tv Author Discussion on the Civil Rights Movement CSPAN October 11, 2022 10:43pm-11:45pm EDT
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>> this is going to be fun. [laughter] this is really going to be fun. i have some powerhouses. we have one general but i think we have three generals. [laughter] david j dennis junior is a senior writer at ann's gait fully known as the undefeated. his work has been featured in atlanta magazine, the atlantic, the "washington post" in the huffingtonec post among other publications. dennis is the recipient of the 2021 mosaic was in pride. national association of black colonel's salute to excellence award winner and was named one of the 100 most influential african americans of 2020 but lives in georgia with his wife and two children and is a graduate of davidson college. his dad, david dennis senior. he earned his law degree at the university of michigan in 1972
we codirected the challenge of the louisiana democratic structure that resulted inan african-american chairman. majority african-american delegation being set to the national convention. the first time since reconstruction. he is executive director and initiative project incorporated. a nonprofit organization that works to ensure quality education for all children. especially children of color and cathe chronically undeserved ths book the movement made us, give him a hand please. [applause] mark cox doctor leslie brought. >> the more is currently vice mayor and a member of the board in his hometown. doctorpi michael moore is a veteran of the mississippi civil rights movement leading a boycott of classes in his high school to leading the initial chapter of the naacp on campus
of west college. he is to look voted his life to social justice issues. whose vice chair in the founding member of the mississippi freedom democratic party, he was the second youngest member of the delegation in 1964 the democratic national convention. he has filed a dual track and professional life he received ba degree from ross college in political science and his doctorate in government from tho university of massachusetts amherst. mr. mackle are served more than doctor michael martz are more than ten years on the jackson city council and council president five of those years he also served as interim mayor of the city of jackson and he wrote the forward and the name how the children of the mississippi freedom struggle showed us tomorrow. give him a hand please. [applause]
you know, one thing when reading these books and really diving into them what i saw was that both men, doctor mclemore have an enduring respect for evers for the both talk about them in the book. he said in the forward had a reputation for willingness to work with anyone who is dedicated to bringing injustice and progress for our states. and in a senior talk about historians beside every time they somehow he paid him to be away from them for a couple of hours. you say shows you the possibilities of what a father's love could look like and talk to more. for me too talk more about this man in the movement if you both would. >> yes, hello everybody. it is so good to be here. it's good to see your faces. generally most of the first
people i met when i came to 1 mississippi which was in april of 1962. he took me and he was older than us. and with that demonstrate is what david does so well the book talks about what that movement with all about and it has a lot to do with family. at that particular time we as a people operated as a family but what made a strong and our communities was his whole idea of extended family. people in the civil rights movement when they got here they're all going to beat freedom writers that his association with the movement. when he did with me and other young people was he started accepting family pretty welcome me into mississippi as part of the mississippi family. so that love and understanding, he took the route to introduce me too people. it made me feel comfortable.
on top of that he also made me feel safe. it's like having a father. so we spent a lot of time together. he demonstrated with the movements were built on and that wasan family. next i met him also in 1962. the student and 62 he inaugurated or installed the officers of the russ cut chapter of the naacp. i was the first president of the chapter at ross in february of 1962 and from 62 through the passing i was very much involved in the naacp. actually i met through henry. eric henry was state president of the naacp.
his brother-in-law was on the faculty reverend winston. and they would come to the campus. this is before we formed the chapter of the naacp. but from 62 onward. we pointed out earlier, prior to entering the stage here that was appointed the permanent field secretary of the naacp in 1954. and before core before state came to town they were organizing. so the very platform, the foundation of the mississippi movement was really laid by mclemore, henry, all those folks were associate with the naacp. that is a very rich history.
and that the center of that history, starting in 1954 was early and evers. we made substantial progress in mississippi between 1964 i mean between 1954 in 1965. and we stopped and 65. so we have to pick it. up again at some points. >> thank you. make sure you read it. if you could talk a little bit about why you wrote this and a little bit about the book? >> yes. the movement is essentially stories. from 61 -- 64 really views the stories i grew up with. this is sitting around, dad would have -- would move to jackson 1992. which by the wayi i have to add something to my bio i am a
product of jackson public schools. [applause] [cheering] that we moved to jackson and 92. dad had rekindled these relationships. these people come to the house to tell their stories. moses would come to town. in these investor would come and hang out. i would hear these stories and i always knew i wanted to write these stories in the same oral tradition in the way they are told to me but bunch of people sitting around the table, telling these riveting, incredible stories how they save themselves, save the country and it's always a vastly important to me. but it became more important and more urgent as we saw the state of the world. a lot t of this book came togetr in 2016 in the trump era and
trump election and things like that. it became important to provide a people trying to understand what to do. where do we go? everything seemed bigger and overwhelmingly too much to do. i wanted to show what a group of folks in the south, black folks in the south in their early 20s did to changeac this country in the face of the largest most powerful country military tactics tohe try to stop them fm doing that.t. the hope is if we can see whatme they did we can get a glimmer of hope to do something and follow in those footsteps. click that is a wonderful rabbit a question for you later but as i told you in the back i can't imagine you sitting there in the middle of the movement and listen to what your dad talk about were going to talk about that. doctor mclemore this forward is powerfully failed to much
strength in it i think i read it like ten times. but talk a little bit about the ancestors. these are the names you mentioned in the forward. folks well, i think it is important for all of us really, and as i repeat myself it is really important for all of us to understand the contribution of evers. we cannot thank him enough for being as brave and systematic as he was. not only was he a brave man, but he was a smart man. he had enough sense to marry a smart woman. [applause]
ew, henry reed, the names go on and on. and then the young people in the movements. thero dropouts. watkins and empson, all of these people. an unknown young people at ross college. william scott, johnny johnny harris, raymond davis, all of these people help to lay the very foundation. but i think it is important as we look at mississippi history and american history that framework was able to provide along with the names and errant
henry and lindsey and reverend smith. all of these people. but the beauty of understanding the mississippi story is that mecca evers developed a network. mecca edwards developed a network, the chapters in this various counties. president of the naacp and marshall county not very many people knew mr. nero was president of naacp because it was dangerous to be out there. but in 1953 they formed a chapter in marshall county. that network in the floor counties of the world that evers worked with these people so and snake in core came to town along
with anybody else they were not with. they work with those people that had identified those folks. he had worked with them. so one wonders, snake went to macomb in 1961 after got out of jail. w but then they had a foundation. there were work with local leaders it was not as if he showed up and said okay we are doing this. they have provided this foundation. it is important as we look at this history for this mississippi history, this american history is to give it recognition to these individuals that help lay theee foundation.
they often talk about the people that the volunteers stayed with theeo families. how courageous they were. then he points out so often as we have really not given recognition to those families. the sacrifices they made. the children of thoser families, how do we honor and recognize them? that is the foundation. and clearly as we work and have her being in 2022 that isis important for us to remember that history. because that foundation was really important. it provides the springboard for the things that we can do as we move forward in the future. >> you know, david junior, when i was reading page 68 and it talks about, i'm telling you that i love if you can envision
you watching and listening to your dad but seeing it and visualizing what was happening. there is a part if you'd allow me too read there is blood on the pavement i saw america. us all that son was killed protesting in front of it was a group of marchers forcing back the agony of the murder they witnessed. i stood the blood of our yesterday the fight for tomorrow. take us there with you seeing america and all of its rawness and how it gave you a better understanding of what your daddy went through. >> that is about the time i went to charlotte. young black man had been killede by police i think 2015. i'm during the protest another young
black man had been murdered in the street. all the witnesses say the police fired a canister at point-blank range. however the police arrestednt someone else. another black man who they say snuck intod the crowd shot himp point-blank range and snack out. the protest especially after 2014 after ferguson was really difficult for me too understand how to insert myself into this. first about hard for me too think about the idea of talking to my father who had been delivered the eulogy in 1964 and talk to him about more a dead black folks the 21st century. me
the possibility of things happening to me are the same that could have happen to him 60 years ago. you know, and then it's an indictment of this country, you know, and the fact that i could write a book in my dad's voice and people can say, i don't know who who is saying what. and you know, he's 45, 46 years older than me. and it's about things happened in the sixties and too, in 2020. it's not about necessarily, you know, it's about what has not happened in this country. you know, and so. there was a moment in this where i have chosen to allow these things, force me into things to force me into despair to think about how what has not happened in this country but instead whatho i've chosen to do with my dad's story is to understand that we are here because of what they've done.
when i think about mississippi pithere is a vision that is much worse than the mississippi that we arean living in now and the reason we are living in the mississippi now is because black folks have been fightingen for l this time. pamy dad and the people here soi am choosing to think about that part of the movement and what that means and how far these could be and where we are now and that's what that moment was. what was the hardest part about remembering and being a part of this book? >> first of all, he was the only one that could have written this
book. to tell the story i had to trust the person. a lot of people tried to get me to tell the story and one of the things that happened here is through relationships. it gave an opportunity but more important than that a better understanding of me because i had shut off a whole part of my life and it gets into an area of the movement and the people that work in the movement stuck in a long time. we don't talk about this impact
it's had. i got involved in the civil rightsts movement since i was 20-years-old, 21 when i came into mississippi and so i stayed here until 1965. it was nonstop. one of the things i had done i didn't think about. so going through this a lot of stuff was going on. my conversations then all of a sudden i was having visions of people. when we talk about the hundreds and hundreds of people at that
but to all the people that worked to make this possible writing the book and the experience that came out would come to me and say what about this. all this stuff that comes they would give an example of how that happened and for years and years i told the story and what were you thinking about. by some accident it was about
fate. that's another story. but anyway, a few weeks before we found the body, i was in new jersey for the free and democratiche party and a good friend of mine in new york i called and talked to him and why don't you come over here before you go back to mississippi and i said okay. to make a long story short we get caught in the middle of the rights for two whole days.
and the movement about this even before then we all are going through some crazy stuff that nobody talks about. so now i think about those things and the question i had is what happens to me between 1965 and 1992 or 93 and to me it's the longest years of my life. how many people that might have heard in the period of time the movement is if that was happening to me i wonder about
conversations they are things you don't even want to talk about and they then got him to remember things he did remember and to recall that and getting them to come clean at any point was there a breakdown between you and these discussions? that video gave color to things we haven't understood before.
we knew james cheney had been killed. we didn't see those last moments of his life and i think asking questions about this and the same type of torturous ways so we had to take a little break for that but there are also letters in the book we talked about the relationships and we were at a good place we are going to just love each other until one of us is here and then we move on it was probably the
most terrifying thing i had to do. we had the conversations that a lot of us just do not have and it put us through a place where it was a level i didn't know existed. i didn't know it was possible for these things to exist and it took us to a beautiful place in our relationship. >> let me respond to theea question, please. somery of you are taking notes which is very good. 1962 was an important year.
james meredith and evicted from the marlowe plantation in 1962. reverend smith and lindsay ran for the congress in 1962 so if any of you are still teaching or are a retired teacher, share this with them because it's an important milestone in the history of the mississippi movement in history and met her less than a year after she was evicted from the plantation and sunflower county.
we were about to take a bus ride from cleveland to florida to attend a citizen education workshop. i rode the bus and we got to the workshop. the workshop director was andrew young. during that week, she described to us the eviction from the plantation and she sang and preached and discussed and i was simply overwhelmed. she absolutely changed my life
and my way of thinking. i spent the week that i can remember in vivid terms and at my age now if i go from the bedroom to the kitchen i can't remember why i was in the kitchen. [laughter] but i can go back and recall events from the first time i heard. i called my mother and told my mother i met this remarkable woman, this fourth grade, sixth grade scholar who was above a whole lot of us but one of the
things i want all of us to remember she was blessed with the great analytical mind. she was a smart woman, a very bright person. and another time and another day she really would have been a u.s. senator from mississippi and would have been governor of mississippi. just think in this state where we've deprived african-americans and women of so many opportunities we've been on the bottom because we haven't taken advantage of the brainpower that we have in this state and it
speaks. for teachers and mentors. they desire and wish to be a great writer like dave junior that they can do that. we'veco deprived the country ofo many intelligent people. and this was just one example. you can think of your grandmother, grandfather who were deprived of opportunities in the state.
to remain in mississippi people are here because they love the and want to see change come. so many others are providing that plantation so the legacy of fannie lou hamer is and just think that they were some of the chief architects of the mississippi movement but now think about the legacy of fannie lou hamer. she was a part of the community.
this is the people talking so it exposed the strength of the community and infrastructure. that is what this represents. so they went to work immediately after that to make sure this never happens again. the second thing that happens is will the movement is all about for the community. on top of that what they did is put a program to go to the heart
of the community. they blamed people for the problem in terms of -- first thing they did. the second thing they drain off the leadership of the black community. that was intentional and a lot of other pieces you look at but one that hits you in the face. another expressways through the black communities. purpose, divide and conquer.
[inaudible]pe that's the kind of family where the young people today don't have. so when i grew up i came from a single-parent household. the fact if i was down the street -- they had permission because i was a child of the community. we don't have that. what we have to do is talk about how to bring it back.
i'm going to show you with the civil rights movement is all about. fannie lou hamer was a sharecropperer. victoria was a teacher. they all worked together. smith was a businessman. more worked for the post office and owned a service station and had hiss own home. anthere were over 200 acres of land. others in the area owned property land. what i'm trying to say he is the movement was a mixture of people in the black community, the black families. so how do we bring that back, young people, older people,
elder, business people, poor people work together to a common cause. [applause] i was sitting here thinking about everything you both said and i thought about the audience that we have. we start asking the audience if they have any questions. give us a little bit of what you feel wer should be doing. what are our marching orders for the 21st century? so give us the marching orders for today and working to make a difference. >> they said it earlier i thinko it's important if we work with our young people and it's important that we mentor our young people and it's important
that we develop leaders. if i hit the lottery tomorrow or later this evening -- [laughter] i would help foster a series of leadership development programs. i think we need powerful and articulate people speaking up and emerging from these communities across the country strong leadership development is so important. young students that understand the issues and are given the tools to be able to analyze the issues and people that have the long-term commitment. dave dennison and all these
people. general dave was always on the move. dave left and came to mississippi. let me tell you he was always moving. he was always on the move but then as you pointed out he was only 20-years-old. i thought dave was much older because he was mature. he was on the move and he was in e charge. we need more dave dennison's in the world. this is leadership. the community that you described
i think leadership development is important so mentoring and teaching we need people willinge to make that long-term commitment let's think about men touring andd working with our young people because that is important. [applause] of thing about the piece this leadership is you don't know who has it once you get out
>> please stand up. [applause] does anybody have any questions? just come up to the podium, please. we have the author of emmett hill so this is how i see it working. i'm a historyco instructor and i recognize my students don't know this movement. they don't understand it and many of them don't care so we have to start with the educators so we are having a workshop where we are giving away copies
of the book leaving with a lesson plan and coming septemben the audience is a teacher and you want to earn, come down where we are going to arm teachers to get to students recording stories that haven't been told but we've got to start with schools. thank you for what you're doing. i challenge us all to get the stories to the communities. good morning. i am at. [inaudible] [applause] and jackson state university. connected to everyone on this
panel. my children went to school and there is a question i want to ask. people say this often. we talk about issues relative to the discussion today. they don't want to take responsibility for the for what their great, great grandfather did. the last time i was here there was a young lady who was a journalist and talked about how
did she s get past the shame she had from being in mississippi. that stuck with me because when i leave do people say how could you all live in mississippi. the question is its shameful about what's being brought against so specifically we need to free ourselves and the other thing i don't necessarily care
they did something to keep this thing going so what i would love for the folks in mississippi to understand that and and brace that and internalize thatk in e way they ask us to internalize we should release ourselves from that and embrace the power that comes from being black in mississippi. [applause] just one more. >> i am interested in the story is that places tell. freedom house is another place many of the movements took place, t or important and theres one seeking to recognize and preserve the places so the
stories can be told and people can go and experience the earlier and later moments of the movement. i would further add the places that tell the story are the places we come together and would suggest i what empowers us is the ability to have power through having economic presence and to that end i wonder if the new freedom house might be the business where the dollar is spent six more times versus the dollars spent at the big box store that you never see again so how does lace related to the movement and
howig moving forward with some f the new places might be. we have one or two more minutes. >> let me take a quick shot. we need to stop tearing down old black communities. we need to rebuild them. that is so much history that exists in those places. we call them slums. they are replaced by modern places. we are destroying them. >> history in mississippi is very complicated and diverse. learn and understand the history. thank you so much. [applause]