tv Book TV After Words CSPAN November 26, 2011 7:00am-8:00am EST
>> your welcome. >> the c-span cameras in 2012 bus visits communities across the country. to follow the bus's travel visit www. c-span.org/bus. >> coming connect booktv presents after words. an hour-long program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. this week randall kennedy and his latest book "the persistence of the color line," racial politics and the obama presidency. in it the harvard law professor explores the influence of racial politics and the administration of the first african-american president. he attempts to answer whether black americans have special expectations of mr. obama and whether the president should feel the need obligation in return. he doesn't to these topics with the american urban radio white
house correspondent april ryan. >> host: mr. kennedy, is a great honor being with you today. talking about your book "the persistence of the color line," racial politics and the obama presidency. mr. kennedy, we start out in the book with race, historical perspective. can you start out with how race played in this country from slavery, jim crow? >> guest: one of the first things i wanted to do in the book was to explain to people frankly why it was such a big deal on election night when barack obama was elected president of the united states. why were there parties all across the united states? why was there this leaping?
any time a president is elected it is a big deal. there is emotion. but clearly this time there was something very different from -- something very special going on. what was that? one reason was this was the first black president. what is the big deal with that? one that wanted to show was the degree to which black americans have been marginalized, have been excluded from collective world politics. so i thought it would be useful for readers to know about that history. it would be useful for readers to know that in the history of the united states there have only been two popularly elected black governors, deval patrick in massachusetts and doug wilder in virginia. in the history of the united states their heavily been three
popularly elected united states senators, barack obama from illinois, carol bose lee brown from illinois and again from massachusetts -- it will come to me in a second. brooke. the first popularly elected -- >> host: and -- >> guest: people talk about reconstruction. during the reconstruction era in the nineteenth century it was legislatures selected who would be the senators. the legislatures elected the senators. that is -- there were blacks who were elected by legislatures to represent their states in the senate. one of the first and most interesting stories in the book is the story of hy rival who was
the first black to represent the state in the senate. the thing about hiram revel was selected by the mississippi legislature to fill the seat that had been occupied by jefferson davis. jefferson davis had been the president of the confederacy. in the mississippi legislature chose a black man to fill the seat that had previously been occupied by jefferson davis. let talk about this in the book. when hiram reverend goes to represent mississippi as a senator, reconstruction era senator there is a big debate whether he can be seated because some took the position you cannot lawfully be seated because after all, before the
promulgation of the fourteenth amendment in eighteen 68 blacks could not be citizens of the united states according to the infamous brad scott decision. so there was a big fight. has he been a citizen of the united states long enough to fulfill the requirements to be a united states senator? there is a big fight and finally he was seated but there was a big fight about it. all of that history would be useful for readers to understand as a way of appreciating just why it was that the election of barack obama was so -- what it meant so much to so many people particularly black people. >> host: al sharpton said there's a model for this, the pride but at the same time have to hold the president accountable.
in the pages of this book you talk about those who hold this president accountable. could you talk to me about -- at this point in time, very critical of him. you talked about how race is strategically placed for him, howdy is accessible but yet he has not gravitated as much for the african-american community. talk about that. >> guest: point number one. being president of the united states is an extraordinarily difficult job for anybody. that is point number one. you are the most powerful single individual in the world. and so it is going to be difficult for anybody. here comes barack obama.
an economic catastrophe. a politically divided country. and he is a black man. so for purposes of level of difficulty, think about athletic events you get points for level of difficulty. the level of difficulty is very, very high and that must be appreciated when it comes to judging the president. as you know from my book i am critical of the president along a wide range of dimensions. i don't have any problem with forcing criticism of the president. at the same time one voice's criticism of the president, one must understand the difficulties he faces including the special difficulty he faces because of his race. barack obama had to overcome his blackness as president of the
united states. he had to overcome his blackness to effectively govern the united states and he will have to overcome his blackness yet again in order to be reelected. i am happy to go into various issues. happy to voice criticism of the president. but it has to be against the backdrop of the special difficulties he faces. >> host: you have a special perspective. you are harvard law professor. president obama was a student at harvard. first lady michelle obama was your research assistant. you were invited to the redding but you didn't make it. talk to me about the relationship and wrestling with this kind of book. >> hi wouldn't say i have a real special idea. i knew of barack obama when he was a student. the reason why i knew and saw
him and i think he talked a couple times when he was a student and the reason why i knew of him is he was a quite outstanding student. president of harvard law review. first black president of harvard law review. several of my colleagues talked about this remarkable student they had, barack obama. that is a very unusual thing. lot of smart students of harvard law school, very smart, very outstanding. he really did stand apart. i knew of him that way. the first lady, michele obama, i knew a bit. she went to princeton. i went to princeton. when she came to harvard law school, we met, very impressive student, very well organized. she did some research for me. i have not stayed in touch with them in subsequent years. i have admired them from afar
but i am not part of their circle. i thought of maybe trying to have an interview with the president for this book. i decided not to pursue that. it was because i thought the president gives you an interview, the president is essentially giving you a favor. i didn't want to feel -- i didn't want to feel people and that all, the least little bit. i wanted to feel completely distant. i wanted to feel like i could say what i thought about any individual. in my book for whenever it is worth, i felt uninhibited in putting forth my point of view. >> host: the last 14 years covering the president, when you
interview him we gain more perspectives from his insight and you have researched columns and those who have been for and against and going back in your books, using examples as fdr and jfk, how do you link fdr to president obama when he wants to reach out to abraham lincoln, how do you link him to john f. kennedy? >> guest: for purposes of writing this i did research on the presidency, auld presidents. i was interested in knowing we have the first black president. people will talk about his relation to black america. what about george washington? what about thomas jefferson? what about james polk? what about lincoln? i did the mall. >> host: many were slave owners.
>> guest: many were slave owners. not only were many--not only with a slave owners but slave traders. jackson in particular comes to mind with an unembarrassed participant in slavery. there were people who brought their slaves to the white house. i go through the various presidents. there were a couple you mentioned that were particularly useful to call upon. even before obama occupied the white house before making analogies with obama and fdr one of the reasons is both assumed the presidency in the midst of financial crisis. so the great recession, the
biggest downturn in the american economy since the great depression. when you think great depression franklin delano roosevelt and the new deal, what about obama? i try to use analogies, try to compare and contrast. with fdr, people think about fdr, here is a president in the 1930s-1940s. for much of franklin delano roosevelt's presidency for much of his presidency he was never questioned by a black journalist. for most of the time franklin delano roosevelt was president, there was a rule that allowed only journalists from daily newspapers to question him. the white house made exceptions for certain journalists but not
for black journalists. i talked about in the book how it was that black journalists finally got the question of the president. what happened was the president, fdr was seeking reelection and he went on -- he was campaigning in harlem and one of fdr's chief lieutenants got in a scuffle with a black policeman and actually made the policeman -- there was this -- this caused a minor scandal. and to -- people asked the policeman given what happened are you still going to go vote for fdr and the policeman said yes. i am still going to vote for fdr. still loyal to fdr. this lieutenant of the president's who had assaulted
this police officer says to himself and to others, we need to show in some ways that we are sorry about this. the way in which they showed they were sorry about this was to make it so that a black reporter would question the president. it was that episode that was the entering wedge for black journalists to be able to question the president of the united states in press conference. >> host: that is an amazing fact. >> guest: it wasn't so long ago. when i talk to my students about the 1930s-1940s, some things like i'm talking about the age of dinosaurs but the 1940s clearly was not that long ago. i talk about john f. kennedy a good bit in my book because i thought it would be useful to
compare and contrast obama and john f. kennedy. john f. kennedy had a special burden when he ran for the presidency. what was his burden? catholic. there had never been a catholic president of the united states. she had a special burden. he had to go the extra in assuaging the anxiety of non catholics. he took special effort to say he was not going to be subservient to the po when it came to things political. he had to make a special effort to show that he was going to recognize the wall between church and state. he had to make special effort to do that just like barack obama had to take special effort to
assuage the anxieties of non black people who were going to feel -- basing his candidacy, he made and has made special efforts to show he wanted to be president of all the people. he is president of all the people. he is not going to engage in any sort of racial favoritism. that is when i say he has overcome his blackness. it was a special burden just like john f. kennedy had a special burden. his catholicism. barack obama has special burden of his blackness. >> host: in your book, chapter 4, the race card of 2008, why didn't john mccain use the race card towards the end of the campaign? we know that race is political suicide for many. why didn't john mccain use it to
his advantage? >> host: there are some people. history has various interpretations. some people claim that the mccain campaign did play a race card. my own view is that the mccain campaign did not play the race card nearly as much as they could have. john mccain though he wanted to become president of the united states did not pull out all the stops in his fight for the white house. in my view, he is to be congratulated for that. i don't think he has received the congratulations that he ought to get. he could have done a lot more to try to stir up racial anxiety, racial resentment. he did not. why is not altogether clear. some people speculated he didn't because he calculated that it would be ineffective and in fact
it might backfire on him. i am fully willing to believe probably that may have been part of his calculation. my own sense is is more generous toward john mccain. my own sense is that john mccain did not want to pull out all stops. he wanted to be president. he wanted very much to be president. but he did not want to be president in that way. he did not want to engage in racial dirty tricks to increase his chances of being president. i tip my hat to him. in my book i am very critical of john mccain. i am especially critical of him for his selection of a running mate, sarah palin. i am extremely critical of him for that selection and i am
critical of him for various other things. not like i am a mccain supporter. but i do think with respect to the way in which he ran his campaign, i do think that he thought that it would be a bad thing for him to engage in a concerted campaign of racial political dirty tricks. like i said, i don't think he has gotten the recognition he ought to receive for taking that position. >> host: we can't talk about the race card without talking about a race card with barack obama's presidential candidacy. there was one specific time when he came out on race. many equated it to the new version of the i have a dream speech with dr. king. in philadelphia, wrapping the
issue of his former pastor jeremiah right. tell me what you felt when you saw that. i see many people in your book critiqueing it. what did you feel? >> guest: i felt a couple ways. number one, are thought it was a brilliantly executed political intervention, for primary purpose of which was to dampen down the up or about his longstanding relationship with pastor jeremiah right. jeremiah right for couple weeks was featured on cable television mainly saying very inflammatory things, incendiary things about the united states. >> host: this preacher was very well known in the religious
community as well. >> guest: he was a very distinguished pastor. very well known. certainly in black communities, in chicago and outside chicago. very well-known and well-respected. nonetheless, some of his statements were broadcast all over the united states and caused a ruckus. president obama -- than candidate obama -- needed to dampen down this controversy because it threatened to derail his candidacy. he produces a speech, in more perfect union. the speech given in philadelphia. did it dampen down the controversy? to a large extent he did. so far as doing what the candidate needed to be done at that moment it worked. but that speech is viewed by
some as more than just a speech aimed at a particular moment. some viewed the speech as one of the great american speeches. so right now in bookstores all across america you go -- the great american speeches, involved this speech. do i think it is one of the great american speeches? i do not. i don't think -- i think it was a useful political speech for an immediate purpose but to i think barack obama's more perfect union speech should be on the same page with i have a dream? no. with all due respect to the president that speech in philadelphia does not belong on the same page, does not belong in the same chapter with martin luther king's i have a dream
speech. why? frankly in so far as i am concerned -- some people say it is illuminating. i don't see it as very illuminating. it says things that it seems to me any well-educated americans should know about race relations. it did not make any truly controversial, bold, risky position with respect to raise. i am not condemning him for that. he is an electoral politician who face difficult electoral policy. you don't want to make people angry. potential voters, you don't want to make an angry. i understand that. let's just tell it the way it
is. this is a speech for instance that takes pains to the non accusatory. the president knows his way around the english-language very well. there's a reason talking about black people, he goes into the passive voice. black people suffered enslavement. there is no talk about who was doing the enslaving. that would require pointing and accusatory finger at white america. black people suffered under gen crow segregation until frankly relatively recently in american history. suffered under this. the jim crow segregation came from mars? no.
there were people who were doing the oppressing. candidate obama doesn't talk about that. again, i am not condemning him with that rhetorical decision. it was probably a proper decision for a candidate to make. we ought to recognize what is going on. one reason wanted to recognize what was going on was it shows even a person -- he wasn't just an ordinary joe. he is a powerful person in american politics. even a person who is a senator, even a person now who is president of the united states faces a predicament when we talk about race. they face all sorts of predicament. they face the fact that there are an appreciable number of americans who are racially prejudiced. they face the fact that a much
larger portion of the american populace wants to deny the reality of race even now. as a candidate he had to grapple with that. he had to get past it. he got past it by equivocating. he got past it by engaging in my view in euphemism. fine. he is a political candidate. that is what political candidates do. let's recognize the speech for what it was. let's deal with it realistically at least in my view. that is how i viewed the speech. >> did this president solidify the black vote with that speech? what did he do for white america who was on the fence about this young candidate who was on the
fast track to move up? >> by the time he gave the speech in philadelphia he had a lot of black americans behind him. it is important to remember initially he was not a short -- >> he had the clinton machine. >> absolutely. most -- certainly most vocal highly placed black elected officials were in her camp, not his camp. it was only after barack obama broke through in iowa and showed he had a realistic chance of winning the nomination and winning the general election. only after he showed people this candidacy is not a symbolic candidacy, this is a candidacy
that is aiming to win the white house, after he showed he had a realistic possibility of winning the white house, that is when black voters really gravitated to hmmm. by the time he gets to philadelphia, black voters were solidly behind him. what he had to do was to continue to shore up white support. this speech was very important in doing that. what he was saying in this speech was to you white voters who are anxious about me, anxious about my background, anxious about my agenda, anxious about my allegiance, let me say something to you that will allay your anxiety. >> host: the offer of "the persistence of the color line," racial politics and obama presidency, randall kennedy is the author. we will be back to talk about
this great book. your insights and much more. >> guest: thank you. >> afterwards is available free up pod cast through itunes and x m o. visit booktv.org and click card test on the upper left of the page. select which broadcast elected download and listen to after ridge when you travel. >> host: we're back with arthur and harvard law professor randall kennedy, the author of "the persistence of the color line," racial policies -- racial politics and the obama presidency. mr. kennedy, it has been a fascinating reid, very interesting. as a reporter i take no sides. take it all in. in talking with you, moving to chapter 5 this was very interesting in listening to you. you said it was hard to grapple with. chapter 5. reverend wright, talk to me
about that since we left off with reverend wright. >> guest: this was the chapter that concerned me the most. i indicated earlier the most perilous moment in barack obama's candidacy was that the fuehrer over his relationship with reverend wright, he had to extricate himself from that relationship. he gives a speech in which he distances himself but doesn't cut him off and reverend wright comes back on the scene and really -- >> host: national press club. >> guest: he puts the candidate on the hot spot and makes it seem action will be, this was barry -- very bad of reverend wright -- makes it seem barack obama was not being completely candid. simply saying things because he was seeking the white house and not being completely sincere in
distancing himself. at that moment when reverend wright said that, candidate obama came back and said let me make things clear. i am now cutting off my relationship entirely with reverend wright and he announced that he was resigning from that church where he had been a progression of for a number of years. that was a big moment in the barack obama story and i needed to confront it. i wanted to confront it using the prism of my father. the reason why i wanted to confront this episode using the prism of my father is if my father had been alive during this controversy, my father would have completely embraced reverend wright. my father's views were very
similar and if anything my fault was more extreme than reverend wright. more critical of the united states than reverend wright, and i admire my father, my father was a very loving man, wonderful father, great parent and i wanted to revisit the whole reverend wright controversy and try to show people a couple things. number one, reverend wright was not some kook who was a marginal figure. i wanted to show people the idea that reverend wright had -- >> host: he was in the military. >> guest: he was the military and was the pastor of a major church. >> host: and facilitated in the operating room for lbj. >> guest: he was very proud of that. he had pictures of him ministering to lyndon johnson
when lyndon johnson was at the hospital in bethesda, maryland. reverend wright, a marine, was assisting with the medical care of the president. my father reagan was actually further over than reverend wright. everybody was talking about reverend wright, how could he say this? you should listen to my old man. my father was worse. but i wanted people to understand number one that reverend wright was not some marginal figure in black america. he represented a considerable and historic stream of thought within black america. and i wanted people to understand the experiences that would lead someone to take the position that he took. i use my father to help with
that purpose. my father was born in 1917 in louisiana. he suffered terribly under white supremacist depression. my parents were refugees from the jim crow south. i was born in columbia, south carolina in 1954. have my father why did you leave? my father said he left because he thought two things were going to happen. either he was going to be killed or he was going to kill somebody. and he left. >> host: that was a perilous time for many african-americans. living on farms. >> guest: he was a postal clerk. that was a good job for a black man in that era. very good job. >> host: what time for was that? >> guest: late 40s, early 50s. my mother was the school
teacher. my parents met in columbia, south carolina. fort jackson. they left south carolina because my father thought something bad was going to happen if he continued to stay. in south carolina. he came to washington d.c. and raise three children in washington d.c.. we would go back to the south to south carolina on holidays. i talk about that particular episode to try to bring this -- to make this vivid. i talked-about hour at easter time we go back to south carolina and on at least we 2 occasions i clearly remember as a youngster sitting in the back seat, going to south carolina. police pulled my father over. the police officer, white police officer comes by. is there a problem? the officer says no. i am not pulling you over for anything you have done wrong but
i noticed you are driving this nice car and you have washington d.c. license plates. my father's a grown man with a family. wife right next was and children in the back seat. bowlen, want you to know we do things differently down south than in washington d.c.. i don't want you to get in any trouble. the police officer thought he was doing my father a favor. the officer -- my sense of it was he sincerely thought he was helping out. he wanted to alert my father is that he and had to act differently than he was maybe used to acting. this happened twice. the officer said this to my father and then he said there is -- he said this to my father. my sense of it as a youngster was he was waiting to see how my
father would react. my father's reaction was as follows. yes, sir. do you know things are done differently down here? i really appreciate it, what you said. my father said this with an extra dollop of deference. he probably did not say yes, sir. i said yes, sir. my father probably said yessah. my father felt humiliated by that episode and other episodes, deeply humiliated. those humiliations release card by father. and he never got over it. when i asked my father later why he enlisted in the military in 1940 my father did not say anything about wanting to serve his country. didn't say anything like that.
i asked why did you list in the military? my father said to eat. during the vietnam war my father said to his friends and neighbors, anybody who would listen, his position was in his view it did not make any sense at all for black people to fight on behalf of the united states government. didn't make sense to him. he totally embraced muhammad ali's stance. i could go on with this. >> host: he is now viewed as a hero. >> guest: he is now viewed as a hero but at the time -- he took a very different stand. my point is my father's reviews were not the conventional
patriotic view and i wanted to alert readers to fact that there are black people who have views that were from right, these people are not kooks, they are smart people, they are admirable people, they are loving people but they view the united states differently than other people in large part because of their experiences. that doesn't mean i agree with my father. i love my father. i disagree with various positions that he took. i disagree very strongly with various positions that reverend wright took and i say that in my book but i wanted people to understand that the conventional view of reverend wright really simplifies things and i wanted
to make things a little more complex and show reverend wright in a way that i think happened been done before or certainly hadn't been done initially. >> host: election night. in the victory speech where were you and who did you think of? >> guest: i was at home watching this. i was surrounded by my three children. i got telephone calls and i think i felt like many people felt. did i cry? yes, i did. i did cry. >> host: and why? >> guest: i cried because -- i cried because this was such an expert very moment. and on election night, just like
on inauguration day you asked me to the think about? to tell you the truth 5 thought of the people like not talk to because they had passed away. i thought of first and foremost of my wife who died five years ago. my wife was a wonderful surgeon, was in the audience when barack obama gave his speech at the democratic national convention that sort of made him -- >> host: the prince of the democratic party at the time. >> guest: he was. he was running for is a senate speech. he gave -- became quite a political celebrity. my wife talked about that speech. talk about her admiration for barack obama. she was a person who was of the belief that she could do
anything. she wasn't naive about race or gender and the various impediment and extra burdens but she believed she could overcome those things and one of the things she loved about barack obama was she perceived a kindred soul. a can do you can do it. so when barack obama won the presidency i immediately thought of my wife. i thought of others who did not live to see this. i thought of my father who had a very different view of america than my wife did. but here was a man who for much of his life had seen the ugliest aspect of america and here with
a night that was a quite wonderful night. even people -- if one goes back to the night that barack obama was elected black people were not the only people crying the. they're white people and asian-american people and latino people and native american people and all sorts of people crying. there were people crying who did not vote for barack obama. i had friends who didn't vote for barack obama but who were crying on election night because they said even though they did not vote for barack obama, his election deeply moved them. even though they did not support him they were nonetheless happy about his election. because of what it symbolized. so that is why people were
talking about am i dreaming? i had a friend -- am i in agreement? it was a deeply moving night for lots of people. i was deeply moved. i was deeply moved on inauguration day. >> host: with the crescendo of hope, change and anticipation of a new day we have problems with race, we have the fear fast, the meeting with -- [talking over each other] >> host: we also had an isseeti [talking over each other] >> host: we also had an issue with the usda and the white house. we still have black unemployment, twice that of what america in 1963, what the unemployment was five -- three times that of -- has the
president lived up to the racial expectations of the black community? i say that because leading into his presidency people fought of hope and change and as a journalist rsi level of expectation that i didn't think anyone could humanly reach. is he doing his job as a regular president or has he lost it? >> guest: barack obama has burdens that no white politician you just mentioned one. he had special burdens. special racial burdens. burdens too -- everybody has a race. but a black president has a special burden. to answer your question directly i think barack obama has
satisfied realistic expectations. some people truly did have unrealistic expectations. some people are really sort of swept up and have some hope -- some people -- they absolutely did. there was a sense that the day after he was sworn in there was going to be a new blank page and everything was going to be completely different. has he fulfilled that? no. that was a naive expectation. if we are going to talk about black america, most black americans actually had a more
realistic notion. there recognized nsi ber one tht he was in inheriting tremendous difficulties especially with the economy. they recognized as a black politician he would be scrutinous ed more than a white politician with respect to racial policies. >> host: there are disproportionate numbers in almost every sector between blacks and white plaid and hispanic and whites. >> host: i dones. care if we're talking about life expectancy or access to medical attention or emplstiment, housing, incarceration, you name it and we still have a racial hierarchy getting the short end of the stick by and large, white
americans are getting a better deal. that was the case before barack obama, that is the case now when you will be the case bster barack obama leave the white house. i think most black americans had some inkling of that and understood that and also understmostd with respect to racial policy detractors of the president that say barack obama -- they would be waiting for anything they could jump on to say this black guy is showing favoritism to black america. that is a dilemma. are there people looking for any and every opportunity to accuse the president of racial favoritism? the answer to that is yes, there are. to combat that, the president is
very careful around racial issues. he tiptoes aan wund racial iare. some blacks are critical of him. some say the president has not been forthright enough, has not been forthcoming enougre c has t been militant enough with respect to racial issues. do i think they have a point? yes. is an arge goble propositioc special dilemma facing him. he isor oing to be criticized. he is going to be criticized this way. i think black people recmernize the special dilemma that barack obama faces and in light of that special dilemma be there are
showing -- being realistic, being extremely patient and giving him leeway given his special circumstances. >> utist: a white house officia told me racial politics will always follow this president. >> guest: because it is such a wild positioc you mentioned a moment ago the famous beer suwayit. you may recall quickly, one of my colleagues at harvard una be ersity, henry louisor at illegal will nonacademic is in his house, he is coming back panan wm china, tryinlaitoor ets house. and neighbors the two black men barack ying to put a dmostr tooc the neighbor called the police and says i dones. know if they'o barack cominng to break in but they are. better check out. by the time the police come henry louis gates jr. is in his
house. police officers say can you show me some id. he shows his id and the police officer is somewhat skeptical. one thing leads to anothein b they have words. gates is quite upset, things racial discrimination has something to do with it. >> host: was the arrogance? >> guesds maybe. let's sd. argument that he was short tempered and sd. being deferential to the officer but even suppose he was being arrmerant. being arrogant with respect would allow us officer a crimlii i hope not. i also hope police officers, well-trained police officers would be barack ained to deal w the citizenry and not arrest people simply because a citous for the sake of argument was being arrogan's
and any effect the officer arrests henry louis gates even though the pan wfeareor showed s this becomes a firestorm. the president is asjrd his views of this. the president, barack obama says -- i don'tighbnow all the fac, but given what i do know am i going to say this is racial discrimination? he does not accuse the police officer of engammng in racial discriminatioc what he does say is it does aesear this was a stupid action in so g tr as the professor had given prove this was his house. he says this was std. not racial discriminatory. merely that it is s alpi is there are people who iwayediatey went on the attack and accused the president of engaginlaiin a plane of the race card.
to mention one person, glen beck, welppbores en pp>>t tv personality. he said -- it shes eed barack obama has a pan wblem with whit culture. this shows he is a racis's the president will say anything about race with respect to the abe.es's he did not a douse the police officer of engaging in racial discriminatioc panar fan wm it. but you had a black professor, person who was arrested. there was the immediate jumping to the conclusion that the president of the united states was shes einlairacial g tice that ended badly put the president. the president had to retthe sev- had to have this be a summit and invite the police officer to the louis gates to the white house. that shes eed hes e volatile ra
is. another example. remember the representata be e shouted you liliti the president addressing adjoined meeting of the congress about his heaand ach care legislation. representative wilson from my home state of south caan wlina, you lie. >> host: that was viewed as an attack on the presiden's >> utist: absos shtely. >> guest: you don't have that. swhat hple of all political sba -- republicans as well as l sba democrats said this was out and out an wutes. representative wilson himself apologized. was this racial? panormer president jimmy carter made no bones about it. he said this is yet another instance of racial resistance to the president. the president, barack obama was asked to you agree with
president carter? president barack obama said rep wilson disagrees with me. he should not have shouted out but he has apologized. let's move on. in other woris not want to get mired in a racial discussion. he wanted to distance himse tha from the racial discussion and he di is that is the obama way of dealing with race. >> host: i could talk tot: ou forevein b i want to move into -- was not handled well at all. >> pdigatds the obama administration said they did not handled this well. again, ast: ou recall this waseo >> host: high-ranking usda official in geormma. >> pdigatds who was accused
essentially of racially diwhat the sg tinating against -- she was speaking to the naacp. people tmostk out certain sled o of what she said to make it seem as though she was discriminating against his white g trmer. if it turned out she helped this panarmer and indeed the farmer came forward and said shirley schirra did indeed heg me to jrep my farm and aeslauded her. because there were some people, the white house, the obama adg tinistration fired because they were so scared of thisaims that he was a person in the administration who engaged in some sort of reverse discriminatio that w so scared that then they jumped the gun, fired her withoutor etting her
side of the story. terrible episode and hopefully the obama adg tiled stration led something from it. >> hs heds that hat: ou fort: o time. and again the book is "the persistence of the color line" legal raciaistratpolitics and t obama presidency. is thought provoking and interesting and i love stimulatinlaicoarrestersation. this has been very stimulating conversation. a synopsis of a sometopsis. what would you say about this president nes e and movinlai panorward? >> guest: i would say the central thing about barack obama is that he is a black man who climbed to the top of american solitics and that fact in and of itself is going to be his main f legacy to amethe sca and main lotheacy to the sc > is that fact shows that things have changed in amethe sca and thing
are capable of even more positive change. >> utisin: one more question. what would you like to see specifically for the raises in this country partitrla >y african-americans? >> guest: i wou thisa like barack obama to continue to do what he is doing which is conduct hif ielf in a digled fied, foug for way. i think doing that, doing what he is doking wilistratitse that an important legacy to americans. the wall amethe scaiv canor o forward. >> host: thank you so much. ..