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tv   Reel America Nine From Little Rock 1964  CSPAN  September 24, 2017 7:35pm-8:01pm EDT

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a rare opportunity that everyone is in the same place at one time, i am trying to take advantage of that, to talk to these people that i have known through the years and i have worked alongside, but we don't have time to chitchat. usually we are focused on working or crossing paths. it is a really unique opportunity to have time to hang out. join us at some of the clock p.m. and 11:00 p.m. eastern as we continue our series featuring interviews with photojournalists. you can watch our programs anytime on our website at c-span.org/history. you're watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend, on c-span3. american history tv railamerica brings you public affairs films from the 20th century.
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a 1964om little rock is u.s. information agency some narrated by jefferson thomas, one of the nine african-american students who in 1957, and rolled in little rock, arkansas's all-white central high school. arkansas's governor prevented the students from a -- from attending classes until the and guardsent troops to restore order and enforce school desegregation. in the film, mr. thomas and several others of the little rock nine reflect on their experience, life just -- life beyond high school and hopes for the future. the film won an academy award for documentary short subject. ♪
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>> where do you begin? where do you look? like an ancient battlefield, the ground is silent though people still move in familiar places. now on this field, negro and white run together remembering how it was in little rock, arkansas in 1957. perhaps it is best for those today to look or they are going and not where they have been. when you are a dark man in a country where the negro is demanding more and more an equal chance, you have the right to
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look back to discover if you are really moving forward or if the world is just moving beneath your feet. i have a special reason for looking back. my name is jefferson thomas and i'm one of the nine of little rock. there is nothing strange in seeing american children walking to school on a september morning but this was a special morning in a special part of america, a place where negro children had never gone to school before. >> hatred is easier to organize. they brought hate to little rock in 1957.
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while we watched, the white children went to school, and we stood outside. ♪ we had been taught we were a nation under law, and the law of -- said segregation was wrong. now we waited to see if this had meaning. or were just words in a book, idle talk in a classroom.
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on september 27, 1957, president eisenhower sent 1000 men of the united states army to carry out the law. the supreme court of the united states had said the entire strength of the nation may be used to enforce the security of all rights and trusted by the constitution and that included my right and the rights of eight other negro americans who wanted to go to central high school in little rock, arkansas. we were terrence, thelma, elizabeth, ernest greene, carlotta, and gloria ray. and we were going to school again.
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obviously, in this town of 100,000, there were many who did not like what was happening. as we looked at the soldiers, we knew there must the millions of others who thought we represented something important. ♪ when the doors closed behind us that day, it was both an and and -- an end, and a beginning. from that moment on, we would be watched not only by those who look at us as strangers but by those who wondered if we would live up to our new opportunity. i remember standing there wondering how history would judge us. [bells] it has been seven years since that first day. what has happened?
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where have we gone? what have we done? >> i was the oldest of the nine and perhaps the least serious. i came here to southern illinois university after graduation. at first, i thought i wanted to be a nurse but i was too outgoing for that. now i know i want to work in a newspaper and be a journalist and to write. more than anything else in the world, i want to write. this year, i took a job at the university newspaper and worked as a reporter, 20 hours per week after classes. there is no substitute for writing under pressure. you have to get the story out and to make it good. i remember the reporters who came from all over the world to cover the story of little rock. to be able to take a story like that and put it into words is something i have always wanted to be able to do. someday, i'm going to write a
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book about what happened in little rock. first, got to learn more about writing and the world. you can do that best in school. teachers like professor simon have helped me grow up. he is a man who makes you want to go to school forever. i'm going to work after request -- after i graduate. i have applied to newspapers and one has offered me a job. ♪ i'm going to miss this university. the friendships i have made here are long and deep. the things i have learned here has helped me come to terms with myself. for the first time in my life, i
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have begun to understand why americans act the way they do. i know now some americans have a fear of the negro, a fear born from a way of life that has been dead in this country since the end of slavery. that's what the mob in little rock was afraid of, that didn't -- and that the negro who had done so much with no chance might do so much more with an equal chance. >> it has been four years since i stood in this hallway and watched the faces moving from class to class. none of this would seem strange to us now for we all went on to colleges where there were more whites the negroes. except elizabeth, she went to central state college in ohio.
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>> central state was founded as an all negro college about 100 years ago. today, like most american schools, it is a mixture of negro and white. when i entered high school, i thought i wanted to be a lawyer and then a teacher and now, like most students, i haven't quite decided what i want to be. the world is a big place and when i go out into it, i want to be sure i go in the right direction. if it had not been for that morning in september, 1957, i could have gone into law or education and not thought much about it. i was frightened that morning. i learned a great deal about people. not only about the people who were there but about the people , who were not there. like the politician who
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encouraged the mob, like the thousands who suffered with me and wrote to me to tell me so. while i waited, i heard voices speak out against us and i saw grown men turn their heads in shame from the camera. [singing] [cheering]
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>> central state is a negro college that opened its doors to whites only 17 years ago. today, 20% of the students are white and their our students against integration. the negro is like most americans, possessing no monopoly and hoping that this will not be confused. >> four years ago, a negro walk to this hall in fear. some of the hate outside had come inside. there were a few who tried to impose their will on the many. when we went up a stairway, we hung onto the railing.
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>> can i help you? >> i'm looking for ms. poindexter's room. >> she is in room 214. >> thank you very much. >> anytime. >> thelma used to say the problems we had getting into this school or worth it, just to be able to take courses from some of the teachers. it's not surprising so many students like thelma wanted to go into teaching. >> i graduate this year from southern illinois university at carbondale. going to college is a tradition in my family.
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that's why i applied for central. i wanted a good high school education. i wanted the best training i could get before i entered college. aspirations are very personal things but i think i can state mine simply -- i love to teach and i love children. children are happy, moody, difficult, and wonderful. they accept me for what i am. after i finish college, i went to apply for teaching and little rock. maybe someday at central high i wonder what it will be like.
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>> thelma, carlotta and i had ms. dunn. none of us had seen a school with so much equipment before. i think it was the equipment that first gave ernie the impression he wanted to be an engineer but i am glad he changed his mind. ♪ >> after i leave michigan state university, i will work in the field of civil rights as a leader and organizer. even in the northern states, you will find pockets of discrimination like you do all over the world. there is a tide rising against it and i want to be part of it. [singing]
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i came to michigan state to study engineering. three years ago, i changed my mind and decided i would rather work with people than with machines. under professor david got leave, i received my that sloot degree -- my bachelor degree in sociology. next week i will receive my masters. i am convinced that a white american can never fully understand what motivates the negroes desire for equality. but for white americans, they are becoming more concerned especially my generation and that makes tomorrow worth dreaming about. [bells] the american negro must protest and he must also build understanding by searching for the truth. the truth in science is becoming tools for truth in relations. for the past two years, i have been compiling data on the aspirations of negro and white
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children in a segregated community. today, we are capable of getting answers that have real meaning, that carry the power of fact against those who would exploit rumor and prejudice. my research is just one part in a quiet revolution taking place in america. it's not alone a revolution in technology but a revolution in thinking. a revolution that says man, no matter how humble his birth, what color his skin, must be permitted to go as far as his mind and aspirations will take him. >> ernie was the first of us to
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graduate from central. carlotta and i were the last. we were the class of 1960. carlotta goes to denver university in colorado. she is a good student and she likes the high mountains out there. gloria ray is a senior at the illinois institute of tech -- of technology. this year she receives her degree in chemistry. terrence roberts is studying for his degree in business administration at the city college of los angeles. melba married early and was not in college over one year before she became a housewife. me, i take an exam to become a certified public accountant which means i'm supposed to be
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qualified to keep track of profits and losses. i'm not sure i know enough to say what all this adds up to. i have not counted all the victories since that first day we went to school here. i know there has been at least nine. ♪ in little rock, there is a slow ridge taking shape over the chasm of intolerance and ignorance. it is a bridge that will be built by us and our children. before it's finished, we will have our problems. but if little rock taught us nothing more, it taught all americans that problems can make us better, much better. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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announcer: hearing tuesday's washington journal, we are live in maryland as part of the c-span 50 capitals tour. our guest will be maryland lieutenant rutherford at 8:30 a.m. eastern. join us tuesday for the entire washington journal program beginning at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. american history tv is on c-span3 every weekend, featuring museum tours, archival films, and programs on the presidency, the civil war, and more. here is a clip from a recent program. usually, things run smoothly. every once in a while, federal reserve banks are pressed into emergency action. for example, let's go back in time. back to 1992.
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date is august, 1992. the b-52 released a new album called "good stuff." in minneapolis, the mollify america opens for business with 300 stores, it is the largest shopping mall in the country. meanwhile, a major hurricane is moving directly toward south florida. >> we expect that the storm is going to be in our neighborhood hereby early in the day monday. monday, august 24. the storm hits with full force, carrying winds that reach what -- reach 160 miles per hour. local airports are shut down. most of the areas without power. in its wake, devastation that is nearly total. >> all your life savings, right? >> i put all my money in the house. everything.
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tuesday, august 25. almost everyone needs food and emergency supplies. but most stores are shut down. >> we are selling generators, chainsaws, glad -- gas and oil. >> the only thing -- people selling things come from out of town to they will not accept checks or credit cards. so there is a huge demand for a cash and local banks are running short. actioniggers emergency by the miami range of the federal reserve. themiami branch is part of federal reserve bank of atlanta, which serves the southeast. branch manager jay currie was at the bank soon after andrew struck. >> we started calling all the financial institutions. and talked with of. letting them know we were in business. and wanted to ensure them that we heard they may have cash we had cashd available. and we would do whatever
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possible to get the cash to them based on their need. countal banks have and i with the fed. they deposit their extra cash and the fed credits their account. in normal times, the local banks ask for cash as it is needed. in this case, it is needed immediately, and in great quantity. bob jensen is vice president of the first national bank of homestead. >> people literally had to walk out of the lobby with somewhere between $3000 and $5,000 of cash. many people needed far more than that and got more than that. >> if you do not have cash, you have nothing. absolutely nothing. >> butch sullivan owns the service station in homestead. the town was hit especially hard. there was no water, no phone service, no electricity. just to buy ice, residents had to drive out of town and wait in long lines. but sullivan needed an emergency generator. $2000, $2500 pay cash, no credit cards, no
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checks, cash. they would not accept anything. fed, suzy the fernandez were in charge of shipping cash to local banks. tuesday, august 25th, was the busiest day on record. paid out thatwas day. it was a very heavy day. hectic. it was done manually. no computers. >> the $99 million was sent out to local banks throughout south florida. including the first national bank homestead. >> we got deliveries every day, every morning, early. we got large amounts of cash. and lots of large bills. the fed again is whatever we wanted, whatever we needed. thursday, august 27, south florida is beginning the long process of rebuilding. hurricane andrew has left more than 300,000 people without homes. it is the most expensive national -- natural disaster in
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u.s. history. many people did everything they could to help their neighbors. including workers at the fed. the federal -- >> the federal reserve is like the main bank. you go to your mom for help and that is what they were doing. the banks were in need of cash. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all of our video is archived. that is c-span.org/history. >> up next on the presidency, greg robinson discusses the conflict between franklin d. roosevelt and first lady eleanor executive order 9066.

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