that famous poem by langston hughes, waiting on roosevelt, which is a poem about -- and, you know, hughes famously gave up politics long before, but he wrote this poem about how all the black voters have gone over to roosevelt and gotten, in his judgment, nothing in return. well, maybe that's true, maybe that's not true. the important thing is about her story, though, isn't what happened in politics later on, it's the fortitude and the
feistiness with which she almost single-handedly brought an entire office of 19 white prosecutors plus dewey around to her theory, her lonely theory that turned out to be the correct one on how to convict lucky luciano. thank you all very much for your kind attention. [applause] >> [inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> i think i'll, i'll sit, i guess. i'll try anyway. >> join us this weekend for live coverage of the miami book fair starting today at 10 a.m. eastern with journalist michael his cough and david corn discussing their book, "russian roulette." at noon, an interview with
supreme court justice sonia sotomayor with her book, "turning pages." at 1 p.m. eastern trump 2020 campaign media advisory board member gina loudon discusses her book, "mad politics." and at 3:45 p.m., national review columnist jonah goldberg with his book, "suicide of the west." on sunday at 11:15 a.m. guardian columnist alyssa court on the middle class with her book, "squeezed." at 2:55 p.m., fox news politics editor chris stirewalt discusses his book, "every man a king." and at 6 p.m., former secretary of state john kerry with his memoir, "every day is extra." watch the miami book fair live this weekend on c-span2's booktv. michelle obama's autobiography was recently published and is already number one on most bestseller lists. she's on book tour now speaking
to tens of thousands of people in arenas across the country. here's an excerpt. growing up, everything that mattered was within a five block radius; my grandparents and cousins, the church on the corner, the gas station where my mother sometimes sent me to pick up a pack of newports and the liquor store which also sold wonder bread, penny canty and gallons of milk -- candy. mrs. obama dedicated her autobiography, "becoming," to her parents, brothers daughters, staff and husband. look for coverage in the near future on booktv. .. you will hear from justice
sonja soto mayor. john grisham and alyssa court discussing the middle class. chef andrea's, former sector of state john kerry. visit our website on booktv.org and follow us on social media@booktv for behind-the-scenes videos and pictures. this is live coverage of the miami book fair that begins on booktv. it is a conversation with david corn and michael isikoff about their book on russian interference in the 2016 election. ♪