tv Annette Gordon- Reed On Juneteenth CSPAN February 12, 2022 4:54pm-5:49pm EST
enslaved. liberating themselves physically, but you also had to have the union army or navy after all and alan gelso does a great job of this in lincoln's emancipation proclamation his book where he talks about the emancipation proclamation the first chapter begins with the story about a slave who steals a boat. and rose his way to freedom because he has heard that lincoln's been elected. this is well before the emancipation proclamation, but he has some strange notion that this guy not james buchanan. but this new guy this new political party is on the side of the slave now. he's a couple of years ahead of the process, but but i'm showing you that it's got to be both for to happen. we are out of time, but please join me in thanking our panel.
our coverage of the lincoln forum continues now with pulitzer prize-winning historian annette gordon reads. look at the juneteenth holiday. and sorry to do that you have a thank you. welcome back to the session 3 the 2121 lincoln forum. i am edna green medford, and i am delighted to moderate this session. our next speaker is annette gordon reed professor. gordon. reed is the carl m loeb university professor in the school of law and history at harvard or the department of history as well the author of several highly acclaimed books. perhaps the best known the hemmingses of monticello and american family received 16 book prizes, including the national book award and the pulitzer prize. i'm reminded when i was reading
her rereading her bio last night. i was reminded of the year that there was a grammy awards where the the person who won for best album. that'll give you an example of how how long ago that was. he thanked stevie wonder for not having produced an album that year because had he produced it. he would have won the award. he had won several times and this is actually what i think of when i think of professor gordon read her work has been so phenomenal. she has also received the douglas prize the macarthur fellowship the google guggenheim fellowship and the national humanities medal. she is making her second appearance here at the forum with her latest book on june 10th. and here is a copy of that. there's several others of her books in the symposium bookstore as well. i was up until 1:30 this morning
reading this book. because i couldn't put it down. it is just amazing. i encourage everyone to read it. i was talking yesterday about the fact that we need to be more in dialogue with each other. this is an example of what i'm talking about. the book is riveting. i it explains to me in ways that i hadn't quite seen before how freedom is deferred. and so please do take the time to read book professor gordon reed. thank you very much for that warm introduction in the warm. welcome. i'm happy to be back among you. i was here several years ago. and mr. lincoln was here the
reenactor who i knew was not actually abraham lincoln. but it was quite something talking to him. i kept thinking. this is interesting amazing experience and it's great to be here, too. because this is not my usual habitat. i usually circulate among jeffersonians. and the lincoln people are a special group, and i'm glad to be here among you i also have a chance to talk about something outside of my normal. discussion my normal area which would be jefferson and monticello and the early american republic those kinds of things that i spend most of my time writing about and thinking about with this new book on june 10th. people have asked me why i wanted to do this why i left something that was comfortable to me to go into something. that's a little bit different than what i typically do. the hemmings is a monticello is
a huge book 537 pages of tax and then another couple of hundred pages of notes. juneteenth is 148 pages, i believe long it's it's as in a series of essays. it's much more personal. it's about my life. it's about texas and people ask me why i wanted to do this my editor bob weil at live right has been after me for a number of years to write a big book about, texas. i was born and raised in texas i go back there quite a bit and i consider myself to be a texan a new yorker as well. but a texan. and he said you could do something about your home state and about your family in the same way. you did something about the hemmings family. why are you spending time talking about the jeffersons and the randolph and the hemmings is and not talking about your own family. we're talking about virginia as the site when texas is an important place as well. last year i had the occasion to
do an essay for the new yorker about juneteenth about being a child and celebrating june 10th in texas and what that meant? and during the same year. i did a review for the new york review of books of five books. about texas so texas was on my mind. and something else was happening. during this period that we all remember this was during the pandemic. the beginning of the pandemic the high point of it and i was there in manhattan in the midst of all of this. harvard had closed and gone to virtual teaching and so there was no point i mean staying in cambridge and being on a computer, so i went back to new york where my husband and i live. to do our classes and we spent most of our days walking in the park trying to get exercise and staying inside otherwise, so this gave me an opportunity to
think about this project and doing something along the lines of what i had wanted to do for a number of years. not the big book that bob wanted me to do about texas which i still may do but a book that was much more personal and which i did the kind of writing that i did when i was growing up. i always wanted to be a writer i never thought of myself as a historian i thought of myself as a writer i wanted to do that kind of work that would reach as large a number of people as possible and that would be much more personal i would think of myself as something like a james baldwin, you know, for example, writing novels and plays. regionals, you know screenplay maybe moving to paris or something like that. well, the story is people say that if you're born in texas or are places if you want to be a writer you aspire to that you run off to new york people born in new york run off to paris. and of course, that's what baldwin baldwin did but this writing this essay that i thought about doing was much more in line with that than the kind of thing that i did in
writing about. the hemmings is or about jefferson as a whole or monticello. it's more personal and without all of the footnotes that you have for a typical historical work. so there in the pandemic sitting there thinking about this and also thinking about my parents. i wonder what my parents who are no longer living what they would have made of this situation where we're all hell hostage the world over by a virus. you know viruses and bacteria tell us who's really in charge on the earth and making that statement very very plainly. keeping me indoors and thinking about what they would have made of this situation and i missed them. writing this book was an opportunity to relive my time with them to remember them and to think about what they had gone through my mother and father essentially me without all of the kinds of opportunities that i had. growing up and i thought about
them and i was nostalgic and so writing this was a way of getting back in touch with them. so that was part of it thinking about my family and wanting to put them in history in a way that i had put other people in history other people who are not my family in history. the other thing is that i wanted to explain texas to people. no having lived in the northeast since i went away to college at dartmouth. i've had to explain texas a lot. people say, you know, texas in florida are the places and our texans get really mad when i say texans, texas and florida are the places that sometimes have to explain themselves to the rest of america, but i wanted to talk about texas and explain why i think that texas is emblematic of so much of the american story the story of the united states of america. it's a state that had obviously
indigenous people it's a state that had plantation slavery. it borders another country. so immigration is an issue. it's a state that had that was for a time its own republic and has a consciousness that's based upon this idea of leaving. a larger entity in striking out on your own and there isn't any place and the history of jim crow after the end of slavery. there's no other state that has all of those things they each have some of them but they're all there and way that makes the place incredibly volatile and accounts for some of the larger than life aspects of texas that people love and that people hate too quite frankly. i have to say and that makes us feel people in texas that we are exceptional if there's a such thing as an american exceptionalism. there is a view of texas exceptionalism as well as i'm sure many of you probably have encountered maybe too much to your chagrin maybe or amusement.
and i wanted to do those two things talk about my family. talk about texas. i had no idea i should say when i started to write this book that texas was going to be in the news in the way. it has been in the news first. there's the grid and there's the grid then there's the texas legislature and you can't talk about slavery and race, you know, there's abbot there are other aspects other reasons that texas has been in the in the news and you know, it's timely in a way that i would never have thought it would be that's one of the things about writing a book from the time you start to write it to the time. it's actually published. you don't know it lands in a different environment and the environment that it landed in was one where texas was receiving a lot of scrutiny not all of it good and so then i thought it makes the book from my perspective even more relevant and makes it more enjoyable for me to go to talk to people about it.
so when i sat down to think about this i thought about well, what am i going to say? how am i going to to talk about this state and i went back to the essay about juneteenth that i had done for the new yorker and i thought that that's an important holiday. not just for texas. i mean texans always think that things that happen there are important everywhere but you know, and i guess it kind of worked out that way right. we have a federal holiday now. how we could take that date and make it relevant? to not just the state but talk about the development of the united states through some of the themes that come through about texas one of the things that i had to deal with. is that there is an image of texas that has been crafted that we've helped to craft but has largely been crafted by hollywood has sort of actually gone along with all of this and
and the film giant exemplifies what i'm talking about. it presents a story of texas as about the west. texas is the west you think of cowboys you think of cattle ranchers. are you think of oilmen? and in the film, of course, it tells us sort of a founding story about in the beginning. there was the cattle rancher. and the cowboy and then his life and i say in the book texas is a white man, texas is constructed as a white man and in this story. his life is interrupted by the oil man who comes along and you remember from the film if you've seen it the conflict between the cattle ranchers and the oilmen who eventually in the end come together and everything is harmonious. but something is left out of that. and what's left out of that the person the man you could say if we're going to continue with this with this this trope what would be the plantation owner
that is left out of it people in the main from what i've discovered as a texan outside of texas don't think about texas and the institution of slavery. texas is the west not the it's the southwest but the southern part of it isn't really. dealt with that much and people don't see it. when you think of the south you think about louisiana at the farthest reaches west or you think about georgia, virginia certainly, but not, texas. and in fact as i stayed in the book i talk about the fact that the father of texas stephen f austin. basically taking up the mantle from his father moses austin who died before he could do this. he was given the right to bring settlers into texas with the idea european settlers you european americans into texas with the idea of settling it to an angle settlement there.
and what was clear that austin actually says this is that it wasn't going to be a successful enterprise if they did not have slavery. so slavery is a part of this from the very very beginning and there is the story of of you know settlers moving in and clearing forests and those kinds of things obviously the issue of indigenous people is implicated here as well as i will discuss but the idea that the father of texas austin, for whom we hit the capital is named numerous schools. all these kinds of things was pretty clear that this was going to be a slave society. extending the cotton empire from the eastern part of the united southeastern part of the united states into the southwest and that's what that was what his goal. was. he considered himself to be
anti-slavery. not because he actually, you know cared about the moral issue of slavery. it was it was a racial question. he didn't believe that whites and blacks. he was i should say concerned about having so many black people living with whites. and in order to have a slave society a slave society based upon race african african-based child slavery gotta have a lot of black people and so there was this ambivalence. about we need this institution. who's going to clear the fields? who's going to pop that you know, you know plant the cotton and the sugar cane which would become the basis of agricultural crops in texas who's going to do that. but african people of african origin, but he was uncomfortable about having so many of them. so there's this ambivalence there about it, but it's clear that this institution was going to be what going to be the basis of this particular society.
so right away you have an issue here for a texan a black texan. looking at this is how does it make you feel? how do how do we deal with the fact that the father of texas had this attitude and that this is these are the origins of texas and this is not something that we talked very much about. i have a feeling they might talk more now. you know, i don't know what's going to happen with the new laws they have but we didn't talk about this much in my fourth grade and seventh grade, texas history classes in texas. you take texas history twice. fourth grade and seventh grade for high school. there's an elective in texas history so you could have three years. of texas history in texas slavery was mentioned, but it wasn't discussed as something that was central that was an essential part of the beginnings of texas. so i had to grapple with that in the book and i talk a little bit about that give this history.
and try to set up for people who don't know about texas the idea that it is a part of the south. there's a part of the confederacy obviously and juneteenth figures into this obviously because of of how that the way that holiday came about and the reason for the holiday. that texas was a part of the effort to remove the confederacy from the united states of america and to create a slave society not just that would continue across this continent had their eyes on cuba as well. it was an expansionist notion. idea of plantation slavery and texas was a part of that. so thinking about this institution writing about this institution as part of texas and sort of explaining some of the things that happen there that may not make sense to people but for this connection voter
suppression the problems that we've had over the years about race all of those kinds of things i think come into greater clarity when you understand the history of texas as a part of the cotton empire and the aspirations to be a part of the cotton empire. so setting up texas as a part of the south was critical to what one of the things that i do and i talk about what that has meant. for people of african descent and i talk about it through my family. so begin the first chapter of the book. as texas town talking about conroe texas where i grew up. in east, texas and where i 10 years after brown versus board of education integrated our town's schools they have been. there there in many places in the south resisting integration
and they'd come up with something called the freedom of choice plan. under which white parents was supposed to pick white schools for their kids everybody knew what they were supposed to. do, you know white parents would pick white schools black parents would pick black schools and everything would go on the way had gone on for you know, since the end of the civil war and after reconstruction and jim crow, but my parents decided to do something different. they decided that they would send me to a white school. my mother taught at booker t washington, the inevitably named black school booker t washington nothing wrong with that bookery. washington was a great man many ways that were to k through 12. my older brothers were at booker t washington as well because i was beginning school my parents thought that it made sense for me to be the one.
to go forward and do that now. this is interesting because i have kids myself. and i wonder if i would have sent them into this kind of environment. and i would probably say no. at this point but then i have this is actually when you write about other people's families, you don't have to deal with these kinds of things, you know, these personal issues that you have to to think about. what would they thinking was that the right thing to do? but i and i would probably say no, but then i remember and this is the other thing that that and i think you know gary talked about this professor gallagher was would have referred to this too is that you have to think about the context in which these things are happening. i'm in a different world now than my parents were in. in the mid-1960s the mid-1960s for african-american people was it was a time of hope?
the civil rights act 1964 the voting right tech 1965 people were marching. there was a sense that things were on the move. and so they were making this decision in a time of great idealism. thinking and thinking that they were everybody had to do their part. everybody had to make a sacrifice. everybody had to make an effort and we're not when my kids my kids are the kids are the 90s. that's not. i wasn't in that place in that space at this time, so would be a different decision. so thinking about about choices that people make you have to think about the era in which they're making them the circumstances under which they're making it so they decided to do this. they talked to the school district. about it. they talked to the prep the press i said the press this is a little town one paper, right, you know 7,000 people one paper,
but they agreed that they wouldn't go to the press. they wouldn't talk about it publicly that we would proceed as were normal. you know, i think this may be the anniversary this year of ruby bridges in new orleans. who was the first black child who you know went integrated a school and you've met perhaps have seen the famous pictures of her being escorted by marshalls. into schools with the mob yelling at her i didn't have any of that my father. it was decided i wouldn't ride the bus. there was a bus that could have taken me but that would have been a bridge too far. my father took me to school and dropped me off. and everything preceded as if it were normal, except it wasn't really normal. there were people who would that first, you know the first year that i was there occasionally appear in the doorway
administrators who would stand there and watch to see you know this thing this a black child in this in this space and to see what was what was happening there. so i had a feeling of being on display. from the very beginning so i knew that there was something that was different about this, i understood that it was a big deal. one of my relatives my mother's aunt who was very very extravagant woman. you know spend a lot of money's been bought and find things went to sacowitz which was the big department store in houston. and bought way too many clothes. for me so that i would you know be i mean i had clothes fine for school, but she wanted this was her sort of contribution to the civil rights movement to make sure make sure that i was dressed, you know to the nines
to go to first grade and you'd have to repeat any outfits and and it was all great. but so i knew that this was something unusual now i i grew up in a place where when we went to the movies. we sat in the balcony. and when i went to the doctor's office, there was a waiting room for white people and the waiting room for black people and i noticed when you stand in the door, there was a nurse's station that had windows that looked on to either. into either room and you could see through to the other one and i could see. that the room for whites was larger. they had magazines which i covered it even then reading material. and so i was used to that particular world, but i and i knew that going to a school with white kids was a big deal.
and i went off into it and things when i look back on it. i look back on it with pleasant memories. my mother said that at one point i broke out in hives. i don't remember that. but it's like anything i suppose you get to be older you look back on your life. you look at the things that are pleasant you focus on the good things more than the bad things and i think that what i've tended to do because i did have friends. and my teachers were fantastic. mrs. daughtry my first grade teacher don't we all remember our first grade teachers names or kindergarten teachers was fantastic and i after it wasn't until i finished the book and i probably would have said this in the book i would have if i thought about it. i wonder if the fact that my mother was a teacher. made them even more determined. the teachers at anderson to make sure that everything to look after me. essentially there could have been some there were decent
human beings, you know just in general, but i wonder if that wasn't if that was not also a part of it that they had this camaraderie because my mother was a teacher so the teachers were fantastic. some of the kids were good. some of the kids were not i do remember one family of young girls who were very very poor? and i could tell that they were poor their mother or someone. and it had some material she had made. outfits for them all five of them out of the same material you know and hand sewn or whatever and they made it a practice. to whenever we went out for recess to come over and ask me. to play with them red rover ring around the rosie whatever it is they were doing and i don't know if their parents told them to do that or whether they just did it on their own, but that taught me that not everybody. is the same.
and these kids had an instinct for doing something they understood that i was perceived as an outsider that i was an outsider because of race and they took that step to do that so that colored my understanding about people as well on the other side of it and i'm i talked about this in the book because i think it's for people to to think about that time and what was gained and what was lost on the other side. there were a number of people in the black community. who were not so keen on. integration after it happened and indeed i should say my parents. became disillusioned. as the years went on because what happened was there was integration. of the kids, but not really integration at the teacher level. what many black people in the town and not just did my
hometown but across the south resented was the fact that a number of black teachers were taken out of the classroom. when there was integration my mother remained in the classroom. she was an english teacher and high school english teacher. but a number of people were taken out of the classroom and black students lost role models. people who had been in their community and i think i would say white students lost the opportunity. to have black teachers as role models as well. so it wasn't integration. it was sort of come join us, but it's like blackstone says about the husband and the wife the two become one and the one was him. you know and that's that's the way this played out. and so i think she was really my mother and father became disillusioned and then sort of changed the reason. why they sent me from being idealistic they said well, you know we sent you because we knew the court was going to strike down the freedom of choice plans
the supreme court in which it eventually did after a couple of years and then everybody had to switch schools. relatively abruptly and then that's when i really felt the kind of hostility. i had felt hostility from white students some white students before then. i felt some hostility from black students who sort of thought that i had caused all of this. that you know that i had waved because i had started it than ever but the court the court made this decision. it wasn't obviously it wasn't it wasn't me six year old me doing this. so i grew up and this is again one of those things that you think about you have occasion to think about when you're writing a book about your family and as sort of people knew who i was. and either liked who i was or didn't like who i was based upon what had happened. based upon my integrating the school and so writing about this
brought back some really be a painful in some ways memories about what it was like to be a lightning rod. at that particular age. so i i start the book with this story. and what this has to do with juneteenth? is that juneteenth is not just about the day? it's about what happened on that day? things leading up to it. and what happened after the promise of this moment. when african americans in texas learned that slavery was over and i end the book with that so i start with my childhood which i think was through the sort of the culmination of all the things that had taken place after the end of slavery. this reconstruction the struggle over reconstruction and then jim crow afterwards and the attempts to bring black people into citizenship that had been a long
process and that culminated with you know me starting my story. as a person who began school with opportunities that my parents and my grandparents and my great grandparents did not have because of the institution of slavery and the legacy that came after that with jim crow. so in the book talking about juneteenth, which is i grew up celebrating. as sort of a black july 4th. in a way, i mean we celebrated both. this sort of a one-two punch, you know, you would have june 19 juneteenth and then july 4th and when i was a kid juneteenth was celebrated mainly by black people. i thought of it as a black holiday. we it was a family holiday. we you know barbecued for some reason goat was on the menu. we didn't eat goat but that somehow that became a tradition i have to trace down where that
comes from and also drinking red drink red soda water. i'm told i've read that hibiscus tea. was the origin that that's what people in the 19th century would have had they obviously would not have had. soda water as we called it soda pop during that time period but doing those things and it was supposed to be and this is one of those stories where i don't know whether it's true or something that's added afterwards that read was supposed to symbolize the blood that was shed during slavery. that sounds like something that may have come after the fact an embellishment because and it works, you know, it works or maybe black people just like red. i don't know but that that was that's a part of the holiday and being in texas. i talk about the fact that on the holiday that excuse me holiday food that was added to that was tamales.
so i mean so this is image of these people who are were celebrating this holiday with food from slavery european oriented food. and because this is texas tamales hot tamales that my grandmother made my grandmother started making them to to sell to raise money to build the saint luke's united methodist church a new church, and so people would during juneteenth when juneteenth was about to come order them from her so you can see all of these different influences together native americans. african-american european americans all in this one holiday seeing it through food. so this is what this is the holiday that i that we celebrated. i didn't think very much about this other than the fact that it was the day that slaves were supposed to be slavery enslaved people were freed and it was almost i don't want to say
comical but the joke was that black people people in texas didn't know. that they were free and that the white slave owners in slavers kept them in slavery so they could get another harvest in that was the sort of joke that was told about all of this when in fact, they knew they were free. they knew about the emancipation proclamation. i should say. that's what i meant. they knew about the emancipation proclamation. it's just nothing could be done about it until gordon granger arrives. to make this a you know general order and makes this announcement and then slavery is over so it wasn't about not knowing it was about not being able to do anything about it until there was a military. victory that allowed when after they surrendered you know the they finally surrender in june and in the region of texas and then this could happen. i didn't know all of this, but i did know that it was about the end of slavery.
i recall talking to my great-grandmother who was alive until i was 11 about all of this. and her saying you know that talking about what it meant to her her mother and her family her mother who had been enslaved as a child. was actually freed by her father along with her mother. so i that connection to slavery is that close to me? i talked to someone who whose mother was enslaved my great-great-grandmother, so this was all very close but as children. do i didn't pay enough attention or fail to do i should say didn't pay enough attention to her one of the things that i one of the deep regrets i have is that i did not talk to her more about what it was like to be in texas and you know at the turn of the century the 20th century what it like to be not just i know the the general story about
race and all of this there, but the day-to-day lives of people and that's one of the things that people have asked me how i want people to celebrate the new federal holiday. and one of the things that i'm hoping will happen is that people will talk to older members of their families. it's a time to take family history. juneteenth is a day of family celebration. it's about coming together as a family and i think a lot of that has to do with the legacy of slavery the legacy of having family separated. so that you want the holiday in which people come together is very very important and i'm also asked you know, whites asked me. well, how can we celebrate it? and i said, well you celebrated it the way black people celebrated. it's a family holiday you get together with your family and you talk about or you you know memorialize. remember this advance in human
rights and human dignity. this is not just something that's a dig was a victory for black people. it's a victory for human beings in the march of progress and if even if it didn't end slavery altogether all over the country, we know it's the 13th amendment that brought that about legally. that this is something that everybody can celebrate regardless of race. so the thinking for me has been is that i these things together? is to have people understand that this is a holiday for everybody and i was stunned i have to say at how quickly all of this took place when i started writing the book. i hadn't thought it all about the idea of a federal holiday beyond. i knew that there were people who were working on that. and but that was not my reason for writing the book. in fact, i say at the beginning the book i was a little ambivalent about everybody's celebrating june 10th, you know at first i thought this is this
is our holiday in texas. why should people you know why you're taking this away from us and then i thought no again. this is as i said in advance in human. dignity and had an advanced in human society to have this take place. and so everybody should celebrate it, but i was at home and i someone emailed me and said well, you know this person who had been i think it's johnson who had been objecting. to the holiday decided that he was not going to have any more objections to it. and so the senate you know sit voted wanted this to be the federal holiday then the house and i thought the president was overseas. well, he was overseas, but i got an email from someone in the white house in the morning saying we're gonna have a signing ceremony for this holiday. would would you like to come down?
so this is about 8:30 in the morning. so at about 11 o'clock, i'm on a plane. and down to the white house in the east room and a wonderful day. everybody was a happy day. we've had some really rough times, you know for the past couple of years, but this one this was really great and it was wonderful to see people different races lots of texans there miss opely the woman in her 90s who's been campaigning for this for many years was there. to celebrate the passage of this and the bill with not the passage with the president president buying signing it. and it was a joyous occasion. it's not anything that i could have ever thought about when i was a little girl. celebrating this holiday. it was not anything i thought about when i was sitting on my couch writing this book, but i'm looking forward to what we do with this from now on to where
we go with all of this. i think this is a it doesn't solve all of our problems, but i think it gives us an occasion to talk about things in a way that i hope will make a difference texas is in the news because you know, we're there. you wonder if we're going to be able to talk about juneteenth after some of the legislation that is down there. i'm joking. of course, you'll be able to talk about it. i think that's an exception. i think that was made explicitly. you can talk about juneteenth. but it's an opportunity for us to move forward and we don't have that many and i'm looking forward to the conversation that we're going to have every year from now and people want to know how to celebrate it. look at what we have been doing at texas for the past 136 years and we'll have some ideas so with that i like to take your questions.
hi, just a brief comment about ruby bridges. people may remember the famous illustration that appeared on the saturday evening post. by norman rockwell that painting is at the rockwell museum in sturbridge, massachusetts, which i happen to visit about a month ago interestingly as part of the display. they found ruby bridges as an adult conducted an interview with her goes for 10 or 20 minutes. i don't know if you can find it online, but if you can it's worth your time, it's it's fascinating story that part of the objections that we're having now to some of the things that are taking place in school. some of the legislation is a complaint about a book about ruby bridges because parents have voiced the objection that well their groups of white people, who are yelling at her
and that will make white children feel bad except. there were groups of white people yelling at her, but there was also a white teacher who taught her so you i don't understand why wouldn't the kids obviously will identify with ruby bridges, of course, because she'll be their age, but why wouldn't they identify with the white teacher? who worked with ruby bridges and is is a hero of the story as well. so that's where this is a really interesting time, but that that story is not uncontroversial apparently among some people depictions of it. i just have a short comment. you talked about go going to school and i'm a child of the 60s. i graduated high school in 1965. and i'm from carbondale,
illinois, which is in southern, illinois and the all black high school, which was called attucks high school for christmas addicts was going to close when i would be a senior in high school. so my mom said catherine you may as well go in over there to school with those white folks because you're gonna have to be over there by the time you get to be a senior. so indeed i did that i can count on two hands. how many black classmates i had but by the time i got to be a senior? all of my eighth grade classmates had joined me. i finished. in the top two of my class the other girl who finished? was white we we have we saw each
other as adults years later. and we talked about that. because we always got the very same great. the very same grades and we asked each other which one of us, really should have been number one. she said, you know catherine you did get one more ethan i did but she said i don't think carbondale was ready for that. thought i'd share that. and i did very much. enjoy your book about juneteenth. and so i celebrated juneteenth, but we had always done that in carbondale anyway, but i made i made a cake. and i made red hibiscus tea.
and we had a wonderful time and had a barbecue and all that. thank you. that's amazing. thank you so much. you've let us know the importance of history her story and we've learned so much in the in the sessions in the conference about revisioning reframing reshaping remembering and things that are so different but it really comes down to our stories and histories. i was wondering about the role of texas the culture of texas that a lot. us think about is maybe texas rangers and the and the role of just that kind of oppressive in situation there where you can almost do anything and get caught and punish the punishment was just kind of legendary for because you can get they can get away with it with the rangers the role of the rangers that i even heard anecdotally the sign
was the sign of the original sign of the clan. i don't know if that's a correct or not, but in looking at the culture of texas and black people and how you've been able to sustain the the stories, what is it? how do you what did your recommendation to us to kind of keep going as we are developing our own versions of history in terms of incarceration. the role of incarceration in texas in this country, which is kind of being known as incarceration nation. there's a lot in that. it boils down it comes to a question that i asked in the book is people ask me. why do i love texas? you know after all of the things that i've described there. that have taken place there and i my answer is because that's where my family was. that's where i were people loved me and i learned to love people who i had experiences that were
tied to the land that were tied to family and community and so forth and i don't think that negative people the people who might be hostile to me and people like me get to define. what texas is? and there's a tendency to do that to say whoever is the most hostile person the people who are the most negative. they're the ones who define the place and i and they don't for me. the only thing you is to to keep struggling. i mean one of the most moving things that happened to me when i was working on this book was finding my great-great-grandfather's name on a voter a voter registration list in 1867. and to think about this person who had been treated as a chattel before but who's new he was a human being. now putting you know being on a list putting going forth to say i'm going to be a part of the people of the people that you
know, we talked about before of the people by the people but part of the people. who will help govern it's a sovereign of the united states of america the people. and that kind of faith. to keep going believing that people like me and my brothers other many people of my generation would be able to do things that they couldn't dream about. it's keeping that faith and understanding that. you know he worked there. you know, he texas he worked land there. he was born there. he buried relatives there. that was his place as much as the people who were saying it didn't belong to him. so you just have to keep that. i mean, it's never it's always moving forward. it's never going to be a you know, the everything perfect. everything settled. it's a struggle. i mean, i know it's tiring. but people did it before people struggle so that we could be
here. and move forward and we just have to carry it on. i mean i i talk about a group of four black men who in 1876 land in houston. to set up a park. for poor people can celebrate juneteenth. that's forward thinking. he's they were thinking that this is something that will be commemorated every year and emancipation park is there i've been to emancipation park celebrating juneteenth i boy i would love to be there this this coming one after they really get it together for the federal holiday, but to think 1876 people who had been treated as property buying property. and thinking we're going to go forward with this. so this is a long answer except to say people who were in terrible circumstances. move forward so that we could be here we have to keep moving forward.
hopefully answer some of your questions. sure. so my question as a college senior, i've had a total of three black teachers in my entire life and you mentioned that as integration started. they started to pull those black teachers out of the schools. and so then those black students didn't have the opportunity to have that influence from them. do you think that that like those actions all that time ago of polling them out and then students not seeing black teachers led to the reason today why there are so few black teachers at certain schools still this probably is definitely there that's definitely a part of it. there are a lot of well, i think it's probably depends on where you are. i mean, there are a good number of black teachers and other you know in in places where they're
predominantly black students, but yes any process the pipeline got interrupted in a way and we haven't recovered from that yet. that was that i was kind of my thought was that was my aha moment in the book was what happened to black educators would integration came about what else want to ask you about the controversy on the the book forget the element forget the alamo and will texas be the first state that will have a monkey trial and the teaching of his history. and dairy title on juneteenth is nice right on june. teeth is pleasant. forget the alamo. i do have a second chapter in the book remember the alamo but talks about the same thing that they talk about and forget the alamo. it could be. you know, i think teachers teachers are pretty independent lot.
you know, i i have a feeling that they're not going to take. these kinds of strictures lying down some of these things will be there will be challenged in court. and i think that parents they're not just one set of parents their parents who want their kids to learn about these kinds of things. you can't talk about the history of texas the republic of texas without talking about the texas constitution, which explicitly explicitly protects slavery by name, you know, the american constitution kind of -- foots around. oh persons herald to service and you know, what are they talking about? but the texas it's explicit and they also it also says 1836 constant it also says that african-american people people of african descent can't become citizens of texas. they can't come to texas and stay without permit. i mean, you can't teach the history of the republic without the constitution, so i wonder
what's going to happen with all of that when the battle gets really joined. and i think it will be joined because i don't think teachers are going to just say oh you got me. i mean there are people who really do want to teach teach the real history. american history tvs coverage of the lincoln forum continues good morning. my name is jonathan white and i'm the vice chair of the lincoln forum, and it is a pleasure to introduce caroline janey. caroline janey is the john l. now the third professor in this history of the american civil war at the university of virginia where she also serves as director of the john l. now the third center for civil war history where she succeeded her mentor gary w gallagher