Skip to main content

tv   Oral Histories Kay Tillow  CSPAN  August 1, 2020 6:45pm-8:01pm EDT

6:45 pm
war and reconstruction every saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern only on american history tv here 3. c-span up next on american history tv, an oral history interview with k to low, who talks about her involvement with the civil rights movement, beginning with her participation in the 1963 desegregation sit ins in atlanta georgia and her later work to organized health care worker unions. this is part of an oral history project on the civil rights movement initiated by congress in 2009, conducted by the smithsonian national museum of african-american history and culture. the american folklife center at the library of congress and the southern oral history program at the university of north carolina chapel hill. my name is kay tillow, and i was born in paducah, kentucky, in 1942.
6:46 pm
my parents lived in metropolis, illinois, which was across the river from paducah. paducah was the closest hospital. i grew up in metropolis, illinois. >> if you could tell us a little bit about your upbringing and if you see anything in the way that you are raised, the family that you are from that may have caused you to become involved in the movement. were ofow: my parents modest means. both of them were from farm families that had come over from germany and were , and to get land here every german family had a plot of 80 acres. i'm not quite sure how that where my but that's
6:47 pm
a farm,ents lived, on and both of my parents grew up on a farm. my mom was able to go to southern illinois teachers college and became a teacher. -- he farmed, and he also had a furniture store, so we lived -- the town was very small. 6000 people, and it is still 6000 people. metropolis is just, you know, a farm town and very, very far away from urban centers. it's, like, halfway between st. louis and memphis, so the big like,s paducah, which is, 36,000. i went to grade school and high school there. my parents were involved and active in the church. perhaps one of the
6:48 pm
things that influenced me most was that we had a presbyterian minister who at some point when i was in high school gave me a copy of the book "the wall , and it by and grade in me an amazing revelation to braden.yy anne my family did not talk about politics. they talked about morals and church and those with the things that guided them, but this book was eye-opening in terms of the things that were happening. >> what kinds of things did braden talk about in that book? ms. tillow: she told the story of inequality in louisville, kentucky, and how they had
6:49 pm
purchased a home for an african-american family because the sellers would not sell it to them, so they purchased the home , and that brought this terrible backlash. everyone knows the story, that , carl andwas bombed carl wentarrested, to prison for sedition, trying to overthrow the state of verycky, but anne wrote well. she approached it from someone who did not understand any of these things at all, i could understand, and very moving about inequality and the need to stand up against what was wrong, a big influence on me, and that was before i graduated. i graduated from high school in 1960.
6:50 pm
>> what was your immediate world around you there in metropolis as far as the demographics, as far as equality? what did you see around you, and how did that compare to what you were reading? ms. tillow: i remember when the grade schools were integrated there when i was in grade school. i remember people being very, very upset about that happening, but for a while -- and then it seemed that that was over, but of course, the african-american teachers lost their jobs. i don't know when they were later hired. i'm sure that some point that was changed, too. ,he high school was integrated so, you know, it was not -- i don't think it was like the deep south, but there was certainly prejudice there. i can remember nominating a
6:51 pm
young african-american to be the head of the -- what was it? some girls club in high school, and the teacher telling me know, we weren't ready for that -- the teacher telling me no, we weren't ready for that. >> that was before you would have read the book or -- >> i don't know. i cannot remember that. >> this is probably a difficult question, but do you remember your first sort of overt act? >> i'm not sure exactly which one was first. i went to the university of timeois then, and by that -- i joined the naacp away from metropolis, which was easier to do, you know? i remember my first picket line was at the university of
6:52 pm
illinois against some store that would not hire african-americans, and i remember being very frightened, but believing it was right and i was going to do it, and i remember what my sign said. i did not write it, but someone had given me a sign that said, "in the land of lincoln, kin'."mination is stin not too much happened. we were kind of paraded on the picket line, but things by that time were beginning to happen in the country. i just went to the picket lines and learned. we would have reports from people coming from the south, you know, who would speak at the meetings and tell some of the stories, and, you know, the movement was beginning to have impact all across the country, , asin champaign, illinois
6:53 pm
well. >> were there other ways you were getting your news? what was happening? you talked about students visiting. ms. tillow: well, depending on -- in 1962 -- in the summer of 1962, i was back at metropolis and preparing to go yearana on a junior abroad, which i went in 1962, but during the summer before then, i went with the local because there were demonstrations in cairo, which was about 40 miles away, and we know, we went to the court hearings. it was a segregated courtroom. just amazed atg the courage of these people. mary mccollum was one of the
6:54 pm
people who was there. side, abeen cut on her during one of the demonstrations. people were facing such brutality and were so strong. you know, that was it about the civil rights movement, is that by thesed inspiration other people who you admired so, and who were really risking everything to stand up for what they believe in, so that had a great impact on me during that summer. then i went to ghana, and that was different. >> right. ms. tillow: w.e.b. dubois was at emeritus-- he got a honorary degree there. he had gone there to work on his
6:55 pm
pan-african encyclopedia, i think it was, and -- of course, i didn't know who he was and all of that. students said -- you don't know? he american. american. you don't know? i became aware of the ignorance and the holes in our education system that here was someone so highly regarded around the world and i had never heard -- i went to the ceremony where he was given that honorary degree, and .e was there with his wife i learned a lot in africa. conor cruise o'brien was the chancellor of the university, and he had written "to katanga and back," and all of that, so i was becoming aware of the u.s. and by the world
6:56 pm
time i came back, which was in 1963, 2 things happened on my way back. died --that two boys died in august of 1963 and the march on washington. the civil rights movement was in full blossoming. >> you arrived back after the march? >> right, at the end of august, right afterward, yeah. ofent back to the university illinois, but somewhere along the way, i met john lewis, who came to the university of illinois. i'm not sure which year that was earlier, was 1963 or before 1962, but was very impressed. again, the people who were active in that movement were so abouting and compelling
6:57 pm
what it meant and the value of this cause and this humanity. i was very moved by him. he had a lot of hair then, too. >> where the students following what was going on in the u.s.? ms. tillow: yes, they were. of course, that was also the time of the missile crisis, which they were all asking me why. thiswhy, you know, all danger of nuclear war, why is this happening? i cannot remember a lot of discussions about the civil rights movement, but they wanted to know why i had never heard of w e need to voice -- w.e.b. dubois. campus inget back to
6:58 pm
1963. naacpllow: right, and my chapter decided to send a delegation to atlanta during the i remembereak, and that we were going to go picket lebs.- i don't even know what it was. i think it was a chain of restaurants in atlanta. we were going to go and report back, etc. i went with some others from there. as a result of that visit where withember a discussion prexy hall from philly. she spoke. jim foreman. lots of other people. i made the decision that that was what i wanted to do. i could not stay in school.
6:59 pm
i had to go and help. not that i knew what to do, but that's how compelling the movement was. i remember we went to at the time,and there were demonstrations over was a, and hattiesburg very oppressive, violent place. when we were there, bob moses had been in jail, and there was a man also in jail from the -- it was a him in segregated jail and they put him prisoners andite of course they told him he was involved with the civil rights so he was really badly beaten, he could hardly be recognized as a human being. we stayed with a family there in
7:00 pm
police, we and the picketed at the courthouse where they were trying to register and in militaryarched like they the street were meeting the enemy and i remember a gigantic meeting there and hattiesburg with hundreds and hundreds of people, so there was this stark comparison between this militarized opposition and a whoence and these people --e not afraid, a kind of that was very inspiring, they gave each other courage and they were not afraid. they had us in their homes, they were under threats of violence. that was the area where goodman and cheney were killed not long
7:01 pm
after that. peopleere hundreds of and you could feel that, you know, something was moving and shaking and turning in was not to be put back, in spite of the violent opposition that it faced. you identify [indiscernible] how did you see yourself as you got into the deeper south? ms. tillow: i guess i did. i don't know. [laughter] a -- sort of betwixt and between. having been born in kentucky, i claimed kentucky as where i was born. >> as he got into a place like hattiesburg, how did that compare to what you had seen
7:02 pm
growing up? ms. tillow: that was much -- there was no movement in metropolis. probably,y caro, could have vied with hattiesburg for the brutality of the response to the movement in that was southern illinois. as a not see metropolis movement there, really. so i'm not sure. i did not know any white people in hattiesburg other than the people that were in the movement. went there over school break but decided -- ms. tillow: i would go back, yeah. what i wish people went with the flow at the time, you know? we were young and i certainly did not have any particular
7:03 pm
skills to contribute, just myself, just going down and trying to be there and learn from other people and try to help in whatever way that i could. >> how did you find an assignment or what you were going to do? ms. tillow: i was with a group that went to these different places, we went to chapel hill and we went to tuskegee, where the freedomeparing schools that frick went to happen -- that were going to happen in 1964. we kind of went to displays in that place, chapel hill there was a student conference and i was at highlander several times, which is where i bet walter -- where i met walter. >> at a workshop?
7:04 pm
do you remember the circumstances? ms. tillow: i guess it was a workshop. by that time, i was working with a group called the abolition committee for full employment, which is working with miners in eastern kentucky and the people discussed theand situation. i remember jim dabrowski being there. i met carl and anne. mentors to ally of the young people that were coming through the south. the southern patriot, which was their newspaper, and their scales and their encouragement -- skills
7:05 pm
and their encouragement. they were a tremendous force in the rebuilding of the civil rights movement from the earlier 1930's, where the southern conference for human welfare and i think there was a youth group and they bridged the gap and kind of reconnected it in that period. >> how did you, as young people, look at the earlier generations of activists? ms. tillow: we had to learn about it because those of us who id not come from, you know -- came from the farm, i did not know about anything. so we had to learn. reading.anne had us >> what did you read? ms. tillow: let's see, what did i read? a century of struggle.
7:06 pm
we bet a lot of stuff about the hue act. the was strong about impact of communism and its ability to flatten the progress in the country. with what he had been through and that'll story -- that whole story about the sedition charge, carl was very strong, they were the big influence on sncc, the organization would not refuse to be anti-communist, refused to into that kind of liberal communism of hubert humphrey. [laughter] so the organization you were working with, what were they
7:07 pm
primarily working on? ms. tillow: at the time, i guess the reason i was attracted to it, there was an increasing -- theion about economic economic situation and how important that was in terms of equality, that public would not end the inequality because there was an economic base to it, and i learned that too, but i was persuaded by that and there was , aroup that was organizing group of coal miners in eastern revivey who had tried to nion and they had on aarrested and jailed charge of conspiracy. there was a legal case and there
7:08 pm
was kind of a movement around it and i went there to help, i put called -- iper think it was called kentucky justice. we worked on -- i remember i was there, we marched on frank for -- frankfurt with the people in 4e we bill, there was a march jobs and freedom and that was march 5, 1964. report the contention from the coalfields of appalachia and joined up with the other people. people,is one of the ,omeone who gets left out often especially the much in washington, the fact that the economic peace from the beginning was thought of as a part of this civil rights goal.
7:09 pm
it sounds like you learned that early on. ms. tillow: i remember, there was a workshop at highlander. highlander had been -- had participated in the earlier dates in the education of those trying to organize workers in the south and trying to organize those agricultural movements, black and white together. so we had a conference during this sncc era on unions. we had someone from the united electrical workers who came down and talked with thousand we had -- talkedon about with us and we had a discussion about what role unions should play in terms of trying to propel justice and equality. , you are interest --
7:10 pm
ms. tillow: i did, yeah. did youyou -- what year and walter meet? ms. tillow: 1964. how it interested in works with a couple in the movement, especially when there is so much work to be done and you might be pulled to work in different places at different times. how did that work for you? ms. tillow: oh. [laughter] --on't know, we managed it managed to find a way to put it together. 1966, a lot of people were leaving sncc, so walter worked on mississippi 1964om democratic party in and 1966, i think we went to
7:11 pm
work for the electrical workers union, both of us. they sent me one place and him another. him to detroit and be to pittsburgh. [laughter] it still wasn't together. time, iat period of think people didn't know exactly what to do in the south. there were different things to 1964., from up >> in terms of as sncc started , but it sounds like you were already focused on -- ms. tillow: i was working in of 1964,ucky, for all basically. >> would you catch up and see each other every so often? ms. tillow: yeah, i wasn't so
7:12 pm
far away. [laughter] union, how washe that experience? ms. tillow: that was an experience. [laughter] that was another thing to learn. i worked in northern pennsylvania on a union drive eventually we left the ue and i went to work 1969 41199 -- for 1199, a civil-rights related union for hospital workers. -- thatresting thing union was basically a progressive union and was built among african-american workers in the service workers in new york, dietary housekeeping, nursing assistants.
7:13 pm
we worked on establishing a where itpennsylvania was not majority black situation and amazingly enough, we found we were able to build a union, even in a -- even in vast majority white hospitals. not pittsburgh, but the first one we won was in lewistown, which was almost all white and campaign against the employer that this was a black union and all of that was happening. that was an interesting experience. we were able to build the union pennsylvania. in areas ofe rural pennsylvania are in terms of [indiscernible] ms. tillow: i don't know. [laughter] i worked in built very, very organized the registered nurses
7:14 pm
and the whole hospital, that was one of the early ones. you know, that was mercy hospital. they campaigned against the union by saying that the nurses are professionals and we have worked hard to come away from ckers andled coal cra that made the nurses livid because their fathers had sent them to nursing school on coal miner salaries. butler --ir and then we won there and then butler, i can't think of the other towns. spengler, huntington, washington. washington, pennsylvania.
7:15 pm
hospitals were in not big cities, but more rural areas where we were part of the union and the rest of the union was african-american, baltimore was one of the first outside of new lorettay, i remember king went there and help the campaign and johns hopkins was organized into 1199, that was probably 1969 or 1970. there was an 1199 campaign in charleston south carolina -- charleston, south carolina. around the same time or a little bit earlier than that, they were not able to win union recognition but it was a huge battle, but they didn't break it down, there was some kind of a that they would allow
7:16 pm
the union to collect use or build the it didn't basis for establishing a union in the south and it is still unorganized. of course, kentucky, hospital workers are almost all unorganized. it is very hard. to do that. in the southern states. off-camera, we were talking about the importance of highlander, it being and a remote place and how people got around in those days. ms. tillow: high later, it wasn't -- hi vander, it was in knoxville. , it was iner knoxville. where it was burned down, i think that was tennessee. it was in a big house in knoxville at the time when we were going.
7:17 pm
there, but ien think newmarket or somewhere. i have been back -- i went back because my friend who i worked with on single-payer is from tennessee and he invited us back. we went to a play about miles morton and don west, that was and were near that area went to the grave of miles where the school had originally been. i have a picture of walter and me with the historical marker there. >> yeah, interesting. the work you are doing with the nurses union, which you clearly saw as a civil-rights activity,
7:18 pm
did the nurses see it that way? or the hospital workers? door allies on working on these campaign? of the other civil-rights organizations support you or not? ms. tillow: in pittsburgh, when we first started in 1969, the other unions were not so -- itic because here was was a new york-union and we had organized a petition from some hospital workers to ask them to come help us and they were all theyed about coming, so came and put me onto the staff. the other unions in the city were not sympathetic because they saw it as their territory. but the allies were the ue was very sympathetic and david was a professor at the university of
7:19 pm
pittsburg and he and the guy from the united electrical workers headed up the support committee for us because, at the 1969 and 1970, the national relations did not cover hospital workers. therefore, to get recognition, you had to really build, you know, a movement that had some strategy of forcing the hospital on moral grounds to recognize the union, which is what they had done in new york, they had more power there and they got like a feller to back it -- they got rockefeller back it. 1970,e not able to win in
7:20 pm
it was a strike at presbyterian hospital and we were not able to gain collective bargaining. strike, theof the governor of pennsylvania at that contemplatinge collective bargaining for state employees at the time. as a rentals of that strike -- as a result of that strike, they added hospital workers. pennsylvania became a state that included, under state law, the right for hospital workers to organize and it was not until --5 -- i think that's right amended itsb coverage and made it possible to organize in hospitals across the country. so our movement was part of opening that door and making
7:21 pm
that happen. >> what where the racial demographics among hospital workers? where there a majority of african-americans in the field? ms. tillow: well, it varied. in pittsburgh, probably 30% or 40% were african-american among the service workers. we were not organizing among the nurses in pittsburgh. we couldn't reach them. wasn't majority, it was not like you could just unite african-american workers and then you had majority, which i think is how it was in new york. challenge, but i think that is something we were proud of, that we did build the union, that other hospital workers called on us, people from uniontown called. we started a movement there and people were all related to coal
7:22 pm
miners and had a union tradition and their families and didn't care. they wanted the union. there was a strike in uniontown as well, which was not one, but was a valiant effort, it was , asing that in uniontown part of that effort, we had strikes because before the law, you couldn't get an election, you had no way to gain -- no established way to gain collective bargaining rights. i remember as a part of an effort to get the hospital to settle, the work we would go out to the various enterprises of the people who were on the board of the hospital and somebody from the coal mine was there. we could close down the coal mine, close down the clothing factory, close down anything.
7:23 pm
except the hospital was still functioning because it wasn't a solid strike and that is what happened in pittsburgh as well, it wasn't a solid majority that went out. won theid when -- we first union that was established was at the jewish home and hospital for the aged in its bark -- pittsburgh. that was a majority african-american workers. that campaign was led by henry nicholas who is now the head of the hospital workers union in philadelphia. before the philadelphia union nicholas camed, to help us in pittsburgh and this was an area where clearly the civil rights movement was part of people's thinking and
7:24 pm
very responsive to that. , we had at get a vote clear majority, we had a sit in on christmas eve in 1969. [laughter] amazinglyid, it was strong movement. we were sitting there and told management, if there were emergencies, we would send someone to help, but other than that, the woman from the laundry kept coming, she said, the laundry had to be done. we said that wasn't an emergency. they could go without it. by the end of the day, we had an managementith the that they would conduct an election. rabbi who was going to hold his election and we had
7:25 pm
a date set for january or february that we would have a secret ballot election and an that if a majority voted for it, they would recognize the union and bargain. that is really by we could establish the union because we finally won something. >> that opened the door. ms. tillow: we had several hundred -- i can't remember how many at was, couple hundred members at that nursing home. was the beginning of the union in pennsylvania but it was shortly after that that they or 1971he law in 1970 and we began winning under the law, under the state law and the lewistown and 1973 in washington and a number of other hospitals and built the union and many of those bargaining units were majority
7:26 pm
white, which is something we are proud of, it give you hope that you could unite people on with somessues understanding of civil rights issues and make a coming fight for justice within the country. >> as he brought people together to form the union's and bought committees together, did that create unity within those communities that led to other issues, to fight other kinds of battles? ms. tillow: i don't know. [laughter] i don't know. i think in general, we build solidarity for other workers my workers, -- for other
7:27 pm
you know, so other people trying to get the union, bring people together around those issues. curious what it was like to take on other issues. did -- we started by talking about your family. homeid your family back respond to the work you had decided to devote yourself to? well, they were not happy about it. [laughter] my mother, mainly because i left school before i graduated. i did not finally graduate from 627 -- 1967. 19 i left before my last semester
7:28 pm
and my mother was very upset about that. it was that and also concern about -- it was dangerous, you know? they were not happy about it at all. [laughter] so it was difficult. norm that was not the had been planned. , who hader's parents much more understanding about the movement, were frightened about the situation and worried about that. then there were other problems about movement people. we were also involved in the daysar movement and in the of the antiwar movement, it was terrible what would happen, the fbi went to see my parents about
7:29 pm
this. so that doesn't help the situation, where they were questioned and they didn't have, context in which to place that. great deal of- a difficulty. there were questions about the picket line against the vietnam war. >> do you member them getting in touch with you? ms. tillow: yes, i remember my mother crying on the phone and i'm trying to explain and the fbi left their house and had been questioning them and they think i am in some kind of terrible trouble. they never had one ends with the law -- never had run-ins with the law. that was completely different to them and that is what it was about, they were trying to
7:30 pm
repress, make it difficult for people to participate in such a movement. >> the various things you were involved in, the antiwar movement, civil rights, did you see this as separate -- ms. tillow: i saw it as all connected. for me, it was. know,me folks that, you they were the same people that were concerned about the same issues. i think that the civil rights movement was the foundation of the ability of people to do the other organizing. i think that that was the catalyst and the strength and the momentum, that was the powerful movement that really changed the country, made a totally different, and made it possible for people to do these other kinds of things.
7:31 pm
it was what was out there in with the moral compulsion, made it possible for the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, all of the other kinds of things that in andd were grounded took the strength from, they were connected to what the civil rights movement had done. peopleer of common moving together is very compelling and gives you all kinds of ideas about what you might change. you know, seeing fannie lou hamer, knowing her story and , wheree had been through
7:32 pm
does a person gain that strength, you know? where does that come from? that someone of such humble origins could give such leadership that really shook the nation and changed it. that convention when she said, we didn't come all this way for two seats. that a woman from that background could say that, my goodness. you don't have to be einstein. [laughter] nation manyin the people, all kinds of people who could become movers to make things happen differently in the country. capable of extraordinary
7:33 pm
change. and the wholes, civil rights movement was that way. about people who resources on which, you know, to rely. but so much strength in that movement -- you think about the freedom writers. i will never forget the diane nash story, when she is called by the justice department, they say, you know, you can't do this, you can't pick up this ride. you could be killed. she says, we know that, we are aware, we have all made out our wills. it is just powerful.
7:34 pm
there on a massive basis, not just one were two or three leaders, but many, many, many people. that changed the country. propelled the other movements that have been asserting their rights within the country. did you ever interacts with the women's movement? ms. tillow: i was involved in the pay equity. and a coalition of later movement -- of labor movement women, i was the president of the coalition of labor movement women and be carried on quite a bit. >> what other things did you work on? ms. tillow: it was a time when labor union women not have any role at all.
7:35 pm
i remember so many times, i would get up to speak at the alleghenies central labor council and could not get recognition or they would say it wasn't the right time on the agenda to raise that issue, it was difficult. in coalition was founded 1974, i went to the founding. i think we were in detroit. i'm not sure where we were. those hotels all look the same. womene us a way for union to form an organization and to speak on behalf of women's issues, whatever. that is what we did. in number of chapters became the focal point of women who were concerned about civil rights and antiwar. we had a dynamic chapter in pittsburgh, they were always telling us we were getting out of line. but it was a good thing.
7:36 pm
>> you are laughing about that but i imagine that must have been frustrating. ms. tillow: it is just funny memories of the way things were, you know. i love the labor movement, but when you know it, you know all of its problems as well. that was one of its difficulties. some progress has been made on that, but there are big problems within the labor movement. we have so much to do, so many workers unorganized, we are wages ground in terms of compared to where all the money is going to the top. >> you are still working in the movement. on tillow: yeah, i worked trying to build the nurses union but rightuisville
7:37 pm
now, i'm working on the single-payer movement. in ourort to fully win nation universal health care to make health care a right for every person into win a system where we would publicly fund it so we would remove that economic barriers to getting care and make certain that everyone could get care, regardless of ability to pay, and that's the effort now that i'm working on. there is a bill in congress 676, sponsored by john theers, who also introduced martin luther king holiday bail -- bill. introduced the shorter workweek,
7:38 pm
which we work with him it while back, decades ago. he has introduced this bill, ,hich would remove the private for-profit insurance industry from our health care system and remove the for-profit hospitals so that it -- you couldn't property or in health care, you could earn a living if you worked, but you couldn't make profit from denying care in that is the system that we have now. i'm hopeful that the issue of ,ealth care unites people because it touches all of us in that it may be a place where we can break through and, once again, learn how to make -- do big, important things instead of just talking as though it is tiny, tiny,e to get
7:39 pm
tiny, incremental change because nothing else is politically feasible. from my background, i know that when masses of people in motion, you can change it. so that is what we are working to build that movement that makes it possible to pass that bill. >> it seems that there are a few things [indiscernible] health care, the military, even. can you speak to that issue? or do we have to do slower steps? ms. tillow: i'm not thinking about small, i think we should step as big as we can. and i agree with that. i am tremendously concerned about the direction of education because i think public schools are being undermined by these charter, for-profit,
7:40 pm
educationion of our and i was really cheering for those chicago teachers who took that on into built the bonds between the community and the parents and the needs of the , asdren and the teachers all on the same side and wanting to have a way to teach and also a way that people could earn a living by teaching without being so kicked around. subcontracting in the military is terrible and awards are terrible. but health care -- because i worked with all these health-care workers, i became aware, working with nurses in veilee veil, -- in the wee understaffing the
7:41 pm
nursing units, so even the most excellent nurse can be overworked to the point of incompetence. and theseainly true hospitals at the time were owned by humana. so of course they staffed as slim as they could and that meant that there wasn't enough to give to all of the paces and patient care suffers. since then, nurses knew it all along, but they have done some studies that show debts and infections and all those things rise when the nurse staffing goes down in relationship to the numbers of patients. it should not be a for-profit business and it needs to be born in the interest of patient care and of wellness.
7:42 pm
, he has introduced this bill. it was first introduced in 2003 and we have been working to build a movement around it. toicked up on the issue build union support because i think that is a key. we need the union support to make it happen. building the all unions committee for single , the health care, hr767 first group to endorse it was the clue chapter and then we got the national clue to endorse it, coalition of labor union women, we got friends in the coalition up like trade unionists, they took it to their convention. with those two union groups, we began to try to get other unions. at this point, these are
7:43 pm
endorsements of the conyers bill , we have 605 unions that have 43 statethat bill, 146 central and labor councils, and i think 22 of the international unions. we are still working on it because we are still not there. the bill that was passed doesn't solve the problem of bringing care to everyone, nor of cutting the cost. so many people can't get care because they can't pay, even many who have insurance can't pay the co-pays and deductibles are barriers to the ability to get care.
7:44 pm
the country has adopted this insurance company thinking that why it is so costly as people are using the system. [laughter] it isn't the reason at all. people in countries that pay half as much per capita as we do for health care, their people have more days in the hospital, where doctors office visits. the problem isn't that people are utilizing the health care, that is an insurance company way of thinking, if anyone uses it, they are losing money, so the job is to put barriers up so they want go. i think we are winning on that. we are a ways away and there are lots of people who say, that just isn't politically feasible, you have to set your sights on something lower. and i say, something lower won't isve the problem and the job
7:45 pm
to bring universal health care to our people and that would do so much in terms of the disparity between inican-americans and whites this country, if we could at least get that right. the fight for health care has the amazing ability to do that. i just became aware recently that in 1965, when medicare was passed and all of a sudden, all these seniors had money to pay for hospitalizations, they vote into the law that the hospital weren't get money if there segregated hospital. all of a sudden, the hospitals of the south, they are integrated because they couldn't get the money and here was federal money that was available to them. we can change all kinds of
7:46 pm
things with health care if we can make certain that everybody has a bite to get that and i'm aware of the studies, i just looked at a study by david , he was surgeon general, and someone who was knowin louisville, i don't what year the study is but the study said -- i think it was excessere were 83,000 deaths in the african-american community, deaths that would not have occurred had there been equality. of course, that is related to the health care system. but a large too, part to the lack of access to health care. it is just a crime. i am hopeful that we will find a
7:47 pm
way to build a movement that can change that and that may be the --ng, we might stimulate open some other doors to end the wars and to win justice and to win back the voting bites -- rights that are threatened. you have to go forward or you will go backward and i think we face that now, certainly within the labor union movement and the voting bites decision, it is just heartbreaking and we have to get ourselves together and fight that battle. >> how do you carry on? what are your sources of strength to keep fighting? ms. tillow: i have a husband. [laughter] that helps a lot. he is kind of amazing at his
7:48 pm
going, eveneep stronger than i am in many ways. and i learned a lot from him. he came from a different perspective on all of this. people laugh. he hasn't lost his new york accent. [laughter] so he still sounds like he just walked out of the bronx. maybe i sound like i just walked out of paducah. we never picked up each other -- sometimes we don't even know what words you are saying, could you repeat that? [laughter] fight to get it together. i think a lot of couples met in the south, i think, during that period of time when we all got in a up and lifted up major way, lifted by a movement.
7:49 pm
learned, ich we would say i gained more from the movement then i gave because when i walked into it, i didn't know what to give for have to give, i was just there, but we all learned and became better knowledgeable about what others had done before us and what could be done and what needed to be done within our country. we have been working on it. interesting, is the movement does not have a pension plan. you've got people who devoted their lives to the movement are at a place in their lives, for some people, they are struggling. ms. tillow: yeah, i'm sure.
7:50 pm
from the point at which i went ,o work for the union movement i had a very regular income, and -- but i know many people are in that kind of a situation, we need to expand social security because many people who had good pension plans in the auto industry or steel industry or everywhere else, it is all under threat now. those pension plans are going under, people are getting a small percentage and social security is not adequate to do it. which is why we have been working on a resolution for the that saysonvention protect social security and medicare and the way in which you do that is that social security, we need to expand the
7:51 pm
offso that it doesn't cut at 100,000 or whatever that figure is so that all wages are taxed so it is not a regressive tax and capital gains and interest is taxed as well and that will save social security and allow us to enhance the benefits and medicare will be saved if we put everyone into medicare. that is the expanded and improved medicare for all, the single-payer plan, introduced by congress in conyers, both of , to call forsaved a march on washington to promote these causes. >> do you think that will happen? we have councils to sit in that resolution. i think people agree with that. i don't think that -- i don't think we have things in motion
7:52 pm
to where people are thinking bigger, but they are going to have to start doing that because we can't just hang on -- we can't even hang onto what we have unless we start moving improve what we have. effort to tremendous use immigrants now in much the way they used to use african-americans to try to divide people and there is an anti-emigrant movement but i think we can win people there too. that is part of what is in the conyers bill, it doesn't exclude anybody. the affordable care act says if you are not -- if you don't have a legal document, you can't even buy insurance.
7:53 pm
basically, we take the money that immigrant workers who are undocumented pay into medicare and social security and they never get it back because they are not able to collect on those benefits. has been a remarkable interview, underlying economic justice, the movement. i want to ask you, is there something i should have asked or anything you would like to add at this point, any questions you are expecting? thetillow: no, i appreciate opportunity to talk about this. i have not thought about many of these things for a long time. i am glad you are doing this and i am sure you have other people who played much more prominent roles. i am just a little piece of it. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
7:54 pm
visit] tonight, 89096 documentary prettied to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing in features the stories of survivors and a young family trying to make sense of the tragedy. here is a preview. the schoolchildren and i had been working in the building about 10 minutes when a sudden flash of light made me think there was a bomb in the building. the students all ran away and were scattered. i went to the riverbank to see what was happening. whilestanding there for a , four or five of the students would run away saw me and waved
7:55 pm
their arms yelling, teacher, help me. the image of those students will never leave my mind, running over to me with their hair wild, hallow and dirty faces, waving their arms at me. that scene later led me to make a painting called scream. ♪ >> where i am standing was already crowded with a lot of people.
7:56 pm
hands.ld their they were crying, asking their mothers to help them. i jumped into the water. water,d into the countless dead bodies were carried away by the water, some sinking, and then floating. these paintings are actually not based on what i have seen but are images of what i imagined hiroshima harbor would be, filled with bodies that came
7:57 pm
from the rivers. how did the bones at the bottom of the harbor feel? i painted while thinking of things like that. whether they would be sad or lonely. whether they would be angry at the people who dropped the atomic bomb. i would think of these things while imagining and painting the bones at the bottom of the harbor. i don't know where most of my students disappeared to. but i could imagine their bodies floating down some river and ending up at the bottom of
7:58 pm
hiroshima harbor. ♪ >> watch the full program tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern, 7:00 p.m. pacific, here on american history tv. >> you're watching american history tv, covering history with event coverage, eyewitness accounts, archival films, lectures, and college classrooms, and visits to museums and historic places.
7:59 pm
all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> next on "lectures in history," georgetown university professor michael kazin teaches a class on 1920's culture and society. he talked about prohibition and the exploits of the gangster al capone, we eventually went to prison on tax evasion charges. he also talked about the motion picture industry and the new production codes that sot to tamp down on sexuality and films. in addition, he addresses the scopes trial, where a tennessee high school teacher faced charges of unlawfully teaching evolution in a state-funded school. at 9:20 p.m. eastern, 6:20 p.m. pacific, american history tv tours reconstructed 101st airborne world war ii barracks with right hennessey.
8:00 pm
at 10:00 p.m. eastern, 7:00 pacific on real america, the spirit of hiroshima. a film that looks at the august of1945 atomic bombing hiroshima through stories of several survivors and the parents of two young children who were trying to make sense of the tragedy during the 50th anniversary. >> now in my last lecture and in our debate on monday, which i think went pretty well, you might have been left with a question in your minds, what was the legacy of world war i for american society? now the politics of the united states definitely veered to the right during the 1920s. republican presidents fairly conservative ones were electedly landslides, 1920, 1924, and 1928. congress was under the control of the republicans throughout the 1920s.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on