Skip to main content

tv   African Americans and Anti-colonialism in Africa  CSPAN  April 4, 2015 8:30am-9:55am EDT

8:30 am
the wilson center in the national history center cohosted this 80 minute event. >> a few years ago, my brother sent me a youtube clip from the peel it's her prize-winning macarthur award-winning author. it was called the danger of the single-story. she explained as a young girl how she used to write these stories about girls who are blind eating apples in the snow, -- who were blonde eating apples in the snow and then there were more blondes, and more. and then there are more blondes. eating apples and playing in the snow. and her mother said, child, do you know you're in nigeria? and she said well yes, but all of the book that she read had blondes eating apples and playing in the snow.
8:31 am
given everything that she had read, that appeared to be the story worth telling. with all great parables, there is an underlying message in that story. that underlying message is that there are these stories that we hear over and over and over again. we hear them so much, that they go by without interrogation. without question. and they begin to frame our worldview. they begin to frame the way we see the world. so for instance, she says, africa is poor. immigrants are mexicans. and legal. the poor -- and illegal. the poor do not work. when you begin to interrogate those stories, you had a very different understanding of how the world works.
8:32 am
i also grew up with the same story. it was the story told over and over again. about what authentic black leadership looked like. what is said, how it said it and it was of course, militants. defiant. and it had swagger. and of course, it wore leather. but like adichie, i grew up. but somehow those stories did not. this is erased from major history text decades of effective anti-colonial mobilization among black liberals. and through the power of these narratives, scholars have created what i call a very seductive radical art that runs the gamut from marcus garvey to
8:33 am
w e b du bois, to paul robison to malcolm x.. and to the panthers. in doing so, historians have elevated not just excavated -- because that work needed to be excavated -- but not -- now they have elevated the role of rap radicals of the home and abroad. -- of lack radicals. in the process of that excavation and elevation they have been varying the work of black liveries -- liberals in the struggle for anti-colonialism. there are a few descriptors such as the aplomb of the african revolution or you need a handkerchief. with that, just in explaining how the cold war caused these liberals to abandon colonial freedom struggles, so historians
8:34 am
implied that only lacked radicals were in this -- black radicals were in this struggles, that they were the only ones left. but it -- this lens of interpretation is much too narrow. and i would argue, implicitly dangerous. what it does is it has funneled the very definition of real black leadership into a straitjacket of thought and action. it has cast militancy and resistance, which hold iconic value in the black immunity, as the only attribute of leadership. while depicting a sellout, and tom's. those who have an abiding faith in the idea of american democracy. and who have worked assiduously to turn that potential of freedom into reality. both domestically and globally.
8:35 am
while the story that i'm going to tell is another story. it is a story where militancy for the sake of militancy is not enough. for the naacp. the naacp waited until this anti-colonial struggle with the vision of what it was going to take to turn attribute -- atrophied colonies into vibrant democratic nations. and that game plan included indigenous control of natural resources, the creation of an extensive, high-quality educational system, believing that the indigenous people had to have the wherewithal to be able to run their own nation. that you had to have the development of a high quality health care system, because when people are ill, when they are
8:36 am
staggering under the weight of disease, they cannot participate fully in a vibrant democracy. they also believe that you had to have land reforms. so that they can have the economic wherewithal for a quality standard of living. you also had cap labor standards and the elimination of exploitation. without this full complement of human rights, the association contended, asian, errands, and effort -- arabs, and africans would be unable to find justice in society. political extremism would take root and the result would be endless violence, deprivation, and war. this however, was not just the naacp talking theoretically. this is how the naacp then moved
8:37 am
to the international realm to take on the anticolonial struggles. i am going to illustrate just one of those. that was the issue of southwest africa. current state namibia. -- current damon day namibia. namibisouthwest africa was a league of nations mandate that had been pulled from the germans after the end of the first world war. under german rule, southwest africa had undergone a horrific genocide. 80% of the caro's -- and 50% of another tribe were killed. when it became a league of nations mandate, which was supposed to make this area, what they called a secret trust of civilization, the league of nations placed the sacred trust in the hands of south africa. south africa -- this is before
8:38 am
apartheid, but it had already been built on white supremacy. but after the second world war the international system created under the united nations, the trustee system to replace the mandate system. south africa, when it saw this system coming into being, it began to send young christians to the prime minister. saying, we are thinking about annexing. u.n. said, you are going to annex international territory? what he did is he got the british onboard.
8:39 am
on board. -- the british on board. by basically bullying and blackmailing. saying we have to come outside of the commonwealth if we don't get your backing on this. you know you have us -- those british protectorate sitting in the middle of south africa and you might have to take those over. and the british were like, yes we know. when jan christian came at the beginning of 1946 and said we are going to annex south west africa, the south africans were expecting to get a little resistance from the communist nations and from what they saw as the colored nations. but they expected everyone else to be with them. they were sorely, sadly, mistaken. leading the charge against south africa was commonwealth ally new zealand. and peter fraser from new
8:40 am
zealand said, i don't know what you read in the u.n. charter, i don't think we were at the same meeting. let me brief you on what went down. you cannot do this. this is illegal and it violates international law. if you don't want to be known the way that our enemies were, meaning the nazis, you will abide by international agreements. jan christian stepped back. he had to rethink his strategy. what he did coming back in the next meeting, as he intimated to the state department, he had a subterfuge that he was going to play until the coast was clear. that subterfuge was that there is going to be a referendum, he said. in that referendum they asked
8:41 am
the inhabitants of southwest africa, do you want to be annexed? he said, 100% of the europeans in southwest africa said yes. let's stop for a minute. if there are two people in the room it is hard to get 100% agreement on an item with two people. when you are talking about 35,000 people, a 100% becomes a touch carrier. -- becomes even a touch hairier. even more than that, 85% of the africans also wanted to be annexed, he said. that looked you have on your face right now, that skepticism? [laughter] you also were at the u.n. because that was the look they had. he said, i know you are skeptical, but let me explain. we have provided millions of
8:42 am
acres of land. the best land for the africans. we have created a world-class educational system for the africans. we have done everything to ensure that they have the best and understand, he said, that all of this is being borne by the small european taxpaying base that is willingly providing all of this for the africans. so you can rest assured that this annexation means africans will continue to enjoy a wonderful and strong, fruitful life under our domain. the u.n. is skeptical. really skeptical, but it doesn't have any counter proof. it doesn't have any evidence to the contrary about what is
8:43 am
happening in south west africa. that proof would come, though, from a man named reverend michael scott. the reverend michael scott was in anglican minister. he had lived in south west africa for years. he had fought against racial discrimination in south africa for years. he was in fact jailed, for as they say, refusing to act like a european, because he moved into the african shantytown on the outskirts of johannesburg. when he emerged out of jail, the paramount chief of the tribe summoned michael scott to the land where he had been exiled and said, something wicked this way comes.
8:44 am
i can't get there to get the evidence. but you, as a white man, with south african citizenship and a clerical collar, can get into southwest africa and find out what is going on. and reverend michael scott said, ok. and he went, he gathered the information, he met with the chief and the africans, he pulled all of this data together. it becomes clear very quickly how much jan christian had lied to the u.n.. now the question is, what is he going to do with this information? he told the tribe, i'm going to go and tell the world. which meant i am going to go to the u.n. there are a couple of problems. one, he is broke. he refuses to act like a
8:45 am
european so he was straight of -- he was stripped of his possessions. in his work in south africa in the 1930's, he worked with the only organized group opposed to racial discrimination as he was -- the communist party. by the time we are into 1946 in the united states, have any kind of communist affiliation, you are going to be banned via immigration laws. there is also generating a beginning of a wonderful entrance national network of allies. douglas buchanan in cape town, he contacts chanting tobias of the naacp and says, we need your help. the naacp, working with the india league, and the naacp is on the board at the end -- india league.
8:46 am
a begin to strategize on how to get the reverend michael scott into the u.s., because the state department and justice department have denied him a visa. they start pressing. they start pressing, one of those was -- let me see if i get this right. he is a god-fearing godless communist, is that correct? and the state department said, yeah. so let we tell the press is you just let a god-fearing godless communist, and you see how this will put us in a bad light? ok, we are going to let him in but we are going to have so many restrictions on his visa that he is going to be basically tethered to a few square blocks
8:47 am
in midtown manhattan. and he can't give speeches, he can't even preach in the cathedral. he can't write articles. we are going to try to keep them as muzzled as possible. the only place he can really talk is in the u.n. he gets into the united states as a member of the indian delegation, working through the indian league. he comes in and he has the documentation. that documentation was searing. it was damning. it was to the point where they u.n. now has the evidence to begin to ask south africa the questions. so, they said to the south african delegation, you say that you have spent millions in terms of buying land.
8:48 am
but could you explain why 90% of the population is on 42% of the land? the least arable land? that is the i think i just got caught in a lie look. the next question. you say that you have built these incredible schools. but in fact, the documentation proves that there are no publicly funded schools for africans. that any schools in south west africa at the moment are funded and run by missionaries. so, exactly where are your public expenditures for education? ok, you say that. can you explain why 90% of your population only is allocated 10%
8:49 am
of the budget? at that moment, south africa and knew that it was on the ropes and they u.n. made it clear that they were not going to sanction this annexation. what that moment did for south africa, however, was jan christian is now on the ropes politically. because as they say, he has exposed south africa to international criticism. and this is 1948. he loses the election to the nationalist party. the nationalists, led by daniel malan, a member of the dutch reformed church, institutes apartheid. when apartheid comes to south africa, there is this enormous
8:50 am
fear among michael scott, the naacp, that putting a group of -- putting a group of not seat -- nazi lovers on top of africans is an unmitigated disaster. michael scott runs to the british and they say there is nothing we can do. they begin to mobilize again. in that mobilization, it is the have to get back to the u.n. to explain what the difference in regime means. the u.s. again denies michael scott a visa. this time, the british and the americans go to the indian delegation and say, you really really don't want to set this president. -- precedent. you do not want to put a disaffected individual as an official member of your delegation. think about it. what would happen with the pakistan -- if it pakistan
8:51 am
delegation put a disaffected indian on? so india backs off. again, the international league for the rights of man on whose board the naacp since has official status with the u.n. so the international league designates the reverend michael scott as their official delegate to the u.n. with that headquarters agreement, he is able to get into the united states. once again, the u.s. with all of these restrictions on his visa. the naacp is angry but undeterred. it begins to mount a campaign for the reverend michael scott. part of this campaign is to get to eleanor roosevelt. she is on the board of directors
8:52 am
of the naacp and who is chair of the u.n. commission on human rights, because they understand that this anti-colonial issue is a human rights issue. reverend michael scott calls eleanor roosevelt's office, and the archival documentation is very funny because you see the handwriting that says, he is a commie. he has been bothering and besieging everyone at the u.n. and mrs. roosevelt's secretary says, yes but he called from the naacp's office. why don't we check with them to see what this man is all about? the naacp says, this is a man of god and a man of courage. this is a man fighting one of the greatest evils the world has ever known. because he had that courage, that is why he is being
8:53 am
slandered the way he is by the south african government. she meets with him. she says, he is a little intense, and he is. but the fourth committee of the u.n. is deciding, because south africa has had in so much. -- has dug in so much. the fourth committee is deciding to do something absolutely unprecedented. that is to have the reverend michael scott in fact provide direct testimony to the u.n. about the condition and southwest africa, because south africa has refused to submit reports even though it is required at least by the mandate system. the reverend michael scott provides that testimony. that testimony is chilling. he talks about the creation in the manufacturing -- and then manufacturing of criminals at
8:54 am
the a via blackness, by vagrancy laws, poverty laws. the whole series of laws that are designed create exploitable labor pool that can be dragooned into working in mind -- mines. thousands are being dragged year after year as he talks about the work that is being done on basically slave labor on the white owned farms. as he tells this tale -- and understand, the british and south africans are saying, how can you do this? it means you have someone who does not have official status with a nation, talking about the conditions in the colonies. and this is a dangerous precedent for the british.
8:55 am
but he tells the tale. and he tells the tale because he had an incredible array of support that allowed him to do the work that needed to be done. that support included office space at the naacp. and secretarial support at the naacp. remember, the u.n. operates on a range of papers, memoranda reports, documents and petitions. being able to have that kind of support, the naacp in the midst of fighting jim crow -- because they are fighting to get the brown decision through. that legal cases already moving.
8:56 am
the naacp is providing support. the second level is that it realizes that the man is basically tethered him in 10 men -- in midtown manhattan. that was an absolute crime. walter white, the head of the naacp, his apartment happened to be within the confines of that restricted area. so he began to hold a series of teas and cocktail parties at his apartment with an invited a list of guest, senators, mayors journalists, has of organized labor. -- heads of organized labor. the people who can begin to shape opinion and the narratives about what south africa is or isn't in the american body of politics. that kind of support including
8:57 am
fundraisers. these meetings became fundraisers, where they are beginning to generate thousands of dollars to support the work of michael scott. and because he was ill. he had crohn's disease. he is doubled over in pain most of the time. they are paying for hospital bills. they said they have to do what ever we can to make sure south africa does not steal this man's voice. with that kind of support, he is able to provide testimony before the fourth committee of the u.n. with that testimony, the u.n. decides to do something that it had been thinking about for a while. that was to seek an opinion from the international court of justice, the icj on exactly what is the status of southwest africa.
8:58 am
that status, the icj came back with, was, you cannot make south africa under the trustee ship system. however, the mandate is still in effect. which means that south africa must submit annual reports on the condition and southwest africa to the only recognized international body that is designed to handle those reports. that is the united nations. south africa said, i like one part of that decision and not the other so i will pay attention to the part i like. we don't have to put this under the trustee ship system. and no, the u.n. will not get an annual report here it the u.s. is sitting there thinking, don't make this so hard. we are fighting the cold war.
8:59 am
the racism underneath south africa is making it very hard for us to talk to nations emerging out of asia and africa that we are the leader of the free world, when we are in fact tied to a regime of not cease -- nazis. if you would just give a bit on this one, it will make it a lot easier for the work we want to do in waging the cold war. south africa said, here is what we are willing to do. we are not going to send a report to the u.n. we will send a report to our trusted allies, the british, the french, and the americans. those are the only nations that will receive a report.
9:00 am
those are the only nations that will receive a report. the u.s. is going, that is not going to work. south africa said, stop. that is a major compromise for us. because some of these western nations have this devilish notion that there is something wrong with racial discrimination. and they have this obsession with human rights. the fact that we are willing to go that far is it really major compromise for us. the u.s. said, that is not quite what we had in mind. what happened after that was that the u.n. created this ad hoc committee on southwest africa. in order to try to get the information in. south africa refused to submit information. so, you are going to get what i call one of the major showdowns
9:01 am
at the u.n. meeting in 1951. in that meeting, channing tobias, a member of the u.s. delegation to the u.n., had said to his state department handlers, you can count on me to be a team player and play the team game. but there are some areas where my conscience will take over. the state department had a mantra that they said to folks going into south africa. that was, hank your conscience on a peg. that is the way you can really enjoy south africa. tobias refused to hang his conscience on a peg. the fourth committee was beside itself and decided to really
9:02 am
break precedents this time. it was not about michael scott giving testimony. it was asking the leadership of the hereros, namas, and other tribes to give direct testimony about what is happening in south west africa. south africa and the british they stand up and begin to go, this is unprecedented and unheralded. as the south african said, one day you all will get hung on the gallows that you have built for south africa. the british turned to the americans because they had scripted how this meeting would work. the south africans would take the lead and then the british would come in. then the americans would write
9:03 am
in and stop this -- ride in and stop this thing cold. the south africans do their thing and the british do their thing, and then you hear nothing and the americans sit there. because channing tobias is the chair of the u.s. delegation in the fourth committee. as his members tried to stand up, first benjamin garrett, who has worked with the british. they even worked out the statement. this is the statement he is getting ready to give. then tobias says, sit down. and garrett said -- and then tobias said, i said sit down. and channing tobias is a minister. so he has that authority to really say, sit down.
9:04 am
garrett sits down. so then another stands up. garrett also tells him to sit down. sit now. the british are dumbfounded. i'm going to break this piece off right now to tell you how i began to find this story. as a historian, we love the hunt. i am in the naacp papers at the library of congress. there is this moment when walter white, the head of the naacp, says to tobias, how did it go?
9:05 am
and tobias says something to the effect, sometimes a man got to do what a man got to do. and i thought, what did you do? and the naacp papers are beautiful. they document when somebody sneezes. i'm going through and i can't find anything accept, and then got a do what a man got it do. so i went to the channing tobias papers at the university of minnesota. and i'm hunting and looking, and they are rich. you know when you are getting to that point when you know that moment in time when this meeting happened? and i get there, and there is nothing there. document, document, document, blank.
9:06 am
you knew that you saw a purge. i said, you don't know who i am. i will stop you. so i then went to the national archives and got into the voluminous state department papers. all of those locked files. as i am hunting, i find this document that says, this is probably the only existing copy. the british are furious. sir anthony eaton will be contacting secretary of state atchison, just thought you said no. i thought, this is big. i still don't know what he did. but this is big. so i hopped on a plane and went to britain.
9:07 am
if the british are furious then maybe they have to amended -- documents sitting in their national archives. sitting there is what i call the tobias file. and it is, we had this worked out and that he forbade and then he said, and then he did. he was talking about, he thought that colonialism was an old tired thing and he is glad that it is dead. can you believe he said that? the file is rich. i am in the british national archives and i'm trying not to do the dance of joy. [laughter] that is how i began to piece together what happened at this meeting.
9:08 am
when the british are saying, this is awful, what you see on the state department's side -- because there was a quick vacation within state about the u.s. alliance within south africa. on the one hand, you get the this is a valued ally that has a wonderful strategic minerals that we need and is staunchly anti-communist. then you have those going, their policies are absolutely odious. they are utter nonsense. harder for you begin to see happening here is the naacp working to shift and change the narrative of what south africa is. how you begin to turn a valued ally of the west into an political ball and chain. after this meeting, the naacp has provided funding for the
9:09 am
tribes to come to the u.n. meeting to testify. this is the kind of support coming in from the naacp. the south african government refuses to issue passports to allow the african leadership to leave. reverend michael scott is then invited up to talk again, to testify again. channing tobias talks about that moment when south africa says, no. he turns to water and says i witnessed the brushoff. he signaled to the rest of the delegation that the united
9:10 am
states would love to hear from michael scott did find out -- to find out about these conditions. the reverend michael scott says mine is not the place you need to hear. you need to hear from the africans who are having to deal with the oppression of white supremacy. that is the place you need to hear. -- avoid you need to hear. from that meeting, the united nations forms to committees. one looks at southwest africa. the other committee begins to investigate apartheid. here you have the u.n. moving in to national sovereignty to in fact investigate the internal policies of the nation, saying that these internal policies are affecting international peace. that is landmark. it comes from the work of black liberals working with other organizations. how do we understand this incredible moment in time in the scholarship? and we begin to understand --
9:11 am
radical contemporaries like w.e.b. dubois, who had been kicked out of the naacp and 1948, complaint bitterly that the naacp was useless in the fight to free africa from colonialism. because he said the association was able to a set up -- a bougeois setup that was afraid to do anything. a congressman tried to sign a petition charging the u.s. against, but was blocked by the naacp. fumed that the americans who interceded in order that the reverend michael scott might speak were also the ones who refused to intercede when the petition dealing with genocide in the united states was submitted. similarly, historians decades
9:12 am
later, tell us that the naacp was so infused with liberal ideology, that all he could think of was try to get more african-americans in the foreign policy bureaucracy. as it that was going to make any difference. what we really see historians tell us, is timidity and collusion with the u.s. government that led to an embargo, whereby the association received a pittance of civil rights concessions at home in exchange for silence on foreign-policy issues and acquiescence in american and west european control of the world's colored peoples. yet what the association did was not silence. it was not abandonment. it was another way of fighting.
9:13 am
this is another story, a rich complicated story, that we want to know until -- we won't know until we write the african american center back into the history of liberation. thank you. [applause] >> carol, thank you very much for that stimulating and provocative talk. we have a lot to say in our discussion. the floor is open. we ask that you wait for the microphone before you start to speak. then please identify yourself. up here in the very front. >> from the wilson center. thank you so much professor anderson, and thank you for sharing your aha moment with us. that resonated with a lot of
9:14 am
people. i wonder whether you found anything in the naacp papers indicated disputes within the organization, unease among people about what was limited resources going with this issue whether then with african-american equality? carol: absolutely. there was a big meeting in 1946. the issue was, can we afford this? we are time to take on jim crow, lynching disenfranchisement, unequal health care and unequal housing and education. this is an organization that 75% of its funds come from african-americans. and african americans did not have a lot of disposable income to even pay. this is an organization whose agenda consistently outstrips
9:15 am
its budget. trying to figure out what his priorities were -- so you had to camps at least. there was that, we need to focus on the issues at home. that camp was led primarily by -- his last name was luis. alfred baker lewis. and also by rc . when of the things he said to walter white was why are you traipsing all over the world when negroes are more concerned about jobs and security? the pushback was that white supremacy was global. so trying to take on white supremacy only in the united states was not going to solve
9:16 am
the problem. this thing had to be eradicated root and branch globally because that was the only way that real human rights and real dignity would come about. the walter white said, it makes no more sense to think of this is only an american issue than it does to pay attention to what is happening in negroes in mississippi as if that doesn't matter to negroes in massachusetts. the frame that white supremacy is global so we have to attack it globally. one of the things they did to how about the resource issue was that the naacp worked hand-in-hand with a lot of other groups. what you saw was a coalition where each would take on the piece that they did best. they are smartly leveraging each other. for instance the international league for the rights of man
9:17 am
did not have a big staff, but the naacp had staff. all they had was a consultative status. that could get reverend michael scott in. the international league for the rights of man did its part. you have seminaries that provided housing. you have the naacp that provided secretarial support. and office space for him. there were consistent discussions and battles. every time something would come up, you would see it in the board minutes again. >> stephen? >> wonderful presentation. you wedded my appetite for another story prior to the forming of the united nations. that is the invasion by italy of abyssinia, which was the
9:18 am
first conquest of one league of nations member of another. i'm wondering what role the naacp played in the conquest? carol: let me find the page number. [laughter] one of the chapters i talk about is the italian colonies issue. it starts with the italian invasion of ethiopia. this is where you see this kind of incredible mobilization in the black community on an international scale. the naacp protested. in went to the white house. it is asking the white house to intervene. roosevelt would not intervene. it is backing ethiopia with everything that it can. it is issuing protests to the soviet union, because they were cheering the league of nations
9:19 am
at the time as the president and he was manipulating the league so ethiopia's protests would not come through because this was part of the soviet scheme to try to get mussolini away from hitler. yeah. the soviets are also selling allele -- oil. lots of oil to fuel the invasion of ethiopia. the naacp says, does your anti-imperialism stop at black nations? is that how this works? the naacp is on this early. it does everything that he can for ethiopia. even when ethiopia becomes liberated, it is at the white house talking about, you have got to include ethiopia in
9:20 am
economic development plans. so i see that consistently. i have to say, in this battle for the italian colonies, which is absolutely intriguing -- it reads like peyton place meets dallas meets dynasty. it is a hot mess. you have this moment where ethiopia is angling to become the colonial power over eritrea and somalia. while you have italy that is angling to regain control over libya, eritrea, and somalia. and you have egypt trying to get a chunk and the british and french as well. all of this is going on. ethiopia -- their delegation meets with the naacp because
9:21 am
the italian-americans in 1948 are putting incredible pressure on harry truman to back italy regaining control of these colonies. ethiopia goes to the naacp thing and says you really need to back us the way that the italian-americans are backing italy. we are just not seeing that kind of support from you. the naacp says, we find black imperialism to be as abhorrent as white imperialism. ethiopia says, we are most satisfied with that answer. part of what that story says is there is a level of true-ness in terms of the naacp anti-colonialism at this time, that it is not wedded to whether this power against this or this power against. it is with self-determination and the people have the right
9:22 am
to choose their own government and the right independence and the right to human rights. >> there are many original and untold stories in this look. that i think is my favorite. i think it is one of the more powerful stories of many. carol: thank you. >> i'm retired from the foreign policy yurok receipt and i teach adjunct at gw. they colluded with the truman administration and support for european empires and received a few pieces of civil rights tokens. i just wanted to know, how does that fit in -- is it 1948 the word truman desegregated? that is not have been, how does that relate? carol: please note that i cannot say it was a token. that is what the literature says.
9:23 am
in exchange for getting the desegregation order for the military and the federal bureaucracy, as well as several briefs, that what this says is that the naacp hopped on the truman bandwagon. in exchange, you are putting this organization with or hundred thousand -- 400,000 dues-paying members, with an organization that is fully backing european powers. i found that narrative to be too flat. i found it to be erroneous because it did not withstand evidentiary scrutiny.
9:24 am
how i came -- and finishing up to my first book. when you are finishing that first book, you go back into the archives to make sure you have every document. as i'm sitting there, finishing up, and i'm really looking broadly at the naacp findings. i realize there are boxes marked for god -- africa indonesia, asia. and i said, what is going on here? these all can't be rejection letters. [laughter] i peaked into one of the boxes because historians are naturally nosy. there was this letter from abdullah, head of the somali youth league, dated 1949.
9:25 am
two years after the naacp supposedly had turned its back. and it says, thank you so much for all of your help in the u.n. and keeping the italians off of us. there is something here. that is what i mean by it cannot withstand the evidence. i talked how that narrative came to be. it started off with an article written before the naacp's papers were published. it relied heavily upon dubois, but he had been kicked out. so he is kind of angry. when he writes reflects a man who is really angry. that doesn't get taken into account. after that article was published, another work comes in that is more focused on the black left. it relies upon the original
9:26 am
article saying the naacp turned its back, and then the next one sense that one -- site that one, and then you get a footnote very thick. but nobody has gone through the naacp papers. >> i wonder where either you can talk about the support that south africans found in the united nations? the french, portuguese reddish, where wary of a precedent? carol: absolutely. this is why they fought so hard against these. that is why they had the tribes testified. it is one meeting where they are verifying the credentials of michael scott and whether he
9:27 am
really can testify for the hereros. the meeting drags on for hours and hours. finally, and you can feel the weariness, and finally the mexican delegate says, look -- jesus had problems because he couldn't prove that he was the king of the jews. but that is no reason for us to play pontius pilate. so then the american delegate says, you are right. it looks like is going to go through. and then a defense again into more and more hours. the report was coming from cuba, the dominican republic and again support from new
9:28 am
zealand who is having difficulty wrapping its head around what south africa is trying to do. and that canadians are sitting there and they are leery. they are trying to play honest broker. they are trying to go to the south africans and say, could you just -- and the south africans say no. they say, i do not understand why you are trying to play the filling. why do you keep -- play the villain. i don't understand why keep burning bridges. there are moves that could take some of the acrimony out of these discussions. i see this as part of the moment when you begin to see the outlines of south africa beginning to question. the cost of nainting that alliance. it's going to take a long while
9:29 am
but i look at this as the drips on a rock that begin to just etch it away until it crumb bles. >> don in the back and then we'll go to the wall on the side. >> thank you for that fascinating caupt. i'm a little -- very intrigued by the politics of the committee and the incident that was very dramatic where the chair refused to go along with the script. and i'm wondering what the repercussions were as far as the ambassador to the u.n., the secretary of state. did this reach the white house at all? and were there no u.n. records of this meeting? >> so there were u.n. records of the meeting but there weren't u.n. records of tobias telling his folks to sit down. so that was the piece where i had to go on the hunt. the repercussions it's hard to
9:30 am
describe. it's like -- so when i'm in the state department papers because i asked that same question and the -- what you saw in the state department was almost this relief that, as i say, getting somebody else to shoot your shot, that the state department -- there was such unease about south africa unease about south africa and the policy of apartheid that to have one of their delegates who is not an official member of the state department because part of what the state department did was it had high profile people on its official delegation as a way to continue to build the kind of public support for u.s. foreign policy. so, having somebody like channing tobias actually do and say what many members of the state department wanted to do and say. so, i looked at that meeting
9:31 am
where they are just like, yeah. the british are ticked. yeah. um, and there weren't repercussions. and so that is also part of what that, it signaled to me was that channing tobias actually although he violated his orders, he did what so members of the state department wanted to be able to do, but just could not because of their official ties to the state department because their employees -- yeah. >> i'm with the united states of africa 2017 project. what is relevant for me in the project is that you outline -- the competition between why it should be that this is here or in africa. what you mention.
9:32 am
some of us in africa, too, are not only concerned about fighting and colonialism but we are also concerned about racial dissemination in america. in fact, i put the u.s. embassy several times -- in sierra le one. that is why i was brought into this country. you'll see we are trying to resolve the civil rights of our people. on this project, it will be adjusting for you to know that 60% of the people who are pushing for the united states of africa project are african-americans, and it is going to happen. >> i am going to get a question in here if i can. what your talk at your book have reminded us is that there is a spectrum of opinion in the black activist community in this period of time.
9:33 am
there was then, there is now. we should not need reminding of this, but you needed to remind us of it. laughter you cited dubois and william paterson. dubois had lost his job. william paterson is a communist. dubois works with him. could you sketch out for us the organizational and the ideological differences between the council on african affairs that absorbs dubois's attention and that robison was intimately involved in, their critique of the naacp on the one side. and then naacp's critique of them going the other way. carol: in that -- and that really is in the italian colonies chapter. that was a teaser. the council of african affairs was created in 1936.
9:34 am
and it saw as its mission the liberation of africa. and that sounds beautiful. it sounds wonderful. but the devil is in t he details. and the details for the council on african affairs is that it believed the soviet union held the holy grail for liberation. and that the soviet union knew how to lead folks out of the hell of colonialism, that it had the prescription for doing that. and so, i'm going to tell another tale that would be me back into the second part of your question. so, on the italian colonies issue, in 1945, the soviet union went to the u.s. and said, we have decided that part of the reparations that italy owes us is to get a nice sweet chunk of libya. and that chunk is the area
9:35 am
where tripoli was. because the war of japan had not been over yet. so, the u.s. did not want to quite tick off the soviets because they wanted to have the red army come in on the fight. by the time of the first council on foreign ministers meeting that peace was over. when the soviets said we want try polishing it, you -- trip olitania. but you saw paul robeson saying, we think it is a great idea and we think it is a great idea because the soviets has demonstrated that they know how to move dependent peoples up to the level of independence. they've done what no one else
9:36 am
has done. and it -- i -- the next time when you see this is in 1948 because there is all kind of maneuvering going on. in 1948, you have the election in italy. and in the 1946 election, the midterm elections, the communist party of italy gained 40% of the vote. and so, by 1948, what the soviets are looking at as they could possibly have a duly elected communist government sitting in western europe in 1948. and what the soviets, therefore decided, they are not going to get tripolitania. the u.s. has blocked them big time on the council on foreign ministers. so, the soviets come out and say, we believe that italy should regain control over all of its colonies. libya, eritrea and somali. so now you have this big
9:37 am
anti-colonial power basically saying italy should regain control of its colonies. and it's colonies meanwhile have made it very clear, abundantly clear that if italy steps a toenail back -- it is going to be war. it is going to be war to the end. now, the naacp says, oh, russia's role in this sorry business. robeson and the council on african affairs go silent. silent. and, then i need put an asterisk beside that.
9:38 am
as best i can tell, they went silent. i went to the robeson, dubois papers and the al feas papers. i went to the council of african affairs newsletters. i went through the fbi file on r obeson and the mi-5 file hunting, looking for something that robeson said that said, my gosh, you cannot do this because our anti-colonialism is so strong that to somehow think it is ok to put italy, just because the soviets a, i saw n othing. nothing. the naacp goes ballistic, in fact. in fact, holds a huge multi-organization meeting
9:39 am
of folks who represent 6 million african-americans where they issue a manifesto that is just this is unconscionable, this is unheard of, you will pay for this in the polls. you do not want to do this. walter white comes out swinging because he is part of the u.s. delegation. he comes out swinging on this and just trashes a plan the u.s. has. it's just, they are like, no. meanwhile, robeson is silent. then the italian communists lose the election. so at the next council on foreign ministers meeting -- the u.s. is saying this has been a contentious issue but i think we are in agreement that at bare minimum italy should at least get somalia. and the soviets say, nyet. the u.s. is what? because now the italian communists have lost the
9:40 am
election, there is no need to back italy's control over north africa and the horn. so, instead, the soviets say, we believe that there ought to be an international administration of the colonies. basically that the u.n. should become the trustee power over these colonies. now, that is what the naacp has been arguing for all along. three days after that meeting, robeson issues a press release. the council on african affairs believes that africa belongs to the africans, and that there ought to be an international administration over all of these colonies - and i went wow. and so although robeson -- an incredible man -- but he is human. i think part of what we have to
9:41 am
do as scholars is not find these heroes and not recognize that they make decisions that are flawed because that gives us insight. and so, robeson just believed from all that was in him that the soviets had the answer. i mean, and so, we see this when he went to the soviet union. i think it was in 1949 or so. and it was right about the time of the - the jewish doctors plot where stalin with gearing up for another series of purchase. as robeson is going into the soviet union, his jewish pianist is denied access into the soviet union. because they have started killing jews. in the ussr. and so, he finally find somebody that he used to hang out with in 1936. because all his friends are gone. so his friends basically signals
9:42 am
the room is bugged. and when this meeting is over, he is going to be killed. and robeson does not say a word. because -- so, it tells you that in these moments where you have these conflicting values, and that is part of what the italian colonies issue does for me -- it allows me to look incisively when there are these conflicting values about what do you prioritize? because most scholars when they are writing on robeson focus in on south africa. south africa becomes easy, because the soviet union is against south africa. so makes it easy for robeson to be against south africa. on this italian colonies issue when you move north you start seeing what those priorities
9:43 am
look like. meanwhile, the naacp, in fact, takes on the u.s. state department on this issue. there was a plan to do some carving up where britain would get this chunk where there was a a's and a communications facility. france would get this chunk. italy we get this piece. they were carving as if there were not people there anymore p is if this were 1884 all over again. and walter white went, no, no, no, to the point where chester williams and the state department said, you know, that document you wrote, you're going to have to destroy and burn it because you have violated confidential information. that briefing was off the record. and walter pushed back. i'm not destroying anything. what you are doing is wrong. you are leading the u.s. down the road to perdition. colonialism is dead. you need to get a new horse. i'm going to help you do that. and so, there is this moment
9:44 am
where there's this, it is called the -- agreement were finally the british and the italians have worked out an agreement because they had been at loggerheads with each other to carve up north africa and the horn amongst themselves and some allies. and the bevin -- agreement, it just violated every principle of adhering to the wishes of the inhabitants. but it looks like it was going to get through the u.n. the u.s. had done a lot of arm-twisting, a lot of you are going to get some development aid if you vote correctly. because it was trying to get this cold war issue off the table. the naacp did what it does in the u.s. it started counting heads for the vote. it said, ok, these folks are already going to vote for it. so it does not make any sense
9:45 am
lobbying them. these folks are going to vote against it. let's get to these folks right here who are on the fence that have been abstaining and let's do some lobbying. so they brought in isa. and they started lobbying these groups. so the vote starts coming down. and the americans are very comfortable. they know they have done their groundwork. they know they have thrown their development dollars their way. then india votes no. you see this kind -- what just happened there? ok, but we still have our 2/3. then haiti. haiti votes no. and the 2/3 needed for that agreement just began to crumble. from that, you see an incredible , incisive post mortem
9:46 am
about what went wrong with that vote. and what went wrong they say is that we paid attention to everything except the wishes of the inhabitants. we paid attention to national security issues, we paid attention to where military bases were, we paid attention to what our allies wanted, but we did not pay attention to the wishes of the inhabitants and we got a bad brush back pitch in the u.n. so anything we develop now is going to have to take into account the wishes of the inhabitants. again, this is a major step, and a major piece of the naacp
9:47 am
played in trying to help shape the u.s. foreign policy to understand that these weren't emmpt are -- empty areas, but you had people living there who had the desire for freedom. and that you had to honor that. >> right here in the middle? >> hi, professor. my name is sara from brazil. i would like to know, in your opinion, what -- the importance of the -- movement that started in 1935 with the conference, when the asian people and the african people said we don't agree to what you are doing with us. let's, like you just said, their in mind the opinion of the inhabitants. carol: the, part of what i began to outline in the book is by the time 1955, the naacp is in massive transition part part of that transition, walter white was in fact planning on going to
9:48 am
the conference. he died in march of 1955. bandong is april, 1955. you also had with the brown decision in 1954 the south is rising up, trying to destroy the naacp. you have legislation that says if you are a naacp member you cannot hold public employment. you have the state of georgia is charging the naacp with back taxes that automatically somehow emerge that they never knew about that they emerged in 1954-1955. tens of thousands of dollars. you have at the state of alabama
9:49 am
bans the naacp from operating because the naacp will not turn over its membership list. the attorney general of the state wanted the membership list. so that they could figure out who to apply economic extortion to. so that if you are a member of the naacp, all of a sudden you're getting your mortgage called in. so you have the organization fighting tooth and nail just to survive right when the non -aligned movement is coming to the fore. and it is also dealing with the leadership transition from walter white, who was much more cosmopolitan and international oriented than roy wilkins. there were a couple of issues -- as i describe it -- as i say even roy got, which was south africa and the italian colonies. but there were other pieces
9:50 am
where roy was out of his element. so, you take a leadership change, priority change, trying to just keep the organization alive right at the moment when the non-aligned movement is coming. and so, so you don't see the naacp as engaged in that. yeah. >> we have time for one last question. up in the front. >> thanks. the national history center. going back to the question about the naacp having limited resources and other priorities i am curious about the conversation between the naacp officials and members about its -- foreign agenda appeared who was leading, who was following what was the conversation like? carol: it is fascinating. part of what i am seeing are the branches are on fire. and there are times when the branches are pushing the national office to do more, do
9:51 am
more. you have to weigh in on this. i'm also seeing where the national office -- so, for instance, with the struggle over indonesia, when the dutch are trying to regain control over indonesia and the naacp is yelling cut of the marshall plan dollars to the dutch. cut 'em off. ec the branches going yes, -- you see the branches going yes yes. even though the branches are right there -- they are at ground zero in their communities -- i am seeing engagement from the branches as letters are coming into the national office supporting what the national office is doing or in fact saying, you are not taking strident enough stance. go deeper, go harder. so i'm seeing it from the youth branches, the college branches
9:52 am
and the regular branches all along. yeah. >> i now on forcefully have to draw this to a close but i will remind you a reception afterwards -- we can can sing ontinue the conversation. carol's new book is available on-site. i will invite you back next week when our session on back channels to cuba, hidden history of negotiations between washington and havanna will take place. carol anderson, thank you very much. carol: thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> here are some of our featured programs for this holiday weekend. tonight at 8 p.m. eastern, former texas state senator and gubernatorial candidate wendy
9:53 am
davis on the challenges facing women in politics. and easter sunday, golfing legend jack nickless received the congressional gold medal for his contributions to the game and community service. on book tv tonight at 10 p.m. eastern, on afterwords, activist and author cornell west on the radical pluggable thinking of martin luther king jr. creative -- junior. new york times best-selling author ronald kessler. he has written 20 books, including "escape from the cia." on c-span3 tonight at 8 p.m. eastern, on lectures in history ease caroline -- east carolina university professor on u.s. -- on ulysses s. grant's.
9:54 am
in the side of the confederate surrender on april 9, 1865. >> each week american history's tv real america brings you archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century. >> one of the greatest dramas reaches its climax as julius rosenberg, convicted of revealing atomic secrets to the russians, enter the federal building in new york to hear their due.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on