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tv   Author Discussion on Race in America  CSPAN  April 24, 2021 2:46pm-3:36pm EDT

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audience were attending and asking thoughtful questions and go to online on the main page and san antonio independent bookstore and we want to show some of their. i want to thank everyone and enjoy the rest of the book festival. >> thank you for having me and have a good time, everybody. >> i am honored to be moderating this session. great america, untold stories. joining me today, to incredible offers which leads me to the following. if you have not done so, please support the writers who have decided to embark on incredibly
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important research moments in american history the great issues. a great way to support them, being here today but also by purchasing their books. you can do that today on the book festivals center and these two books we are discussing today with a highly reviewed and recommended authors published recently and they are offering fascinating revelation. should we have groundbreaking work, three mothers celebrate black mothers by telling their story of the women who raise and shape the most pivotal civil rights leaders with martin luther kueng junior, malcolm x.
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candidate in sociology and melinda gates cambridge. from stanford university, every masters degree in the university of cambridge and gender studies. in the latest book, race, equality and american utopia. he narrates her own stories of the unsuccessful attempt to get it to racial quality at the heart. received fellowships from the foundation and center for african-american research at harvard university. to all of our audience, yes, i
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do have an accent, that's what happened, we grew up with a different language but i assure you i did not have an accent, hopefully not what i moderate. i'm so excited to be here with the so i encourage you to add your questions on the q&a button on your screen and we will select many of them in the conversation should particularly in this number two, do not forget should to get your book should -- [inaudible] should. >> i will not represent you in spanish. [laughter] >> such a pleasure to have you here, i tried to do my best and
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capture the covers of the book and obviously i've read them and i'm a member of a book club and recommending those, we have so much to cover, we're going to take ten minutes with each and that way can bring our audience in and as much as we can given the circumstances do this with, we are going to start with anna. >> sure. >> fantastic. >> what's so interesting, the topic you selected is incredible but you know -- [inaudible]
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as he began to do research, he focused on these women and of course their children, how did that come to be? >> the process was long, i appreciate that question and i try to make this question distinct, it's going to be a little messy but i started to address black women's story, there were so many stories being forgotten and hidden from us, i was incredibly inspired hidden figures that went on to become this incredible film if you haven't heard of the book, you've probably heard of the movie but i realized it was very intentional and that story makes it clear. it's not a moment where someone just says oops, we forgot to tell you black women were behind without calculations because it's very intentional. it doesn't fit a patriarchal white male notion the heroes are
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such that it was going to be with other hidden figures and brought them to the forefront. maybe we should have always known history and i should have been taught when i was a young person in school so i narrowed it down into the many layers i could address in one project. i thought about the civil rights movement because of the moment where we come to over and over again policy today and we will come back to it for years, we always come back to this but unfortunately it the perspective of male leaders, much easier for people to name male leaders and anybody else so i knew i was going to do something to address that. i wanted to address rolls in society overlooked, universally that are underappreciated, unrecognized and motherhood came to mind immediately. this was before i became a mother myself, i was well aware that many women and mothers, especially mothers of color do not receive the credit they
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deserve for the work they are doing day in and day out for their families and communities and in many ways, their identity, they will be raised as soon as they become mothers. there is no longer appreciation of the woman and her passion and talent. so i said that would be fascinating and the more i looked into it and realized that no one else had done a project like this, i was shocked. a lot of people have said congrats, you did something so creative. to me it doesn't feel all that creative. i'm surprised i'm the first person to say what about the mothers every year we celebrate mlk day, to celebrate his birthday in the middle of january and no one has stopped to say who else is in the room on the day he was born? he just pops out of nowhere, that's crazy to me so even on the lowest levels of goals, at the very least, realize these
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men did not pop out of nowhere and didn't just have ideas, they were raised and nurtured and we can at least acknowledge the people around them and very specifically the women. as soon as i started researching several different mothers of civil rights leaders, i said it's going to be great if i focus on this because i can also address the gender binary that says men influence, this isn't true and i can blow that apart by saying here are three men we all love and revere rightfully so and look at the relationship they have of their mothers and realized intentionality behind their stories. it's not a mistake, there's something happening that's very systemic and i wanted to make sure that we thought about that so i finally decided on these because they were all born within six months of each other. i could narrow it down that way and speak about a century of american history really
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incredible women. >> as you are mentioning and having read your book, i can see you there. the passion and focus something that really impacted me was the fact that your writing this book, you became pregnant, he became a mother and in your book, the mother is the first teacher of the child, that child comes into the world, what would be here message? >> it was incredible, my husband and i planned we were going to decide to try for our first child, i wasn't even really thinking about that when i came up with the project. when i was expecting and realized the connections i had
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with these women now, even before i became a mother, i felt connected to them but there's something else that obviously happened for me when i realized my child, the most precious being inside me but also entering a world that would be dangerous for them as a block child and even before for me as a pregnant black woman in the united states where it's four times more likely that i will die in pregnancy or childbirth, whether or not an educated or had access to different resources, the health crisis is very real, i felt both the celebration of becoming a mother as well as worries and felt connected in this way and thought, how do they protect not only themselves but their children from a country that would wage so many attacks against them? i found guidance for that section, i was not alone in my agency, i could demand that it be respected and i could support from other women of color and in
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all three cases, the mother is never expected as if they were inevitable or unchangeable going to simply say zero well, i just need to deal with it but we are well aware of what's happening in the country and world, we are changing. we are going to change the systems around us one by one and teach our children how to join us in the changing work. i felt i was part of a much larger legacy than myself and as much as that is a lot of pressure not only on me and my child, it also feel very liberating and i started to realize even in my phd work, maternal theory when we talk about from this perspective is very different than when we talk about it from black black motherhood perspective. often we think about motherhood, it is associated with reproducing and many criticize the role of motherhood saying women should try to avoid this
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or this is a way in which we are being subjected to these notions of patriarchy and when you think about black womanhood, it's a completely transformational thought when you are a mother and say i am claiming control over my body and choices, i'm going to protect my child and claim humanity as well as my own, it's liberatory practice when our children are born, it's opportunity to transform the world and it made me feel powerful and influential and strong and that's the approach my mother had even from my own awareness in my child's life and have another on the way in august should, i think it will make a big difference in terms of their understanding of the world and not allowing myself to be raised even in their minds. >> thank you for opening up
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sharing those thoughts with the audience. i assure many being a reflection and that is the beauty of this book that's been so well received and its list upon list upon list, a book that must be read in 2021. thank you for joining us, i was talking, he thought i would have a great touch in selecting authors, your book, which as well has been very well received and well served, new york times should, talking about the book
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and it's a very gripping narrative, what led you to decide in what led you initially to write this book, i was sharing with you earlier, i've gone through civil rights and latino community and i had never heard of this and i am ashamed of myself for not knowing this story so if you could share with us how it came to be. >> thank you so much, it is an honor to be here. you're not the only one who didn't know, i didn't know about it until i was maybe 22 and i grew up a couple of hours down the highway in north carolina, i was born the same year it was found but it took me until i was 23 years old until i heard about it. i was a reporter at the newspaper in raleigh north
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carolina when they found it, the founders died that was the first time i had heard of it. it was such a fascinating concept to me to make clear what was described to me, he described as an all-black city they were attempting to build the came to learn that was not the case, it was never intended to be all-black, i think it was intended to be predominantly black, designed the people of all race and would be a multiracial community. the main goal is to provide economic equality and opportunity and empowerment for african-americans. that idea when i heard about it was so compelling, fallacious, that's a word everyone i spoke to was involved, how audacious
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this division was. people off 5000 acres of farmland as you described it and a driving city of 50000 people in a matter of a few decades that vision i was struck by and i were really wanted to learn more about it unfortunately at that time in the 90s, you couldn't just sit on the computer and quickly google something and learn about so i filed it in the back of my head and then in 2014 when michael brown was killed, protests erupted there. you about it again, there were real similarities between the situation they found themselves in ferguson, the situation they found themselves in in north carolina in 1969 attempting to
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build this city, both places people work two thirds of the population and yet in both places they had no power, all of the levers of power, political and economic control by white and it seemed obvious to me that although the protests were triggered by the killing of michael brown, what really laid behind that was years and decades of frustration and resentment about the fact that black people were a majority of the population and yet had none of the power and that's what they were attempting to address with this block power, black ownership in the community and that parallel between what they were trying to achieve 50 years
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earlier, 45 years at the time and african-american residents in ferguson and baltimore and minneapolis and all these other places were trying to achieve and i felt there's a lot so teach us about inequalities in our society and in particular about the economic qualities between african-americans and whites which has not changed at all. the civil rights movement, lots of progress has been made but on that one major, it has nothing much changed. still largely what it was. to me, that is sort of the thing
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left undone and i wanted to understand more clearly what forces stood in the way and what we could learn about economic inequality and those forces that continue to stand in the way. >> thank you for sharing that and how you create this amazing project and not a doctor, i can see the experts on it. there are some who know it all, right? trying to poke opportunities, i am sure having to re-create, the challenges with this project, perhaps it's like my going to
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publish what i once published, can you share thoughts on that? >> big question, thanks. i did feel at times -- and what. >> are you hearing me? >> i can hear you. >> it's just me. >> okay, proceed. please continue. [laughter] >> we have them looking at things to fix but luckily it's just my side so please continue and i'm going to excuse myself so i can figure out what's going on. >> thank you, great question. as i was saying, there were moments where i felt this is too much and i worry that would never come to fruition.
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i should say before i answer this question, one thing i want to make clear there's a similarity between my project and anna's, she mentioned the intentional of the three women she writes about in the book and i felt the same way about the city and that's another reason i wanted to write this book, most people haven't heard about it and at the time it was being developed it was on the new york times and washington post, the today show, it was all over and yet when the project didn't achieve the success people hoped it would, it was basically forgotten and i think almost intentionally so there was this effort to erase it from our history and hopefully as you said, the book will help remedy that but as far as the challenges, there were a lot of
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challenges, i know anna talked about in her book about being frustrated about lack of archival material, i have the opposite. i was inundated with material, all the archives are at the anniversary of north carolina library in chapel hill and there are 8000 folders of documents so many are business documents, really tedious way through so i did have some dark moments in doing that. luckily a lot of people involved are still alive and that was a huge help to me writing the book so they helped me overcome the flood of information i face. the other challenge i face was here i am, a white man living in
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20, 21, i started this maybe in 2014 trying to write about a black man in 1969 and what dreams were and motivations and that was difficult because i didn't want to presume and i worried at times, what i be able to understand what they were trying to accomplish? that worried me. i did have a personal connection because i grew up in north carolina and i worked at this newspaper that as it turned out, played a big role essentially in his attempt to build but i did find it to be a big challenge, how do i get inside and how do i get outside my own perspective experience and try to understand
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what it was he was trying to accomplish? thought it was important that i do that, one of the biggest problems we have is a lack of understanding and i felt selfishly i learned so much and my perspective and understanding of african-americans jen generally. i hope that people who read the book, people who are not african-american and are white will also have a new understanding of this perspective and it was that he was trying to accomplish.
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>> i can't hear you. it might just be me. [laughter] >> you can hear us. >> trying to say -- >> you can hear me, right? not just. >> this is completely on the moderator, show me everything, i just remember one director showed me what to do so it's on me, not on the festival. i was saying perhaps it's opportunity for operation for a specific mother. [laughter] >> yes, i would love to know more about her. she was funny anticipating this. [laughter] i went back through my files because there is a whole history
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interview someone did with her and her father and i have biographical material about her and it's interesting having read her book and going back and looking at that. i was struck by some of the similarities between her experience and the experience of the mothers. she worked north carolina mutual, based in durham 30 or so years, she had, she graduated from college which is unusual in the early 20th century for anyone much less a woman was an african-american woman in north carolina but yes, she played a huge role shaping her son as these other mothers so let's talk about that. >> i read your book looking for her and i was like i guess we will have to talk about it. [laughter]
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that's what i hope, everyone feels ready to talk about the moms. [laughter] whenever we are in conversation. >> this has been quite the journey for the two of you and obviously we got questions from the audience. what is next? i know you are finalizing your phd, is it something theories or publications but what's next for you? >> thank you, i love that question, it makes me feel i have arrived when people ask me what's next because nobody knows you're a writer quite next, nobody believes you so once it's out there, it's a compliment, i appreciate that. almost done and then i passed my
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oral, what we call at cambridge and i have just a few more additions to make whenever i have the time which i hope will be soon. it's beautifully overwhelming so let's the only thing that's kept me so far becoming officially doctor anna so hopefully in a couple weeks i will be done and i want more people to write about this, i don't want to be the only person who writes about them and i definitely didn't intend for the book to seemed like it was the catch all. women's sons have dozens of books written about them and more that will come back next year and the year after that but what i am saying in the book, they are just as important so people should research them more. i want to learn more and there's so much i think left to be uncovered and i hope this is just the beginning what we learn
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about these women, is a book that came out recently by a researcher in the uk, jessica, i am excited to have a chance to fully read that and i wish i had it when i was doing my research but i am just excited that there is more of us and as a team of people finding more hidden figures, i have a lot of products in mind, i write fiction and nonfiction sometime next novel is all about addressing this information and domestic violence so it's a little different but there's a thread of parenthood and everything so leaders will see how it connects to this later on. that will be my next project at the time also working on a picture book around mothers of three contemporary female leaders it will be a children's picture book that will hopefully be pitched this year so there's a lot in the works and i'll finally say with these mothers,
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there's a huge trust turning it into this so we may be a documentary or a movie or tv show, we will see. >> thank you. we will be on standby to make sure we continue to push to get more books and you wrote 1969, the turmoil, racial tension and sounds like we are going through that what we are mentioning on your writings in the area. >> thank you for the question. i don't know how anna feels but my favorite time when you've finished a project and you are
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just vaguely thinking but there's no pressure yet and anything is possible because once you pick a topic, we have all the pressure in the world and deadlines so i like this in between time before i actually chose. i don't know specifically what i'm going to do next, i will say one of the things i like, i like combining, nonfiction and human drama with a story of ideas and that exists soul city and the book i wrote before that. there is one story i'm interested in telling, which is revolving around the highlander folk school which potentially is a training ground for civil rights activists during the 1960s, john lewis is the key training there and founded by an incredible man named miles and i
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think, the story was a little bit but i hope there is more to say about it, we get the philosophical understanding of the civil rights movement and it was a multiracial effort and i would like to highlight that and show this place and time where people of all races work together to create racial inequality. >> thank you for that answer. we've got one question from the audience, it's a question for anna she says you mentioned the source of information, she's
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asking, there are other books and writers and you could share. >> so many. [laughter] i will try again but definitely what's for me, will see in the reference section, pages of references on black women's literature but -- is a great place to start for anyone who wants to know more about black womanhood and identity as citizens in the u.s. and how our citizenship hasn't always been respected. we think about if you're not given the right citizens, you can say we are not treated as human beings so that is a great start, beautiful work that combines academic theory in a successful way which i tried to do in my book as well.
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doctor brittany cooper, she is in many ways revolutionizing academia claiming that we can include sources outside of academics we can think about accidents and orders, all the ways in which black women have found meaning in the world and create life for so many of us transforming the academy through respecting these voices and i always look up to her and have used several of her books and i am inspired by activists there work and her recent book as well as, but being cofounders, a black lives matter movement and i think it's a powerful way to understand the strategy behind organizing but i think a lot of times people outside of organizing to fully understand the amount of planning that goes into it in connection to
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generations before us in this continuation of work and legacy we all feel we are part of. those are some i will suggest and there's more i included in my book at the end. >> thank you. i will take that, in the book, talk about other times but there were others more supported, what was the difference between projects while you provide a narrative as to why this one failed an opportunity to share with the audience.
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>> there were new communities developed around the same time. it's hard for us to imagine today but in 1968, congress passed a law allocated 100 million dollars for cities around the country. that seems like a bizarre concept but there was this sense with many of the cities and prices and an explosion of the population over the next few decades, there was this sense we need to have additional growth centers around the country passing legislation to support this effort and ultimately approve new cities around the country. unfortunately, all but one did not proceed. the only one who didn't succeed was in texas which was more than
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the other programs funded under this law and what is interesting is only one of these communities being developed in an entirely rural area and the only one being developed by an african-american developer. one of the big criticisms is here they were using government money to support the community many people's mind, only for one race and get the weather today is 88% white and no one ever got to create teak it as an adventure in the way people see it as separate so there are precursors not only in the 1960s in these communities built but throughout american
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history, numerous attempts by african americans in particular to build independent self-sufficient communities both before and after the civil war. supposed to be withdrawing on that position, the big difference in these precursors, it had the backing of the federal government and was a much more thoroughly vetted comprehensive attempt to build a real city, precursors for agricultural service centers, there's so many interesting communities and traditions soul city was attempting to build upon and i thought that was an important part of the story to tell. it didn't come out of nowhere anymore then malcolm x and
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baldwin came out of nowhere. there were precursors and traditions soul city emerged from. >> thank you for sharing that. in your book, and need for economic empowerment and we are still wear we have a large collection it's difficult for this representation of racial minorities. we just want -- three years ago kern county, not l.a. county because up until then, i just want to tell you now, eight out of ten council members are
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ethnic or racial minorities and six of ten are women so we are very proud for that learning and understanding our history better so we can make some progress. we begin to, it is interesting and thank you for your time, i'd like to begin opportunity to come and talk about final statements and wrap up this discussion so with that, let's start with you, thomas with some final words. >> sure, i'd be glad. i'm going to take the opportunity to read a little package because i want to make
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clear what the vision was behind soul city and i talked about these traditions soul city emerged out of, this utopian tradition and a tradition of creating predominantly black communities and one thing i was trying to show in the book was how the visual on those tradition but also how they differed so i will just read a short paragraph that i hope encapsulates what he was trying to accomplish. after describing these traditions, here is what i write. in short, although it's a new kind of community, he also pointed to provide something vastly more straightforward for the residents for a chance at the american dream. as a reason black people absent
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in the 19th century and it wasn't just because they were held in bondage. even after the civil war from a false flax were in different to the message. for the simple reason that they couldn't take for granted the very things the movements sought to escape. materialism, ownership of private property and middle class speculating. the same is true a century later, california and new england, what he regarded as. the looseness of white culture telling the graduating class of its historically black college in 1969, i think god black kids today are squeezing into phonebooks or panties and bras. black people have more concerned. he wanted to take the american dream, dream of opportunity, upward mobility and self-determination and make that
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dream available to a group of people to whom it had been denied. creating a place that didn't exist, a place he had in mind existed all around him, it just didn't for black people should. >> i remember reading that in the book, very powerful. i always love when others right from the book and allows us to look into it panel. if you would like to share some final thoughts. >> absolutely and i haven't read the book yet but a perfect example how beautifully written it is, it's an awesome journey to partake in. my final, i will also read but i want to say this in conclusion. i feel like i have to now but
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while this book ended up celebrating history and thinking about incredible women in history and also where we are as a nation today and what is left to do in terms of work, i admire black women for their strength and the trauma they've been through but think about how we change things that these things are no longer happening. ... >> through honoring their existence and worth, i have affirmed my own. yet their lives speak to more than what we, black women, can be from their stories in order to persist in our own journeys. they speak also to the society we find ourselves in.
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the stories are not only about how we can protect ourselves and our families, but also about how others -- including our loved ones and even policymakers -- and should protect us. while it is true that they lived powerful and influential lives, we should not accept the challenges they faced as if they were the unavoidable. such challenges have hurt and even killed far too many of us. we should instead honor their journeys if use them as guidance for making life easier for all black women and mothers moving forward. at the heart of this writing is the constant tug-of-war we black women face in our attempt to find balance despite this. we are deemed less than when we are forced to be more than that. we are reminded over and over again that we are viewed and treated as objects without protection, that we are less
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intelligence, less beautiful, less faithful. and as a result, we push ourselves to always be more, working harder than those around us to purr you our goals. this balance -- to pursue our goals. this balancing act leads to our ability to produce life even when it is -- [inaudible] our lives consist of fighting for ourselves and our communities in response to the attacks we face, pushing against the sources that deny our existence. black motherhood in and of itself is liberating and empowering. it is the lack of support we need that can make the experience oppressive and draining. being a black mother should not be seen as a journey one embarks op or endures on her own. friends and partners when they are present should share the black mother carries on her shoulders. rather than simply commenting with deference on their
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incredible strengths, others should stand with them and lightennen their burden. -- lighten their burden with. partners should participate equally in the home and in supporting black mothers with their own dreams. public officials should listen to what black mothers say they and their community members need. it is time to honor many quietly-paid black mothers to become as loud as others -- [inaudible] as strong the as louise's fight. >> thank you so much for that, anna. you know, my biological last name is just -- [inaudible] my wife was already a practicing attorney when we got married some 20 years plus ago. she also had an incredible family history, and there were no boys in her family. i didn't ask her to take my last
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name, actually, i took hers. now, our children, of course, carry both ours, right? but there wases a book that she also enjoyed, and i thank you for bringing it to us. you both deserve all the glory that i know will come from these books. you're carving a path in an area that we need more writers and truly, you know, i have moderated countless book presentations. they have always been within the context of my mexican-american/hispanic background and issues, so this was just a thrill. but also a revelation that we all must do better to educate ourselves on other racial and ethnic minority journeys as we all attempt to carve a more perfect union. so i thank you both for your incredible books. you have an additional fan in me, and i'm certain we have already contributed to a desire and ability for many others to follow in your footsteps.
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once we have the ability to travel and hold in-person events, it will be my privilege to support an event with you. but this time, to an event in our beautiful public lifer r library here and truly thank you to you and to our audience. i know they're in the process of -- [inaudible] book festival's official bookseller, and i know for a fact that i will be ordering many, many more for myself to give to others. thank you so much, and i can't wait to host you again but in person here in san antonio. >> thank you, the raul. thank you for the questions. >> thank you so much. it was really a thrill to be here. >> thank you. >> hello, everyone. welcome to the san antonio book festival, and this panel, resistance

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