Skip to main content

tv   Fatima Shaik Economy Hall  CSPAN  July 7, 2022 10:54am-11:52am EDT

10:54 am
>> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's stories, and on sundays booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more including buckeye broadband. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> buckeye broadband along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> my name is rachel team it and i'm a managing library of the brooklyn heights branch of the brooklyn public library temporarily offering lobby sent us out of the new center for brooklyn history as we eagerly anticipate the opening of a
10:55 am
brand-new branch this fall. it is my pleasure to introduce this event tonight, fatima shaik and jennifer egan on "economy hall: the hiden history of a free black brotherhood." i am so excited to be given this honor in part due to the connection between the friends of the brooklyn heights library friends group, and it's a robust group that supports the brooklyn heights library in so many ways, and in connection with fatima shaik and i was asked if as a branch would be interested in supporting her in a virtual book launch for a economy hall. after the story behind the book and seeing this dark and reading the going review in the "new york times" i jumped at the opportunity to be able to host a program sharing this monumental book. but as the accolades and the publicity grew so didid the importance of this program. and then fatima to her friend
10:56 am
jennifer egan on board the brilliant author. this is become a great event when it. "economy hall," fatima shaik shows with what the free black brotherhood of new orleans founded in 1836 the support its community through the civil war, reconstruction, white terrorism and the birth of jazz. this nonfiction narrative is american history that needsds to be shared. it highlights voices that need to be heard and it is a deeply personal story or fatima herself as a new orleans native and a descendent of the ferry community the brotherhood serve. this book is a treasure. i am deeply excited about this conversation where about to enjoy between fatima shaik in jennifer egan on "economy hall: the hiden history of a free black brotherhood." fatima, jennifer, please take it away.
10:57 am
>> hello, fatima. >> hello. >> hello, everybody. thank you so much for being with us. i am incredibly excited to have a chance to spread the word about this remarkable book which i been talking with fatima about for some years now but which has surpassed my every expectation in being a work of history that has an enormous sweep, covers a lot of ground, , has a tremendos importance and yet is so readable and fun. so i thought, it's a very complex work, and i thought maybe the best place to begin with be really where you began, fatima, in your introduction. tell us how this book came to be. be. it really is t a w story that bs with your father. >> sure. thank you, jennifer. thanks to everybody for being here. this story, my father found some journals in the trash in the back of a junk truck and brought them home and he put them in the
10:58 am
closet. he found that in the 1950s and they sat in my attic for about 50 years five already a writer but i was looking for something worth to writete about. i look in the closet and saw all of these journals and realize this was an important part of history. >> can you describe what, what are the journals and what is the organization that produced them? >> sure. the journals are the minutes of a meeting of associated economies, the economy society. and it's an organization of black men thatat started in 1836 and what i realize reading those turtles about 3000 pages, , i realized after reading the journals was that this was probably the most influential and prospers organization of black men in the south either before or after the civil war. >> and what years do these journals cover?
10:59 am
>> the journals cover from 1836 1836-1935. the organization lasted at least until the 1950s because that is when the journals were getting closed up. so they covered more than the 100 years but within -- there were some places that are missing. around the civil war is missing. the journal from 1842-1857 is missing so there are few gaps that so there are few gaps that i will still able to fill that out by doing some research. >> you talk about the fact her father always pronounced in the french way, economy. could you explain what this organization did and what its role was in the community that it served? >> at the time is basically a mutual aid society. so mutual aid society takes care of its members, their health. if somebody gets sick they help pay for the doctor bills.
11:00 am
they also buried people if somebody died theyh would take care of the burial expenses and give the widow some money. however, it grew over the century of politics became more important so that they became much more politically active, and around the civil war they became very involved in what was going on in actually the united states and of the world. .. ur community history and which you were told stories by people with various memories of the past for stories that they heard about the past and that somehow yet did not quite connect with the official history and there is a beautiful quote in your book that i want to with a passion of a man wrongfully accused of a crime
11:01 am
who repeats over and over his account of the moment that proves his innocence. i love that. and i thought, could you explain to us what story he's trying to assert or prove to use the analogyyou give us. what was missing ? >> the history itself basically it was missing. the history of the black community, of any sort of community accept what the whitenarrative was . you have something in denise schools we sort of knew what was going on because the elders had put us down longer times wewanted to listen . they say that friend you brought home is this person's grandchild and did you know his grandfather did such and such and his great-grandfather did that so we learned like that.we were before class to
11:02 am
integrate a class and i remember a man giving us the white supremacist narrative dwhat the black people were doing in new orleans . so you know, i had to write this historybasically . >> i wonder if this connects with something that was interesting to me . that you explained two different definitions of creole that existed in new orleans as you were growing up. can you talk about that? >> yes i can. there are probably hundreds ofdefinitions of creole . let's in my time and actually it started, you speak of whitesupremacy era rearing its ugly head post reconstruction . it got generally 1890s and onto my time, 1950s.
11:03 am
what we would hear is creole men's white. there's a quote in the book itself, the daily newspaper wrote about you hear about creole food heand you hear about creole tomatoes creoles are white, creoles are not negro. this sort of went against our understanding because my mother french, the people around me spoke french and one thing i'd like to make clear was sometimes people think that issue of light-skinned means s your creole. it doesn't threat what it means is the old world and new world met in louisiana and landed differently so you can have people of african descent like my people who could be any range of color and they are real. rarely are they white but there are like people who just married europeans down
11:04 am
the line who are what they call white real . we didn't make that distinction in my neighborhood because we just felt if we submit to the old world and new world it didn't really matter. we were really into raceand color anyway . class talk a little bit about your own history and how you came to be born in neworleans which you told me about and it's some fun stories . >> is really complicated. my grandfather, my grandfather came from india. he's probably one of the first indians to come tothe united states in the 1890s . he came to new orleans married a black creole woman. she was a black woman who spoke french and was born in new orleans . she was the granddaughter of an enslaved person, an enslaved person in louisiana who was purchased by her husband. i don't think you were this purchased by her husband and three before she had children
11:05 am
. that is different from the other side of my family whose , the great grandmother of whom my great-grandmother had children either owner also who did not treat his children. they were born in slade and they were enslaved until they were at least 20 years old. i remember asking my grandfather, who is your family? he said who wants to know? he really wasn't going to tell anything about his family. because of thathistory of enslavement . buthis father was enslaved . they all met down in new orleans. >> and what you say perfectly mirrors what you describe about the community that the economy was serving which was in the 19th century to multiethnic . an incredibly inclusive.
11:06 am
i was very struck by the fact that the economy welcomed jews. it puts out an offer to chinese who might want to join that and i love it if you could explain to those of us who don't know that much about the south what did multiethnic mean in new orleans in the 19th century ? >> i don't use that term multiethnic really what but what it meant was wewere white . the people who had privileges because we're living in a segregated system . there were places that were white only and everyone who was not white or was nonwhite , right, were colored. they might call them colored but you are nonwhite so the people who came into the community and to tell you the truth if you look at many communities, black communities in the united states you would see nonwhite people go right into theblack
11:07 am
community . that's where they they tend to be quite inclusive. so in the south especially was very inclusive because people worked together. and as i said they didn't believe racism. they just didn't believe it so it was a premise, it didn't make any logical sense to us . >> your title comes from an actual place and i wonder if you can talk about that place and its history and also just about you were eloquent in your book about the importance of having a place to hold meetings. let's talk about the actual place of economy hall. >> economy of paul in 1836 the economy bought a small house and in 1867 about 20 years later they decided to build agrandpa .
11:08 am
they had heard other organizations came home. they were building these huge balls across the street from our building. they built the hall in 1867 and it became the center of the community. there were all there, philharmonic's. there were eaters, opera. as the civil war approachedit became political . they had people who talkabout suffrage in the 1860s .they met phone, black menhaving a vote . the community basically survived until my generation. my father when he discovered those journals on the back of the dump truckhe discovered them because his friend was a member of onthe economy society . he said that the hall had been sold and they were
11:09 am
getting rid of everything that was in there and nobody wanted these books so he sent them to the dump. so it's this storytelling. >> and yet, now let's talk about the physical documents. your father, you describe beautifully is building a cover with the men and sustaining it and very luckily having a house that was elevated enough that katrina for example did not damage the documents which already were water damaged the cause you mentioned you had, your father had to put them out in the sun and let them dry because they had gotten rained on in this dump truck which i have to say is painful to think about. but many years past and you became a journalist and a fiction writer and awriter of children's books . talk about your return to these books that you had not
11:10 am
had a lot of deep contact with until then. >> i knew the books were there e because when i was a child everybody said once the books got to the house everybodysaid don't touch them, there are two important . so i had it in the back of my mind sometimes when i would come home i never could make anything out. after i had seen the way history was in targeted, when i saw the handwriting alone tells you these are the people that are very educated . i was drawn to the person you saw his signature. i grew up around my cousins
11:11 am
cousins so i knew the names and then to find out that she had been involved in the friedman bureau and also to things, it was really fun to find out. >> one thing that was surprising to me to see the beauty frankly of some of the excerpts from these documents. these are minutesof meetings and i'm just going to read one short excerpt . love is a beautiful dream. the aspiration of the known to be unknown. the diving ray ravished by prometheus. god created the world only because he needed tolove . i mean, it's not what you expect to find in meeting minutes . would that we did find such things. so it's striking that in a
11:12 am
sense these are literary documents. were you surprised by that? were you surprised by what you found in them and by the hold they ended up taking over you and your own literary life? >> i was definitely surprised by how literary they were. in a way though it makes sense because you know, i knew my father and my father's friends. they were always encouraging each other so they were always telling each other you could do this. i write in the book a little bit about how he couldn't get a phd or you couldn't easily get a phd in the united states so he used to drive from new orleans to canada. he could live in a place without segregation. it was one of his friends that told him you don't need to stick around here. get out of the country for a little while. when i saw these guys writing these encouraging words, these inspirational words to each other it was surprising that i saw it written but it
11:13 am
wasn't surprising that they did that because i had heard that same sort of language exactly i had heard the spirit in my community and in my life. >> what about the language of these documents because you mentioned that at the end your sister described it as french american. what is the language like and how is it different from just french or you know, american english? >> it's not english until about 1926. their writing entirely in french and in broken english, 1926 they go to louisiana. the french, the way the french, i'm no french scholar but the way the french read in those sentences suggests
11:14 am
the sentence construction was sort of an english construction or for example when they started to get around americans which was around the time of the civil war and we call them americans, when they got around to be americans they started using words like chairman. i thought was this was just beautiful because ... [inaudible] >> i'm curious about the process of the enormous undertaking of synthesizing 100 years of documentation into an historical work. and i guess i just would love to hear the timeline of how that occurred. simply reading these journals must have taken you quite a
11:15 am
while. where were you in your life at that time. how did you pull this in, when did it become a full-time project? take us through your interactions with them. >> you're making me laugh because only now is it a full-time thing. so it was about 20 years ago that i started to write the journal and i basically would go through the journal and try to summarize what i thought was going on. when i came to something i couldn't understand because it was too difficult and involved, there was a priest. i want to shout out st. peter's university who speaks something like 16 or 18 languages so it goes to mister stephanie and asked him what does this mean because these journals were
11:16 am
in french and to understand the genealogy of the man, he could read french, spanish . that took about five years. after i did that i started seeing and it sort of as i was going along i was so amazed with my neighbors. and the people that lived in the neighborhood. that made me a little bit closer. and having this spiritual thing would happen. there was a fellow who committed suicide and he wrote a suicide note. i was in the library and i didn't know who this guy was and i saw a person that i knew. 30 years, i saw her sitting at one of the microfilm machines. and she said that's my ancestor. that's my ancestor and she
11:17 am
didn't know that he committed suicide and that was the first time she had seen a letter in his words. that sort of thing made me say, it took about 20 years. had i known i was working on one book for 20 years, but somebody like you i don't think i would have worked that long. i was trying to be a published writer. i did children's work, i had a full-time job as a teacher. did a couple of books of short stories which are possible in short period of time. but that is the timeline. >> of course you had a tremendous resource was your own community who had been giving you in a sense an oral history component of this story even when as isaid as a kid you didn't always want to listen to that .
11:18 am
what degree did you reengage with that community and the role oforal historian and to try to fill out this picture and what were those princes like ? >> that was probably some of the most important experiences because some of these people were old. a friend of mine who sort of married into my family because were allcousins . he had i think about 100 years old and somebody else and her daughter who was 80 years old. they had advanced to economy hall and their motherhad danced at economy hall . her mother had met herhusband at economy hall . they would tell me about that music that was being played there and that their parents didn't want them to go sometimes. i get these rich, really rich stories . >> you feel like it further enriched your own relationship to your community? >> sure.
11:19 am
if you know me from new orleans we don't leave. we are we can live somewhere else but we're always from new orleans. it gave me more people to know how i was connected. like i found out my friend and i had been connected at least for generations. and she saw that in her parents who had met, her parents, ancestors were both members of the economy hall in 1850. so you know, that became much more important. that was fun to know. i guess i'll always carry new orleans around with me as you probably have seen. >> it's so lucky you began the project when you did in the sense that you can't a moment when more of this
11:20 am
existed in living memory and i'm guessing it does now. a lot of these stories are tsaving and it's so crucial to get the people and report them. while they're stillhere and can still remember .>> the four people that i was talking about, my friend's mother had passed her friend had passed. the hundred-year-old woman and her daughter had passed so none of these people are still around. i was very lucky and i thought when i started the second step, when i started seeing the names of people i knew and i started reaching out to see whether i can talk to their older families. but i really was like, this whole process was sort of luck. it was like that my dad found the book. luck that i was a writer. and found something in the book it was like that i would bump into these people. so there's scances in the book.
11:21 am
>> i love that. there are stanzas that are recorded in the minutes. how many meeting minutes included the presence of ghost? >> it was fun to find out some of these historically written and then i would look in the scance journals and there would be a ghost talking about this real thing that happened. i could quote the ghost. it was just great. >> oh boy. now i'm curious about how the fiction writer and journalist undertook the mammoth job of trying to synthesize and crystallize this enormous amount of history and material into a story. and you make some bold choices. one of them you all the earlier you choose to focus your gaze on one particular
11:22 am
person. >> we can say it in english. >> tell us a bit. he's a fascinating figure which is an amazing history. i'd love to hear about if you acould tell us about him and what it was about him that made you feel like he would be the gaze to lock in on for this story. >> at first the story was there were some things going on. i had to find a person to hang the story on in order for it to move. and not to be just historical account. ici'm a fiction writer so i wanted tomove like a novel . and luckily he lived from 1812 to 1892. i had a very long life to work with. he was also present in so
11:23 am
many things at a time when the enslaved, when they were it was against the law for slaves to read he had a school and he had in fact taught some enslaved on the side. he wasn't supposed to. then he became part of the reconstruction government. he became active. he was the grand marshal of the emancipation celebration. this was covered in new orleans and also by the new york times so they didn't mention him they mentioned the celebration so i was able to get a lot of color from that. then he was very instrumental but he was so full of poetry. his friends were poets so he had his beautiful handwriting . every once in a while the minutes would say bulgaria gave a spontaneous phone. how can you resist. somebody just stand up at
11:24 am
men's meeting and gives this poem. but it was this just wonderful. i love this character. he gave these poems, he was politically active . and he was he named his children after writers. one child was named george loss. another was named palmer, i think it was homer but he all of his kids, all his boys er were named after poets on or writers. it was reallyfun to follow him . >> it was accommodation of his sensibility, his own literary awareness to the fact that he was present for so many historical events and so deeply involved in the economy that made him the guy that could bring you all the rest. >> he was the go to guy. he also when he took the minutes he was very precise about the way he took the minutes every time they went
11:25 am
to something new you would number them and get then gave a contents page. he given as a contact page you could look at the contents page and see what was going to come up in the minutes that made it easy. very clear to read. he also when anything important happened you would underline and make exclamation points. you would write down the letters . so he was a really easy person to follow. and he's one of these people who is not a president or congressman. he was just a person in the community and they had let your more than 100 years. >> it must feel as if you know him. it feels as if you know his personality. you know what matters to him. he was sort of like a helpmate for you. >> he was a lot of fun.
11:26 am
the fact that at one point, they get in arguments with eteach other. and at certain points. and then there was one point where a fellow didn't agree with another one and he saw him on the street and he had him with his cane. so the two men came to the meeting and they talked about this and one says i'm still bruised in the face because of your cane. i am bruised because of your insult. and dan writes it word for word and he says and the other one says it is not my apology that i want to give you. it is my arm and bogey writes that theyembraced so closely they were like one . it's just beautiful writing so it was a lot of fun. >> i want to take this moment
11:27 am
to say that in the chat i believe links are appearing for this book. these are pretty amazing anecdotes and remarkable tidbits. it is a very fun book to read and i urge all of you to buy it for yourselves and your loved ones. another thing, for sure he is a big part of what makes this book so readable but the other part is you, fatima because you bring us into these moments with a full array of scenes and tools that i think probably were phoned in yourtime is a fiction writer and journalist . you bring us sentences, closing, smells. you really put us in a moment . and it's shonestly compelling. i'm wondering because you also have a gigantic quantity of footnotes and i know that you were relying heavily on sources but also on your own imagination and i wonder if you could talk to us about
11:28 am
the craft challenge of deciding where to draw the line about what you were gwilling to imagine and how you negotiated those questions. >> there is the setting of the scene is in choosing a scene. the scene itself is true. so let me put it this way so someone, one night economy hall 1863. there was s talking about the votes for black men. it was november, i looked up the weather in 1863. i looked up the time of the sunset on sundays. so i was able to say that i know that for example walton was in the room. he gave the speech and you have to walk in the room because he didn't get tospeak from outside . i can say that i know the
11:29 am
meetings were around 7:00. the sunset wasat 6:00 . now i know it is. so i can say from monterey walk into the economy hall just about the time the sun was setting. so the room was warm because everyone had their coats on and it was crowded. i don't think 600 people or something, i don't remember. so you figure hundreds of men packed in the room. it would be sweaty and moist and plastered walls. so i can do that. because it's fact. it's not imagination. it's not imagination in any of the words that are in their or the. were in the newspaper or the folks thatwere in the journals . in fact i had happy nelson
11:30 am
who would not let me get a word in edgewise . he asked me there was one street. a street that the economy is on. it's called ursuline street now. when was it an avenue, was it an avenue in 1852 or was it an avenue in 1857. i found like five references. so you know, we everything that's in there has been checked out. >> it sounds like it's not so much imagination as using your tools as a writer to connect the factual dots in ways that bring the sensory quality of it to life. and rest in the moment. >> is in itself, i have two field fiction s,it's the kind
11:31 am
of reader i am.i have to feel something isgoing on and the way i take in information and fiction is through my senses . i use my five senses and that's how i get my information . everybody feels through their senses so for my reader to lfeel anything they have to know what it smells like and how what the sound is. and then there in the room. so those are things that i brought from fiction and also a little bit fromjournalism . i did a lot of research on something else, in these times there were katrina's that are very sensuous and that were not sensuous like sexy sensuous in a way talking about what it felt like after katrina. >> you mentioned katrina now and i actually want to jump on and ask you a question because i was surprised to hear you write in your book
11:32 am
that in a sense the biggest ruptures. the biggest disruption of this community that you are tracking going back to the early 19th century really was katrina. that is has really fractured the community in certain ways . that was short sort of shocking to me that in all those years and events of this century is the one that has been so disruptive. >> most of these people, most of these generations that i'm talking about lived in the downtown areas. and the downtown areas of new orleans were where the levee broke.e. so the flood came into our neighborhood. and a lot of these people lost their homes. the elders were in their 70s, 80s, 90s at that time so we lost that connection . there was one couple that you'll read in the book that
11:33 am
drowned in their house. it was very closely connected to the economy hall. most of our elders were re-evacuatedthen . . we took him out of town but they then they were getting heart attacks and strokes because they were out of their environment. i think the statistic was more than 80 people in new orleans at the time ofkatrina were born here . it's a city where people just stayed . so that disruption of having all those neighborhoods, those downtown neighborhoodspt flooded out . losing those elders to one thing or another. that really did us in. >> you also mentioned basically a diaspora that has resulted in a number of people leaving the city who have not returned. i believe it was almost 100,000 yes, almost 100,000 had notreturned . you can read some posting on
11:34 am
the website. because wthere was.the diaspora. the houses were flooded. it was very difficult so they said here, let's just follow this down the road. we're in redline neighborhoods so how are we going to get enough for our houses? people were having all kinds of problems like that. who could get the most? a lot of people with dsmoney. from out of a lot of those we could not reveal or build back up by corporations. standard type housing or people with a lot of money who can come in and 200 or $300,000 for a house. it's a bargain. so people who bought the house for $5000 and the house
11:35 am
now is worth $300,000 and can't get a loanbecause they were primary . so there was houston or atlanta and they'll say i'll just stay here. >> it feels like it's exactly what the economy was there to do. to try to hold the community together. to find a tangible way for people to help each other r and it feels like that is what we don't seem to haveany more . that community does not seem to have any more. >> that community is having a hard time. there's still people holding it together a little bit. i have friendswho still live here but we lost a lot. the economy , they were operating in this time of inflation. so they part of their goal
11:36 am
was to educate one another, to help one another and lend a hand so that's what they did. they educated each other. if they needed to get a house built they would ask one of their friends to do the job. in fact i'll tell you the house i'm sitting in right now. the new part of our house i can remember the day that all the relatives and friends came over and built the back of the house. they were cooking food. they cooked and the guys came and they framed up the house and a priest came and blessed the frame. i don't know if that served much of anything but the next person that needed a house to get builteverybody went on saturday to their house and that's how the community was built . >> i'm wondering how your community has reacted to this remarkable contribution that you've made to it which synthesizes so much history. >> they like me a little bit more.
11:37 am
[laughter] what can i say? i think they like it. everybody's thumbing through. >> that's funny so it is that personal. online in the book that's exactly what's going on. and then if they're not in thebook why am i not in the book ? >> that is so funny. it's a measure of how just deflected my own past is that i can't even imagine being part of a community like that but it's really, that is really so telling and it's so human nature. we all want to be included and make sure our ancestors were given their proper due. >> exactly. and i had to remind everybody and you're looking at history , you are not responsible for your ancestors and you cannot
11:38 am
get any benefits from your ancestors. if your ancestors were terrible if you don't want to claim them you can't take their dignity either. you have to make a choicehere . >> so you're in new orleans right now. >> i am. >> and is this the house where you grow up? >> yes, this is the house where igrew up . it's the porch where my dad was. and this is the house i come to. we were able to keep the house after katrina. so i lost my dad though. he had a heart attack dbut we were able to keep the house.
11:39 am
this is very special to me. the book is really special to me in many different ways . >> it's special to be in your house with you. it's something we wouldn't be able to do if it were not for this virtual nature of our meeting so it's a silver lining to be present in the house where much of this took place. i feel like i'mseeing some questions coming in here . i'm going to take a look at those and we will hear from some of you. >> i have one more thing i would like to talk about two but let's get some questions first. >> you can pull them in whenever you want. was there a connection between the neeconomy and the church? >> there was a connection. they were very attached to the catholic religion from the very beginning because the catholic religion given things the government would not give them . for example the government
11:40 am
did not recognize the marriage of the enslaved. they did not recognize the marriage of people of color. the church recognized them as married people. they were attached to that as well. after the civil war when white supremacy became after the civil war and near the end of reconstruction when white supremacy took hold and the guys in the economy, many of them broke away from the church started seeing them talk about having scances and going towards s spiritualism because the catholic church was segregated to. they were going to go through that. >> one comment fatima, if you would stay close to your computer, a lot of people are
11:41 am
trouble havingtrouble hearing . and then we have a question that i really love and what you've just said about the family connections to your book. do you know the trump family? aunt georgia dated frank crump. i used to call him godfather. >> was ludwig her bulgir almost killed by a mob. >> bulgir was in that. remember i said they were trying to get suffrage for black men. the constitution at the time louisiana constitution when it first came back into the united states lincoln wanted the south back. he wanted the southern states back so he did the 10 percent
11:42 am
solution and louisiana came back but without the right to vote for black so many blacks decided they were going to have a convention and ludger boguille was a convention . he was attacked by police police came and killed everybody they could that was in that room . ludger boguille was there and sowere several other economy members . laszlo was there, i think his e son was nine or 10 years old. they stabbed the boy they shot out his eye . they shot camper. ludger boguille was almost killed when he was trying to come out of the building as people were trying to come out. he was almost killed but they grabbed the man in front of him coming out of the door and killed him and ludger boguille was able to run away but made a statement. he said the floor was slippery with blood.
11:43 am
the thing i wanted tomention and i'm glad that people brought this up . in history we think right now that history everything we do isnew . and it's not. these men were fighting for voters rights, voter registration was going on at economy hall and there were people trying to stop voter registration of blacks. that might sound pretty familiar right now. there was police violence nd because a lot of the police were members of white supremacist groups. there were militias that tried to kill officials. legitimately elected officials. there were mobs and militias so if you can learn something from this book because i don't want to be preachy. but realize that there's a playbook for white supremacy and it happened in the 1860s and if you know the playbook
11:44 am
you can see the things coming down the pipe right now. andyou can do something about them because you will know when they start denigrating people , start using the police to kill people . when mobs start taking duly elected people and threatening them you got ul something going on that's going to boil up. >> how was economy all related to plessy versus ferguson? >> the members of the economy society were probablyone of the first , they wereamong the first .. there were two black mutual aid societies target in the 1830s. plessy versus ferguson was in the 1890s. there were many more, hundreds of associations by that time and thmany of them supported the plessy versus ferguson case. merchant was the president of the economy society and also a member of the citizens committee. this clan who were involved in taking the plessy case to
11:45 am
court. so the economy raised money for them. they had in the minutes the president said i know many of you are in support of the legislation. so it was, they were very much against the jim crow law and the for those of you who don't know it was a case that was taken to the united states supreme court to prevent separate but equal. >> okay, i wanted to ask one more question and then maybe will go ahead but i just wondered if you could talk about music. with so many of us associate new orleans withmusic . with jazz in particular you write a lot about music in the book. can you talk about the economy and its relationship
11:46 am
to music over time? >> sure. if you go to the new orleans acid and heritage festival you'll see a text called the economy book. it's based on this bparticular hall because the economy had the music all the way through. they had all of these in the early years and the last incarnation of music in the economy hall was jazz. the same people who used to come together and support each other and build houses and educate each other's children when they were driven out of jobs through white supremacist legislation they played music to make money. one of the places they played music was in the economy hall. they would have a party. they would raise money with a party and pay the musicians that way the money they raise would go to the poor people and the money would circulate through the community that way. so if you read the book you will see that louis armstrong played in economy hall and
11:47 am
was discovered in economy hall. hethe people who came were the first people to get jazz out of new orleans. >> and another question is did the economy hall have members as well as people of color? >> they did not. >> these people were millionaires cheeses. one of them had homes in louisiana. so they were a mixture of the enslaved no more than new york society mixed with the people in lower society. the more horton thing is it was against the law. when there was slavery free people of color and the enslaved could not next.
11:48 am
police started attending the meetings but there was a fear that free people would insight the enslaved to revolt as they had in the period ludger boguille's father was in the haitian revolution sothere was good reason for them to the upgrade . the police really did not want the free people of color tomeet the enslaved . they would go to jail and the police started attending the meetings .po so that they didn't do it. it's a social class thing, they would also go to jail. dy>> fatima, when this is done i urge you to look at the chat. we got crump's granddaughter. other people who know so it may mean more to you than it does to me. we're pretty much out of time but i am going to ask you one final question which is kind of a tough one but just to quote, you quoted this in
11:49 am
part from the economy's mission. to help one another and teach one another while holding out a protective hand to suffering humanity. you can't shoot much higher than that. we live in a moment of such tremendous division and racial tension and political strife. i wonder what economy hall can tell us if anything and it's a lot of weight to put on you but what can this story tell usabout how to improve our own situation and live better ? >> may i quote to you from economy hall ? i wasn't expecting that question but i did want to read to you something that the president said to the members in 1858. it said this african blood that runs in our veins washes all of our crimes,those of us
11:50 am
who have been oppressed , let us keep with patriots and come out of the isolationthat our oppressors born on us for they would like to see us forever disunited ,tearing each other apart , atadding only hatred in our heart for one another so i think it speaks to what we should do which is not hatred in our hearts for noone another and join together to try to fight theoppressors . >> .here. wi think that is an excellent note to end on. it has been such a pleasure totalk with you , fatima. i'mexcited to continue the conversation . it's thank you all so much for joining us and please, i urge you to buy this book. >> thank you so much. i hope you all enjoy this conversation tonight with fatima shaik and jennifer egan as much as i have. if you haven't had the honor of reading this book economy fhall: the hidden history of
11:51 am
free black brotherhood i urge you to. it is a treasure. thank you again and i hope you all have a wonderfulnight . >> if you're enjoying book tv sign up for our newsletter using the qr code on the screen to receive a schedule of author discussions, book festivals and more . book tv every sunday on c-span2 or anytime online at television for serious readers. >> larry kudlow will you be writing a book about your time in thetrump administration ? >> i don't have any time at the moment. i'm very busy. i'm loving life. never say never but not at the moment. >> how many jobs do you have? >> of course there's fox and


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on