Skip to main content

tv   Blood at the Root and Hanging Bridge  CSPAN  December 26, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm EST

12:00 pm
doctor patrick phillips and jason morgan ward.d. we will have presentations by both doctor philip said doctor ward and after both panelists are finished with her presentations we would like to open it up to discussion. following discussion, we will go up to the war memorial auditorium upstairs and there is a book signing and i encourage you to continue discussion with both authors once we get up there, so again we will get started with first doctor phillips. doctor phillips is an associate professor of english at drew university and he is also a poet as well. previous book that he produced, a broken mechanics-- a national book award finalist. .. are talking
12:01 pm
about is "blood at the root: a racial cleansing in america". please welcome patrick phillips. >> thank you so much. for the southern festival of books, thank you for coming. this will con -- turn into a >> the book really began with a conversation in a taxicab about 10 years ago when my friend tosha treadway who some people think of as poet laureate of the us but at the time was not yet. we knew each other through the poetry world and 10 years ago we were at a professional conference and not tosha and i are old friends but she on
12:02 pm
this one night decided to challenge me because i grew up in forsyth county georgia which is known all over the state as a quote, white county but this is not something i knew in new york, had any familiarity with but natosha is an african-american woman who happened to go to the university of georgia college a little way down the road from bursae and this meant when she heard me offhandedly mentioned that i came from this state , she stopped and really turned to me and said we have to talk. she knew some of the history of this and natosha at that moment said to me, why have you never written about the complex racial history of this place you come from? the way she put it to me, she said you think that race is only a subject for black writers? do you think you are somehow not involved. i think that moment changed my life and itstarted me on a search for the truth about the real history of my own place .
12:03 pm
i was seven, my parents moved to that county from northside atlanta and as soon as we got there i noticed something strange about this new place we live . which is now one of the 25 wealthiest counties in all of america, part of suburban atlanta but in 19 77 seven we moved there it was a very sleepy rural place with pastors and chicken houses but the place i noticed it work that there were no people of color anywhere in the county . i also couldn't help but notice that my friends at school and many of my teachers, the only word they used for people of color was the n-word and there was all this open and overt bigotry and at a certain point i asked my friend on the bus what's going on here? why does everybody hate black people so much in a place where there are none of them around? that was the first place i ever heard the myth that started me on the journey of writing this book and i first started in the back of the school bus and what they told me was that a long time ago, a white woman had been raped and found beaten bluntly in the woods and this was always
12:04 pm
said to be not far from the house where i grewup and in response , i was told the white people ran out every single last african-american in the county and kept it that way for generations and records to see this was still true because in the 1970s when we lived there it was notorious that even a truck driver who stopped to change a tire would risk set upon. so the whole world set about bigotry in 19 77 and that was the year my family took part in the first civil rights action that had ever happened in forsyth . some people may have heard of this, forsyth county made headlines over the world in january 1987 and my mother, father and sister were part of this margin the idea was it was the second annual martin luther king holiday and it's hard to remember now that that was a very controversial law that was passed in the 80s, still very hotly debated but at the time that the second ever holiday,
12:05 pm
a white man in forsyth put an ad in the local paper and said he wanted to have a march to celebrate brotherhood in forsyth and protest the segregation which had still been violently enforced area but about 75 people gathered on weatherby road and were quickly surrounded by this mob. my mother and father and sister were there. they were pelted with rocks and bottles, the leader of the march was a guy named hosea williams and you will see him on the left, he was one of these real confidence and sergeants in called hosea, my wild man.he was so adept in the most frightening situations and that's him leading the selma march in 1965. and i think one of the things that shocked people when these images hit cnn was there he was at 65 and 22 years later engaged in exactly the same kind of action in forsyth county and be met with the same kind of
12:06 pm
violence and open , unabashed bigotry area in the wake of the march, a second march was held the following week and 20 african cavalry came out and tried to speak out against all of this and i was 16 so i actually, typical teenage fashion, i was late on the most significant day in our lives and so as a result, i went to try to find them on the courthouse square and this was the same square i had bought my first baseball glove, where i was part of the fourth of july parade and when i got there, i was walking toward the courthouse and i thought i was headed towards hosea's speech and that i was at a peace rally and at a certain point i heard a megaphone click on and somebody screamed out white power and all these young men had fallen in with chanting white power and i passed this guy and i had thought that i'd imagine this moment that in the course of writing the
12:07 pm
book i was in in touch with a photographer and she sent me a whole folder full of images and when i opened this i was astonished to see i had not imagined that moment. fast-forward two decades and i was a long way from my childhood in georgia. i was doing graduate work in something completely unrelated, working on 20th century british literature and the bubonic plague outbreak in london but one week i was playing cookie from my dissertation, exhausted and sitting at this computer terminal and i was aware of how much power it had to discover things about the past because i've been using it that way and really just on a lark, i typed in four s. 90 and 1912 which is the year this was all supposed to have happened and when i typed this into a newspaper database, in the newspaper database up came this image from the atlanta constitution or atlantic journal from september 1912 and this was the first face
12:08 pm
of black foresight i had ever seen and the first time that myth about a racial purge became very real to me. at the same time, the picture seemed to raise many more questions than it answered because i didn't know who these people were, i didn't know their story. headlines told me two of them were accused of raping this woman and in the research i found a picture of her. slowly as i worked my way through this old myth, the old ghost story started to become something i could find out more details about who, what, when, why and how and i became fascinated. but at the root, it grew out of my first glimpse of this picture and it gave me hope it might be possible to learn what really happened and i've now spent years searching for every scrap i could find about this incident in december 1912 went 1098 black residents of the entire population of forsyth was in fact run out bands of youth with arson, dynamite,
12:09 pm
gunfire. the first thing they targeted was the mayor of cummings and sent a letter to the governor telling them that five churches had been burned in the first two weeks of the violence. the book i made out of those all this material aims to tell the truth story behind the legend i heard so many times as a child. it speaks of a murdered girl, a public lynching on the town square, a kangaroo court trial and execution of two teenage boys and i don't know if you can see it in this life but second from the left is a boy named oscar daniel, he was 18 at the time and on the far right, ernest knox. ernest knox was 16. the newspapers reported this and call them fiendish, lowbrow guerrilla type negroes and the press played a significant role. when i looked into it, they were birth both working as hired men, very poor, had very little and they were eventually convicted in a one-day trial where they were both foundguilty .
12:10 pm
ernest knox supposedly confessed but i found a letter where a girl who had been there recounted how ernest knox had been held over an open well and the white man and wrap the bucket around his neck and this was the course of the so-called confession and their execution was attended by about 5000 people, half the population of the county came out and i've stood in the area, i've stood in the field where it happened and there's a ring of hills that makes kind of a horse you around it and the newspapers reported thousand people coming with blankets and picnic baskets and their children and they really celebrated the hanging area the book's characters include a county sheriff who just a few years later would help found the local chapter of the ku klux klan as well as a number of unexpected heroes including a deputy who decided to stop the violence in the mayor who held off a small on the steps of the county courthouse. and this is the sheriff on the left named bill reed and
12:11 pm
the deputy was a guy named lewis on the right in this complicated end of the white community as well and at the same time i was learning more about the victims, i had always been led to believe this was unanimous communitywide action that there was no opposition and in fact k loomis risked his life trying to save a man named ralph that worked at the lynch mob. the mayor wrote impassioned letters to the local courts and judicial judiciary and to the governor trying to get people to come and help stop this. of course the realprotagonist of the story are african-american families who were forced out , farmers, field hands, ministers and servants. all my life these people had been absent from history, i kind of vanished civilization whose struggles were unknowable and lost forever but i come to see more than ever how possible about who they are and how heroically theycarried on. this guy kellogg , he was largest property owner on the
12:12 pm
families portion and he owed 200 acres in the county, i traced this from a emancipation of the 21-year-old man all the way up to 1912 and in that time he started with almost nothing. he invested the property for a successful crop and bought a little more land, made some spark smart business meals but the 200 acres were accumulated over 40 years of labor so the story had been heartbreaking but once i started to know it and be able to look into the eyes of these people, it hit home even more. i'm hopeful that this one very focused story and sense joseph kellogg's wife, he was crossed out of history a long time ago but there she is, that's eliza. that's joseph and eliza and their children who accumulated this land. i'm hopeful this one very focused story spending 200
12:13 pm
years in the single life of a single place might suggest ways we can begin coming to gripswith our nations history of racial violence and injustice . as i was working on the book, the truth and reconciliation hearings were off and on in my mind with vendettas site about the healing power of the truth and also the corrosive effect of denial. i was frequently, i have since frequently been confronted by whites in forsyth who were angry that i am close, dredging up history. such people seem to me to what the reward of mandela's peace process, forgiveness and reconciliation without first paying the price of actually turning and facing the truth. i suppose it goes without saying that it took me the better part of a decade and 600 pages to do the story justice that it'ssince been necessarily brief . but i wanted to set this question, i know jason's book and mine have a lot in common. we are moving forward in time a little with jason's book and i have one more but these are the children. this is bert oliver, another one of the property owners in
12:14 pm
the county and these are the children of nancy and jeremiah. and i've since spent a lot, i did it in atlanta last week and the smallest, she is not the kid in the lap but the little boy in the middle is named fred and i was in atlanta and there was a african-american woman who stood up and said i have a comment and i said what's the comment? seat she said that's my great-grandfather so publishing the book has also been a wild experience area writing it, i got in contact with a lot of people but i'm not hearing from them anymore now that the book is out. and i welcome questions and comments at the end but i would like to turn it over to jason. >> thank you. from reading it your reviews about both books, it seems that both writers are extremely useful retailers and we got that from just now . i'd like to introduce our next author dust doctor jason
12:15 pm
morgan ward, an associate professorof history at the university . his book entitled "hanging bridge:racial violence and america's civil rights century", a previous book, this previous book that he had was also award-winning and it was like democracy, the making of a segregationist movement and the remaking of racial politics 1936 to 1965. i think doctor ward has been proclaimed as one of the new generation of historians who addressed the south generations and civil rights era. if we could, welcome doctor ward. [applause] in the summer of 1965 in thewake of the voting rights act , visiting journalists interviewed a black memphis pastor in east mississippi in the midst of a voter registration drive.
12:16 pm
deputy charles killingsworth was a local leader of the mississippi freedom democratic party in hart county which is a rural area along the alabama border just south of the city of meridian. there were zero african-americans registered to vote in 1950 in clark county, in the weeks after the voting rights act was authorized, they registered an estimated third of the voting age of blacks of this county in the span of just four weeks. and he's part of that effort and he's interviewed in the midst of this and he mentioned a recent rumored kidnapping of a teenage civil rights worker who slipped away from the vigilantes before they reached reverend killingsworth called the henning place at the county's southern edge which was at a bend in the chest way river, what he called a bottomless blue hole where countless bodies had been dumped and this boy apparently barely
12:17 pm
escaped the same thing. the same summer of 65, i had start organizer visited some of the same counties to meet with local black women interested in working for this new federally funded war on property initiative. a preschool program which was really a cornerstone of president johnson's war on poverty and the child development group of mississippi was the early large granted agency that runs headstart and she was wondering why more women and showed up because these were good jobs, this was tripling or quadrupling their income as they work as domestic or a cook in a white home, why had more black women showed up? and this was what one local black woman said, she said you know how they are. they remember things. she told them of hanging bridge where two boys had been lynched in 1942 and four young adults, two men and
12:18 pm
women who were rumored to be pregnant were lynched in 1918. she continued area people said they went down there to look at the bodies. they still see those babies wiggling around in the bellies after the mothers were dead. the following summer of 1966, a white college student from wisconsin stepped off the bus in clark county area and he was a summer volunteer and a local civil rights worker loaded him into thiscar and drove south , turning off the highway north of the small town of chapel hill to fall into a dusty road and soon they came upon a rusty river ridge. he said to his new recruits, this is where they hanged the negroes. i wrote a book about a bridge not only because it's one of the most bloodstained, productive landmarks to racial violence in american history but also because it shadow extends far beyond the jim crow era atrocities.
12:19 pm
in 1918 and 1942, two lynchings and six victims but clearly memories and mobs that far apart in civil rights era. i wanted to know more about what happened in 1918 and 1942 that affected the process similar to what patrick described, it takes a long time and there's a lot of amazing discoveries along the way and certainly both of those worries could be a book in and of themselves but i also wondered about the 60s, the classic phase of the civil rights movement . what does that look like in a county with this kind of brutal history and does the brutal history have anything to do with thefact that i went through grad school without reading a line, a word about clark county mississippi ? what i found out was that nearly any outsider who ventured into this county and they were few and far between immediately encountered this legacy.
12:20 pm
back to john cutler who's the 19-year-old white kid from wisconsin who shows up to volunteer for the summer. he tells a story about getting into a car and being driven down to this bridge by john f summerall who's a young african-american civil rights worker from the county. he said the way he said it when he said this is the place where they killed the negroes, he said it could have been last week or 100 years ago, i didn't know from the way he said it. but these folks who ventured into this county encountered an environment where black mobility, black mobilization from voter registration to boycotts, to headstart preschools provoked fierce resistance from whites. up to and including violence. august 1966, just a few weeks later, local police, highway patrolman and dozens of white
12:21 pm
attacked a small group of marchers and these were marchers who were rallying support for an economic boycott of white merchants and of the real economic leverage behind us boycott was that headstart would contract for food and supplies and the workers would stop cashing their federally funded paychecks. and in the wake of this even more effective than the violence were the other strategies that whites used two and the threat, to curtail the threat they saw as the social status quo, economic status quo in the small town. from mississippi across the south but this range of options, defunding headstart, railroading a local young civil rights worker, sending him off to vietnam, terrorism, intimidation, police harassment. these tools had always been on the table and this range
12:22 pm
of options had always been around and it always propped up the system. the violence had always reinforced the system of economic expectation, politicalcontrol and we see this most at moments of crisis . when is the status quo threatened? it was threatened in 1918, threatened in the world war i era because of mobility and migration, the support of northern migration in northern city. and in the world war i upsurge in civil rights activism and a black protests that ended diplomatic imperatives and the pressures of entering into global war, supposedly for democracy. specifically to this hanging bridge case, this was one of the first times that walter white who would later become head of the and aa cp for two decades, he's just gone to work for the naacp. it was a former insurance salesman from atlanta.
12:23 pm
he was it a light skinned son of equally light-skinned upper-middle-class atlanta parents and he personally investigates this quadruple lynching in 1918 by posing as a white man. most likely as they traveled as a cosmetic salesman . which is his entrance into the other side of the tracks. in 1942, world war ii when the two boys were lynched, you again have a story of labor mobility. that really drives the local white phrases and they really believe that the black cook was quitting because she has money coming in from a son in the service or a husband working in the shipyard at the coast and that this is some sort of insurrection and a harbinger of the end of white supremacy so labor mobility, black migration, black protests, another area where we would see an upsurge in black protests, all reflected in this horrible act of violence against two boys the same age as emmett till, 13 years before emmett till becomes emmett till.
12:24 pm
it's also the first fbi investigation of a lynching in history. langston hughes eulogized this in charlie lying in a poem. so there are these connections to a larger history but of national significance, world significance. and these are important and endlessly fascinating stories in their own right. but what made this book a book and indeed what makes the panel a panel is that the violence doesn't stop in all its forms and i've been book ended by a book by an author whose looking for both an earlier incident from 1912 and that its reverberation in the 1980s when i was a slightly younger, i remember the 80s was ronald reagan and the tampa bay bucs. but the violence doesn't stop, it continues in all its forms. social, economic, psychological as well as the
12:25 pm
physical violence that ravaged these terrorists and that echoes, that violence echoes. i'm am remembering certainly as he already mentioned echoes and i don't forget, thank you. [applause] >> thank you jason, we have time for questions and if you have any questions if you could there's a microphone on this side of the room , my right and if you could come there and ask your questions from that point. >> doctor phillips, could you talk about your primary sources? obviously in 1912 you are not able to interview people who experienced it but i'd love to hear more about your primary sources. >> sure. it was a learning process. one of the things about 1912 is it's a real backwater, a lot of the people i was trying to find out about were you know, the voices of the
12:26 pm
african-american community were so faint. they let a few traces. you're talking about people who were not exclusively sharecroppers but of large majority of these people were sharecroppers. many of them never owned anything, they never put their name on the deed, they never signed anything so often you're dealing with the faintest traces and even in the white community, this is a place in the north georgia mountains that is not in the center of things so i did a lot of diving into archives to find everything i possibly could. one of my moments was at one point the georgia national guard was deployed after the lynching and it turns out military men leave very detailed reports and they timestamp everything i found the commander of the unit that was there with the georgia national guard and i found his annual report and i thought it was a bust and there was an appendix and
12:27 pm
appendix 8 of the 1912 annual report, there was this minute by minute account of one of the episodes of the lynching and also a minute by minute account of the hanging of two boys things like that. i had a very difficult job in dealing with the newspapers because the newspapers were throwing gasoline on the fire of all of this but they sometimes provided the only account of things so it was a matter of trying to often triangulate three different papers and the atlanta constitution and the atlanta georgian which was the first paper and a real tabloid he sensational list newspaper so i was checking one against the other. i had another real goldmine was i found a letter written by this roof made jordan who was 14 and in a neighbor of may pro, the girl who was killed and when the events happened in 87, it brought all this back to vivid life in her memory, she was in her 80s at the time and wrote a
12:28 pm
letter to her son and i heard rumors about this and i managed to get a hold of that letter and it was a seven-page letter describing everything she remembered from 1914. i then used a lot to find descendents. they're always in terms of primary sources, i don't know that i could have written the bookin the way that i did 15 years ago , 20 years ago, maybe not 10 years ago and that all of these newspapers have recently become searchable and digitized a lot of the archives at the georgia archives in morrow and recently gone online and especially, i don't know how i would ever have found these people that this point i was searching for joseph kellogg on ancestry area there were two other people and who had in their tree, i sent a message and said are you by any chance ken to joseph kellogg and over and over again, the descendents, many of them were not nearly as far away. part of the mid-is this idea that these communities vanished.
12:29 pm
in reality a lot of them moved across the river. a lot of the families were in northside atlanta on the road. so yes, i think i was lucky in that if you can define the field as one county, i think of the book as a kind of port a couple, i went all the way down. also there's removal from the 1830s and the mayor of coming in 1912, his grandfather was part of the georgia guard who rounded up cherokee so easily so i also have a chapter about the cherokee on the same ground that this had happened before and the lights people in the county knew this was possible because their grandparents had already done it once. in terms of sources, i think of it as a deep dive, 200 years in one place but it helped a lot. >> i assume you have the same feeling being pinpointed on this one location. >> i did.
12:30 pm
i'm just enjoying this altar call for english majors to discover the archive. english majors, we need you. certainly things like ancestry, census records, there's a micro history and the local history aspect to this that's important and one of the things that i think is encouraging about both of the books and what maybe we could consider a movement because there's a few more is that there's a case to be made for local history as national history, local history as a bigger story. the subtitle is not simply a marketing strategy, it's blah blah blah in america or bob loblaw america civil-rights century. this is about making those connections. one of the things that i've arisen on before is because that this is a model.this is a compelling story that i
12:31 pm
was drawn to and is a series of events that i think are singular and allow you to tell a single type of story that's structured in my case as an act in three parts, three generations of racial struggle and racial violence in america. every community has a version of this, i gave a presentation that your county could be next which was more motivation than brett but it's still important and it's still true. this is what happens you go local. so i think that is as important. >> i have a question for patrick. i wasn't clear when you are talking about, you said the sheriff and the mayor intervened in an attempt to lynch the eq's. but did they also intervene when this removal was taking
12:32 pm
place and also, i was wondering what was the time span that it took to drive off all the black citizens? was there any kind of organized resistance on their part? >> it was a deputy, the sheriff was a huge part of the problem. he's the guy who appears on future klansman in the 1920s but there wasn't an attempt to save this guy who named rob edwards who was from the county jail and was lynched and both the mayor and deputy tribe, in the wake of that lynching the governor didsend the national guard to try to restore order . as far as the wages of night riding follow that, when make road died, he was found and when she died, that woman ruth jordan's letter said on the night of her funeral, all hell broke loose and just when arson began they started burning churches, firing
12:33 pm
sharecroppers cabins, posting notices and the process really took about twomonths . it seems that by the end of 1912, by january 2014 you have reporting going through the county saying the entire black community is gone so it seems that it was really mid october to the end of the year and it's understandable, also when rob edwards was lynched the body was left hanging all the next day and it's wild because the corner where he was lynched, i went back to the county courthouse to do a lot of this research and you stand on that corner and i've been there 1 million times with a kid, nobody ever said anything about it. it was all just kind of merged into this destiny but his body was left as a warning to people who, the rapid this of the explosion was understandable when you start to read exactly what went on and it as far as you know, distance, that was another thing i had always, i
12:34 pm
had not known that there was a faction that tried to stop it. they did write impassioned letters to the governor, they wrote to a judge, the circuit court judge in the federal court because the threats were delivered by us mail which makes it a federal offense and they said as much to the local judge and said the judge in atlanta, you need to intervene here and i look at the minute books for that, for that session of court and what you find is just dozens and dozens of prosecutions for moon shining so i likened it in the book to a kind of war on drugs and inthe same way, how incredibly distracted the wheels of justice work , prosecuting these poor distillers and during the weeks when all of this is going on there's not a single mention of anywhere anywhere in those court record books but they are putting away one moonshiner after another. >>. [inaudible] there was.
12:35 pm
there was. but this resistance was simply a group of men from a church picnic going to save a local minister named fran smith and they went to town to try to stop it and got to the town square and found a gun, just everyone arming up. the whole square was full of people filling ammunition and guns because then coming to the barbecue, tour the courthouse was interpreted and this was all over the papers, as a black rebellion, a black insurrection which you talk about that phrase, and insurrection. >> this is such important information for all of us to know. i thank you both. tell us about our county and
12:36 pm
fourth sitenow , what is it like? would anyone want to go and visit there? i'm not sure. is there any policy to anybody, is there any history about this? i'd like to hear that side. >> i can answer in the form of thinking about my experience and my process in writing the book. in 2011, we had a racial killing and this is in mississippi where white teenagers frombrandon which is now a suburban community outside jacksonville , went into jackson and they attacked the man in the middle of the night, ran him over with a truck and killed him on security camera footage, and the reason i mentioned that and your description of foresight is instructive is that the diversion path of southern communities is an interesting
12:37 pm
thing to ponder when you are thinking about the history of racial violence because there's a lot that's concrete in box stores and subdivisions can cover up and what happened in brandon in 2011 when there was this racial killing was that a lot of the community reaction was framed in terms of what a great place it was to live now and how it was just miles away from what it used to be. that sounds a lot more like foresight. it's still a rural county. it's a big rural county. i don't think the population is any more than it was in the 40s. it used to be a black majority county so when the incident occurred, it was a black majority county. currently there's still a black majority but it's about 6040 white at this point. but it's still very rural but as i experienced some of
12:38 pm
these same demographic and economic trends , i think it's in a way the distance. to see when a distance from these types of memories but still it doesn't make people any less resistant to facing them but that's just something i've thought about was that we had eight racial tape in the suburbs and it was a very suburban thing, in many ways it was more resistant than maybe rural areas where you still have, where those feelings and dynamics are still fairly raw area. >> in foresight, in 1987 when the county made a lot of headlines, the governor appointed a commission to try to improve race relations in the county and the commission had 12 members, six of them from thecivil rights community in atlanta , for from the king center and rabbi in atlanta and then the
12:39 pm
other six members were whites from forsyth county, the chair of the committee was tellingly a local real estate member because the biganxiety was about land . and they issued a report to the governor after a year of working together and i think it's telling that little report they issued, there's a lot of fanfare when the committee was convened but they finished up a year later and nobody was paying attention when they finally issued their findings and when i got hold of that report, i was astonished because it contains two reports, a white report and the black reports. they've been working together for a year and they could not , they came out with separate documents and the white report said that black citizens had quote, allegedly then driven out of the county but in their estimation most of them had voluntarily relocated. they claimed the bowl weevil
12:40 pm
which the bowl evil doesn't come to georgia until 1815. they blamed the depression which i'm not sure how you can work on that one. and they said forsyth county does not know anyone anything. we only overhand out, welcoming hand as has always been the case in this county for 150 years so the depth of denial was jaw-dropping. i'm i was steeped in the bigotry of this place, i grew up there and even i, my jaw dropped when i read these words that the georgia governor, and the african-american reports, self reward from atlanta said that he believed that he said, for too long in this community, violence was interpreted as consent and i put that over my desk. violence is interpreted as consent. and i think what's going on now in foresight is exactly what jason is talking about. there is a real veneer of normalcy, a veneer of urban
12:41 pm
affluence, there are big-box stores everywhere, office men working the registers in best buy so when i went there, almost no one knows about this. maybe they do now area but almost none of the people who moved there from atlanta knew about it. it's like the hottest real estate market in the city. it's at least until recently, i don't know if it's true but recently was named among the top 20 wealthiest per capita counties in the country. this is a place where people got extremely wealthy office. it's not like this and ended up being taken from black owners and it stayed farmland, it has become unbelievable generator of wealth and when i first started going around with the book, i sometimes tried to end on a happy note and say this county is now 10 percent black, latino, eight percent asian and about 3 to 4 percent african-american and i used two, a couple of times i suggest that maybe things
12:42 pm
are changing but people from the county came up to me afterwards and said you can't buy into that. and then sure enough, there was a sensation that went around a couple weeks ago where a teacher in georgia posted repeatedly calling our first lady michelle obama a gorilla. that's at chesapeake elementary school in forsyth county and chesapeake elementary is four miles from where mei crow was found in 1912. that's exactly what jason was saying, the veneer can cover over some attitudes that are still there and i think there's just an intense resistance to turning and facing, this intense denial. yes ma'am. >> and on the other hand when you have a rural community that is shrinking, that remains kind of mostly boarded-up stores and empty
12:43 pm
lots, on the other hand there is the reaction of well, why pick on a dying town or why pick on an area that's struggling so there's another dynamic there at play. >> i moved here for 25 years and moved back to san francisco where i was from for six years and again, what i discovered while i was there is that people there love to stand on the deep south or any part of the south for its racism but while i was there, the city and bay area started having to look at its own racism because there was a group of police officers associated with a big internal investigation that over a period of a couple years, different waves of racist texts came out from different
12:44 pm
officers who were involved in other types of crimes while acting as police officers that they had, they were just abhorrent and they were even talking about african americans as gorillas or lynching them and all this type of stuff so they were in the process of firing quite a few of them and then the public works department, white guys were putting nooses and black guys lockers and actually over 60 percent of the san francisco jail is african-american, four percent of the population in the county is african-american and they've been systematically driven out by development, first of all pan so it's like people could never believe that this sort of thing was happening and one percent of the entire bay area, one percent of the tech community is african-american, that's huge. four percent is latino, okay? the rest is white and chinese
12:45 pm
so how do you, you guys have always looked at the deep south is being the evil racists but what is the psychology of here you are in the west coast where people are so removed from all this history and all this kind of education and all that so i was wondering how do you relate it to what's going on where people are so removed from all these assessments? >> i think, i just had a very short essay that was in the book that appeared online the other day and i didn't get to write the headline and the headline they wrote was turning to face the ugly past and it was like, when i posted the link i said if i were writing this headline it would be america but that was
12:46 pm
the obfuscation, falling into that old pattern and if you look at james loewen has a book called on downtown that influenced me writing this story because he looks at this from 30,000 feet and looks down on the whole nation and in the second census records he finds information for these kind of redlining and racial confidence and in the pacific northwest and in san francisco, a lot of the asian communities suffered from this so you know, places that look white today, a lot of them got that way for a reason. they didn't always look that way so ithink that's a trap , to pin this on the south and suggest that, you've got to pin it on the nation and i think that a lot of well-meaning liberal progressive minded white people, myself included until fairly recently are reluctant to talk about race because i used the think, do no harm and enough people with my face and my voice have said
12:47 pm
it enough so i should stay out of this and that was my attitude for a long time until i have this conversation with natasha who essentially said you've got to get off the sidelines. and i did come to believe i was particularly positioned to tell it growing up there and i felt a little bit like walter white in that i could go undercover and get some people to talk to me in ways they would not have talked to someone else that i think with what's been going on with police violence where you know, this conversation is going forward instead of facing this history so that suggest that it's just a regional issue for the south is another way of trying to avoid the pain. >> the one thing i thought of immediately there in the bay area was the opening anecdote , this is a book about a tiny rural county in mississippi, a very sparsely populated
12:48 pm
county and i can draw these connections. so in 1965, reverend killingsworth interviewed by students from stanford, they were professional journalists . they were students who ran the radio station, college radio station and they did a tour of the south 65 where the interview civil rights workers, civil-rights volunteers, one of the workers in this county was a uc berkeley student so jesse job charles killingsworth interviewed stanford because stanford students were the ones who toured the south collecting these interviews and they do so in the summer of 65 so by the time they come to clark county mississippi, to interview college volunteers, local activists, they are asking local activists, native black mississippians, asking them about the watch. because that's the california connection.
12:49 pm
and it's interesting to see this moment because very often by the time we get to themid-60s , we get this narrative where the movement starts to fracture, it starts to climb, we have these triumphant pieces of legislation in washington and the story starts to go all over the place but in this case, those narratives are colliding so based on race being a national problem and what is happening in mississippi are colliding so black mississippi has had just as much to say about urban riots or northern racism as the northern white liberal would have us believe in mississippi and is remarkable and eye-opening. we wouldn't have that were not for these larger connections. it's i'm thankful there were white liberals at stanford were so invested in this they spent the whole summer collecting interviews. >> i'd like to thank, they
12:50 pm
said this here but it's 10 minutes till the hour. we are if you would like to talk to the authors before we leave the room. we are also going to move up to the war memorial auditorium for a book signing but i'd like to thank the authors and if you would give them a round of applause. [applause] thank you all for coming to the session. we are here for a few minutes if you like to come speak to either patrick or if you want to do that, we can do that before we leave. >>.
12:51 pm
[inaudible conversation] >> sunday in depth will feature a live discussion on the presidency of barack obama. we are taking your phone calls, tweets and emails during the discussion. our panel includes april ryan, correspondent for american radio network and off author of the presidency in black and white: my up close view of presidents and race in america. author of democracy in black: how race still enslaves the american pole and prize-winning editor of the washington post david meredith, author of barack obama: the story. watch in depth live from noon to 3 pm eastern sunday on book tv on c-span2. >> you know the wonderful thing about being a writer is you learn how to lead like a taiwanese acrobat and the land on your feet at a moments notice so imagine my
12:52 pm
surprise after i left my house when i was told i was going to be talking about the writer's life and i said i am? okay. and i have to admit i don't know anything about the writer's life . i only know about the post writer's life and this writer's life is very different from most writers. i am not affiliated with a university. i'm just kind of always been a maverick. i make my living by inventing the past to becoming a writer. i was ashamed or a long time to tell people i wanted to become a writer because the neighborhood i grew up in, the working-class neighborhood in chicago, i'd never really seen a writer and actually, by the time i got high school i met one, paul carol and he was invited to my class to my poetry teacher but i was the shyest person in the world and could never go up to talk to paul carol and ask how did you do
12:53 pm
it? so i think that for writers, we are solitary creatures we are shy . there's a difference between being a writer and being the author tonight the author is here . the writer, debra will comb her hair and doesn't get all dressed up and doesn't wear author jewelry. she stays at home and doesn't answer the phone and is very cranky. but the author is patient and friendly and makes eye contact and shakes your hand and i am not best self so don't worry. you don't have to worry. and usually we are cranky as writers because we are often in the dark when we are writing. i think sometimes readers think we know what we are doing as we are writing but
12:54 pm
the true story is we are often writing towards the answer and we don't know what the question is. so it's often like a baby walking towards an answer that you haven't a clue what the question is and you won't get the question until you write the answer. it's this long process of going ahead and following it and you hope after a couple years that you haven't wasted your life and that you are on the right track so that's why we are cranky. that's why we don't answer the phone and that's why we don't like people knocking on the door. that is the writer's life. the author spends the majority of time trying to figure out if she can wash her clothes and have it dry for the next day. i'm in more dell a lot and i have to figure things out but it's very mundane and boring so you don't want to hear about the author but i am going to read a little bit and tell you how i wrote this as the writer, not the author and this is from my new book
12:55 pm
a house of my own, stories from my life. i gathered together things that are about the story of being a writer. through 30 years of my life, i had to write some new ones and also had to edit them and whittle them so there were repetitions but this one was written and published in the newspaper , a rare occurrence for me. i had this journalist in me, i have to say. writers i admire the most are journalists . leonard penthouse got, studs terkel and everybody else, just to name a few, gabriel garcia marquez and i admire them because they are able to write things in a timely way and have it published immediately. they are to me what i think of when i think of the kind of writer i want to be, someone who speaks up when no one else is speaking up on
12:56 pm
behalf of those who have no voice , those who, a writer is someone who's courageous and able to tell the truth when no one else is speaking the truth and especially this may post 11 where we are and how much the media helped to create a state of fear we are living in now and i'm a little disappointed that we don't acknowledge how much the press allows for racist comments and lies to be published when they ought to know better so i think it's good to have writers out there, especially in times of crystal which i call this era post 9/11, and era of fear that is in our bodies and it's not just us fear. it's a global fear that we are seeing happening in many nations including in countries i live in, mexico. i have a dual citizen of
12:57 pm
mexico and the united states and i think my job as a writer is to be a bridge between these two communities . i think we can't afford to wall ourselves off from our neighbors, just like if you had a neighbor who you are fighting with , you don't talk to a neighbor, how are you going to get good relations? and there's a lovely quote that i'd like to remind my readers and audiences and within people and within countries, respect for your neighbor is peace. this was of course by mexican president benito warez, the only indigenous president of mexico. he was a contemporary and a friend of abraham lincoln . within individuals and within nations, respect for your neighbor is peace. and i think living in mexico, one of the messages i wanted to bring to you is that the mexican people also are
12:58 pm
living, they are as afraid as we are. they are as disgusted with their politicians as we are. they are as distrustful and the police as we are and i think the message the mexican people would like to relate to you is would you please stop selling arms to thugs in mexico and would you please stop buying drugs from the thugs in mexico because this is supporting organized crime. you have a mobius of violence in both countries due to the sale and consumption and until we stop this mobius, we will never be secure in our own country. my brother lolo who's real name is arturo but my brother has a neighbor who's has birdfeeders, a wonderful family but the neighbors
12:59 pm
started complaining that there's rats in the yard and my brother said well, i can't get rid of the rats unless you get rid of the birdfeeders. it's the same conflict. this is the only way that we will secure global orders is if we ask our neighbors how can we make you safe and i will be safe too? >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 52nd season of theater 80, the seventh year for the museum of the american gangster. welcome to the c-span audience. i am extraordinarily happy to have deirdre here to speak about this book. it is one of my great interest growing up and organized crime. i was raised in the religious society of friends.
1:00 pm
when anybody ever says oh, i don't subscribe to organized religion i would say i don't either. i grew up quaker where it's organized crime. the only thing we ever did in an organized way, we don't have theology, is break the law . >> between these two great concepts that are always at war and define a good one of the great, great characters and the story,


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on