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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  June 18, 2021 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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06/18/21 06/18/21 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from neyork, this is democracy now! vice pres. harris: throughout history, juneteenth has been known by many names -- jubilee day, freedom day, liberation day, emancipation day, and today, a national holiday. i may cut the first african-american vice president kamala harris announcing president biden signed
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legislation to make juneteenth a federal holiday, to mark the day in 1865 when enslaved people in galveston, texas, learned of their freedom more than two years after the emancipation proclamation. we will speak to the writer and poet clint smith about juneteenth and his new book "how the word is passed: a reckoning with the history of slavery acro america." >> i grandfather's grandfather was enslaved. when my three-year-old son sits on my grandfather's lap, i imagine my grandfather sitting on his grandfather's lap and i am how this history we tell ourselves was so long ago was in fact not that long ago. amy: plus, we look at another june 19, 1838, when jesuit priests who ran georgetown university sold 272 enslaved men, women, and children to pay
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off the school's debt. the just woods recently pledged $100 million to help us lindens of the enslaved. loucks our ancestors waited patiently through centuries for us to come to the table of acknowledgment. i am mélisande short-colomb. here i am. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. president biden has signed legislation creating a new federal holiday for juneteenth to mark the end of slavery in the united states. the celebration marks june 19, the day in 1865 that enslaved people in galveston, texas, learned of the emancipation proclamation -- signed by abraham lincoln more than two years prior -- and that the civil war had ended.
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a white house signing ceremony thursday was kicked off by kamala harris, the first african american vice president. vice pres. harris: we are gathered here in a house built by enslaved people. we are footsteps away from where president abraham lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. and we are here to witness president joe biden establish juneteenth as a national holiday. amy: after headlines, we'll discuss the history of juneteenth and the legacy of slavery with the writer and poet clint smith. senate minority leader mitch mcconnell signaled thursday republicans will use the filibuster to block the "for the people act," a sweeping bill to restore protections of the 1965 voting rights act, which was gutted by the supreme court in 2013.
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mcconnell's pledge came as senate republicans rejected a compromise offer of a watered-down voting bill offered by west virginia democrat joe manchin. manchin and arizona's kyrsten sinema have refused calls from within their party to eliminate the filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation, an infrasucture bl toombat catarophic cmate chae, and otheprioriti of the den adnistrati. the hoe of repsentativ has voteto repeasweepingar powers gnted to e presidt in 200ahead ofhe u.s.-d invasi and occation ofraq. thbill to peal theumf, o auorizatiofor usof milita force, s sponsod by californiaemocrati congressmber barra lee. on stember 14,001, days after al qaeda attac on the u.s., lee spoke on the house
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floor opposing military action against afghanistan. she was the lone voice of dissent on that day and went on to oppose the iraq invasion in 2003. congresswoman lee spoke again from the house floor thursday just ahead of the 268-161 vote in favor of repealing the aumf. >> 18 years ago in front of the infamous mission accomplished banner backdrop, former president bush told the nation the major combat operations in iraq have ended. 2011, president obama brought our combat troops home and yet this authority remains on the books vulnerable to misuse because congress has not acted to remove it. the bush administration misled the american people by saying there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq, that iraq posed an imminen threat and by drawing a false connection between the tragic events of 9/11 and saddam hussein. those lies and misinformation
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had deadly consequences. the mistakes continue to haunt us today. amy: the bill now heads to the senate, where republican minority leader mitch mcconnell has promised to oppose a repeal of the aumf. brazil reported another 2300 deaths. this comes as a brazilian senate inquiry into president jair bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic shows his government failed to respond to 53 out of 81 communications sent by pfizer offering to negotiate the sale of covid vaccines to brazil, leading to a disastrous delay. in the united kingdom, coronavirus infections have surged to a four-month high even though 63% of people have received at least one dose of a vaccine -- a higher rate than in the united states. british officials say the delta coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly, especially among
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unvaccinated youth. this week, prime minister boris johnson extended public health restrictions for another month. israeli warplanes bombed several sites in the gaza strip overnight in the second breach of the ceasefire that ended israel's 11-day bombardment of the besieged palestinian territory in may. isra's mitary said e striketargeted hamas in retaliation for incendiary balloons launched from gaza. there were nimmediate ports of casualties. israel's assault last month killed at least 253 palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded more than 1900 people. at least 12 people in israel , including two children, were killed by rockets fired from gaza. u.n. human rights chief michelle bachelet said israel's actions may have constituted war crimes. in the west bank, hundreds of palestinians rallied thursday at the funeral of ahmed shamsa -- a 16-year-old shot in the head by israeli forces at a protest
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wednesday in the town of beita. he was killed less than a week after israeli soldiers shot dead 15-year-old mohammed hamayel at another protest against the expansion of an illegal israeli settlement in beita. local palestinians say israeli settlers have repeatedly raided their town to chop down olive trees and vandalize their property with impunity. in iran, voters are at the polls today to elect a new president. ebrahim raisi, the conservative head of the judiciary and close ally of supreme leader ayatollah i khamenei, is widely expected to win. he is under sanctions. the new president will succeed hassan rouhani at a crucial time as talks continue to relaunch the iran nuclear deal, which the u.s. unilaterally withdrew from in 2008 under president trump, reimposing
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sweeping sanctions on iran. in a rare acknowledgment, north korean leader kim jong-un said wednesday his nation faces widespread food shortages due to international sanctions, the covid-19 pandemic, and crop failures caused by last summer's typhoons. the world food program says about 40% of north korea's population is undernourished. the intercept reports a top official in the outgoing bolivian government plotted to deploy hundreds of mercenaries from a u.s. military base near miami to overturn the results of bolivia's election in october of 2020. though the coup plot was never carried out, documents and recorded phone calls reveal the former bolivian minister of defense, luis fernando lópez, discussed the plan with joe pereira, a former civilian administrator with the u.s. army. pereira, who has boasted of links to u.s. special forces, promised lópez he could mobilize
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thousands of foreign mercenaries to join elite bolivian military units, renegade police squadrons, and vigilante mobs to prevent bolivia's movement to socialism party from retaking power. >> i can get up to 10,000 men with no problem. i don't think we need 10,000. all special forces. i can also bring about 350 what we call low enforcement professionals to guide the police. amy: socialist candidate luis arce went on to win the bolivian presidency in the first round of voting last october, putting an end to the far-right government which ousted president evo morales in a u.s.-backed coup in november 2019. in a 7 to 2 vote, the supreme court upheld the affordable care act for a third time after a challenge by texas and 17 other republican-led states. the group argued the individual
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mandate was unconstitutional after congress did away with the penalty for not having coverage as part of the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy. around 31 million americans benefit from president's obama's signature 2010 legislation. the court did not rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, but found the plaintiffs could not prove they are harmed by the aca in its current iteration. this upper case, the supreme court ruled in flavor of nestlé and cargill after six former child slave laborers accused the massive corporations of complicity in their trafficking and enslavement. the men were trafficked from mali as children. a former acting solicitor general under president obama who represented nestlé and cargill argued they should not be held responsible because they
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are corporations, not individuals. amy: in a blow for lgbtq rights, the supreme court also ruled thursday a catholic agency in philadelphia that screens foster parents does not have to abide by city law and consider potential lgbtq foster parents. in other supre court news, advocates for abolishing the death penalty are calling out the hypocrisy of the biden administration after the justice department requested the high court reinstate the execution of boston marathon bomber dzhokhar tsarnaev. this, despite bidens pledge on the campaign trail, of eliminating federal capital punishment. meanwhile, in south carolina, two executions have been put on hold until the prisoners can be offered a choice of being killed by electrocution or a firing squad, as required by south carolina's recently passed capital punishment law. as a record heatwave continues to scorch the western united
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states, with some 40 million people facing over 100-degree weather, wildfires continue to rage in the southwest. in arizona, the massive telegraph fire merged with the mescal wildfire and has burned over 200,000 acres. this comes as the arizona legislature approved a new funding package that will pay prisoners just $1.50 an hour to fight fires. to see our interviews with california prisoner firefighters, visit and those are some of the cash in hong kong, police have arrested five editors and executives of the apple daily newspaper, accusing them of colluding with foreign powers and violation of a sweeping national security law. the apple daily, which has been one of the most outspoken defenders of hong kong protests against chinese one party will come about to continued his reporting but media and most report other news outlets will now think twice before resting chinese authorities. this is hong kong professor.
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>> of course a definite impact on the press freedom here in hong kong because, first of all it will create a chilling effect. although the government denies that. journalist working for news media will be scared. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. when we come back, we look at the new federal holiday, juneteenth, with the author clint smith, author of "how the word is passed: a reckoning with the history of slavery across america." stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
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"hands on the plow" the basis for the civil rights song "eyes on the prize." this is democracy now!,, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. on thursday, president biden signed legislation to create a new federal holiday to commemorate juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the united states. the juneteenth celebration dates back to the last days of the civil war when union soldiers landed in galveston, texas, on june 19, 1865, with news that the war had ended and slaves learned they were free 2.5 years after the emancipation proclamation. juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since martin luther king jr. day was created nearly 40 years ago. president biden spoke at a ceremony at the white house on thursday. pres. biden: juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of
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slavery and subjugation and a promise of a brighter morning to come. this is a day a profound weight and profound power. a day which we remember the moral stain, the trouble told us that took on the country and continues to take. what local america's original sin. amy: the bill to make juneteenth a federal holiday was passed by unanimous vote in the senate, but in the house, 14 republican -- all white men -- voted against the holiday. at thursday's ceremony, vice president kamala harris spoke about how enslaved people in texas were held for over two years after abraham lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. vice pres. harris: for more than two years, the enslaved people
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of texas were kept in servitude. for more than two years, they were intentionally kept from their freedom. for more than two years. and then on that summer day, 156 years ago, the enslaved people of texas learned the news. they learned they were free and they claimed their freedom. it was indeed an important day. amy: to talk more about juneteenth and the legacy of slavery, we are joined by the writer and poet clint smith. he is author of the new book "how theord is passed: a reckoning with the history of slavery across america." he is also a staff writer at the atlantic. clint smith, welcome to democracy now! it is great to have you with us. >> thank you for having me. amy: one of the chapters in her book is "galveston."
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galveston island. that is where juneteenth comes from. can you tell us the story in full of juneteenth and your feelings today -- this is the first day the federal holiday is being celebrated because to 19 actually falls on a saturday. >> yes, so as you mentioned, i went to galveston, texas. i have been writing this book for four years and i went to years ago and it was marking the 40th anniversary of when texas had made juneteenth a state holiday. lick out edward senior, legislator -- the late out edward senior, legislator, turn juneteenth into holiday, state holiday in texas. i went because i wanted to spend time with people -- the actual descendants of those who have been freed by general order number three.
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it was a remarkable moment because i was in this place on this island come on this land with people for whom juneteenth was not an abstraction, was not a performance, not merely a symbol but part of their tradition and lineage, heirloom that have been passed down and made their lives possible. i think i gain a more intimate sense of what that holiday meant and broadened were generally -- you spoke to how it was more than 2.5 years after the emancipation proclamation and it was an additional two months after general robert e. lee surrendered effectively ending the civil war. it was an additional two months after the civil war was effectively over. for me when i think of juneteenth, part of what i think about is both -- it is this moment in which we mourn the
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fact freedom was kept for hundreds of thousands of enslaved people for years and months after it had been attained by them and at the same time, celebrating the end of one of the most egregious things this count is ever done. i think what we are experiencing right now is the sort of mayor thought ocognitive dissidents in a way that is reflective of the black excretes as a whole because we are in a moment where we had the first new federal holiday in over 40 years at a moment that is important to celebrate juneteenth and celebrate the end of slavery and have it recognize as a national holiday. the same time that is happening, we have estate section effort across the country that is attempting to prevent teachers from teaching the very thing that helps young people understand the context in which juneteenth emerges. i think we recognize as a symbol, juneteenth is -- it matters. it is important, but clearly it is not enough.
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the fact that juneteenth has happened is reflective, a shift in our public consciousness, but also the work that black texans d black people across the country have done for decades to make this moment possible. amy: can you explain more would happen in galveston in 1865? and even as you point out what the emancipation proclamation actually did 2.5 years before? >> right. the emancition proamation is often widely misundetood document. it did not wholesale free the enslaved people. it did not free is like people under the union. there were several border states part of the union that continued to keep their enslaved laborers, kentucky, delaware, safelit missouri. it was a military edict that was attempting to free enslaved people in confederate territory. but the only way that edict would be enforced is union soldiers went and took that territory.
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part of what many enslavers realized, and correctly, texas would be one of the last frontiers that unn soldiers would be able to come in and force the emancipation proclamation -- if they eve made it there the first place because this was two years prio to the inn of the civil war. you enslavers from virginia and north carona and all of the states and at the upper south who brought their enslaved laborers and relocated to texas in ways that increase the population of enslaved people in texas by the tens of thousands. when gordon granger comes to texas, he is making clear and letting people know the emancipation proclamation had been enacted in ways because the topography of texas and because of how spread out in rural and far part from different ecosystems and information many people were, a lot of enslaved people did not know the emancipation proclamation had happened. some did not even know generally had surrendered too much prior.
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part of what this district is making clear to the 250,000 enslaved people in texas they had been graded freedom 2.5 years prior and the war this was fought overhead inttwo months before. amy: at their sites presidential signing ceremony, joe biden got down on his knee to greet opal lee, the 94-year-old activist known as the gramother of juneteenth. this is biden speaking. pres. biden: as a child in texas, she and her family would celebrate juneteenth. juneteenth 1939 when she was 12 years old, a white mob torched her family home. but such hate never stopped her anymore that is stopped the majority of you that i'm looking at from this podium. over the course of decades, she has made it her mission to see that this day came.
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it was honest a singular mission. she has walked for miles and miles literally and figuratively to bring attention to juneteenth. to make the state possible. amy: and this is opal lee speaking at harvard school of public health earliethis week. >> i want -- i don't want people to think juneteenth is justne day. there isoo much educational component. we have too mucho do. i advocate that we do juneteenth we celebrate freedom from the 19th of june to the foth of july. that would be celeating freedom. do you understand? if we were able to do that. amy: and that is opal lee, considered the grandmother of juneteenth. clint, one of the things you do in your book as you introduce us
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to grassroots activists. this does not come from the top, but years of organizing as you point out in galveston itself and with people -- not that there is anyone like opal lee. >> part of what this book is doing is an attempt to uplift the stories of people who don't often get the attention that they deserved in how they shaped the historical record. that means the public is trained toork at thesetruggle sites and plantations, museum curators, activists and organizers, people like who push e city council and mayor of new orleans to make fact in 2017 statues would come down. when i think about someone like miss opal lee, part of what i think about is our proximity to this period of history. slavery existed for 250 years in this country and it has only not existed for 150.
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the way i was taught about slavery growing up in a limitary schoolwe were made to feel as if it is something that happened in the direction age -- jurassic age, dinosaurs. but the one who opened the national museum of african-american history and culture alongside the obama family in 2016 was the daughter of an enslaved person, not the granddaughter or the great-granddaughter or great great down daughter -- great great granddaughter. open this museum in 2016. clearly for so many people, there are just people are alive today who are raised by, new or working community, who loved, people were born into bondage. it is history we tell ourselves was a long time ago, was it that long ago at all. activists and grassroot publi historians and organizers across the country recognized if we don't fully understand and account for this history that actually wasn't that long ago,
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under the scope of human history , only just yesterday, they we won't fully understand how our contemporary -- we won't understand how slavery shaped the political, economic, social infrastructure of this country. we have a more acute understanding of how slavery shaped the infrastructure of this country, are more able to effectively look around you and see the reason one community was one way and another community was another way is not because of the people in those communities, but because of what has been done to those communities generation after generation after generation. i think that essential to the sort of public that agave does 70 of these organizers -- pedagogue that so many of these organizers are trying to bring attention as it true point at the more holy and honestly about the legacy of slavery have been doing. amy: during an interview on cnn, democratic hogs member alexandria ocasio-cortez called out the 14 republican congressmembers, all white men, who voted against making juneteenth a federal holiday.
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>> this is pretty consistent with i think the republican base and whether it is trying to fight against teaching basic history around racism, the role of racism in u.s. history to -- there's a direct line from that to denying juneteenth. the date that is widely recognized and celebrated as a symbolic -- a day to represent the end of slavery in the united stes. amy: if you could respd to that, click smith, and also the fact on the same day yesterday, the senate minority leader said they would not be supporting the "for the people" act. >> absolutely. i think very clearly the critical race theory, the idea of it being used as a bogeyn and misrepresented and distorted by people who don't even know critical race theory is.
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we should be there the people calling critical race theory is just -- that is the language the're using to talk about the idea of teaching any sort of history that rejects the idea that america is a single elite exceptional place. and that we should not account for the hiory of harm thatas been enacted to create opportunities your generational wealth for minds of people at the direct expense of millions and millions of other people across generations. part of what is happening in the country with regard to the ever to push back against teaching of history critical race theory and the like, a recognition that we have developed in this country a more sophisticated unrstanding, or sophisticated public lexicon with which to understand how slavery, how racism was not just an interpersonal phenomenon but a historic one, structural one, systemic one. i am very much sympathetic -- i
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know there some sentiments after that people are saying, well, we did not ask for juneteenth as a holiday. we want voting rights, police reform, abolition. i am 100% understanding that. i also think we should not undervalue what it means for juneteenth from a holiday in part because then we are not valuing the work that black activists have done over the course of decades to get there. while symbols are not necessarily material change, they are not relevant. i think all of the time having grown up in new orleans and you get to school had to go down robert e. lee boulevard, to the grocery store had ago done jefferson davis highway, my middle school was named after the leader of the confederacy, the street my parents about today is named after somebody who owned 115 enslaved people. names and symbols and holidays aren't just names and symbols and symbolism, they are reflective of the stories people tell. though story shape and
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narrative. those narratives shape policy and public policy shapes the material conditions of people's lives. not to say taking out a statue of robert e. lee or making juneteenth a holiday is going to erase the racial wealth gap, but it is part of an ecosystem of narrative and ideas that can help us recalibrate our understanding of why certain communits look and do and what needs to be invested in those communities to create a new set of opportunities. we should recognize and celebrate the juneteenth holiday and also recognize that that is not enough. it is not nearly enough and it is one part of a much longer struggle and larger struggle to make sure we are creating more equitable and just world. amy: that was pointed out earlier this week by pulitzer prize-winning journalist nikole hannah-jones who has been denied tenure, ms effort to turn that around, but she spoke to msnbc about the mounting attacks against discussing systemic
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racism in history classes at schools. over 20 states have now banned the teaching of critical race theory. she produced the 1619 project with "the new york times," an interactive project that reexamines the legacy of slavery. the target of this right-wing backlash last year after the trump administration threatened to pull federal nding from schools that used the 1619 project in theurriculum. this is nikole hannah-jones. >> i think we're in a dangerous period right now. we look at what these laws are doing, a lot of people scoffed at them. when he read the language, they appear very silly. but we think about what this is trying to do,e know it is narrative that allowus to enact really dangerous policy. it is narrative that allows citizens to accept these erosions of civil rights. it is not incidental the same states introducing the anti-critical race rate of anti-1619 project laws are also introducing voter suppression
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laws. these things are going hand-in-hand. amy: that is nikole hannah-jones, clint smith. >> and she's absolutely right i think these two things are deeply entangled in one another. i think there is a state sanctionedffort to prevent people from understanding our history. if you prevent young people were generally from understanding the history of this country and how racism against animated so much of public policy decisions, and when certain voting rights or certain voting legislation is enacted to prevent people from having the right to the ballot box or access to the ballot box in a way they should, then you can ground it ia sort of a historicism that pretends it is not something that is very intentionally attempting to keep like people from exercising the right to the franchise. and because there is a recognition that more people understand history that has
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shaped what our political infrastructure looks like from the electoral college to gerrymandering, the more you realize how entangled that is in the history of slavery so all of these things come as she said, go hand-in-hand and should be understood as such. amy: the new york day news root did "watchdog group wants teachers to wear body cams to assure they don't teach edible race theory in nevada district." i believe that there. i want you to talk more about your book on how the word is passed, reckoning with the history of slavery across america. can you talk about the journey you took? you just mentioned where you grew up in louisiana, the map of the streets of louisiana, and why you feel it is so critical, not only to look at the south, but your chapter on new york is somethinghat people -- many
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will be shocked by the level of -- when people talk about the south and slavery, that new york, of course, had enslaved people. >> it did. it was really important for me to include this chapter on new york city, place and in the north more badly, in part because while the majority of places are in the south is where slavery was saturated and most intimately tied the social and economic infrastructure of society, most certain he also was in the north were a lot of people don't know in new york city, for instce, was the second largest slave port in the country after charleston, south carolina. in 1860 on the brink of civil war when south carolina was about to secede fr the union after the election of abraham lincoln, new york city's mayor proposed new york city should also secede from the union alongside the southern states because new york financial my
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political, and plugged infrastructure were so deeply entangled and tied to the slave chrissy the south -- slavocracy of the cell. the statue of liberty conceived the idea originally conceived as an idea to celebrate the end of civil war and evolion. but overime, that meaning -- even to the conception of the statue -- it originally had lady liberty breaking shackles, like a pair broken shackles on her wrist to symbolize the end of slavery and over time it became very cle that would not have sort of wide mainstream support the people across the country. i was the, this having been not too long after the end of the civil war so still a lot of fresh wounds. they shifted the meaning of the statute to be more about sort of
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inclusivity, more about the americans experience, american oject, and american promise, promise of democracy, and the original meeting was object it were even the design changed. they replaced the shackles with a taet and the torch empathy shackles subtly under her robe. the only way you can see them is from a helicopter, in airplane. in my ways, that is a microcosm for how we hide the stream slavery across this country. the chain links are hidden -- out of sight, out of you for most people from under the rope of lady liberty and how the story of slavery across this country is, as we see now, very intentionally trying to be hidden and kept fromo many people so we have a fundamentally inconsistent understanding of where slavery shaped our contemporary society
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today. amy: you right, "by the early 19th century, new york financial industry should give more deeply entrenched in title slavery was that money from new york bankers went on to finance every facet of the slave trade." explain. >> it did. the banks in new york city, where they got their capital. it is how -- they use the bodies of enslaved people as collateral for loans they would take out with insurance companies. it is very clear not only that new york city had enslaved people is self -- itself or an extended period of time, but it is the financial and economic infrastructure of new york city the people who created mass amounts of wealth inhat city that allowed slavery to continue to evolve and prosper.
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and that really made it so -- i think we tend to have this sort of bifurcated view and overly simplistic view of all the people in the north were the good guys and people in the south were bad guys. there were a lot of people in the north -- i talk about in new york city -- are deeply committed to the perpetuation and existed of slavery in the south because it was beneficial for them economically, polically, socially. he was in li with how they understood the role of enslaved people and black people in this country. they might not have wanted to have owned slaves themselves but they most certainly did not believe in evolution or did not think they wanted something to prevent a massive influx of capital they were receiving from contending to flow into their hands. amy: before we end, you are an author, writer, teacher, you are a poet.
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can you share a poem with us? >> i would be happy to. when you're a poet writing nonfiction, it very much animates the way i approach the text. this is part of the -- this is an adaptation for day exct from the e of one of my chapters that originally began as a plumb that a row when i was trying to think about some of these issues that i brought up. growing up ever present picture of my daily life posted every day on the way to school i passed the statute of overgaard riding on horseback, confedate uniform flung over his lowell shoulder. as a child i did not know who he was. i did not know he was a man who what are the first attack on theivil war, one of the architects who designed the feral --
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i look like 70 of the other statues the ornament at the edges of the city. after the work, the sense and daughters of the confederacy reshape treason is something that could name as honorable. we call it the lost cause. it crept its way to textbooks and attempted to cover up a crime that was still on old stuff and told us robert e. lee was an honorable man, guilty of nothing but fighting for the states and the people he loved in the southern flag was about hetage and remembering those fightingo preserve their way of life. the thing about the lost cause is that it is only lost if you're not actually looking. the thing about heritage is that it is a word that also means i am ignoring what we did to you. i was taught civil war was not about slavery but never talk about how the declarations of position bondage was carved into stone. i was taught --
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worth more than every bank of effector, railroad,. i was taught civil war was about state rights but never talk about how the. let's about a border sy to look at a statute and call it story when you ignore the laws written in its wake. i come city abounding with statues of lightning on pedestals and black children playing beneath them, where we played trumpets and trombones.i in new orleans, over 100 things, buildings and roads and after enslavers. robert e. lee, jefferson davis,
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go straight for two miles from the general who starved hundreds who are to surrender. what name is there for the sort of violence? what you call it when the road you walk on is named for those i imagined you under a noose? what you call it when a roof over your head isn't after people who would have wanted the brick to crush you? amy: clint smith, author of "how the word is passed: a reckoning with the history of slavery across america." you should get it today on this first federal observance of juneteenth. thank you so much, clint. >> thank you. amy: when we come
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back, we look at another june 19, 1838, when jesuit priests who read what is now georgetown university sold 272 people to pay off the school's debt. we will speak to one descendant. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now! i'm amy goodman. we look now at another juneteenth, 1838, when jesuit priest, who ran what is now georgetown university, sold 272 enslaved people to pay off the school's debt. in 2016, georgetown university announced it would give preferential admissions treatment to the descendants of africans it enslaved and sold. in march, the judge with pledged $100 million to atone for their
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participation -- the jesuits pledged $100 million to atone for their participation in slavery in a deal with a small representative group of descendants, the catholic church, and corporate partners. a wider group of descendants oppose the deal, saying it was done in private and doesn't go far enough to repair the harms done. in a minute, we'll be joined by mélisande short-colomb, one of the first two students to benefit from legacy admission for direct descendants. first, this is the trailer of her one-woman play "here i am." >> ♪ american family story ♪ ♪ >> i felt my whole life and all the life that have come before me are balled up inside of me. "the new york times" broke a story in apr 2016 revealing the jesuits sold 272 enslaved persons in 1838 to raise funds to keep gegetown university
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going. a few months later, i discovered that i dsented from two families of the sale, theueen and the mahoneys. by september 2017, and entered georgetown college as an undergraduate student at the age of 63. here i am, homage to th11 generations of women who have come in to me and are part of me. i am here to tell their story, handed down over more than 300 years. our ancestors have wait patiently through centuries for us to come to the table up acknowdgment. i am mélisande short-colomb. here i am.
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here we are. amy: the trailer of the one-woman play "here i am" by mélisande short-colomb, who joins us now. of the first two students at one georgetown university to benefit from legacy admission for direct descendants enslaved by the jesuits. she's also a community engagement associate and serves on the board of advisors. it is such an honor to have you with us. your thoughts today on this first federal holiday of juneteenth? and if you can talk aut "the other" you 1838 and what happened? >> good morning, amy. thank you for having me here. juneteenth 2021, here we are.
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acknowledging injtices of the pastnd the present, the future. yes, it did take enslaved people 2.5 years in texas to learn they have been freed, but it has taken us 156 years as americans to acknowledge that event. so we are the turners of the wheel of progress for change. 2:19 1838 -- 183 years ago -- june 19, 1838, 183 is ago. two sides of my family, my young great, great, great grandparents met on a boat on their way to louisiana and started a family that resulted in me and many of my cousins in louisiana.
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we were part of the human trafficking trade in the united states of america -- not the theoretical passa which was very true and brought people -- were people to the caribbean and south america then to the unid statesf america. yes,, black woman in 2021 who the institution of slavery was built in the womb of my grandmother because every child that day brought into this world, in this life, in this place from 1677 until 1865 were
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slaves at birth. what kind of people do that? which brings us to the jesuits, to the founders of the united states of america, to 1868, to 1865, to 1921, 22021. so hours as americans is anything interrupted lie of inheritance that many of us refuse to believe that we are descendants of most of black people are not just the descendants up slave met here in america. we are all the descendants of enslaved here in america, and that is if you got here in 1570,
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1619, 1677 or somebody threw you over the fen yesterday, we are here in this place that is 245-year-old plus the colonial period. . this belongs to all of us. amy: if you can talk about how georgetown was saved, prevented from going into bankruptcy by the sale of nearly 300 enslaved people -- of course, haiti's the word "saved," in fact that was the damming of the university. >> the university, the jesuits owned property in human beings
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and land. in all of their dealings and building up economic wealth here in america, they always have a choice. we can sell people, we can rent out people, or we can sell land. and they always chose to sell the people and not the land. the jesuits still own all of the land that they have always owned in maryland and in the district of columbia, the catholic church. it is not just the jesuits. the archdiocese of baltimore got money from this sale. the catholic church, up until 1865 in the united states of
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america, were slave owning confederates. amy: i want to go for a moment to reverend tim kesicki, the president of the jesuit conference of canada and the united states, speaking at georgetown university's liturgy of remembrance contrition and hope. >> today the society of jesus o helped to establish georgetown university and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly send. we py with you today because we have greatly sinned and because we are profoundly sorry. amy: mélisande short-colomb, if you can talk about what this $100 million deal is, where does this money go and how did you
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determine that you are one of the descendants? and then the larger group of people who are understanding where they come from. >> i cannot actually speak to the details of this agreement between the jesuits and this group of descendants. i am not part of that group, nor was i privy to those conversations, decisions, and agreements that were met. i am outside of that. i appreciate the effort, the five-year effort that went into creating this concept because what they have done is make it a gofundme. so we have to raise money -- the jesuits have to raise money to correct the economic disparity of the past. this is within the framework of
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the catholic church and not the wider descendant community. is it a good thing? yes, it is. i just don't know and cannot opine other than to say, "good, do your wk." amy: in 2019, the students of georgetown voting to create a reparations fund for the descendants of enslaved people sold by the jesuits, adding a fee of $27.20. what was done after this? >> nothing. this is the first time in the united stas of america voting body voted to go into their own pockets, $27.20. the opposition to that was it should be charitable -- which is the position that the
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administration has taken over and made it a gofundme. so what the students did was, we're going to go into our pockets as undergraduate students in perpetuity to create an endowment, student endowment to engage as georgetown undergraduate students with the larger descendant community. amy: your play "here i am" your one-woman play, what is your message? >> i think "re we all are." my hope was tt we have something, we have created something that can instigate and initiate conversation in the larg context of who we are.
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amy: and those conversations will definitely continue here. i want to thank you so much, mélisande short-colomb, one of the first two georgetown university students to benefit from legacy admissions for direct descendants enslaved by the jesuits. óóó!ó!ó!
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