tv In Depth Annette Gordon- Reed CSPAN August 13, 2021 9:33am-10:03am EDT
jefferson-hemmings middle school a solution that prompts the conversation rather than ripping away history? >> i don't see any reason to call it the jefferson hemmings schoolsment you name schools after people because of, you know, because of their connection to -- well, to either a particular community or for their contribution to the nation. i mean, that's why jefferson you would name a school after jefferson. i don't see any purpose -- i wouldn't say that jefferson hemmings schools solves the problem, solves the issue with that. i don't have a problem with a jefferson school so long as people talk about all aspects of jefferson's life. because, i mean, he's a person who had such an effect on so many aspects of american history that it's kind of hard to move him to the side, in a
way. so, i am for in that situation, you know, if you're named that, to keep that name if you want. on the other happened, jefferson himself said, you know, the earth belongs to the living and every generation of people has a right to pick its heroes, and if you want to rename your school for somebody today who is doing something that you think represents your generation, represents your place better, then i can -- he would probably say and i would say as well do that, but i wouldn't see it as imperative the denaming, as we call it, at harvard, versus renaming, and, but jefferson hemmings, i wouldn't be opposed to it, but i don't think it solves the problem with jefferson. these are things that are concerned about with jefferson as a slave holder. >> well, kate in sacramento follows up on that in a sense and her question is, your
thoughts on removal of statues of prominent confederates. >> i'm a-- i don't see any reason there should be statues of confederates in america. not just a racial question, but people who taught against the united states of america. who tried to destroy the united states of america. battle fields, gettysburg is on everybody's minds at this point and vicksburg. and battle fields are one thing and cemeteries are one thing, but public squares? i think it's an an insult to union soldiers. you can talk about reconciliation, but we can't make that choice for the people who were killed and died during that war. and there's the values of the confederacy which are announced
in its constitution and the cornerstone speech of alexander stevens, the vice-president, that says that essentially, well, essentially -- it says, it's fact, that in fact says that africans were meant to be enslaved that that's the inferiority, the cornerstone, slavery is a cornerstone of their society. there's nothing that we could get from them that we can't get from other people without the badge that's there. so confederates, i don't have any problem with the removal of those statues. we will continue to learn about them. most people don't learn history through statues or names of buildings. we get it from history books and always talk about robert e. lee and jefferson davis and what happened, their succession from the union and the attempt to, you know, well, to-- well, the destruction of the
united states of america, we'll talk about those kinds of things and it doesn't have to be with statue. i would be for removing those statues from public places, public spaces. private property, that's difference. >> and the jefferson davis highway existed until about a year ago. >> it doesn't surprise me, but, this was an attempt to-- as davis said to reconcile a country torn apart, but going too far. going too far with that and not thinking about the feelings and the sensibilities of one part of the citizenry, that is to say, know, african-americans who had been enslaved in the confederacy. and unionists, white people in the north and south who remain loyal to the american nation,
which is what-- we talked about johnson, that that was a good point about him is that he believed in the american union. >> back to kate in sacramento's text, she had a follow-up question, who is your next planned book subject? and might i suggest clara barton or lucy stone, both outspoken abolitionists? >> well, i have a couple of projects that i had to interrupt to do juneteenth here that i ended up, you know, pushing aside for the moment. i'm doing a second volume of the hemmings family story. i'm taking them from charlottesville after jefferson dies in 1826 and taking it up to the civil war, vicksburg figures in that, and dropping them off at the beginning of the 20th century, the first couple of decades of the 20th century. it's a great war because things change after that, world war i.
the modern world begins and the old world that they were a part of, they're not a coherent subject matter to me anymore after that. maybe mention some people who continue on, but basically ending them there. the hemmings family story, and i'm finishing a jefferson reader on race that i've been preparing for a while and i want to knock this out pretty quickly. i basically have selected all of his writings, significant writings on race. you know, not just notes on the state of virginia, but looking at his farm books, memorandum books, his letters to call out his discussions and his comments about race, and i do -- sort of and tated--
annotated, and my publicer asked me to do a big book about texas. this will take me a career to do all of these things and those are the next things down the pipe. >> john is from new york, you're on the air with annette gordon reed. hey, john, before we begin, turn down the volume on your tv otherwise we get an echo, all right? >> yes. >> all right. go ahead. john is gone. let's try evelyn in philadelphia. evelyn, you're on the air. >> hello, hello. >> hi, evelyn. >> yes, i have a question. i want to make two comments, my husband james and i have been doing genealogy research all of my life and my husband, his third great grandfather was
killed by the troops, and got attention, new york times. but what my concern is and what i'm looking at is the fact that -- and we're both in our 80's and we tell them the story, and sit the kids down and tell the story about the and can hes -- ancestors, my father married my mother the third time and was in pittsburgh and involved with the leasing system. he was born in 1894 and he was jailed and worked in the coal mines and under the system, they talk about the 13th amendment and how that abolished slavery and it did not because of that convict leasing system, people were put back into bondage and treated
worse than under slavery times. so could you speak on that in terms of why that we always say, ocean-- oh, yes, the 13th amendment got rid of slavery and it did not. good luck to you, all of your books, juneteenth, easy to read not that many pages and i thank you for that. >> evelyn, can you tell us a little about you and your husband? >> we were very-- we've been married 65 years, we were very close to our grandparents, when we were kids going up you didn't ask elderly people questions, but one day i said to my grand mom, i said grand mom, were you a slave. she said no, i with as not a slave, but i used to have to wash the white women's feet. and i said to my grand mom, you had to wash the white women's feet and i didn't have the
where with -- wherewithal to ask the lady's name. and getting a black story, a nephew had a dna test and a young lady reached out to him and they communicated back on forth, back and forth. she said i'm looking for my grandfather, he said oh, yeah, and she asked him the questions, and you have to talk to my aunt honey and gave her my telephone company and talked on talked i'm looking for my grandfather and wanted you to help me. and get a pencil and paper and i'll e-mail you so she did and my husband, he was on the computer and he said honey, are you sitting down? you know i'm sitting down and ka gave me the paper and found out this young lady, her
grandfather is my father. and so, and then that's what started me doing research. i've got records of him being in jail, arrested for vagrancy and wasn't allowed to read or write so we've got stories to tell and trying to get our program together, get our paper work so we can pass it on to future generations, that's what we do all the time and teach it to senior centers and go to schools and teach kids and just do it, if someone says i'm looking for so-and-so, i did research for a lady who, they're very prominent in the area and i found out, i had never done research where i found a slave related to someone who gave a narrative under that, where they're doing slave narratives. >> wta. >> yes. >> all right. evelyn, evelyn, thank you for that extra background. we appreciate it. >> well, you know, it's an
interesting point. it's true, the 13th amendment, the things that happened in prison and convict leasing systems and other vagrancy, being arrested for vagrancy, they tried to enact laws that brought things as closely back to slavery as possible, we talk about the in the after path of the civil war down in the south. i think the principle difference is-- well, the principal difference is that it allowed people to be worked, you know, at the will of others, convict leasing system and even prisons now, but people aren't sold. the difference is that one of the things that people celebrated juneteenth, one of the things that was important to them was the end of the legal ability to sell people's children, or to sell people's spouses or their brothers and sisters away from one another. you know, slavery was a system of working without pay, but
being labeled property, chatle, meant that if an enslaver died and he had children, enslaved people could have been separated among the children and different places and people from their families. estate sales, sales for money, just whatever. that kind of action, those kinds of actions were traumaizing to enslaved people and after the end of slavery, the first-- one of the first things that people do besides going to the friedman's bureau and having their marriage was to look for relatives, trying to find my mother, my kids, my sister, my brother and one of the reasons that juneteenth has become, one of the aspects of juneteenth kept it alive for 156 years is that it's a family holiday. people come together. they gather together in
families and you can go through airports in the summer and you'll see black people walking around with, you know, garish t-shirts on, the shaw family reunion, and the notion of gathering people together i'm convinced grows out of the trauma and the desire to keep people together because for hundreds of years in slavery, people could be celebrated. and the never to be seen again. just imagine that, if we lose relatives to death and sometimes estrangement, but not somebody coming in and saying, you know, we need money so your three children, we're going to sell them to louisiana or whatever. that kind of thing left a mark and people have been trying to
recoup, to sort of regroup from that ever since. >> and anette gordon-reed, annette piece and dr. joe pierce, from san antonio and i've met them several times in austin, mrs. pierce e-mailed me separately to say that the texas state history museum has abruptly canceled the speech by the authors of the new book on the alamo. i don'ten if you're familiar with that book. and texas is trying to keep the truth from competing with myths. this is crazy and related to censorship. now, we touched on forget alamo and i wanted to read the e-mail. >> i've heard that, it's what they call the streisand effect.
when you draw attention to things like that, this will probably make people go out and read the book even more. people don't like to have ideas and things kept from them, but that's an unfortunate situation if that's -- from what, the things that i've actually read about it. i haven't read the book yet. that should be on my night stand next. >> will you be on the book festival circuit this fall? >> i think so, yes. i'm supposed to be on the book circuit this festival. i'm hoping to be able to be there in person. virtual things are nice, but it's nice to be out and meet people. you know what those at fierce are like, it's a lot of fun. >> and texas is in person this year, too. >> yeah. >> so, neville in cleveland, ohio, go ahead, neville. >> my question for professor gordon-reed is related to sally
hemmings. we all know the name sally hemmings and we know her story. what i miss is a visual, an image, a depiction of sally hemmings. you see from time to time descriptions that she was mighty white and that she had long, straight hair down her head. that she was three quarter european and a quarter african, but i don't see many sketches, i don't see many images, i don't see many pictures which depict salary hemmings. can dr. reed say something about that for me, please?
>> thank you, neville. >> well, we don't have any depictions of her. people have-- they've had sort of imagined ideas of what she looked like and they do those reproductions of her, but we don't have any pictures. there's nothing to go on. we don't even really have pictures-- we don't have any images of jefferson's wife. i think there might be a couple of silhouettes of her. strongly enough she didn't sit for portraits or they were destroyed. her father's home was destroyed by fire. she didn't sit for a portrait as a married woman and people of that class would have done. only description hes of her. these are odd things, these two sisters completely different places in the hierarchy, neither of them do we have any visual images of.
you'd expect to have one of martha wales jefferson. maybe not sally hemmings. i mean, the first images of the hemmings family are of her grandchildren that we have, but we don't have portraits of martha or of sally. >> this is a text from ann page, a high school social studies teacher at hamilton high school in mass. >> and my colleague and i have assigned juneteenth for honors students. in making this decision, we had conversations with students, mostly white, who are involved with the local human rights committee and a few students expressed to us that they felt strongly that books assigned about race, gender or identity only by those who are a part of the community they write about.
as a teacher i understand where they're coming from, but i will look at this argument and belief. there is a lot to digest there. >> the idea is that the students only want books by people who write about a community from which they come from. in other words, they don't want books from white people about black people? >> i think that's where we're headed here. >> these are young people. i don't agree with that, some of the best books about slavery, for example, slavely, you know, racially based slavery in the united states have been by white authors. but i understand their desire to probe sort of personal, to use people who are writing about personal issues who a part of the community. juneteenth is a history book,
but a memoir as well and to talk about growing up as a black person in conroe, texas or in texas in general, i could understand why, you know, the idea-- or more personal things why they would want the individual to be a member. community, but just aside-- if you're talking about straight history, white authors write about, you know, black people, i mentioned david blithe. i right about thomas jefferson, but the memoir part of it. if it's more personal, i would understand why they would have that particular view. one thing i want to say a number of people have called me dr. gordon-reed. i am not a doctor. i am fortunately an appointment in history even though i don't have a ph.d., i have a juris
doctor. and so i'm just professor gordon-reed or annette gordon-reed. >> the next question for annette gordon-reed. >> hi, i missed part of the program i hope i'm not repeating a question for professor gordon-reed. i'm a retired maryland public school teacher and i'm very upset about the controversial 1619 project and the pulitzer organization offering $5,000 to underpaid school teachers to teach whatever that's supposed to be. i'm really quite upset about it and i would like her knowledge or her opinion, please. >> thank you, martha. >> well, you know, it's a--
i know that this is a controversial subject for people. i don't know about paying people, i don'ten anything about that program or what it is that she's referring to i think that it's a point of discussion, you know? it's a point of discussion. 1619 project, from what i've read, is a number of essays. it's not just one essay. i know the lead essay is the one that caused problem for a number of people, the other people thought it was problematic for one reason or another. and it should be discussed. and i think there are other parts that would be illuminating to students that could be useful, if there are opposing viewpoints, then that could be discussed as well. i don't think-- as we were talking before
about, forget the alamo and censoring or stopping things is the way to go. if it's out there, it's in the public eye. and students at an appropriate age should be made aware of those kinds of things and to discuss it and if the teachers -- if there are points that are problematic. you can raise them. you can bring opposing views. i think that it's much better to discuss things than to hide, that's part of the bottom line on that. >> we're going to close with this text. hi, annette, remember me, david hooper, conroe high, 1977. [laughter] >> david. >> conroe mayor, i just texted mark evans to say you were on. question, have you seen your mural on the square? what did you think? love your work. >> thank you. this is amazing. david cooper and i were very
good friends. yes, i've seen the mural, i've seen the bust. i've also learned they're going to name a school after me in my hometown which shows you some of the changes that have taken place in that town over the years. i'm all for it. people have been very kind and very supportive of me. >> give us quickly, we have 30 seconds left. give us a history of this mural? what happened here? what this is. >> oh, some admirers and my mother's friends got people to put up a mural in my hometown and they put a bust up of me as well and i went down for the unveiling of the bust. i wasn't there for the mural, but it's wonderful. i wish my parents were there to see all of this. >> which school is going to be named after you? >> an elementary school that they're building that will open in august of 2022. >> annette gordon-reed, we often ask authors who are on their favorite books and
annette gore dn done-reed sent us this list. h.g. wells, kindred, the little prince, a single man by christopher issuewood. and currently reading "wake "s, women led slavery revolts by rebecca hall, cruelty is the point. and the papers of thomas jefferson, surprise, it's another book that she is currently reading. annette gordon-reed has been our guest on book tv for the past two hours. we very much appreciate your time. >> thank you for inviting me. >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. the stories and on sunday, the latest nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from
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