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

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[captioning made possible by democracy now!] ♪ amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> the norwegian nobel committee have decided to award the nobel peace prize for 2021 two maria -- to maria ressa and -- for their effort to save the freedom
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of expression. amy: the 2021 nobel peace prize has been awarded to journalists in the philippines and russia. we will hear maria ressa in her own work -- in her own words. >> it is not just for journalists. this is a critical time for democracy around the world, and u mustight forour rigs whilyou stilcan. am thethe fami of , nrtta lackis suing t armaceutal compa thermo fier scienfic r profitg from henetta's cellthat wer takewithout r consenin 19 and havbeen usefor cades bycientist we will eakith cil rights torney b crump a henrietta lacks'grandson. >> we are coming together today to let the world know we want our family legacy back. amy: plus, we will look at the life and legacy of civil rights
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icon fannie lou hamer. >> is this america, the land of the free and home of the brave, [indiscernible] because we want to live in peace and unity in america. amy: we will speak to historian keisha blaine author of the new book "until i am free: fannie lou hamer's enduring message to america." all that and more, coming up. ♪ welcome to democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. pfizer and biontech have officially asked the food and drug administration to authorize its coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11. the fda is expected to rule on the request by the end of the month, meaning some 28 million children may soon be able to get vaccinated. the number of children infected by covid has soared in recent
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months with the spread of the delta variant. according to the american academy of pediatrics, children accounted for about a quarter of all infections last month. in other pandemic news a new , study in the journal pediatrics has found roughly 140,000 children lost a parent or caregiver during the first 16 months of the pandemic. the study found black, latinx and indigenous children were impacted the most. in international news, covid deaths in russia have started topping 900 this week for the first time since the start of the pandemic. venezuela says the international monetary fund has not delivered funds that are part of a global program to help countries combat the pandemic, because of the ongoing refusal to recognize elected president nicolas maduro as the nation's head-of-state. venezuela blamed the united states for imposing a veto on venezuela at the international body. a new draft report from the senate judiciary committee has
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revealed donald trump directly asked the justice department nine times for help to overturn the 2020 election. the report sheds new light on the role played by top doj official jeffrey clark, who trump considered installing as attorney general in the final weeks of his presidency because he supported subverting the election. the report states "trump's efforts to use doj as a means to overturn the election results was part of his interrelated efforts to retain the presidency by any means necessary." senate judiciary chair dick durbin spoke on thursday. >> this president, former president donald trump, would have shredded the constitution to keep his office in the presidency. amy: in related news trump has , directed former chief-of-staff mark meadows, former advisor steve bannon and other two aides to ignore subpoenas issued by the house committee investigating the january 6 insurrection. on thursday, the committee issued new subpoenas targeting
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the key planners of the so-called stop the steal rally. the senate has approved a short-term deal to increase the debt ceiling to prevent the federal government from defaulting on its debt for the first time ever. the deal gives the federal government enough money to make debt payments until early december. newly released bodycam footage shows minneapolis police officers talked about "hunting" protesters in the days after the police killing of george floyd last year. in one video an officer is heard , saying "you guys are out hunting people now. it's just a nice change of tempo." >> it's just a nice change of tempo. [beep] these people. >> we will be violent. >> get at it, yet at hit him, hit him.
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amy: in another video, officers are seen celebrating after firing rubber bullets at
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military coup, and at the same time he was its first fatal victim. the u.n. human rights council
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has voted to shut down a war crimes probe into the u.s.-backed saudi war in yemen. a number of european countries wanted the probe to continue for another two years but saudi arabiaobbied heavily against the resolution. the cairo institute for human rights studies said the vote marked "a blatant attempt by saudi arabia and its allies to ensure blanket impunity for themselves after having been linked to war crimes and other grave violations of international law in the country." human rights watch's john fisher had urged the council to back the war crimes probe. >> failing to renew the mandate when it is still urgently needed is a slap in the face to victims. rather than bowing to pressure by any party and seekingo ade scrutiny for its own abuses, they should stand with yemen at this critical time. amy: back in the united states immigrant justice advocates are , denouncing the ben administration over its plans to turn a private prison in pennsylvania into a for-profit
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ice jail, that's immigration and customs enforcement jail. the facility will detain over 1,800 people and it will be run by the geo group one of the , countries largest private prison companies. a coalition of rights groups is calling on the inter-american commsion on human rights migration to intervene on behalf of expelled asylum seekers and demand the biden administration stop using title 42, the trump-era policy which allows the u.s. to expel recently arrived migrants without due process. texas attorney general ken paxton has indicated he will appeal a federal judge's ruling which temporarily blocked the state's near complete ban on abortions. "the new york times" reports at least six clinics resumed performing abortions on thursday a day after the ruling. u.s. attorney general merrick garland has praised the judge's ruling, saying it was a "victory for women in texas and for the rule of law."
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a new investigation by reuters has revealed at&t, the world's largest communications company, has played a major role creating and funding the far-right one america news network or oan. court records show at&t has provided tens of millions of dollars to the network in exchange for the right to air the tv station on at&t-owned platforms. the founder of oan, robert herring sr. has even admitted at&t urged him to launch the station because "they wanted a conservative network." oan has played a leading role amplifying donald trump's lies about the 2020 election. the biden administration is restoring federal protections for three national monuments that were drastically rolled back by trump to allow for commercial exploitation and extraction. the monuments are bears ears and grand staircase-escalante in utah, and the northeast canyons and seamounts off the coast of new england. over 3.2 million acres will come back under federal protection in utah alone. and those are some of the headlines.
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this is democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin the show look with nobel peace prize. this year's winners have just been announced. >> the norwegian nobel committee has decided to award the nobel peace prize for 2021 two maria ressa amd dmitry muratov, to safeguard freedom of expression for lasting peace. they are receiving the peace prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the philippines and russia. at the same time, they are
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representatives of all journalists who stand up for this idea in the world in which democracy and freedom of the press plays increasingly in those conditions. amy: dmitry muratov is the co-founder and editor of the russia newspaper novaya gazeta. six of the newspaper's reporters have been killed since its creation, including anna politkovskaya in 2006, a fierce critic of russian president vladimir putin and the chechen war. maria ressa is the founder, ceo and executive editor of rappler, and acclaimed news website in the philippines. she has been repeatedly arrested by the roderigo duterte government who has threatened to shut down rappler. she spoke earlier today after she won the nobel prize. >> we've long said since 2016 that we are fighting for fax.
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-- facts and when we live in a world where factss are develop a -- debatable and the largest distributor of news spreads lies and anger faster and further than fact, then journalism becomes optimism -- activism, and that's the transition we've gone through, that we were on quicksand, how do we do what we do? how can journalists continue the mission of journalism? why is it so difficult to continue telling the community and the world what the facts are? in the battle for facts, i guess what this just shows is that the nobel peace prize committee realized that a world without facts means a world without truth and trust. and if you don't have any of those things, you certainly can't conquer coronavirus, you
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can't conquer climate change. i've been saying this over and over, and it feels a little bit like sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill and when you get a packed in the process of trying to roll the hill, you keep going. it is a shock, but the fact that a journalist from the philippines and a journalist from russia won the nobel peace prize tells you about the state of the world today, and the state of the philippines. amy: filipina journalist maria ressa responding to winning the noble peace prize -- nobel peace prize. in 2019, she came into the democracy now studio and talked about the fight for press freedom in the philippines. maria: i was arrested twice in about five weeks and detained once. i have to say, i think it is
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just to make sure i feel the power of the state. it is something that the pace of all of this has been unprecedented and have covered the philippines for more than 35 years. in 14 months, we've had 11 cases filed by the philippine government and i've posted bail eight times, and it just keeps coming. i could face decadesn jail if we lose, and one of the things -- it just hit me a few days ago that since january 2018 when we had really begun facing all of this, we have not won one single motion, not one, regardless of how ridicuus the cases are. amy: explain what he is charging you with? the tax issue, the foreign issue? maria: it is about three yea long, preceded by attacks on social media, astroturf inc.. it is fake. they seed it and it grows and
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people think it is real. the first attack was by pro- duterte -- she headed social media for the presidential office. her first question, is rattler cia? then what is seated is it is -- seeded is it is foreign funded, so little chris, because in the philippines we are known for our independence. the thing that's most alarming is the fast pace of something called the cyber libel charge. a story we published seven years ago, before the actual cyber libel law was enacted, is being used against us to say we violated the law that did not exist yet. when i first saw it, i laughed. the national bureau of investigation lawyers threw it
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out and yet a week later, it is resuscitated and now it is in court. amy: i want to go to what happened when you were just released from jail, just this small clip. maria: you cannot harass and intimidate journalists to silence. we will stand up and fight against it and as long as we are a democracy under a constitution that has a bill of rights, we will demand our rights be respected. amy: so what happens to you when you are detained? did you deal directly with the president of the philippines? maria: the last interview i did with him was december 2016. the interview i did in october 2015 actually helped bring him to the attention, helped the critics of president duterte point out that because we covered him, certainly they knew
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the power of rat low, the millennia -- rattler, the millennial demographic. something more insidious is happening now, normalizing these attacks. when you say a million times i am a criminal, even if it is not true, that's what people believe. that's what happened first on the social media. attacks became normal and people who had never met me began to believe it. a year and a half later when the president comes down and says rattler is owned by foreigners, the cases began a week later and we are sandwiched there. it is a tough place to push back, but it is truly important to do that because this is the time -- this is a pivotal moment for philippine democracy. this is a time when you have to fight for the rights guaranteed by the constitution. amy: you have dutere saying just because you are -- duterte
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saying just because you are a journali does not mean you are exempt from assassination. how are you taking him on? maria: i do a job, to hold power to account. we do stories that the president, lots of people do not like our stories. that is the task of what a reporter does. so his rhetoric is noise for me. and while it does send a signal to the government bureaucracy, certainly the pieces were trig note -- triggered by president duterte -- it shouldn't stop us. we shouldn't allow harassment, intimidation, and the fear of that stop you from doing your job. as far as i'm concerned, we keep going until the constitution is changed, if that's the case. we demand the rights that are guaranteed not just by the philistine constitution, but by
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the bill of rights. amy: rattler iknown fo exposing t so-calledar on drugs, but where thousands of filipinos have been killed. maria: can i correct how much? it is not thousands. the latest estimate is since july 1, 2016, until early this year, more than 27,000 people re killed. that is a u.n. estimate. the philippine police will admit they've killed more than 5000 people and that number is huge, but there is more than 30,000 homicide cases under investigation. this parsing of the details allows lies to continue. amy: and explain who is being killed. president duterte has boasted about muering people. maria: he has, and before he even became president, in an interview with me, he admitted he killed people, killed three
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people, and that he would continue. another phrase that was used often is that "when i'm elected, if i'm elected, the fish in manila bay will be fat." they will throw bodies in manila bay, the implied statement. these are not the drug dealers being killed. these are the poor people. in the poorest of the poor areas, and this is also where you can see a statistical survey that support and this demographic has waned for president duterte. the people who cannot defend themselves, the people on a random list that is not backed, there is no trial, there is no proof that the people being killed are even drug dealers. this is dangerous. in a country that has no rule of law, that normalizes extrajudicial killings, we have to demand better. amy: and president trump, his
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support for president duterte, how does that affect policy in the philippines? how does it affect you? maria: when president trump called cnn and -- fake news, he called rattler fake news. when the beacon for human rights is noticeably absent, you are feeling bat around the world. simultaneous to tt is the american technology companies that have allowed cheap armies on social media to rollback democracy, a new weapon used against journalists. this is psychological warfare. amy: attack. maria: when you are attacked, at e time i was getting 98 messages per hour -- per our. -- 90 hate messages per hour. how do we deal with that?
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we continue doing our jobs. the problem is the same in the united states, and the fill it up -- in the philippines, fear is palpable and if it is not fear, it is apathy. people want to dock until this time is -- duck until this time is over. amy: thank you for being here. a message about the importance of press freedom? maria: press freedom is not just for journalists. this is a critical time for democracy around the world in the philippines and united states, and you must fight for your rights while you can. amy: filipina journalist maria ressa, cofounder of rattler, speaking on democracynow in 2019. she won the nobel peace prize, cited for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the
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philippines and russia. to see all of our interviews, visit when we come back, the family of henrietta lacks is suing thermo fisher scientific for using her cells without permission for decades. we will speak to attorney benjamin crump and henrietta lacks' grandson. [♪♪] [music break]
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amy: "bagong umaga" by bayang barrios. it means ring. -- it means new morning." the family of henrietta lacks, the african american patient whose cells were taken by johns hopkins university hospital without her consent in 1951, is suing the pharmaceutical company thermo fisher scientific, and demanding reparations and the intellectual property of those cells. henrietta lacks was a young black mother in segregated
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baltimore who suffered from metastatic cervical cancer. doctors took tissue samples from her womb, unknowingly, that went on to become one of the most productive cell lines, leading to groundbreaking research that became a cornerstone of modern medicine, from cancer care and hiv/aids treatment, to helping scientists produce remedies for several diseases, including the first polio vaccine and even covid-19 vaccines. her cells were just known as hela cells, h-e-l-a, the first two letters of henrietta lacks' first and last name. but even her family had no clue about her legacy until more than 20 years after her death. the new lawsuit denounces a racist mical sysm and cuses thmo fisheof using theela cell le withoutheir nsent whe makingillions doars in profi e familynnouncedhe lawsu the on mday, 70 ars to t da after henrietta lacks'
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death. this is her granddaughter, kimberly lacks. >> i think about my grandmother, as i said before, laying in that hospital room and how they came in there when she had radiation going through her body, in horrific pain, and all they were concerned about was taking cell tissues from her body. that's terrible. on top of that, no one in the family had any idea. they act like she is alone, didn't reach out to her husband, aunts, cousins, no one, to let them know what was taking place. that is disgraceful and that definitely is racism in my opinion. the family was treated, she was treated horribly. my father, one thing i can say about him is he is a sweet man and he always said that who wouldn't want a pocket full of money? everybody wants money, but it is
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the bigger picture. he did say to me, and he is sickly, but he was very happy and excited to know that we are finally going to get justice for henrietta lacks, for his mother. amy: for more we go to baltimore , to speak ron lacks, one of the grandsons of henrietta lacks. author of "henrietta lacks: the untold story." we're also joined by one of the family's attorneys, the leading civil rights attorney, ben crump. welcome to democracy now! talk about why you are suing this particular pharmaceutical company, and more about what happened to henrietta lacks. ben: thank you for having ron and i to talk about this landmark lawsuit that is based on the principle of not just simple justice, not just social justice, but this lawsuit is
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based largely in part on this notion of genetic justice. the belief that justice should flow from one generation to the next. we have sued thermo fisher scientific, d there will be others who have derived benefit om the immortal cells of henrietta lacks to this day. we believe it is a legal theory that is well-established that allows the estate of henrietta lacks to make this claim, that taking her cells was wrong, and the law says if you are unjustly enriched from the wrongdoing, then you should not be allowed to continue to benefit at the pearl of the victim, which is henrietta lacks.
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and that's where her family, living descendants, are saying, why is it that henry ford's family can define his legacy and benefit from his legacy and pass it on two generations of his legacy and unborn children who have yet to come into the world, but their grandmother, this black woman, her great contributions to medicine, her story husband told by everybody else. they are saying, we get the right to define her legacy. everybody else is benefiting and phar soon a goal -- pharmaceutical companies are making billions and billions of dollars from henrietta lacks' cells. amy: let me ask you -- you are freezing a little bit on skype. the company, thermo fisher, why
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just one company? ben: we believe there will be others. many corporate nations in the aftermath of jordan floored -- corporations in the aftermath of george floyd vowed for social justice because they watched him suffer for nine minutes and 23 seconds. i would suggest that henrietta lacks was equal or far worse than what george floyd suffered. for the pharmaceutical companies who made the commitment to social justice in the aftermath of george floyd, you can prove that commitment by doing it right by henrietta lacks finally, do right by her. say her name, because her life mattered and black lives matter -- matter. her cells are the cornerstone of modern medicine.
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having medical vaccines created from her cells, are developed with polio, with cancer research. they did in vitro advancement, covid-19 vaccination. amy: what was so special about henrietta lacks' cells? ben: that's a great question. everybody should know the name of henrietta lacks, not just in america but all over the globe, because her cls for the first time in the history of the world survived outside of her body. they did this medical experiment in johns hopkins, which was tantamount to medical racism because they used her as a lab rat as they used many other black people in that era. they took the cells. they were trying to see if a cell could survive outside of the body, and nobody to that point could, but henrietta lacks
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' miraculous cells not only survived, but they regenerated every 24 hours and cap regenerating every -- kept regenerating every time -- the cell would continue to regenerate from another cell, so this was a medical marvel for science to use research of actual cells. her cells have saved millions and millions of lives, so that's why her grandson ron lacks said his grandmother is in heaven and she looks down and says, how tremendous it is that my cells are doing these good things. and she sees all these companies making all this money, billions of dollars, and she says, what about my children? what about my family? that's why we are bringing this landmark case not only based on these principles of civil rights but also -- in the theory of
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unjust enrichment because equity would demand, justice would demand that henrietta lacks' estate is allowed to benefit from the use of her cells. thermo fisher does not have intellectual property rights over her cells superior to her flesh and blood. amy: we are going to go to ron in a second, but ben crump, i watched your news conference on monday. it was 70 years to the day that henrietta lacks side, and you made a reference to her suffering at the end of her life . she was a cervical cancer patient, but you talked about radioactive rods being put inside her. can you explain? this procedure was not done to help her. ben: they were not trying to help her with her cancer. they were experimenting with her , using her as a lab rat, as was
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the time in the 1950's with black people. we must remember, this is e era when they did the teske experiment, they did the alabama appendectomy -- teske g experiment -- tuskeegee experiment, they did the alabama appendectomy and sterilized them where they could have no children. you had black soldiers during world war ii being put into gas chambers with faulty gas masks so they could study via fax on the human body. when those black study -- soldiers complained, they were court-martialed and put in prison. amy: and as a result of the medical experimentation on the african-american community like tuskege ue -- tuskeegee, you
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have african americans concerned about the covid-19 vaccine, asking is there experimentation being done? i want to go to ron lacks, grandson of henrietta lacks, and author of "henrietta lacks: the untold story." ron, thanks so much for joining us. your grandmother has led to so many medical breakthroughs because of her line, herself line, the hela cells. a student was told it was based on helen lane, and it is the first two letters of both of her names, henrietta lacks when did you learn how that cell line was being used, and talk about the significance of this lawsuit. ron: through my mother. she uncovered it when she was having lunch with a neighbor and
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she was introduced as barbette lacks. she said -- they said, we are workinwith someone's cells named henrietta lacks, and she said, that is my mother-in-law. that was 1973. amy: talk about growing up as the grandson of henrietta lacks, and what you understood, and how you actually learned about what happened with your grandmother and what caused you to write your book "henrietta lacks: the untold story." ron: when they started doing terviews with my family, that's when more information about what was going on at the time. i was young, i was a teenager, so i didn't derstandt too much until later yrs when i found out all that her cells have been doing. my father, i watched him try to
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get lawyers, with no success. so my parents was trying to find out what was going on with the cells and who was ing what we found out that pharmaceuticalwas enriching themselves. my father, like i said, unsuccessfully tried. coming up, it took a strain on him because he watched his mother when he was a teenager, the radiation bars that was inserted in her, on his mother, and he watched that and he is disturbed by that to this day. so when this hit the media, they took a different approach to the family where my father was trying to explain what was going on with him tryg to get control of henrietta's legacy. they turned their ck on him.
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even at a meeting with niin johns hopkins, and my dad was there with his attorney. they had rebecca -- on the line, mainly listeningo what she had to say. i seen the total disrespect to my father. my mother, what we was going through, and the world should know what was done to this family. they tried to divide us. they tried to keep us in the dark about things, and i had to tell a story. it is an interesting story what we went through, and i think no family should ever go through this. amy: talk about your attempts to bring lawsuits to challenge, reshape the narrative of your grandmother, and then going on your book tour one place and
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making the final connection in this latest lawsuit. ron: like i said, they tried for years to get attorneys to ake this case up. this is johns hopkins backyard so we wasn't getting nowhere. we had the university of maryland and donnie glover, the only ones respecting the lacks family. so when i went to texas my first booking sign in, they embraced me and i talked to the congregation and iet a young man who introduced me to ben crump. that's when the lights got signed on this situation. god is good. amy: can you talk about how your family was defamed? the stories told about your family that were untrue, to discredit you, to try not to
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seek some kind of reparations for what happened to your grandmother? ron: for one thing, rebecca embarrassed henriett's children, all four of them. she called my dad sunny and abdul greedy because they are only in this for the money. my father and them was in this since 1973, just trying to get the rights to s grandmother's legacy. henrietta lacks -- amy: rebecca is the author of another book on henrietta lacks that has been a bestseller. go ahead. ron: she had in there that my grandmother signed her name with an x. that's what i put in the back of my book in a poem, my
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grandmother's john hancock, beautiful handwriting -- beauful penmanship. she was a beautiful, black, intelligent woman that loved her family and neighbors. my grandmother would feed the neighborhood. and now you are asking her not to feed her children. that don't sound right to me. she was a wonderful woman. amy: what does it mean as you move forward, yours -- your family standing together at this lawsuit, the grandchildren speaking up for the parents, henrietta lacks? ron: the lacks family needs to ta contr of henrietta's legacy so we can pass down to thnext generation of lackses so they don't have to go through this fight my father and grandfather went through, so i had to speak out. amy: ron lacks, thank you for
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being with us, grandson of henrietta lacks. and been crump, speaking to us from houston. coming up, we speak to the author of the new book "until i am free." fannie lou hamer's message of freedom to america. [♪♪] [music break]
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amy: fannie lou hamer singing with others civil rights activists "this little light of mine." i am amy goodman. a near report by the brennan center finds 19 state have a knack did dirty three laws to make it harder for people to vote. been jealous and others were
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arrested outside the white house, calling for the senate to remove the filibuster. we turn now to look at a pioneering woman to guarantee voting rights, fannie lou hamer, subject of a new book by keisha blaine. she was the daughter of sharecroppers and volunteered to rester to vote in 1962. by then, t 45-year-old mother hamer lost her job and continually risked her life because of her civil rights activism. despite this and a brutal beating, hamer helped organize the mississippi freedom democratic party, to challenge white domination of the mississippi democratic party. in 1964, the party challenged the all-white ssissipp deletion at the democratic convenon,ith fannie l hamer ashe lader. her voic along witothers, led to an integrated mississippi delegation in 1968. this is part of her address at the democratic national
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convention in atlantic city, new jersey on august 22, 1964, when she testified before the credentials committee about her efforts to register to vote. fannie lou: it was the 31st of august of 1962 that 18 of us traveled 26 miles to the county courthouse to try to register to become first-class citizens. we was met by policeman, highway patrolman, and they only allowed two of us in to take the literacy test at the time. after we had taken this test and started back, we was held up by the city police and the state highway patrolman, and carried back to indianola, while the bus driver was charged that day with
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driving a bus the wrong color. after we paid the fine among us, we continued along and reverend jack sunny carried me four miles in the rural area where i had worked as a sharecropper for 18 years. i was met there by my children who told me the plantation owner was angry because i had tried to register. after they told him, my husband came, and said the plan nation -- plantation owner was raising cain because i tried to register. and before he quit talking, the plantation owner came and said, fannie lou, did he tell you what i said? if you don't go down and
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withdraw your registration, you will have to leave. and then if you go down and withdraw, we are not ready for that in mississippi. i addressed him and told him i didn't try to register for you, i tried to register for myself. i had to leave that same night on the sixth of september, 1962, 16 bullets were fired into the home for me. that same night, two were shot in mississippi. mr. joe mcdonald's house was shot. the freedom democratic party, if they are not seated now, i question america. is this america, the land of the free and the home of the brave? where we have to sleep with our
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telephones off the hook because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings in america. amy: that was fannie lou hamer's address at the democratic national convention in atlantic city in 1964. for more we are joined by keisha blain, award-winning historian and author of the new book, titled, "until i am free: fannie lou hamer's enduring message to america". professor welcome back to , democracy now! prof. blain: thank you. amy: talk about why you have decided to write a book on fannie mae hamer -- fannie lou hamer. prof. bl upa anybody who knows abouti fannie lou hamern:
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rights, shared her experiences organizing in mississippi, and i think for me certainly over the last couple of months, and over the last couple of years, i've been thinking deeply about fannie lou hamer, her fight for voting rights and more about her political strategy, her ideas and how they might be applicable to addressing a number of social problems which of course we are still dealing with including voter suppression. i wanted to write a book to connect the dots that would be an educational tool for many. amy: talk about the trajectory of fannie lou hamer's life. prof. blain: one of the things i explain in the book is that she came to the civil rights movement fairly late in life. she joined in august 1962 at the age of 44. one of the things i think also is important in thinking about her activism, is a painful
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experience she endured before she joined, and that is in 1961. she was the victim of a forced sterilization. that is sitting and light of our conversation already about henrietta lacks fannie lou hamer went through this experience in 1961 which initially she did not talk about publicly, but when she became a civil rights activist in 1962, she spoke out about the violence, not only talking about police brutality and violence, but also medical violence, talking about how white physicians in mississippi and across the south would perform this terrible practice of forced sterilization, until hamer became a voice first cell rights and human rights. -- for civil rights and human rights. amy: she spoke out painfully
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about her experiences. in this recording, fannie lou hamer recounts her beating at the hands of two other black prisoners on the orders of her white jailers in mississippi, after she traveled to a distant courthouse to take the state's required literacy test to vote. the recording is from the pacifica radio archives which , has one of the largest archives of fannie lou hamer. fannie lou: three white men came to my cell and one was estate highway patrolman because he was wearing a plate across his pocket that said john basinger. he asked where i was from and i told him i was from louisville. he said, i'm going to check that. he went out and i guess they called and they didn't like me because i went for voter registration there. when he came back, he said you damn right, we going to make you wish you was dead. they lead me out of that cell into another cell and he gave a need go crewmen a blackjack and
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ordered me to lay down on the bunkbed and the negro league room and said, you want me to beat her with this, sir? you dam right, because you know what i will do to you. the first need beat me. he beat me until he was exhausted -- the first need go -- negto beat me. he beat me until he was exhausted. then the state patrolman ordered the other negro man to beat me. i started to move my feet and the state patrolman ordered him to sit on my feet and i began to scream. the white men got up and began to beat me in my head. i have a blood clot and a kidney injury on the right side from
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that beating. these are the things we go through in the state of mississippi, just trying to be treated like a human being. amy: just trying to be treated like a human being, those are the words of fannie lou hamer preserved by the pacifica archives. it is utterly painful to hear this description and the vibrancy of fannie lou hamer. what is most misunderstood about her? prof. blain: i think so many people who know about fannie lou hamer will know her in the context of the american civil rights movement. we are talking about theey role she played in expanding black lytic rights, but in the process of writing the book, one thing that stayed with me is how much we have to think about hamer and talk about her as a human rights activist. this is something she said. yes, she was certainly fighting for civil rights but human
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rights broadly. she connected the struggle of black people in the united states with the struggle for liberation across the globe. this was something i think, and certainly hope in reading the book, people will come to appreciate to think about her international perspective. that is so vital in understanding her legacy. amy: black women have been so central to so many struggles around the world, but aren't seen as being that central. talk about the centrality of black women like fannie lou hamer, when it comes to pushing for democracy here and around the world. prof. blain: black women have been vital to the struggle for human rights for decades, for centuries. as you point out, so many times when we tell these narratives, mainstream narratives tend to focus on the political works of
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men. we still have male-dominated narratives and also narratives that do not pay attention to the way that black women, not only lead, but really strategized. they were activists as well as thinkers, producers of knowledge. i think fannie lou hamer's story is an important reminder of the centrality of women in shaping political movements, even when they are marginalized in the broader narrative. their work certainly remains vital and to this very day, we are talking about hamer. she's left a remarkable legacy. amy: talk about your choice of the title, "until i am free." prof. blain: it was a phrase she said repeatedly as she traveled across the united states. she would say whether you were black or white, you are not free until i am free. this is a message i think we
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have to remember today. all of us despite our differences or relation -- racial backgrounds or sexuality or socioeconomic status, we are all members. hamer's phraseas an important reminder that because we are all connected, we have to work together to ensure we build this nation to become an inclusive democracy that it ould be, according to the values stated in the constitution. amy: thank you so much for being with us, keisha blain, offer of "until i am free." she teaches history at the university of pittsburgh. democracynow is currently accepting applications for two full-time positions a director , of finance and administration and a human resources manager. learn more and apply at democracy now! is produced with renee feltz, mike burke, deena
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guzder, messiah rhodes, nermeen shaikh, maria taracena, tami woronoff, charina nadura, sam alcoff, tey marie astudillo, john hamilton, robby karran, hany massoud and adriano contreras. our general manager is julie crosby. special thanks to becca staley, miriam barnard, paul powell, mike di fillippo, miguel nogueira, hugh gran, denis>ñ
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