tv Book Discussion CSPAN December 26, 2014 10:04pm-10:47pm EST
advocating for black equality. he lives the life of advocating even when that meant injuring himself. i think that the important part for us to remember is his willingness and courage to speak truth to power, it is really outstanding and provides a legacy that hopefully we can all learn from. thank you. [applauding] >> monday book tv features books.
>> next cornel west discusses his book followed by an interview at the 31st annual miami book fair international. [applauding] association, thank you. >> i am a multimedia journalist at channel 5 news in west palm beach and vice president for the national association of black journalists, the miami for lauderdale chapter and the am very happy to introduce two special guests today. dr. cornel west is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual, a professor of philosophy and christian practice at union theological seminary and professor emeritus at princeton university. the also taught at yale, harvard and the university of paris. graduated from harvard and obtained his a and b hd in philosophy at princeton. he has written more than 20
books and has edited 13. he is best known for his classics race matters and democracy matters and his memoir brother west, living and loving out loud. he appeared frequently on the colbert report, cnn and c-span and he also made his film debut in the matrix and was a commentator on the official trilogy released in 2004, his latest book, "black prophetic fire" with a distinguished scholar chris the bushindorr prevents a perspective on six african-american leaders including frederick a. bliss, w. e. b. du bois, martin luther king jr. ellen baker, malcolm x and otto while barnett. examine the impact of these men and women in their ear ats and across the decades and rediscovers the integrity and commitment within these passionate advocates and all so therefore wines by providing new
insights that humanize these well-known figures cornel west takes an important step in rekindling the black prophetic fire so essentials in the age of obama. helen has been director of the beacon press since october of 1995. she pulled a master's degree in english literature from the university of virginia. she began her career in publishing and random house in 1976. acquisitions that beginning could get killed don't's the healing, national book finalist, the iron cage, one today, cornel west's "black prophetic fire" and anita hill at 3 imagining quality. cheese sayre eight years on the board of pen, new england, and is administrator of the hemingway foundation pen award. thank you for being you today. [applause]
[cheers and applause] >> thank you for that very warm miami welcome. it is a great pleasure to be here today with all of you and i have a greater honor of being in dialogue with cornel west. in addition to the introduction you just heard a i want to say that cornel west is working on two other books with us and one coming up soon is his addition of the writings of martin luther king jr. which will be called appropriately the radical king. that will be published on dr. king's birthday and you should all look out for that and his
next book after that will be a very important one, justice matters. we are looking forward to that as well. i am going to ask cornel west to talk briefly about each of the six figures he discusses in the new book and then to reflect on how their legacy impacts us today and that i will turn the floor over to questions. michele alexander said that "black prophetic fire" was a fascinating exploration of the black prophetic genius and fire. i would like to start by asking you how you define "black prophetic fire" and then we can talk about each of the figures. >> thank you for that question. i would like to begin briefly by saluting personnel, my publisher, very blessed to work with james baldwin. the same as james baldwin, so
many other talented figures and i would like to salute president petronis and mitchell kaplan. those of the two leaders. 31 years, 31 years is a beautiful thing. and that collaboration and black prophetic fire. i want to begin by saying i am who i am because somebody, somebody cared for me. we need to and the baptist church, willie cook and vacation bible school teacher. these people provided and lived experience and answer to the
voices for questions. how does integrity facebook freshen? how does honesty face deception? how does decency face in salt? and how does virtue meet force? integrity, honesty, decency and a sense of virtue in the face of what? trauma, stigma, i come from people who have been terrorized, traumatized for 400 years in the united states, so when we talk about frederick douglass, we talk about w. e. b. du bois and ella baker and malcolm or martin, talk about folks who belong to integrity, honesty, decency, a sense of the frigid, telling the truth, expose lies and do it with love in their heart, compassion in the face of catastrophe. we abuse people, wrestle with
the catastrophic, not just problems, is not just the negro problem but catastrophe visited on black people. the question is prophetic fire response to that catastrophe, we have a deep sense of trying to tell what truths and most importantly willingness to pay the cost. sacrificing popularity for integrity, sacrifice feeding in for bearing witness and i am very proud to be a small part of that great tradition of great people in this ferguson moment, we need it more than ever, more than ever. [applause] >> you begin the book with frederick douglass. really interesting choice because he was a very complicated guy, wasn't he? tell us about his bearing
witness and a.at which he glossed sight of that. >> it is always on fire. . tubman 19 times, in the belly of the beast. david walker, he is a dead man 9 years later in boston. what a bounty on his head. willing to tell that kind of truth, vicious forms of evil in this society, not just white supremacy but spills over, to indigenous peoples, coordination of working people, anti-jewish, anti-arab, anti catholic, all of those part of our history but white supremacy sitting at the center. frederick douglass is the most eloquent picks slave in the history of the modern world.
by eloquence i'm talking cicero and eloquence, wisdom speaking in the face of catastrophe. there is nothing like him. he is part of the american imperial machine and his relation to haiti and the dominican republic and my critique, it is hard to be on fire for a long time because you have 1860's 7-65. he had 30 years to live. malcolm died at 39, malcolm got at 39, ellen baker was going to get to that. will was on fire her whole life. it is hard to be on fire your whole life and leno's that because we live in the age of the sellout. and 20 and 30, now you look at them and their well adjusted and even discerning what is going on with the fire in ferguson.
and discern what they're going on, the get freedom fighters like ashley yates or alexis templeton and tory russell and brother of wiley, right now in the belly of the beast in mississippi, ferguson. >> let's jump to lighten up wells in fact. she was an extraordinary woman and i discovered so much about her. don't think the lot of people know much about. >> i wish her name was well-known. and to the degree to which she
was and a red hair telling the truth about american terrorism. we have a lot of talk about terrorism since 9/11. all americans feel unsafe, he does for who they are whether it is blackened and erica for 400 years. to be hated for who you are. we have an 9/11 flight initiative. it happens every week. happens every month, happens every year, it is not something that happens one time and everybody gets afraid. would it idle wells do? booker t. washington and the boys were arguing about education and civil rights, she was confronting american terrorism, lynching, the rock face of the american nation state with courage and they ran her out of tennessee, put a bounty on her head. if not for t. timers fortunate in new york, they still hunted her down in new york and she had to leave the country and go to britain and she came back with her classics, got something to
say about the underside, the night side of america, terrorism at the center, jim crow and jane crow. in our textbooks they call it segregation. we are talking american terrorism, for two days it was a precious black man or black woman or black child hanging from a tree, the southern trees at the great billie holiday singing with such power and the jewish brothers writing the lyrics. it was a serious struggle, she organized black women and a black woman's club. we need to know much more, the classic crusade of justice. we need to know how she was able to sustain -- she is a sunday school teacher in chicago. she led the club music from chicago but was also missed treated as was the case with every individual in this text.
many black people -- when you are on fire in that way talked to hate yourself, believe you have the wrong hands and lips and noses and hair texture, believe you are less beautiful, less intelligent, less moral, and black folks have been like that for hundreds of years. and they try to say don't be afraid, don't be intimidated, don't be scared. and mobilize one of history in their backs up. she was misconstrued by that. including w e boyce himself. but all the human beings are cracked vessels, we try to
humanize across the board. i know wells, i wish she was in the house hold, she was a household word. >> maybe it will be soon. >> so many voices, raising their voices. what does it cost? >> bender my bed. >> i thought it was every bed. indeed, very important to have these women voices. they want to tell the truth and bear witness. brothers too. >> tell us since we are talking about sanitized, tell us about martin luther king and his -- what do you mean by that? >> you mention his name, it is
like john cold frame and knee nazi moan, just got to pause for a moment. how, in the face of so much hatred and contempt could he do shout so much love, the face of so much terror? he is in the paddy wagon in the 1960s the get him in the dark with a german shepherd coming get him every moment. and in readsville prison, looks like martin had a nervous breakdown. one word to say, this is the price we must pay for the freedom of our people. that is why we are talking about when we talk about martin luther king. he is the product of a tradition, comes out of a rich tradition, brother moses is in arizona somewhere. he understands that.
what happens to martin luther king jr.? he gets sanitized and sterilized because that much black glove and fire is always a threat to america. americas misunderstands black rage as always being connected to revenge. it can be connected to black love. this is what love looks like in public, tenderness is what feels like in private. he was a tender man too just like malcolm. he was a sweet man. but he had a deep commitment to justice. when he died 72% of americans disapproved of him. 55% of black people disapprove of martin when he died. everybody loves him now that the worms got him. the fbi said he was the most dangerous man in america. how come? so much love. so much fire. why was that he was unpopular at the end? a critique of empire, the
greatest purveyor of violence in the world, he was telling the truth, vietnam, trying to organize all poor people beyond civil rights, adding human-rights, and talked about in 64 going to the united nations, bringing america to try for the violation of human rights of black people. that is the marvin it scared folks. and understandably so. when you are working at that level of love and fire it would be very difficult to embrace -- you have to embrace at a cost. it is radical. >> we turned into santa claus. >> exactly, turned him into an old man with toys in his bag, everybody can't wait to see him. the same to nelson mandela but that is another text for another time. marvin, this radical king would
keep track of the centrality of the love commitment and compassion and willingness to pay the costs. this was part of the challenge of the intergenerational. is a love letter to the younger generation. i am passing from the scene. i don't need to be center stage. tell that to al sharpton. you don't need to be center stage. there is something called grassroots leadership, indigenous leadership in these contexts. get out of the way of the camera and let the young folks speak, let them tell their truth. you stand alongside them. we go to jail when we go to ferguson. we want the young folk to know some of us old school folk, and we love them and love and deeply. we might not understand everything but we are in solidarity with them even as we want to respect and protect and correct them. we stand alongside them like
cold frame allowing eric dolphin to play, cold rain could have been center stage every performance. yet -- what the young voices in. come john, see what i'm talking about in terms of what it means to tell the truth but also make room for the young folks coming through because so many of them have been unloved and uncared for and unattended to and i have been so loved and cared for and attended to for three lifetimes. got the shiloh baptist church at yale and princeton so it is a matter of keeping the caravan of love for the love train curtis mayfield sank about. get ready, don't need a ticket to get on this love train. but are you ready for the love train? ..
not being centerstage was her info. >> sister barbara ramsey, one of the great of our day, we live in the age of ella baker's. a relation to occupy wall street. in particular charismatic, believed like a jazz orchestra did, to raise all the voices, not one at the center, no head negro in charge who could be murdered or co-opted. you bring all the voices. as executive director of kings organization and the voices of stokely, michael, diane nash, a wave of others. ella baker was a democratic activist, a democratic activist, but she believed the centrality of
grassroots because the meant to t5 the mental capacity and ability of those every day people, those james cleveland called ordinary people. as you access their ability and capacity, you do not have to have just one leader representing all black people and all brown people, usually to be co-opted. and once you co-opted or murder, lo and behold depression, disorientation, and the possibility of those capacities in the abilities of ordinary people to overlook. ella baker is someone we have to catch up with. she is ahead of us, and she died, of course, working closely with my precious puerto rican brothers and the liberation movement. she was cosmopolitan, international, always at a grassroots level, and there
is nothing wrong if people think you are charismatic, but you must use your charismatic as a form of service not a form of conspicuous consumption that makes you center stage as an individual rather than part and parcel of the group. that is why count basie was always with the group. him projecting himself as some individual. he understood there is no talent without the group. we could go on and on and on mama coal and sister maria here, too. >> okay. let's. >> okay. let's start with the questions. thank you, on that high note >> thank you for being here, thank you for continuing with the struggle. my name is paul fletcher. you know you know my dad arthur a fletcher.
>> from kansas? >> yes. >> yes. >> i just want to mention that, though. absolutely. >> i was skimming i was skimming through your bo a .. have concerned with i read in the new york times it was $60 trillion that the banks used to launder arms and drug money from the cartel and selling arms to the iranians and no one went to jail, nobody went to jail, and yet jail, and yet we are going to jail for petty drugs. and i am glad you mentioned, , but when i tell people $60 trillion they still look at me like him talking about something that cannot be imagined. i'm like, yeah, it's hard to believe that when this economy is for trillion dollars and we have 60 trillion being stolen. and nobody. too big, they said, to go to jail.
>> that was in the book, though, book, though, brother. >> that was in the new york times. >> outcome of the times? i thought somebody snuck something in my text. i got you. i understand. >> in the book you start out in the beginning talking about no one went to jail before the catastrophe of 2,008. >> all of the crimes committed on wall street, insider trading, market manipulation to me are absolutely right. the jamie diamond calls at the white house and makes a deal. they get caught straight to jail. that that is a criminal justice system that is in some ways criminal, that is in some ways criminal. it is true. if you talk about rule of law for four people, let's have will of law for all people. for wall street if we have it for main street. what jane austen would have
called constancy. increasing tuition, interest rates for students, still out of control. the banks treated that way and students another. which group is more important for the future of the country, the student or the bank? what are we talking about? priority, not a matter of hating on rich people. some rich people can do the right thing in my view. i will fight for their right to be wrong. i'm a libertarian about these things that we have to tell the truth in regard to how warped our criminal justice system really is. you know michelle alexander's great texts of the new text the new jim crow. zero, absolutely. >> thank you for being here.
my question is not about the case, the fact, verdicts, but what do you think martin luther king would say about the reaction and protests and ferguson? >> from the young people themselves? >> what i am saying is, maybe how i feel, martin luther king stood for peace and peaceful protest. i am wondering, what do you think he would say about what is going on there. >> i see what you are saying i can speak on behalf of martin, but based upon his life, his work, his witness, he would call for resistance, resistance, but it would be nonviolent resistance. that is the kind of whether he was. resistance but nonviolent resistance, which is to say, he would not go to ferguson
and say, we have got to cool things off. the cool things off you end up in a deep freeze. the challenge has always been how do you channel your rage into love and justice rather than hatred and present? that is the question, and that is the question martin luther king was wrestling with and answered it with nonviolent resistance. i think, in fact, you are right. keep in mind for my calling for peace and calm is not downplaying the violations that have been taken place, not just in ferguson, every 28 days, every 28 hours a precious gem brother is shot by police or security guard. this is the tip of an iceberg. you can't go in and say we are concerned about the violence of the young folk cannot deal with the
violence of the system. and martin luther king would want to accept that. but like myself he was at jesus loving free black man who put love at the center. america ought to be grateful in fact, in some ways america ought to see black people and give them a standing ovation. yes. all this hatred, contempt, and still dishing out the wonders about love. what is it? sending the contempt back and how long will that tradition line. america, america, i'm praying for you. you are in a world of trouble. >> is true. it's true. >> i was moved by your lament that ida b wells is
not a household name. i'm interested. i am interested in hearing your thoughts about the importance of the intergenerational transfer of knowledge of the struggle, basic knowledge of history to the sustaining of black prophetic or even to spark new fires. >> that is such a profound a profound question and is very much what this book is about venture not just for versus black folk that human beings all around the country. we live in a whole world driven by big-money. on the money is very much about the erasure of memory and historical connection. all are confined to the present. fleeting pleasure, you see,, you see, not the attention
to the things that matter. and this is especially true for young people. we live in a timed our music is still dominant. all they have is music. and it is so thin coming from the oligarchs that control recording, radio, video, live performance. it is rare to get a group that sounds a sweet and mellow. there is no group among young people that sing of collectivity,, no band other than roots on the national level. how come the young folks go
to school with no arts program. it is a vicious cycle. i don't have i don't have access to imagination and critical intelligence through the arts. some of them some of them can't sing in tune and still make a million dollars. net king cole turns over in his grave. i come from a people that were concerned about getting it right, and they saying the notes because souls were predicated on what you got those notes right in that church are on the block or in the club, but now with the corporatization of music the same way our universities are corporatized and schools are corporatized, integrity, pushed to the margin, just getting over the 11th commandment, thou shalt not get caught. that is will we are teaching
our young folk. get over by any means, just don't get caught. that is a sad thing. >> given the universal human challenge of preserving treasures and earthen vessels what comfort do you have for aspiring prophet who seek to raise their voices in a way that will not contradict the four principles that the boys highlighted in your text. >> what a wonderful group. miami-dade college. every time i count me found out got this good stuff for me. every time i come. i'll put it this way. >> but you're here now, though. you're here now. i think every generation that takes people who are
full of fire, love, fire, love, compassion, willingness to pursue what i call the way of the cross is a christian. there have to be enough examples around. a wonderful line. examples are the go karts of judgment. young folks primarily see marketeers everywhere they go. sometimes not enough good example. now they are more entrepreneurial. so forth and so on. wu-tang. it will obtain clan got it
right, didn't they, crane. cash rules everything around me, but it does not have to go me. one can be old-fashioned. and i do think young folks are hungry and thirsty and that ferguson is the pick of an iceberg. they are tired of the old models of the marketeer. give me something real. that is what young folks are saying. they want to see the real thing. the host of others. i have six of them here, and this is just the peak of this wonderful tradition. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> i wanted to ask you in light of obama's immigration speech on thursday can you comment on how well or not
wealthy did when he talked about this marginalized group. >> i appreciate that question. one, we have to recognize just like abraham lincoln in fredericton t5 frederick douglass and philip randolph , our dear brother barack obama was pressured i the magnificent wave of activism of young immigrant brothers and sisters from all around the country. i was blessed to be a small a small part of it. we marched in front of the white house. it looked like we had the chance of a snowball in hell at that time. it took him a while to do it political cock elation. he did not want to do it before the election. he's a politician like any politician. we understand, brother barack. i applaud
what he did yesterday. i think he should have gone further, but we benefit, health care benefits, other kind of benefits, pay taxes and no benefits. there something wrong about that, something deeply wrong about that. he took the first step. of course he will get a firestorm. he will get that if he is singing out of tune in the shower. so what, that ain't new. what, that ain't new. in the sky is blue and grass is green. take a stand. because of part of my criticism is that he tends to punt on second down rather than fourth-down. he gives into quick, not enough backbone, backbone, but i was glad to see what he did and that we will keep the pressure on to make sure immigrant brothers and sisters are treated in such t5 but i say this, i don't like the fact that people talk about america as a nation of immigrants which overlooks our indigenous
brothers and sisters, you see. that is not true. immigrants have immigrants have played a fundamental role in the shaping of america, but there were some folks who were already here when they landed. they don't need they don't need to be in the room for us to be truthful about that and then there's the state t5 then there is the distinction between voluntary and involuntary immigrants. we laugh. violation. i don't know. i have not found out, but in voluntary immigrants, that is a different thing. hitting the ground, jamaica, the hitting the ground moving. haiti, they hit the ground moving, what great people they are. different circumstances. don't put it in the same
category. some put it in the same category. thousands of bones in the bottom of the atlantic ocean that will remind us of that immigration track of those precious dignified africans who came here and encountered a slave auction, , and that is also what we are dealing with for ferguson, already criminalized before we got here and still look at too many of our precious young black people as if they were criminals before they had done anything. true for brown, but especially for black. i appreciate that question. i applaud him this time. i time. i applaud him. zero, yes. absolutely. >> we have time for one more >> my name is louis armstrong. i i heard you say something earlier about the 400 years. what i want to ask you is
those 400 years you are talking about, is they the same 400 years of genesee's 1513 or some other time. >> in the biblical text. >> yes. >> i got i got to ask that. >> creative imagination, my brother. appreciate it. i appreciated. it is difficult for me to make that kind of late an hour late, modern time to some of those deep truth told that shape my own position and therefore i would never want to make any kind of direct parallel. i read the biblical text in a spirit. i focus. i keep track of what is in that text in the way of