tv Lectures in History Bakari Sellers My Vanishing Country CSPAN February 5, 2022 11:00am-11:51am EST
internet has contributed not only to what we know about the past, but how we misunderstand it watch all this and more starting now on american history tv find a full schedule at c-span.org/history or consult your program guide. now here's lectures in history with former south carolina representative bakari sellers. the mission of the museum the international african american museum is as follows. to honor the untold stories of the african-american journey one of our countries both sacred sites. and these stories continue to unfold bakari shows is today's guest speaker. he is a talented storyteller. my vanishing country, and i hope y'all can see this i vanishing country which was published in 2020.
his memoir is a most inspiring book written by most talented young, south carolinian. the cars tells me history in 2006. we had a just 22 years old. he defeated a 26 year old incumbent state representative to become the youngest member of the south carolina state legislature in the youngest african american elected official in our country in 2014 the democratic nominee from lieutenant governor and the state of south carolina bakari is a talented political analyst and was recently named after the cnn political analyst and i know mad at you all get to see him as you read and he's recently been named two times forty under 40 minutes. his followed the footsteps of his father civil rights leader, and i'm proud to say my friend
cleveland sellers and his tireless commitment to service by promoting progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity. bakari is a practicing attorney in columbia, south carolina and a very proud father of adorable twins, please welcome bakari cells. thank you so much. mr. mayor i might need to apologize before we get started i try to schedule things as close to the noon. possible so my twins are asleep, but if you hear any two euros in the background, they're not i your students. they're not any cadets. in the background. those are that is sadie and stokely i'm running the house as they normally do i can also say
that as an extrovert. it pains me not being able to be there with you, you know most times i'm able to come down and grab some lunch in charleston and come visit your class and spend some time, but hopefully thanks to moderna and thighs or maybe we'll be able to get back together one day very very soon. and for your leadership mr. mayor. i just always thank you for that and your friendship to my family, you know, you keep my dad straight, which is a hard hard task. so i appreciate that to all of all of the individuals who've taken time out of their schedule to join us today. thank you. you know i want this to be as interactive as possible. so if you have a question, you know throw your hand up and we'll get to it whenever or you can throw it in the the comments.
especially to look at dads and young people as we talk today. i think we have to take stock as we get started on where we are. i always think it's necessary to both feet squarely on the ground and be in the moment, you know, i look at this year in the last 18 months as one of mayor riley, please correct me if i'm wrong and you've been around just a little bit longer than i but this is one of the how weird is convergences of historical to ever happen. this is 1918 1919 where you have a great pandemic. meets 1928-29 where you have economic volatility some people like what economic volatility are you talking about? i mean, we literally have people who are millionaires because they invested in gamestop, right? what are you gonna invest in next blockbuster? i mean like that doesn't
necessarily make sense sense and then you have saw what happened in 10 miles apart and a minneapolis. i mean america today, i think that i think yesterday would probably stand out as one of the harshest indictments of how far we have to go as a country. you have a trial for a white officer shooting on or with his knee on the back of a neck of a unarmed black man only to be someone interrupted by a white officer shooting an unarmed black man only to be interrupted by a school shooting in knoxville, tennessee, like all of that happened in one day. and that's eerily reminiscent of and last summer in particularly was early reminiscent of 1968 tom brokaw who was one of my heroes little known fact. i love tom brokaw like he can like do no wrong in my eyes.
he wrote a book entitled boom 1968 and it was actually was a documentary as well because he said in 1968 the country was becoming untethered along the issue of race in february of 68. you had the orangeburg massacre. in april of 68 you had the assassination of king in june of 68 you had the assassination of rfk and you have many soldiers coming home. particularly black soldiers in the south who were still treated like second-class citizens upon their arrival back home. and so you had this you have all of these historical events converging on us at one time. and that's 2020 and 2021 and so i just kind of want us to take stock and place our feet both i firmly and squarely on the ground take a deep breath and think where we are. even more importantly i need us to think about how far we've come.
i am so proud of the efforts that the mayors putting forth with preserving and telling the history of this country. i'm one who believes that our curriculum especially public school curriculum has been decently violent in the miseducation. lack of truth by which we teach young people the history of this country for better or worse. and so i think about names in our own south carolina history some names that you may or may not know, but i want you to think about the import thereof, i think about people like georgia elmore who was what they called a renaissance --. i see reverend hooker on here. he probably knows the name of george elmore because in 1946 george elmore they caught him a renaissance -- because he he had
a five and dime store. he had a liquor store. he drove a cab and took pictures on the side. he did all of this as a black man and in the in eastover, south carolina. um, and george went down in richland county and i'm registered to vote and that some were 46. and in august of that year he tried to go and vote in the first democratic primary. he can find and know y'all don't make no jokes. he wasn't voting for joe riley in 19. yeah, i leave those jokes alone, but we all know who the nosiest people in the world. are they know these people in the world are poll workers because poll workers know absolutely everybody in the poll workers in 46 said joe. we know you a --. i mean george, we know you're -- you came vote here. and so george filled with pride, you know, george filed a lawsuit, which was known as elmore versus rice. as soon as he filed the lawsuit though, they fire bombed his
liquor store. stop distributing to his five and dime store. his wife literally died in a mental health hospital. she died in bull street. i know some of you all may have heard of the old mental health facility on bull street from having an undergo all the trauma the cross is being burned on her yard, etc. etc. but although he died a broken man elmore versus rice is the reason that african-americans can vote in primaries. in the south that's a history. that's only an hour and 15 minutes from where you are. so i always think about how far we've come i think about sarah mae fleming who is one of my heroes. people don't know the story of sarah mae fleming. she was from hopkins. south carolina and sarah was working at a hotel on main street in columbia. got off work and came and sat down on a bus, but her saying wasn't sitting at the front of the bus it was that when the bus driver told her to get up. she couldn't she didn't leave out the back door that the color choose. she walked out the front door.
bus driver punched during the stomach and rode her down the steps. sarah joined the naacp legal defense fund some enterprising lawyers from the legal defense fund and back then the buses and i don't know how many people remember this but the buses were run and owned by south carolina electric and gas. they will run by the utility companies. and so the name of that case is fleming versus sce&g and sarah mae fleming. right there from south carolina laid the foundation in action and law for another young lady who set down 17 months later named rosa parks. like there wouldn't be a rosa parks if there was not a sarah may fleming and she was right here in south carolina. and last but not least i think about i'm hearing eliza briggs who? if any of you all know jim clyburn, you know that he loves telling the story of hearing eliza briggs and little little
claritan county, south carolina. you know without hearing analyze a briggs filing a lawsuit in 1949. there would be no brown versus the board of education of topeka, kansas. it was the first case filed in that landmark collection of cases. and so i just want you to as we as we're in this very weird convergence of historical events at this time. just sit back and think how far we've come and you'll get a really conflicting answer, but you'll get one that i think will motivate you to do what john lewis said, which is to continue to step one to the pages of history. you'll realize that when you ask yourself that question you realize that we've made progress anybody who tells you we haven't made progress in this country is just lying to you no matter how dark it gets. you understand that we've made a great deal of progress in this country. but the challenge for us is understanding that we still have yet a ways to go. and for the young people the students those who are the leaders and i hate when people say you're the leaders of the future. i think that's so perverse.
you're like the you're the leaders of right now. you're not the leaders of the future the leaders of right now. i'm someone who believes who who doesn't believe that this country is irredeemable by any stretch. i think like my angelo and amanda gorman said though that this country is unfinished. and so it's our challenge to go out and reimagine what this country should be and i think that's such a refreshing. i think that that is such a visionary progressive. just thought process to figure out how you're going to reimagine what this country should be. that's the challenge in front of us and whatever you decide to do. you know mayor riley mentioned my father a lot and my father is 76. it'll be 77 this year and i think back to when he was 23 years old. 26 on the campus of south carolina state i think about
when he helped organize the protests at south carolina state the history books call it the last vestige of discrimination. jim crow's final hiding place was the last investigative discrimination a little, orangeburg, south carolina. about the students and how they win on the sixth and then again on the 8th to protest that bowling alley. and how on the night of the eighth they couldn't foresee what would happen next? think about this? i know we we have any students do we have on this call? we've got about 20. students. so just imagine that see some injustice in charleston you go and protesting and you come back to the center of your campus. and you build a bonfire on your campus and state troopers and police around your campus right out right in front of the gates. those same state troopers begin to fire shots into the group of
students, but not tear gas or rubber bullets, but deadly double at bug shots at the same bullets we used to hunt deer. he fired shots into those students at south carolina state for eight seconds. say to people often that in those eight seconds lives were forever altered and dreams were forever defer. henry smith samuel hammond and delano middleton none of them over the age of 19. in fact one was still in high school at wilkinson high. this was back before orangeburg wilkinson became a thing he was at the black high school of wilkinson high and he would come every single day. after school to walk his mom who was a janitor at the school to walk his mom home and he came that day that february 8th to walk her home and he was caught in gunfire shot and killed. 28 people were wounded. my father was shot that night. my father was arrested by the only black sheriff's deputy in orangeburg county at the time
talk about ironic and this little bit of history that not many people know. for the one of the only times in the state's history. i-26 was completely shut down between orangeburg and columbia. and my father was escorted up to cci where he was housed after his bond was denied cci was the columbia correctional institute. i have a legendary cci story if anybody wants to hear it during q&a. i've been to cci three times and one of them is is a legendary side only in south carolina story. my father stayed in prison for about a month while his bond was denied. he was housed on death row. they deemed him to be an outside agitator. until he was granted a bond later in between the night of february 868 in the time of my father's trial all the officers who fired shots into the group of students were tried and they were all found not guilty. my father subsequently went to
trial and they backdated the indictment from february 8th to february 6th. they dropped all the charges except one, which was rioting and my father was charged tried and convicted of writing becoming the first and only one man ride in the history. and i remind folk often that on that night in justice that left mothers without their sons. it left the pages of our state's history stained red with blood. but when you look at this struggle and the sacrifices that so many people and that's the blessing i guess the blessing and the burden of being from the south. that you don't have to read about the history per se. there's so many people right around us who said on jailhouse floors who who smelt gunsmoke who actually were a part of the stories that are written about in history books. and so the question is, how do we go forward and for me it was when i was 20 years old in a recent graduate. i remind you guys you don't have
to be 40 to change the world when i was 20 years old. i told my mom and dad i was gonna run for the south carolina state house. i just graduated from morehouse and my mom said that she would vote for me and my dad said he'd think about it. so it's true story. i went out and knocked on over 2600 doors i ran against thomas road. thomas was a great great guy. nice. this could be i didn't think he was a good legislator, but he was a nice guy and he was 82 years old and had been in office for 26 years. 26 years which was long and i had been born. we knocked on 2600 doors went over 55 churches and on june 13th 2006. it's amazing how history writes the story sometimes that the agitators son became a legislator. i think that's that's only can happen in south carolina. and so i became the youngest black elected official.
the country and the youngest state legislature now i have to put a caveat with the youngest state legislator in south carolina history because there's another guy. who claims he was the youngest? he's also a nobel peace prize winner and i don't think that anybody would have ever thought that governor beazley would have ended up with a nobel peace prize, but governor beasley his second and third act in life is one of the most amazing things and he's a really good friend of mine and governor beazley will tell you he's the youngest state legislator in history governor beasley also said that he ran a 10-8 and a hundred meter dash which i know was a lie. so i'm gonna claim it and then he probably will claim it when he sees you so just know know that. but i i wrap up i'm kind of building up to this last story before we have some back and forth in dialogue and i remind folk. i'm only 36 years old and i haven't been in politics yet long enough to lie to you so you can ask me anything. you want to want to ask me. but in 2006 when i got elected
something was happening in our world. i see tyler mitchell down there. he knows this story knows his story. so well, what's up, tyler? everybody in their mom. was running for president of the united states. the mayor remembers this because he was getting phone we were all getting all these phone calls. it was bill richardson, dennis kucinich. john edwards hillary clinton barack obama it would chris dodd. it was just a motley crew of people. it was really really eclectic group of people who were running for president of the united states. and i had narrow my choices down to two people. and those two people were john edwards and barack obama. and there was nobody i'm at the
time who talked about poverty like john edwards and he was from south carolina. his campaign headquarters was in the ninth ward in louisiana and new orleans and he was friends with terry richardson. and you know, it was just there was so much there. let's just say thank god. i made the right choice though. and so finally i get this phone call and to all of my young people i get this phone call. ellen he's ready. it's my son is staring at me right i get this phone call and it's from a private number. and let me tell you all that if a private number. for private number calls you it's one of two people. it's either somebody very important or so student loan company calling and get their money back. so i pick up and usually i'm whittier than this. i'm like, i'm usually i'm pretty quick on my feet. i take pride and being decently kind of quick.
and i pick up and they say do you have time to speak the senator obama say of course, and i'm the only state legislator with the book bag. this is when the law school is two blocks away from the capital. and so i'm like passing sandies. i remember that sandy they had right by the capital on main street. i'm like walking by sandy's and you know brock gets on the phone. and he says he says what it was going on. how are you? and i say senator, you know, i'm on my way to constitutional law class. why did i tell barack obama i was on my way to constitutional law class. but because barack obama used to do what? teach constitutional law and so he starts peppering me with questions about where we are in class and i was like any good law student, which means i hadn't read all semester. i know you know where we were i was i was just trying to balance the world on my shoulders. and so finally i'm like look senator really, you know, that's kind of get to it. i'm about to walk into professor
brown constant browns and i constitutional law class and he said well, bukhari now is the time i want you to endorse me to be president. i say i'll do something the two conditions. one is that my mom gets to work on a campaign and two is that you come to my district? he says done and done. and so i endorsed the president and over the senator at the time begin to travel the country with him. usually i'm with like tatiana ali or cow pin from harold and kumar one time i even get to campaign with michelle obama. it's just an amazing experience and then i get a phone call. it's after that iowa primary after the new hampshire primary that he's coming to south carolina. he's coming to my district. and i forgot i represented bamberg vollmer in orangeburg county. which means i had no space to put barack obama. and so we decide we gonna put them at south carolina state in the gymnasium named after the three young men who were killed in the orangeburg massacre. we put them in smith hammond in middleton auditorium.
never forget that day. it's crowds of people international media everywhere. they're playing like ain't no mountain high enough. it's like 10,000 people in the gym. it's a little small stage. i walk in and sitting in the green room, which was the men's basketball locker room is chris tucker and kerry, washington. so me chris tucker and kerry washington and just laughing and joking and having a good time. my friend rick wade peeks his head in the door and says i'll be right back. he goes to the county airport and comes back with usher. to true story, so it's me usher chris tucker and kerry washington waiting on barack obama. and finally, they say it's go time the senators here. and yeah, i got a funny usher story if anybody wants to hear but i go out and i i begin to to recite kings i have a dream speech but not the rhythmic cainence if i have a dream the one day we shell instead i talk about the most important part of that speech in which he talks about the fierce urgency of now and then i turn around and i
introduce chris tucker his beloved gets a little louder than he introduces carry gets a little louder. she introduces usher all to win the star passing out and then i share introduces barack obama and it's like a decimal level that you can't imagine. and then we're supposed to get off stage. i was supposed to stay on stage, but the senator said you got to get off stage. just pandemonium. so we take this picture and it's me and to my left is chris tucker to my right is the 44th president of the united states to his right is kerry washington and her writers. usherana? and people always ask me. what were you thinking at that moment? and to help put a pin on everything i'm telling you today. i remember very clearly what i was thinking at that moment. i was only 19 miles away from my home in denmark, south carolina where i had the audacity to tell my parents that i wanted to go out and be a part of the change. i wanted to see where i wanted to run for office where i wanted to dream big where i went to
dream with my eyes open and i wasn't gonna just be confined to my zip code. um, and i was only 300 yards away from where the blood of my family literally ran through the soil of this great state where my father was shot along with 28 others and although i was only 300 yards away from where my father was shot and only 19 miles away from where i had these amazing dreams of of running in the legislature and winning. um, i had gone so far and so i challenge all of you all to eat young -- if you're 17 or 77, i'm dream with your eyes open always be dedicated to reimagining what this country should be and always put both feet planet squarely on the ground and so you can take a moment and take a deep breath inhale and take a full inventory of where we are and that way you can go out and be a part of the change. we want to see and so with that. we have about 15 minutes less
ask questions. i would love to hear whatever you all have questions comments criticisms. what concerns? that's wonderful. probably the best thing to do is to go ahead and put your questions in the chat. and that'll be but probably more likely to to notice you in the in the chat if you do that, so we have our request of course the cci story. so yeah, i would i went to cci. i'll twice as a youngster one time when they were about to close now. this is gonna be a weird -- because i know none of the students have but how many of the adults went to cci before they closed it any adults go to cc before they close it. it was a fascinating prison. i actually went by the cell. okay, and so like madeline and keyshawn i see y'all down there and desmond. i don't know if sometimes y'all get on your computer and you get kind of lost. you start just google and stuff
or youtube and stuff and you end up in this dark hole. well, there's a and and mayor out. he's gonna be like why don't give them nightmares. south carolina is notorious for having one of the most deranged serial killers in the history of the country. his name was peewee gasket. peewee gaskin was a fascinating individual because he was literally like the size of my son who's a two year old tyler. he was a small guy and he managed to even kill people while he was in prison. so i went and looked at his you could see his death row cell. my father's death row cell was not far from it, which in itself was fascinating. but my cci story is a little different because there is a young man who we claim in, south carolina, although in augusta. they attempt to claim him as well, but he's actually from beach island, south carolina. his name is james brown. and james brown happens to be very good friends with my father like most civil rights activists and entertainers. there is a huge there's this
nexus and so my dad tells me one day we're going to see james and so we get in the car. we leave denmark. we ride up to cci is burning up outside and cci is like right on the river. and so i walk in with my dad. we just strolled through the gates. you hear the buzz and you know, the gates closed behind you and we walk into this huge like cafeteria like the sitting area where you know, they have like the the sheets that are painted where pete families take pictures and stuff. sometimes. i don't know if y'all are saying that so we walk in and around the corner comes james brown. but james is here is not done. and so james looks at us and james is like i'm not a little ca he can't see me like that can't see me like that because his hair wasn't done. so james, literally he this was one of the more random moments. he was like, do you do you think a million dollars is a lot of money son, and i guess his taxes and things must have been on his mind. i have no idea and i say, yes, sir. he said well, it's not he said
the government's gonna take it. he said when you make a million dollars, you find your favorite tree and you go bury it. and then he told me i couldn't sit in the jail anymore because his hair wasn't done. and so i went outside and my dad gave me the key and told me the window. along the back fence of cci, and i said outside which probably violated some child some child abuse statutes. i set outside while my dad was inside meeting with james brown for at least an hour. so that's my cci and james brown. i love i james also has one of the most legendary concerts that was done. the night after king was assassinated outside of boston, massachusetts. the many people will tell you that james brown is the reason that boston didn't burn completely to the ground after he performed. fifth of 68 what else do we have? here you did leadership sc.
i'm gonna get to your i'm gonna get to your question madeline about my that's your story. if you could give melanie ask if you could give advice to a first generation college in law student, what would it be? kind of easy. although you're the first don't be the last. you know make sure that you go in you do extremely well and you always extend that hand to make sure that you're you are paving away for others to come behind you a lot of people work extremely hard for you to get to where you are. is your your task to multiply i melanie think that we teach leadership very poorly in this country. and i'm not picking on reverend hooker by any stretch but a lot of times we teach leadership by saying how many congregants do you have or how many followers do you have or how many parishioners do you have? that is just a really poor way
to teach leadership. i fundamentally think that leadership means and leaders but get other leaders. and so because you have this opportunity you must but get other people who have this opportunity. you have to create other people around you who will be able to do the same things as similar things to you. and so that would be my advice and also man look melanie. this ain't the advice adults want me to give y'all but enjoy college enjoy law school my best advice to you is may you may your weekend start on thursday like have like adulting sucks some days. i just can't even lie to tax season. i haven't slept good because my twins are in my bed. i got to get up every morning and go to work. i just wish i could sleep in some days play video games and just walk up and down market street on thursday afternoon and drink a beer. so y'all enjoy it while you got it. okay, because adulting is a little bit different.
how has this tyler as has this recent historical election changer outlook on american dc the country improving. i mean, you know always i mean that's a layered question. i'm fascinated by the 74 million people that voted for donald trump. i just really i am i think that a lot of times in it watching the party structures in this country shift and morph um and watching how politics has become more of a cult of personality then one's true core political beliefs. oh, let me challenge you ought to do this if you don't mind mr. taylor and mayor riley i would like to. um, give your students a challenge. i did this at the university of chicago. i think we have i don't know how many more weeks you have in class. so let's just do it over like nine day period if you have nine days, if not do it over six day
period i did this when i taught at the university of chicago and i don't want just students to do what i want all of you all to do it. okay, right and the audacity of me giving you all an assignment, but this is what you got to do. what i did was and you can cut this down one week. i need everybody to watch 30 minutes to fox and friends. for one week in the morning. okay. the next week i need you to watch 30 minutes a morning joe. every day and then the next week i need you to watch 30 minutes of new day every day. and then at the end of that that three week period where you've watched frocks and friends new day and morning joe. i want us to come back and have an honest conversation about what you saw. prism in which you saw this country? think about how many people are taking in the information that they saw?
i mean i when i go to the studio at night like last night. we had cnn on the screen and i was getting ready for don lemon. we were on the streets of brooklyn center. in minnesota as they say, minnesota. and facts and fox news like it was the greenfield i think is his name show. they were playing they were playing like the greatest hits of the infrastructure bill. it was like you were looking at two different. countries the same time so i say all that to say because i want people to have a greater sense of individual responsibility and what they consume. i want people to seek out news from different sources. and i want people to be rooted in fact. and i think by going through this kind of mental exercise that helps you get to whatever that may be. um let's see.
i did a presentation on your father in my civil rights leadership class and loans so much and i also went to morehouse regret school as well. my question is in the times we're in today how important is community engagement and youth development. it's more important than ever. this is not for the students in the class, but this is for the generation above them. i think that many times we don't fully appreciate what generation z which are those individuals who in school right now are going through and have gone through. think about a child that was born in 2000. that means they lived through 9/11. that means they've lived through a housing crisis. and bubble, that means they've lived through the first black president. they lived through donald trump. they lived through a great pandemic. it through the largest mass shooting in the history of this country people forgot that we had that in the las vegas,
nevada. they've lived through the charleston massacre. they have social media every day. they're still here in their only 21 years old. i don't think that we give them enough credit or appreciate. what they've been through and how they've lived and the things that they've seen in that very short period of time. not to mention that we're still in conflicts around the world. um oh and that that's why i was saying that engaging community engagement and youth development. it's so important. the mayor is probably a better one to talk about this but we both believe in this thing called early childhood education because you're you're roi is greater. the more money we invest in the front end the less we have to invest in the back and so i'm a huge proponent of that engagement and the state of south carolina is getting an
extra 2.1 billion dollars from this last round of stimulus money. not many people know about that, but i hope that you're non-profits. i hope that you're that your early childhood education programs etc had their hand out tomorrow smith. i know in charleston y'all used to run in the state and now that has moved to florence. sociago have to you know, the area code for those individuals running the state of south carolina. it's not you know, bobby harrell and glenn mcconnell anymore. you got to go see hugh leatherman and and jay lucas now, so it's how is your data's experience shaped your perspective on america? that's probably thomas one of the best questions that i get. you know, i'm angry or about february 868 than my father. it is my father has. you know, i always say he could have lashed out. but he always believed in what abraham lincoln called the better angels of our nature. i think that mayor riley's know my father longer than i have.
but he is just he is a he's a soul that's seen a lot and so he's always calm. he's always a believer in tomorrow. you know thomas one of the things that i've taken from my dad is always remind folk that you can only eat a apple one bite at a time. and i live my life in 24-hour increments and today my prayer is my prayers are simple man. i just i want my parents to be proud and i want today to to be better than yesterday. feel like if i move through the world, you know biting that apple one bite at a time making sure that today i'm better than yesterday. then i can leave my children a better world than the one that i inherit it. and also think that everything my father went through, you know, he had surgery surgery on his shoulder probably like maybe 10 years ago. i'm like man, what why you have you're not out there throwing
baseballs all this, you know, i say you forgot he got shot in the shoulder. and so you know that required them to go in and and you know, take some stuff out and move some stuff around you just you forget about those physical scars, but also those mental wounds that come from a lifetime and struggle. um, i always enjoy your remarks on cnn. i've met you but i've always wanted to meet your dad as is the story of my life. now people. just want to meet my twins. nobody ever wants to meet me. that's fine. um, my dad's a cool, dude, all you need to do if you want to see him in charleston is go to either rodney scott's or he eats a cafeteria. a meeting three fan. old school like that margaret watched the commentary of the flag come down while on a trip in germany. that was my first real experience being hired by cnn. what was it like being the youngest black legislator in the state like, south carolina? it must have been so hard to earn your keep there. maybe also lastly was a like
transferencing in. the legislature was wow, but i was so young, and i loved it. i remember there was a there was a state legislator that you all had in charleston. she was the majority whip and she was literally one of the baddest people she and gilda cob hunter like just invoked fear and everybody her name was annette young. i don't know if y'all know annette young but a net the book so much fear in everybody. they were so tough and they had to be because it's a white male's boys club. that's what the south carolina state legislature is. i mean, know, it's a country club. and so me going being so young. i remember the first questioning that i've ever got was from a net young and i realized that i had to be extremely prepared every day. and i was just it was. it was i was fortunate i was blessed. but i when i got my feet up under me, i realized that i represented, you know, 37,300 citizens like every other state
house member up there even though i was from a huge metropolitan area of bamberg county on cnn is it's it's interesting because you know denmark has 3300 people. and that's only when schools and session because we actually count voorhees in our numbers. don't tell nobody that that's a that is a geographical secret. don't tell nobody how denmark creeps over 3,000 citizens. but just imagine you from a town where you got 3,000 people where you jump ditches as a kid. and every night you go and you speak to about a million and a half people. and you tell them how you feel. but being black and doing this job represents a different challenge because i say this with every ounce of humility. you can't really have a bad day. because they're not many of us. the way that the world sees black men many times is through my presentation of the lens of me on tv. and so it's not that i speak for black folk because we we are definitely not monolithic and i can't speak for all of us by any
stretch. but i do try to give a voice to the pain that's felt i do try to. speak our truth. i think that you know, i had a moment where i was talking about george floyd. it was early i came on after george floyd's brother. this was last year. and i was wrong with dante stalworth and i kind of broke down because of my it was you know, we were doing segments from our home. we were no longer going to the studio in my twins were back in the back sleep. it was like the 6:30 hour. and my daughter was upstairs and i was just like, you know, what do we tell our children? and i think that you know, my some tears began to slow down my my face, you know, there's a conversation that black parents have to have with black teens. my daughter is about to be 16 and there's a conversation i have to have with her that white parents don't have to have and it's just exhausting sometimes. but i continue to try to you know grow in it and and make
south carolina proud because a lot of you know, they've been times on the national level where we haven't necessarily made our state the proudest and so i i to do that. are you confident that efforts by the republican party to pass voter suppression legislation will be throwing authority. the only way it will is if we pass the john lewis voting rights act. which unfortunately doesn't look like it will mainly because of the filibuster. i don't know any other way to put it, you know, i i appreciate our big tent as a democratic party, but i did not go out and do everything i could do. and to get joe biden elected to only have an agenda that was palatable to kirsten cinnamon and joe mansion that's starting to get on my nerves. um, so i don't know. i know the mayor probably knows joe mansion. maybe he'll he'll give him a give a call one day.
and see and see what joe's thinking but that's the only way that that we will be able to things from happening. so we'll see. in the last thing is about south carolina dims turning the state. and be coming here. okay, and i don't it takes a lot of what's wrong. it takes a lot of time and effort to turn the state and money. it's gonna take about 10 to 15 million dollars, okay. let's say hey to people say hello. say hey mayor riley. hi, this is satan. sadie's my little miracle baby sadie on september 1st of 2019. she got a special treat they gave her a new liver and now she's doing great. say say bye she's bossy good gosh. um and so stacy started those
efforts in 2015, and it took five years and we just haven't put that effort into our state party and stacy realized something in georgia that like it ain't rocket science, but nobody realized like, you know, georgia is more than atlanta in savannah. they began to go in the rural parts of the state and began to cultivate that voter base. hopefully we will have the resources and the vision to do that, but we have a long way to go and people have asked me i don't even know if i told any i mean, i i'm not doing it but this might be breaking news to this class. so people will stop asking, you know, i am not running against tim scott in 2022. i just think that that's a mission that is foolish and no i'm not running against entering mcmaster for governor in 2022. i think we're gonna have two amazing candidates who try joe cunningham and mia butler having
run against henry mcmaster. he is one of the more um, boring candidates to run against which makes them extremely effective. he doesn't make mistakes on the campaign trail. he doesn't engage you he raises money and he you know, when a candidate doesn't make mistakes. it's like a team, you know, three yards in a cloud of dust if you playing football. it's just kind of fascinating to watch and so i don't see i don't see victories in either one of those races right now, but you know, i would have never thought we were going to win, georgia and arizona in 2020, so i'm confident and comfortable and waiting for jim clyburn. retire whenever that is, but you know how many people are as they say joe riley, you know this, you know, how many people in a cemetery who were waiting on strong thurman to retire? you know we shall see the last story. is that usher story before i go so, this is a true story usher. i'm came in that day and usher.
i'll never forget it. his father had just passed. so he was he didn't have a good relationship with his father, but he was a little little down and we're standing in this little doorway before we go out on stage. and us looks at me and he says man, you speak all the time. you're in politics. what should i say? and by this time i had been hanging out with chris tucker all day. so i think i'm funny and i'm like us man. just go out there and say praise god i love all the beautiful women. cry to go crazy just start off with that that gets political event chronicle crazy. i was joking, and i'm there in first thing that he said is praise god. i love all the beautiful black women and me and kerry washington and chris tucker were like, oh no, please that was a joke, and then he spoke for 20 minutes, and we only had five earning about that too. so that's my that's my funny. that's your story. but mayor riley i'm always here for you next semester, please. let me come in person to spend some time with you guys. i love to citadel.
i love everything that you all are doing in charleston. i just i'm grateful that i have an opportunity to speak here today. i like you so much for the generous time and for your thought-provoking and stimulating a conversation. so generous of you. i know that students and all who listening and watching appreciated appreciated and enjoyed it and we're very proud of you and please give your daddy my best. he's gonna be so happy and i'm gonna make sure that he reaches out and gives you a call to everyone that. i'm not there with please. i wish you nothing but health and happiness during these trouble times and find somebody that you don't think like find somebody that you don't necessarily agree with on everything and y'all go out and sit on a porch and drink some wine of beer and let's begin to have conversations with one another again and see if we can heal the device we have in this
country. so amen. thank you and god bless you all. i'll see you soon me around. in 2017 american history tv toured the newly opened smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture in washington, dc. here's a look at one of their exhibits. we're fortunate enough that we were able to receive a call from the edisto island historic preservation society that wanted to donate a slave cabin to our museum. they knew that we were looking for a slave at cabin to really help tell this story in a powerful way and fortunately they had one from point to pines plantation located on edisto island in south carolina. what's really powerful about this cabin is on the front side. we actually interpreted looking at slavery on the backside. we interpret it looking at freedom because in fact on edisto island, that is where the union army camped out during the period of the civil war and you see where land is given to the
african-american community and taken away several times until it is ultimately taken away for good. but let's talk about the interpretation in terms of slavery. notice the cabin behind me what's important about that cabin is not unlike where people locked up animals at night that work to the fields not. the enslaved men women and children this really could be considered a pen but african-american men women and children again through resistance and resilience and holding on to their humanity found ways to love one another to practice their faith to grow gardens on the side of their cabins to supplement their diets and to create new cultural practices. watch the full tour online at c-span.org/history. so without further ado, i'd like to introduce our panel dr. yoris marsh marcellus, and i know i wasn't going to say that right of practice, but maybe yours will say it for me again once he gets on screen. he's assistant professor in