tv Rosa Parks Civil Rights Activism CSPAN January 4, 2020 1:05pm-2:16pm EST
gray and congressman john lewis talk about rosa parks and her long history of civil rights activism. they highlight her influence in activating boycotts and nonviolent protest against segregation and discrimination. this was held to open the new exhibit "rosa parks, in her own words" at the library of congress. >> please welcome the librarian of congress, dr. carla hayden. [applause] carla: good evening. good evening. and welcome to the library of congress. it is our pleasure to have everyone here for a very special night as we open the library's newest exhibition, "rosa parks: in her own words." it is my honor to welcome members of congress, including members of the congressional black caucus, members of the rosa parks family who have come
to washington for this special celebration. can we give them a hand? [applause] we would also like to welcome the rosa and raymond parks institute for self-development, led by miss elaine steel. and that is another round of applause. [applause] and photographer donna, whose photo of miss parks is prominently displayed in a vital part of the exhibition. and all the leaders and staff of the different cultural institutions across washington including secretary of the smithsonian dr. lonnie bunch -- [applause]
and the archivist of the united states, mr. david verioff. and our library guests and staff, and our viewers online, this is being livestreamed right now. and i have to tell you, we are radiating with joy and pride tonight because it is our pleasure to open this beautiful and compelling new exhibition about one of our country's most beloved civil rights icons, rosa parks. the collection resonates strongly with me. after i was sworn in as the 14th librarian of congress in 2016, the very first collection i was able to see was the rosa parks papers. and library manuscript specialist adrian cannon, who was a descendent of carter g. woodson, father of black history, showed me the collection, and she carefully presented to me the different photographs and letters and private notes handwritten by mrs. rosa parks, and adrienne is here tonight and is the proud
curator of the exhibition. [applause] from the first moment i saw her family bible followed by all of her personal letters and writings, i felt the overwhelming power of the collection. in example, in one letter she wrote after the arrest, "i had been pushed around all my life and felt at this moment that i could not take it anymore." i knew then when i read those words that we had to share these papers with the public for much broader viewers, and in this wonderful exhibit, through her own words, the rosa parks you will discover was not always writing for publication or posterity. she was writing in the moment and for herself.
this is not the rosa parks we all met in textbooks or in public service announcements. but it is the very complex, the very human, and the very real rosa parks. her powerful story and her long fight for justice have always resonated with me, and as the first woman and the first african-american to serve as the librarian of congress, i take special pleasure in having the rosa parks collection housed here -- [applause] housed here in the world's largest library, side-by-side with the papers of frederick douglass, abraham lincoln, mary church terrel, and thurgood marshall. rosa parks lived a life dedicated to equal rights and social justice, and she helped change the country with examples she set.
as a statue of rosa parks stands with pride in the capitol rotunda, in this exhibition, you will see her standing tall, quite literally, as her photos, images of her papers and videos tower more than 12 feet above you. none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the howard g. buffett foundation, who made the rosa parks collection a gift to the library and to the nation. it all started when jesse holland, a journalist at the time, learned that the collection was stored away in boxes in a warehouse. he wrote a story about it, and his story was read and seen by mr. howard buffett, who bought the papers and gave them to the library, so that they could be preserved, scanned, and seen by everyone. jesse is now a scholar in residence in the library of congress's john w. klugy center.
that deserves a hand. [applause] the collection comprises 10,000 items drawn from both miss parks' private life and her decades of work for civil rights. it includes photos and correspondence, handwritten reflections, private notes during the montgomery bus boycott, and the struggles she endured after. adrienne, and our exhibit director, mr. david mandel, and his team, have curated a beautiful gallery that would tell miss parks' story in her own words and photographs. so it is an honor to open the exhibition tomorrow to the general public on december 5, the 64th anniversary of the montgomery bus boycott. and as part of the opening, we are releasing -- i am a librarian -- this companion book, "rosa parks: in her own
words," written by the library's susan rayburn, and includes many of the photographs and documents you will see in the exhibition, and we are delighted to be joined by the people from the university of georgia press, who work with the library's publishing office, to create this elegant companion piece. and we also are starting something new with this exhibition at the library of congress. for the first time, we are launching an ask a librarian mobile research station within the exhibition, and visitors will have the opportunity to right there in the exhibit delve deeply with online research, resources related to mrs. park'' life through direction with the librarian. before i go, i also have to acknowledge the generous donors who made this exhibition possible. the ford foundation, the katherine v. reynolds foundation, and the reynolds are here, with additional support --
[applause] with support from aarp history, joyce and thomas morehead, who who are also here -- [applause] and the capital group. we cannot thank you enough for your generosity and for your of this exhibit. for your support of this exhibit. [applause] now as the curator, adrienne cannon explained to me the storyteller of this exhibition is rosa parks. it is her words and her voice that will be echoing through the gallery as you walk around the display. it is the full story of rosa parks. the seasoned, lifelong activist and the woman behind the civil rights icon. [applause]
♪ [applause] [video clip] >> and now, we are going to find out which of these ladies really is the incredible rosa parks. will the real rosa parks please stand up? [applause] >> rosa parks is often taught as a sort of meek seamstress who one day sort of accidentally stumbles into history and refuses to give up her seat on the bus, launching the modern civil rights movement, and that version, taught in schools and often celebrated nationally, very much distorts and limits who rosa parks actually was. her activism starts two decades before her the story bus stand
on december 1, 1955 and will continue for four decades after. >> as far as i can remember, during my lifetime, i resisted the idea of being mistreated and pushed around because of my race, and i felt that all people should be free regardless of their color. ♪ >> one day, when i was about 10, i met a little white boy named franklin on the road. he was about my size, maybe larger. he said something to me and he threatened to hit me. rolled up his fists as if to give me a sock. i picked up a brick and dared him to hit me. he thought better of the idea and went away. i love that, i mean, i love that, at 10, she knew the deep injustice of things.
perhaps the case that guts her the most is the case about a 16-year-old by the name of jeremiah reeves. he was a high school student, jazz drummer, and delivered groceries and started having a relationship with a young white woman that got found out. she cried rape. >> she put him in the electric chair and told him if he did not confess, he would be electrocuted on the spot, so he gave his false confession. she began writing letters and trying to organize around blocking that execution, got dr. king involved, and it did not succeed, and he was executed, and she would tell me how devastating that was and how it broke her heart. >> this is a rosa parks letter from 1956. "i cried bitterly that i would be lynched rather than be run over by them. they could get the rope ready for me at any time they wanted to do their lynching. while my neck was spared of the lynch rope and my body was never
riddled by bullets or derived by an auto, i felt that i was lynched many times in mind and spirit." ♪ >> she was a believer that you had to dissent, that you had to voice your objections, even if you could not see that that would do any good. >> rosa parks, like my mom, has her own definition of who she is, and she does not let anybody change that definition. >> help plan for a better world of tomorrow by giving all the love, care, and guidance to our children of today. >> as a child, when you read about important people, i thought that these were physical giants, people who spoke a language that was different from the language that i spoke, and i found that those were regular people. and so, i have always felt that, you know, a person does not have to be out of this world to accomplish something
extraordinary. ♪ >> we must have courage, determination to go on with the task of becoming free, not only for ourselves, but for the nation and the world, cooperate with each other, have faith in god, and in ourselves. and i just think we underestimate the kind of courage it took to stand up to these forces that had silenced and marginalized black people from the very day we came to this continent, and yet she was taking them on. i think it was really an amazing part of her legacy, was the courage, the strength, the bravery that defined her as a human being. >> i think when we are involved in excavating american history in coming to terms with our real history, i think too often we
find that most history is a sanitized, madison avenue version of it, but she is a lifelong activist, and she represents the variety of strategies to combat the persistent racism in the united states. i think it is important that we liberate rosa parks and liberate ourselves from the tyranny of the superficial history. >> part harm and danger, the dark closet of my mind, so much to remember. and yes, it is somewhere in the dark closet of my mind, too. it can't help but be in the dark closet of your mind. you should never forget. there is so much to remember. but i also know that this exhibit will show that rosa parks made a difference in moving us forward. and move forward we must, even as we remember the past. we have to look to a brighter future. [applause]
[laughter] john: let me say to the librarian of congress, thank you. i don't want to cry tonight. but i may shed some tears. thank you for opening this place to have this exhibit in honor of a savior of our country. of our democracy. if it weren't for rosa parks, [indiscernible] i don't know where i would be. i don't know where our nation would be. i don't know where we would be as a people. this woman, by sitting down, she encouraged so many others to
stand up. insisting many of us never then, many of us never looked back, and we will continue to look forward. fred gray would tell you, my friend, my attorney, fred, you are an attorney for many of us. you probably have an unbelievable number of clients. people just came. we need your help. i grew up in rural alabama about 50 miles from montgomery. we round it off by saying 48 to 50 miles from montgomery. my father had been a sharecropper, a penny farmer. but in 1944, when i was four years old, and i do remember when i was four, my father had saved $300, and a man sold him
110 acres of land. we still own that land today. [applause] growing up [indiscernible] people lived in fear. we saw the signs that said white only, colored only, white boys, colored boys, white girls, colored girls. growing up, i was told by my mother, my father, my grandparents, and my great grandparents, don't get in trouble. but rosa parks inspired us to get in trouble. and i have been getting in trouble ever since. [laughter] [applause] john: she was saying in effect, when you see something that is
not right, not fair, not just, you have an obligation to say something, to do something. i met rosa parks. my staff prepared a statement but i am not going to stay with it. i have been moved by the spirit. hadn't been for rosa parks, growing up there, i don't know what would have happened to so many people. she inspired us too, finding a way to get in what i call good trouble, necessary trouble. i followed the drummer for gregory in montgomery. i followed your leadership. i followed the words of martin luther king junior, the action
of rosa parks. we were too poor to have a subscription to the local newspaper, but my grandfather had one. newspaperus finished -- and after he finished the newspaper, he would pass it on to us to read, so i read about you, reverend abernathy, and rosa parks. i kept saying to myself, if the people in montgomery can organize a standup we can stand , up and organize. so there was a little college about eight or 10 miles from our home called troy state. now known as troy university. it allowed black students. so i got a chance to get an application and apply it to go to the school. i never heard a word from the
school, so i wrote a word to dr. martin luther king, jr. and told him i needed his help. because i had been inspired by rosa parks. dr. king wrote me back and sent me a round-trip greyhound bus ticket and invited me to come to montgomery to meet with him. i cannot forget it. fred gray, you still look the same way, so young. [laughter] john: met me at the greyhound bus station and drove me to the first baptist church, pastored by the reverend abernathy, and ushered me in to the church. and i saw martin luther king jr. and reverend abernathy standing behind the desk, and dr. king said, are you the boy from troy?
are you john lewis? and i said, dr. king, i am john robert lewis. i gave him my whole name. but he still called me the boy from troy. [laughter] john: and over the years, i had an opportunity to meet rosa parks and to talk with her. she was so wonderful, so kind, and she kept saying to each one of us, you too can do something. she inspired us to participate in the sit-ins, to study the way of peace, the way of love, to study the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. again, i want to thank you. madame librarian, i want to thank you for what you are doing to help educate and sensitize another generation to stand up,
to be brave, to be bold, to be courageous, and for people to see something that is not right, not fair, not just, do something. we cannot afford to be quiet. we live at a time when must save -- we must save our democracy. save our planet. we must do what rosa parks did. when there comes a time to sit in, sit down, do it. time to stand up, stand up. time to speak up, speak up and speak out. come a time to get in the way or to get in good trouble, necessary trouble, do it. be brave. be bold. be courageous. rosa parks believed as i believe. we have a right to know what is
in the food we eat. we have a right to know what is in the water we drink, what is in the air we breathe. and each one of us today must find ways to tell the story of rosa parks. one brave woman. with the help of hundreds and thousands have changed america forever, to use the way of peace, the way of love, to follow the teachings of gandhi and martin luther king, jr., to make our country better, and to help save our little planet. so thank you very much for being here tonight. and again, let me think the library of congress.
thank the library of congress . thank you. [applause] carla: thank you, congressman lewis. you are a living icon, and we owe so much to you. thank you for being here and thank you, thank you, thank you. [applause] and now, we have more special guests joining us for an extraordinary discussion on the life and legacy of rosa parks.
we are joined by attorney fred gray, who made history by representing mrs. parks after her arrest in montgomery. and jane gunter who offered her seat to miss parks on the day of the bus on december 1, 1955, and they will be joined by cbs news correspondent and the anchor of the saturday edition of cbs this morning, miss michelle miller, who will be moderating a discussion. please welcome attorney fred gray, miss jane gunter, and michelle miller. [applause]
michelle: i feel honored and privileged to be here. madam librarian, thank you. thank you, all, for being here. thank you. miss gunter, mr. gray, when you see this exhibit, when you see this exhibit, it shatters the notion of rosa parks as an accidental activist. finally, that myth of an accidental activist will go by the way. the history, in her own words, will be spoken.
the woman the two of you knew will be known, and part of the reckoning, i find, with what we see upstairs is this funny, feisty, incredibly savvy american. you knew her long before 1954. and i want you to describe her, that first moment you met her. fred: yes, ma'am. michelle: thank you, sir. fred: before i answer that question, thank you to the librarian for inviting me to share this occasion here. i got my wife, carol, here. some other relatives. if you just raise your hand, those who are here. and also have the president of
the national bar association. the national president is here. and i just want to thank those persons who have come. i want to thank congressman lewis. he wanted me to end up filing a lawsuit so he could go to troy state, but his parents were afraid. and he was a minor. but we introduced him to dr. king, and it introduced him to the movement, and the rest of it is history. now, what was your question? [laughter] michelle: back to rosa parks. fred: yes. michelle: back to that day that you met her, how would you describe her? fred: i had met rosa parks not just on december 1, 1955, but i really at first met her when i
was a student at what was then alabama state college for negroes, not alabama state university. i lived on the west side of town. alabama state was on the east side of town. i was a student trying to learn how to be a teacher. i had already learned a little something about how to be a preacher, and that was the biggest thing that black boys in montgomery, alabama in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's could be. i found out that miss parks worked with the naacp. she also worked with e.d. nixon, who was the family friend of ours, who was mr. civil rights. they were very much interested in doing whatever it took so that african-americans would be able to enjoy the same rights and privileges of others.
i had been at the [indiscernible] and it was because of problems we had over buses, including a man who was killed as a result of an altercation on the bus, but i decided that in addition to being a preacher and being a teacher, i was going to be a lawyer. they tell me that lawyers help people. and i thought that the black people in montgomery had a real problem with buses. and so i made a personal commitment when i was a teenager. i was going to finish college, go to somebody's law school, become a lawyer, but in order to do that, i wasn't going to apply at the university of alabama, go someplace else, come back, take the bar exam, and destroy everything segregated i could find. while i was thinking about doing that, i saw mrs. parks working,
doing what i wanted to do, and that was my first beginning. move forward to some three or four years later. in 1953, i enrolled in case western law school in cleveland. i finished in three years, took the ohio bar exam just in case. a month later, i took the alabama bar exam. on september 7, 1954, i became licensed to practice. now, i am ready to destroy everything segregated i could find. [applause] shortly thereafter -- and one of the things that mrs. parks was doing, she was youth director, and one of the young ladies who was in her youth director course at the naac was claudette.
claudette was a 15-year-old girl who did what rosa parks did but did it nine months before without the instructions and without all of the experiences you have learned about that mrs. parks had already gone through. but mrs. parks, when i opened my law office, she came in and helped me to get it open. she was in the -- she worked at a department store a block and a half from our office, and we talked about these matters. so when claudette was arrested, and that was my first civil rights case. but mrs. parks was interested. joanne was interested. e.d. nixon was interested and fred gray was interested. however, the black community was not quite ready for the lawsuit that i wanted to file. but those people decided, including rosa parks, that we
were going to get ready, and whenever the next opportunity presented itself, we would be ready to end up ending the problems on the buses. that opportunity came on the first of december 1955, after mrs. parks and i had had conferences in my office almost daily for five days a week, telling people, if you decide not to give up your seat on the bus, how could you conduct yourself? we talked about that. we even talked about it on december 1, 1955. and she knew i was going out of town. but when i got back, i found she had been arrested. michelle: hold that thought. fred: but she -- michelle: just for a second. i want to stop right there.
so you set the stage. here she was. for a year, you said, she had been instructed by you on how to act if she had been arrested. if she decided, if she was going to take a stand. mrs. gunther, you were 18 years old. you did not even live in montgomery, alabama. jane: yes, i did. michelle: you lived outside of montgomery. jane: my husband was stationed at maxwell air force base. michelle: so you did not live on the base. jane: we lived on the base. michelle: you lived on the base at first. how did you come to be on that bus? jane: well, after we moved to montgomery, i went to the doctor at the base and i found out i was going to have a baby, and the doctor required that i do a lot of walking. every day, i would walk to the city and walk back. i had a coin with me in case i needed to ride the bus, but i
actually did a lot of walking. and that day, i guess i was tired. i have no idea. maybe i was just ready to go home. but i got on the bus and sat on a long seat behind the driver, and all of a sudden, the driver stood up, turned around, and just bellowed something out to somebody down the aisle. and i realized it was an older woman. she was in her 40's so that was older. [laughter] jane: so when he did that, let me have that seat, i stood up and said she can have my seat. and when i did that, fair skinned, tall man pushed his knees into mine and said "don't you dare move." michelle: don't you dare. jane: "don't you dare move."
and mr. gray knows that in the 1950's, women did what men said. totally different from today. [laughter] jane: men were in charge of the world. [laughter] so anyway, that is what happened. and all of a sudden, i sat back down, and i got off the bus when the driver said everyone get off the bus. michelle: did you see her arrest? jane: no, i did not. carla: so here you are. jane: great with child. she is sitting right there. michelle: yes. her daughter jan is in the audience. exactly 64 years. oops, i'm sorry. [laughter] michelle: but i think back because no one came forward to tell the story until you. no other person has admitted being there.
why did it take so long for your story to come out? jane: because when i got back to the base, i never went back to the city, and i did not even know anything that was going on in the city. i had no idea there was a bus boycott or this man called martin luther king. i had never heard his name, so we came home to atlanta and 35 or more years went by of my life growing a family. and all of a sudden, one sunday afternoon after church, one of my sons was reading on the floor a life magazine, and saw a bus and he said, mom, this is the funniest looking bus, and i said oh dear. sorry. i was on that bus. so immediately, one of us
started calling to meet mrs. parks, and after the third call, elaine steele called back and said i am elaine steele with the cofounder of rosa and raymond parks institute. and misses parks will be in , and shet an event would invite you to her hotel room. so we went over. in fact they asked me to give my recollection of that day. michelle: and you gave it. she did not remember you. jane: no. michelle: she remembered what happened on the bus. jane: and she remembered a tall man. so when brenda davenport from sclc was a young -- she was one of the interviewers, she said i am here to protect miss parks. i want to make sure you are not lying. in a little while, mrs. parks
says you were there. michelle: she said you were there. jane: right. michelle: for those millennials and zenials out there who have a hard time thinking about a world where a tweet and a social media blast and news 24 hours, seven days a week, it was a different time in terms of news coverage. fred gray, i just want you to describe it. rosa parks and what she did on december 1, no one outside of montgomery really knew about it, did they? fred: nobody knew about rosa parks or nobody knew about montgomery? michelle: nobody knew about rosa parks on december 1. they didn't know about her on december 15, because the news did not penetrate, was not put
out there in the same manner. fred: with respect to mrs. parks and the rest? michelle: yes. it was not national news, is my point. fred: it was national news, the montgomery bus boycott. after we stayed off of the buses. it made the news. michelle: right. fred: our arrests did not make the news until mr. nixon leaked the story to the press that we were going to start a boycott on monday. and joanne bell, the reporter for the montgomery advertiser, ended up running a story, and really, mr. nixon did not tell us he was going to tell it, because we were trying to keep the white people from knowing it but let the black people know it, but it developed that the best thing that happened was for mr. nixon to do what he did.
and as a result, it makes the front page on sunday and monday that negroes were going to boycott the buses. and it helped us to get a good start. michelle: montgomery, alabama. fred: in montgomery, alabama. but when i talked to mrs. parks, after i got back in town on december 1, and she retained me to represent her, i asked her to tell me about anybody who did anything on that bus that would help her in her case. she did not tell me any person, white nor black, had offered to help her to do anything. they were there, the officer who had police power asked her to get up. she politely told him she was not going to get up. she was not disorderly. and they would have helped her if we had had some witness on the bus, black or white, to come to mrs. parks' rescue.
but she never told me, and i never subpoenaed anyone to testify on her behalf because we did not know at the time. we knew white people were on the buses. and i am not saying she was not there at all. and i am sure there were at least more than 10 white people because they had all of the seats taken. there were black people on the bus, but nobody thought enough of miss parks to come to mrs. parks' rescue, so she was arrested, and the rest is history. michelle: tell us what was definitively the signature of what made mrs. parks, not just her arrest, but her trial resonate. it was a tandem act, was it not? fred: no, no. mrs. parks had been working on
civil rights for years before december 1. michelle: i understand that, but what i'm trying to point out is you made very clear to me that people had been working on the idea of a boycott for some time. fred: right. michelle: the decision to boycott the night of her trial on december 5, that was the impetus, that was the explosion, was it not? fred: the matter of staying off of the buses as a result of mrs. parks' arrest did not originate with mrs. rosa parks. michelle: right. fred: she was not the person who was really moving forward with it. as a matter of fact, when i met with her in her living room and talked with her, what we were concerned about then was preparing -- there were two things in my mind that i told
her that we would be thinking about. the first thing, we have got to get ready for her trial on december 1 -- on december 5, so don't worry about it. i am going to get that ready. i said, ultimately, we are going to have to file a lawsuit. but i also told her, i said joanne bell has been talking about asking people to stay off of the buses because we have been having this problem for a long time. but i said, don't you worry about that, mrs. parks. you have done your part. but i am going to talk to joanne. i am going to talk to e.d. nixon, and we are going to see if an addition to people's -- your trial taking place, we will have a protest and people will stay off of the buses. i left her house and went to e.d. nixon's house and talked with him. he was willing to participate. i told him i was going to the -- going to joanne's house and talked with her.
we talked in her living room from the evening of december 1 to the morning of december 2, and we sat and planned the various things that had to take place if we were going to get the people to stay off the bus. one, we got to get the ministers , because they had more people on sunday morning than anyone else and we had to get the message out. we were asking them to stay off of the bus for only one day. but we wanted them to stay off of the bus until they could come back on a nonsegregated basis, but we could not tell them that , so we talked about the one day, but we had to be prepared that if we were successful, what are we going to do next? then we said, well, we need somebody to serve as a spokesman. it was joanne robinson who suggested my pastor should serve as spokesman.
michelle: and who was that pastor? and who was that pastor? fred: and that was reverend martin luther king, jr., who had just gotten to town about one year before. normally, e.d. nixon, mr. civil rights, and another political and businessman in the senate, would have been the person to serve in that capacity, but what we were afraid of, joanne and i, if we used either nixon or louis, we may lose some of the other ones, so let's get somebody else, she said. i will tell you who. i said who? she said my pastor, martin luther king, jr. i said, well i met dr. king. i do not know him like you do. but that is fine. but i said let me give you two good positions for these other two men. michelle: [laughter] fred: let's make e.d. nixon the treasurer, because he knows a
philip randolph, who is the founder of a pullman car union, and the other man was a former coach at alabama state. he had been, he was in the political aspect. he wanted to get people registered to vote. he had a club, the name the citizens club. in order to get to the club, you had to be a registered voter. i said let's make nixon the treasurer, make rufus lewis the chairman of the transportation committee, because if it lasts beyond monday, we will need somebody. well, and i said lewis, white, wife, jewel is co-owner of the largest fuel home in town. funeral home in town.
guess what? they have automobiles. we need automobiles to take people to and from work. make him chair of the transportation committee and we will have a transportation follow-up. joanne said when i am going to do when we get through here, fred, i am going to go to alabama state and get some students and drop off a leaflet. i will say another black woman has been arrested. her trial is going to be on monday. let's stay off of the buses as a protest. that is what happened and the rest is history. and those things that we planned, and neither one of us -- i could not afford -- it could not be afforded that fred gray was out here doing all of that. i would have gotten disbarred before i got barred. [laughter] michelle: they tried -- fred: she went to alabama state and -- later on. the plan, there was a lot of plans that went into making the bus boycott what it was, but
what inspired mrs. parks and what inspired joanne robinson and what inspired dr. king was the 15-year-old girl claudette carbon, who did what mrs. parks did nine months before, and we all said, if claudette could do that, then all of us can do whatever it takes, and we stayed off of the buses for 282 days. [applause] fred now you know the rest of : the story. michelle: in fact, rosa parks was convicted. rosa parks was convicted, and claudette's case was the case that won against segregation. fred: all right. claudette was a -- let me take them in chronological order. michelle: yes, sir. fred: we will take rosa parks' case.
michelle: that is straight. fred she was the one arrested on : december 1. so my first responsibility was to see that she was adequately represented on december 5. i knew that they were going to convict her. there was no way in the world that jury could end up fighting her not guilty. i knew that. i let them put their case on come across examine the witness, cross-examine the witness, raise my constitutional questions, don't put on any evidence, because none of them could say that she had acted disorderly, and see what happens. and what did they do? they convicted her. so on her case, we appealed it to the circuit court, then it had to go all the way up to the alabama courts, and then ultimately to the u.s. supreme court. so that was one case. but if we had gotten her found not guilty, all that would have happened is she would have been
not guilty, and the city ordinances and state statutes requiring segregation would have still been on the books, so we had to have another lawsuit. and that suit was the case of browder versus gail. now, i get an opportunity to let our people know, at this point in time, and this was a couple of days after dr. king's house had been bombed, we need to go ahead and file this case, and the question is, i knew in my own mind i was not going to use rosa parks as a plaintiff in that case. and i was not going to do it because if i had done that, her case was up on appeal, and what the city would have said is that this is a collateral attack on her appeal case. let's go through the state system. let's get some other good plaintiffs, and i can think of no better plaintiff than
claudette, this young girl. but she was a minor, so her parents had to be involved, and the result was that we ended up selecting four other persons, and they -- that was the case of browder versus gail that ultimately desegregated the buses. but mrs. parks -- if claudette had not done what she did on march 2, 1955, it is quite possible that mrs. parks may not have done what she did on december 1. here, she had not been arrested, there would have been no trial. there would have been no meeting at hope street baptist church. dr. martin luther king, jr. would not have been introduced to the nation at that time. and the whole history of the civil rights movement would have been different but for the 15-year-old girl, claudette. while we honor mrs. parks here tonight, and if mrs. parks was
here, i am sure she would be glad to say that part of her inspiration, along with what she had been doing for years before, was to be able to inspire young girls like claudette to do what she did. so we also honor claudette and the plaintiffs in that case as they did in montgomery on this past sunday, when they also unveiled there a statue of rosa they honored the persons in browder versus gail. michelle: it almost -- [applause] michelle: it almost sounds as if, because this young woman was in rosa parks' youth ministry, that she inspired a young woman who then inspired her, and to pay it forward moment over and over and over again. fred: yes.
michelle: and here you are, 64 years later, a practicing attorney. congratulations. fred: thank you. [applause] michelle: i just want to know how your legacy, rosa parks' legacy, impacts what is happening in today's struggle, as rosa parks has always said, the struggle continues. and so, i wonder how this continuum of your legacy informs that. fred: well, i don't know about my legacy. these historians will have to decide that. but i know this.
i know that at least two generations of people have been born who know nothing at all about hard-core segregation. they don't know about the problems that we had, and i think, if i will have a legacy, and i think if mrs. parks was here tonight, she would be happy for all of this that we are doing. but i think she would also want us to say thank you and all of that. but to look at where we are now and see the progress we have made, but even more importantly, is to see what needs to be done to solve the problem so that all of the people in this country will enjoy all of the rights and privileges that the majority enjoys. and that has not ended yet. so the struggle continues. i believe she would think, and i
believe that there are two major problems still facing us that we need to be serious about. one, this country still has some serious racial problems. racism has not been eliminated in this country. this country has never really faced up to taking affirmative actions towards destroying racism. we have chipped at it a little bit, but we have never really worked on it, so that is one problem that needs to be, and if i have a legacy or if mrs. parks has a legacy, i think she would want us to complete the task of doing away with racism so that everybody, regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, will be able to enjoy the same rights and privileges. [applause]
fred: i think there is a second point, and that is, in this country, there is too much inequality between the majority -- when i think about majority, i think about white people -- and the minority. and i think about african-americans and others. the disparity between those two are so great, and if you just -- if you will -- and this is nothing new. the united negro -- it is not that -- the national urban league has a report they make every year to the president, and what i am telling you about this part of it, you can find it in the annual report. michelle: the state of black america. fred: yeah, the five areas that you measure economics by, african-americans are at the bottom, the lower part, and whites are at the top.
if you take, for example, in unemployment, we are less than -- twice less than where white people are. if you take poverty, we are three times in worse shape than whites are. and if you take incarceration, we are incarcerated 16 times as whites, so what i am saying to you is that inequality needs to end. those two things, inequality and racism, nothing new. they have been here since slavery time. but they are not going to go away unless somebody do something. if we had done nothing, if mrs. parks had done nothing, if claudette had done nothing, it would not have happened. so then what we need to do, if you can take what we did in the civil rights movement, the bus boycott and everything else, number one, you have to
recognize that we still have a problem. because if you don't think we have a problem, then we are not going to solve it. [applause] fred: secondly, you have to come up and prepare and make plans. joann and i made the plans and passed it on to somebody else. you do not try to execute at all, and then when you do that, -- pass it on to someone else. and then when you do that, you have to execute these plans. these two things need to be done and it needs to start at the top. it should start at the white house, it should go to the congress, it should go to the supreme court, it to go to our ceos and educational institutions to do away with racism and do away with inequality. [applause] chrisle: and in fact, rock, medium of our time, said racism is not a black person problem.
racism is a white person's problem. you, thisr, i look at beautiful white woman who says she was so inspired by rosa parks. you met with her. you say she changed your life. how did she? mrs. gunter: i do not think about that in the beginning, i was busy growing a family and living life, until the magazine incident. and then we met with mrs. parks and before the meeting was over, mrs. parks said that i was there. and that interview was done by brenda davenport and elaine seale.
so we -- they asked me if i would tell my recollection of the day and when i told the recollection of what happened that day, brenda for a tried -- brenda tried to protect me, and mrs. parks said no, she was there. michelle: you were a missionary and a pastor and work in the movement until this day. mrs. gunter: to this day. i go to schools to talk to children about rosa parks on the bus boycott and every february, all of my days are filled and i love it. i enjoy it. especially seeing children what really happened from my eyes. michelle: do you see the struggle through the eyes of mrs. parks?
do you see it as your struggle now? mrs. gunter: i do not see it as a struggle for me at all. i have absolutely no conflict with red, yellow, black, white. i work with all kinds of people. we are just people. and any choice sermon would be about peace, love, kindness, and forgiveness. michelle: forgiveness. thank you both. [applause] fredgunter, thank you, gray. mr. gray: i will make it short. i referred to this earlier. again, i want to commend this library for having this exhibit for rosa parks here. people can come from all over the country and see what is here.
you have museums all over the country who need our support, and they are deserving of that support. so that the story can be told and they will be educated on it. one of those organizations is located in teske, alabama, the teske human rights and civil cultural center, it also known tuskegee history center. it gives a history of all of the people under one roof. it also serves as a prominent memorial for the men in the eegee syphilis study, and gives a brief history of the civil rights movement from slavery times until the present,
showing five cases of people from alabama. we ask for your support. and if you want to learn some more about it, just let me know. that is the first thing. [applause] fred: the next thing, all of what i have told you tonight about the movement and more is found in my autobiography. that's right. there is a copy over there. ourwhat i am saying is, problem is that our young people do not know what has happened. if we do not advocate them -- educate them on it, it will never get done. thank you very much. [applause] michelle: thank you. [applause] michelle: well, you have seen history in the making. and that is what we had hoped you would see.
people who live history, people who appreciate history, and we will have some of those brochures for everybody too. thank you so much. we have been joined by mr. mark l'oreal, the head of the national urban league, so that report is also available as well. [applause] >> and you should know that this exhibit is going to be online so people everywhere can see everything. we thank all of you for being here and being part of this discussion. and now we invite you to go upstairs and see the exhibit. [applause] >> you're watching american
history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span three. inthis weekend on lectures history, we visited the boston college classroom of professor seth jacobs. he talks about how president lyndon johnson escalated the war in vietnam following president kennedy's assassination. here is a preview. although the resolution was never in jeopardy, johnson told senator william fulbright, a fellow democrat from arkansas and the chairman of the senate committee, torelations secure it by the largest possible vote. i need a largest possible win. i need a unanimous win. anything else would charge the image of purity that was so important to america's international reputation. so fulbright portrayed the resolution as, in his words, a
moderate measure calculated to prevent the spread of war. as he went to work on senate on people like-- on george mcgovern, he allayed their fears that the president would begin an excessive power, in particular fulbright went to work on senator gaylord nelson of wisconsin. anson wanted to introduce amendment calling for efforts to avoid a direct military involvement in southeast asia. he told nelson that such a codicil is superfluous, since the last thing we want is to become involved in a land war in asia. nelson, who has everlasting regret, dropped his amendment. as i said, the senate approved the resolution with only two dissenting. -- house the house passed it unanimously. according to the joint resolution, the congress approves and supports the cap
the nation of the president as commander-in-chief to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the united states and to prevent further aggression. euro in thismike episode, stated afterwards to a virtually empty hall, because all of his colleagues had gone home, he said that we are in effect giving this president warmaking powers in the absence of a declaration of war. i believe this to be a historic mistake. voted againstwho the resolution said "all vietnam is not worth the life of a single american boy." n said about the resolution it is like grandma's 90, it covers everything. and it demolished barry goldwater on the foreign-policy front. if the president was an amateur at foreign policy, and why had the congress voted unanimously to give him the power to wage war?
admiral's grasp of foreign policy, or congress would not have abdicated its own responsibility and allowed this one man to decide what was appropriate. about johnson's escalation of the vietnam this weekend on c-span three. next, william paterson university history professor theodore cook talks about his book "japan at war: an oral history." he discusses the japanese perspective on world war ii leading up to the december 7, 1941 attack on pearl harbor. the new york military affairs symposium hosted this event. [applause] dr. theodore cook is professor of history and the asian studies program director at william paterson university. it is good to have him home again. his degree in history from trinity
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