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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  May 7, 2016 9:00am-12:01pm EDT

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years in prison. also coming up we will talk about america's new working class and potential political power and this weekend peter marks will remember the career of the late aig ceo bob who turned the company around during the height of the financial crisis. >> he was the only person who thought this was probable essentially. i mean, the government didn't think that was going to happen. the company certainly didn't think it was going to happen. they were ready to sell it off for spare parts. so that idea that he was a little crazy, i mean, you had to be a little crazy to take this on. he was the right kind of crazy. .. the most recent "showdown: thurgood marshall and
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the supreme court nomination that changed america". he will be taking questions were the next three hours. >> host: author wil haygood, you write about black men who heroically manifested themselves into mainstream america. i think my writing is a relentless pursuit to explain all of america. what does that mean? >> guest: i think it has been exciting to find the figures like adam clayton powell junior, sugar ray robinson, and thur-good marshall who were not born into mainstream society and who by dent of their enormous talent and gift sticks themselves into the fabric of
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the country via entertainment, politics, sports, or in marshall's case the law, in the wheno i look back over the people who i've written about, they spin these amazing tales about society, culture, style, race, and i don't always know if they knew when they were doing it, but heroism as well. you had the new york congressman who passed legislation, anti-poverty legislation in the case of the new york congressman powell, adam clayton powell jr. you have sammy davis jr. who integrated nightclubs in the 1940s all across this country.
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he was one of a wave of across entertainers who did that, louis armstrong, lena horne and the person i chose to write about, as i mentioned, sammy davis jr. and sugar ray robinson who fought the mob in new york, who controlled the fight game. he wanted to give fighters some independence, himself especially. and became a six-time world champion while he was carving those rights for fighters, and thurgood marshall -- subject of my latest book, "showdown." of course, many epic cases that he fought before the united states supreme court. his biggest victory, the 1954 school desegregation case, brown v. board of education. so when you look at all these
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men, i think that you look at the story of 20th century america and how it matured and how it was forced to mature because of these certain figures. >> host: well, i want to show some video of somebody you mentioned and have you explainhe what we're seeing.is >> told him he wanted to retire after 34 years. you've been here so long, you've served so many people all over the world, you have supervised service. everybody happy. so i think it's only right that you attend one of these state dinners. so the first one they had after
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i retired, she invited me and my wife to the state dinner. and it didn't bother me because i'm so used to serving. my wife was not used to a lot of that stuff. so one of my friends, i was waiting on table, i told him, be careful. make sure he keep an eye on her. don't let her drink out of the finger bowl. [laughter] >> host: who was that, wil haygood? >> guest: that was mr. eugene allen, white house butler. a great man who i wrote a story about him in 2008 that appeared on the cover of "the washington post."ha really one of the most unique figures in my life as a writer who i've met. i met him and his wife in 2008
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before the election. and it was amazing how i met mem him. i was a national writer with "the washington post," and i was on the campaign trail with then-senator obama.th and i was in north carolina. there was a rally. and after the rally, i walked outside, and there were three young ladies, and they were crying. and i told him who i was, wil haygood, washington post, and if there was anything i could do, and they said they were crying because their fathers had kicked them out of their homes because they supported the african-american candidate on stage.e. now, the three young ladies, they were college students, and they were white. it was a powerful moment because i said, wow. even though hillary clinton was till in the race in 2008 -- still in the race in 2008 at
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that time, obama had, like, started this epic movement. and some of it was manifested in those, in the tears of those three young girls who were crying. and in the middle of the night in my hotel room, i said, "he's going to win." he's going to win. he's going to climb that big, hard mountain x he's going to take -- and he's going to take this country across that hard mountain where race in your imagination intersects. and i ran back to the newsroom and told my editor, i said, hey, this guy, the senator from illinois, senator obama, is going to win. he's going to break history. and my editor -- [laughter] steve, thought that i was just too tired, that i was exhausted. and i said, no, steve, please listen to me. he's going to win.
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and because he's going to win, i want to go wherever i have to in the country and find an african-american who worked in a service job before the 1964 civil rights bill was passed. to this person, this19 african-american who i kind of figured was out there someplace who had worked in the white wor house before legal integration, it would mean so much to him or her to see an african-american who i predicted would take the white house. looking back, it does almost sound like a bit of a fable because steve had to have faith in me that i would find such a person. and i just started looking. i was looking for somebody who did the laundry at the white house, somebody who was a person
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who worked in the rose garden at the white house or the person who shined shoes or a maid or -- and this last word just dropped off my lips -- or a butler. and i don't know why. i knew no butlers in life. it just rode out. so i started making some phone calls. it was funny, the first people i called, of course, was the white house.ak and, of course, they say we don't divulge any personale information about who has or who hasn't worked here. d and i said, well, my goodness, did abe lincoln ever work there? you know? and that, you know, it just made me keep looking on. twenty phone calls turned into thirty, and then somebody calls out of the clear blue fromut tampa, florida, as it were and says that there was a gentleman
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by the name of eugene allen who she knew had worked at the white house for two presidents, and she said that she heard that i was looking because her daughter, i went to a party in georgetown. this is sometimes how these things work for a journalist. you have to just go knock on doors, let people know that you're looking for somebody, you know? and sometimes things will come to you. and so she told me that there was this gentleman by the name of eugene allen and that she thought he worked for two presidents and that i should try to find him. very common name, so 40 calls, on the 57th call a man was onn the other end of the phone, and i said, mr. allen, my name is wil haygood, i'm a journalist working on a story. we're now five days from the 2008 election. the african-american senator who
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the three girls were crying for had gotten his party'sive days nomination, you know? and there was one epic step toin take. and so i told mr. allen that i had to come over and talk to him about his life because i had heard that he had worked for two presidents, and he said, you've got that wrong. i worked for eight presidents, harry truman to ronald reagan. that's eight. and, of course, you know, i went over and spent this amazing time with him and his wife and wrote that story about this man who worked in the white house and saw history move in front of hii eyes. >> host: this was a little bit of a reverse, because you wrote the article, then the movie came out and then the book, then your book came out, correct? >> guest: yes, yes. >> host: how did that work? >> guest: it was. the -- [laughter] that's a great question. the story was written, and then
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laura zisken, movie producer, she produced the spider-man movies. she reached me by phone and said that the story made her cry and that she wanted to buy thed rights and make a movie.ed to bu and so it's best not to hop up and down when someone from hollywood calls, you know, for the simple fact, you know, who knows if something will ever get made.who know and so she was insistent. she came to washington, d.c. to visit me with pam williams, her assistant at the time. now pam williams has her own no company. but she was telling me about the
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movie directors who were interested in this story aboutut this man who had worked at thehe white house and, you know, saw a whole lot of change in the country. and then laura zisken dies, and i hear nothing. everybody in hollywood who i had been talking to, they go silent. and pam williams -- and then sheila johnson, who was a co-founder of bet -- they band together and then they bring in lee daniels, the director. and they start raising money. and all of a sudden, pam williams calls me and is says, hey -- and says, hey, we found the actor who's going to play the butler. and be i'm at home -- and i'm at home sitting on my sofa eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
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minding my own business, and i said, who? who's that going to be? and she says forest whitaker. and i said, really? i mean, really? no, really, forest whitaker. guess what? we found the butler's wife, and i said who is that going to be? and she says, are you sitting down? and i says, no, i'm standing up, but should i sit down? she says, sit down. oprah winfrey. and i said, ah, come on, pam. i know you're, you're really pulling my leg now. oprah winfrey hasn't acted in, like, 17 or so years. i mean, and she's gonna, she's gonna play the butler's wife? and she says, yes. oprah loves this story that much. and so then the other cast members started falling into place. i went down to new orleans where we was filming -- now, this is going to get back to your question about the book. so i'm standing on the movie set
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one day, and all these actors are walking around in between a scene, and there's jane fonda, there's terence howard, there's cuba gooding jr., there's leave viber -- liev schreiber, all these great actors. and i just said to nobody really, i just said it kind of t just like musing almost, i said, my goodness, somebody should write a book about this to capture this moment of all this talent on this movie set making this movie about a butler and his wife. and terence howard happened to have been walking by, and he heard me, and he said, you're the writer, you ought to write the book. and that really is how "the butler" book was born, that idea. terence howard, the actor,
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puppet that idea inside of me -- put that idea inside of me. then when i got back home to washington, d.c., i got in touch with the editor, dawn davis, and i started writing the book. >> host: so it went from article, movie, book. how true what you learned from ewe mean allen and mrs.-- eugene allen and mrs. allen was the movie? >> guest: yeah. well, i learned a lot about the movie-making business, you know, being on the set and being associate producer of the movie. that was fun. but there was a great screenwriter, danny strong, who wrote a beautiful script. and lee daniels had told me in a meeting, he said is what i want to do with your story, wil, is open it up. i really want to cover the whole
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arc of the civil rights movement which had really never been done on the big screen in this country. hollywood had sort of been are reticent to tell epic stories of this nature. so lee daniels, the director, wanted to do that. he had this family, and so the story was going to be anchored to this family. and, you know, in all these historic ups and downs of the civil rights movement. now, there were some changes from the actual story to the movie. but the theme of the whole movie, i feel, stayed true to the story. there was one big difference. charles, the son of the butler, he did go to vietnam, but he survived. in the movie he dies. b and in real life there was only one son. in the movie there were two. so --
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>> host: did eugene allen share with you personal stories about each of the presidents he worked with? >> guest: yes. he was a bit, how can i put it, shy in certain cases. but, yes, he did. he, of course, saw his life, you know, being played out through the different bills and the legislation that was being passed, you know? it meant something to him when eisenhower passed his civil rights bill. it meant something to him when president kennedy went on tv and talked about the historic clashes at ole miss when james meredith was trying to integrate the school. it meant something to him when dr. king visited the white house. it meant something to him when
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news flowed into the white house that, you know, that there had been a big clash in little rock over the school integration measure. and so all of these, these presidents did something at one time that stood out to him. he said something that was verys touching about president kennedy. he was overseas with him, i think it was switzerland, and this would have been maybe 1962. and mr. allen had about six hours off that day, and he wanted to go into this little town and get a gift for his wife. w and the store clerk, he had a $100 bill. or a large bill in their currency. and the store clerk told him
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that she didn't have change and that she wanted to go across the street. go acro he was the only person in the store. she wanted him to watch the store for him. and he told me, he said 1962 in georgetown a store clerk most likely would not have asked me to watch their store while i, h while they went down the streetd he said and that type of dignity bestowed upon him, he told me, almost brought tears to his eyes. and, of course, he said if anybody would have come in and tried to harm her store in any way, he would have fought 'em, he said, to the depth. and that's -- to the death. and that's just a lovely little moment about, you know, history, his mindset, you know, what he
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took from his travels around the world with these presidents that really stands out. >> host: wil haygood, he seemed to, according to your book, have a somewhat special relationship with dwight eisenhower and with reagan. >> guest: yes, he did. i think with the eisenhower connection mr. allen's son, charles, was going to school in 1954 when the epic brown v. board of education decision came down from the supreme court. desegregating the american public school system. and so you have a father who's a butler walking into the white house looking at this president, you know, knowing that socially the nation now is about to shift.
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of course, that big clash took three years, and that came about in little rock, arkansas, atth central high school in the fall of 1957 when the nine black children walked into the school, and they were pelted with mobs, racial epithets. it was a horrific day for these school children. and mr. allen had to see that and, of course, he had to wondet would something like this happen to my son, and what are you going to do, mr. president? of course, he wouldn't dare have asked president eisenhower that, but that had to be on his mind. will my child be hurt? this is, you know, this is a unanimous decision by the u.s. supreme court. the buck stops with you, mr. president.
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and i'm sure that mr. allen was looking in a extrasensory way for the white house, for his country to put the weight behind the supreme court decision. and in presidentize -- and president eisenhower did. he sent the troops into little rock to protect the children. to to have been a parent up close to the man who did that must have been a very magical moment for him. and prime minister eisenhower -- president eisenhower painted an oil portrait shortly after that and gave it to mr. allen as a gift. he also, when president eisenhower was out of the white
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house, he would invite mr. allen to go golfing with him not as a butler, but as a equal, man to man. hey, would you like to play some golf? and that must have been a beautiful thing for him. >> host: did he live to see president obama inaugurated? >> guest: yes. after the story came out, mr. allen -- the transition team of the president-elect, andgu bless their hearts for this, they saw the story, and they sent a vip invitation to mr. allen and to his son to go to the swearing in. and little old me got an invite too. who knows why, but anyway, so we all went on that very cold morning. mr. allen, his son charles and
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me, you know? and it was very cold, you know? and you could take the subway so far, but then you had to walk. and we were walking x mr. allen was breathing very heavily. he was elderly, frail. and i felt bad, and i said, mr. allen, i thinkthat we should stop. we should turn around, because we have about 100 more yards to go. i can tell that you're in pain. he had arthritis very bad, you know? and i knew he was sad, you know, because his wife had died the day before the election, you know, and there was a lot of heavy pain inside of him aside from his ailments. but he looked at me when i said that, and he said, "you hold my right arm." then he looked at his son and said, "charles, you hold my left arm." just don't let me drop, because i'm not turning around.
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and then it hit me, you know, why i had wanted to do such arn story in the first place. a man who had seen what he had seen, who had been born and raised in the south, and now this moment. and so we were taken and shown our vip seats. and the living presidents who he had served under, they all walked out who were there, and he was talking about them as if they were his friends. ah, there's president carter were there. okay, he's looking okay. you know? and there's president bush. good man. you know, things like that, you know? and then he said to me, he said when the nation's first african-american president took
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the oath of office, mr. allen, the butler who had started in the basement at the white house as a pantry man, he looked at me, and he said, "when i was in the white house, you couldn't even dream that you could dream of a moment like this." he used the word "dream" twice. and it was very, very, veryverye touching. he was living to see with his own eyes an african-american take the highest oath for the highest office in the great united states of america. >> host: from your book, "the butler," in looking back over my own writing, it seems now that eugene allen was a kind of capstone to all those fascinating figures i hadp interviewed in years past who had a link to turmoil inside the white house.l
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>> guest: yes. i mean, i can just look at the life of thurgood marshall who was this great, legendary naacp attorney who dreamed of the naacp legal defense fund, a separate arm of the naacp, tora fight legal cases. mostly throughout the americanas south, but also on the east coast and the west coast and the midwest. so on the day that president lyndon johnson nominated thurgood marshall to the supreme court in 1967, there were three butlers in the white house.th one of those butlers was eugenet allen. the law had been used to stop mr. allen from doing things. in the 50s when he worked in the white house, he could go
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back to his native virginia and not be allowed to try on a suit or a hat in a men's clothing store because of the color of his skin. thurgood marshall was using the law to elevate the likes of mr. allen.he so that day in 1967 there was, there was history. there was the majesty of hope right there in the white house. mr. allen serving thurgoodin thw marshall. and i think that there's something very poignant about the fact that all these men who i've written about, congressman adam clayton powell, a warrior in the arena of politics; sammy davis jr., a warrior in the
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arena of entertainment; sugar ray robinson, physical warrior sure enough in the arena of boxing; thurgood marshall, a warrior in the arena of law.w. and then you have, you know, a genuine patriot, mr. allen, you know, who, you know, who served people and was unknown, had no fame, you know? his only fame was that he worked under the american flag at 1600 pennsylvania avenue every day. even when he couldn't, you know, exercise rights as a total citizen. never missed a day of work, you know? loved the presidents. i asked him during my time spent
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with him if he was a democrat or a republican. he said, you can just put down that i'm an american. that's good enough. put that in your story.s it really was lovely. >> host: june 13, 1967, here's some video. ♪>> ♪ >> historians will note this hour at the white house in a rose garden ceremony, a 58-year-old great grandson of a slave is nominated by president johnson to be a supreme court justice. he is solicitor general thurgood marshall, acknowledged the best known negro lawyer of the century. the president also calls his nominee best qualified. >> i have just talked to the chief justice and informed him that i shall send to the senate this afternoon the nomination of mr. thurgood marshall, solicitor general, to the position of
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associate justice of the supreme court made vacant by the resignation of justice tom c. clark of texas. >> thus, the highest court in the land with the vacancy owing to the stepping down of justice clark has named to its august body thurgood marshall, the first of his race is so horned. -- so honored. >> host: why did he pick thurgood marshall? >> guest: i think that president johnson had a great sense of justice for the country x he seized -- and he seized a moment in history. i think he had, he had done a lot of work to get the 1964 civil rights bill passed, andnd then came the 1965 voting rights act.
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i think, i think that president johnson said if i can find a brilliant african-american jurist to integrate the united states supreme court, then that would be the final nail in theht coffin of white supremacy. ever since george washington had started nominating supreme court justices, they had all been white men. and so for many people, it was unthinkable that one of the nine would be african-american. and marshall had fought and won 29 cases before the u.s. supreme court. most lawyers never get onehad th victory in front of the supreme court. so his place had already been
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made in history. he had been a federal appealsisy court judge and a solicitor general. and lyndon johnson, i think, knew if i can make this happen, it will be a dazzling moment in the nation's history. and it will be something that is both right and righteous. and he started shifting the gears before that moment and made it happen. oddly enough, there was no vacancy when lyndon johnson started thinking of it. and he had to convince, he haddn to convince associate justice tom clark to step down. and it was very shrewd how he did that. i explain it in the book. i can tell you quickly, if you'x like. lyndon johnson was master of the senate, of course, as he's been
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called by the great writer robert caro. he was. and so he called tom clark who johnson had known because they were friends in texas. they were both from texas, and they had known each other.xas an lyndon johnson is thinking thurgood marshall, supreme court, no vacancy, ah, what can i do. and he says, tom, i want tour appoint your son, ramsey,an attorney general. but, goodness, i can't do it because you're on the supreme court, and a lot of people woul see a conflict of interest and, my goodness, he's your only son. and i know the dynamics of father/sons, and i know how much you love that boy, and i know your wife, and i know it'd be great for ramsey to have this great position, but i just want
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you to know i can't do it. my hands are tied. it's a shame. and tom clark says to president johnson, oh, my goodness, oh. is there anything i can do? and then president johnson says, wily as he is, i don't know, but goodness gracious, i will tell you this, if you weren't on the court, then that would make my worry go away. this conflict of interest thing goes right out the window. but i'm not telling you what to do, tom. i mean, that's your only boy, that's your only son, i know you love him x. so tom clark went home and surprised his family and said, everybody, i'm stepping down from the court. and all of a sudden there was ab vacancy, and lyndon johnson, he didn't even tell other senators. he wanted it to be a surprise.se unlike in today's environment, you know, hints are leaked out.
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no, it didn't happen with thurgood marshall. it really was a stealth appointment, very quiet, very surreptitious. and he just -- moments before he had walked out into the rose garden, he had called some senators and said, hey, mr. it'e president, i'm appointing thurgood marshall right now, click, and he would hang up the phone. no time for rebuttal, oh, mr. president, wait a minute! no. he wasn't going to hear it. and so that's how it happened.d. >> host: from your book,hat's "showdown," no justice had come to the high court with the background thurgood marshall possessed. he was an evangelist on behalf of the law. >> guest: he was. he looked across this countryked starting in the mid '30s, and he figured that in order to-' bring equality or a sense of
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equality into the law, i'm going to have to start filing lawsuits and suing jurisdictions. i'm going to have to go into texas and file a lawsuit for voter rights. f and that's what he did in the famous, epic case called smith v. alright which meant that now blacks could vote in the inl-white democratic party. before they couldn't. thurgood marshall changed that. he went into st. louis and achieved a great big housing victory which translated to shelby v. kramer. and that case meant that people could no longer sell their house with the deed that would say you can't sell this to somebody who's black or jewish.ca that was thurgood marshall'sme imprint. brown v. board of education, he integrated the university of
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texas law school. a lovely story. thurgood marshall's mother, who was a schoolteacher, wanted him to go to the university of maryland school of law, and marshall -- from baltimore, and his mother just dreamed of that, that my son is smart enough toha become the first black to beda admitted to the university of maryland school of law. marshall knew that they wouldn't accept him because he was black, so he went to howard university law school in washington. graduated number one in hiswashn class, and then marshall went can and found a gentleman -- went and found a gentleman by the name of donald murray and said, mr. murray, i want you to apply to the university of maryland school of law. and mr. murray said, well, mr. marshall, why in the world
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would i do that? they, they're not going to accept a black applicant. and thurgood marshall said, i know it. do it, they'll turn you down, and i'll sue 'em. and that's how i'll get you in. and just like that it happened.e thurgood marshall sued the university of maryland school of law. donald murray got admitted, and thurgood hard shall escorted -- marshall escorted him to class on the first day, daring anybody to mess with him. you know, thurgood marshall was a pretty tall, hefty guy, you know? i mean, that's really, really -a that's talking the talk and walking the walk at the same time. >> host: well, the book is called "showdown" for a reason. here's another quote from your book referring to judiciary committee chair james eastland who was a democrat from mississippi. mississippians loved him because he was doing exactly what they had sent him to the u.s. senate
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to do, to the maintain those cotton prices, to keep the negro down. >> guest: yes. i went to mississippi to do research on the james eastland family legacy and looked through his papers and found a lot of very harsh statements that he had made about blacks in world war ii. he called them cowards. he said this on the floor of the u.s. senate. and he, he had animus toward thurgood marshall because marshall really had upended the
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ways of the southern senators who were on the committee who were going to be judging him. senator john mcclelland of arkansas, senator strom thurmond of south carolina, sam irvin of north carolina and james eastland of mississippi. these were the men who had signed the southern manifesto which was a manifesto to keep the democratic party white. these were southern democrats. and so eastland was very perturbed that president johnson gave him no warning about this nomination because eastland now had to get a strategy very quickly to thwart, to stop marshall's nomination.
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so he wouldn't tell the white house what day the hearings would be held, sort of echoing what's going on now. but the hearings finally wereg . held x some of the questions from eastland evoked some of the questions that blacks would be asked who were trying to vote;me how many jelly beans are in that jar, how many soap bubbles are in that little bowl of waterhow over there. strange, unnerving questions like that. the white house knew that it had a battle on its hands especially because thurgood or marshall was nominated at a time of great unrest in the country. there were riots in baltimore,
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in newark, in cincinnati, in various towns and cities down south. and so the southern senatorsnd were saying that thurgood marshall was soft on crime. and on the last day of his hearing, there was an epic riot in detroit, and it really sent shivers through the white house because here was this black man who they were trying to nominate to the supreme court, and they were somehow tying thurgood marshall to the unrest inwere sm detroit. and it was, it was really, it was really tense moments for the white house. but in trying, you know, in writing the book, one thing that
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i really wanted to do was to give a full-fledged picture of these southern senators. i did not want to, i did not want to portray them as cardboard, racist figures. although they certainly held horrible views about race. senator sam irvin, north carolina, he traveled a lot, and he would go to vintage bookstores all around the country. and he was a bibliophile. he collected books. his wife would see him coming and would say, oh, sam, not again! he's got 20 more books, hardback books, up under his arm.
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and he came to own 30,000 books. and somebody had written a line, i mean, not somebody. actually, it was me. i wrote this line in a book, an- it says, in none of the books that he collected, books about law, books about politics, abouo history could sam irvin find any justification for equality for the black man. and john mcclelland, the senator from arkansas, i went out to a small college in arkansas where his papers were and looked at them.
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on the last day of this visit, i came across a letter from a ladi named barbara ross. and i'm realizing the letter, and it stops me in my tracks. this was a letter sent to the senator's office, and she said, and i quote from the letter, she said, "chances are that the nomination of thurgood marshall will be turned down." "but i beg you, senator, to open up your heart and let the prejudice go." "giver thurgood marshall a fair
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vote." "i wish to tell you that if he doesn't make it on to the supreme court, this will be other -- there will be other african-american nominees, and you won't be able to stop them all." i also would like to tell you, senator, that one of these days the president of the united states will be a negro. end quote. and i couldn't move. i read that letter, and i couldn't move, literally. i just sat there at that desk in this research library. i remember it was a friday night, you know? and it was getting ready to close. and i saw that letter, and i i knew that that letter was going to play a path -- a part in my book.
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and it is as if she predicted president obama. who was barbara ross? because on the letter it said "do not answer." so the senator's office had no intention to even s&p -- to even send this woman, whoever she might be, even a form letter. she did not deserve even, from their way of thinking, a form letter. and so i couldn't shake it. and i was telling some peopleer about it, and i told my sister about this letter. and she said, oh, my goodness, you have to find a member of her family when the book comes out to tell them about this letter, that it's in your book. and i told my sister, i said, well, yeah, that is a good idea.
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and so i thought deeper about it., and the letter had an address, 2103 delaware street, texarkana, arkansas. and so i called the texarkana city clerk and said, hello, my name is wil haygood. i've just spent five years writing this book about thurgood marshall's battle to be confirmed on to the supreme court.l in the book i quote a letter from a one-time resident of texarkana by the name of barbara ross. my book will be out very shortly, i told her. this was, like, six months ago. and i said is there any way i can find an heir, any relatives that this ms. barbara ross might have in texarkana? and the city clerk said, well, the name doesn't ring a bell, but let me ask around, and i'll get back to you. and so in about five to six days
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she called back, left a voice message on my landline phone and said, mr. haygood, you should call this number. and, of course, when somebody says that to a journalist, you know, you really get -- a little, more than a little excited. so i dialed the number. and this voice answered and just said, "hello." and i said, hi, ma'am, my name is wil haygood.nd i've just written a book calledy "showdown" about thurgood marshall's 1967 confirmation hearing, and i quote a letter by a lady named barbara ross, and somebody over at the texarkana city clerk's office told me to call this number because i'm trying to find any family members of mrs. ross so i can tell them that this letter is in the book. and she says, my name is barbara ross.
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and i'm sort of taken aback. and i said, oh, really? huh.am were you named after her or something? and she said, sweetie, i was 19 years old. i was home from college that summer. and i heard a snippet on the radio that the senators were giving mr. marshall a hard time. and i told my mama and my daddy that i wanted to write a letter to senator mcclelland. and my daddy said, don't do that. might get the family in trouble. but the next day when my daddy went off to work, my mama walked over to me and said go write your letter. and i wrote that letter. and it was mind-boggling to me
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to be talking to the writer of this letter. and as i said, the address -- because i was now holding the letter in my hand, the address was on the letter, 2103 delaware street.dr and i wanted to, like, test her. i said, mrs. ross, can you recall where you were living at that summer of 1967 when those hearings were taking place? w and she said, well, of course, i was living with mama and daddy at 2103 delaware street. and i said, oh, my goodness. i said, mrs. ross, first, let me apologize that you did not get a response from your senator. obviously, your parents paid taxes, and you deserved a response, even a form letter. and i know you didn't get it, because this letter says "do not answer."
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well, i said, mrs. ross, history has a way of sometimes working out ott rather beautifully -- out rather beautifully. not only is there an african-american in the white house as you know, but your letter is going to be in my book, and i will send you a copy of the letter and the book as soon as it's published. so i'm very happy to say that mrs. barbara ross of texarkana, who predicted president obama'sb election in the midst of the thurgood marshall battle, now has a copy of "showdown" in her home. >> host: is she white or black? >> guest: she's black. >> host: and her dad was scared she'd get in trouble.a >> guest: yes, yes. before we got off the phone, we talked for about 45 minutes. she said, now tell me, what was it really like working with oprah winfrey on that movie? [laughter]
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>> host: so what was it like working with oprah winfrey on that movie?wo >> guest: oh, i don't want to sound, you know, i don't want to sound, oh, jaded, but it was, it was quite special. i mean, i've never met her. and i later found out that when the story came out, she was in chicago in her office, and somebody handed her the story that i had written, and she read it, and she said, goodness gracious, if there's ever a movie made about this story, i i sure want to be a part of it. i mean, goodness. she said that in 2008.
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didn't start filming until 2012. so something about the story touched her. and i remember the first time i met her. lee daniels, the director, we were at a bus station, at an old bus station in new orleans filming the scene when this butler's son is getting ready to go off to college. the butler's son played by david -- [inaudible] great actor, who signed, by the way, to play sugar ray robinson from my "free thunder" book. anyway, lee daniels escorted me across the way to meetorted ms. winfrey, and she was very busy, you know? she was actually getting ready to film her first scene. and lee said, oprah, wanted to
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introduce you to wil haygood. and she looked at me, and she said, hello, wil, just like that. very quiet. hello, wil. and that was it. then i walked back across the floor. well, the next day we are in, you know, in this area where lunch is being served. and i'm in line getting my meal, and i hear this voice that said, wil, hey, wil? and then i sort of subconsciously say, goodness gracious, that sounds like oprah winfrey. i hope she's not calling me. i mean, why does she want me? why is oprah winfrey calling me in and she says it again, only this time louder. and i turn around, and she says come over here.
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and i go over to her table, and it's just me and her having lunch on this movie set. and she wanted to know all about the butler, how i found the butler. she wanted to know about thew al butler's wife, and she told me why the story meant so much to her. which i think is nice to mention. you know, hollywood movies about the civil rights movement, you know, of course, they've been scanned very few and far between. so, you know, in the history of hollywood there are slave movie and then movies, you know, modern movies. it's almost as if '40s and '50s in black culture -- '30s, '40s and '50s in black culture has been absent, vacant from the screen. and there were a lot of people in the '50s who laid the
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groundwork for the civil rights movement. mr. and mrs. allen used to send money to the selma marchers in the late '50s when rosa parks was refusing to give up her seat on the bus. and so these were, like, the quiet warriors, you know? putting $5 in the mail, sending it to dr. king's church or to, you know, or to some other black church that had been burned in florida. you know? maids and butlers did this. they went into their wallets. they sent the money down south. my own grandmother and mother, both born in selma, alabama,ou and, you know, that, that's a part of history that you can't really ever escape. if you're dreaming for the next
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generation, and oprah has said that it was so important to honor those people, the maids and the butlers and the factory workers, you know, who were african-american who gave a dollar here, a dollar there to the civil rights movement. because it, it would not have endured or survived withoutmovet them. >> host: good afternoon and welcome to booktv on c-span2. this is our monthly "in depth" program. one author, his or her body of work. this month it's author and journalist wil haygood., here are his books.on in 1988, tour of the river. king of the cats, the life and times of adam clayton powell came out in 1993. the haygoods of columbus, ohio: a love story, 1997.
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in black and white: the life ofo sammy davis jr., 2003. sweet thunder, the life and times of sugar ray robinson, came out in 2009. "the butler," which we've talked about extensively, 20 and. and his -- 2013. and his most recent book, "showdown: thurgood marshall and the supreme court nomination that changed america." this is your chance to participate. we've been talking now for about an hour, and we'd like to hear from you. if you have questions, comments you'd like to share, we've only gone through a couple of the books so far. we'll get through a couple of the others as we go this afternoon. 20 2 is the area code, 748-8200 in the east and central time zones. . 202-748-8201 you live in the mountain and pacific time zone. you can contact us electronic, book which of@chance.org and via
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social media,@booktv is our twitter handle, and you make make a comment on facebook, facebook.com facebook.com/booktv. you can make a comment in that santion. we will begin taking those calls in just a few minutes. mr. haygood, 1937, third good marshall is nominated. where were you, how old were you and do you remember it? >> guest: my goodness, i was in columbus, ohio, in the summer time, i was 13 year's old so i was probably on my skate board o skating up and down north fifth street, but i had no aware knowledge of -- of thurgood
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marshall's nomination. i remember seeing flashes of unrest in riots on the tv screen because i lived with my grandmother and my mother, you know, ands -- and as i said, they were both born in salma, alabama. you know, actually one of the things i wished -- i wished i had heard about to junior high c school or sugar ray robinson in junior high school, but i s hasn't. or what sammy davis, jr. had did as trail blazer in the what are
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enintea of entertainment, and i think in a way what i need to d with my books. i fill gaps of history, holes io history that i think should be filled. i -- you know, if i had written showdown, i would have bought that book immediately. but since i never did, you know, no one has ever written about the five days of this confirmation hearings and all the drama around those five days, you know, which were stretched out into like no hearing for the next two days
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without any reason. that made the white house and marshall, of course, very nervous, and those were fife monumental days in the history of this country, you know, in johnson saw a moment and made it happen and nominated thurgood marshall and marshall became this great jurist after this showdown battle and i think that he -- i think he made lyndon johnson very proud. there was a moment -- and i talk about it in the book -- when the johnson was out of the white house, he had called thurgood marshall, the hell you put me
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through to get you on to the court, it was just hell. and lyndon johnson now on his ranch in texas had told thurgood marshall, he says, i'm going to write a book about that confirmation process and how hard it was, and i'm going to write a book about it and thurgood marshall said, well, mr. president, if there's anything i can do to help you, i will. and johnson died, never got a chance to write that book. i told that story to my niece and she said, well, uncle will, you have written a book that the president wanted to write. so if i have, then sobeit. i'm happy about that. >> host: from your book the haygoods of columbus. you learned about things on mount vernon avenue, about
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things ha hummed, that flew, life, i came to learn that it was the one avenue in our town that kept the town. >> guest: yeah, it was thistr street. it was all harlem. it was, you know, a place of jazzy nightclubs, restaurants. >> host: all black? >> guest: all black owned. it was where martin luther king, jr. would give a talk, it was when lyndon johnson visited med-trans -- my mother, went up
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to mount vernon avenue to some of the bars and nightclubs and my sisters did too and whole family, you know, went to this trip in columbus, ohio and that book was conceived about a book about the street that slowly disappears over a period of time, like many urban neighborhoods with nightclubs have disappeared for variousve s reasons.way ca highway being built. the highway took the guts out of mt.
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vernon avenue. i couldn't have thought that my name -- certain name of my family needed to be in the book hietle, but anyway, that was the editor's decision, a great editor named peter davidson who edited the book. the book was conceived to be about the rise and fall of mount vernon avenue. >> host: my mother dranked, she preferred bourbon. when she drank, she we wanted to dance. >> guest: my mother, great woman, beautiful. we lost her not long ago, the family and born in salma alabama, worked most of her life
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when she did have a job as a waitress and she loved mt. vernon avenue. she loved to have a good time. that was very important to her. she listed with her grandfather and grandmother. that was actually my mother's first independent living by herself, you know, she lived there with -- with her children
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and the bright lights of mt. vernon avenue pulled her on the weekends and, you know, that, i think, was the em -- impetus looking back at my mother, thate was the impetus to do that book. >> host: did the bright lights grab you or any members of your family? >> guest: yes. yes. everybody in the family, i think, liked, you know like it had lure of nightclubs. i became the first person in my family to go to college in 1972. i went off to college.
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i went to miami university in i ohio which is where i actually teach at now. and so i would be home in the summer times and sort of peek, you know, on what was going on in mt. vernon avenue, that night life, the dark bright lights frightened me. i just didn't want to be caught in the snare of it, you know, and so i, you know, found a way to understand it by writing about it, you know. and now it's -- it's -- i don't know if this is charming or cute or what, but mayor michaelichael
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coleman who just left office in columbus, has named a small part of mt. verno avenue will haygood way and it's right in front ofgf the -- where the old theater used to be that my mother dreamed of having her picture in that theater. and so that just a sweet little, i guess, moment in a writer's life. >> host: well, haygood is our guest, long-time journalist with the washington post. circumstance, you're first up today. please go ahead.ad >> caller: yes, i wanted to make a comment on how story of barbara ross a beautiful story of persons have a voice in politics and does make a
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difference and makes a difference specially with the election year how people think that the voice doesn't count, but this is a perfect example how a person's voice does matter and it's just a really beautiful story.at i really enjoyed it very much and i will buy your book, sir, thank you very much. >> guest: well, thank you very much. yes, i sometimes talk to collegh students, even students that i teach and i let them know, circumstance, that one person can make a difference and you can be brave just with the pen and paper and that's what barbara ross did. i'm sure she had no idea where that letter went, you know, where it floated off to, she never got a response but many,
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many, many years later will haygood the little boy that was on the skate board in 1967 grows up to become a writer, goes to arkansas and finds that letter and puts it in a book and then finds barbara ross herself, and so people -- you know, people can make a difference, and it's wonderful to see things like that happen.fu so thank you. >> host: did she review the book? did she like it? >> guest: yeah, she did. she wrote me a wonderful letter which i'll cherish. she said mostly in the letter that she had wanted to know all of the behind the scenes thingsc that happened that enabled thurgood marshall to make it on
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to the bench, and she told me -- in her letter said, now i know -- and her ps, maybe i will write my own book some day. so she became a school teacher for many years, history. she taught history. >> host: scotty is in portsmith, virginia. you're on with will haygood. >> caller: first i would like to thank you mr. haygoods for your books and sitting here listening to you and being a novelist study myself, i would like to make a comment and also pose a question. i find that it has never seemed to been an attempt to give us a level playing field as far asie mental and psychologicalir families, the media seems to substantiate things to alwaysa keep nit the physical construct, which most of the times some
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type of negative trigger is always accompanied to anything that we do. even the good things. on that question, i mean, on that comment, i would like to pose a question to you because i look for places where we can have a more intimate audience with people such as yourself, where we can portray and deliver information to us in the whole concept that's mentally and psychologically healthy to us, do you know of any such venues that i might become an audience of? >> guest: well, i -- you know, my life is glued to the writing aspect of -- of what you happen to be talking about. o i look at the case of the new
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york congressman adam clayton powell, you're right, there was a lot of negative stories about powell, and one of the things that i wanted to do as a writers is show his -- his important to lyndon johnson's war on poverty, and so that was my way of sort of flipping -- flipping the narrative about mr. powell and -- and i think that book did that. i think now he is seen as a fuller american figure, warts and all, no one is perfect but
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his talent far outweighed any -- any -- any flaws that he had and so that's -- that's when i can put your question finding the positive in these stories. >> host: i want to show video of adam clay tone. >> i adam powell me belong to a group of people that some others may think are inferior but i belong to a group of people that god, omnipresent god, god of all power says you're my children and you're the same as anyone else and with that kind of faith in me, and courage in my, i know i am as good if not better than anyone that wall walks the halls of congress. it's not the color of your skin,
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brother, it's what you have in your heart and in your mind that makes you a man or a woman. remember that. [cheers and applause] >> and if you all will stand together, there's nobody in this world that can stop a united mass of people moving as one, standing together, working together, picketing together, boycotting together, voting together, loving togetherring, you'll win together, walk together, children. don't you get worried. [cheers and applause] >> host: and from your book, powell had no predecessor, he arrived in washington with independence. >> guest: yes, he was an original, first black congressman from the eastern seaboard, arrived into washington in 1945 when he was
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sworn in and he was battling many politicians in his own party, southern democrats, the very people actually who i ended up circling back to for the thurgood marshall book, southern democrats, he was in the house with these senators and so powell was on the outside in the u.s. congress a lot because the chairman of the education and labor committee was a gentleman by the name graham barden, who kept powell down, but when -- w with the wave of democrats whobu were elected in 1960, adam clay tone powell's seniority elevated him and he became chairman ofni the education and labor committee. powerful position and he started
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-- he started passing a lot of social -- social legislation and student loan bills, the outward bound program, he was very instrumental in. that's a beautiful program that i went through that the federal government would find these gifted high school students and send you to a local college in the summertime to take courses. it was a wonderful scholarship program that still exists. and so powell was responsible for passing a whole lot of the e poverty legislation in this country in 1964, 1965 and 1966. >> and his success or is still in congress charlie?
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>> guest: yes, he is. he took powell -- >> host: te took him into primary, didn't he? >> guest: yes. powell, of course, was involved in scandal and taking two women on a trip and using house funds to do -- by today's standards it's a small scandal but nevertheless he was ousted by fellow house members, not by the voters and he sued the house. the case went to the supreme court and he won. the house might have had a valid legislative move if they would have adhered to the will of the people first, but -- but they
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just threw him out ignoring thed will of the people who wanted powell to be seated. >> host: earl in tacoma, washington. we are listening. >> caller: yes, first of all, you're -- [inaudible] >> host: hey, earl, i apologize for interpreting, but if you could get off the speaker phone, it's a little difficult to understand. >> caller: i'm on the cell phone. i'm not on speaker. >> host: that's better. >> caller: a fraternity brother talked greatly about you and your accomplishments, so i'm very pleased.. one of the things you mentioned was how the black financed civil rights, the butlers or whatever, which is another area where then
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unions, uaw particular, the foundries did most of the financing. they are responsible for getting people out of birmingham jail, they did the march on washington as well as the advance for all the transportation and the most powerful black person in the 40's and 50's was the secretary of that union who was black and they had over 30,000 members who were black that whow supported. so you have done wonderful area, i just love your books. you tell great stories and you're a greas -- great historian. so that's the area. so the only question is of the memoir of your family, you talked about your father, is there anything else about your family that's special because in many ways, you are special.
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and you really reflect that. so anything about your family -- >> host: answer from will haygood. >> guest: thank you very much for that call. i would like to think that all the members of my family are very gifted. they have taught me things about life and about unity. it's a very close family.ose i see family members all of the time, you know, so i'm very fortunate to have the family that i have. i love them all, of course, very deeply. one thing about the financing of the civil rights movement, when i was working on my sammy davis,
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jr. book, i interviewed harry bellfonte, one of the things that you really have to get in this book is the fact that sammy davis, jr. spent a lot of money to dr. king to bail people out, and i never knew that, and i was fascinated by that story, sammy was one of the few black entertainers who could overnight come up with $40,000 in cash to bail out kids and teenagers who had been arrested in georgia or mississippi or florida, and so it was great to -- it was great to learn that part of the sammy davis story. it became a very important chapter in my sammy davis, jr. book.te so thank you for pointing that out.
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>> host: back to the haygoods of columbus, the summer night began decline when wanda recovered she climbed out of bed at home and walked straight ahead into years and years of darkness. who is wonder? >> wonder is my sister. >> host: twin? >> guest: yeah, my twin sister and she battled some demons in life. i lost a sister also. >> host: to the light brights? an guest: yes, my sister geraldine. and so, you know, things happened in families, you know, there's that famous quote, all families are alike, you know, in
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some ways, you know, and so -- but there's a wonderful flipside, my sister wonder recently graduated from columbus state community college, and i delivered the commencement address and so good for her.s, i'm very proud of her. >> host: you also talk about the fact that you grew up stutterer. >> guest: yes, i did, i had a very bad speech impediments when i was a kid. you know, it's mostly gone but i would say in the second, third, fourth grade, you know, it was -- it was so bad that i had a -- you know, i had to go to speech
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therapy or whatever, you know, and it was old fashioned and they would put this big machine on my head.th it was just crazy. you know, it didn't work, nothing worked. that did not work, you know, and life went on and things got better and better. so now it's almost invisible but i had to come through that and sort of -- the mystery of how one can get through get that. it almost, i think it's sort of steeped maybe in this. i kept getting cut from the basketball teams, you know. i got cut from the -- i got cut
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from the eighth grade basketball team.h i got cut from the tenth grade baskettal team and i got cut from the junior varsityun basketball team in miami university in ohio. now, and i would go back to the coaches and i asked every coach if i could have a second chance, one more day of practice because i had enough confidence in myself that i would do better that, you know that extra practice -- you know, i've always been grateful if somebody would just believe in me, you know, just believe that i can perform in the basketball court.
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and so i ended up, i'm proud to say of being on the basketball team in the eighth grade and being on the basketball team in the tenth grade and being on the junior varsity at miami university on the basketball team, even played at the university of kentucky, how is that for a guy who got caught from the basketball team? >> i think our producer cait hughes found a picture of you and your sister at columbus state university that we want to show. >> guest: wow, i gave the commencement address. >> host: george, thanks for holding you're with author haygood. >> caller: i initially had a question about empathy in the great society towards african americans in the struggle andss
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you see with sister, let mer divulge with the other side of life that there's many african american that is have promise and end up doing dumb things, myself is a perfect example, gone to college, full ride, did well in sat, i had horrible home life, my father is not working, i have to go through all these modern problems in addition to going through the problem of being an african american with these expectations and no of any means for me to actually accomplish them and that leads to commit suicide.le if you have no hope in this country with all the brain you can put out there, you can think, i can do any class, simply because i have to deal with my parents' situation and then on top of that due with lack of empathy towards the prejudice i get. with your experience with upper bound, these programs that allow african americans to remove from the situation to inhibit from fully grow, how do you think
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that we can -- a person like myself who is basically giving up, selling drugs and everything, how can i have a chance to redeem myself when so much has been put to me being nothing but a niger. >> host: george, you're calling from college park, maryland, are you at the university there? c >> caller: yes, i am. >> host: what are you studying? >> caller: i have been going in and out of school. >> host: seventh year? >> caller: seventh year, i have lived in a hotel with my parents because i haven't had the money to pay for a place here, i've had horrible transportation costs, i can't go to class when i was -- i have a -- i cry a lot and i'm pretty sure it happens to a lot of people. it's hard to go outside every day, hold yourself up and say, i can actually do this when you try and you could see smalll business success but then it gets taken away because you mezzed up here or you might be
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doing this wrong or you follow the quote, unquote, wrong people, when everybody around me sees me as a person that got through college and i'm amongst other people in college and the' see me as the guy who barely got here quote unquote, it really hurts to try your hardest and have that grit when everybody is -- well, the perception is that everybody is against you. >> host: george, you said that you've messed, what have youse done to mess up in. >> caller: my personal mistakes have been in being late or small things with the assignments being not fully done through. a lot of times the assumptiont that parents are going to help you or you have mentor or somebody has to be there, there's no many people that want to help a blahed kid and i don't mean that -- i have tried my hardest and worked with professors at the school and,
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tried day in and day out -- >> host: all right, that was george in college park, maryland. >> guest: george, first of all don't dare give up, george. don't give up. this is going to be a little bit away from what i mentioned butis as a foreign correspondent i was in south africa, george and iel watched nelson mandela walk out of prison. he had been in prison 27 years and, you know, he was relentless inside of his pride, inside of who he was, you know, and he always kept the faith. there are a lot of people in society who want to help people
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like you. and, you know, they're black that want to help you, there are blacks that want to help you, there are asian that is -- allegations that want to help you. i look back and they were always school teachers that listened to me, you know, family members, you know, have always had faith in me have always dreamed as big -- as big as i've dreamed forrn myself, they've dreamed right along side of me, you know. but then it comes to a point where you have to reach down and find the best part of george to give to the world.or i never once said the thought
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that i wouldn't -- or that i should not make the basketball team. i knew no authors when i started writing books, but i had stories to tell and i figured that i would find a way to tell these stories, if i was going to fully commit myself to the craft of writing, i had to learn the craft, i had to study, i had to read, i had to be very disciplined and focus, you know, and then don't be afraid to ask somebody.th that's the story of my basketball life. i would always get cut but ills ask for a second chance, a second chance is a beautiful thing because a lot of see majesty in giving you a second chance and so don't be afraid to
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keep asking, so and so keep the faith, george. >> host: how did you separate yourself from the dysfunction of your family and the bright lights of mount vernon avenue? >> guest: i think that the thing that rooted me and carving a path for myself was the time in college. during college one year and you have to have decent grades to come back the second year, you know, and you're getting closer to the day when you're going to finish and you don't want to flub up, you know, and you keep studying hard and -- and there was a shadow of my grandfather who was a disciplineand i would
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never want to do anything that you would upset my grandfather and i think also there were people that i knew intimately that went to prison, you know, and i knew i did not want to lose a day of my freedom, i just didn't wanting to to jail, you know, i was too busy thinking of books, you know, other things that i wanted to do with this -- with this life, you know, and i just really stayed focus. a friday night for others might have meant going out to mountrne
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vernon avenue or some nightclub or some place but a lot of times the friday night to me meant reading this magazine or reading that magazine or reading that book, you know, or doing things that i thought would make me brighter person, a smartera person, you know, so studying and reading, i kind of knew and felt if i was to stay focus that something good, decent might come along because of my hard work. >> host: we've got about an houn and 20 left, our author is wil haygood, every time we have author in in-depth we ask about
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influences and the book that is are reading, here are some of the answers that wil haygood gave. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> host: we are back live with wil haygood on in-depth. we will put the numbers on the screen in case you would like to dial and participant, 202 is the area code. 74801 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones, we will also flash up our twitter address if you want to send a tweet and facebook page and e-mail address as well. those are other way that is you can contact us if the phone lines are busy. we've mentioned him several times in black and white, i'm going to read a couple of quotes from your book about sammy davis, jr., he loved white women, loved the sight of one in sheets, his american dream,
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nixon needed sammy, the white sammy and sammy welcomed nixon's power to sell his insecurities. >> guest: his mother left him behind. he was abandoned as a child that haunted him forever. he went on the road with two villans. he was a precious child, he was a child prodigy and there's always a price to pay when you live in that world and so sammy
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was not seen as a handsome figure when he became a teenager in 15, 17, 18 and he was up in canada when he was 19 andd started getting a lot of attention from while women up there there were not the racial restrictions that there were in the usa and sammy gravitated toward that interracial lifestyle that was very dangerous in the usa. and i think his life until a certain point in the 60's actually, early 60's until he became friends with cindy who
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had a socially conscious approach to entertainment, before that, sammy wasn't involved with the civil rights movement and but once they pulled him in, he was -- he was happy to be there. it was like he had foundin something that had been missing from his life and that was culture, a people, a place, and in a certain kind of love that -- that is known to all cultures and i think sammy more than made up from missing in action earlier in the 40's and 40's, he came out in a beautiful way in the 60's, he went to salma, he was at the
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march on washington and he gave money to dr. king. sammy was doing a play, golden boy on broadway and he bought the house out and sent all of the proceeds to dr. king and the southern leadership conference. so that was a beautiful thing to do, and, of course, he sort of swerved tben in the late 60's and early 70's when he supported richard nixon as the very funny photograph of nixon in miami beach giving a talk and sammy runs out and jumps up when his arm -- in his arm, sammy and
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that night he we wanted toan please all of the republicans in the arena. joe is on the line from shingle springs, california. h you're on the line withge wilhaygood. >> caller: i can't believe i'm on. here is my question, considering that lyndon johnson was from the south, obviously, texas, and had close senator friends who took care of him through his career from the south, why did johnson do so much for civil rights at the end of his presidency, you think he was forced by the civil rights movement or was he sincerely interested in blacks'' rights or he is legacy and
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history? >> host: well, what do you think, joe? >> guest: that's a great question being a history teacher, i think it was all three. i think his legacy was important. he was a teacher in the beginning of his career and maybe he thought, maybe i can help kids and their future, maybe that came back to him because that was his early history, but i think all three. >> host: all right. joe, we will hear from wil book haygood, i want to read the quote from showdown on thurgood marshall. why was he willing to risk so much? marshall had gone years earlier and altered the political landscape. >> guest: yes, joe, thank youk for that question and it is a very important question. it's rooted, joe, in lyndon johnson's upbringing.
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he was born poor and he saw poor mexicans in texas and poor blacks, specially when he was a youth director during then roosevelt administration and he traveled around texas trying to find jobs for blacks who were a living in these hardscrabble camps and she leapt with some of the black families and there was intimacy that he had with blacks and poor blacks. also, joe, a very important part of that question is this fact, america was becoming unglued. the country in 1964, 1965 was l losing its soul. these riots, discrimination, the rebellion on the streets were
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because society was not fair. public housing projects were growing. you had the criminal justice system, which was unfair. and so you had real historical moment for this country and we were seeing it on tv with the dogs facing the student marcherg and chasing the children in salma and so thurgood marshall comes to the floor because he had always been trying to tell the country that you're not living up to the principles of the constitution. lyndon johnson was a strategist, he was smart, he did not want to lose the country under his watch, he was battling vietnam, he had to win this moral cause
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and racial unity is a moral cause. it is a moral goal to have in your vision and as the leader oe the free world, it looked bad to foreign countries that we were mistreating a whole race of people and we had to fix that and it took -- it took politicians like republicanbl edward derksen out of illinois, lyndon johnson, bobby kennedy, it took -- it took the best and the brightest minds that we had at the time to fix this racial in this country. so johnson really had no option but to get down and figure out ways to fix the racial unrest and that meant passing
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antidiscrimination legislation, pouring money into communities that had been massively ignored for years, and so, yes, some of it was his passion, his upbringing u but also a big part of it was that, you know, he had sworn oath of office to keep the country safe and to have all of the citizens treated equitably. >> host: did any of the senators vote for thurgood marshall and what was the party breakdown? >> guest: yes, there were 20 who did not who lyndon johnson forced or, you know, to not vote, you know, and so they just
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poofed, vanished, went away and -- but the important thing is that the final vote of 69-11, southern democrats were a handful votes away from causing a filibuster and so the white house got thurgood marshall on to the court in a very, very close battle.pe >> host: how did those 20 senators disappear? were they busy that day? >> guest: here is an example lyndon johnson would make a phone call to a senator and say, hey, senator, how are you doing, how is the wife, so that's good to know. i understand there's some people in your community who want to
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name that bridge that's being built there, name it after you, that's a great thing to have something named after you, senator, my goodness you and lady byrd would like to make a busy right across that bridge if that should happen, but i tell you what now, i have thurgood marshall and i'm set against making this happen. now the funny think about bridges they're built because of federal money, now, i hate senator to see this money at the last minute disappear and you have no bridge, your wife would be hurt, your family, all the people you have bragged to about this bridge in your name, it all will go up in smoke and i don't want that to happen and neither do you and there's no cause for it to happen. so that was the lyndon johnson style, you know, he would find a
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weak spot, he would find a sentimental spot just like he did with associate john clark, he wanted clark to step aside so he would have an opening for thu. >> guest: yes, yes. >> host: you have been very patient, you're on book tv with wil haygood. >> guest: good >> caller: good morning, i wasn't aware of my haygood. i find him an enjoyable interview every time i hear him. the reason why i'm calling is because he also wrote a book about sammy davis, jr., who is one of my favorite entertainers. years ago i read the autobiography which sammy wrote about himself, rather long, as i recall, i was a teenager when i read it.
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at any rate, when i look at sammy davis i particularly like listening from recordings from 50's and 60's, that's some of the songs i enjoy and arrangements i enjoy, but also when i look, compare sammy to frank senatrai didn't consider one of those gentlemen extremely handsome but i did think that sammy davis, jr. was a triple threat. he was a better actor and better danker and singer, i do feel had he not been african american in that era he might have been the star and given the power thatne frank sinatra enjoyed in i just hollywood. so i just we wanted to hear some of the comments on sammy davis, jr. and thank you for writing and i look forward to buying more of your books. >> host: wil haygood.
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>> guest: yes, i think frank sinatra was aware of sammy davis, jr.'s talents. he was -- he was bold over by sammy's talent and i think, youk know, we look back at the rat pack and nobody in the rat pack would do what sammy did. now, frank who -- who is one of my favorite all-time singers, was a singular americananameric worldwide sensation. sammy did not have the opportunity specially when it came to movies that frank sinatra had. i wish he had a -- had the same opportunities.i there were many -- there were
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many scripts that sammy wanted to star in to be a part of, movies, but the higher up the ladder the script went, the less the people that ran studios wanted sammy to play the lead role and i think that -- i think that hurt sammy. it was something quite beautiful, though, late in sammy's life, he went on tour with frank sinatra and dean martin and sammy and the marquis around the country would justst say sammy, frank, dean sold out. sammy was the one when they went back to the curtain call, he was the one who would get the loudest applause.
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.. something that meant a lot. sammy's road had been harder than deana martens road and frank sinatra's road and i think that these gentlemen knew that during that sort of last two were that they made. host: bill hagood, when you see did that have significance? >> guest: well, yes. i mean, because you look at the other entertainment shows of the time period, and very few of them had blacks, you know?
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and so it was, you know, it was rare to see blacks on tv in the early 1960s. and so sammy swallowed those racial jokes. he swallowed them. he swallowed them. i do believe that the friendships were genuine in that frank sinatra had a love of sammy davis junior. she knew sammy's mother. he knew sammy's grandmother. he had been to sammy's house a lot. like friends, they sometimes got on each other's nerves, but i do think there was a real affection they are and sammy also played into the racial jokes.
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he was younger than the rest of the guys and he had always been surrounded by older and more powerful men like his father and so i think sammy, i think you took that in and his way to get even was to perform his tail off on stage. broadway, nightclubs, tv specials, politics, tap dancing. he could play the drums. he was a great mimic. he did jazz. he did pop. before we came on the air he sang candy man quite well. so, sammy had multi-
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multi- multi- talent. host: we don't talk about what we do offset at c-span. remodel in texas. thank you for holding. caller: thank you very much. you are a fantastic author. about a year ago, a retired justice o'connor said that only vote she would change would be the one to lift the floor-- let the boat-- sort of voters have their recount. had thurgood marshall been on the supreme court he too would it let the florida voters get their recount and let the person that had 560,000 more votes when in that had been al gore. i read certain articles that say that marshall would be disappointed with the current african-american justice >> guest: i think that thurgood
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marshall, i'm sure he would have opinions about the justices on the court right now. some opinions he would agree with and others he wouldn't. the more conservative opinions, thurgood marshall would not agree with. he was about more freedom, more liberty, more justice. and so those opinions that have appeared to tilt in the opposite direction, he would not like at all. >> host: he served under, in the berger court. was he in the rehnquist court? >> guest: yes. >> host: so what kind of relationships did he have with
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the other justices? particularly, i mean, personal relationships with some of the conservative justices. >> guest: yeah. very warm, very cordial, but he was always aware that he came from a completely different background than any of the other justices. he was very aware of that. he was very aware that he was an african-american and the only african-american on the court when he was on the court. sometimes groups, you know, small groups, a family, tourists would come to the supreme court, and they would get on the elevator. and thurgood marshall would be on the elevator; tall, black man
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not wearing his robe.. and the family would turn to him and say, fifth floor, please. and thurgood marshall would say, fifth floor, okay.fl and he would hit the button. and later they would walk into the chambers, into the court itself, and they would see the black man who they thought was the elevator operator, they would see him in his robe now. to be thurgood marshall and to not be bitter, you had to have a great sense of humor. and thurgood marshall would tell that story with a great sense ot humor. >> host: neville is in cleveland. go ahead, neville. >> caller: i'd like to mention that there were foururcaller: african-americans about whom the author wrote, and they had
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biographies written about them beforehand.ha and i wonder, did mr. haygood find anything that was missing from those biographies that made him take them on as subjects? and if he did find something missing, can he tell us what his research brought to the table? and could he also tell us something about the creation of the titles for his different biographies, of those four african-american males? thank you. >> host: thank you, neville. >> guest: oh, my goodness. sir, great question. let me start first with the titles. "showdown," the "showdown" book, i really grappled with that title for, like, three years. actually, the first title, the
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working title was "confirmation." sort of clunky. my editor, peter, didn't like it. and i was in bed to myself -- talking to myself saying, goodness, i have to have something to show the reader that this was a real showdown. and then i said, showdown, that's it, showdown. sweet thunder, i was having trouble with that, and a fellow writer friend of mine said, well, why don't you go, you know, since sugar ray robinson was there in harlem during the time of dueck elington -- duke elington, why don't you look at
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his songbook and see if anything sticks out. one of the titles said something to me, it was "such sweet thunder." and i told my editor, hey, that's a title. he said, ah, let me think about it, and he came back to me a day later and said i think it'll work, but let's take off the "such." is so "sweet thunder" was born. in black and white, sammy davis jr., he lived in two worlds; one world black, one world white. very simple, very direct title. i came up with them, and my editor liked it. king of the cats, adam clayton powell. that did not erupt from within me. my editor at houghton mifflin came up with that title. he thought that adam claytonon powell was a real cool cat and,
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thus, "king to have cats." -- king of the cats. and, let's see, "the butler: a witness to history," that's jus right out there. and two on the river, the photographer and myself, we were the two people who took that long 42-day trip on the mississippi river are. thus, "two on the river." 9 and the family them our, the hood good -- haygoods of columbus, my editor came up with that title too. so that's the story behind the titles. yes, other books have been written. what did i bring to the, to my books?s? i like to think something very different, you know? i always try to find a window, a different window, a side door,
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attic door, a back door to go into when i'm telling these sweeping, biographical stories. i need a angle, a doorway, a different doorway. so for the thurgood marshall book, no one had written extensively about these confirmation hearings. so to that, that was the angle. with sugar ray robinson, no one had written extensively about the intersection of culture and style as it related to his life. he stepped away from boxing to become a tap dancer, and so i focused a lot on his life outside the ring. and so that was the angle i took in that. sammy davis jr., no one had written extensively about sammy in his relationship with will maston and his father, sammy davis sr..
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so about the first 200 pages of that book are really about this trio, you know, this ab old-fashioned, vaudeville trio.k not to name drop, but denzel washington had bought the rights to the sammy davis book, and he wanted to make a movie, and he told me that the reason he bought the rights to that book was that he had a lot of admiration for the family story, for the three people traveling around 1930s america, 1940s america, three black people, sammy jr., sammy sr. and will maston. it never got made, but another director in hollywood now has the rights to that story, and so fingers crossed something, something happens.
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so i wanted to bring the black world and the white world also to that story. the haygoods of columbus, the interesting angle was telling that story about the rise and fall of that street. and what else was the other book? "twoover the river," that was just a travel journey. two on the river. and in the adam clayton paul book, i really wanted -- adam clayton powell book i really wanted to delve deeply boo his college career, in the battle that happened on hill when he was tossed out of congress. so i've always tried to find an angle, and as well just to add my own narrative dance to the
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story. dance to the story. host: so, "the butler" movie "sweet thunder" is getting ready to be made? guest: david, the great actor from some and the butler who has several movies coming out this year has assigned to play sugar ray robinson. he will be great in that. host: does it start filming at any point? has a script been written? guest: the screenwriter has just started. he is writing as we sit here and talk, the screenwriter. so, that's a nice feeling. host: and has "king of the cats"
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been optioned? guest: it was an it no longer is under option, so that is open, but-- host: what about "showdown"? guest: showdown has been optioned by pam williams productions. the creative team behind "the butler" and they are working on that right now. the sammy davis junior book has also been optioned by hollywood by one of my favorite favorite directors, lee daniels. host: coretta from date ohio e-mails and: mr. hagood, what have you learned about the human condition from writing your books?
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guest: that people with creative muscle will often stop at nothing. that they don't look at the same barriers that we look at. i think about the people who i pick to write about, and they are often people who i am just amazed with. i know i don't have their gifts in no way shape or form, but if i study them long enough maybe i could satisfy myself that i know adam clayton powell, now. i know thurgood marshall, now. i know sammy davis junior, now. that's what i can bring two words it. that is my muscle.
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that's what i can give to the world. their gifts, i am in all of their gifts. these are the people who made america. if you look at america as a big spinning wheel like a smoke wheel, a distance over there and it spends over there and spent over there, well, you will see sammy davis in one of those wheels. you will see adam powell in one of those wheels. you will see thurgood marshall and one of those wheels and that is the turning of america. you will see in one of those wheels and what i had tried to do as a writer is catch up to the turning of those wheels. i have tried to reverse it. i try to write about it and to understand it and then i will let the wheel keeps spinning, you know.
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and think that maybe someone else is seen as spinning wheel or reading the book that they will understand why that wheel is spinning with sammy davis junior in the center of it. host: dorothy is calling in from harvest, alabama. that afternoon, dorothy. caller: good afternoon. thank you, c-span and think you will for the wonderful body of work that you are providing to a current generation and hopefully to a future generation. i was born in monroeville, alabama. i worked for 21 years at all levels of education from k-12 through the governing board system. my question is related to your work as a scholar at miami
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university of ohio. having lived and worked in ohio and our paths have a cross, it is good to see on c-span today. i founded as you know a nonprofit called the rosetta james foundation and last year i started a organization called the tennessee valley leadership diversity and one of the eight topics we discuss is diversity in education. my question is related to your past year at miami university and some of the most passionate conversations we are having of the eight topics in our leadership of local leaders has to do with the current state of racial depravity in america and the lack of history, not only in
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textbooks, but the lack of conversations at the collegiate level or any level of education and what impact do you plan to make or how do you see as impacting the current generation of college graduates and future generations of college graduates because it's works like yours that are educating people who are in their mid- to left-- late 50s, like me, about what really went on because we didn't get it in history and k-12 nor in college. host: i think we got the point, dorothy. thank you. will hagood. guest: thank you, dorothy. that was a great question, very important and significant question
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i am reminded of the texas-- the state of texas textbook controversy when they wanted to refer to slaves as quote workers. of course, that was voted down, but just the fact that something like that would be tabled is astonishing. i think that's that's university and colleges across the country, the more diversity, there's no doubt about it and i think that it is incumbent upon university presidents and department chairman to make that happen. i think that there are a lot of writers,
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scholars, artists who are not from the traditional background, but have done wonderful things and i think those artists should be brought into the academic community. i think it's more enjoyable for the students to see someone who is not from a traditional academic background. i have a ba degree, but i have seven books in-- and a lot of writing behind me, so i think if people who run the university just the same as the people who were in a corporation in this country, i think if they
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seek out-- outside of the box that we would all be better off for it there was a lot of chatter about a month ago in the "new york times" portrait of the 500 most powerful people in this country and everyone was talking about 97% of those photographs were white. we have to attack that to make america the best nation that it can be. we have a lot of gifted people from all races in this country. we should not fear anyone smarts or anybody's genius. we should embrace it. host: diane williams tweets in
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enjoying a live interview with will haygood. i plan to donate some copies of "showdown" to our local thurgood marshall middle school. hello, renée. guest: hello. my question is to will haygood and first of i just want to say i admire you very much and you wrote about some phenomenal strong black men that i grew up admiring. my question to you is this, i know you said your mom and your grandmother are inspirations in your life and you did write about black men, but there are some strong phenomenal black women that have donated so much to our history in the united states and i was just wondering, do you plan in the future, would you ever write about a strong black women like my angeles, shirley chisholm and as far as entertainment, leah horne or diane
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carol? i would just like to know if you have ever considered writing about some of these phenomenal strong black women. host: thank you, renée. guest: thank you, renée. i'm not trying to run from that question, but those are some phenomenal historical figures that you mention. but, every time i get into my mind that am i tried about this or that woman, i walk into a bookstore and someone has already beat me to the punch. i kid you not. if i was to tell you someone that sort of is circulating in my mind
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right now, you know, i have no doubt that someone would run out there-- it could be a 10th grader, but would rent out there and write the book about this lady figure before i would, but in all of my books there is a lot of women in these men's life and even in "sweet thunder" there's a whole chapter about women in sugar is time in the 1940s. i write extensively about lena horne and others and so, i hear your point. is a great point, that people keep beating me to the punch. i'm just going to have to look harder and find someone who is always completely in a way unknown at least from a
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book writing stance and i'm going to have to claim that person and hop to it, so thank you. good question. host: will haygood, is someone circling around in your mind your next book? guest: yes. unfortunately, it's not a biography per se. it's a story that i really don't want to talk too much about it, but it's a story that has something to do with sports in the 1960s. but, on that work on it right now, so i'm excited. host: jonathan morte tweets in: hopefully "the butler" will inspire more film makers to look 1930s to 1950s black life. we have not spoken much about sugar ray robinson.
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this is from sweet thunder. in chosen economic justice of the cry for social justice. civil rights organizations pleaded with him to join their cause in public. instead, he donated money and welcomed them into his nightclub. guest: sugar ray robinson was a difficult figure. he was a loner. didn't really have a lot of friends. he was suspicious of a lot of people. i think with a whole lot of strange characters did that to him. he did not go to the march on washington. but, where he could put his power and where he did was in his concern for children. he himself, a poor child used to beg for money in the streets and he loved
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it children. he went to a lot of hospitals. that was where he left his mark as far as giving back. he wasn't very public with his endorsements of certain politicians. he liked robert kennedy a lot, though. he wanted kennedy to be in the white house. host: about a half-hour left with our guest. will hagood on a book tv caller: hello, c-span 2. really like the program. my question to will is back to justice marshall after the confirmation and he was confirmed i was wondering about his transition into the supreme court.
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were any of those justices that had been there forever helpful to him? i know one at one time was a member of the ku klux klan and he became one of the most liberal justices. you have william zero douglas. did anyone mentor him and what was that like? his transition and apprenticeship as you will as a justices-- of the supreme court. guest: thank you. it was very smooth. hugo black who you mentioned actually he gave him the oath of office. i think hugo black had done a lot to atone for his one-time membership in the kkk. i think that those justices-- yes, thurgood marshall made history, but those justices would
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also be judged by how well they accepted thurgood marshall into the fold and marshall was a great storyteller. if he sensed awkwardness from any of the justices , he would go into his gift of storytelling. that always put everyone at ease. but, he was unabashedly for the little person, for the little man or the little woman, for the poor person or the disabled person and he let that be known. his dissent could be staying when he felt the court was not paying
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attention to those who had been done wrong in society. he was, he had a sharp pen and he would will that. so, thank you for your question. host: will haygood, what's inspired you to go from minnesota down to new orleans on the mississippi river? guest: i was at the boston globe and i was sort of new to the staff and sam gross velde, a photographer there who still there, great photographer who has won a couple pulitzer prizes and every other owner. it was 150th
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anniversary of mark twain birth and assam gross velde wedded to do something to honor that. he came up with the idea to take a trip down the length of the mississippi river and the editor at that time, the editor asked him, well, is there any writer in the newsroom who you would you like to go with and sam said yeah, there is this new guy here and i like the way he writes. see if we can get him. now, sam is a very canny guy. he would have thought something like this out, you know, huck and jim,
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have been white and jim being the slave, so there was that, you know, there was that historical reality going on even though i was a-- it was a fictional book. so, it sounded like a interesting fascinating idea. i was very happy to get this kind of rare assignments and we wanted literally to do it from minnesota down to the gulf of mexico. we went up to the-- and walked across, 3 feet where you could walk across the mississippi and then we traveled some by rodin then
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stand, it was either me or stand in one of us came up with the idea to have a raft built in the raft was waiting on us when we got to hannibal. we got on the rafts and we were on that for about nine days and then we got thrown off with a vicious thunderstorm. by that time we were ready to kill each other anyway. you are floating on a raft, you know, big swells are washing over as. where both flat, scary you know, i'm not in any sense a river rat, you know? neither is stan, you know? and we almost fell off the raft one day, and we -- at the last minute -- thought to tie ropes to each other and, you know,
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held each other from slipping off. it was splashing rain. it was crazy. and the fire department -- somebody saw us from land, and, you know, what are those two nuts doing out this on that piece of floating wood, you know? and then they called the fire department, and me and stan looked up, and there was three fire trucks on the side of the river bank waiting on us. then we -- so we got off that, and then we got back in the car, and then we were in some southern town along the river, and we saw the mississippi queen steamboat anchored, so we ran and talked our way onto that. we, you know, we're, like, two journalists, you know? trying to get down the river. can you give us a lift in and we left the car and everything and
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hopped on the steamboat. and then we went further south. then when we boat to new orleans, we got a little boat, and we motored out to the gulf of mexico. and that was the end of the mississippi river. that was the end of that story. we wrote it up in the magazine article, it was called "42 days on the mississippi." and it came out. stan did the photographs, of course, all the photographs. i wrote the story. and i'm sitting this in the boss -- there in the boston globe newsroom monday afternoon, and i get a call from the atlantic monthly press, which was mark twain's publisher. and it's peter davison. he's the editor there. he says, wil, i just read your story. i'm up here in new york, i just read your story about this trip down the mississippi river, and
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i want to know have you got enough there for a book? oh! you know? i had lived so many years with a dream of getting an opportunity somehow, some way to write a book. and that magical phone call came in 1986, you know? and maybe it was 1987. anyway, that was my first introduction to meeting a book you would to have and -- editor and to signing to write a book. that's how it happened. and it was a great, scary, frightening, beautiful, wonderful, unforgettable trip with my good friend, stan grossfeld. >> host: next call for wil haygood comes from cindy in mare yachtsville, maryland.
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please go ahead, cindy. >> caller: thank you for c-span. i am a middle-aged white woman who campaigned for president obama both times because i wanted change and because i was so horrified by the previous administration. the one caller kind of stole my thunder and asked you if you had been surprised by anything in the human condition. i was going to ask you if you were surprised by the racism that reared its ugly held after president obama took office? i know that i was. i had no idea it would still exist in the country, evenow amongst my own friends and family sometimes, i was surprised.d. and then the other thing i was going to say is i'm from baltimore and was very saddened to see what happened a year ago with the unrest following freddie gray's death. and i've listened to peopleag calling the newscasts asking over and over why the black people were destroying -- or seemingly destroying their own neighborhood. and i realized it's because thew
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really don't feel like it isem their neighborhood. that area, that neighborhood down in baltimore is right around the corner from tourist destinations, it's in the shadow of the mason building, but it's not a healthy community and a family that i think -- or a neighborhood that i think theyn feel a part of. and it's just really hard to know, a person like me, it's hard to know how to help and how to move things in a positive direction, so i was going to ask you, one, were you surprised by the racism since the president has taken office and what a regular person can do to help move things in a positive direction. thank you. >> guest: ah. well, thank you very much for your thoughtful, very thoughtful question. thank you for being who you are. i -- no, i am not surprised.
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anyone who has studied history as long as i have would not be surprised at what happened. but the unique part of that story is the many people who refuted the negativity. the racial harmony of the moment that it took to break down this epic wall in this country of having an african-american family enter the white house not as maids, not as butlers, but as
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president and fist lady of the united states -- first lady of the united states. the amazing butlers who have worked there have done great work, but in a country with a legacy of slavery, we know how epic that moment was. so wasn't surprised, but was very delighted to see the goodness that we witnessed. because that was, that was something that said something to the rest of the world. it said something to a small kid in kenya. it said something to a small girl in sri lanka. it said something to a small black kid in the slums of london. it said something to a smallingo
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little girl in ireland who was losing hope for whatever reason. so the largeness of that moment, is, i think, unparalleled, of course it is, in this country.ll the symbolism was huge. i think it's going to continue to be huge. but racism is a stain on this country that we haven't figured out how to quash it, how to squash it. and the answer is simply lies in what we as individuals do, what you'll keep on doing and, you know, the kind of stories i want to tell, you know, books and literature and music to explain
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the story of american history. the whole arc of america, despite setbacks, we've kept moving forward. and that's the amazing thing about this country. we have kept moving forward. some days it seems hard to do so, but it's like, it's like congressman from new york, adam clayton powell, who i've written about. he said, "don't get weary." and i'll look at you and tell you, "don't get weary." >> host: if people were interested in reading your writing about being held captive in somalia or traveling with david duke, what would be the best way for them to get ahold of that?,
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>> guest: i wrote those two stories that you mentioned when i was at the boston globe. i was covering cue clucks chance -- ku klux klansmen, and i went down to atlanta and i wa at a rally with him, david duke. oddly enough, he had to get to another town across the state,d and his driver hadn't shown up. so i said, well, mr. duke, i'm free. let me drive you. and he sort of looked at me like, hmm, you know? he was unsure. but he had to get to this place, you know, where he had to to go. so there we were, me and david duke rying across -- riding
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across the state of louisiana. made for a great story though, goodness gracious. the somalia story, i sort of guess these stories, you can get 'em online in "the boston globe" archives. but the somalia story, i was a foreign correspondent, and i was in somalia. i was covering the civil war. i went with a photographer, ya mi kim. not that i wanted, of course, to be taken hostage. i did everything that i could to make sure that i was going into a place, you know, where nobody was looking for me, heck. i wanted to get in there, write the story and get out. and so one of these aid workers in kenya had said fly to bardeera. that's a village that was already attacked two months ago, so the rebels aren't going to circle back so soon and attack
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it again, so you're safe. go in there, do your story, andd we'll d we've got a transport plane that's bringing some wheat and corn there in two days, and you can hop on the ride and come back to kenya. well, just as luck would have it, on the first night i was there, rebels came out of nowhere and attacked the village. and it was a scary situation, you know, but we got out, kimbu and i got out. there was a lot of strategic moves made, and there was a ransom paid for us by foreign governments. the u.s. wasn't involved, you know? but they let it be known that they cared about us to get us out of there, out of the situation. and so they found two south
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african pilots to bring a small plane into the desert to get us out, and that's how we made it. you know, a small plane is not, you know, a small plane with a pakistani general, the general's not going to be out there in the middle of nowhere without his troops. and so when we went up in thee air, we were rescued, you know, we were all dehydrated, exhausted, still frightened. but when we went up in the air for about ten minutes, maybe fifteen minutes, the plane started to land. and i was, you know, worried like, do not land. let's get out of here. but we landed, and when we got off the plane, the general's troops, about 300, had surrounded the plane and told us, you're safe now. i know it sounds like something out of a movie, but it really
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happened. >> host: okay. everybody listening to this is, wants to can this question: what did you and david duke talk about? >> guest: uh, we talked about, about politics. much like i tried to do with the senators in "showdown," in the thurgood marshall book, i tried to get an understanding of his psyche, you know? and i would say, hey, david, it's just me and you, man, in this car. you know? how did you get to be who you are? this person who says these things, and they sound outlandish, david. and they sound dangerous. be they are dangerous. -- and they are dangerous.
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and, you know, he would say, like, well, a lot of it came from how i was brought up. and, you know, things happen to you in your childhood x those things -- and those things become instilled in you. and his thinking was that, you know, name every stereotype about blacks; blacks and welfare, blacks driving big cadillacs, all that lunacy, youl know? he believed that. that was a part of his upbringing, that was a -- those were things that people said to him, and he believed it, and he started making these speeches. h he was very calm in talking tone
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me. it was, you know, surreal. it was a little surreal. it was. finish. >> host: well, did he come across as you talk about in "showdown," as a cardboardrdhost figure? >> guest: no. talking to me one-on-one, very thoughtful. i mean, but thoughtful in the context of being a unabashed racist. i mean, you know, very thoughtful but, like, and very calm and very, in his mind, articulate in what he was trying to express. he, he seemed to think that this was an interesting moment for him in his life, to be in this car with this journalist from
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boston, you know, asking him these questions. these were almost things that i felt he would have loved to have said with former friends that he lost, you know? he would have loved to have said these things in a calmer voice, in a quieter setting. i mean, and i knew if we would have pulled over to a town and there was a crowd, all-white crowd, of course, waiting on him, that he would have started, thundering again, all of his racist dogma. he would have started thundering at the top of his lungs. and he would have got back in
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the car and would have continued the conversation that we were having. i have no doubt about it. >> host: alexis in young harris, georgia, you are the last call today. we have about a minute left. >> caller: well, i thank you. i thank you, mr. haygood. i'm reading your book, a "showdown," right now and enjoying it very much. my question to you is as someone who grew up in the segregationist south and remembers thurgood marshall's nomination hearing and strom thurmond especially, i just want to ask now we have an african-american president who is appointing a white jewishents jurist and is getting the samesh kind of flak but in a different way from the senate.
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what do you think about that?frm >> guest: thank you for your question. i think that it is awful that the u.s. senate has decided not to, not to schedule hearings for judge garland. i think, i think they're shirking their constitutional duty. i was in chicago last week, and a group of judges took me out for a lunch. my book received some award, and the judges took me out for a lunch. and i was sitting next to a judge, judge neil cohen, and he said, he said i'd like you to
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sign a book for a friend of mine. and so i said, oh, great. who's the friend? and he started spelling the name, b, a, r, a -- it was president obama. i signed a book for him, and i'd like to end this and tell you what i signed. i said, "to president obama: we are all proud of your presidency, and i know that thurgood marshall would be proud too." "sincerely yours, wil haygood." so so thank you. >> host: and that will bring our three hours to a close. wil haygood can be contacted at miami university and oxford, ohio -- in oxford, ohio. thank you for your time on booktv.ue >> guest: thank you very much. it's been an honor to be here.
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>> c-span, created by america's cable television companies and brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. >> but here's the rub, and this is what the book is about. the book is about finding out by just reames and reames of data, even if your explicit preferences are to be a fair, non-prejudiced, egalitarian person, your implicit biases trump your explicit preferences. your implicit bias is what is stored in your social knowledge. it will do more to inform and direct your conduct than will your explicit preferences. why is this important? it's really important in health care, and why i came to write this book was because health disparities, what we politely call health disparities, is
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killing people of color daily. it's causing people of color in this country to live sicker and die quicker because of the color of their skin. so if i were so inclined, i could spend the rest of the evening running the data on just that fact. in 2003 the institute of medicine published a important, 'emal work -- seminal work called "unequal treatment," and it cataloged 25 years of data. the fact that infant mortality in the african-american population is twice that of white populations. the fact that you are 75% more likely to die if you're diagnosed with coronary artery disease if you're a person of color than if you're a white, right? and these are the kinds of data, the kinds of statistics that will be replicated no matter what the leading cause of disease is. it's true for stroke, it's true for diabetes. i'm going to pause at cancer, because i want to make a point.
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with respect to cancer, whites and blacks diagnosed at the same time have a 33% difference gap in their five-year survivor about rate. survivability rate. this is not true, however, if they accept similarly-intensive treatment, education, screening. if these treatment disparities are eliminated, then the difference in survival rate disappears. right? the fact that that is true is morally untenable, that's my first m. that is morally untenable in the united states, in my view. it is medically untenable because the medical profession not only agrees to, first, do no harm, but if you read closely, the hippocratic oath talks about justice. it talks about being a provider
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and a treater of an entire patient, a whole patient in context. and when that is not the case, then implicit biases change the way that people are treated. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> and weekend we bring you coverage of the 3th annual national black writers' conference with conversations on diversity and writing programs, hip-hop and literature, race and gender and more. and that starts today and tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. eastern. on "after words," peter marks talks about how the late aig ceo reviewed the company after the

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