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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 22, 2014 11:42pm-2:01am EDT

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fast so she was very determined to take over. but she raises up to give a speech but then to be with her to say you are alex of water but victoria had all the people in their. they were screaming back and forth. at the end she goes up and has all the lights shut off. [laughter] so they are shouting in the dark on the stage.
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and also very good about corruption. they went to get installed of big guns. that this is where we're going is what fascinates me. >> gaul -- other than the revelation i thank you had a lot of fun writing the book. then you think now what am i going to do? >> but i really felt it was fun. yes.
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>> is there a movie deal? >> we are working on it. [applause] >> i will not say anything until it happens. >> thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] here is in the house we have the book for sale on the counter. that was a wonderful presentation.
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give her another hand. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> host: joining us now on booktv, what do you write about? >> the latest book is called
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the eyes on target about the navy seals but it is different about the culture culture, what makes them different and unique. they spend millions of dollars to discover how when a navy seal is made what makes some people make it through basic training and 70% fail their luck at demographics and family background and religion that none of that matters. some are hispanic or asian many are foreign-born. some have been in prison in communist poland but they come from all walks of life.
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they cannot find the common denominator except one thing. they never quit. they get through all levels of trading to make them stand out in in combat there were three things to dominate their body common control their body and fight until they drop and hell week is one of those it forces them to do that almost one week without sleep. it dominates your mind and fight confusion, and fight to the year. great physical defeats and mental defeat your mind is more now. -- worn out and dominate your spirit to constantly go forward. with those three things there are individuals to do one or the another but to do
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all three is extraordinary. this culture is under threat with are politically correct defense department can change what is allowed. that was interesting to me. >> host: are there women? >> not yet although the defense department is looking. there are former seals who have been an operation some would say there are women now but there are all liars. not everyone can be a seal. it is extraordinary. there is a lot of debate in the steel community if they could physically do it i thought the u.s. army ranger instructor that is a demanding physical program as well and he pointed out
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some of them athletes of the olympics could not get to ranger training. there are mailed athletes who fail to get through steel trading. is sound like a political question that with the navy seals it is up practical and physical king to do the pushups or carry the load or physically into our with hundred 40 hours? can you carry the heavy log? can you physically do the job? it is one of the most demanding environments on earth the steel operations dropped from a 40,000 feet into a cold ocean 10 miles offshore swimming underwater bitterly swimming with sharks in the philippines of the cold water of the pacific to set up a
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surveillance begin and operating at high altitudes with afghanistan and other places. >> host: how many are there and how many tryout? >> the exact number is classified for roughly 2,000 worldwide. with the alumni organization of a few thousand more but at some point people think about being a baby seal but those to get to try out is about 10,000 so to even get to that point to go to basic underwater demolition school is a demanding process. you have to go through maybe basic trading before the you could get steel trading directly. there is another demanding
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training program so it takes about a year-and-a-half for two years of a process to get to the program and very few do. less than 20% make it through. they're highly selected, the fit young people who have demonstrated a capability former marines, olympic athletes fail. >> host: how long does one stay in the? >> that is a great question. a great number are still in active duty through mid '30's. they want to do 20 years to get the attention but the record number of retirements meeting after 12 for 60 years because it is more politically correct. al qaeda prisoners press charges that turned out to
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be false then they were exonerated but the trial went on for a year-and-a-half after they were found not guilty the hokkaido leader who was responsible for carrying those bodies off the bridge that was seen around the world five years later they cannot capture the guy behind it. they turned timid without firing a shot. a reads like a thriller how they caught him. but i the guy was woken up for hours later that the prisoner has a bloody lip that led to a year-and-a-half of legal charges. the seals were later exonerated after they had been subjected to this scrutiny they did not want to sign on again. after that millions of
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dollars of investment we need to think about. yes we need to protect human rights of prisoners also realize in the al qaeda manuals trains people to make false reports to tie into the military to keep the fighters off the field. so be aware sometimes the enemy does that on purpose not in good faith and we need to protect the seals and they will spend all the time in court. instead of protecting from the deadliest people on earth. >> host: what access review granted? >> a fair amount to current and retired seals. some of whom are not named in the book but with my co-author who wrote the book american sniper, we both had
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a fair amount of access. >> host: why do we hear so much about a sealed team six? >> why shouldn't we? seals complain about them becoming famous and it was a mistake for them to be named as the executioners of osama bin on bin. then they should not have been named and then when there was an attack about 60 days later to shoot down the helicopter that led to the single greatest loss of life within navy seals and their history that was the day they thought that was retaliation from al qaeda to killed osama been lauded by naming them put the lives at risk. we built from intelligence documents al qaeda has the online unit that looks through social media like
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facebook to find the identities of seals and their families. >> host: is there the acronym? >> sea, air, and land basically. the term developed with the under water demolition team. optical stores submarines they came about in their early sixties with kennedy and jfk who understood the ability what a big difference they could make in combat. so they push for a naval commander of forces to go through the sea and air and the land operating very far from land now they went out
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of the blue waters and the brown waters and the jungles and then in the current war this seals operating thousands of miles that what the only water is in the canteen. >> host: he finished with king gauzy -- ben gauzy. >> we thought it was ignored because two of the four victims of our former difficile lowe's we kept hearing about this and benghazi is a fascinating story overlooked by the media a couple of things that are new the intelligence report that was
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circulating inside the cia and defense department and state department months before the deadly attack warning about the al qaeda us and there was a photograph with the al qaeda at a rally and martyrs square downtown benghazi two months before june 2012. then 300 activist waving guns in the year probably calling for the death of u.s. ambassador at the same time they were denying security. they also knew the private life of investor stevens was known and used as a targeting device by al qaeda through friends and associates. his jogging schedule was posted on the facebook page all before the attack then it was ignored with the nearby net account of the attack and the immense value
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with more than 40 diplomats and security personnel. the ambassador within the first half an hour was separated in a small building and suffocated to death the attackers new exactly where the diesel fuel was headed -- was headed to set the building on fire so he died of smoke inhalation. but the other two died eight hours later. so we also want to highlight the role how they both volunteered to save the diplomats and how their sacrifice saved a lot of
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lives. >> host: the photograph on the front? >> it is a shot taken in is in afghanistan 2003 i think. >> host: navy seals? >> they are. >> host: the newest book eyes on the target from richard miniter. think you for your time. . .
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>> my forthcoming book is called "r freedom now," and i have an edited volume,blackomen i want to welcome everybody on behalf of the links. a wonderful organization here in charlottesville, virginia, as well as the virginia foundation of the humanities and the produce officers the book. please turn off all your cell phones. i will just tell you the
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festival is free of charge. not free of cost. so, please, remember to go online and give back or pick up a giving envelope from the information desk at the omni hotel. and support your festival so we may sustain it for many, many years. please fill out the evaluations. these provide useful information that helps the festival continue to be free and open to the public. following the talk, there will be a book sale, so please support our fabulous authors by buying their books. okay? and the program today is called, african-american stories of work, change, and dispossession, and this is featuring m.j. o'brien, tammy ingram, steven
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reich, pete daniel, and i am the moderator. so, we'll begin with pete daniel. he has been both a professor of history and a public historian. he has served as the president of the southern historical association, and the organization of american historians, and he currently lives in washington, dc. this is his seventh book. dispossession. let's welcome him, please. [applause] >> thank you. how many farmers do we have here? one farmer? two. okay. in dispossession, i analyze discrimination that drove black farmers from the land and record
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the store of the farmers who fall back. it was an unfair fight. from top to bottom the u.s. department of agriculture, usda, was run by white men. many pledge deed against african-americans, women, indians, hispanic, anyone who was not a white male. recall that by 1910, african-americans held tight toll some 16 million-acre of farmland. by 1920 there were 925,000 black farmer, their acquisition of land and tenure coming through from chev oharshest racial discrimination and violence. during the height of the civil rights movement in the 18960s -- 1960s the black farm count in ten southern states fell from 132,000 to 16,000. and 88% decline. this was not an accident. three usda agencies played a
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crucial rowell in discriminatory policies. the ascs handled a lotment, how much a crop a farmer could grow and managed other subsidy programs. the federal extension service off erred advice on the latest farming techniques, organized 4-h clubs, and established home demonstration clubs for rural women. the farmers home administration, fha, off erred loans to farmers unable to secure credit from private sources. these three powerful agencies wielded tremendous economic and political power. they hired office staff, second extension and home demonstration agents, controlled information, adjusted acreage allotments, disbursed loans, adjudicated disputes, and in many cases looked after family and french county administrators had enormous discretion in how
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programs were carried out and who benefited. the student nonviolent coordinating committee, contested elections for powerful county commitees that carried out these policies, and despite their imaginative tactics they ran into due miss particulars lies, and even violence, and won only a few seat officers the years they were involved in actively contesting these seats. thisert has large by been whited out by the academy offing a curl who say it was they, not the association, which encouraged black farmers to not vote, which is totally untrue. the cover of my book -- this was taken by one of the people who worked for snic. elaine baker. a picture she took in mississippi of a black farmer
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doing something with plowing across a field. and there are several others of her pictures in the book. she came to mississippi in the summer of '64 and it was her and others who organized these contests -- to contest these elections. the extension service integrated in 1965. meaning that african-american administrators transferred from black to white land grant colleges, where they were given nothing to do. black county agents and home demonstration agents in the counties were put under white control with secondary titles. at tuskegee university, willy strained differented the negro farmer, very popular newspaper, giving conditions of all the news that farmers like to read. but he was transferred to auburn university. he was shunned and given no duties. he said when he walked in the
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morning, the white people would turn their backs to him and he would go into his office and put his books disbound then go to the library and read. he got tired of that and went back to graduate school to seek another degree, and then returned to auburn, received the same treatment, and when he was passed over for position as head of the division, which he was highly qualified to do, he sued, and the case became a major, major civil rights case. strain vfulpot, fillpot being the president of auburn university and the decision basically dismembered all of the prejudicial structure that alabama extension service had and said you will hire a black person for this and this. made very explicit what had to be done. so the strain case is very important. how many of you ever heard of willy strain before? i hadn't either until i started
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this project. and the archivist at burn university did you know willy strain is still alive and living in tuskegee, so i interviewed him. the fha denied black farmers loans and they needed it to start the crop year. many were forced out of farming. these county fha people had total power on who got loans. there was no appeal, no matter what -- even the committee said. it was the administrators and their are many stories in the book about administrators that were horrible, prejudicial and so forking. some of the story is seen through the eyes of william see
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brand, an african-american at mr.or in the department of agriculture and he was an isolated black man in a very prejudiced bureaucracy, and his attempts to do things were thwarted. memos were intercepted, and then after the nixon administration came in, the people at usda blamed him for not having achieved more civil rights. timothy pigford was a north carolina farmer who, in 1999, after joining with a lot of other farmers, had a case called, pickford v glickman. a lot more of you have heard of that. the judge said that since 1981 when the nixon started throwing complaints into the trash, since then any look farmer who had documentation to prove discrimination could join this suit and try to get some money
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back for discrimination, and of course that happened. the case was decided, an elaborate system to see who was owed what was set up, and in the fullest of time the money was appropriated. meantime, of course, many farmers passed away and never received the benefits from this. the focus of dispossession, the book i wrote, is before 1981. most of it is about -- takes place in the 1960s. there's no tombstone marking the final resting place of discrimination. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, dr. daniel. now we have m.j. o'brien. an independent writer. he studied the nonviolent
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philosophies of gandhi, martin luther king, jr., and dorothy day. he excelled at english and history at st. mary's seminary and university in maryland, graduating in 1973. he earned a second ba in communications from washington, dc washington, dc's american university in 1984 and work as a corporate communications executive for over 30 years. o'brian recently retired from the national rural ute tilts cooperative finance corporation, and o'brien, and his wife, accommodated three african-american children from washington, dc and because of this, they developed a keen interest in u.s. race relations. his publish, we shall not be moved, the sitin and the movement it inspired, is by university press of mississippi, 2013, coming out -- has come out
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in paperback, right? and o'brien blogs regularly on issues of race and civil rights at blog.not be please welcome him. [applause] >> well, thank you all for being here. it's wonderful to be here at the virginia festival of the book and great to be on the panel with such other great authors. my story really begins with a photograph, and so i hope you'll indulge me with a few visuals. i think many people who see this picture are familiar with it, and it is a picture, a unique picture in the civil rights movement, of the jackson sit-in, and i wanted to tell you about the story. it's now become iconic and instantly recognizable, but there was a time when this was just another one of many photographs taken during the
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civil rights movement. i was lucky enough in my 20s to meet the woman at the center of the photograph. the white woman with her head turned away from the camera with the bun on the back of her head. her name is joan trump youer mulholland ask she was a radical freedom fighter from the beginning of the student movement in 1960. i met her and the story -- one of the things people know is the photograph but don't know the entire story of what this photograph represents. and how it is uniquely connected to the story of medgar evers in mississippi, and i connect the dots and try to weave together the stories of the many people who made up the jackson movement as it came to be known. i met joan, the woman at the center of the photograph, through her children. this is just a kind of blurry
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photo of her five children at the time i met them in 1977, when i was a playground counselor in their neighborhood, and they would come to the playground, and it was through them i met this very interesting, hippy-like looking woman who drove a purpose vw bus with a big peace sign on the back, and i didn't really know her history in mississippi or understand what she had gone through, and it was only over the course of years that she began to tell me her story. the prior panel focused on the fact that there are a lot of oral histories that we don't know, and it was through her stories to begin with and then to many other people who participated in the jackson movement later that i got to talk to that make up the centerpiece of this book. it's not unlike my -- my meeting joan is not up like the story told by thomas camily in behind
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her's lift. he ran into one of the people when he went in to by a suitcase, and the person who ran the store was documented in behind her's -- schlinder's list, and this would not have come to light without the chance meeting with joan and her children. it took me a while to understand the relevance of the photo. my kids say, my mom is in a famous picture. 50 years after i first saw that picture i went to the king center for social change in atlanta and saw this picture in context with the other civil rights photograph and realized this was more than just a family photograph. this was a significant moment in the history of the civil rights movement. and i started interviewing joan when i got become from that
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trip, and that is what eventually led to the book. i had -- it was such a shock to see that picture in that space and realize i had a deep connection with the person right in the center, and joan introduced me to other people in the picture. some of you may not know but the black woman in the picture is ann moodie who wrote her own oral history of her own like called "coming of age in mississippi." the man sitting to the right of joan is john salter, professor at an historically black college outside of jackson. he also wrote a memoir of his experiences in jackson, called "jackson, mississippi." but anyone of them had gone to the trouble of document, footnoting, making sure this is prepared for the historians who will review it in depth in the future. and so i determined to take that task as my own and for the next
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20 years, really, from 1992 until just last year, it took me that long to get it down and find a publisher and to get it out. so, thankfully it's out now, and if i have also a little bit more time now? >> you have about five more minutes. >> okay, good. i wanted to talk a little bit about how the story is uniquely linked to medgar's life. i didn't know this until i started going deeper into the story. because of course medgar evers was the naacp field secretary in mississippi, the sole staff person for the naacp within the state, and since late 1954 he had been agitating for change within the state of mississippi. often a sole, lone-wolf figure, who was harassed and really
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terrorized within his own state; his family was harassed. got phone calls almost every day, threatening to kill him and his family. it was a horrible, horrible situation he was in. and i didn't realize that this photograph and this sit-in that happened in may 1963 -- now, many people mistake this photograph for the original greensboro sitin, which happenin' 1960 in north carolina, where four black guys from north carolina went down and sat in at the woolwork and that was the start of the student movement. created a blast we're still reeling from. this sit-in happened three years later. the woolwork signature-in. it took three years for the movement to get to mississippi and make into it the mainstream and people in mississippi to realize we have to rise up like the rest of the south is doing, and this the originating -- the
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first three people who went to the sit-in were from this college, the three black kids. i got to meet all of them and talk to them. in fact i got to meet and talk with all of the nine folks in this sit-in. but to get back to medgar, this sit-in -- the jackson worthworth sit yip created what the nationally -- what jackson did locally, created the kind of opportunity for all of jackson's black populace to come together under the banner of the jackson movement, led by medgar and supported by john salter. they finally -- the black populace rose up. it was such a repressive society that people were unwilling to stand up because they would be mode down or hounded out of the state. particularly black people would lose their jobs. but the young people, that said
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we've been putting up with this for far too long and we have to make a stand and that's what they did. this turn into other scene that went on for three hours, with people hard asking. you see the kid inside the back harassing the demonstrators, pouring sugar and salt and catsup and mustard on them. it was more than what you see, brass knuckles were pulled out. john salter got hit in the back of the head with brass knuckles. cigarettes were put out on the back of his neck. the girls were pulled off their stools and dragged through the story. all kinded of crazy things win on during the three yours. but because the police did not stop the demonstration this made national news and gave oxygen to the movement that enabled it for the next two weeks to become major movement, and for more than a thousand people, mostly young people to be arrested, and so to pot lot was -- spotlight was finally beginning to shine on mississippi and would shine
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harder the following year during freedom summer. unfortunately the two weeks of unrest his demonstration started ended with the assassination of medgar evers in jackson, and that's how those two events are uniquely linked. i got one minute, so i want to tell my final story about the photographer. and that's fred blackwell there, who was only 22 years old when he took this famous photograph. he work for the local newspaper, the jackson daily news. he was a segregationist, just like all the kids in the background. he grew up with the kid. he had gone to school with some of their brothers and sisters. and he went in this store that day hoping the demonstration would be taken out, and he was on the side of the kids who were doing all the bad things to the demon straighters, but as he witnessed and continued to take pictures during the demonstration and saw his
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neighbors becoming more and more out of control and doing more and more outlandish things to the tell mon straighter -- demonstrators he had a change of heart, during the demonstration as he was taking photograph, and realized segregation could not continue and he was on he wrong side of history. it took him 30 years before he told anybody. luckily i was able to capture his story before he told anybody that story, and he graciously allow met to publish it in my book. so i'm happy to tell that story and many other story0s demon straighters and people in the crowd. thank you very much. >> so let look dr. tammy ingram who received her ph.d from yale university in 2007 and is an assistants proper at the college of charleston where she teaches course0s 'the modern
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south, politics, film, and history, niter book, "dixie highway. road building and the make of the mod concern south, 1900 to 1930" is the fifth comprehensive study of the progressive era good roads movement and the dixie highway. her current book, "dixie mava, certification race, and organized crime, in the sun belt south" sounds very -- offers a broad view of organized crime networks in the post war u.s. in the south. professor ingram blogs and writes op-eds about her researc interests for the history news network, like the huffington post and the atlanta journal constitution. please let's welcome her. [applause] >> thank you for the nice introduction. thank you all for being here
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today. for those who don't know where the dixie highway is, it was an unofficial route that lasted from 1915 until 1925. it was originally planned to stretch from chicago to miami beach, and in the process of deciding precisely where the route would go -- over the winter of 1914 and 1915, rural southerners were so excited about the prospect of having this new access to new lines of communication and transportation, and they lob yesterday hard too be on the route. as a result of that, the organizers of the highway, who are not elected officials, mostly businessmen and newspapermen and boosters, decided that a single route was not going to serve all these diverse constituents who wanted to be on the route. so instead they decided to make it a much more ambitious route. there's a map on the back of the
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book. it turned into nearly 6,000 miles of local roads that had been stitched together into what i argue is the first modern interstate highway network in the united states. and it went from sault~st. marie, michigan, and to miami beach and back up again. a very sophisticated project at a time when the vast majority of roads in the country were entirely local in scope. not very many -- really no road maps back in those days but if there had been it would have looked like spokes on the wheel. the railway depot in the center and then farming area. if you wanted to travel a great distance you were dependent on railroad ask chas problematic for rural farmers and african-american. bus the dixie highway challenged
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the model of road-building it was significant. in the book i focus not so much on the building of the highway but on the political processes that moved road-building from entirely under the jurisdiction of local authorities and into the hands of these massive state and federal bureaucracies that had enormous political power and also control of pretty massive budgets as well. so, to explain how i came to this and what it has to do with african-american history in particular, i actually started out trying to write a book project on -- a research project on movement within the south, intraregional migration during the great migration, and i was interested in african-americans who went first to industrial centers like birmingham or atlanta, and i was interested in what sort of demographic patterns had been overlooked in the scholarship on the great migration. not everybody left the south but a whole lot of people left the
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rural south. as i started doing the research i realized all the political debates around that time were all about roads. everyone felt in a real sense isolated. white southerners, black southerners, but in these small rural hamlets, they were very isolated and really couldn't get around so easily. so i sort of transitioned to writing about road-building because of that. and i thought that what i would find in the process of researching this book, was that these new interstate highway networks, like the dixie highway, and the advent of the automobile and the affordability and accessibility of automobiles by the 1920s, gave rural so-er bz in general and african-americans in tech, much greater control over their own mobility and more independence, and while that's certainly true, the story that really seemed more -- sort of overwhelming in
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the archives was not so much a story of triumph as it was about a story of exploitation of black labor on county chain gangs. although white southerners were quite willing initially, the earl phases of the good roads mom to turn over control to the state and federal bureaucracy if i meant they'd would be able to get around more easily on these highways. once they realized that doing that took away a lot of their own control over road projects in the south, they started to back away from it and one of the issues that really -- over which they broke on this was the issue of chain gangs. chain ganged has been passed in the south under the grice of progressive era political reform, and the idea was they could rehabilitate men and re -- bad men and bad roads at the same time. but the very same time that the
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south was trying to engage in this great modernizing project that was the roads movement, and that exemplified by the success, and the dixie highway was -- they were also recommitting themselves to a very brutal system of labor that re-entrenched local control. chain gangs were legal because of state laws and state prisoners, they were controlled entirely at the local level, and even that's are trying to modernize and build highways like the dixie highway, and state highway engineers and federal engineers are saying, you can't have these brutalized prisoners building these roads. it's not working. the reads are in terrible shape. and you really need to invest in engineers and modern road-building machinery. the white south was unwilling to do that because it meant giving up control over black labor so state and federal bureaucracies were complicit in this because the state -- some case is
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focused mostly on georgia in the book far. while the state prison commission the state highway department were one in the same, and so they saw these things as being -- their plan for modernizing highway was to exploit black labor. wait was a very popular system. georgia was the last state to stop chain gangs. largely because of a white prisoner who escaped and wrote a memo. a film about it call, i was a fugitive -- i am a fugitive from a georgia chain gang. and it was because of that negative publicity from a white man that finally moved georgia officials to ban chain gangs. but the sort of arc in the book is about how what looks like it's going to be this very successful project, and it was successful and the dixie highway was completed and it's remarkable it was completed in a decade before absorbed by state
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and federal highway system. that ultimately by the end of the life span of the dixie highway, a lot of people had sort of backed away from their support of the good roads movement, and one of the reasons for that was their unwillingness to give up control of the black labor so white southerners suggest it was a lot greater value politically and economically in controlling black labor than in building good roads, and it was really coupled with the onset of the great migration in the second world war, this populace backlash i detail in the book, really slowed road-building until after the second world war, until eisenhower took it up in the 1950s, and that's a story we're more familiar with. if you look at thearm 20th 20th century, it's a story about race and exploitation of black labor in particular. >> thank you very much. [applause]
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>> thank you. excellent. so now we have dr. city vaccine reich, professor of history at james madison university down the street. he teaches courses in labor, african-american and southern history, as well as in historical research methods. he edited the three-volume encyclopedia of the great migration 2006 with a condensed forthcoming. he won the organization of american historians louis m. peltser memorial award. he has written on southern labor history, the great migration, racial violence, and black political activism in the jim crow south and these have been published in the george of american history, the journal of historical society, as well as many others. roman and littlefield press has
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invited him to write on the history of the great migration for their african-american history series. he will be discussing his book, a working people, history of african-americans since emancipation. let's welcome him, please. [applause] >> good afternoon, and thank you, paul los angeles for that introduction and to the organizations and the virginia festival the book for inviting me and the other panellesses to speak to you for a few moments about our work. a working people, my book, does appear in the roman littlefield african-american history series, and this series of booked did by jacqueline moore, anita hagic, two historians, engineered this series as kinds of books that are neither books that academics write for themselves nor books by popular audiences that
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academics often complain that do not have the proper -- authors don't have the proper training or collecting collecting and ean interpreting and evaluating historical evidence. so they imagined a series of books, of volumes written by experts but wherein in lively and accessible prose, free of jargon but by established scholars who could synthesize scholars and research methods and offer translation of key moments in african-american history, and all of the volumes in the series include an appendix of primary source documents. in any volume on african-american labor places work at the center of most civil war black experience. the reason i do this is that work in many ways shapes the social, political, and cultural outlook of african-americans.
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for african-americans, efforts to win equality and secure the rights of citizenship, to fulfill the promise of reconstruction in many ways, they understood could not be ahe could chief -- achieved without guarantees of dignities at work as well. black experience of discrimination were felt most blow foundly, i would -- profoundly, i would argue, at work in and spheres of economics and that work experience, that workplace discrimination, not to dismiss these but i think was far more important than the experiences of discrimination on buses, street cars, schools, -- maybe not necessarily schools but lunch counters, and other public accommodations. most blacks, therefore, understood the connection between the economic rights and civil rights, and understood that the two could not be separated. in many ways the thesis of my book is -- when the march on washington in 1963 and the
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activists who descended on washington that would day carried a series of beeners with various slogans, all these printed with the help of the united automobile workers. one of hi favorite a sign that said: civil rights plus full employment equals freedom. and my book tried to restore the full employment side of that equation. that it's more than a civil rights movement. that the civil rights movement is not simple police about civil rights but there's an economic component to it. and that when we look at the story, when we write african-american history as labor history, that story emerges much more clearly, and it's a way -- the book is largely intended for student audience, one that i think is very important for students and young readers to grasp. so, the book has six chapters and it sort of covers reconstruction through the current day. some i just vote of -- sort of
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give you a brief outline our the quest for full employment fulfilled this larger freedom history. the store of reconstruction emphasizes how class, as well as racial conflict, were at the center of recon politics for it pitted the interests of former slaves and former masters and that conflict determined the boundaries of freedom. this was about who would control the terms of no, the post-civil war south, and although black activists and african-americans were successful during reconstruction in winning formal civil and political rights during reconstruction, they were unable to translate that political access into a kind of political power that would deliver a redistribution of the south's economic resources, and hence they failed to really break the political power of the ruling white elites. and then the second chapter on
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jim crow's black workers really underscores this economic rationale to segregation and disenfranchisement. having secured the command of black labor in reconstruction, i argue southern planters and industrialists sustained the economic political subordination of african-americans. tammy says the interest here is to maintain control of black workers and black labor to maintain a subordinated economically discriminated against, politically weak, pliable labor force. that's how i tarring the way in which jim crow just denial of the access to vote functions. the story i nell the book i not just a story of discrimination and horrible experiences at the workplace. the book explores centrally the many ways in which black workers
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struggled to change the conditions that structured their working lives. and it sort of tries to restore to bring to reader's attention the importance of black labor activism to african-american history and the black freedom movement. and here they're sort of three themes that emerge. first, african-americans migrated to take advantage of tight labor markets when and where they existed. this was especially in world wars i and ii, two fundsmentam emed so citizen which black working class fortunes improved. these years of this mass migration of blacks out of the south, transformed the african-american labor force from an industrial surplus reserve of casual labor, into a population that game over the first three -- well, three or four decaded of the 20 numb century, become integral fa to work force of the co-er
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industry, steel, meat mac, automobile manufacturing, ship building and so forth. there they joined and built a labor movement responsive to their interest. this didn't always happen. african-americans were very skeptical of the labor movement and there was a long, difficult, and uneasy alliance between the labor movement unions and african-americans, but by the 1950s, if not a little earlier, african-americans had become the most committed unionists in the u.s. labor force. and they had understood the advantages a union contract brought to black workers. and then third, activists pressured the government to respond and force employers and discriminatory unions to eliminate employment discrimination. african-american workers benefited most when state and federal laws passed antidiscrimination statutes,
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but -- i think as pete's book emphasizes, those laws didn't always work in their favor, nor were government administrators, bureaucrats, necessarily willing to represent black interest oses lobby on their behalf. thus black labor activists realized that government agencies and bureaucrats wouldn't willingly protect their interest unless through their own vigilance they would transform federal laws into effective instruments of public policy. so here i tell of the story0s of the sepc, title vii under the civil rights movement and so forth. in conclusion, the sort of things would emphasize that the book tells, black workers broke the barriers of exclusion to employment, forced the labor movement to represent their interests as blacks and as workers, and tried to compel the government to enforce its own
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standards of fair and equal employment. along the way, though, they encountered stiff resistance and violent opposition in creating a more open and inclusive work force, and the story of what they achieved as a testament to their efforts, their activism and their struggles. but, not just a heroic story. not at all. the fact they did not succeed earlier, nor achieve more, reminds us of the obstacles they encountered and the endoorways of racial and economic inequality that remains 50 years -- 150 years after emancipation. thank you. [applause] >> so, we have excellent books that have just been discussed. so i'm opening it up for questions, comments. thoughts. there's a microphone right at the center.
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yes, microphone. >> mr. o'brian, could you talk about why the jackson sit-in was so different from the ones that preceded it in terms of violence being allowed. >> well in mississippi, the typical m.o. for the police was instant arrest. so, i think many of you are familiar with the freedom riots the freedom realities were supposed to go from washington, dc to new orleans, so when they got to jackson, everybody got arrested. they weren't going to put up with the kind of crazy mobs that people had seen in alabama where the police stepped back and let the klan and others attack the freedom riders inch jackson the police said, we're going to enforce the local laws.
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we're not going to care about the federal -- whatever the federal law says. we have our lays sure and we're going to enforce them. so they immediately arrested people. the reason that jackson sit-in took off is that there had been a supreme court ruling just the week before that sit-in that said the sit-ins were legal, and that the police could not interfere with them unless they were invited into the store by the store manager, and so the police defended they would stay outside and let whatever happened, happen, no matter whether there were other crimes being committed within the store, they believed it was their job just to wait until they were invited in by the store. so that's why the media attention, that's why it all kind of was able to get the kind of focus it did, in a different they than most other demonstrationness mississippi had. >> i have two questions.
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one is for the first panelist, and the other one is for the last panelist. the first panelist you mentioned farming if weights brought up on a farm as a boy. my grandfather's farm, and i noticed just recently -- i believe in the last couple of weeks -- the courts ruled there they was cutting off the number of people who could receive remuneration for having been excluded, and i wanted to know your comments on what has happened, because it seems like boyd and some of the others have been very much in that fight to actually have the government to finally come around, after many years, to compensate people who were denied many of these rights, and the question, of course, for the final painess, has to do with this -- you mention work and economics. but it seems to me that politics
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plays a much greater part than economics. and i feel that -- i know you can look at that and disagree, but i recall that some years ago, senator -- were able to get almost a million dollars not to plant, when people who were planting did not make seed money, and that was a political decision, and on down the line, you can see where politics controlled what economics all about, and so i wonder how can you bring in the politics to show that what is happening in workplace is really a political thing. we're a nation of laws, not a nation of work, and so if you can deal with that, would appreciate it. >> i hadn't heard there'd been any other restrictions on the settlement of the pickford people, who was the class action suit that involved a whole lot of african-american farmers.
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judge fried men set out a very deliberate way to go about getting this money, but it was only appropriated a year and a half or two years ago, when they finally appropriated the money. that doesn't mean that there isn't a bureaucracy standing there that will discriminate as money is doled out to people or the department of agriculture has consistently put up beyers to anyone collecting any money for discrimination. there's an article in the "new york times" a year ago where the writer alleged there was a lot of fraud and so forthin this whole thing. she listened to the people in the department of agriculture. that was her source for their story. and there were all kinds of student -- people who studied this who wrote letters to "the new york times." i wrote -- i wanted to write an op-ed but they went publish it and several other people i know did get publish evidence statements pointing out the factual errors.
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but i didn't hear that there was a new restriction on this. and so i really can't talk about that. [inaudible] >> thank you for your question. it's a great question. and you're absolutely right. politics is central to this. the story is -- the story i tell in the book is a very political one. the question is, where do you bring in -- it's the politics of work, if you will, and the struggle -- that to improve conditions at work, to gain greater access to fair employment, one needs to access political channels, and to have or to have political leverage, if you will. let me tell you two stories, both of which are in the become which might speak to your question. one is during reconstruction, in the very early years or
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reconstruction, former slaves were deeply committed to acquiring land as a compensation for years of uncompensateed toil and slavery. the question is, how to go about acquiring land and convincing those who control the land to give it to them. when you don't have any kind of leverage or political power. and there are a number of letters to the friedman bureau, hundreds of these very moving petitions to try to move friedman's bureau administrators and others with the political power to distribute that land. and it becomes very clear that african-americans have the ability to appeal to make -- to make moral appeals to appeal to their sense of christianity to appeal to their sense of
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loyalty, to appeal to their good will, but without any kind of economic backing, without any kind of power, without any kind of leverage, these really didn't deliver much. and the one who understood this well in the 20th century is a. phillip randolph, who plays -- as much of a role as i can put in here, who really understood that in order to achieve this completion of the promise of reconstruction, african-americans needed political leverage. they needed the ability to make demands. and the only way you can make demands is to organize and to organize the black community and to get not just the unions involved but to get the whole entire black community involved to understand that victories at worker victories for the entire black community, and by patiently organizing not only
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the brotherhood of sleeping carporters and then mobilizing through black communities, through churches, through fraternal order, through taverns, through local groups to accumulate the backing, to make a demand in 1941, in the march -- imagined march on washington to threaten the roosevelted a energies, franklin roosevelted a, meteorologist to open up employment in the defense industries to african-americans to demand there be no discrimination in employment in companies that have government contracts. that's politics. and that's power politics. but randolph could only succeed there if he could say, we can make this demand, this is more -- this is a demand, not a plea to your good will. so a lot of the story is how to acquire the necessary -- how to acquire the political leverage to make the demand on the state
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to respond to black working conditions. and the march on washingtonin' 1963, there are -- it's politics, pass the civil rights bill, but part of that is also to raise the minimum wage, to open up coverage of the wagner act, to agricultural workers and domestic workers, and so on and so forth. and then in most -- after the passage of the civil rights act, how to make that civil rights act stick, how to force people into actually enforcing its mechanism. the political game, takes political organization, filing lawsuits, take lawyers, pedestrians to legislators and so forth. so it's a very political story. >> thank you. questions? more questions? comments? >> i want to maybe if i could
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comment on something that steven mention end earlier which was the discussion about whether or not the kind of attempt to open up public accommodations to sit-ins is as perhaps relevant as attempting to open up the workplace or the schools, and to that -- it's almost like a staged attempt to open everything up, and i think the students -- those who were fighting for freedom, had to make a strategic decision, what is most viz visible aspect of life that discriminates, and at the time clearly it was the fact that blacks and whites couldn't even sit down and have a cup of coffee together. blacks couldn't go into a store and try on the clothes. or they were unwelcome. so, i think you did have to pick your battles. clearly employment and -- i think we had the same kind of situation in the attempt to integrate schools. you had black teachers with great experience, once the
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schools were integrated, then ended up not having a lot to do. similarly to what pete described. so, i think i would probably prefer to maybe see it more as a gradual staged kind of process where eventually we get to employment and schools and other things. >> as i try to say, it's not to discount those. so many students come to, when i teach african-american history and southern history, they come to this thinking of it as simply a seat on the bus or a seat at a lunch counter, and as so many civil rights strategists argue during those days, it's what good is tight sit at a lunch counter if we can't afford the hot dog. it was said over and over and over again. it's not that it's one or the other, but they are together. it's that the denial of accessing the clothing store, or
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the denial of the seat on the bus, has this -- it'sen enforced second-class status, second-class citizenship status, that makes that population easily exploitable and to command their labor. and there was a poll on the eve of the march in washingtonin' 1963 that asked african-americans where do you feel most discriminated. nine out of ten was at work. and martin luther king, in the montgomery bus boycott, said we're hoot not simply to rearrange the seats on the bus but for much more. so this notion that it's not one or the other but it's when we split civil rights from economic rights, then that sort of makes us think less creatively about what it is that we're fighting for. what's the vision of society we want. and activists always understood, it's resources, access to affordable housing, access to rewarding employment, access to
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a good education, that you can't live free without those resources. and the segregation of downtowns and buss is a visible reminder you don't have those. there's a great quote by one woman who sent a letter to the sepc during world war ii. maybe this goes to this question of yours. chev said i want to be treated as an american, not a negro. and i think that quote says so much about the larger issue. >> i think even back to pete and maybe tammy, the fact that even the students recognized after a certain point that we're not really getting that far, just by integrating lunch counters. we need political power. that's why by 1964 they're focused on voting rights, on getting the ballot. mississippi freedom democratic party challenges the democratic segregationists, elite in
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mississippi at the -- atlanta city. all the attempts to realize we need more than just a seat on the bus. >> i can speak do nat -- that briefly in the earlier period whites also perceived what they were doing to african-americans, economic opportunities, was also inextricably linked to their efforts to limit african-american political opportunities as well. so, the chain gang example i was discussing in my talk, in georgia and some other states, the very same legislative pack packages at the state level that passed chain gangs under the guise of reform, replacing conduct leasing where prisoners were rent out to railroads to saw mils to treat them however they wanted to, to have cheap sores of labor. those same legislative packages were the ones on which
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disenfranchisement limits were passed, and even in the earlier period, african-americans obviously had economic definitions of freedom, political definitions of freedom and whites hat definitions and they were cog any sent of that. so in some sense a lot of african-americans were articulating in the earlied and in the sort of high point of the civil rights movement, they're responding directly to white efforts to limit enemy both of those ways, and whites thought that way as well and were making a concerted effort to make sure they addressed those. >> yes. >> my name is -- can you hear me? i have a question about -- i guess more about the hope of the economic survival and life of african-americans in this nation, and i'm thinking about two scholars the particular,
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randall robinson, who wrote a book called, quitting america, and said that america is never going to do right by her african-american citizens. so he wrote quitting america, and he actually did quit america and moth moved to st. kit and is encouraging other african-americans to look at our history to say we had oklahoma, we had black wall street. how long have we been here? when is it going to take? i want to get your comment on that. the other one is dr. claude anderson who says it's no longer about the civil rights. it's about economic rights for this group of people. we see other minority groups coming to america, they steam establish their own communities and have economic viability within this nation. so i just wanted to get in the panelist's comment on the importance of economic empowerment of african-americans.
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>> well, as far as farmers go, african-american farmers were almost offstage. they were part of the civil rilings movement but were never looked at as farmers, and the issues they had with -- the country was mechanizing. using more chemicals and they didn't have access to credit to join this modernism that the department of agriculture and land grant schools were pushing. so in that sense they were push out of economic opportunity. at the same time the civil rights movement was going on it was supposed to encourage that. so you had the strange situation, is a mentioned all the farmers who left in the 1960s...
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>> there were no law books like in the courts. it took place with whatever nay wanted to please. there have been any number of attempts to get this to be recorded the way law is recorded, bu to get this to be recorded the way law is recorded. so there are things like that that basically just push economic opportunity aside because what you have is a group who believe in every county that runs the whole situation and they have access to the levers of economic opportunity. >> kent i mean it's a difficult question.
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for the historian who looks at the past rather than the present or the future, at one level the comment you make sort of acknowledging despair. many african-americans look at those situations and felt lives. the immigration of the late 19th century the appeal of garveyism that there is a very strong black political tradition that says america is never going to change. america will never a tone for its sins. the only way to do it is to find better soil elsewhere. there is another part of the african-american tradition that remains committed to making things right ,-com,-com ma to
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improving conditions here. and i guess i would just sort of emphasize the three things that i found in putting this narrative together. the same three things they are depressed and had emphasize that lack workers do better. i would say all workers do better. we are in an economy now that doesn't look like it's going to get any better any time soon for employment and look at the struggles with minimum wage and the power of the corporations have accumulated over unions and organizing and work places. i would say tight labor markets, workers do better when labor markets are tight. workers do better when the labor market is integrated and expansive and has access to buckle power and people aren't afraid of unions. workers to better when the government is on their side protecting them and protecting
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their interest at work rather than the interests of employers and preventing employers from pitting workers against each other whether lack against white, men against women, native against immigrant however you see it and it takes an actively engaged organized labor force to preserve those things. i think the history as i see it is fairly clear about those are the things that help most and we need committed actors to remind us of that to bring about and keep workers not afraid of those things. >> which is going to chime in. i was lucky enough someone sent me a link to a television show that was put on tv on actual day
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that medgar evers was assassinated and it was a dialogue between malcolm x and james farmer and wyatt tee walker from the sclc and staff of the naacp. it was interesting to me because malcolm was the one at the time under elijah muhammad who was lobbying hard or a separate, separatist bloc nation within the boundaries of the united states so all blacks could have their own clinical and economic structure. he was saying malcolm i don't see that happening. we are on -- one nation nation we have defined one way of getting along and being successful together. it seemed to me at the time is a look at it now that malcolm was rather naïve in thinking that would actually ever be accomplished. despite the fact that i think he had some very valid reasons for
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wanting to move in that direction. i think today in terms of economic justice we see l. kinds of people suggesting that we have at least as many difficultdifficult ies today as we did back then. robert for ford there is that new movie out called inequality for all and it talks about the incredible discrepancy between the 1% and the rest of us and how it's getting wider. i think again all of us need to work together to try to challenge the elites, the power elites whoever they might be. it used to be just white men and now it might be others but still i think rich white men who are trying to hold onto those rights of power. to wrest the power from those folks and say we are all in this together. >> it just want to add something
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as well. there have been communities that have been built by a african-american so there was one called promised land out of abbeville south carolina. it was a community of activism and struggle where these african-americans built it and wanted to be separate from whites. they were farm owners and they had farms and so on. what happened there was every time they gain something like william crawford owned over 400 acres of land the white supremacists murder them. there was the with guns movement that was garrisoned off from the white community has the ku klux klan was going in there and terrorizing the african-american community. as soon as they held arms is alleviated it. so there have been efforts. the abbeville begins right after reconstruction.
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montville north carolina, we have that. the with guns movement beginning in 1956 so there have been efforts by the republic of new africa. you have bad and the mayor of mississippi who has -- you have the sparks were african-americans are trying to find a way to live here but then you have as has been pointed out by everybody have the governmental forces preventing this from happening. so you are absolutely correct to bring all of this up. we had someone else who is getting ready to ask a question. >> i wanted to see it and if you wanted to share a story about something because a lot of us are unpublished, something interesting that might've happened after publishing your book. maybe someone called you wanting to do a documentary or you got a
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call from someone from a different country that would ring to light something that you read about and something you could share. >> i will jump in here. i started my research as i said in 1992. it took me 20 years to get it published not because the research took that long but because it was hard to find the right publisher. i had lined up a publisher in small press that ran out of business right before we are going to press in 1959 which all focused killed me literally. the university press of mississippi in 2001 was rejected. it was obviously mississippi's story and it did make sense. 10 years later it was under whom the directorship and they accepted it right away and it got published. so it's a happy ending but it
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took an awful long time. in terms of one's getting published the results are documentary about my friend john that came out of the same time as the story called an ordinary hero. the fact that the movie and the book came out at the same time has opened up a lot of opportunities for public appearances. i often do a lot of public appearances with joe. maybe she is the headliner but i'm in the movie telling her story so it gives an opening for the hook as well. so it's very nice synergy. >> i don't know how interesting this is but in terms of how long it takes to get the book out in my case it ended up working in my favor because the 100th anniversary is coming up next fall and winter. it actually coincides nicely with the project that i knew nothing about until recently but apparently the georgia department of transportation is
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working with the georgia historical society to map the original route of the highway through georgia. i think they haven't figured out what they are going to do about it yet. maybe put up some markers or something. it's hard for me to answer that question. i'm not sure what the sponsors going to be but so far it would be interesting to me that the questions i've gotten most of the interest i have gotten about the book it's been about the stuff i was talking about today which is just one chapter of the book. it's the most demoralizing chapter of the book but it's also the one that i like the best and that i think is the most interesting and may be the most important chapter of the book because you cannot argue that this great modernizing movement is incredibly impressive and sophisticated ambitious project that was
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completed was an unmitigated success because it came at the expense of an entire generation of african-american men. i think the book sort of turns on that chapter and it's interesting to me that seems to be what i get the most questions about, about that part of the book. >> the book, my book hasn't been out that long so it's hard to gauge what the response would be but what i would say is writing the book and having people knowing that i was writing the book did get me involved in an effort in the city of harrisburg to change a major thoroughfare's name to martin luther king junior way. i was able to participate in that campaign. i was able to present myself as an expert in organizing an
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activist history and so forth and they give me credibility with people. it was a wonderful experience in bringing my message not to academics but to our students but to people in the community. i will speak before city council and write some editorials on that and so forth. >> my book has been out almost a year and i think it has been greeted mostly with apathy by the reading public. i think there seems to be a blog people did not want to hear about farmers in general or african-american farmers in particular and i don't understand that the cause we are very close to our ancestors many of whom were farmers. i have already some reviews that show that people are not attentive readers and do not
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understand what i was getting out. but one of the happiest things that happened to me was a year or so ago i gave a talk at unc bloomington and a professor there said one of my students is timothy pickford. would you like to meet him? yes. so i've met him in the library there and it was like we had been friends for life. we talked for two hours with just a nice comfortable conversation about the subject in my book which happen to him of course because he was the principle person in the suit that was brought. after that i kept in touch with him but this past spring, this past spring he graduated from unc wilmington. he started there in 1969 or so. i taught there from 1963 to 66 so we almost overlapped there
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but he won the harvard medal of achievement as he graduated. so that is quite a story. he is an incredible person. he's a very humble person but when you talk to him he has met with the leaders of this countr. he has sat in on very important meetings. he's just a fantastic guy so i thought i would share that with you. thank you. you everybody and thank you panelist for coming. this was a fantastic talk. [applause] please make sure -- they are having a book signing so please make sure you buy their books and make sure you do the evaluations and thank you again to the virginia foundation for the humanities and to links. have a great day everybody. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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now from booktv's earlier coverage of the 2014 virginia coverage of the book laura gottesdiener talks about her book "a dream foreclosed" and what she looks at the impact of home foreclosures and evictions on african-american communities around the country. see if it's okay with everyone i would like to just start by telling this story that opens this book and it short. it's not like when people just get up and read their book. i would like to star with it because i hope it will remind us what we are talking about here. it's important to say this is a true story. it's a story that was told to me when i was in chicago two summers ago by a young girl. at the time she was 11 and it was in the middle of a massive heatwave so it was looked at least 100 something degrees. people had died in the city for
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lack of having air-conditioning. there is no air-conditioning in the home so all the lights were off. this was to try to keep the home cool, you know? she is standing in the middle of her living room in the dark sweating and i asked her, could you tell me jamiah about your families of fiction two years ago? and she closes her eyes and this is the story that she told me. it's important to say when children tell stories it's important for journalists to go back and to fact check them and verify some stuff because children's memories are not necessarily always the most factual. every single one of her details checked out and it was probably the most powerful telling that i had heard throughout reporting on this book. the police were at the door. running footsteps on the stairs and then a man shouting martha
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biggs, mrs. biggs open up. 9-year-old jamiah bigs remembers the pounding of fists followed by the deliberate flood of a battered men. she and her 7-year-old sister justice had just finished eating syria and they were playing barbie in the living room of the two floor flat on the west side of chicago. it was the weekend. later that afternoon and jamiah and her two sisters planned plan to pick up the progress report cards from salazar elementary school. outside the door the pounding grew louder. jamiah. out the window. there were nearly half a dozen police cars parked below and all of their lights were flashing. the girl's mother martha biggs woke to the commotion and rushed to the door. she opened it. only to see seven police officers, a blinding flashlight and her dreams exploding once again. the year was 2010.
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the year that for the first time in the united states history banks seized more than 1 million homes evicting approximately 3000 families every single day. martha yelled at the girls to get dressed. jamiah and justice flew into the bathroom together while martha and shavon grabbed bags of clothing and ran downstairs shoving them in to the family's minivan. a female police officer knelt down termite and to put on shoes and coats. it was winter. martha raster only send 3-year-old damien and coaxed them into the car. altogether the family fit that it was tight. martha and jamiah justice and damien clouded -- crowded between clothing and coats in the back. as martha drove away from the house that had in their home and headed to salazar elementary school where the girls report cards were good as they had hoped, she knew that this
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evictions was not only part of the 2008 housing crisis. she knew it was part of a much longer story one that stretched back to martha's own childhood in even further all the way back to the founding of the united states. she knew it was a story of housing, race and freedom that weaves through the nations history like the crisscross stitches on the fabric of a quilt. finally jamiah opened her eyes and said to me, you know when i was homeless it wasn't like i was dirty because my mom made sure i wasn't. but then i was going to school with every -- every thing on my mind of what had happened the other night. last night i had gotten a house but what about tonight? i may have to sleep in the car tonight. i might get a meal tonight but will i get a good meal? will something go wrong?
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what will happen. how will i get home tonight? i want to thank everybody for coming today. i have a few people to think so bear with me. i want to thank the virginia festival of the book and c-span tv for filming. i want to thank each and for amnesty internatiinternati onal. he did a lot to help get me here and i appreciate that. i want to thank bill for the introduction and the singing and greg of scottie park press my one-man publishing superpower team clarence lusane who wrote the forward and who wrote an incredible other book that i definitely recommend the black history at the white house. rob robinson max romo and many activists across the country and other justice organizations are definitely the only reason i'm here because they educated me as to everything that i'm going to say in everything that's in the book. more than anything else i want to thank the families and the
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families that are struggling and actually fighting back against what has been one of the worst crises financial, social, physical that this country has gone through. without them and their willingness to talk to me and tell me their stories, none of this would be here. today i'm going to speak about my first book "a dream foreclosed" black america and the fight for a place to call home. this book chases the story of four families during the lead-up to and aftermath as i said the world's worst financial crisis since the great depression. these families are bertha garrett in detroit michigan, michael hutchinson chattanooga tennessee, griggs wimbley and stanford north carolina and martha biggs in chicago. martha biggs is the mother of jovana and jamiah and the scene
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that i just read. i want to make something clear because sometimes there is confusion. i'm not a financial reporter. today i'm going to speak about the way that we choose to organize the society and the ways in which it can be different. so we will travel from burned out bank-owned buildings in chicago to liberated families across the country. so let's begin. you want me to tilt. okay. hold on, we are tilting. great. okay. can you still here may? okay, good. thank you. i want to start with a very simple question. what is home? it is such a simple word but almost impossible to define and the power of this word home is nearly a rifle.
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think back to when you are in schools like this and remember whom is the price of epic heroes and what book lover could forget the home coming of odysseus after decades at sea, after decades journeying across the entire mediterranean to try to get back to his island to try to get home. he finally reaches the shores and he finally reaches his house and he did not -- was not quite home yet for those who remember the ending. he doesn't really become home and tell penelope his wife who has been besieged by his absence ,-com,-com ma she tests him. she says, why don't you just bring out that bit from that room and bring it into the hallway. i don't want a stranger sleeping in my veteran and he says no, you can't do that. he was the only one that knew that bed was built into that room into a life oaktree.
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when he had that recognition her face lit up and she knew it was finally passing the test, that was when he was home. when he longed in the house, not when he was physically in it. who can remember mom is yearning for a decent home in raisin in the sun lauren hansberry's iconic play perhaps one of the best place of the 20th century. and remember she and her family were cooped up in this tiny little subdivision in chicago. and remember why they were there. chicago was completely segregated at the time in the 1950s and as a result of a massive red line and did massive all of the african-american families in chicago were in a tiny section of the city and as a result of the incredibly predatory practices of white landlords there were five for or six families living in what should've been one family's
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apartment. even the play starts when her daughter is peeking out in the hallway trying to find out if the bathroom is occupy. finally mama explodes and she says i will work 20 hours a day and all of the kitchens in chicago. i will strap my baby on my back if i have to inscribe all the floors in america and watch all of the sheets in america if i have to but we have got to move. we have got to get out of here. remember at the end of the play they do move and they move to a white neighborhood and they challenge and credible violent segregation at the time. and it's important to know that in the united states home as mama says is nearly synonymous with the idea of equality, of upward mobility and freedom and yet although everyone knows it there is probably no more contested a word in the entire english language.
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as law professor anita hill right referring to the 2008 housing crisis she writes at the heart of the crisis is an ideological disconnect between home as a basic element of the american dream and a pathway to equality and home as a market product. so what has been happening to our homes? what has been happening since 2007 in the housing crisis essentially starting in 2007 and plunged the country and the world into disaster? well, we read a lot about the numbers of the crisis. we read a lot about the amount of wealth that evaporated overnight. we read a lot about the number of people who lost their jobs and the amount of gdp that declined and the amount of money that the banks needed to be stabilized.
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we didn't hear almost at all was the number of people, not loans, not houses but actual people who were forced from their houses in 2007 as a result the foreclosure and bankruptcy. how many people wear there? as i started to try to answer this question which felt like a pretty question to start out with when you write a book on the housing crisis, i have learned there was no single government agency at any level whose job it was to answer the simple question of how many people have been pushed out of their homes? there was not even a private company charged with tracking this information although there were many private companies that track information about once and i will tell you all of them keep their information behind tables and it was expensive to access that information which obviously should be free. piecing together numbers and talking to economists and journalists i learned that the conservative estimate, and remember this is the conservative estimate, is that
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10 million people have been forced from their homes since 2007. how big is 10 million people? well it's 227 times the population of charlotte north virginia and 1.5 times the population of new york city and roughly equivalent to the entire population of the state of michigan which is the tenth most populous state in the entire country. in other words it's as if in last six years bankers have a evicted every single man every single woman and every single child in all of their pets from the entire great state. how is it possible the entire -- of michigan was forced from their homes and we never heard about it? so i started thinking that maybe it's not just a reflection of government oversight but it's more a reflection of how we value this crisis in and of itself. that we valued it and quantified it more in stock races rather
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than missed school days, that we counted it in property values rather than in family dinners, that more than anything we have talked about it in terms of shareholder profit rather than the shuttered schools and cities across the country. that got me thinking maybe we haven't only suffered from an economic crisis but maybe we are in a crisis of values of meanings in the definition of our own lives. i was glad that you mentioned martha because i think it's impossible especially here in jefferson school which used to be an all-black school during segregation, it's probably impossible to talk about this happening without referencing earlier this year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic arch on washington and martin luther king's iconic i had a dream speech. "i have a dream" speech. it was all over the newspapers. i went back and read it and i
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noticed a portion that hasn't gained as much attention so i want to read just a small segment of it for you tonight or today. and he said in a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. when the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent part of the constitution and declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every american must follow. this note was a promise that all men, yes black men as well as white men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. did he continued. it is obvious today he said that americans have defaulted on this promissory note as far as citizens of color are concerned. instead of honoring this sacred obligation american has given people a bad check, check which has been sent back and marked
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insufficient funds. in reading this now i can't help but think in the people caught this maybe you will laugh, i can't help but think of the hundreds of thousands of foreclosure checks which were set out by the banks as compensation after the massive signing settlement, essentially this massive settlement after all of the banks have been caught forging and signing all of these foreclosure documents in order to accelerate because they didn't have enough people to sign these documents. nevertheless the documents were in order and they had multiple employees making minimum wage signing the same name linda green because it was shorter than their real name. so after the banks were caught in this massive forgery and fraud scandal they were required to send out checks, compensation checks to the families who have been foreclosed on as a result
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of this fraud. they send out all these checks across the country and most of them were small, $5000, $2000 obviously not enough compensation from losing your homes. the families went to the banks and they were going to cash those checks and the changs of bank of america, wells fargo and td bank, well they bounced and nothing to me signaled not just insolvency of our u.s. financial system but the irony of the way we treated people during this crisis. but to also return to martin luther king's words perhaps the entire racially slanted foreclosure crisis is the best evidence may be today of the united states continued to fall on his constitutional promise to african-americans. i am not just talking about the fact that african-americans were twice as likely to be foreclosed
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on although they were or that african-americans with high credit scores, with good credit for three times more likely to be sold a sub prime predatory loan than a white family or not just talking about the fact that a wells fargo loan officer testified in court that wells fargo quote put bounties on the heads of minority borrowers or that every single major bank demonstrated a violation of the fair housing act although none have been penalized for it. though there is a lawsuit that morgan stanley is currently undergoing in detroit over the violation of the fair housing act. not even necessarily talking about the fact, although i think it's incredibly important and very little understood, that this entire foreclosure crisis is an outgrowth of the nations. macker redlining institutionalized racism and housing and the very fact that these major banks could go into
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communities of color and peddle the worst of the worst mortgages is a natural outgrowth of the fact that through the majority of the 20th century the federal government had a policy of redlining. if you don't know what redlining is it means the federal government printed huge maps of the united states, put them on the walls and true red lines around any of the communities in which people of color lived and what those lines signified was that there was no federal lending or no federal guarantee for private lending in those communities. as a result and these laws were not repealed until the late 60's and 70's, as a result these communities were starved of capital so when these laws finally were taken off the books, the private bank said oh, here is an opportunity to make a lot of money really quickly by
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capitalizing on this nations history of institutionalized racism. but i also think it's important to talk about the unique impact that african-americans have experienced throughout the course of this crisis because as mark elena armstrong rides african-americans have had a historical relationship to property that differs from that of other americans. our introduction to this history she writes was as a form of property and contemporary relationships between african-americans and properties are still in pair. what she is saying is that the only thing at stake were not simply houses because holding private property and achieving the full rights of personhood, the full rights of citizenship have been directly tied since the country's founding. what is really at stake in this quest for home is freedom. in other words home and land ownership gave one access to the original american dream of
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democracy. it is fitting to speak a little bit about hypocrisy because this project began while i was on a plane to a place that just lost their local democracy and that is detroit, michigan. it was the summer of 2011 and i was going to see things that i have heard only whispers about. i had heard about masses of people stopping evictions and squatting and bank-owned houses. i was hearing about whole blocks taken over by -- i was hearing about people in other words setting up communities outside of the control of capitalism, communities that they were calling liberated zones. and when i was there, and i had remembered it very obviously radical whispering of what i might find in detroit, there i met a woman named bertha garrett i met eartha for the first time in their living room room late on a sunday afternoon and it was
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maybe 7:00 in the afternoon. she had just gotten back from church. i need to explain what worth a look like because as i mentioned i grew up in suburban massachusetts outside of boston so i really wasn't accustomed to meeting people that had dressed like bertha nevertheless were as brave as bertha anyway. she wore a white pressed white suit with prim ruffles. she had an embroidered shawl with a cream colored smock and she had this impossibly wide large brimmed white southern hat she told me she might be living in post-industrial detroit but her home was a refuge and she was from the south and here she had full control. over the course of a number of our she told me her story which had made local headlines but it didn't seem like anybody fully understood what made her do what she did. her father --
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she and her husband had fallen to foreclosure the result of the second predatory mortgage. she started with a mortgage of $40,000 it will into $190,000 although every single month she was making her mortgage payments. so she tried to fight her foreclosure and court. she hired a lawyer in chicago in a very sweet man. at the man. at the end of the day he couldn't do anything for her. her husband was cycling in and out of the hospital and her sons and daughters all relied on this home as the family's home base. finally days before her a fiction she called oldest daughter and she said i'm not going anywhere. and later she told me that it wasn't that she didn't understand that the banks owned a piece of paper. she said it was that the banks didn't understand that i owned a home. this was a deeply religious
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woman appealing to a moral law, i higher above the law that in her mind completely invalidated this contract. they called for her and her family to leave. she called the papers and called call their neighbors and call the church in the morning the city of detroit is scheduled to send a contractor to park a dumpster in front of her house and they had contractors essentially haul out every single item that she and her family amassed over the last 22 years of her life all of those items were hauled out of her house and thrown in the dumpster that morning for contractor couldn't deliver the dumpster because there were hundreds of people amassed in the street on the front lawn in front of the place he wanted to park part. he said get out of the way and a man stood in the middle of the street and he said you get out of the way. and so the man with the dumpster try to park it in front of the neighbors house.
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all of the neighbors said, don't park that in front of my house. i know what you are here to do. remember this is a contractor. he was probably making slightly more than minimum wage and he said i'm not going to benefit taking this family out of the house so he turned around and went back. later that afternoon bertha went to downtown detroit. she went to the dime building, a huge office building essentially the wall street outpost in detroit. she marched up to the floor at new york mel and who hold her mortgage and she said can i come in? can i talk to somebody about my mortgage because hundreds of people just blocked a dumpster and i don't think you're going to be older foreclose on me so why don't we try to work something out? the secretary said i'm sorry you can't come in because you don't have an appointment. bertha took a deep draft and wearing pressed perfect suit, white rimmed hat she laid down
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in front of the door of his office and the secretary leaned out and said what you doing? she said if i can't commend than a few people can come out. she stayed there for a very long time and the next day the bench lawyers called her lawyer and said could you please call off the dog's? if she wants her house she can have it. when i met with her that afternoon for the first time on sunday she had just signed the papers to own her home outright for the first time in her entire life. on that trip i saw with my own eyes what i had only heard whispers of and those were in fact liberated blocks on the east side of detroit. i received a tour from a homeless artist who had become pretty much more or less a residential realtor for the anti-caplis crowd in detroit. the block called the epicenter
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epicenter -- at the time when i left they had seven occupies in rehab homes in jaime explained. it sounded utterly beautiful and also within this economic context completely and utterly insane insane and here's how it went. the group of artists in the residence fixed up one house by living in it and call that the local homeless shelter and asked them to send family. the family would live in the house and a group of artists in residence move to the next house and fixed up the next one and what was interesting was each time they moved more and more people were joining the effort especially from the families who had gotten the houses. this was seven houses at a time but since they have dozens prayed they had wood-burning doves and water collection systems and dry roll a new plumbing. they had libraries in gardens and plants --
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plans for making a boxing ring. when the houses had sharpie scribbled diagrams for solar plant -- solar paneled roofing on the wall. i haven't had an opportunity to give back and see if they made it. like bertha garrett jb and his team explain to me they were fighting to preserve the neighborhood that they had seized for cash stripped of life and left to die. he told me we don't own any of these houses but if we stay in them, if we keep working on them we can save them. obviously after that trip i was on the hunt so i wanted to find more liberated spaces and learn what inspired it was not to suffer in shame but what spurred communities to organize and fight back. i met communities in resistance across the country. i'm country. i met people in suburban north carolina and chattanooga tennessee and minneapolis
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minnesota and rural parts of western pennsylvania. everywhere i went i heard a story that i didn't think was possible so i will tell you two quick ones. i heard about a man in toledo who on day of national action against foreclosure decided with a few friends to seal himself inside his home which was in foreclosure using bricks and cement. he and his friends literally built an entire house within the house filled with bricks and cement. it took the police days and this was like a day before his scheduled affections of the police came on the day of the scheduled affection and they opened the door to find a brick wall. they spent literally days chiseling hiout of his house. the story obviously made national headlines and it's worth adding an incredible amount of taxpayer money as a result of the fact that the local police forces are required to carry out the dirty work.
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they met a woman named monique white, a single mother, incredible woman actually and she had in fighting her if action for more than a year. she protested and was working with the local community group. they had gone through the entire legal process. she spoke out at shareholder meeting and finally was really quite clear that she was just not going to be a blue keep the home. so pretty much a week before her scheduled affection she went to home depot and she ordered a dumpster truck worth of soil. home depot said it to her house and delivered it and said what he wanted? i won in the back yard. i want a garden. they dumped all the soiled and she went to the local seed store and she bought a ton of seeds and a ton of starter plants. she was out there all day gardening.
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when her neighbors who knew she was in foreclosure because it was a very public case went over and said monique are you okay? she said i'm planting a garden because i'm not leaving this house. i know i'm going to win it and a week later td folded and she still lives there in the garden is still there. they use it as a community garden. every story was more inspiring than the rest. i remember the words of one retired firefighter who explained the eviction blockade in chicago chicago that it saved her house. her name was patricia helm. she said my daughter called and said the sheriff is here so i called jr with the local housing activists and before you know it all these people on the porch chanting fight, fight, fight and more people are coming up on bicycles. the neighbors were on their- porch is saying we have the story. the whole porch is filled with people chanting to tell the
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whole while -- wide world this is people's territory. the eviction blockade was out in full force. it was a beautiful thing. i felt like was floating outside of myself when i was watching all these people on my front porch defending my home. she is a member of the chicago anti-eviction campaign and there are few activist groups that i think it's important to mention. they're the ones that made all this research possible. first and foremost jr which had the organization worked with martha. occupy homes as a national network. take back the land which is an african-american lead network spearheaded definitely the most in my mind inspiring housing organizing for the last five or six years. moratorium now in detroit that worked with bertha chattanooga organizing fraction and the more
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i traveled in the more i met with dozens and hundreds of activist groups and families i realized african-americans unique relationship to whom the story of struggle and dreams was in just a of being victimized. it had made these communities significantly better and significantly more visionary in the stories in the proposals in the implementable strategies that they were proposing to come out of this crisis. one of the cofounders of take back the land said to me we are in a transformative moment because this crisis is rooted firmly in the housing crisis. i think we are going to have significant changes in the way people think about not just housing but land itself. it wasn't still until my second trip to chicago that i realized this organizing no matter how
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inspirin wasn't just taken up by people like max with theories or political beliefs. i learned that activist often didn't choose to be activists and many have done so out of basic survival. when i started by telling the story of martha and her children i picked this cover for the book and the cover was taken by young photographer named brent rose. martha named her justice while the family was homeless and she named her just because she said it would be justice if they no longer had to sleep in the back of the family minivan. the story of martha is in my mind the best story on the block although i'm not supposed to pick favorites. she and her family have been evicted from cabrini green on of
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the largest housing projects in the entire city. the chicago had a plan for transformation. the plan was essentially to tear down cabrini and a whole lot of other public housing projects and after he tore them down, after the city tore them down the plan was to build new housing. the problem was they never built that housing. the economic crisis came in the city was strapped for funds so essentially the transformation is they tore a bunch of housing down and did nothing to help the families who had have been living in that housing and did nothing to help the city have a more affordable housing program for the future. so martha and her children spent time in homeless shelters and abandoned buildings spent time doubling up with families as cabrini was being torn down. spent time in their car. finally she said i can't live like this anymore so she was
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speaking with -- who we had heard of before. she explained the situation and she said i will do anything. i need to put a roof over my kid's head. pat said my daughters in foreclosure and she's giving up on the situation but if you want to fight it here is the car and hear the keys. martha parked the van in front of the house and got to work. she rehab the entire house and painted the walls and rallied the local kids to put up the drywalled and made the house perfect. in the summer of 2011 she called the chicago eviction campaign and her called all of the local media all of the national media and everyone came out including "the new york times" and everyone is standing there with all the cameras. she stands there in front of this entire crowd of people and essentially the entire national
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media world which was all of us and she said i used to live the cabrini green. i was evicted, i was homeless, my kids were homeless. we don't want to be homeless anymore. i can hold a job if i'm moving around and i can get a job if i don't have an address. my kids deserve a place to live. my kids deserve a place to sleep. my kids deserve a place consistently to get ready for school. i don't own this house. deutsche bank owns his house but i'm going to live there because i declare this house liberated. you should've seen the cameraman's faces. and she still lives there and they are going through court battle now but deutsche bank isn't taking a home away from them. they have been there for three years now. but living in bank on buildings and fighting deutsche bank and bank of america and tdn wells fargo and jpmorgan is not a
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long-term solution so i asked these groups what is the long-term solution? they explained to me that what is going on now is a process of destabilizing relationships and getting to it lays where we can have different structures of land in this country. one of those systems that is implementable right now there are 250 across the country as a structure called the community land trust. what a community land trust offers is the ability for communities, not companies, communities to control the land and make decisions about what happens on that land. they do that through a system of separating the ownership of the land from the ownership of the homes. what happens is if i wanted a community land trust or anybody here you might get a mortgage and buy a home but you don't own the land underneath your home. who owns the land underneath your home is a collection of all
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the residents, surrounding residents and local leaders rather than politicians are church leaders are people in the neighborhood who are always helping. and what that means is that the land is guaranteed for affordable housing and it takes the speculative nature, speculation out of being connected to this land. not only does he keep the homes on top of the land significantly more affordable but it allows communities to make decisions about what happens in their neighborhoods. imagine a situation which communities have the ability to make these real decisions about what happens inside of them. imagine what effect that would have not just in terms of housing but in terms of policine middle writes, in terms of
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hospitals, in terms of whether to build a prison or to build a clinic. what about the local food supply? essentially it make the ability legal for communities to tip that balance and always exist in this country between capital and communities. right now we don't have a very fair fight but there is structures like community land trusts and others that allow you to tip that balance while still living in this country right now the way it is constituted. i think it's important to say and i don't want to talk about this for too long, it's working to say is we have come out of this crisis proposing solutions like community land trust, programs for affordable housing, programs that actually make capital, good capital more available to loan to communities of color, that's exactly the opposite route that we have taken coming out of this crisis. i think it's important to look back at what has been happening
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from 2007 to 2011 when the foreclosure crisis was at its peak, at its peak in the way that i'm incomparable to the foreclosure crisis during the great depression if you scale for population growth. today there are still tens of thousands of foreclosures across the country but the biggest challenge in terms of housing justice is what is happening with these houses that a party been seized by the banks. what we are seeing is rather than be returned to the market in a way that families can buy them particularly low-income and middle-income families, what we are seeing is massive hybrid equity firms and hedge funds which are in finance jargon essentially like the cousins of big banks. they work with the banks and they manage money and make investments. what we have seen is for the first time in u.s. history massive private equity funds and hedge funds are massing single-family rental empires. this is something that because
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after suburbanization we had always in this country had a rental industry of single-family houses that is very mom and pop. i might own a home and i might own three other homes but you know me, i lived down the block. now what we are looking at these rental empires being amassed we are talking 200,000 single-family homes purchased in the last two years. these are owned i private equity firms and hedge funds like blackstone group and colony and others. what they have done is buy up all these homes really cheap because remember home prices crashed incredibly and spectacularly and unfortunately because of unrestricted credit in the fact that communities lost so much of their wealth very few families -- there are families who are buying his first-time families but a lot are these private hedge fund
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plans. they would go into communities and buy up these homes cheap. for example blackstone bought 1000 porticone's in atlanta in one day and started renting them back out to families. you have to remember these companies are not landlords and that's okay if they are not landlords but you have to try to understand what type of finance mechanism they are looking to create with these houses with this new metric. what they have done is partnered with a lot of the big banks particularly jpmorgan chase -- lack stone and jpmorgan chase partner and goldman. what they have done is issue a new security called the rental back security. if you remember mortgage-backed securities that was the process of ongoing mortgages and selling them off to investors around the world. some of those mortgages, the good mortgages some of them were tax-exempt mortgages.
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when families started defaulting on their payments, that is when the whole system started to collapse and now we have a new financial product which is more or less exactly the same as a mortgage-backed security but rather than securitizing the underlying mortgage on your home they are essentially using the rentals to pay back the bonds. there's a lot of debate right now happening about this process so i wanted to scale it down to since i wanted to stay in my talk about finance -- in a way that we are still seeing homes as market commodities. we are furthering financial speculation and financial securities in the housing


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