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tv   Authors Eddie Glaude Jon Meacham  CSPAN  April 21, 2022 7:29pm-8:15pm EDT

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their own words on saturday, at 2:00 p.m. eastern in history tv, on "c-span2", or to sit in the series is a podcast month on the cspan now, bring in a free mobile get 12-pound cast. >> weekends on "c-span2" are an intellectual, every saturday morning history tv, documents america stories and sunday's book tv brings you the latest nonfiction books, and authors and funding for "c-span2", these television companies and more coming including broadband. ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪♪ >> guy broadband along with these television companies
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support "c-span2" is a public service. >> thank you. i'm just going to take control here because otherwise will be able to answer you all may remember in 1962, john kennedy held a very successful state visit to france. .. and others. jfk said i used to be the president of the united states, but now i am simply the man who accompanied jacqueline kennedy to paris. i'm the man who accompanied eddie gloud to new orleans? where this is like saddam's baghdad his pictures everywhere. have y'all noticed this? it's just everywhere. so. i'm going to start with a serious question. you wrote a marvelous book about
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baldwin and what he meant in but a bookea about, and what he meant in real time and can mean to us. when did you first read him when he did he become so vital to you? works first of all thanks for the question and you see how hea lies. [laughter] corrects eddie is a cigar man for the only thing good about going to morehouse apparently. >> so, my first encounter is actually in graduate school. you would think i would have a read him in high school. he went to high school on the coast of mississippi. we can tell that story on another day. at morehouse i was kind of avoiding him. and in graduate school i wrote
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most of my first year graduate papers on ralph ellison. i did not want to deal with baldwin, because he made my colleagues face as it turned red. they went flesh as they read him because he was telling the truth in some ways. so i really did not begin to have a serious encounter with him until i started teaching him. so my first job at bowdoin college in maine, i taught every year. then i started teaching and suddenly began to open up and became in some ways amused. let me ask you this question, you had the honor of writing a -- >> of appearing with you. [laughter] >> this is what we have to put
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up with on the separate know actually don't because he is in his studio at home. anyway, you had the honor of talking with john lewis in his last days as you are working on the biography. talk a little bit about that experience. >> i first met john lewis during the last electiont in 1992, that cycle. there is a georgia senate runoff. georgia has become the new louisiana you are always having elections down here. and georgia was having it. want an election night if you are a politician or a journalist, you tend you are off doing important things, right? whatro you are really doing is eating the same cheese cubes but in a different room. but you want to give the impression of that. was running against coverdale. as government for the
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chattanooga times my hometown newspaper. and i walked into the ballroom in atlanta and there is jon robert lewis and lily just standing there among the people he was a senior congressman we already civil rights as eddie kindly says did not really stop until about a week before he died on july 17 of 2020. one of the things i had to fight and that relationship was treating john lewis as the acceptable kind of a black guy that somebody like me would like. i sometimes called the easy
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listening version even in the beginning in 1966 in tennessee, not far from where i live, stokely carmichael and john lewis went to battle over different approaches to the same end in many ways. jaunt was seen as someone with doctor king it was a sunday school version it was nonviolent it was too accommodationist. one of the leaders that was citing with carmichael said the problem with john lewis after 1963 was every time president johnson called, jon would send his suit to the cleaners so we'll get all clean. he was seen as too much of a part of the establishment. but, ultimately the way i resolved that if i did
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successfully, was through the language of the southern church of which i'm a part in the broadest sense. i'm not a good christian is robert louis stevenson of the duty of the christian is not to succeed but to fail cheerfully. if so i'm the most cheerful guy you'll ever encounter. but, he was on that bridge. he was on the freedom rides. he was in nashville coming out of american baptist theological seminary, a tiny school still there. the fancy kids what to morehouse. jon and bernard lafayette and james bevel went to this, there were 100 students imagine that one little school of 100 students on the cumberland river and nashville produced john lewis, jamesev bevel, ultimately diane nash it was just an
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incredible story. but what i realized, watching him and talking to him and those almost 30 years i haven't thought about that, as he was in the house and as he became, this is why the most fascinating things about john lewis, he became a kind of walking monument. he was kind of in anniversary business. he took congressional delegations back everyee year to selma if you needed something on an anniversary he was always there. he is the only public figure i have ever known who could be at a scene of his great triumphs that should have been all about him and yet it was the most ego list on self referential and you
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can imagine which is hard to do, right? so you'd be standing on the pettus bridge with him but it really wasn'tth about him. even though you are there because of him and that was a kind of charisma in the purest sense of the greek word. it was a gift from the gods that is an old teacher once said one definition ofe charm is the capacity to make other people q love you without their quite knowingom why. and somehow or another that isel what jon did. >> is fascinating to talk about selma. selma is so complicated. we talked about this is you were working through that section. there are three marches and in some ways i think about baldwin the complexity of selma is almost evident in his witness. there is blood he sunday there
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is the march king gets up and turns around they. >> did not bother to show up on blood he the money doess come. and then they sing eight nobody going to turn us around for the third watches when an important comes. in between isk a violence and they get angry they get organized typically tell the story of selma and an uncomplicated way probably because jesse jackson first serious one. we tell it kind of flattens out the complexity of the moment because baldwin is going to young folksh those in an interesting sort of way. given the absolute loved and adored. exit is flattened out. i actually teach this. we think of tulane as the vanderbilts of louisiana so thank you all for having me. [applause]
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[laughter] [laughter] sorry mr. princeton. >> a juicer passport stamped on the way down? i would that work? [laughter] so way the story is told were watching this on pbs you have lewis and josé williams coming across the bridge at about 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon it's a slate gray blood he sunday 1965 wind is blowing, jon is wearing his overcoat in his backpack is aon copy of the american political tradition and apple, and orange and a toothbrush because he expects to be arrested on that was the rule james lawton taught them you take a book, some fruit and a toothbrush. in the major he says this is an illegal march. jon says may have a word question if they there is no word to be had, they kneel to
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pray as their knees hit the asphalt the troopers calm, the teargas, people think by the weight one of the reasons john lewis every was throwing up was because of the teargas it was they were that's why. and famously abc is pulling the first broadcast version of a judgment at nuremberg so frank reynolds breaks andit that night with a bulletin. the first significantti news bulletin to be broken and since dallas. thousand 63 this is march of 65. and then what is the next scene? lbj, right? given the great richard goodwine speech. there are moments in the life of a nation where history have a turning point in manson ending search for freedom so it was it appomattox so it was last week
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in selma, alabama and we shall overcome. in the voting rights act decides and everything is fine, right? [laughter] what's. so one of the ways i teach this is johnson's speech was on marc. blood he sunday was march 78 days is a long time. so what happened in those eight days? a lot of the politics that baldwin captured that eddie is talking about, also lyndon johnson asserted control over the entire situation do things happened one is he forces king to go to judge frank johnson and follow the court orders about the nature of the march. and, what i think is one of the most important moments in modern american history because the lesson of it i think lives on, he summons george wallace to the
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oval office. lbj had very deep cushions on the couch so the person would sink and lbj would loom. he was in the rocking tourney leans over too george wallace and wallace is i can't control voting boards. johnson says wonderfully, don't ship me george wallace. and then he says george this is not about 1968. it's not about 1988 it is about history. and when you die, do you want a pine scratch stony grave that says george wallace he hated or do you want a beautiful elegant granite monument thatt says george wallace he built. and that is the fundamental question it seems to me of citizenship, do you d want to he or do you want to build? and one of the things eddie and i debate off-line a good bit is
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the extent to which, i am a right by way in this debate just so you know the extent to which progress is a common measured nba, celebrated. and so talk a little bit about that. >> one of the things i insist on in our conversation is that while black america's liberating between whether it's going to hate or build, we have to raise our babies. while you are trying to decide what kind of human being you are going to be auteur going to be monster we have to protect ourselves. we have to figure out how to raise our children in a society that fundamentally despises them. and so the task then becomes where the question isn't whether
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or not were going to hate or build the question is whether or not we allow hatred and anger and rage to overwhelm our world. and so when we think about this moment remember young folks went to alabama they argue for political self-determination they use the symbol of what? the black panther. as a symbol. and so we tend to think of the black panther party is october 1966 in oakland, california but the first image of the black panther comes and let county alabama. we hear cries after the march of fear says i've been to joe x number of time i'm not going to jail anymore we want what? black power. and so this ongoing battle of how do we respond in the gap between will you hate or will you build?
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what kind of human being will we be hubble really raise our babies? how will we do in the interim as you make those decisions often time we havee the debate about the taste of progress. the pace of the progress how long must wege wait for progres? do we have to lose another george and floyd for your progress? do we have to lose our own babies as we wait on your progress? what do we do inwh the interim while we fix? there is a story to be told froo the vantage point of lyndon baines johnson but then there's a story to be told from the vantage point of those black folk who bore the burden and the brutality of what was happening among the high political drama in the white house. so jimmy baldwin was always committed to the idea of the new
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jerusalem. we were always engaged, is that ringing? i am from here i know that kind of ring that's when you pull over on the site of the highway and wait for it to come. >> i knew jon barry was going to bring a flood. [laughter] >> so the question becomes baldwin is always committed to the idea of a new jerusalem. but heo insisted and i want to insist i don't have to echo his voice but in order for that to happen we have to grow up and confront ourselves honestly about who we are. as a nation that is. >> so my argument back is that i am not asking anybody to wait. so we broadly put, get her houses in order. i think this is a description of human nature and a perennial
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struggle between light and darky and good and bad that unfolds in our individual lives and then in a democracy in the fullness of the nation itself because a democracy is largely, not entirely but largely the full rtmanifestation of our individus and those dispositions given just enough force and just enough focus create the rule of law. that is one slight amendment i would propose. one of my favorite lines of baldwin's comes from when he is writing about sncc in florida i want to say tallahassee. >> nobody my name. >> right he says somebody asked there had been a sit in. ndhe said someone asked me and u have this vision of baldwin back
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in the motel this typewriter, right? is filing the piece. any esquire account member who he wrote for on that. but he wrote this he said people ask, what got into these kids? america, america is what got into these kids. so what was of baldwin's definition of america in that sense? x madness. >> madness in the sense of the renaissance not the clinical sense of madness but what is madness in this sense? this refusal to live the truth to live in this false sense we believe we are the shining symbiont on the hill adjective on jon winthrop's description
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cannot interrupt you it's a very important point in the story, so i know this is important will get back to the important stuff. reagan, eddie and i have discussions about president reagan there called spatz if we were married. [laughter] can you do that in louisiana now? probably not. anyway, reagan's phrase, shining city on a hill is at in the adjective to a wide from the sermon on the mountain. jesus said the city up on the hill the light not shall be hid. reagan did that so well, that i have actually heard ministers, true story, from pulpit say as jesus said america shall be as us shining city upon a hill. [laughter] and i never knew president reagan but i did know mrs. reagan a little bit.
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[laughter] is jimmy stewart said of brown he had married nancy the first time he would've won an academy award. [laughter] but i had heard this i had lunch were i would eat and she wouldn'tno. and i said you know it ma'am i just heard a minister say it's amazing president reagan improved on jesus and she looked in said well yes that is the kind of thing ronnie did a lot. [laughter] might someday we all be loved is nancy davis loved ronald reagan now go back to baldwin for. >> don't believe it do all believe that. [laughter] >> how can i make that up? >> part of this idea that we are the shining city on the hill redeemer nation were an example of democracy that particular illusion keeps us from confronting who we actually are. and so there is a kind of
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falseness that we live in we know this interim what does it mean to imagine oneself in a particular sort of way? and to evade what is looking back in the mirror, right? there is a kind of magnus what has gotten into these young folks? the madness of america's got into them it is a badness that calls forth interesting sorts of ways. quickly push you on that. my sense of that sentence from baldwin is that it is at good thing that was getting into them in protesting, and seeking justice was the aspirational
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element which creates one pole as to which there is this gap you talk about. >> i don't really read that sentence in that way the motivation for these young folks is kind of an aspirational claim about america as it could be. i think baldwin is constantly saying when you think about particularly when he is at powered how i open up the book,u he is a coward in apartment with many of the young activists. there were these various clicks you had that a center grouping of julian and those folks you had the nashville group the atlantic over the year at the that's diane john lewis and those folks. and then you had the d.c. folks this is stokely carmichael, murieles, marion barry the first
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marionberry was the first president named people don't remember this. once they are in this apartment building no liquor could be found so somebody knew a bootlegger so they got k bootlegger scotch they are going until the sun goes up. and baldwin sees in their eyes exhaustion. these are the young people who believed wholeheartedly and non- violent protests. carmichael said he never broke nonviolence but once is when the police attacked doctor king never broke nonviolence but once and stokely says america made these young people need baldwin said america made these young people i want to connect these
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two formulations, right? what is aspirational it's a description of the context out of which these young folk act courageously. >> it does, it does. quicksort ask you a question. you wrote the biography of h.w. bush, president bush just cited nancy reagan and the nancy reagan story which i don't believe. [laughter] >> why would i sit around and think i'm going to make up a nancy reagan? [laughter] because you are jon meacham. [laughter] >> you should hear my julia grant story. [laughter] so what does it mean? i want to understand you though. that is a journey from herbert
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walker bush, george herbert walker bush, reagan before the stuff you've written, to john lewis. to write about john lewis, to publish that after he goes on to glory, what do you see? i see it different i see a shift on the axis jon meacham. >> are we going to the 50 minute hour directed pay. you for therapy questionnaire. >> talk to me about j that joury from there to here. >> all right. can i slightly reorder the question? >> no. [laughter] so there is something, here's the commonality let's start there. the commonality is these are the only two living people i have ever written about. i did not fall in love with
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either one of them, but i came to love them which is different. they come from arguably it's hard to imagine two people beginning their lives in a more different place, right? so poppy bush's board in june 12 , 24 in milton, massachusetts grows up in greenwich, joins the united states navy on his 18th birthday, july 12 , 42. he is shot down on saturday, september 2, loses two crewmates, spent the rest of his life, every day asking why was i spared and not them? a man of immense empathy.
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a man of immense ambition of those two things were in constant conflict, ultimately he resolved them in his mind and it matters less what he did to amass power and more what he did when he had it. we could argue all you want about that, that is the way he saw. john lewis great grandson of an enslaved man board enslaved in 1863 -- 62. son of a sharecropper, overcame his childhood stutter by preaching to the chickens on the farm in troy used to say chickens listen to him more carefully than his colleagues in congress ever did. [laughter] never saw a white person until he was 14 except for the mailman. had an instinctive repulsion about segregation when he would go into town.
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moved by the gospel very on interested in theology, interested t instead about how o you apply the sermon on the mount did not like the preacher for montgomery who came over ana was talk about the sweet by and by did not care about the sweet by and by wanted it right then. so radically different. my view, and you will disagree. >> probably. as they both represent parts of the american experience that i think are worth emulating and having inform what we do. george h.w. bush was the last eisenhower republican which is like saying you are the last
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dinosaur, right? that is dead, dead, dead that part. that party was imperfect. but, i believe that one way to think about american politics and a f life from the new deal until now is that it has been a figurative conversation between fdr and reagan. in the relative role of the state in the marketplace. and every american president except for the 45th has essentially governed on that field. and sometimes switch metaphors of football, sometimes there's a george w. bush is over with ronald reagan on the 20. sometimes it's lyndon johnson over here with fdr. i have run this by bush, clinton, and president obama.
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they all agree president obama agrees with the concept that was the dialectic in which he governed. it was not a dialectices that hs delivered the results i think many people want which is one of the reasons it fell apart in 2016. right? so i don't see that as a shift. what i do see is four years ago but trump is the fullest manifestation they forces ebbed and flowed suggested to me
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something more permanent about this. i think it can be okay i didn't foresee that. one of the things eddie and i yk agreed with marital therapy thing, as i dislike it. i disagree i should say when people say about something terrible that happened when they say this is not who we are. this is where we are aware of you been? do you not know anything? did you literally no no american history? i said this a while ago, there is not a once upon a time in american history. this audit heavily after. this is a enterprise whether people like eddie matters so much because eddie is something i don't do.
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which is a historian of both our politics but even more important of our intellectual ambient philosophical life. and the importance of ideas which he drives baldwin i would say go all the way back if you haven't read his book it's called exodus within! it was job just so you know. if you ever had that comparison? >> that's what i'm here for, my work is done, thanks walter. [laughter] was about the exodus narrative and how it is shaped so i am less optimistic than i was.
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but i don't know, maybe because i want to be forgiven for all the stupid things i do them overly forgiving if that's possible. >> no that's not it. [laughter] does that make sense? >> part of what it means for me too come out of the tradition of which i come, is to say to you i'm glad you finally see it. >> you brought me home. >> what i mean by that we all grew up, we both grew up in this house. all we have to do is cross the railroad tracks. all we have to do is look at our lives. this is what you are saying, right? this is who we are and always has been buried some of us have to live the burden of ape contradiction. some of us have lost people and
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we watch for generations of the country walk past our dead. when the revelation happens we want to be patted on our backs. i got it, see? it comes in this a moment of crisis when it feels as if the experience expands on an edge, this kite of insight we are now in full therapy mode. this is a really important point that you point out.
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he was sweet he didn't do it by name or let me say this by the way i was tiptoeing around my criticism on ronald reagan he said eddie, if you are going to criticize reagan, go after him. >> you had a parenthetical think he might've been a racist is that you might want to unpack that. [laughter] it was literally. he says no i think do it, do it. i do the six times before breakfast. go ahead. one of the things eddie sort of dings me for ingested it very gently and eloquently is somehow my karma tell if you disagree. somewhat of my view of history's overly triumphal and selfee congratulatory for the country. i disagree because of the powerful narrative. if you don't tell a story that
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moves people to want to replicate something that was good you are unilaterally disarming. >> and my response is, what we choose to leave out of our stories the limits of our justice. >> sure. [applause] >> i got applause you didn't. [laughter] >> i know, i know. sort of forgotten they are here. [laughter] i was about to curse. i just will. okay but you have got to tell the story, right? >> that is why the blues tells a different kind of story.
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when you cross those railroad tracks, which you guys used to do. >> i know you guys that's good. >> when you cross the railroad tracks on this abid night hours. >> now is really preacher thing now. you feel the boyss begin to go. >> you see the move. there is a story that had been told what is thought of as the major plot line and what is thought of as a subplot? >> was really direct question for. >> that will come to only promise promise. >> far more direct. is the world a better off or worse off for my john lewis book? >> it's better that's an easy question. >> is it a celebration? >> know i know what you struggled with.
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[applause] the thing is that the journey that we all make and we all take the path that we all take, when we end up there as long as you end up there. the point that i am making here is not to pass judgment or anything is to say okay now let's build a new america. let's be better midwives and give birth to new. i think some of us, as southerners we have our hands we are at the heart of it is my friend says we are at the heart of it if only we could confront who we actually are. questions? [applause] one question.
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[applause] >> we can only ask one. we have gone on too long. she wants to ask the question, no pressure. >> we told everybody were going to blow this question and answer. we did say that they. >> don't make me calling you. yes, sir. project. [inaudible]or >> i cannot hear you i'm sorry i'm too old. >> come up to the mic this is high church. >> wears the incense? >> one of thene things you mentioned in your book is how exhausted james baldwin was and for many of us who grew up in a similar era it's like we are reexperiencing this and we are b
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exhausted. what would be baldwin's perspective would he want toot stay or flee? >> i try to avoid jimmy's words he wrote so many we could actually find an answer. one of the reasons why i wrote begin again is because i was suffering from a debilitating here we were, we'd come out of ferguson. all these young people had risked their lives in somewhere ending uphe dead. committing suicide so they say. the country responded to their effort, the organized effort with the election ofju donald trump just as the country responded to king's murder with the election of richard nixon twice. having to push the boulder up the hill again, and again, and again, balls and tried to commit
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suicide at least three times, right? no name in the street published in 1972 is coming off of one of those attempts trying to make sense of this moment because he's trying to sell my tell a story that will offer resources for us to imagine how to keep struggling. so i think the way in which i came out of itus is that it is t the end to which we are trying to push the mold. the value is the actual pushing. to invoke quality it's a beautiful struggle itself and that is where meaning is found good because if we think that we have to seeon the end as a precondition for our struggle for a better america we won't make it. [applause] apartment. [laughter] [applause] >> both of these guys will be, signing books downstairs.
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>> will eddie be signing the larger posters that are around the city? [laughter] how about work? there will be some eddie bobble heads. [laughter] >> thank you. [applause] ♪ weekends on cspan2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america is a story and on sunday book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for cspan2 comes from these television companies and more including comcast. >> they are thinking this is just a community center? no it's way more than that comcast is partnering with 1000 committee centers to create wi-fi enabled list so students from low-income families can get the tools they need to be ready for anything. >> comcast along with these television companies support cspan2 as a public service.
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