tv My Father and Atticus Finch CSPAN December 25, 2016 7:00am-7:54am EST
>> good afternoon. welcome to the southern festival of books. my name is independent community station housework today. we are here to hear from sally palmer thomasson and joe madison beck about their books. afterwards they will be signing the books in the colony upstairs. the festival will receive a part of the proceeds. and remember well the festival does have some sources have and can some sources of income, and some sources have and can come in the main source and can become an admin system and kindness donations from you.
and to try and make it very easy for you to donate coming you can donate on the festival website. you can donate on the facebook page. you can use the apple if you're old-fashioned, you can do it in person at the festival headquarters here. our first author, who will be speaking is joseph madison beck, an attorney in atlanta, harvard university grad. he focuses on intellectual property litigation, particularly copyright and none consumer products. he's also a mediator in the winter of too many awards for me to mention here. he also teaches at emory university school of law. mr. beck will be speaking about his book, "my father and atticus finch", an excellent book. without further until i will turn it over to mr. beck. >> thank you. thank you for coming. how many of you read "to kill a
mockingbird"? about that. it's a phenomenal bestseller. i would tell you what i call my book, "my father and atticus finch" in a moment. i'm going to read because it gives me a chance to give you a background in the book and my family. my father did not sell for his words. his sister told me that amendment that did not disagree. what does that mean i wondered if the child. only as an adult today trace it to a time before my birth, vanessa young white lawyer, he represented a black man charged with a white woman in a small town in alabama. my interest intensified because this is my father. they came and became a lawyer. people kept saying his case could've inspired our belief
celebrated in "to kill a mockingbird." every time he talked about that case, people said that. for a while, the thought that my father could inspire such a great novel was enough for me. when harper lee and a lovely letter for which to me by her agent acknowledged the obvious parallels adding she could not recall my father's case and that her work was fiction. i decided it's time to find out for myself. my manuscript was accepted before publication of ms. lee's actual first book, which brought to mind the question of which is the real atticus finch, the beloved lawyer of "to kill a mockingbird" or that they get it right in watchmen. i can tell you from growing up in my primary that they were both kind and atticus in the
states in alabama and many variations have been. some said the atticus is a mockingbird is fictional and humorous. there is no such thing as a southern white man who did that sort of thing and that the racist in watchmen was a real something right and good that's not true. my father never subscribe to racist materials, never went to let citizens counselor clan meeting. he hated both organizations. he never called black people by pending the. he did in fact courageously defend a black man athlete charged with a white woman so if you missed the atticus of mockingbird come if you're sad or the atticus in watchmen, take a look at this.
i'm going to skip through a few pages to give you a little more feel b. at to call my father a town called enterprise, alabama, which is in the road was wet to cassaday. he asked my father and conflicts. you can imagine. my father said greek detroit messenger, the newspaper in a fight at you need to know. i will read a paper from the archives in montgomery. the headline all-caps. niekro rushed to kill the president after attack. it was in montgomery. the messenger explained why they moved here. a wandering niekro fortuneteller teaming the number exceeded the way up was removed for safe keeping following his attack on the local white girl.
the case sounds like it's a. so they come in the messenger reported volunteered a detailed confession of the attack and the confession was reduced to numerous law enforcement officials. a physician, to attend the girl later confirmed and i'm quoting from the messenger, the niekro had accomplished his dastardly purpose. well, he didn't do it. and i'm going to tell you why. my father met his client, charles wade into the present. mr. white was from detroit and chicago knew it's not like the tom robbins the tom robbins in your member or friend "to kill a mockingbird" is very deferential, polite, some of dave sql yes. trust me from detroit and chicago had a different attitude and it showed up right away. now for the way my father told me about their first meeting.
charles can you say it didn't happen the way he says, provided you sign a confession? they take me straight back to troy that night. they say i'm dying on a rope that night. they promise i can stay here and then come back and serve at my sons. i have white men from a sheriff deputy, three others. maybe we can suppress the confession on the ground that was coerced, but if we succeed state may face that healthy. if you get a confession in exchange for promise of life in prison you can mess with the death penalty. that makes sense. are you aware that the last sentence? my father says if you played, you'll waste be alive.
charles, i may be a little bargain for less time and make you eligible for parole. i'm not entering a guilty plea. i want that confession suppressed. well, i think i would be up to the judge whether to suppress. do something for me, lawyer. that was the first meeting. the first meeting of the little hairy. the trial was in troy. at that time was infamous for having john wilkes booth, the man who martyred abraham lincoln, our president. my congressmen in the great civil rights hero, john lewis, in his book what about troy where he was born a year and a half after the trial. at the little boy says you must be careful not to get out of line with the way person.
by then i had been to troy. after the arrest, they got it the trade messenger reported that messenger reported the niekro as they preferred to call it was brought wednesday morning by a seven-member detachment from the alabama highway patrol. they were joined by additional officers according to the messenger there is no public display of proposed plans during jury selection. translate with taken back by the highway patrol judge parks was prudent that they be escorted to and from montgomery there was high talk of the cloud surrounding the courthouse onward i doubt it to davis had
been called for possible jury surveys. for a capital case you had to have but people at least call. the call for possible service. let me just finish the sentence. both have been struck at the state of alabama's new kind of have a white male jerry. they were kept together for the evening direction of power so as to avoid the outside influence through the depression turned out to be emboldened and some of the graph element to pilot the street of troy looking for a stray to believe this'll. early in the morning of july 14, charles wade arrived escorting
from my primary skill be present by 14 members of the alabama highway patrol. the group is not a site that tomorrow patrolman bringing the total to 16. they cemented the courthouse to the title ii make it change parks credit that he insisted on what he called perfect order and he threatened to have people arrested it was a demonstration during the trial and there were some angry reactions when charles wade took the stand. i don't want to go over my time because this lovely author of mine. the prosecutor, judge victimless one named elizabeth. she was 20. i was 21 pitch outside was a middle-aged african-american men who weigh 250 pounds.
he was a fortuneteller and is also called a healer, a person who could help people get well. he was known as a fortuneteller and so elizabeth went to see him to get her fortune told. here's what she testified. i got the transcript once i got really interested in reading from her testimony. i'm not going to revalidate because despite what we've heard in the election, some of it is a little graphic and you can read it in the book. after he got through telling her fortune, he told me to come over to his side of the table where he was sitting. when i got over a got over he pulled up my dress and took some kind of salt and put it on the right down there. indicating the transcript recording. on my private parts. the solicitor prosecutor, did he
do anything else to you by tuesday? she testified. he told me he was going to fix me up and he told me and i sold them know he wasn't going to fix me up on the bed and he got on top of me. he pulled up that close and pulled off part of my shores. i cried but it didn't do a good good i could do something stinging down there. they cemented funny burning feeling down there and asked him to get off that he would not do it. the state has the following question. did you see him and he was close? my father objected on the grounds this was late in the transcript reported that there was no ruling which meant they could go ahead. yes i saw the note in his private parts. they saw him do something about that. i couldn't tell how far because i was looking the other way.
on hardball that repeated and that's inflamed perhaps the jury. cross examining one of those who testified, the testimony they can elevate a little bit of that but it will not be limited. by dr. stuart at tulane medical school graduate. here's what he said and wrote. even barry makes a on the bed. that is an important difference in my father's case and "to kill a mockingbird." everything i find that just the same because in "to kill a mockingbird," note that there was called to examine baylor. of course she would've found she was not by tom robinson. the doctor did investigate the afternoon of the alleged incident. they put her in the tub i found
her very sick, that he had not been penetrated. it not been broken. that testimony was startling to an all-white jury, mail, south alabama in 1938 so i've heard. the resulted in a conference at the judge in this would be a hung jury and be retried. as they called my father and solicitor into his chambers coming century out for a few minutes and try to work out if the deal. charles wade, bless his heart wasn't buying it. the judge was going to give him the promise of parole and my father try to get him to accept it because he knew what an alabama jury was capable of doing. if you look at the statistics,
hundreds of black men were executed for rape. a friend of mine and client in montgomery, there were 400 back then executed for rape in a very short period of time. they were convicted of those rape and murder. this disproportionate and that exchange. it's a very nice town, but back then there was a very different place. charles wade testified and i've got a lot of testimony in the book if you're interested. and just going to read a little bit. i father spoke in a tie with the demeanor he seen. they better not check them
proceed without interruption and assaulting as the court ordered. i'm not going to read all that. i will tell you this. when he finished testifying company said that he said that it saw that have been done there. i did not put any on a private part. i did not put my hands on the white lady. i didn't put her on the bed. the lady treated me nice. she made me know if this is at all. i treated her weight. among the parallels besides the obvious one is his. this is quoting from her book, something unspeakable occurred between tom robinson and you may recall from the book what it
was. she kissed a black man in south alabama. it was not rape. it was not even sex into this day day i don't even know exactly. but my father stuck with this client of the way to sadly the electric chair. if i can find it quickly. i'll read to you. i'll just tell you from memory because they pretty much remember it. charles white was executed after midnight in that primary in june of 1939. for the black men were executed that same day. they went to the electric chair
humbly, begging for forgiveness. charles white protested that the electrodes were too tight. the people who were about to kill him say it doesn't she realize you're to die? of course. and he said she says will recognize an innocent man this day were his exact words. i hope you have some questions. if so i'll be glad to answer them. >> thank you very much. fascinating story. next we are going to hear from ms. thompson who has read the book called dr. lambro -- delta rainbow. ms. palmer is from memphis.
not originally, but at some point her family realized their mistake and moved to tennessee. >> now my whole family. just my husband. >> she's lived there for quite some time. she was detained at brooks college. she's also been a not however, tennis player in the upper practitioner. she earned a doctorate in human aging these. this is her third, so she's not a stranger to writing books and probably not a stranger to talking about them. so after ms. thomas and discusses her book, we'll take questions for the authors, okay? >> thank you on the judge. i want to say what a privilege it is to be here at the southern book festival. i know that it is a wonderful gathering of a lot of talent and
i'm just pleased to be on the panel. how many of you have seen the movie so late? anyone? you know, it's a movie about chelsea: parker who is a u.s. airways pilot who shortly after he took off his plane in new york city, lost power in both engines at this aircraft. and he didn't have enough altitude or time to return in less than four minutes they landed the plane on the hudson river or on a frigid day of january in 2009 and saved 155 lives. now why on a panel about civil rights and my talking about an unbelievable area not a closely.
a couple weeks ago in an op-ed piece in "the wall street journal," brett stephens wrote about taking his 11-year-old son to see the movie solely. while they were eating hamburgers, after widespread san said you know, dan, famous people depend on what other people think of them to be who they are. so they just cared about whether he did everything right. that gown lap clearly articulated a distinct difference between fame and heroism. so it was a superb pilot, but his actions showed something more. his history demonstrates strong character anchored by a sense of
honor and virtues that go with it. chelsea stonebraker was enough for a word to impress others. he acted not on what is popular or would enhance his reputation. he acted on it deeply held conviction of what he knew was right. even though he had never had an opportunity to dr. sabri harris what became his incredibly courageous acts. the last of both foster back, joe's father and as he tells it in his book, my father atticus finch as her story is told in delta rainbow displayed courage and character and a very different kind of situation. but they both display the same
basic "-end-quotes. they acted on their own personal convictions for doing what was right, what they had to do. they were not out for fame or fortune or how many they might receive in a day. both betty and foster did what they believed was right in the situation where they found themselves. they displayed the kind of courage martin luther king jr. dreamed would come to pass some day when men and women would be judged not by the color of their skin, but instead by their individual deed and actions in the content of their character. delta rainbow is a book about a woman with remarkable character, courage and conviction. it is a story of how one white
betty bo bo pearson, a seventh generation plantation born southerner whose roots reach deep into the soil traditions and social bonds of the mississippi delta became one of the first and one of the most outspoken leaders of the civil rights movement in a culturally and racially divided mississippi. i want to read to you a few paragraphs from the book to tell you how her convictions started. september 19th at 25 are bad since the discovery of a match is terrifically needed body which had eaten, shot in the head sunk in the tallahatchie river a cot gin tied around his neck with her choir.
when the body was sent back to his mother in chicago, she insisted on an open casket and a public funeral. wanted the world to see what had happened to her young son. the world was aghast and in mississippi, the initial shock in public court over the brutality of the murder was palpable. at age 33, mistress says rainbow plantations found one thing strange. after the first few days, no one in town would talk about the murder for the upcoming trial. a curtain of silence. much everyone she knew felt resentful about to undergo amount of international
attention and then take his spot right on her little town and agreed undercurrent of the attorney general sentiment that the whole procedure was unfair. after outcome of the murder took place on the floor, not tallahatchie county. the river between the two counties. bill pearson, davies has stayed, uncle was the editor of the semiweekly. betty was so intrigued and aghast at what was going on. she got a trespass to the trial for herself and a good college friend named florence mars. she had never attended a trial. in 1955 the courtroom as an all-male domain. white women could vote.
but by law they were excluded from jury duty. although 4.3% of the population was registered to vote. as the two women were about to enter the back door, the courthouse committee entrance for the press can they press can hear it does does in an old century country friend stopped at ease. you shouldn't be going to do this. you will be hearing things that no white cd shakier, thinking for his concern, pushed open the door and entered the large and imposing building, which until that moment had been a mere backdrop to her life. walking into the tallahassee county courthouse on that historic day in 1955, betty bo bo pearson had her eyes blasted
open. but he grew up a segregated society and understood how racist it was. but her family, her friend, everyone she knew treated with decency and often with true affection. this was a paternalistic racism, to believe she thought was misguided but never violent, number never vicious. much less kill a negro. she knew her father, her moral teaching in most areas. thought skin color did make a difference. now looking at the faces of the way people in the corporate, betty realized for the first time in her life had deep set their feelings were. she saw. should. who were these people? do your neighbors can the citizens of the surrounding
counties of the floor, sunflower, farmers, laborers, tradesmen and women. there were people she lived with all her life, yet betty realized she'd never before had grasped the raw hostility of these people harbored. who were they? they were from a different world of ms. stress, violent and hatred, a world very different from her own. never before had she clearly understood how her privileged heritage project at her for the first time in her 33 years, the quiet security were shaken. she saw beyond the façade of sensibility and decency she had known all her life. walking into the courtroom on that path from a september morning had thrown into sharp relief the unspoken and largely unacknowledged class structure
society and the delta. betty pearson society. in addition to the sharp divide between black and whites, there were two classes in the white community. the landowners and professionals attended the country club and send their children to the same colleges and the poor white who had not been to college did not own land and worked for hourly wages. the one thing the two classes had in common was the bully from their superiority to the negro. the first day it is the jurors proceeded, jury selection to place. the expressions on the faces and whispered to her friend will never convict, even if the jury
had been impartial, she realized that a conviction, the trial increasingly resembles a scripted theater piece with almost impossible. on september 23rd, 1955 after five full days of testimony from a bevy of witnesses, closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense attorneys and instructions from judge same goal, the all white military sitting in the tallahassee courthouse in mississippi deliberated just over an hour the merger of emmett till, a 14-year-old boy from chicago. after the trial, it would've taken us so long if they had stopped for a soda. that would shape the course of
eddie bo bo pearson's future. but she would miss toaster into a new induce to bring awareness that would eventually tear her away from her family, and make her suspect in her community and a stranger friend the hero of the known world, her father robert g bo bo. eddie had found her purpose and began to act during the 1960s as the mississippi delta. she served on the council on human relations to promote dialogue between the races. she became a card-carrying members of the naacp in the early 1960s. she and her husband, though built in a well-designed for the employees with electricity,
plumbing beside each house. she took rainbow employees to register to vote, which is some very interesting stories. but anyway, the pearson's built-in swimming pool and gave sunni muslims to bribery negro child in the area and a swimming pool. she was on the mississippi advisory committee for civil rights commission and after a visit to washington in the justice department, try to convince the local school board to adopt a gradual program of integration and to avoid massive resistance, and she was about right. she taught literacy to the inmates of pressuring presence. she was at it on the board and secretary of the mississippi habitat for humanity. she was co-editor -- excuse me, cochair of the commission and
became estranged from many of her longtime friends and nearly broke her father's heart. the answer to my husband likes to tell how big the betty was a senior in 1942 which was during the war and there was an acceleration in she had with an essay for a philosophy class, her senior philosophy class. this is 1942, by disclosing mississippi should be integrated. well, the professor who was from the north was so impressed he called that he had been said i submitted to the rosenthal competition, which the winner will win -- will be awarded a full scholarship to columbia's graduate school in new york city.
columbia university. she didn't really think much more about it. about six weeks later the professor called her into his office inside you have won a scholarship. you can go to columbia writers who. she was ecstatic. she could hardly wait to get home to clarksdale to tell her parents and she ran into her daddy's insurance office and said daddy, daddy, guess what i won a scholarship and he said no daughter of mine is going to yankee land for new york city. wow, she was devastated. they argued, fought, cried come as indoors. the family loyalty was really to use on and she couldn't define her father that she turned down a scholarship. but she had to figure out some way to show her daddy that she
was a grown-up person. she brought her mother's car and drove to memphis to join the marines. the marine corps had just opened up their admission or women that year. so betty became a marine. after interviewing betty, her family and many friends and associates come at jean fisher, the one to copy into writing this book and i want to recognize she is with us today. we sat down together and said what are her character trait -- but i do care are trait that really if i pity because her story was so remarkable. we sat down and made a list. i'm not going to read the whole list, but the first one on the
list was you were here for a purpose. now there is a story behind that. back in 1923, that he is not there -- wait, i'm sorry. i'm jumping ahead here. when betty was 18 months old, the family was returning from a brief vacation in florida and the chevrolet touring car that was one of those where there is an open -- everything was so thin and then they had curtains that would fall down if you wanted to be protected. it was a lovely day and they had all the curtains rolled up and they were coming home and got to glendora. it was late in the afternoon and there was a long freight train coming by.
instead they had to stop and they were waiting and they were getting very she is very impatient. but they waited for the freight train. and i want to read a little because shasta trinity acid attacks can find it at is standing on the caboose wait for lenora, betty's mother. she'll make up midway. a second hidden from view by the passing train or boat folks food from the other direction and crashed into the car and the passenger side. little betty flew out onto the cow pasture in the front of the oncoming train in june. betty's grandmother severely injured lay unconscious on the back seat. and the front seat, lenora, four months pregnant sat rigid gripping the steering wheel.
betty's grandfather killed instantly beside lenora. as the train hits the train hits to a stop, one of the young boys who witnessed the devastating crash sought a small body blow off the engine into a ditch a few hundred yards away. they ran to pick up a crying top back the lead in the drivers in the drivers seat to scream hysterically. my baby, where's my baby? underwear, daddy and her grandmother were loaded onto the train and taken into clarksdale with a young father who had stayed home that done and got on the train and took his mother on into memphis and that night they
realized that he was crying all night. and so, this is so interesting. at the time they took her to the dentist office to deal the x-ray machine in the city and took x-rays and found that her collarbone was broken. so she of course said that her grandmother stayed to remind. when her grandmother was in the hospital, she could not grasp that fincher was dead, her husband was dead. when she came home, utterly alone, grieving for her husband, she begged to let the little girl come down and stay with her. it would be years before it left her grandmother's ground. and during those years, her grandmother put daddy to bed every night and told her story and often spoke about the train
wreck from which betty was miraculously saved. after the bedtime story, her grandmother insisted she betty's, douglas into betty's prayers and told her every night god reached down and plug in front of that train because he has something very special he wants you to do with your life. and betty did do something very special and still doing peachyis 94 years old living in california in a retirement home. she's amazing, how daughter with her daughter. in addition to leadership for civil rights, she and bill are founding members of the episcopal church in mississippi and help positions of leadership in the local state and national episcopal church.
betty bobo pearson had an insatiable desire for fixing things and making them ripe. what is interesting is that it's not all. she love to have a good time, create an adventure, create beauty. to quote a younger friend in summer, rainbow, the pearson's plantation was betty's little piece of paradise. it is just the way that inspired this. always welcoming her guardian, her home, her dinner parties are magical. in riding betty's story, i found her life to be like a multifaceted prism, a rainbow throwing bite in many different directions. a dynamic leader, an amazing talent for, fabulous hostess and master gardener. she seemed to inherently know how to use her wit, charm,
intelligence, social provision, connection and stubbornness to get what she wants and she too is a woman when trouble it is not afraid to confront her own demons. four years ago when she and fischer suggested i writes a story, i asked ms. betty pearson? i had never heard her name before. i soon learned the individuality and action in the content of character are a very important part of the history of the civil rights movement. >> thank you. [applause] >> we have a little time for some questions. if you have a question, would you please come up to the
microphone stand and ask away. meanwhile, i am going to ask when will people are coming out. ms. thomas in, you alluded to send repercussions that ms. pearson suffered for her activities, including breaches of family and so on. i was wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit nv, if your father. i was wondering if you suffered any repercussions can do this social theory to this practice are representing this gentleman. >> estimate they did suffer repercussions. one thing that he was very fortunate is that her husband who had also been in the service, he was a fire during world war ii. so they both had lived and been
exposed to other attitudes and other ideas. was very supportive of her. so if they weren't invited to a party or someplace that friend were just shunning them, he would ask, do you want to go? she said no, not really. then forget it. the thing is that she did -- does have such a strong feeling for her family. and so, she just quit talking about the race relations because they had one daughter and she wanted her daughter to know her grandparents. they would see each other. it was a very tense, but
workable situation that they managed to live with. their are numerous incidences. a good friend of hers who was also a planar near claude still at the bank in 1955, 56 and he wanted to open it up and give as many loans to the black people in that area and help bring them up. he founded the bank and he was president of the board and hit them have gotten other planners and other people leading citizens to be on the board to think what some of the leading citizens didn't like it. he was voted out of the presidency and that he was brokenhearted because her
brother was one of the people she found out had voted against it in could not understand it because her brother and ask her car had been best friends. as terrible breach in the family, but eventually it took years, but they made of. but there are incidents. her good friend who was attended to him until the trial was from philadelphia. and i'll tell you, she lost her business. philadelphia is where the young workers from the north came down and were murdered in philadelphia and their bodies were carried in the ku klux klan denied it and the big search was
on influence finally testified to help the fbi find them. so betty was involved in that. >> taking a case like this is not bucolic retreat to develop business. there were repercussions. initially, people were willing to accept the fact that there had to be a lawyer this man. the fact that my father fought as hard as he did, the fact that the the transcript of the appeal supreme court with his own money, which it. that allowed during the depression. he finally began to wear on people. i was born in enterprise for his law practice was, but he had to leave and i wound up growing up in that primary. my father was drafted when he was 37 years old i guess it was. he was blinded in one eye. it was payback.
when he came back to enterprise, his law practice was gone. and he did what he could to make a living working for what is now fort rucker and eventually got a job at the veterans administration in montgomery and that's where he grew up. i want, if i may, tell you why i think it turned out the way it did. but his dissenting. southerners, first of all some good white people in the south did not just my father. i talked about gradations of prejudice, there really were people over the lot to people who just were cowards to people who try to do the right thing. but i think the fact that he lost this case when he was appointed to an acceptable party not continue to fight.
the pastime memory of a lost cause shapes the spirit of the lifestyle far into the 20th century. as the years went by, the principal reason for the civil war to preserve slavery gradually became of him except to vote reason for the war. the loss of such a work all the more unacceptable. an acceptable reason had to be found rebellion against an economic tierney, ruthlessly imposed punitive tariffs became that region. loss of such a work by men who account vastly outnumbered, lost by an agrarian culture that predatory juggernaut became an acceptable kind of loss. among the better class, the idealized model for acceptance of loss was robert e. lee's dignified surrender. but most of them foreign ministers and destined to remain losers to a short and violent
lives whose life was natural because unavoidable it had to be accepted. fostered by caps-off speared. white men who it taken the law into their own hands than i did the crime and imposed their own version of justice and were now prepared to let foster back b. provided he was not stiff neck. that was their turn and accept it as a loss. so i think the fact that he continued to struggle with this case and to fight and to not give up was what ended his law career and forced us to move to montgomery. >> thank you very much. thanks to both of you. it's a great session. remember, you can purchase their books and they'll be signing right after this at the signing colony. leary churned.