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tv   In Depth Annette Gordon- Reed  CSPAN  August 13, 2021 8:02am-9:31am EDT

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>> find a full schedule on your program guide or visit c-span.org. >> host: annette gordon-reed
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on the 245th anniversary of 1776. 1776. are we that exceptional nation we often tell ourselves we are? >> guest: we are certainly trying to be. >> host: in what way? >> guest: i think there are number of people in society who are working to make the ideals of the declaration a reality, the ideals that expressed in the preamble about the quality and about the pursuit of happiness i think we had that idea and were trying to reach that potential. >> host: with the founders, this is one of the silly founders, but with the recognized we are today? >> guest: of course not. some aspects of it they would but most of it, women participating in politics, blacks participating in politics, all those kinds of things would have been foreign to them of course, and the power of the united states. at the time we're talking about,
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1776, this is a 13 colonies in the middle of nowhere. they don't have the power and we become an empire. i don't think they would have seen all that would've happened up until this point. >> host: have you waited on the 1776 versus 1619 debate that we are having in the country rightt now? >> guest: certain interviews and things like that but i haven't written anything about it. i may have had a few straight tweetsi or something but no in-depth essay at all about it. >> host: what are your initial thoughts? >> guest: my thoughts are what i said kind before is that you need both of those things. 1619, that's what you're referring to, talks about the beginning of slavery in the america, north american colonies, and it sort of set the contexts for 1776.
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1776 is different because it's the beginning of what we call the beginning of the country, and so these people are acting within the context of an 1690 was important, informative because therere was slavery in l 13 colonies. 1776on introduces a new, well, e limit if you want to say, that's what people say, paradox and we about that or not whether it is a paradoxis but this i give all men are created equal in society which a good number of the people are enslaved. there is no paradox on the dilemma of 1619. the english at the time are not saying things about all men are created equal anything of that nature. it becomes an issue when the united states breaks away and on the basis of a document that sort of proclaims this universal ideal. >> host: where do the three-fifths clause come from? >> guest: this is a way to try
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to apportion congress. they wanted four-fifths and so they would have better representation and this was a compromise between the northern and the southern states who were even it's beginning concerned about who would have -- because they come together as colonies but the individual colonies were different that the regions have their own ways of life. madisons said small states are states that have been slave people. there were people who in those who don't and this was a way of compromising and colleagues that were used to being alone for themos to come together in a union. >> host: this was not an easy process, was it? >> guest: not at all, not at all.
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they saw themselves in different places and jefferson talked about virginia he talks aboutut his country and that's what he meant.at they didn't created nation all at once but they created a union and that was a difficult process and you know by the conferences -- compromises that they made. a papering over of the things you had in the 1860s. >> host: one of those founders that you have written. veaux about thomas jefferson when did your interest start? >> guest: my interest in jefferson starter when i was in elementary school and inch our classroom at the back of the classroom you have a separate library in the back of the classroom. do you have a library and it had books for third-graders and this
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was when i was in the third t grade. booker t. washington george washington carver and thomas jefferson. the book was supposed to be like a biography. it was a fictional playbook. it was jefferson's companion and the book bothered me because it's a silly and not wanting to learn so exasperated because jefferson wanted to reading go to school. and i knew at the same time as the black tours and that my classmates had the intent of the author was to send a message about black people.
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i loved reading and i couldn't see why it had to be portrayed that way. that was my question to jefferson and i read other age-appropriate books about monticellolo and thought about slavery as well. at the same time what is that about? my interest started in school and a continued up until now i guess. >> host: is your school segregated at that point or had he been integrated? >> guest: actually i integrated at this particular school. i integrated in schools in my hometown in texas. by the time i got to the third
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grade things had changed. there were more black kids in school. i was there by myself the first but then there were supreme court cases and so forth that required an immediate integration of all the schools. there were more by that time. integration was new at this time >> host: you write in your most recent book that you integrated that school all of ruby bridges but without a police escort. my parents and the school district and i suppose the school newspaper or the town newspaper. they decided we didn't want to makedn a big deal about it. it would be nothing unusual here
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but what wasas very unusual i remember delegations of educators and standing in the doorway to look at us on the 25 or so white kids who were in the class with me just to see how it was going. it was an intense time and my mother said at one point i broke out in hives. it's like anything you look back at that time period and i've remember some of the bad stuff. my overall feeling which was of excitement of learning things. that's where galvanized. i had friends. there were some white kids who were not nice to me but my first grade teacher and my second grade teacher which were the key formative years were just
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fantastic. they didfa everything they could to make everything run smoothly but there were bumps. >> host: in her book annette gordon-reed has written three about thomas jefferson the first came out in 1997. thomas jefferson and sally hemings and the second is "the hemingses of monticello." she won the polk award and the pulitzer prize for that look enter most recent along with peter -- as most was that of the patriarchs. why did jefferson referred himself that way? >> guest: he was comparing himself to the patriarchs of old and he people and he had power and yet all these kinds of things. he was the patriarch of this particular era and he saw himself that way and of course he looked at that and said what?
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i insisted that we put that in quotes in the look because we didn't want people thinking that we were calling it that. it's his identity. we look at thishi as negative ad that's why i didn't want to be associatedd with calling them bt he saw himself as a person who had responsibilities. he looked at the slaveholder and all of those things and the father who has control over daughters and so forthd and sad this is a bit much. a side is these are all the people i'm responsible for that i'm supposed to take care of. we thought he calls himself that a couple of times. the book is about trying to figure out what that actually was.
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>> host: how long have we known about sally hemings? >> guest: well it depends on who we are. people in the african-american community had this story f is an article of faithth and referencd it. we have known and the story came out in 1790 and so the story about it has been in the public sphere since the beginning of the 19th century. it was rediscovered in the 1950s when they found madison hemings recollection and the novelist who was also a jefferson person as well. they brought it to the attention of -- so it kind of gets a new life. they didn't talk about it
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explicitlyeyt in their book but it's just a new light in the 70s when she wrote about it in her biography. she put the recollections in the back of herck book. he was the son of thomas jefferson and sally so that recollection now that was in the public eye -- i read it when i was 14 years old and that was the first time i had ever seen seen -- by a former slave% and inches of me to think of someone in that predicament and they knew that slaveowners had children and there were children born with connections and other kinds of connections. i knew that but to talk about a
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person an individual whom i'd been interested in before this was a new twist on the story. >> host: how widespread are the descendents of jefferson and hemings? >> guest: i don't think his son had children but his daughters had lots of kids in of people around the country who were hemings descendents. i met a good number of them and corresponded with a good number of them through a family reunion with them including some of jefferson's legal family. they have lots of kids in those days. >> host: annette gordon-reed have they've been officially recognized?
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>> guest: i don't think so. the monticello association the association of jefferson's's descendents with his wife i don't believe they have. i think it will would have been news and i would have heard something b about it read i dont know how many of them are actually teaching that recognition because there had -- they have a family story and from the people that i've talked to that's pretty much their attitude about it. >> host: well the c-span presidential historian survey just came out and we do it every four years after an election and the president to have written about extensively thomas jefferson came in at number seven and has been consistently at number seven as a president you had written about in andrew johnson came in second to last right above james buchanan. you think those are pretty
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accurate? >> guest: e i would say so. when my book about hidden came out that was the one-year -- he's usually just above buchanan and that's about right. he was not a good president. he was a terrible person. the thing about buchanan and johnson and it's a tough comparison but they both did things that put them at the bottom of the list of presidents. it's probably about right. >> host: hawaii is that? >> guest: probably because louisiana and doubling the size the country. that happened during his presidency and it was his doing. that is the controversial thing because people think about what that meant for the extension of
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slavery and indigenous people in that area. in the beginning of the united states takano united states, when i fill those surveys out i don't think about necessarily about how i f feel about a particular action or a particular president their policies. ihi think about how they exercie power in office and what they did it help change the country. that was a claim to fame for him and his first inaugural address was a successful term and the second term there was an embargo on all sorts of issues. i think he belongs in the top 10 and i suppose because of the decorations that they were talking about or we were speaking on.
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he gets points for that as well even though he is not president then. it's a key militant score for him but i would say some the things he did his first term and setting a tone this idea about the people as the sovereign rulers and jeffersonianism which definitely continued in his acolytes madison and monroe and took place after him and even jackson. he took over from john quincy but jackson saw himself -- he admired jefferson even though jefferson didn't admire him. it's the influence of jefferson. there's the age of jefferson that you think of and that's part of his presidency. >> host: were you asked to write and andrew johnson biography by the american presidents series or did you
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volunteer? >> i was astrid arthur schlessinger on the board of advisers the papers of thomas jefferson out of princeton. i knew him from that and the other editor had been the editor on the book i did on vernon. between the two of them asking me to do this, it was only 40,000 words and i said sure. it was not something i would have ever out of the blue thought of doing but once i started doing it and started looking into it i realized e evn though johnson is not a terribly pleasant person which shouldn't be a consideration but it always is whenit you spend time writing about them he was president during a pivotal moment. he made fateful decisions that put d in place other fateful
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decisions. even if he's not attractive as a manor is a character the role that he played as president people should know about him because of it. >> thost: the only southern senator not to leave the senate. >> guest: exactly and that's why lincoln traded and his original -- because it was symbolic. he wanted to send a message see, we can get back together. a seven or on my ticket we can go forward together. it was a disaster. >> host: the one thing i picked up an herb biography you were for two jobs and as independent and quirky.
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guess who he came from nowherehe essentiallyy. his wife apparently taught them how to write and you think that's a good quality in some ways. it could business and perseverance. he really didn't accept limitations. he came from a working-class that ground. he didn't let himself be hampered by that. basically every office he could have mayor, governor he sort of non-displayed he becomes president because of a tragedy. head had grit and they are not a
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lot of other things in my book other than his love for the union was important. i think it's his grit and loyalty to the union were things that ico could say okay there is something there. along with as i said being in a pivotal role at a particular time. >> host: l before we leavesk andrew johnson i want to ask about dolly. >> guest: well we don't really know much about her. there are peoplee who claim to johnson through her. because my book was basically about his presidency and the american presidents series we
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don't necessarily talk about the personal lives off the president but the main things that are out there their policies. i didn't go off into detail in talking about his play. >> host: annette gordon-reed back to the presidential historian survey put out by c-span and a jackson has been dropping steadily since 2011 when he was. number 13 and went down to number 20. what does that say about him? >> guest: well it says that different people have generations respond to different public figures differently over sktime. it's the same way historians ask different questions of people in the past and situations ins the past based upon their preoccupation and we had been
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very interested in the question of indigenous people and we were interested in the subject. jackson is an interesting figure because there is an age of jackson to. it was a rise in american democracy but it was arise of what people refer to and i'm not making this up the idea that white men should rule so even in situations and places where of blacks had been disenfranchised you have the situation where there's an expansion of democracy. working-class and lower classes getting power that they didn't have a foreign by then -- it's a restriction on blacks so that's a problem and what does that mean and how do we celebrate one
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side? it had been a policy before jackson but jackson's treatment of native americans has been seen as a problem and i'm putting out mildly. if you think about those issues he looks worse than he may have before. people were thinking about the fortunes of african-americans during this time period or fewer assuming there's only one way to handle the situation with native americans and he becomes a problematic figure. people like arthur schlessinger and others -- because of the spread of democracy. you have this nation of progress
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sort of a historical process that inevitably leads to better and better things. it's okay that they were taking the franchise away from the black people. as historians there's nothing that's inevitable and there is no end to what we are working towards people could say yeah but we still have to deal with, you can't think about what happens afterwards. you have to think about what's happening during that particular moment and would we think about people who couldn't vote now -- couldn't vote before and now can vote and how do we feel about what they were doing at that particulart time? it makes sense but b who knows? certainly jefferson, jefferson's fortune has fallen over the years and now it's in the
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trough. but it's not likely that he's goinghe to stay there. these things come and go and different generations are interested in different things. >> host: eight different criteria and areas and by the way it's all available on c-span.org but we do it every four years after a president donald trump's included on this list and he comes in fourth in theot bottom. 897 points for abraham lincoln, 312 for donald trump. is it fair to judge somebody six-month after the end of his administration? >> guest: as a historian i would say no. a historian would say that's a current event. that not really history.
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you want time to pass to have some perspective but some of the things that happened in the trump administration the january 6 insurrection and folks believe that he was taking that on and somehow involved in that, it's an extraordinary circumstance because for a surveyf to have come off of something that so quickly i would say a lot of judgment comes from that so anan extraordinary event sort of shapes the way people answered that survey and that's one of the reasons and their other things as well, the handling of the pandemic. but in the judgment you guys ask the questions and they responded to what i said before what i
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think are some pretty extraordinary circumstances for a president. but ideally you want time to pass because you don't really know the effects so those judgments are less sound than judgments made about people, by historians as my view off it. puggle scientist, it may be different when you think aboutut the effectiveness of contemporary times but with historian to need more time. posted june 19 come 1865 quote the people of texas are informed that in accordance with the park commission from the executive of the united states all slaves are freed. this involves an absolute equality of her snow rights in the right to sovereignty between former masters and slaves and connection heretofore existing
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between b them becomes that between employer and hired labor. the freedmen are advised to leave t quietly at the present homes and work for wages. they are informed that they will not be allowedy to collect a military post and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere. what is that? galveston in 1865o talk control of texas, that -- take control of texas, that area, after the final surrender of the confederate early. so he issues that order, and that's the day that we have come to know as juneteenth that the date we have come to know as juneteenth. it is a federal holiday. >> the civil war ended in april. >> guest: they kept fighting. lee surrendered in april.
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the army kept fighting, had the last battle of the civil warte. the confederates one actually. despite the effort was for not. they surrendered and that's when granger goes into take control of texas. his troops obviously. >> host: is eight texas native you grew up knowing about this juneteenth? >> i did not know the details about granger and all those kinds of things that we have been talking about yes, i did grow up knowing about juneteenth. on occasions i've been t asked when i first but don't remember time we were not celebrating, did not celebrate juneteenth. it was a family holiday, a community holiday. i don't think we talked much i don't much recall talking about in school. i was carried forward mainly by the people in the african-american community.
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i thought is at holiday it became a state holiday in 1980. but before a then i saw is just about the black communities when the slaves were freed that's what i would have said as a kid. and we barbecued, drink soda water and through. firecrackers , little kids below the age of ten would have matches, sparklers, those kind of things that's what i remember. >> host: noted the turn juneteenth come from? >> ever to defend theories. mostly people say a mashup of june 19.e and other people said some people celebrated over a three day period and they were not sure about the date weather's the 18th, 19th, 20th so they just had juneteenth. i don't know that i buy that.
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generally no the wizard written and it was announced. there's a story of being attacked on the door of an african-american methodist church in galveston. so people knew what day it was. the best answers is a mashup of june 19. so what you're just recently in washington at the white house were you? >> guest: i was, i was there for the signing ceremony. i was stunned by the quickness by which this all took place. i was pretty confident it was going to become a federal holiday, i thought it might be later. i got an e-mail invitation while a text and then and invitation to come down to the white house for the signing ceremony. he quickly hopped a on a plane, i went down there and made it in time for the ceremony.
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>> in your most recent book on juneteenth hue right there is so much misunderstandings that stem from a lack of attention to or even awareness of the states foundational aspect, what does that mean? >> when people think of texas and i certainly have had this is one whose a transplants into the north, it is some reading people think of texas as the land of cowboys and oil. in at sit in the book texas is constructed as a white man for that is like a cowboy or cattlele ranchers even that many cowboys were black that's of the hollywood presentation of them. the film giant probably exemplifies what people think about the story they tell about that. once there wasce a place of cattlemen they had their way of life.
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on these while cutting oil people came in and people who challenge the cowboy they are all the sudden come together and make o this new texas. but they leave out the part about plantation owners in east texas. the place where even and often the father of texas does not bring people to texas to become cattle ranchers. he brings people to texas with the expectation that going to bring their be protected in texas would take its place as part of cotton empire. the foundational aspect of texas of the things don't think about very much it was clear that was the intention when the texans break away from mexico which had declared
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slave really illegal even though they gave texas an example. they weres never really sure aboutas that. it's one of the reasons they decided to leave mexico when they do they set up a constitution that expressly protect slavery which prevents people of african descent from immigrating there without permission. saying they can never become citizens. not thinking about texas as a slave society of having been a slave society think some questions i get, peoplee are confused about certain things they hear coming out ofec texas. they think what are these racial problems talking about race what is the problem here. this is a place full of
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tabloids o and is not a space of african-american, people who have anything to do with what we think of places like bats as a slave society not so much texas but actually was. the purpose of the book was all about the westford the west is important you can't downplay that. but east texas where i grew up where my ancestors from georgia and mississippi was the society. the state is still dealing with all of that. >> have you been with tracey? back your family? >> not thoroughly. i can place my family on my mother's side at least 1820. my father's side 1860s maybe a
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little bit before then. i have deep roots in texas. my family did not want either of my mother's side or my father's side they did not join the black leftists and from texas into california, they went other places as well. i am sort of the anomaly of havingas left texas to go to school in new hampshire at dartmouth. or to live outside of texas. most of myhe families in texas. when they left those little towns to go somewhere they went to houston, they went to dallas or san antonio. they did not come to new york. they did not go to l.a. the roots go deep and most of my family was still there. >> back to your book on
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juneteenth, page 101 quote in 1967 there is a rerelease of the 1960 film the alamo. i was taken to see it with my best friend, he tells about that? >> it was an exciting thing. it was a big deal to go to the movies in those days and to go to houston connor was a little town 40 miles north of houston. hisce potentially applying force between the two places. course now houston has breached out and encroached upon all of us in that area. this was an exciting thing to treat to go see this movie about people we already knew about, jim buie, travis, davy crockett, these were names known to us. my best friend he was a boy was really into both characters but i knew who they were thought jim buie was almostmo this semi- godlike
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person the had this special powers or whatever. he got into knife fights the bowie knife became famous because of that so we go to see this film is very, very heroic betrayal of the alamo as you would have expected. there was nothing in therebl that surprised me. there things that made me uncomfortable is a character who was a slave and portrayed not in w a way, and a way that made me uncomfortable. but for the most part it was this heroic presentation of a battle where they make the scholastic glorious stand against the mexicans. noat later on when i was a
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teenager and my teenage years a beat when i was in college and i read more about all of this i came to understand the texans had reasons to fight for their independence but as im mentioned before one of them was to protect their slaveholders, protect texas and make it as a slaveholders republic. how am i supposed to deal with this? i am african-american my ancestors were enslaved in texas. how do i have this heroic keep this heroic understanding about the alamo when i realized one of the things we're fighting for is to keep my people. as a little kid i enjoyed the movie except for the part about the enslaved person.
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i fell into allll of the rousing had a nice theme song lawrence harvey was really cute but laterit on i began to see the problems with it. in the book i talk a little bit about that. and how can you possibly do that. >> good afternoon and welcome to book tv on cspan2. independence day 2021 this is our monthly program in depth were we invite one author to come on and talk about her or his book. this month it's harvard professor, pulitzer prize winning author and that gordon reed. began her writing career in 1997, thomasco jefferson and sally hemmings in american controversy came out that year. the hemmings' of monticello in american family came out in 2008. that when one a pulitzer in the national book award.
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cannot in 2010 most trusted of the patriarchs thomas jefferson the empire came out in 2016 on juneteenth came up this year end annette gordon reed had also co-authored a book which came out into thousand one. edited race on trial what injustice in america. this is an interactive program and your voice c is very important. here's the talk with professor gordon reed. 2020 code 748-8200 if you live in the east and central time zones. 74882001 for those in the pacific time zones, you can also send in a text if that is easier for you. if you do please include your first name and yourt city. text messages only.
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(202)748-8903. now, you can also contact us via social media, facebook, twitter, just remember apple tv is our twitter handle. you can find all those and make a comment that way too. we will scroll to those numbers again in case you did not getwn the chance to write them down or hear them we will give you another chance to do that. annette gordon reed it was in 2008 that you won the national book award. i happen to be there at that presentation that night. i remember you walked by me and he looked a little bit stunned at what was happening when you won that night. we want to play just a little bit of your acceptance speech. >> i have to think first people who are not here my mother and father betty jean gordon alford gordon who are responsible for everything that i am that is good.
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and gave me a sense of how important learning was. and quite frankly it sorted the journey of black people in this country are on. that is what i been trying to do with my scholarship and what i tried to do with this book. they are gone on i hope they are lookingud at me i know they'll be very, very proud at this moment. >> host: annette gordon reed who were your parents? >> my father was alford gordon senior and my mother wasea betty jean gordon. they were texans as i mentioned before they grew up in texas in a segregated society. my father went into the army as an 18-year-old after he graduated from high school to help his sisters rather than go to school. help the younger sisters has mother had died when he was 11. and his father was invalid.
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he was a army person for time and came out and had a series of businesses when i was growing up. my mother was a high school english teacher. she went to selma college and graduate school. they got married in livingston they had known each other in livingston as kids. my mother got a way to houston time but came back soe in some ways they been childhood sweethearts but got married and when i was about six months old they moved to texas predestined town i write about on juneteenth. >> host: you also say you said your mother was a high school teacher. he read the effects of immigration schools are not black and white has received a great amount of attention over the years, what is been much less considered is the effect
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immigration had on black teachers. >> and talking in the book about the fact my parents were i believe idealistic when they sent me too anderson school this is the mid 60s and black people were on the move in away and the voting rights act i think they saw sending me too this school is being part of an advance in civil rights. now later on when they became disillusionedbo about the weight integration played itself out in my town and across the south in general. my parents were very political people they talked about politics aer lot. not just in our town but all over the south. they became disillusioned because there was integration
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but it seemed to be black adjoining whites but whites didn't have to change anything. it was integrationas of the kids but not integration of the teachers. across the tout that in my town and across the south my mother remained in the classroom. there was disappointment at that fact. she said to me she had gone to college and grad school to teach black h students. she loved the white students should love the black students with the great things about this book as i heard from her former students who tell me how much she meant to them as a teacher white and black people. but she wasas a part of that generation that saw themselves as in the vanguard. people were used to uplift the race. they were there to prepare
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black students for what they're going to be facing living in the segregated society. and to live in that society but how to maneuver tond try to end it. to make things better for black people. when there's integration teachers were moved fromm the classroom she gained a number of friends where she worked as a wonderful friendship that grew out of that it was very different from what she had known as part of a group of black men and women who had sort of a mission who were impelled in some sort of way. for whites it didn't work that way. the society had belabored them she did not have to exhort them to anything other than fulfilling their individual potential what she did. there is no notion you are a
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group of people who have things to do. we have been on the journey since 1865 and even before them. she became a little disillusioned about this. the terms of which was carried out. >> why did you get a law degree fever practice as a lawyer? >> i got a law degree for couple of reasons. i think my experience integrating the schools of our town gave me an early look at law. because i understood this was something made by the court. and lawyers were in the court and justices would gone to law
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school. i wanted to be a writer for most of my life. for all of my life really. i thought law was a practical thing for me too do. my experiences integrating schools that mainly focus law and the practicality of it plus my father's admired lawyers. i think if he would've had the opportunity when he was growing up he would have been a lawyer. think that would please my father why i went to harvard is because it was harvard. and i knew lots of people were able to do things i saw government officials, harvard is a place that provides a public service, a lot of my
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colleagues and the people who were on the faculty before went back and forth between government and academia. i practice three years the cahill gordon and riedel which is the law firm. then i was counseled to a small city agency called the board of corrections which is the oversight agency in the department of corrections. an agency but the jail our job standards forhe the jail and make sure thosere were followed. is not a prisoners rights organization but had t that bit it was like a tiny agency that had a a huge mandate and no money to carry it out but we did the best we can do. i practice for about seven years even in private practice but government practice itself here new york for.
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>> your known as a historian and a history professor. jude meets a new york supreme court justice at harvard law school? >> yes, i did. robert reed my h husband, we met at the black law students association picnic the first week, i thought a good-looking guy. we were in the same storm, we were in the same section. harvard is a big loss clear first-year section was divided up into four sections and he was in my section. we were in a smaller section eight legal methods section. everything was pushing us together. we used to fit in the lobby of our storm and watch mtv and other tv shows after we finish studying. we got married, we got married our second year of law school.
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we got married the day after graduation. at the methodist church right there in the harvard law school campus. we went robert reed is a justice at the supreme court's, will you be teaching in personn this fall at harvard? and what we be teaching? >> yes i will be back. this year in the fall i will be teaching, we are open for business or get back into things and very excited about that. going to be teaching american legal history in the fall. and i am sharing the entry level again. i will have that class just one class and the fault. and then in the spring time i'll be teaching a class on constitutional law empire. i'll be teaching legal profession which is legal ethics in the spring. fluent co-author of the most
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blessed of the picture books. i've taken enough of your time of tear from our collars, california first up. >> caller: thank you for much for taking myee call. professor rita been very fascinated listening to you, this has been wonderful. my question is about hemmings and thomas jefferson. what do we know about their relationship? obviously he owned her was there love their it was handy? there were many women who i'm sure it would been happy to be his companion. i understandou he promises what do we know about the interpersonal is much as we can know about that? >> guest: we don't think specific about the nature of their collection connection.
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people say can only be right because he owned her. his grandchildren couple great-grandchildren as trying to get the precise number here rightsow, talked about how jefferson felt about her, that he loved. her. mr. jefferson loved her dearly they said. they don't talk but how she felt about him. and once she comes back to the united states with him, this is something that started when they were in france. and her older brother james could have taken their freedomom there. at first she thanks about doing that but jefferson thomas heard jefferson thomas said they come back to the united states, to live a good life at monticello and any children they have would be free with her 21.
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and she comes back with him for it she could come back with her because she trusteded him to carry that out. she was 16 years old a 15 or in the 18th centuries not the same we think of today there are still people who were young and impressionable. and she comes back with him on that and in fact what he said he was going to do, he did. but we don't know anything more about it. i think about this is all in his power when she comes back to us in his power. it strikes me as unlikely he would maintain a purely sexual interest in her for 38 years. that would not be the first thought you would have in your mind the way people act in the circumstances but you don't
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know. you don't have her words about him. you don't have his words about her. they talk only about him and i mention this and monticello he dies, she keeps items that belong to him and give them to her children, and heirloom. i don't know what that means. but i mention it it's the only action we know besides coming back with him that we know about her relationship with him. as is something bessel plumbed in novels as it has been. a novel about sally hemmings in 1978. as far as historians unless we find some material and other things we're not going to know much more about
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it than that. from texas, go ahead. >> hello, i was going to ask another question, but i heard that sally hemmings was a sister of his wife. and then ask my question. >> go ahead and ask your second question, sir. >> okay, my hometown is also your hometown, conroe. i'm 84. i discovered i must have gotten racism by osmosis because when i discovered a beautiful black woman at ut when i was 19 or 20, that was a big shock to me that that was even possible, which so that is my first big example of racism and i've been working to get rid of it my
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prejudice since. i'm an activist of the '60s. i marched with jesse jackson and my seminary classmate dr. king and here is my question. it was always a rumor that was a black man was burned on the courthouse steps in '32. do you know anything about that? >> in conroe, texas, sir? >> conroe, texas, montgomery county. there was a hot bed of violentism historically. >> let's hear from anette gordon-reed. sally hemmings, half sister. his implicit racism, and the courthouse. >> okay. first, sally hemmings, sally hemmings, was the daughter, and
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jefferson's half sister. his implicit bias, it's understand able that you grew up in that place. it was a town that had a very, very-- that has a very, very tough racial history and there was a man burned at the stake on the courthouse steps in conroe. it was reported in the newspaper. it was a person, you know, who was accused of doing something to a white woman, found with a white girl in the woods and was lynched essentially. so, conroe has-- and i talk about this in the book, that it has an instance-- racial violence in the town and some of my relatives wouldn't spend the night in conroe because of its racial past. and this is a story that could be told about other towns and not making an excuse for my
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hometown, but this story could be told in other places. the burning at the stake is medieval and this is something happening in the 20th century, you don't think of as taking place, but, yeah, it had a very, very tough history. >> lisa cicero, indiana. hi, lisa. >> hi, ms. reed, i'm impressed with your entire presentation, and kudos to you, taking up a law degree, very, very much needed what you've witnessed in your lifetime and my question as a successful black single parent, i became victimized by predators after 17 years, almost paying for my home. which has led me to be homeless and i have a healthy history of success of productivity.
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my question to you is -- i know this is a worldwide scam -- i thought i was alone at first, but the agencies i'm going to for help since the judge ruled that my attorney misrepresented me and awarded the forgers to take my home, forging my signature, let them get away with that-- >> hey, lisa, i apologize. we're getting a little off topic, i'm sorry for your situation, but what do you want to ask anette gordon-reed. >> i want to know because of her experience whether she could guide me to the proper agency or resource. >> i think we've got the point. do you have noi words for her, anette gordon-reed. >> no, other than i'm sorry for your situation. there have to be legal aid clinic situations and places lawyers and even bar association in your area that you could connect to people who would be able to help you in
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that situation, because if what you're saying is true it sounds like a miscarriage of justice and i would contact a lawyer is the best answer that i could give. >> margaret is in fay yetville. your comment for historian anette gordon-reed. >> thank you for being on the program and thank you for having professor gordon-reed. i strongly believe that the desire to protect the institution of slavery is one of the reasons we have the declaration of independence. and just trying to read more deeply into what really happened in our history i've come to believe that. so today, as fourth of july, i have really mixed feelings i'm trying to digest what this
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means that at the beginning of our country, this tremendous desire to protect the slave holders and the institution of slavery. i'm bothered by that so much. how should i regard this? i was influenced by learning about the james somerset case and other things, the times, the 1770's. what was happening here in north america, and also-- >> all right, margaret, i think we've got the point. anette gordon-reed? >> well, there were people who wanted to protect slavery in 1776. this comes through, i think, looking at constitution and the debate over the constitution, lays this out more clearly. you see south carolina and southern states who are adamant about coming to an arrangement
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that would protect the institution of slavery. 1776, the american revolution didn't get started in boston, it started in new england. and there were certainly people who were interested in protecting slavery. i think they wanted to, you know, they basically were trying at first to get a change in their r relations, the situation in great britain. great britain was not just picking on the 13 colonies. it was in the process of reforming the empire in general, not just in the united states, but in the caribbean and other places where they had holdings and it was american colonists were the ones who said we want to go. and i mean, the caribbean, people in the caribbean don't do it, they've got slavery there, but a majority of black people in the caribbean and that could be a reason why they didn't want to go out. there are mixed motives. i don't think it was just about slavery and it certainly wasn't
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about somerset, because somerset didn't apply. somerset basically says that slavery is so odious you have to have positive law. they were not doing this on common-law, they passed statutes, there was a code. so, jefferson doesn't talk about some of that. it doesn't enter in any of his figures, in any of his papers, so he's not -- they're not sitting around worrying about that particular case, but certainly, yeah, there were people who wanted to protect slavery, but also, patriots who were interested and yet complaining about all of the changes that the british empire was trying to put in place as a reform not just the 13 colonies, but the empire overall. >> is that going to be part of your fall course on american law history? >> absolutely. we'll definitely talk about it. >> we have a text here from
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scott in dardenel, arkansas, what is your thought over the current acrimony as critical race theory. has somebody who has used different theory, seminis theory to-- it's to the base. >> it's perplexing, critical race theory was somebody that one of my classmates, miller crenshaw, classmates in the at harvard in the same section as my husband, in fact. derek bell, the late derek bell, a harvard professor and eventually went to nyu, they started this and some of foremost opponents of it. and this is a law school class. things are taught in law school and it's not taught in all law
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schools so i was surprised that the thought that critical race theory is being taught in k through 12. it's about law and how despite changes, law has embedded race-- race is embedded in the legal system and the critical race theory is about trying to unpack that, to pars those issues. i think what people have done is sort of make any talk about race, critical race theory. you know, critical race theorists talk about race and. i think that most people are talking about race and i guess they are, talking about slavery, k through 12. you don't do theory with six, seven, eight year olds. i'm not being disingenuous. i don't think that's going on. there's a concern about talking
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about topics from what i have read and from what people have said that may white students feel bad. so if you're talking about slavery and they know that the vast majority of slave holders were white in the united states and now somebody's going to call in and say, you know, africans had slaves, too, and that they-- people that they captured they sold to europeans. but we're talking about americans and the relationship we have to one another as citizens and we've had since the time north america-- sits 1776, let me say that. but to say that you can't talk about those things because it will make white students feel bad means that you can't talk about history period. i mean, they're not responsible, you know. no one should be teaching them that they did these things, but you have to be able to say this stuff happened.
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how do you talk about, say, for example, the republic of texas without reading the constitution. if you read the constitution it's going to talk about race and there will be white kids who might feel, you know, well, how did my great-great-grandfather, if they're texans, how did they respond to this. if they responded by saying, yeah, it was great that black people should be slaves or that black people can't be citizens here, then i feel bad about it, but there's nothing -- that's part of life. life is not all about feeling good about yourself all the time. and it's also an opportunity to learn, to say, look, those people had ideas with which i disagree. i want to do better. i want to do different things. you're not held hostage to all of this. so this is a bit off of your question here, but i'm as perplexed as you are about it other than a real concern about airing these stories because it
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kind of does explain some of the inequalities that exist in society today and if people don't want to admit that things have happened to african-american people that were unfair, that were not right, and things happened to other people that are unfair, but i'm not saying we shouldn't talk about that either. so i'm surprised by it as you are. and i have a feeling that there's going to be-- there will be pushback against this, some of this legislation and probably because it's declared unconstitutional, and teachers are pretty maverick butch if my mother and her friends are an example. they'll find a way to talk about the truth and as long as they're telling the truth. it's the truth that there was slavery that there were jim crow laws. when i was a kid when i went to the movies we had to sit in the balcony. when we went to the doctor's office there was a separate
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waiting room and the people -- there were people alive who, you know, this actually happened. there's no point of hiding that. if people are ashamed of it, that's a good response because then you say we're not going to do this anymore. we're not held hostage to what people did in the past and we want to do something better, we want to do better. >> you're watching book tv on monthly in depth program, one author, two hours and this month it's harvard professor, pulitzer prize winning historian anette gordon-reed. vick from san diego sends in an e-mail to you, professor, the one time we visited in texas, we noticed the texas state flag is flown on staff above the american flag. is that a mythology among texas history that looms larger in texas than other states? >> i would say so. this is an interesting thing. when i was growing up, i recall
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seeing the confederate flag, what i learned was the confederate battle flag, actually, only occasionally. the last time i was in texas, i mean, not the very last time i was in texas, but in the past few years i was in texas and i did -- i was going around in the country, riding around, and visiting, and i saw more confederate flags on that trip than probably i'd seen in my entire childhood growing up in texas. i mean, something has happened where the confederate identity, or this-- and it may mean something different now because it's been attached to sort much current day political things, maybe that's what it is, but certainly when i was growing up, it was all about texas, you know? the united states, yeah, that's great, but the loyalty, the fixation was on texas as a
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state and the sort of chauvinism about texas in the state you see in white texans and black texans. somebody was asking me the other day, a person from another state who told me that they celebrate emancipation day on a different day, january 1st and then there are people in virginia who do something in april. and they said, why is it that texas, how did texas manage to have their day of celebrating emancipation become a federal holiday and it's because of the tenacity and the chauvinism, i think, of black texans who kept celebrating this holiday from 1866 up until today and when they left texas they would go to other states and say, yeah, there's a holiday that we celebrate and you should celebrate it, too. i don't know that south carolinians and others that go other places insist that people
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celebrate holidays that they celebrated back in south carolina or florida or other places. so this texas, this mythology about texas, there's no question when i was growing up, we were raised to think that we were special people because we were from texas and i think many black people have -- you know, took that seriously and many white people have taken that seriously and i don't think it's any coincidence that we end up with juneteenth as a holiday and black texans kept this alive and it means something to the country as a whole and my hope is that juneteenth will be an umbrella holiday for emancipation and other holidays as well. i think you're right, there's a texas chauvinism that shows itself pretty clearly. >> linda in san francisco,
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you're on with author anette gordon-reed. thanks for holding. >> thank you, thank you. it's a great program, c-span. and dr. reed, you know, you're an american treasure, that's all i have to say. and you mentioned earlier your surprise at the passage of juneteenth as a federal holiday. and i wanted to know, do you think this was maybe a way to appease black people to maybe kind of quiet the narrative about reparations or the asian hate crime bill that was passed unanimously and very quickly? you know, i just wanted to know what do you think about that? i hear that on social media a lot, those-- >> all right, linda, thank you. >> well, you know, if people think that, that's a very naive thought. i mean, the passage of a federal holiday is an important
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thing. juneteenth is important symbolically. we live by symbols. symbols are important about you voting rights, those kinds of things, hate crimes, those are existential questions and people might have thought that, but it would be a very naive thought because i just can't see way that anybody would say, we've not juneteenth so now we don't have to vote. no. but i'm not going to underestimate or you know, what people's sense of how they can get over on other people, but that is not going to work. if that's the hope, it's a naive hope. i think the juneteenth holiday almost became a holiday last year. you know, i guess there was one senator who had been blocking it and this time he decided to let it go. when i said i was surprised, i thought it might become a federal holiday, but i thought
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it would be later in the year. i was taken aback and going along on my tour, on tuesday, and the house voted on wednesday and i think that the president was overseas. he was, but he came back and did this, but the surprise was the speed with which it was going along, one day this might become a federal holiday i'm thinking maybe later in the year and just like that it seemed to come to fruition in the blink of an air. >> and it was serendipitous that your book came out before that. >> yes, when i was working on my book during the pandemic. i was not-- i knew the holiday thing was out there, but that was certainly not a primary motivation for writing the book or thinking that i could influence that in any way, but it was good timing. >> jackie in gary, indiana, texts in to you, can you talk
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about ow your jefferson and hemmings research has received more acceptance since the first publication and why the writing of history has to be tested and rewritten? >> well, in my first book that came out in 1997 about thomas jefferson and sally hemmings, it was more about him perspective and the way that certain people were writing about jefferson handled this particular story. that was my real interest to say, look, because i was not interested in proving this one way or another, but one thing i did know was that historians have been treating madison hemmings, madison hemmings recollections and the recollections of other people in an unfair way so that's what my first book was really about. dna that came out in 1998
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corroborated what i was saying and so that led to general acceptance of this story and then people just sort of, i think, most people went on to talk about other things about, you know, thinking about the gender aspects of it, thinking about other aspects of slavery at monticello and the sort of sea change that's taken place at that site in the handling of talking about slavery. so people branched out to different things. about writing history, it relates to something i said before, people talk about revisionist history, i'm sure people have lettered that phrase, that is revisionist history. and revisionist as pejorative, but all good historians are reviving things and i'm telling the same story over and over again, you read to your kids at night, and skip a line, they
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go, no, go back to that, they recognize that. they're seeking something different than what historicalions are doing. we're constantly finding different information and we're asking questions about things. if you're writing about the republicans in texas and if you don't care about a question of race, for many years people would have written about that and not fixated on the provisions in that constitution, that explicitly promotes slavery and protects it or the provisionists that say that african-americans can't immigrate there and if you don't care about those i cans and people writing about the texas republic wouldn't dwell on that, wouldn't think about it, but i'm hard-pressed to think of any graduate student tore young person or in the last 20, 30 years more than
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that maybe who wanted to write about the republic of texas who would not pause over those things because they understand that those provisions shape the society. you can't just say that black people don't count, you know, or that it doesn't matter, we have to-- they're only going to fixate and only talk about things that deal with whites. those words are in the documents and this generation of people will pay attention to that. now, maybe in the future there'll be some other thing. the pendulum may swing back and people won't be interested in that. so, the history is constantly devolving. the writing of history is constantly evolving as i said, one, find new information and two, begin to ask different questions and very often those questions grow out of the information that takes place today. you seem to ask that, what does
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it mean to say that, you know, people of african descent can't be citizens. how does that shape a culture. what would it be like even after slavery is over, how do you get rid of that racial high arkey that's put in place by those words, that that explains the lichg, burning somebody on the courthouse square in the 20th century or other kinds of lynching, you see the connections between things that are happening today, if you are expansive and you're understanding about the past and so, we're constantly looking for those things that help you explain the foundation of the society. the origins of a society and so that's why history has to keep changing. >> about 30 minutes left in our conversation with professor anette gordon-reed. if you'd like to dial in,
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202-748-8200. 202-748-202-748-8903 if you want to send a text, include your first name and city if you do send that text and our next call is from robin in elkridge, maryland, hi, robin. >> hello, dr. gordon reed. why do you think the leaders of the confederacy did not take more seriously the economic failure of the republican of texas with essentially cotton as a crop, a one-crop economy. >> and also, a program of some nations overseas reluctant to trade with them because they were so explicitly a slave holders republic.
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the united states constitution tries to hide slavery, persons held to service, but the texas constitution is explicit about this. people are stubborn and they were also, the plan and the available evidence indicates there were always people who wanted texas to be a part of the united states. the plan was to leave mexico and hope for annexation of the united states and then texas statehood. for people who wanted a republic, that's one group of folks, and people who thought this would be a part of the united states and some of their problems would be evened out, they would get protection from mexico, they would join a larger economy and then go forward as a part of the united states of america. for a lot of people that was the plan all along. so the failures of the public
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may not have been surprising to them because they wanted something. the ultimate goal was something else and that was to be statehood. >> roberta is calling in from houston, texas. >> i'm retired history teacher in texas and two points to make, dr. gordon reed. one, and you kind of evaded the issue, but critical race theory is going to be coming up this month in state legislature and they want to forbid it. i think that you should put on your joan of arc armor and come to austin and speak about the issue. now, here would be a stumbling block and you kind of glossed over it-- >> we're going to break to fulfill our 40-plus year commitment to congressional coverage, we'll return momentarily. live for a pro forma session with new votes scheduled.
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you're watching c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., august 13, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable chris van hollen, a senator from the state of maryland, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m. on tuesday, august 17, 2021.

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