tv Kate Clifford Larson Walk With Me CSPAN November 7, 2021 3:50pm-5:01pm EST
cspan.org/history. >> welcome to tonight's program, the discussion of civil rights leader. my name is marsha and i am the director of programs at the public library center for history. and the libraries and the culture team details events and team is bringing to you climate and whispering libraries and much much more. and if you're curious about any of these intriguingly titled in programs hope you will visit. the website and find out more and tonight three women, will be
in conversation about the extraordinary and inspiring life. in the courage and spirit to lead the fight for racial justice and voting equality in mississippi. it is distressing that today across the country the voting rights are again threatened. in the story is all more timely. so tonight's program is inspired by the new book written by one of our titled walk with me, biography, a powerful book and beautifully written. i want to share that there will be a link in the chapter those interested in exploring this title further in the link is to a page on the west side of the local bookstore and community bookstore and partner read i
also want to share that the center talk to have the option to engage close captioning tonight and you click that button on the bottom of your screen and it finally, you're all invited to share your questions for our panelists tonight and type them throughout the program in the q&a box at the bottom of your screen towards the end the program, they will or they will take as many as there is time for. the me briefly tell you a little bit about the conversation partners and off to them. so doctor kate clifford larson is the author of the promised land and harriet tubman and hero and rosemary kennedy's daughter and the assassin. [background sounds].
and also with the plot to kill abraham lincoln and she served as an expert consultant on film scripts documentaries and history in numerous publications she's currently a brandeis woman studies research center scholar and her latest book as i mentioned is walk with me, a biography which is released just this month. karen hail is in auburn new york where she successfully pursues federal legislation to the homestead become one of the newest national park service pretty prior to that more than 30 years working on a political housing development including the federal appointment to implement the court order to desegregate the city of yonkers. earlier the program director for the national urban league and she's executive of the affordable housing office and
she six entered executive of the american homeowner education and counseling institute. thank you both for being here and finally, president of the institute for the exploration of the senate of history and cochair of the reparation committee for the diocese of new york. she's a public historian and educator in teaching and learning affiliations that the university and the college of education and teachers college and a host of nonprofit cultural and educational institutions throughout the country. so i want to thank all of you for being here with us tonight. and i would like to hear conversations and i will handed over to you. >> thank you marsha. hello kate and karen and we can all remember to unmute ourselves. i'm just so excited to be here
tonight and i'm particularly interested as was mentioned with the current-the right of the voting rights, it's horrendous to make as we think about it daily in 2021, then we think about the people who fought to give us those rights. and she was certainly one half an incredible position a prominent position in pushing this forward and so a lot of people know of her but they know of her from being sick and tired of being sick and tired. and sadly, that sort of the sins of it they sort of have a general idea notion of who she is and maybe they have had the experience of seeing her in old footage at the democratic convention in atlantic city fire off her wonderful statement.
but really on them than that, there seems to be sort of a superficial kind of understanding of fannie lou hamer and kate you have got under done an incredible job going deeper an offering an opportunity for all of us to find out so much more and to have an incredible intimate relationship with her. so we'll start with you kate and i am just one drink it, what inspired you to write the book. >> well is sort of easy and complicated but she inspired me to write the book. she such an amazing woman and you know she had been on my mind for 25 years. i know a few years ago when i was looking for a new project, she was there just like you know, knocking and saying, maybe it is about time so i decided to
start researching her life and just like i did. tubman, i became hooked on her passionate in her brilliance and what she did and i'm amazed at what she sacrificed to bring change in this country and i hope that everybody learned about her and celebrates her and carries on what she could no longer carry on after her death. >> what is media karen. >> in one of the photos that she was in, there's a real strong likeness to my own grandmother. similar and build in stature and you know, she was very bold in
her being. for me, i can remember, i am old, i can remember being visited by all that would into getting us to 1965, and what preceded it and it was a topic of conversation in our household. my parents and my grandparents, we lived together and it was a topic that the voting rights has happened. in a woman from mississippi and she singing the song that my family was grounded in their own christian faith and in the church and the freedom church in
the freedom songs. it was like grounded in me that this woman was a part of the charge, it was interesting because too fast forwarded, it was like she another woman did this groundbreaking work. and then i feel like unfortunately, they were forgotten because than the modern civil rights era came about and we had all of these people from whitney young to delay see add more. there would be one woman leader and not remembering or honoring or acknowledging it and the ways that should've been
acknowledged. an absolute dynamic change in the body of politics within the democratic party. ... ... everyone who could vote had to vote. i used to go and collect everyone's envelopes. even if you did not go to church, there are certain things, clothing was one, tithing was one of them. i thought that struggle was behind us quite frankly.
so, i really come at this like i do the work. i am so honored that kate would even like lead this charge. because she really has a sort of taken this thread to the next stage. you know, and then i see the women of today, need to be lifted up also. a lot of the boom is going on today are really being led by women who don't really want to be identified as leaders but they are the leaders. was faithful and fearless. and i see taylor coming from that same tradition of a faithful and fearless.
you have to have that. i am convinced of it. whom ever you worship, you have to have faithfulness and fearlessness to do the work and bring us into equality. and it is unfortunate. it is unfortunate that still today this country, there is a part of this country that seems irresolute and not granting full and equal rights to all of the people. but harriet would be so pleased is having this time having to explain a historical truly historical.
these struggles are very real today being held up by law enforcement those are recapitulation's of what happened. we have not really advanced to the extent we can look at hamer as a historical figure but rather we need to lift her up and share her far and wide in learn the lessons of faith and fearlessness. >> it is interesting you brought up the threads in the recurring themes and how they introduce the idea, when we were preparing and thinking of drawing a parallel between tubman and hamer, which are just unbelievable.
if you study those two women, especially if you studied them from cade's book and her work you will really come to have this incredible understanding. it is interesting. you bring up this point that is so fresh and real through hamer. it's in our lifetimes. if you are a product of the 1960s civil rights movement and to a certain degree because of women's rights and liberation came about and those who studied that fence are knowledgeable of it can really sense and feel her presence. and they tap on harriet who was 100 years before that. there is a just a little bit of a gap. yet, the more things change the more they remain the same. we are still fighting for the same rights over and over
again. may be getting closer may are getting more recognition. both of these stories are definitely women's stories. i like for kate and for us to get into a little bit more of this conversation about what exactly did hamer do? what was that that carried her through to be able to be resilience? to be resistance? to be able to be so committed to her community, to her people, not just her people but to everyone. this was going to benefit everyone and she recognize that she said she was tired but she kept getting up, kept fighting and kept going back. i am hoping we can talk about, where are the high points and what do we know her about? we do not have a lot of time together on this talk. we do it to intrigue people's
they go out and get the book and have book discussions and really give lou hamer the credit that she deserves this idea of violent violence from harriet to hamer to present time have been threaded throughout, throw it out to a conversation around those ideas. question i like to look at hamer we talk about her face her. she was born and raised in a very strict baptist household. her face, she had to survive
extreme poverty and circumstances in the mississippi delta and as a child as a teenager. her faith many times is what helped them survive denying hunger in their bellies. the violence the world around them and the discrimination and racism. i looked at a few moments in her life that transformed her. there were acts of violence against her. some people would have retreated, receded, hidden or run away. she about those things but turned to her faith and she. she would survive and asked her god, what should i do? give me a sign. i look at her being reborn a couple of times as a result of
the violence and the trauma that happened to her. at one point she says something to the effect she started emerging in the movement or commit herself to the movement, she told colleagues and audiences that she felt those white supremacy been trying to kill her all along. so what is the difference? she might as will go out and fight as long as she had breath and that is what she did. she changed people's lives because she was so honest and authentic and direct. she did not mince words but didn't matter if they're black or white she called them on the carpet there genuineness. that's what she did she really did. >> it's really interesting the
way tubman had to leave where she was born, in order to do her work that changed america to make a difference. and that hamer had to stay where she was born to change america and make a difference. but i think the key is, both of these women were incredibly smart. they had an intellect that came from another place that we do not often honor and acknowledge. but they had an intestinal fortitude, incredible determination, amazing wits, real genius of pure genius in their being. one knowing she had to leave to make the difference meet
value of moving from the lands of the enslaved, to the north. and then one in the deeper self knowing the deeper self was not left behind, she needed to stay to make the difference that needed to happen. imagine if she did not do the work she did, i do not know the beast still loud and clear. i think it's really interesting that they knew they were both in tune with what was going to make the difference. not anybody coaching them one way or the other but they knew it instinctively. >> that is a great observation. now that you say that, hamer saw that herself. she knew once she got involved in the movement she could have
moved to washington d.c. or new york city and been part of the movement there and some structured organization. but she chose to stay in the community in mississippi. she knew the needs there were so great. and also, she was fortified by the student coordinating committee, all of the young people that came to mississippi. they were willing to go through being hungry, and the violence, confronting an enduring the violence. when some of her neighbors were not willing to do that. so she found being in there on the landscape in mississippi it was transforming people from a white and they were going to take that with them someplace else. she actually said those student violating committee students were for her the new
kingdom on earth. they were more christian like thin some of the people she knew in her world. and that motivated her that if they could be so moved and driven, she was going to show them the way and be part of that movement. corrects the students coming from all over geographically. primarily got white students coming down from the north, who had never been in the deep south and had only heard about it and encountered something they perhaps were not ready for. you also had young folks who were from the region and you also had students who are of sort of the upper elitist black south if you will. so i am wondering if we can
talk about any class issues that came into play during these efforts to try to move things forward? we are torn but the two women again thinking of tubman and hamer, about the intelligence, the brilliant and that genius they had, natural organizers and natural risktakers, natural folks who relied so heavily in a greater power to get them through and having that incredible commitment, it needs to be done, and just do it kind of attitude. but there were people who did not necessarily like this one for doing that. and they were not expecting these folks to be as exceptional. they were the exceptional ones. how is that that you are going to have these commoners that cannot think intelligently for to the standards and they have become measured against. so, can we talk a little bit about the internalized classes
and the difference between the deep south in the south? >> go ahead karen. >> no, you go kate. >> tubman could not read or write. so her literacy was an issue for elites in the abolition movement let's say. but she had many other literacies and because of her strong faith and amazing genius and personality, she navigated that class environment. because she had work to do and she's like okay, frederick douglass, if you do not have time for me today, i'm going to go rescue somebody or going to do something else. and that's just not frederick douglass he was of a different class. that played out in their relationship. she had a same thing should a
sixth-grade education, but her genius was so vast. she lived in a world workmen white and black men were in control in their own world and elite men did not want hamer rising to the top. they thought she was uncouth and unsophisticated. they did not want her image in the national news, and the newspapers on television. they wanted to be the one doing that. she did the work, she was on the ground she was bearing the brunt of all of that violence. and she was determined to bring the people up. sometimes the elite did not see them or hear the voices of the average mississippi delta farmer, that is the truth. >> i was going to say that with tubman, she knew how to own the room.
when she needed to get her point across, she knew how we know the photograph kate you and i were educated of the young harriet. she knew what to wear to go to stewards manchin or one of the abolitionist to get her point across. i know from the work i have done on suffrage, they knew they needed her more than she needed them. because she could articulate that message of women becoming a part of the franchise, even though it would not include her. even though she was an owner of property. and i think that is a part of the beauty of both tubman and hamer as they had an ability to see an america that was
beyond the current circumstance which is really hard because i don't have that ability. but they had that ability. that is what they worked toward. they did not state stuck in current conditions. and then there were, as far as the elitism, there is the exception of a bob moses who had his education who did move south. i think he went from new york, d.c., then atlanta. and then he realized he needed to go deeper self. because what happened, was the south and then there is the deeper self there. and where the real change that needed to happen that would galvanize every one was the work that needed to happen in
the deeper self. there were some men who were willing to be led by the circumstances and by personality for change. i just think that both hamer and tubman saw an america that no one else saw quite frankly. they were willing to put their lives on the line to make that happen. >> i think it's interesting you are saying two women were capable of envisioning a future of an america that would live up to the ideals of the constitution and the declaration of independence et cetera. i am wondering if the fact they were working with abolitionists in the case of harriet and in the case of frannie she had the groups and
the diversity of people that were starting to question that which had been taught to them as a means. i am wondering if you think these were the fuel that could help to keep them going and help them to believe this would not be the case. young people, women were outside, having accepting that maybe not except them completely and fully given them a bit of a platform and actually listen to the plea and also knowing, and god's eyes this isn't right. that just ain't right, folks. you call yourselves christians they have that sense of that ain't right. so they pushed forward and tried to hit people sort of morally, but also economically. they recognize where this was going economically.
and just because the humanity, looking for the humanity in every single person. i may not necessarily appreciate what you do and what you have done to my family is a white supremacist or moving in the muck of white supremacy maybe you don't want to be in it but you are in it. but i can see you are a human being and i want that recognition too and i want that for my people and for all people. i am just wondering if you think something like those shifts made their appearances of course it was a lot of their work and they're doing to get to those points but could that have been a possibility to help them to envision and realize oh wait this is possible. >> i know with tubman, she was fortunate to have met some of the most powerful abolitionists in the country at the time. while it took her a little bit
to trust them, once they earned her trust, it motivated her, supported her and energized her. those relationships were very important to her. some of them she became lifelong friends with. they were part of her transformation and her rising and being able to do more of what she wanted to do. it's absolute the same thing. she was frustrated, she did a few things that had to do with the civil rights movement and trying to get local people interested and pushing for some rights and trying to make a difference in their world. it was not going anywhere. she did not have the tools and mississippi, the tools were not there. so when nick came to rule bill, it was the moment for her. she knew they had come and it was her one opportunity to try
to see if she could do something. when they gave her the tools to try to register to vote that is all she needed. she could see they wanted to work with her. they were not going to lead her, they're giving her tools. that changed her life that really changed her life. those young people looked up to her. let karen you said she owned the room. and while she may have understood she did have a powerful voice, she had no idea she could own the room with kids and young people coming from around the country who were well educated somewhere very well off. they just looked at her in awe and that empowered her. she knew she was making a difference. >> i was going to add to that and say, this is just my very own personal views, when you
have a woman who could neither read nor write you have a woman who had a sixth grade education who is doing a lot of keeping the records and a lot of the administrative work to keep all of the plantation running the way it needed to with a sixth-grade education, those are the only opportunities they had for how we value formal education and how we learn in this country. there had to be something else. there had to be something on the inside that manifested itself on the outside with their actions. it was like in their heads they had deliberate moves that
had to be made in a certain time and in a certain place in order to make the difference. and, just a level of commitment and contentment, may not all be solved in their lifetime. but there would be these in major steps moving towards the promise of america. and i think that is an amazing thing that the promise of america was in there being, now how does that happen? how does that happen? >> right. >> when you see your people being beaten and mistreated and living on the margins but you still believe in the promise of america.
and for me i have to juxtapose all of that with what is happening today. i think history is great. but i have often said history just for history's sake does not mean a thing unless we can apply that history in a way that has practical applications. kate is a great historian and i loved her. she is grappling to this one is on the "new york times" everyday. and there is something that
grabbed hold of kate even that said this book must be rich in. it is a book of our time it is a book for young people in particular. they need to be fortified by this book and i really truly believe, as deep as i can that people are in certain places at certain times should carry the message forward and to continue the beating of the drums. the drum beats on this book is the drum of our time. >> i think that's absolute correct in bringing the issues altogether. the book is clearly timely. it deals with the issues of violence and women. it deals with the issues of the voting rights situation. it deals with the issues of climate and geography and what is happening in these spaces.
it deals with the issues of housing. and education. it is all in there completely and totally is right up there. so, and thinking about, kate, how was it you were able to organize the book? with all of these issues going on did you feel you were in some kind of like a time warp tornado spinning forward? i don't know what you were and but it must've been an incredible space you say wait a second, this was happening and why are we doing it again why can't we get out of this? really choosing that point that resonated with you. needed to be spoken about and i would also ask you, if you can just give the folks a little bit of a heads up about what i think is most difficult chapter in the book which is the winona chapter.
>> 's farms are biography karen is right. what has exploded on the scene in the past few years had not quite happen. white supremacy was always there, that was not anything different. but then as i started doing the research and writing this it was like oh wow, people using the same language today that they were using back and then to keep african-americans from voting and giving the same reasons why. it was freaky to me that this was happening. i think for me the book is important because it also is instructive on organizing, community organizing, movement organization and it can't always be just elite. there are people like sandy lou hamer and our communities today that need support. they are able to rise up if people recognize them as the
one that can be the leader. was recognized by bob moses immediately he knew she was going to take the reins and mississippi. there are people like that today, we have to pay attention to them and support them. and understand there will be different views and complications along the way. this has happened before. there is a blueprint on both sides of this. we need to be aware of it. it is timely, very timely. and i did not anticipate that. but i'm very grateful the book is out now. and as far as the book is concerned, i wanted to make it is authentic to the any lou as possible. having come to know her, researching her and interviewing people who knew her, i felt it was my responsibility to reveal some of the things that happened to her life.
and one of the was this horrific beating she received in winona county mississippi jail in 1963 that transformed her life, changed her life it nearly killed her. the chapter is very difficult because it details what happens almost minute by minute. i did that because i had all of the fbi files but had all the interviews. i had details that had not been available before. and i know hamer would want everyone to know exactly what happened to her. so that is the warning. but you have to read it because she survived it. and she would want everyone to read it and understand what happened in some of that is still happening today so do not look away. you have to read it and let it sink in. and then we can have more conversations about it.
>> karen, and reading the book what new insights that you take away from the story that you had known before? and what perhaps was the most troubling, difficult to understand, sit with, rest with and what gave you hope? >> a lot of it was deeply personal for me. you know, i can -- when she was given that hysterectomy without her permission, that was horrific. and she wanted children so badly. that was deeply personal for me because i remember as a young woman, i had gotten one
of those letters that said i have to get a mammogram you go back and get the letters scare the big gigabyte são tomé, you go back and so for a couple of years i kept constantly going to be screened again, again, and again. i was able to talk to a haitian american ob/gyn who said, who shared with me how i had a grandmother who had a double mastectomy. but she lived like another 30 years after that. when my doctor looked at her records, my grandmother did not have breast cancer. it's what they did to black women. it was what they did to black women.
it was the easy way out. cut it out. get rid of it. so, when i say this book has hit me personally, i mean very personally. and that is happening, it's not everybody needs healthcare it's the quality of the healthcare that everybody needs. so i am glad it's going to be suing the state of texas. okay, that is important to me. that is extremely important to me. when i was doing my work in the city of yonkers and i was hired when they were found to be in contempt of federal court amir being find a dollar a day and the fines got although up to 4 million and something dollars a day. that is when i was appointed by the federal court to come in and do the work.
and i with you all the time for that was a lonely time for me outside of my family because a lot of black people needed the job they had. they were afraid to speak up. afraid to come to public meetings. even though i was there to help the condition, these people did not want to be so identified. there is an incident where someone accidentally was killed off the back of a garbage truck with the truck ran over. the step happens, it's real everything does not make it into the headlines. so you know, i relate to this book, i try to do my walk as best i can.
as best as i can for the hammer book becomes another guidepost for me. and i really think, there is something there is something incredible about these women their blackness they did not try to hide. who's the better looking? who is the fair complected? to be the face of. and i so appreciate harry tubman. i so appreciate the any lou hammer. it shows that in all of our blackness, which we have to
wear every day, these women were able to lead. they are exemplars of hell here black skin can catapult you to your greatness. and again, they have loving hearts. you have to know the compassion they had to have. not only for themselves as black people but for whites also are there trying to make america better. this was not just going to help black people move the needle towards freedom move the needle, this is mostly helping white people. it is so hard. they do not understand we come across people who do not understand there is this a possibility if we truly believe in the promise of america and the constitution is not perfect. there's issues with the federal society it is not
perfect. it is there for us to improve upon. and they knew that. they knew that with no education. and they know with a sixth grade education. so what the -- i won't say it. [laughter] there are people who learned from harvard and yale inter- senate who don't get up at. >> they don't get it or they don't want to get it. >> later advancing their own political career. they're not looking at the greater good. they are not looking how to improve our constitution. they do not see, inclusion is going to happen. i was listening to a report
last evening were the reporter was saying how all of these movements are beginning to now add up. they are the small victories are becoming bigger, and bigger, and vigor. it is going to happen that would be my message. it is going to happen. i may not be here, they may not be here but it is going to happen. so why not embrace this if not for yourself, if you love your children and their children yet on board you want to be on the right side of this because that is a better america. >> i agree. >> it doesn't seem these two women were also about family in the deepest sense of the word and operated from a place to make for improvements, make for hope, make for love, make
for opportunities. and it started with family. it's kind of like micro to the macro and so on and so forth. but they also came to realize that family is everything. emily is the nuclear what i've got but you are my family. susie down the street you are my family. they embrace and adopted everyone there everyone's aunt, everyone's a big mama's, they work everyone's a nursemaid's. they were everything to the community. i am wondering if you can sort of speak to the idea of this nurturing that was a part of who they were? there was a nurturing but there is a knowing and the ability to lead without necessarily calling yourself a leader. understand the whole idea of the collective. we don't get anywhere if we are not working within the collective spirit.
could we talk about that a little? >> i know that is very much true with hammer. her mother was an amazing woman, ella who did everything to protect your children. to protect hammer, race or to become she became. we have to give credit to ella. but hammer learned about the church halls and that women would gather together raise money for this organize for that or help this family that was struggling more than the rest of them were. hammer and the little girl would go to these meetings and she learned really the basics of democracy there. they could not explain fit anywhere else but in that church hall, that is what they were learning. she was learning from those women. as she grew up, she became those women. so there is something very
specific about women and black women in particular in the black church that are learning this community and expanding the concept of family far greater. that is where hammer really shined. she had the genius of. there was something about her, i don't know what but there is something about her that made her that much different that she could go on and be a leader in the community. >> i know it for tubman, when she established the home for the ages, she had eight women as managers. that was really remarkable that she understood it was not enough for her to build these cottages so the indigent former slave could age in dignity and grace. as she needed to pass it on so
these women would be the people who would provide the governance. okay? that is remarkable. she understood about sharing it and passing it on. on the tubman side, kate, we struggled with her core values faith, family, freedom, community, self-determination, equality, social justice all of these things are the same for hammer. the core values are exactly the same. and they have made an indelible imprint, an indelible imprint on our progress, on this journey that you know, we are not where we
want to be. but it gives me great hope to know that we can get there as long as when we acknowledge the tubman's and the hammers of our time and support the broader community, you know they were servant leaders. and i think that the different leadership style. so amazing and so different they believed in servant leadership. and you know, like my thing is, we have a lot of leaders we don't have a lot of servers for we do not have leaders who will wash somebody's feet. they were the kind of leaders that would. >> which ties into a question we have from lisa who asks. who do you think this hammer would tap as the new
generation family lou a new type of servant leader type if you will have our black lives matters movement with stacy abrams we have folks out here, who do you think? >> she was all about young people and so certainly stacy abrams. i think she might let the leaders rise up themselves. she would not kind of anoint anybody. she would be supportive once that person kind of arises but she would be there to support and help move the needle forward. there are a lot of movements now cooks that would be what bob moses did in casting her noticing the genius and saying i need to do more of this or
that. >> i'm reluctant to even name anybody producing issue name anybody there's a charge on twitter, instagram and the other. i support all of the sisters. i will say this about stacy abrams. both of her parents are methodist ministers. there is a grounding that comes. and they did not have much and they had a big family. there is a grounding that comes from having faith in your core. and that is what i see as a common thread between tubman and hammer, and stacy abrams. >> we are talked about this idea of leaders, we talk in preparation for the conversation that black lives matter sort of operating on
that same type of model if you will. so they are finding ways to adjust to different types of circumstances that arrive, which can likely be very useful, very helpful innate means of survival to get through all the stuff being thrown at them in so many different ways, just trying to choose your battles, pick your battles. what is going to stick? where my going to give my voice the loudest? and speaking of voices, we know hammer was known for her incredible voice music, folk songs, played a major role. can we talk about music in her life and the title of your book? >> soap music was always a part of her life. she was identified with having a beautiful voice even as a
little girl. it was in her home, in the fields, everywhere around her. she grew up singing group with the delta blues which is the birth site of the delta blues was 6 miles from her home. in church, the spirituals, the gospel music, so it infused her life. so, everyone links hammer with this song, this little light of mine which she sang a lot during rallies and things like that during the movement. but her favorite song was called a walk with me. it's about asking jesus to walk with me, support me, help me, guide me, give me strength. she is saying that in the wenona jail after she been brutally beaten and assaulted. she was barely conscious and she asked her cellmate to sing
the song with her, walk with me. that fortified her to make it through the night and survived that beating. that is why it's the title of the book, walk with me. >> looks like we also have a question from esther who says that hammer died young in her final years being so difficult, what kind of support that she received from the movement in her final years? >> she did not receive a lot of support from the movement. the movement had fallen apart by the 1970s. a lot of the young people had gone in different directions. some got involved in a black panther movement and other movement went on to graduate school, to jobs and to do other things. they left mississippi. some of the leaders in mississippi went on to organize in a different way than hammer was organizing.
people to plant gardens, grow their own food, raise hogs so they would have meat for the winter time. and health care, she wanted healthcare for everybody. it was not good healthcare and accessing it was very difficult and expensive. she wanted universal preschool for every child. she was struggling for all the issues we are still struggling for that. she understood those basic things in her community could be replicated throughout the country. but her support system really fell away and it is tragic anyway. but a lot of those people went on to do great things in other parts of the country. that left her still in mississippi struggling with that economy, that environment. and it still in the bottom five for healthcare.
and for education et cetera in the country so mississippi is still struggling. >> is there a landmark to show her she's from and recognize her? >> yes there is a monument to her to gravesite in louisville, mississippi. there is a beautiful statue of her and she is buried there next to the freedom farm she helped establish in the early 1970s. so you can go and visit her. but the area is still very much depressed very much. >> can you talk a little bit more about that as she went down to experience the space and what kind of insights didn't give you and how did it inform your approach to writing the book? >> so i did not make it to mississippi because of covid and floods. which is the bad thing about this epidemic. i had to cancel trips down to mississippi and that mighty
mississippi river flooding did not help a couple years ago. so i was not able to go and see that landscape. i watched lots of documentaries, videos online about the environment of course talk to family members of her and people who knew her who live there. so that i could fill in those gaps. but i did not go. but they all said the same thing it is still very much a depressed area. >> throughout the conversation we have noted just how much of violence as a part of the history in the story. we talked about the connections and relationships that were so important to hamer and tubman. we talked about exploring activism and the engagement and organizing ways. what kind of messages can each of you leave the audience as having been inspired by both
tubman and hammer in the hopes people can pick up on that energy and work to perhaps emulate or honor at least two amazing women. >> i can say it right away, go ahead. >> i'll take the last word. [laughter] >> i think the hammer book is a new opportunity. it is a new opportunity for all of us to learn, not only women, but men and young people in particular who may be did not know that it was not that long ago we were having voting rights in particular. and it young people who
perhaps did not know the extent to which so much of this country still lives at the margin. still lives at the margin. and that, you know, when we begin to connect our center cities with rural america, we will be better off. >> i agree. >> a lot of my work and other spaces that is the big issue, people who live in the metropolis have to have a healthier, better relationship with people who live in rural america if we really want to overcome the social justice issue that we have been talking about for the last hour. but i would say this book is a touchdown. i really encourage people to read it, read it not to sift through it read it in a measured way that allows your
self to take a step back and see how you are connecting up with the various chapters of the book. because it is so timely and it is so relevant. >> thank you karen. i am just briefly going to say, watching off what she just said, i hope people will read it and recognize the values hammer had or similar to the values we all have. but she took action. so, and reading this i'm asking people to interrogate themselves and asked them, just like karen said, see what you can do, what you are thinking about what it means to be an american and what your role is in making this a better world any better democracy to fulfill the declaration of independence. think hammer can show us a little bit about how we can do that. do not be afraid to interrogate yourself and look
at the world around you, thank you. >> thank you so much for this amazing conversation. and karen hill, to the audience i do hope you are inspired and i do hope you will take the time to get to know fannie lou hammer, researcher, read about her, live with her, walk with her. it will really be a transformative experience for you. so thank you very much and thank you to the center for having us. >> thank you to all of