Skip to main content

tv   In Depth  CSPAN  May 30, 2016 3:30pm-6:31pm EDT

3:30 pm
quarterback, i'm saying how well the daily defense? how well do they throw the ball downfield. if they are running i want them to protect themselves but i'm coaching and teaching and i'm saying hey look, if you've got a choice, i'd rather you throw the ball 18 yards downfield rather than run it and i think cams been in the league this year, i think he's been in pretty good at knowing his limitations in terms of running and that you're too valuable to the team, you can't get hurt and he's probably a talent that i can't say we've ever seen in the national football league. black or white. now, you put his talents and use around its with the hip-hop culture, some people, that's going to rub them the wrong way but kevin, i remember when a female sports reporter, that was foreign to us and now you look at espn
3:31 pm
and you've got women posting shows. doing his and hers things. and in all sports, you know? basketball, football, baseball. you name it. so because something is new or something doesn't fit my mold, it doesn't make it bad. i think cam, his energy has actually been good for the game. i probably wouldn't do some of the things that he does but as i said earlier, i know mylane . cam knows his lane. his lane is my lane, my lane isn't his. his lane isn't warren moons lane or doug williams lane but the fact is, his coaches are comfortable with him, his teammates arecomfortable with him and at the end of the day , that's all that matters. >> host: it looks like we're out of time and this has been
3:32 pm
a great conversation. dig deep, seven truths to finding the strength within. i enjoyed reading it and i enjoyed talking to you before i hope people will go by and gain some wisdom for my experiences . >> host:. >> c-span, created by america's cable television companies is brought you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. >> in-depth is next on tv. our guest, biographer will haygood. he he is the author of several books including showdown on thurgood marshall.
3:33 pm
>> host: author will haygood, this is a quote from you. i write about black men who heroically manifested themselves into mainstream america. i think my writing has been a relentless pursuit to explain all of america. does that make sense? >> guest: well, i think that it's just been exciting to find these figures like adam clayton powell junior, sammy davis junior, editor robinson, thurgood marshall who are not born into mainstream society. who by didn't of their enormous talent, enormous gifts, stitched themselves into the fabric of this country by entertainment, politics, sports or in thurgood marshall's case the law. in the case of the white house, butler, extraordinarily patriotic
3:34 pm
service to hiscountry . and so these figures, when i look back over to people i've written about, they spend these amazing tales about society, culture , style, race and i don't always know if they knew it 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 new york congressman powell, adam clayton powell junior and you have sammy davis junior who integrated nightclubs in the 1940s all across this country. he was on a whole wave of entertainers who did that. louis armstrong played the horn and another person why write about, and as i mentioned, sammy davis junior
3:35 pm
and robinson who brought the mob to new york, who control the fight game. he wanted to give fighters some independence. himself, especially. and he became a six-time world champion while he was carving those rights for fighters and thurgood marshall, the subject of my latestbook showdown . many epic cases that he fought before the united states supreme court, his biggest victory was 1954 in the school segregation case, brown v board of education. when you look at these, you look at the story of 20th century america and how it matured and how he was forced to mature because of certain
3:36 pm
figures. >> host: i want to show some video of somebody you mentioned. and have you explain what we are seeing. >> i want to retire. 34 years. you've been here so long, you serve so many people all over the world . you supervised the service, made everybody happy so i think it's only right that you attend one of these. so first on the behalf that i retired . i was invited to the state there and it didn't bother me . i'm so used to serving.
3:37 pm
i was waiting on tables and i told her, you can just get in jail for that and make sure you keep an eye on them and don't let her drink out of the finger bowl. [laughter] >> host: who was that, will haygood? >>. >> guest: that was mister eugene allen, white house butler and a great man why wrote a story about him in 2008 that appeared on the cover of the washington post. 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 before the election and it was amazing how i met him. i was a national writer at the washington post and i was on the campaign trail with
3:38 pm
then senator obama 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. i told him who i was, will haygood, washington post and if there was anything i could do and they said they were crying because their father had kicked them out of their homes because they supported the african american candidate on stage and the three young leaders, they were white. it was a powerful moment because i said wow. even though hillary clinton was still in the race in 2008 at that time , obama had started this epic movement and some of it was manifested
3:39 pm
in the tears of those three young girls were crying andin 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 and he's going to take this country across that hard mountain where race , and your imagination intersect and i ran back to the newsroom and told lanier i said, hey, this guy, the senator from illinois, senator obama is going towin. he's going to break history and my editor , steve, thought i was just tired and i was exhausted. and i said no, steve. please listen to me. he's going to win. and because he's going to win, i want to go where i have to go in the country and find an african-american who works in the service job before the 1964 civil rights
3:40 pm
bill was passed so this person, this african-american like i figured was out there someplace who had worked in the white 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 taken 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 worked on the rose garden at the white house or the person who shined shoes or a maid or, in its last words of butler.
3:41 pm
and i don't know why. i knew no butlers in life and it just rode out so i started making some phonecalls . it was funny, the first calls of course was the white house and of course they don't divulge any personal information about who has or who haven't worked here and i said well my goodness, did abe lincoln ever work there? you know, and that, it just made me keep looking on and putting in phone calls and then somebody calls out of the clear blue from tampa, florida as it were and says that there was a gentleman by the name of eugene allen who, she knew had worked at the white house for two presidents and cc said she
3:42 pm
heard i was looking because 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 that people know thatyou are looking for somebody . sometimes things will come to you and so she told me there was this gentleman by the name of eugene allen and that she thought he worked for two presidents and i should try to find him and very common names so 40 calls, on the 57 call a man was on the other end of the phone and i said mister allen, my name is will hager and i'm a journalist working on a story. we are now five days on the 2008 election area the african-american senator who the three girls were crying for had gotten this party's nomination. there was one epic step to take and so i told mister allender i want to come over and talk to him about his
3:43 pm
life as i heard that he had worked for the two presidents and he said you've got that wrong. i worked for eight presidents . harry truman, ronald reagan and of course, 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 his eyes. >> this was a little bit of a reverse because you wrote the article and then the movie came out and then the book , then your book came out correct? >> yes. >> host: how did that work. >> guest: that's a great question. the story was written and then laura exist in, a movie producer, he produced the spiderman movies, she reached to me by phone and said the
3:44 pm
story made her cry and that she wanted to buy the rights to make a movie so it's best not to hop up and down when someone from hollywood calls for the simple fact that who knows if something will ever get made? so she was insistent and she came to washington dc to visit me with pam williams, her assistant at the time. now pam williams has her own company but ... she was telling me about the movie directors who are interested in this story about this man who had worked at the white house and saw a whole lot of change in the country and then laura ziskin dies and i
3:45 pm
hear nothing. everybody in hollywood who i had been talking to, they go silent area and pam williams and then sheila johnson who is the cofounder of bet, they band together and bring in lee daniels, the director. and they start raising money and all of a sudden, pam williams calls me and says hey, we found the actor who's going to play the butler. and i'm at home sitting on my sofa, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, minding my own business and i said who? is that going to be? and she said forest whitaker. come on, really? like, really? she said no really, forest
3:46 pm
whitaker. she calls me a day later and says that what? we found the butler's wife and i said who's that going to be? she says are you sitting down? and i said no i'm standing up. should i sit down plus mark she said, sit down. oprah winfrey. i said, come on pam. you're really pulling my leg now. oprah winfrey hasn't acted in like 17 or so years. she's going to play the butler's wife? she said, yes. oprah loves the story that much so then the other cast members are falling into place and i went down to new orleans where we were filming. this is going to get back to your question about the book so i'm standing on the movie set one day and all these actors are walking around in between the scene and there's jane fonda, there's terrence howard. there's cuba gooding junior.
3:47 pm
there's lee shriver. all these great actors and i just said nobody really ... i just said it 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 terrence howard happened to have been walking by and he heard me and he said, you're the rider. you want to write the book and that really is how the butler book was born. that idea, terrence howard the actor put that idea inside of me and then when i got back home, washington dc , i was able to get in touch with a book editor, don davis, she wanted to do it and i started writing the book so it went from article,
3:48 pm
movie, book. how true to what you learned from eugene allen and mrs. allen was the movie? >> well, i learned a lot about the moviemaking business being on this set. 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 the movie in a meeting, he said what i want to do with your story, will, is open it up. i want to cover the whole arc of civil rights movement which had really never been done on the big screen in this country. hollywood had sort of been very reticent to tell epic stories of this nature so lee daniels the director wanted to do that.
3:49 pm
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 civilrights movement . there were some changes from the actual story to movie but the theme of the whole movie i feel if i stay true to the story, there was one big difference. charles, the sum of the butler did go to vietnam but he survived. in the movie, he dies and in real life there was only one son in the movie, there was to. >> did eugene allen share with you personal stories about each of the presidency worked with? >> guest: yes. he was a bit, how can i put it? shy in certain cases but yes,
3:50 pm
he did. he of course saw his life being played out through the different deals and the legislation that was being passed. it meant something to him when eisenhower passed the civil rights bill. it meant something to him when president kennedy went on tv and talked about the historic clashes at old miss and james meredith, trying to integrate the school. it meant something to him when doctor king visited the white house. it meant something to him when news flowed into the white house that there had been a big clash in little rock over school integration measure and so all of these
3:51 pm
presidents did something at one time that stood out to him. he said something that was very touching about president kennedy. he was overseas, i think it was switzerland and it would have been maybe 1962 and mister allen had about six hours off that day and you wanted to go into this little town and get a gift for his wife and the store clerk, he had $100 bill or a large bill in bit currency and the store clerk told him that she didn't have change and that she wanted to go across the street and he was the only person in the store. he wanted him to watch the store for him .
3:52 pm
he me, he said, 1962 in georgetown, a store clerk most likely would not have asked me to watch their store while they went down the street. we said, and that type of dignity bestowed upon him 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 then he said to the death and that's just a lovely little moment about history, his mindset and what he took from his travels around the world with these presidents that really stands out. >> host: will haygood, he said, according to your book seem to have a special
3:53 pm
relationship with dwight thousand power and with reagan before he did. with the eisenhower connection, mister allen's son charles was going to school in 1954. in the epic brown the board of education decision came down from the supreme court. the segregating the american public school system so you have a father who was butler is walking into the white house, looking at this president knowing that socially, the nation now is about toshift . of course, that clash took three years and that came about in little rock rock arkansas central high school in the fall of 19 657 when
3:54 pm
nine black children walked into the school and they were pelted with racial epithets, it was a horrific day for the schoolchildren. and mister allen had to see that and of course he had to wonder would something like this happened to my son and what are you going to do mister president? of course he would never have dared ask president eisenhower but that had to be on his mind . well, my child will be hurt? this is a unanimous decision by the us supreme court. the buck stops with you mister president and i'm sure that mister allen was looking in that extrasensory way for
3:55 pm
the white house, for this country to put the weight behind the supreme court decision and in president eisenhower's bid. he put the troops into little rock to protect the children and so, to have been apparent up close to the man who did that must have been a very magical moment for him and president eisenhower painted a foil portrait shortly after that and gave it to mister allen as a gift. he also when president eisenhower was out of the white house he would invite mister allen to go golfing with him, not as a butler but as an equal, man to man would you like to play some golf question mark must've been a beautiful thing for
3:56 pm
him . >> host: did he live to see president obama inaugurated westmark x. >> guest: yes. after the story came out, mister allen, the transition team of the president elect, bless their hearts for this, they saw the story and they sent a vip invitation to mister allen and to his son. to go to the swearing in and little old me got an invite, who knows why but anyway we all went on that very cold morning, mister allen, his son charles and me and it was very cold. you could take the subway so far but then you had to walk and we were walking and mister allen was breathing very heavily, he was elderly,
3:57 pm
frail and i felt bad and i said mister allen, i think that we should stop. we should turn around because we have about 100 more yards to go. i can tell you're in pain. he had arthritis very bad. and i knew he was sad because his wife had died the day before. it 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 and he looked at his son andsaid charles, you hold my left arm . he said, just don't let me drop because i'm not turning around . then it hit me you know, why i had wanted to do such a story in the first place. a man who had seen what he had seen, who had been born and raised in the south and
3:58 pm
now this moment so we shone our vip seats and the living president who he had served under, they all walked out who were there and he was talking about them as if they were his friends. there's president carter over there. he's looking okay. you know? and this president bush, good man. things like that. and then he said to me, he said when the nation's first african-american president took the oath of office, mister allen, the butler who had started in the basement of the white house as a pantry man, he looked at me
3:59 pm
and he said, when i was in the white house you couldn't even dream that you could dream of a moment like this. used the word dream twice and it was very, very touching. he had saw so much in his life and now he was living to see with his own eyes and african-american take the highest oath of the highest office in the great united states of america. >> host: from your book the butler, and looking back after my own writing it seems now eugene allen was kind of a capstone to all those fascinating figures i had interviewed in years pastwho had a link to turmoil inside the white house . >> guest: yes. i mean, i can just look at the likes of thurgood marshall. who was this great legendary
4:00 pm
naacp attorney who dreamed of the and aa cp legal fundand a separate arm from the naacp . mostly the american south but also on the west coast and midwest so on the day president lyndon johnson nominated thurgood marshall, to the supreme court in 1967, there was three butlers in the white house, one of those butlers was eugene allen. the law had been used to stop mister allen fromdoing things . in the 50s, when he worked at the white house you could go back to his native virginia and not be allowed to try on a suit or hat in a man's clothing store because of the color of his skin. thurgood marshall was using the law to elevate the likes
4:01 pm
of mister allen. it was that day in 1967, there was history. there was the majesty of hope right there at the white house. mister allen serving thurgood marshall. and i think there's something very important about the fact that all these men who i was talking about, congressman adam clayton powell, a warrior in the arena, of politics. sammy davis junior, a warrior in the arena of entertainment. sugar ray robinson, a physical warrior. sure enough and in the arena of boxing.
4:02 pm
thurgood marshall, a warrior in the arena of law. then you have you know, a genuine patriot, mister allen . who served people and was unknown, had no fame. his only fame was that he worked on beers the american flag at 1600 pennsylvania avenue . every day. even when he couldn't exercise rights as a total citizen and never missed a day of work. loved the president area and i asked him during my time spent with him if he was a democrat or a republican. he said, you can just put down that i am an american.
4:03 pm
that's good enough. stick that in your story. it really was lovely. >> june 13, 1967. >> 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 illicit or general thurgood marshall, acknowledged the best-known negro lawyer of the century. the president also calls his nominee best qualified. >> i had just talked to chief justice and informed him i shall send to the senate this afternoon the nomination of mister thurgood marshall, solicitor general to the position of associate justice supreme court made vacant by the resignation of justice thomas c clark of texas. >> that's the highest court in the land with the vacancy owing to the stepping down of
4:04 pm
justice clark as named to its august the body, thurgood marshall, the firstof his race so honored . >> host: why did he pick thurgood marshall? >> guest: i think the president johnson had a great sense of justice. for the country. he sees a moment in history. i think he had done a lot of work to get to 1964, civil rights bill passed. and then came the 1965 voting rights act. i think president johnson said, if i can find a brilliant african-american jurist to integrate the
4:05 pm
united states supreme court, that would be the final nail in the 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 an african-american and marshall had fought and won 29 cases before the us supreme court. most lawyers never get one victory in front of the supreme court so this place had already been made in history. he's been a federal appeals court judge and a solicitor general and lyndon johnson, i think, new if i could make this happen it would be a
4:06 pm
dazzling moment in the nations history and it would be something that is both right and righteous and he started shifting gears before that moment made it happen. oddly enough, there was no vacancy when lyndon johnson started thinking of it and he had to convince associate justice tom clark to step down and it was very crude how he did that. and i explain it in the book. i can tell you quickly if you'd like, lyndon johnson was master of the set of course as he was called by the great writer robert caro. he was and so he called tom clark, who johnson had known because they were friends in
4:07 pm
texas, both from texas and had known each other and lyndon johnson is thinking thurgood marshall, supreme court, no vacancy. what can i do? and he says tom, i want to appoint your son ramsey. sunday journal. but goodness, i can't do it because you're on the supreme court and a lot of people would see a conflict of interest and my goodness, your only son and i know the dynamics of father-son and i know you how much you love that boy and i know your wife and i know it would be great for ramsey to have this great position but i just want you to know i can't do it. my hands are tied. it's a shame. tom clark says to president johnson, my goodness. is there anything i can do?
4:08 pm
and president johnson says, wiley as he is, i don't know but gracious, i will tell you this. if you work 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. that's her only boy, that's your only son. i know you love him so tom clark went home and surprises family and said everybody, i'm stepping down from the court. all there has to be as a vacancy and lyndon johnson, he didn't even tell other senators. wanted it to be a surprise, unlike in today's environment where it's our lease out. it didn't happen to third world marshall. it really was aself-appointed . a very quiet, very surreptitious and moments before he had walked out into the rose garden he had called
4:09 pm
some senators and said hey, mister president, i'm pointing thurgood marshall right now. and he would hang up the phone. no time for remodel, hold on mister president. wait a minute. number he wasn't going to hear it so that's how it happened. >> host: from your book 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 country as starting in the mid-30s and he figured that in order to bring equality or a sense of equality into law, i'm going to have to start filing lawsuits ensuing jurisdiction. i'm going to have to go into texas and file a lawsuit for voter rights and that's what
4:10 pm
he did in the famous, epic case called smith v rossi which meant that now lacks good vote in an all-white democratic primary before thurgood marshall changed that. he went into st. louis and achieved a housing victory which translated to shelley v kramer and that case met people could no longer sell their house with a deed that would say you can't sell this to somebody who's black or jewish. that was thurgood marshall's imprint. brown the board of education. he integrated the university of texas law school, a lovely story. thurgood marshall's mother was a schoolteacher wanted him to go to the university of maryland school of law and marshall from baltimore, his
4:11 pm
mother just dreamed of that that my son is smart enough to become the first black to be admitted to the university of maryland but marshall knew they wouldn't accept him because he was black but you went to howard university of law school in washington, graduated number one in his class and then marshall went and found a gentleman by the name of donald murray and said, mister murray. i want you to apply to the university of maryland school of law. and mister murray said well, mister marshall why in the world would i do that? they're not going to accept a black applicant and thurgood marshall said, i know it.
4:12 pm
do it. they will turn you down and i will sue them. and that's how i'll get you in. just like that, it happened. thurgood marshall sue the university of maryland school of law. donald murray got admitted and marshall escorted him to class on the first day. there anybody to mess with them. thurgood marshall was a pretty tall, hefty guy. i mean, that's really, that's talking thetalk, walking the walk at the same time . >> host: the book is called showdown for a reason. here's another quote from your book referring to judiciary committee chair james eastland was a democrat from mississippi. mississippians loved him because he was doing exactly what they had sent him to the u.s. senate to do. maintain those cotton prices and keep the negro down. >> guest: yes. i went to mississippi to do
4:13 pm
research on the james eastland family legacy and look 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 had an animus toward thurgood marshall because marshall really had upended the ways of the southern senators who were on the committee were going to be judging him . mister john mcclelland of arkansas, senator strom thurmond of south carolina,
4:14 pm
sam ervin of north carolina and james eastland of mississippi. these were the men who had signed a 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 the strategy very quickly to work , to stop marshall's nomination so he would tell the white house, what data hearings would be held so the echoing was going on now but the hearings finally were held and some of the
4:15 pm
questions from eastland he poked some of the questions that blacks would be asked were trying to vote, how many jellybeans are in this jar, how many soap bubbles are in that little bowl of water over there? strange, unnerving questions. like that. the white house new that it had a battle on its hands, especially because good marshall was nominated at a time of great unrest in the country. there were riots in baltimore , in newark, in cincinnati , in various towns and cities
4:16 pm
down south so the southern senators were saying good marshall was stalked on by and on the last day of the hearing there was an epic riot and in detroit. 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 in detroit and it was really, it was a really tense moment for the white housebut in trying , in writing the book, one thing that i really wanted to do was to give a full fledged picture of these southern senators.
4:17 pm
i did not want to portray them as cardboard, racist figures although they certainly held horrible views about race. senator sam murders, north carolina, he traveled a lot . he would go to vintage bookstores all across the country and he was a bibliophile, he collected books. hit his wife would come in and say sam, not again. he's got 20 more books, hardback books under his arm. and he came to own 30,000 books and somebody had written a line....not
4:18 pm
somebody, it was me. i wrote this line in a book and it said , in none of the books that he collected, books about law, books about politics, about history, could sam irving find any justification for the quality to the black man. and john mcclelland, the senator from arkansas, i went out to a small college in arkansas where our papers were and looked at them. on the last day of this visit, i came across a letter from a lady named barbara ross. and i'm reading the letter and it stops me in my tracks.
4:19 pm
this was a letter sent to the senators office and she said and i quote from 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. and give thurgood marshall a fair vote. i wish to tell you that if he doesn't make it on to the supreme court, there will be other african-american nominees and you won't be
4:20 pm
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. ". and i couldn't move. i read that letter, i couldn't move. literally, i just sat there at that desk in this research library. i remembered it was a friday night and it was getting ready to close and i saw that letter and i knew that that letter was going to play a part in my book and she predicted president obama. who was barbara ross? the cause on the letter, it said do not answer. from the senators office,
4:21 pm
they had no intention to even send this woman whoever she might be even a form letter. she did not deserve from their way of thinking a form letter and so i couldn't shake it and i was telling some people 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 is in your book and i told my sister, i said yes. that's a good idea. and so i thought deeper about it and the letter had an address. 2103 delaware street, texarkana arkansas and so i called it texarkana to the clerk and said hello, my name
4:22 pm
is will hager. i just spent five years writing this book about thurgood marshall's battle be confirmed on to the us supreme court. 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 there shortly, i told her this was like six of months ago and i said, is there any way i can find an error, any relative that this miss barbara ross might have in texarkana and the city clerk said, the name doesn't ring a bell but let me ask around and i'll get back to you and so in about five or six days she called back, left a voice message on my landline phone and said esther hager, you should call this number. when somebody says that to a journalist, you really get
4:23 pm
more than a little excited. i dialed the number and this voice answered and said hello and i said, i'm am. my name is will hager. i just written a book called 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 clerks office told me to call this number because i'm trying to find any family members of mrs. ross so i can tell them this letter is in the book and she said my name is barbara ross. and i'm sort of taken aback and i said oh really? were you named after her or something and she said,
4:24 pm
really. 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 mister marshall a hard time. i told my mama and my daddy that i wanted to write a letter to senator mcclellan and my daddy said don't do that. it 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 write your letter. and i wrote that letter and it was mind-boggling to me to be talking to the writer of this letter and as i said, the address because i was now
4:25 pm
holding the letter in my hand, the address was on the letter, 2103 delaware street and i wanted to test her. i said mrs. ross, do you recall where you are living that summer of 1967? when those hearings were taking place and she said well 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 pay 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 . well, i said mrs. ross, history has a way of sometimes working out rather beautifully. not only is there an african-american in the white house as you know what your letter is going to be in my
4:26 pm
book and i will send you a copy of the letter in the book as soon as it published and so i'm very happy to say that mrs. barbara ross of texarkana who predicted president obama's election in the midst of the thurgood marshall battle now has a copy of showdown in her home. >> host: issue white or black? >> guest: she's black. >> host: and her dad figured she would get in trouble. >> guest: yes. before we got off the phone, we talked for about 45 minutes. she said tell me, what was it really like working with oprah winfrey on that movie? >> host: what was it like working with oprah winfrey? >> guest: oh, i don't want to sound ... i don't want to
4:27 pm
sound ... jaded but it was, it was quite special. i had 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 sure want to be a part of it. goodness. she said that in 2008, we 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
4:28 pm
director, we were at a bus station, adult old station filming this scene when this butler's son is getting ready to go off to college and the butler's son played by david yellow, a great actor signed by the way to play sugar ray robinson from my other book. anyway, lee daniels escorted me across the way to meet miss winfrey and she was very busy. she was actually getting ready to film the first scene and lee said oprah, i wanted to introduce you to will hager and she looked at me and she said hello, will. just like that, very quiet.
4:29 pm
hello will and that was it. then i walked back across the floor. the next day, we are in this area where munchies being served and i'm in line getting my meal, it's lunchtime and i hear this voice. it's his will, hey will. and then i sort of subconsciously say, that sounds like oprah winfrey. i hope she's not calling me. why does she want me? why is oprah winfrey calling me?
4:30 pm
slave movies and then movies, you know, modern movies. it is almost as if the '40s and '50s in black culture, '30s, '40s and '50s in black culture, is absent, vacant from the screen. and there were a lot of people in the '50s who laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement. mr. and mrs. allen used to send money to the selma marchers in the late '50s when rosa park was refusing to give up her seat on the bus.
4:31 pm
so these were like in the quiet war eras, putting $5 in the mail, sending it to dr. king's church or to you know, 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, and you know, that, that is a part of history that you can't really every escape if you're dreaming for the next generation and oprah said it was so important to honor those people, the maids and the butlers and the factory workers, you know, who were
4:32 pm
african-american, who gave a dollar here, a dollar there, to the civil rights movement because it would not have endured or survived without them >> host: good afternoon, welcome to booktv on c-span2. this is our monthly "in depth" author. this is his or her body of work. this is author and journalists, wil haygood. a book about a trip down the mississippi river. king of the cats, life and times of adam clayton powell, came out in 1983. the hey goods of columbus, ohio, a life story. in black and white, the life of sammy davis, jr., 2003. sweet thunder, life and times of sugar ray robinson, came out in 2009. the butler, we talked about
4:33 pm
extensively, witness to history, 2013. his most recent book came out last year, 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 would like to share, we have only gone through a couple of books so far. we'll get through a couple of others as we go this afternoon. 202 is the area code, 748-8800. for those in the east and central times zones. now you can also contact us electronically. booktvs, at is our email address. and via special media, @booktv is our twitter handle. leave a comment there. make sure to include @booktv. you can make a comment on our facebook page, you. you will see wil haygood at top of our page and you can make a comment that section.
4:34 pm
we'll begin taking calls in just a few minutes. mr. haygood, 1937, thurgood marshall was nominated where were you, how old were you and do you remember it? >> guest: goodness, i was in columbus, ohio. it was the summertime. i was 13 years old. so i was probably on my skateboard, you know, skating up and down, north fifth street, but i had no aware knowledge of, of, thurgood marshall's nomination. i remember seeing flashes, flashes of unrest and riots on the tv screen. i lived with my grandmother and mother. as i said they were both born in
4:35 pm
selma, alabama, in the marchs and the riots, you know. they would be glued, glued to the tv set. and so, that is really one of the things i wish i had heard about thurgood marshall in junior high school but i hadn't or sugar ray robinson in junior high school but i hadn't, or, you know he, what sammy davis, jr., had did as a, as a riveting trailblazer in the arena of entertainment. and i think, in a way, that's what i seek to do with my books. i seek to fill gaps in history,
4:36 pm
holes in history, that i think should be filled. i, you know, if i had had a written showdown, i wouldn't have dreamed walking into a bookstore and seeing showdown and i would have bought that book immediately, but since i never did, no one has ever written about the five days of his confirmation hearings and all the drama around those five days, you know, which were stretched out into like 13 days like, hearings here and then the chairman eastland, no hearing for the next two days, without any reason. but that made the white house and thurgood marshall of course very nervous and, you know, those were five monumental days in the history of this country
4:37 pm
you know, and 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, he, i think he made lipped done johnson very proud. there was a moment, and i talk about it, in the book, when lyndon johnson was out of the white house, he had called thurgood marshall and said, the hell you put me through to get you on to the court. it was just, it was just hell and, lyndon johnson now on his ranch in texas had told thurgood marshall he said, i'm going to write a book about, about that
4:38 pm
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 is 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, uncle will, now you have written a book that the president wanted to write and so if i have, then, then so be it. i'm happy about that. >> host: from your book, the haygoods of columbus, you learned about things on mount vernon avenue, about things that hummed, that flew, life. i came to learn that twas the one avenue in our town that kept the town honest. >> guest: yeah. it was this street, it was, it
4:39 pm
was, it was our harlem. it was a place of jazzy nightclubs, restaurants. >> host: all black? >> guest: all black-owned, i mean mostly, mostly black-owned. it was, it was the epicenter of the black community. it was where dr. martin luther king, jr. would give a talk. it was where lyndon johnson visited mount vernon avenue, jimmy carter visited mount vernon avenue. a lot of politicians if they wanted to get black votes they would have to appear on mount vernon avenue and my mother went up to mount vernon avenue to some of the bars and nightclubs and my sisters did too and the whole family, you know, went to this, this strip in columbus,
4:40 pm
ohio, and that book actually was, was conceived as a book about a street that slowly disappears over a period of time, like many urban neighborhoods with nightclubs have dis appeared for various reasons or urban renewal or a highway came and took the guts out of mount vernon avenue but i conceived that book, the haygoods of columbus as, and it wasn't my idea that title. i'm not, i wouldn't have thought that my name, the last, surname of my family needed to be in a book title. that was the editors decision at
4:41 pm
houghton mifflin, a great editor, peter davidson who edited that book but the book was conceived to be about the rise and fall of mount vernon avenue. then it morphed into sort of a family memoir. >> host: my mother drank, you write. she couldn't hold it at all but preferred bourbon. when she drank she wanted to dance and she also wanted to fa lossfy. philosophize. >> guest: my mother, beautiful woman, we lost not long ago, with the family, born in selma, alabama, worked most of her life. she did have a job as a waitress and you know, she, you know, she loved mount vernon avenue. you know, she loved to have a
4:42 pm
good time, you know. if she loved, since the family too, that was very important to her, family. she lived with her parents, grandmother and grandfather for many years on the north side of the town. then we moved to the east side of the town into a housing project when i was in the ninth grade. that was actually my mother's first independent living by herself you know. she lived there with, with her children and you know, and the bright lights of mount vernon avenue pulled her on the weekend and you know, that, i think was the impetus, looking back at my mother and her life,
4:43 pm
that was the impetus to do that book. >> host: did the bright lights grab you or any other members of your family? >> guest: yes. yes. everybody in the family i think liked, you know, liked the lure of nightclubs. i became the first person in my family to go to college in 1972. i went off to college. i went to miami university in ohio, which is where i actually teach at now and so i would be home in the summertimes would sort of peek you know, in, on, what was going on on mount
4:44 pm
vernon avenue but that nightlife , that, you know the dark, the darkened bright lights of, of nightlife, frightened me, you know. i just didn't want to be caught in the, in this 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, i don't know if it is just charming or the cute or what but mayor michael kohlmann, who just left office in columbus has name ad small part of mount vernon avenue, wil haygood way. and so, it's right in front of the, where an old theater used
4:45 pm
to be that my mother dreamed of having her picture in that theater. that is sweet little, i guess moment in a writer's life. >> host: wil haygood is our guest, long-time journalist with the "boston globe" and "washington post." kirk in california. you're first up today. hi, kirk. >> caller: hello. >> host: please go ahead. >> caller: yes. i wanted to make a comment on how that barbara ross, the story about barbara ross, is a beautiful story, a person having a voice in politics it does make a difference and did make a difference, especially, with the election year, how people think that their voice doesn't count but this is a perfect example of how a person's voice does matter and it is really beautiful story. i really enjoyed it very much
4:46 pm
and i will buy your book, sir. thank you very much. >> guest: oh, thank you very much. yes, i sometimes talk to college students, even the students who i teach and i, and i let them know, kirk, that one person can make a difference and, you can be brave, just with a pen and a paper. and that's what barbara ross did. i'm sure she had no idea where that letter went, where it floated off to, she never got a response. then many, many years later wil haygood, the little boy who was on the skateboard in 1967, grows up to become a writer, goes to arkansas, looks in the papers, finds the letter, put it in a
4:47 pm
book and finds barbara ross herself. and so people can make a difference and it's, it is wonderful to see things like that happen. thank you. >> host: did she review the book? did she like it? >> guest: yes, she did, she wrote me a wonderful letter which i will cherish. she said mostly in the letter that she had wanted to know all of the behind the scenes things that happened is that enabled thurgood marshall to make it on to the bench and she told me in, in her letter, she said, now i know, in that, her ps, she said, maybe i'll write my own book some day? so, she became a school teacher for many years.
4:48 pm
history, she taught history. yes. >> host: scotty in portsmouth, virginia. you're on booktv with wil haygood. >> caller: yes, how are you doing? first i would like to thank you, mr. haygood with your books and i'm sitting here listening to you, and being a novice study of 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 for the mental and psychological fairness. the media seems to slant things to always keep it in the physical construct which most of the times some type of negative trigger is always accompanied to anything that we do. even the good things. all that question, i mean on that comment i would like to pose a question to you because i look for places where we can
4:49 pm
have a more intimate audience with people such as yourself where we can portray and deliver information to us in the whole concept that is mentally and psychologically healthy to us. do you know of any such venues that are, i might can become an audience of? >> guest: well, i, you know, my life is glued mostly to the, you know to the writing aspect of what you happen to be talking about. i look at the case of the new york congressman, adam clayton powell, when he died, there were a lot of, you're right, sir, there were a lot of negative stories about powell and one of the things i wanted
4:50 pm
to do as a writer is show his, his importance to lyndon johnson's war on poverty. that was my way of sort of flipping the narrative about mr. powell and i think, i think that book did that. i think now he is seening as a fuller american figure, warts and all. no one's perfect. but, his talents far outweighed any, any, any flaws that he had and so that's, that's, when i
4:51 pm
can put your question, finding, finding the positive these big stories. >> host: want to show video of adam clayton powell. >> i adam powell, may belong to a group of people that some others may think are insidious but i belong to a group of people, that god, omniscient, 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 me, i know i'm as good as, if not better than anybody that walks the halls of congress. [applause] it is not the color of your skin, brother, it's what you got in your heart and in your mind that makes you a man or a woman. remember that. [applause] and if you all will stand together, there is nobody in this world that can stop a united mass of people moving as
4:52 pm
one. standing together, working together, picketing together, boycotting together, voting together, loving together, worshiping together, you win together, walk together, children! -- to the promised land. >> host: wil haygood, from your book, king ever the cats, adam clayton powell had no predecessor, he was hand-picked by no one, he arrived in washington with independence. >> guest: he was an original. first black congressman from the eastern seaboard. arrived into washington in 1945, when he was sworn in and, he was battling many politicians in his own party, southern democrats, the very people who i ended up circling back to for the thurgood marshall book, southern
4:53 pm
democrats. he was in the house when these were senators. and so powell was on the outside, in the u.s. congress a lot because because the chairman of the education and labor committee graham barton, who kept powell down but when, with the wave of democrats who were elected in in 1960, adam clayton powell's senority elevated him and he became chairman of the education and labor commit try, a powerful position and he started passing a lot of social, social legislation in student loan bills, the upward bound program. he was very instrumental in.
4:54 pm
that was a beautiful program that i went through that the federal government would find gifted high school students and send you to a local college in the summertime to take courses. it is a wonderful scholarship program that exists. so powell was responsible for passing a whole lot of poverty legislation in this country in 1964, and 1965 and 19666. >> host: his successor is still in congress, charlie wrangle. >> guest: yes, who took powell's seat. >> host: took him in the primary, correct? >> guest: yes. powell was of course involved in scandal and taking, take two
4:55 pm
women on a trip and using house funds to do, by today's standards, it is a small scandal but nevertheless he was ousted by several house members, not by the voters and, and he sued the house. the case went to the supreme court and he won but the house might have had a valid legislative move if they would have adhered to the will of the people first but they just threw him out, ignoring the will of the people who wanted powell to be seated. >> host: errol in tacoma, washington. please go ahead. we're listening. >> caller: , yeah, first of all, professor, you are par
4:56 pm
excellence. not only a journalist -- >> host: i apologize for interrupting. get off of the speaker phone. it is a little difficult to -- >> caller: i'm not on speaker. >> host: there, that's better. >> caller: par excel lens. fraternity brother in the columbus talk greatly about you and your accomplishments. so very pleased. one of the things you mentioned financed civil rights and butlers and whatever, where is another area where the unions, uaw in particular, the foundries did moist of the financing. they were responsible for getting people out of birmingham jail. they did the march on washington as well as the advance for all that transportation.
4:57 pm
and the most powerful black person in the '40s and '50s, was the secretary of that union, who was black and they had over 30,000 members who were black that was supportive. you have done a wonderful area. , i love your books and you tell great stories and you're a great historian, so that the area and thank you very much. only question of your family, you talk about memoir of your mother, is there anything about your mother that is special because in many ways you are special and you reflect that. >> host: answer from wil haygood. >> guest: yeah, i have, you know
4:58 pm
thank you by the way for that call, sir. i like to think all members of my family are very gifted. they taught me things about about life and about unity. it is a very close fram family. i see family members all the time. the. so i'm very fortunate to have the family that i have. love them all of course very deeply. one thing about the financing of the of the civil rights movement, when i was working on my sammy davis, jr. book, i interviewed harry belafonte, and he said, he said one of the things that you really have to get in this book is is the fact
4:59 pm
that sammy davis, jr., sent 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 were arrested in florida, georgia, mississippi and so he was great, it was great to, to learn that part of the sammy davis story. it became a very important chapter in my sammy davis, jr., book. so thank you for pointing that out. >> host: back to the haygoods of columbus, looking back now i could see that summer night marked the beginning of my sister's decline. when wonder recovered she climbed out of bed at home, walked straight ahead, thin as a wafer into years and years of darkness. who is wonder?
5:00 pm
>> guest: wonder is my sister. >> host: twin? >> guest: my twin sister and, she battled some demons in life. i lost a sister also. >> host: to the bright lights of mount vernon nightlife? >> guest: , yes, yes, my jordan. so things happen in families. , there is that famous quote all families are alike in some ways and you know, but there is a wonderful flip side. my sister, wonder, recently graduated from columbus state community college. , and i delivered the
5:01 pm
commencement address and so good for her. i'm very proud of her. >> host: you also talk about the fact that you grew up centered. >> guest: yes i did. i had a very bad speech impediment when i was a kid. it is mostly gone but, i would say in the second, third, fourth grade, it was so bad that i had a you know, i had to go to speech therapy or whatever, and you know, it was old-fashioned. they would put this big machine on my head t was just crazy. it didn't work. nothing worked.
5:02 pm
that did not work. life went on and you know, things got better and better and better so now, it is almost invisible. so had to come through that, sort of a mystery how one can get through that. you know, it almost, i think sort of steeped maybe in this. you know, i kept getting cut from the basketball team i got cut from the eighth grade basketball team. i got cut from the 10th grade basketball team and cut from the junior varsity team of
5:03 pm
miami university of ohio and i would go back to the coaches and i asked every coach, if i could have a second chance. if i could, have one more day of practice because, i had enough confidence in myself, that i would do better that extra practice. i've always been very grateful as somebody would just believe in me you know, just, believe that i can perform on the basketball court, you know? and so, i ended up, i'm proud to say of of book on the basketball team in the eighth grade and being on the basketball team in the 10th grade and being on the junior varsity at miami university on the basketball team.
5:04 pm
even played in are up arena at the university of kentucky. -- rupp arena. how is that for a guy who got cut from the basketball team? >> host: our producer kate hughes got a picture of you and your sister at columbus state university we want to show as well. >> guest: wow. >> host: the speech, of the commencement address. >> guest: i gave the commencement address. >> host: george from college park, maryland. you're on with mr. wil haygood. >> caller: great to speak with you, mr. haygood. i originally had a question about the great society and african-american struggle but and your sister i wanted more to divulge the other side of life where there are many african-americans you see have problems and end up doing one things, myself perfect example. gynecology. full rider.
5:05 pm
did well on act. horrible home life. my mother is basically crazy and my father not working. i have to go through the problem with in addition to being african-american with expectations and no sight of my means for me to actually accomplish them and that might lead someone to commit suicide. if you have no hope in this country, with all the brain you can put out there, if you think, i can do any class, simply because i have the deal with my parents 'situation and on top of that the lack of empathy towards the prejudice i get. with your experience with upper bound, these problems that allow african-americans to remove from situations that fully grow and spur into what they want to be, how do you think that we can, a person like myself who is basically given up and starts on drugs or anything, how can i have a chance to redeem myself when so much has been put to me being nothing but a nigger. >> host: george, you're calling
5:06 pm
from college park maryland. are you at the university there? >> caller: yes i am. >> host: what are you studying? >> caller: computer science. my 7th year. going in and out of school. >> host: 7th year. take back in and out of school. living in a hotel with my parent. because i haven't had much to pay for a place here. with that horrible transportation costs. horrible, i can't go to class when i have, i have a, i cry a lot. and i'm pretty sure happens to a lot of people. it is hard to go outside every day, hold yourself up and say i can actually do this when you try and you can see small bits of success but then it gets taken away from you because you messed up here or might be doing this wrong or you followed the quote, unquote, wrong people. when everybody around me sees me as a person that got to college and i am amongst other people in college and they see me as the guy who barely got here, quote, unquote, it really hurts to try your hardest and have that grit
5:07 pm
when everybody is like, well, at least the perception is that, everybody is against you. >> host: so, george, you said that, you have messed up. what have you done to mess up? >> caller: my personal mistakes have been, you could call like being late or, like small things with assignments being, not fully done through. a lot of times the assumptions your parents are going to help you or you have some mentor but -- [inaudible] there is not many people who actually want a help a black kid. i don't mean that, race thing but, i have tried my hardest. i actually have worked with professors at the school, tried day in, day out. >> host: that was george in college park, maryland. >> guest: , george, first of all, don't dare give up, george, don't give up.
5:08 pm
i, this is sort of going to like veer a little bit away from what you mentioned but as a foreign correspond, george, i watched nelson mandela walk out of prison. he was in prison 2 -- 27 years and 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 like you and, you know, they're black, who want to help you. there are whites who want to help you. there are asians who want to help you. you know, the people who always had faith in me i look back and,
5:09 pm
they were always school teachers. you know, who listened to me, you know, you know, family members, you know, i've always had faith in me. have always dreamed as big as, as big as i have dreamed for myself, they have dreamed right alongside of me. you know, then it comes to a point where you have to reach down and find the best part of george to give to give to the world. i never once said a thought that i wouldn't, or that i should not make the basketball team. i knew no authors when i started writing books but doggone it, i
5:10 pm
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 in focused, you know, and then, you know, don't be afraid to ask somebody, you know. that's the story of my basketball life. i would always get cut but i would always ask for a second chance. a second chance is a beautiful thing because a lot of people see majesty in giving you a second chance and so don't be afraid to keep asking. so-and-so, keep the faith, george. >> host: how did you separate yourself from the dysfunction of your family family and the bright lights of mount vernon vernon avenue? >> guest: i think that the thing that rooted me in forging a, or
5:11 pm
carving a path for myself were the four years i spent in college. you're in 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 and you keep studying hard and there was a shadow of my grandfather who is a disciplinarian. he is a very focused, do this, don't do that, listen to me, don't do this, you know and so i had him in the shadows and i
5:12 pm
never wanted to do anything that would upset my grandfather. you know, and i i think also there were people who i knew intimately who went to prison, you know, and i knew i did not want to lose a day of my freedom i just didn't want to go to jail. i was too busy thinking of books and other things 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 mount vernon avenue or some nightclub or someplace but a lot of times a friday night, more often than night a friday night to me meant reading this magazine or reading that magazine or reading that book, you know, or doing things
5:13 pm
i thought would make me a brighter person, a smarter person. so studying and reading, i, i kind of knew and felt, if i was the, stay focused that something good and decent might come along because of my hard work. >> host: we've got about an hour 20 minutes left in this month's "in depth." our guest is wil haygood, author and journalist. every time we have a guest on "in depth" we ask him or her about their influences and the books they're reading, and here are many soft answers that wil haygood gave us. ♪
5:14 pm
5:15 pm
♪ >> host: we're back live with wil haygood on "in depth." we'll put numbers on the screen.
5:16 pm
in case you like to participate in our conversation on booktv. 748-8201 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. we'll flash up our twitter address if you want to send a tweet and our facebook page, and email address as well. so those are other ways that you can contact us if the phone lines are busy. we've mentioned him several times in black and white. i want to read a couple quotes from your book about sammy davis, jr. he loved white women. loved the sight of one on his black silk sheets. his american dream. and you go on to write, nixon needed sammy's aura, the white sammy and sammy welcomed nixon's power to sell his insecurities, the black sammy. >> guest: sammy davis, jr., was one of the more mesmerizing
5:17 pm
figures i think in the history of american entertainment. his, his mother left him behind. he was abandoned as a child. that haunted him forever. he went on the road with two vaudevillians, will masten and his father, sammy davis, sr. he was a precious child. he was a child prodigy. there is always a price to pay when you live in that world, and so, so sammy was not seen as a hand some figure when he became teenager in 15, 17, 18. and he was up in canada when he was 19 and he started getting a
5:18 pm
lot of attention from white women you know. 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 '60s, actually early '60s until he became friends with harry belafonte and sidney port at this a, who 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.
5:19 pm
it was like he had found something that had been missing from his life and that was culture, a people, a place. 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 '40s and '50s, he came out in the a beautiful way in the '60s. he went to selma. he was at the march on washington. and he gave money to dr. king. sammy was doing a play, golden boy, on broadway and he brought the house out sent all of the
5:20 pm
proceeds to dr. king and southern christian leadership conference and so that was a beautiful thing to do. and of course he sort of swerved again in the late '60s, early '70s when he, when he supported richard nixon as the very funny photograph of him, nixon in miami beach, giving a talk and sammy runs out and jumps up on his arm, in his arms. sammy had this, this overwhelming need to please everybody, and that night he wanted to please all the republicans in the arena. >> host: joe is on the line from shingle springs, california.
5:21 pm
hi, joe, you're on with author wil haygood. >> caller: i can't believe i'm on, thank you very much. i waited for two hours and i can't wait to talk to this gentleman. i have a good question i think. i'm a history teacher and here's 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 his legacy in history? >> host: what do you think, joe, before we hear from wil haygood? >> caller: that's a great question and being a history teacher, i think it was all three but i think his legacy was important to him. i think that being -- he was a teacher at the beginning of his career and maybe he thought,
5:22 pm
maybe i can help kids in their future if i, maybe that came back to him because that was his early history but i think all three. >> host: all right. joe, we'll hear from wil haygood. i want to read the quote to add in, on his book, showdown, on thurgood marshall. why was lbj willing to risk so much on thurgood marshall? where marshall had gone years earlier and altered the political landscape. >> guest: joe, thank you for that question and it's a very important question. it is rooted, joe, in lyndon johnson's upbringing. he was born poor. he saw poor americas cans in texas and poor blacks, especially when he was youth director during the roosevelt administration and he traveled
5:23 pm
around texas trying to find jobs for blacks who were living in these hard scrabble camps and he slept with some of the black families and there wasn't ma sy he had with and towards blacks. also, joe, a very important part of this question is this fact, america was becoming unglued. the country in 1964, 1965, was losing its soul. these riots, the discrimination, rebellion on the streets was because society was not fair. public housing projects were growing. you had the criminal justice system which was unfair.
5:24 pm
and so you had a real historical moment for this country and we were seeing it on tv with the dogs chasing the student marchers around chasing the children in selma and so thurgood marshall comes to the fore because he was always telling the country, you're not living up to the principles of the u.s. constitution. so 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 this moral cause. racial unity is a moral cause. it's a moral goal to have in your vision, and for the leader of the free world it looked bad
5:25 pm
to countries that we were mistreating a whole race of people and we had to fix that and it took politicians like republican everest dirksen out of illinois, lindh son johnson, bobby kennedy. it took the best and brightest minds that we had at the time to fix this racial quagmire 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 he have anti-discrimination legislation. , pouring money into communities that had been massively ignored for years. and so, yes, some of it was his
5:26 pm
passion, his upbringing but also a big part of it was that, you know, he had sworn his oath of office to keep the country safe and to have all of its citizens treated equitiably. >> host: did any of those southern senators vote for thurgood partial and what was the final vote in the party breakdown? >> guest: yes. there were 20 who did not, who lyndon johnson forced or you know, haranged to not vote, so poof, they vanished, went away but the, the important thing is that the final vote, 69-11 which sounds wide but the southern democrats were only a handful of votes away from causing a
5:27 pm
filibuster and so the white house got thurgood marshall on to the court in a very, very close battle. >> host: how did those 20 senators disappear? were they busy that day? >> guest: here is an example. lyndon johnson would make a phone call and to a senator, say, hey, senator, how are you doing? how's the wife? so that's good to know. i understand there is some people in your community who want to name that bridge that's being built there, want to name it after you. that is a great thing to have something named after you, senator, and my goodness me and ladybird would love to make a voice it ride across that bridge if that should happen but i'll tell you what now, i got
5:28 pm
thurgood marshall, i got to get him on to the court and i'm set again making this happen. the funny thing about bridges, they're built because the 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 done bragged to about this bridge in your name. it all would go up in smoke and i don't want that to happen and neither do you. and there is no cause for it to happen. so that was the lyndon johnson style. you know he would find a weak spot, he would find a sentimental spot, just like he did with associate justice tom clark, you know. he wanted tom clark to step aside so he would have an opening for thurgood marshall. >> host: by the way did he appoint ramsey clark as his
5:29 pm
attorney general? >> guest: yes, yes, yes. >> host: marilyn in washington, you've been very patient. you're on booktv with wil haygood. >> caller: good morning. i wanted to thank again c-span. i was not aware of mr. haygood until i started watching c-span a couple years ago and i find mr. haygood an enjoyable interview every time i hear him. and 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 davis wrote about himself which was rather long as i recall, i was a teenager, when i read it. at any rate when i look at sammy davis, i particularly like listening to his recordings from the '50s and '60s, that is some of the songs i enjoy and arrangements i enjoy but also, when i look, compared sammy to frank sinatra, for example, i
5:30 pm
didn't consider either one of those gentlemen extremely handsome but i did think that sammy davis, jr., was a triple threat. he was a better actor, he was a better dancer and he was a better singer. so i do feel had he not been african-american in that time era, he might have been the preeminent star and given the preeminent power that frank sinatra enjoyed in hollywood. i just wanted to hear some of mr. haygood's comments on sammy davis, jr., and thank you for writing. i'm looking forward to buying more of your books. >> host: wil haygood. >> guest: yes. i think frank sinatra was well aware of sammy davis, jr.'s, of his talent. he was at the a paramount theater in 1930s, when frank sinatra, jr., saw this kid,
5:31 pm
sammy davis, jr., on stage and he was bowled over by sammy's talent and i think, you know, we look back at the rat pack, and nobody in the rat pack could do what sammy did. now, frank who, who is one of my favorites all-time singers, was a singular american worldwide sensation. sammy did not have the opportunity, especially when it came to movies that frank sinatra had. i wish he had of, had the same opportunities. there were many opportunities, there were 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 who ran studios wanted sammy to play the
5:32 pm
lead role in i think that, i think that hurt sammy. there was something quite beautiful though late in sammy's life. he went on tour with frank sinatra and dean martin and sammy and, the marquee around the country would just say sammy, frank, dean, sold out. and sammy, sammy was the one who, when they went back for the curtain call, he was the one who would get the loudest applause and it was, it was really beautiful, very poignant and something that, that meant a lot to sammy. his road had been harder than dean martin's road and frank
5:33 pm
sinatra's road and i think that these audiences knew that, during that, sort of last tour that they made. >> host: wil haygood, when you see old videos of that rat pack on stage, singing, smoking, ring a dinging, making little mild racial jokes about sammy davis, jr., how important was that? 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, and so, it was, it was rare to see blacks on tv and in early 1960s and so sammy swallowed those racial,
5:34 pm
racial jokes. he swallowed them. i do believe that, that the friendships were genuine in that frank sinatra had a love of sammy davis, jr. he knew sammy's mother. he knew sammy's grandmother. he had been to sammy's house a lot. and like friends they sometimes got on each other's nerves but i think there was a real affection there and sammy also played into the racial jokes. he, you know, he was, he was younger than the rest of the guys and he had always been sir sir -- surrounded by older and more powerful men like his
5:35 pm
father and will masten and i think he took that in and his way to get even was to perform his tail off on stage. you know, broadway, nightclubs, tv specials, politics, tap dancing, he could play the drums. he was a great mimic. you know, he did jazz. you know, he did pop. before we came on the air you were singing candy man, quite well i must admit, too [laughter] and so sammy had multi, multi, multitalents. >> host: we don't talk about what which do offset here at c-span. renaldo in laredo, texas. thanks for holding. >> caller: thank you very much.
5:36 pm
wil, your a fantastic author. a year ago, the only vote in the supreme court she would change would be the one to let the florida voters have their recounts and if thurgood marshall had been right now on the supreme court in the year 2,000, he too would have voted to let the florida voters get their votes and recount and get the person that had 560,000 more votes win and become the president which is al gore. and there are articles that say that thurgood marshall would be very, very disappointed with the current african-american justice. what is your opinion? >> guest: i think that thurgood marshall, i'm sure he would have opinions about the justices on
5:37 pm
the court right now. some opinions he would agree with and others he wouldn't. the more conservative opinions as thurgood marshall would not agree with. he was about more freedom, more liberty, more justice. and so so those opinions that have appeared to tilt in the opposite direction, he would not like at all. >> host: he served under, in the burger court. was he in the rehnquist court? >> guest: yes. >> host: what kind of relationships did he have with the other justices, particularly, personal relationships with some of the conservative justices? >> guest: very warm, very cordial but he was always aware that he came from a completely
5:38 pm
different background than any of the other justices. he was very aware of that. and, you know, 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, family, tourists, would come to the supreme court and they would get on the elevator and thurgood marshall would be on the he will site tore, tall, black man, not wearing his robe and the family would turn to him and say, fifth floor please. and thurgood marshall would say, fifth floor, okay. and he would hit the button, and
5:39 pm
later they were walking into the chambers and into the court itself and they would see see the black man who they thought was a 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 of humor. >> host: neville in cleveland. go ahead, neville. >> caller: i'd like to mention that there were four african-americans about whom the author wrote and they had biographies written about them beforehand and i wonder, did mr. haygood find anything that was missing from those biographies that made him take
5:40 pm
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. >> host: thank you, neville. >> guest: oh, my goodness. great question. le me start first with the titles. showdown, i, the "showdown" book, i really grappled with that title for like three years. actually the first title, the working title was, confirmation. my editor, my editor peter gathers didn't like it and wanted to have something else as
5:41 pm
the title and i was in bed one night and i just said to myself, goodness, i have to get something, you know, to show the reader, you know that this was a real showdown. and i said to myself, showdown, that's it. "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 duke ellington, look at the duke ellington song book to see if there is anything that sticks out. i looked at one of duke ellington's titles, it said something to me, it was such sweet thunder. my editor said, that is the title. let me think about it. and he came back to me a day
5:42 pm
later, he said i think it will work but let's take off the such. so sweet thunder was born. in black and white, sammy davis, jr., he lived in two worlds, one world black, one world white and very simple, very direct title and i came up with that 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 the title. he thought that adam clayton powell was a real cool cat and thus "king of the cats." "the butler, a witness to history." that is sort of simple.
5:43 pm
it is right out there. "two on the river quote, stan gross felled, the photographer and and myself we were two people who took the long 42-day trip on the mississippi, that is two on the river. and family memoir, the hay goods of columbus -- haygoodsmy editor came up with the title. other books have been written. what did i bring to my books? i like to think something very different. you know, i always try to find a different window, a side door, attic door, a backdoor 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
5:44 pm
book, no one had written extensively about these confirmation hearings. so that was the angle. with sugar ray robinson, no one had written extensively about the intersection of culture and foul 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 of rings 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 masten and his father sammy davis, sr., so about the first 200 pages of that book are really about this trio, this old-fashioned vaudeville trio, not to name drop, but denzel washington had bought the rights
5:45 pm
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. and sammy, sr., and will masten. it never got made but, another director in hollywood now has the rights to that story and so fingers crossed something happens. so i wanted to bring the black world and the white world also to that story. the "the haygoods of columbus ,"
5:46 pm
the interesting part of that story was telling about the rise and fall of that street and what else was the other book? "two on the river quote, that was just a travel journey and, the adam clayton powell book, i really wanted to, you know, to delve deeply into his college career and the battle that happened on the hill when he was tossed out of congress. so i always tried to find an angle as well, just to add my own narrative dance to the, to the story. >> host: so the butlers, a movie, sweet thunder is getting ready to be made? >> guest: well, dived, the great
5:47 pm
actor from selma and the butler, has several movies coming out this year signed to play sugar ray robinson and he will be great. >> host: does it start filming at any point? has a script been written? >> guest: the screenwriter has just started. he just, he's writing as we sit here and talk, the screenwriter. and so. so that's a nice feeling. >> host: and has "king of the cats "been optioned. it was and it no longer is under option. so that's open. but the,dbe. >> host: what about "showdown"?
5:48 pm
>> guest: "showdown" has been option by pam williams. the creative team behind "the butler." they are working on that right now and, and the sammy davis, jr., book also has been optioned by hollywood, by one of my favorite, favorite directors. lee daniels. >> host: claretta from dayton, ohio, emails in, mr. haygood, what have you learned about the human condition writing your books? what has been the biggest surprise? >> guest: that, that people, with creative muscle will often stop at nothing. they don't look at the same
5:49 pm
barriers we look at. i i think about the people who i write about and often they are people who i am just in awe of. i know i don't have their gifts, in no way, shape or form. you know, but, if i study them long enough that maybe i can satisfy myself i know adam clayton powell now, i know thurgood marshall now, i know sammy davis, jr., now. that is what i can bring to it. i can bring, that is my muscle. that is what i can bring to the world. i'm in awe of their gifts. these people made america, they really are. if you look at america like a
5:50 pm
big spinning wheel, with spokes wheel, it spins over there, it spins over there, it spins over there, you will see sammy davis in one of those we wills. you will see adam powell in one of those wheels. you will see thurgood marshall in one of those wheels in that, the turning of america. you will see a butler in one of those wheels. what i tried to do as a writer is catch up to the turning of those wheels. i have tried to reverse it. a bit to write about it and to understand it and then i'll let the wheel keep spinning, you know, and think that maybe somebody else seeing that spinning wheel, or reading the book, that they'll understand why that wheel is spinning with sammy davis, jr., in the center of it. >> host: dorothy is calling in from harvest alabama.
5:51 pm
good afternoon, dorothy. >> caller: good afternoon, thank you, c-span and thank you, will, for the wonderful body of work you're presiding to a current generation and hopefully to a future generation. i was born in monroeville, alabama, where the harper lee lived and wrote to kill a "to kill a mockingbird.." i worked in 21 at all levels of education at governing board or state university system. my question is related to your work as a scholar at miami university of ohio, having lived and worked in ohio and our paths have crossed. it is good to see you on c-span today. i founded, as you know a non-profit, called the rosetta james foundation and last year i
5:52 pm
started a organization called the tennessee valley leadership diversity coloquialm. one of the eight topics we discussed is diversity in education. my question is related to your past year at miami university and and some of the most passionate conversations we're having of the eight topics in our leadership coloqialism the current state of racial disharmony in america and the lack of history not only in textbooks but the lack of conversations at the collegiate level or at any level of education and what impact do you
5:53 pm
plan to make, or how do you see us impacting the current generation of college graduates and future generations of college graduates? because it is works like yours that are educating people who in their mid to late '50s like me, about what really went on. we didn't get it in history books in k-12 nor in college. >> host: all right. i think we got the point, dorothy, thank you. wil haygood? >> guest: thank you, dorothy. that was a great question and very important and significant question. i'm reminded of the state of texas textbook controversy when they wanted to refer to slaves as, quote, workers of course
5:54 pm
that was voted down but the fact that something like that would be tabled is astonishing. i think that universities and colleges across this country need more diversity, no doubt about it. and i think that it is incumbent on university presidents and department chairman to make that happen. i think that there are a lot of writers and artist who is are not of the traditional background but have done a lot of things. i think those artists should be
5:55 pm
brought into the academic community. i think it's more enjoyable for the students to see somebody not from traditional academic background, such as myself. i have a b.a. degree but i have seven books and it, you know, a whole lot of writing behind me and so, think of people that run the university are the same as people who run corporations in this country. i think if they if they think outside of the box we would all be better off for it. there was a lot of chatter about a month ago that "the new york times," portrait of 500 most powerful people in this country
5:56 pm
and everybody was talking about talking about 97% of those photographs were whites and you know, we have to. that we have to attack that to make america the best nation it can be. we have a lot of gifted people from all races in this country we should not fear anybody's race but we should embrace it. >> host: copies of showdown to our local thurgood mash sal middle school. rene in hilton head island, south carolina. hi, rene. >> caller: hi. my question is, to wil haygood, i first want to say, i just admire you very much and you
5:57 pm
wrote about some phenomenal small black men that i grew up admiring. my question to you is this, i know that you said your mom and your grandmother are inspirations in your life and you did write about black men but there are strong phenomenal black women that donated to our history in the united states. i'm just wondering do you plan in the future, would you ever write about a strong black woman like haymer, may i can't angelou or shirley chisholm. as far as entertainment, lena horne or diane carroll. i would like to know if you ever considered writing about some of these phenomenal strong black women. >> host: thank you, rene. >> guest: thank you, rene.
5:58 pm
i'm not trying to run from that question but those are phenomenal historical figures that you have mentioned but every time i get it in my mind that i write about this or that woman, i walk into a bookstore and somebody already beaten me to the punch. i kid you not. that if i was to tell you somebody circulating in my mind right now, i have no doubt that somebody would run out there, it could be a 10th grader, would run out there and write the book about this lady figure before i would, but, there is,
5:59 pm
in all my books there is a lot of attention paid to the women in these men's lives and even in "sweet thunder" there is whole chapter about the sepia woman in his time in the 1940s. i write about lena horne and eartha kitt and others. it's a great point but people keep beating me to the punch. i will have to look harder and find somebody who was almost completely unknown at least from a book writing stance and i will have to claim that person's and hop to it. thank you, a good question. >> host: wil haygood, is somebody circling around in your
6:00 pm
mind for your next book? >> guest: yes, unfortunately it is not a biography per se. it's, 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 i'm at work on it right now. so i'm excited! >> host: jonathan tweets that hopefully "the butler" will inspire more film-makers look into 1930s and 1950s in black life. we haven't spoken much about sugar ray robinson. this is from "sweet thunder." had chosen economic justice over 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
6:01 pm
>> guest: yes, sugar ray robinson was a difficult figure. he was a loaner. didn't really have a lot of friends. he was suspicious of a lot of people. i think that the fight game, with the whole lot of strange characters did that to him. he did not go to the march on washington. where i could put his power and where he did was his concern for children. . . >>
6:02 pm
>> he wasn't very public with his endorsements with certain politicians he did like kennedy and he wanted kennedy to be in the white house but. >> we have a half-hour left with our guest this month. >> caller: hello i really like the program but my question is going back to justice marshall after the confirmation is anti-was confirmed by am worried -- wondering about the transition into the supreme court were any of those justices that had been there forever hopeful? , no wind was a member of the kkk and became one of the most liberal justices in
6:03 pm
douglas. did anybody mentored him and what was that like with the transition in the apprenticeship as a justice of the supreme court? >> yes. she was very smooth actually she gave him the oath of office hugo black had done a lot to atone for his time in the kkk and i think that those justices sent thurgood marshall made history but that was judged by how well they accepted thurgood marshall into the fold. marshall was a great
6:04 pm
storyteller and if he sensed of quickness from any of the justices he would go into the gift of storytelling and that always put everybody at ease but he was unabashedly for the little person or the little man or for the poor person or the disabled he let that be known in his dissent when he felt the court was not paying attention to those who were wrong to in society he had a
6:05 pm
sharp pen and he would wield it. thank you for your question. >>host: what inspired you to go from minnesota down the mississippi river? >> i was at "the boston globe" and a new to the staff and a photographer there a great photographer he is still there he has won a couple of pulitzer prizes and every other augur that photographers get in the newspaper business it was the 150th anniversary of mark twain birth and they
6:06 pm
wanted to do something to honor that. they came up with the idea to take a trip down the mississippi river and the editor at that time asked him is there any writer in the newsroom you would like to go with? and he said there is a new guy i like the way she writes cfe we can get him. he but have thought something like this out just like a fox den into paying a slave it is like that there was that historical reality
6:07 pm
going on in the fictional book so it sounded like an interesting and fascinating idea i was happy to get this type of prayer assignment. bitterly to derive from the headwaters from minnesota down to the gulf of mexico and he went up to the headwaters and walked across and then we traveled by road one of us came up with the ada to hover raft built it was waiting on us when we got to hannibal in the home
6:08 pm
town we got on the raft and labor on that for about nine days then we had a vicious thunderstorm by that time we were ready to kill each other in any way you are floating on a raft with a big swells watching us over it is scary at night and lightning i am in no sense a iran and neither was he and he almost fell at of the raft one day and at the last minute we taught -- tied the ropes to each other it was crazy so they saw us from
6:09 pm
land they thought one of those people doing out there? they called the fire department we look up the there are three fire trucks on this side of the river break waiting on this so we got off of that cutback in the car and were in some southern town and we saw the mississippi queen boat anchor that takes people up and down the mississippi river so we talked our way on to that to journalists trying to get down the river we left the car and hopped on the steamboat then we went further south than we got a little bow in the war
6:10 pm
lynn's and motored out to the gulf of mexico that was the end of this story rewrote that up called 42 days of the mississippi and it came out i wrote the story i am sitting in "the boston globe" in a cave on a monday afternoon and i get a call from the "atlantic monthly" press that was mark twain's publisher it was the editor and he said i just read your story dash in new york i read about your trip do you have enough for a book? i have lived so many years with the dream to have an
6:11 pm
opportunity somehow some way to write a book. and in that magical phone call came 1986. but the end of a we decided to write a book and that is our happened the great scary beautiful frightening wonderful unforgettable trip with my good friend. >>host: the next call is from maryland please go ahead. >> caller: i am a middle-aged woman who campaigned for president obama because i wanted change and that was so
6:12 pm
horrified by the previous administration and the one caller stowe my thunder and asked if you had best surprise are restored to ask if you were surprised by the racism with obama to prophesy had no idea that still existed in the country even among my friends and family in i am from baltimore i was very saddened to say what happened one year ago following freddie gray's death and i listen to people call of the newscast by the black people who are destroying their own neighborhood and i realized is because they don't feel like it is their neighborhood. that area in baltimore is
6:13 pm
right around the corner from tourist destinations but not a healthy community isn't i think and neighborhood that they feel a part of and it is hard to know personally like me how to help or to move things in a positive direction so for you surprised by the racism that has come mouse's the president has taken office and what a regular person can do? >> thanks for your very thoughtful question and for food you are. when you do a study history as long as i have i was not
6:14 pm
surprised by what had happened but the unique part of that is the people that refuted the negativity the racial harmony that it took to break down this wall of this country to have an african-american family enter the white house not decimate or butler but as president and first lady of the united states the
6:15 pm
country has a legacy of slavery and to know how epic that moment i was a little surprised from what we witnessed because that was something that said something to the rest of the world to a small place in kenya and a small place in an issue lanka and in the slums of london were to a small little girl in ireland to is losing hope for
6:16 pm
whatever reasons so the largeness of that moment i think is unparalleled in this country with that symbolism and continues to be huge budget is the biggest gain is we haven't figured out how to stop it the answer is simply and what we as individuals to in real will keep on doing with books and literature and music to explain the story
6:17 pm
of american history despite setbacks we keep moving forward and that is the amazing thing in this country some days it seems hard to do so but like the congressman from new york he said don't get weary. >>host: people were interested to reading your rating about being held captive in somalia or traveling with david duke was the best way for them to do that? >> i wrote those two stories when i was at "the boston
6:18 pm
globe" covering the kkk and david duke run for the u.s. senate so went down to louisiana and i was at a rally with him oddly enough he had to get to another town across the seat and his driver had not shown up i said i am free i will drive you. and he looked at me like he was unsure but he had to get to the place where he had to go so there we were. me and david duke riding across the state of louisiana to and that made for a great story goodness gracious.
6:19 pm
i guess you can get these stories of mine in "the boston globe" archives but in somalia was a correspondent covering the civil war i was there with the photographer not that i wanted to be taken hostage i did everything i could to make sure i was going into a place nobody was looking for a man wanted to getting in and get out but one of that aid workers in kenya, there was the village that was already attacked two months ago so the rebels will not circle back so you are safe. go there and do your story we have a transport plane
6:20 pm
preparing reach and corn in today's you can pop on a ride back but as luck would have had on the first night rebels came out of nowhere and attacked the village and it was a scary situation but we got out there was a lot of strategic moves made and a ransom paid for us the u.s. was not involved in was the fourth -- foreign governments they let that be known that they cared about us to get us out so they found to south african pilots who flew a plane into the desert to get us out and a small plane for the
6:21 pm
pakistan a general he will not be held there in the middle of nowhere so when we went up in the air to be dehydrated and exhausted iraq in the air for about 10 minutes than the plane started to land and i was getting worried do not land. gets out of here but we got off the playing but the troops had surrounded the plane and said you are safe now. is sounds like something of a movie but a really happened. >>host: everybody listening wants to ask what did you and david duke talk
6:22 pm
about? >>guest: politics and much like i try to do with the senators with the showdown in the thurgood marshall book i tried to understand his psyche to say it is just me and you how did you get to be who you are especiallespeciall why it sounds outlandish and dangerous and they are he would say a lot of it came
6:23 pm
from how i was brought up and things happen to you in your childhood and those because of in stilled in new his thinking was named every stereotypes about blacks driving big cadillacs and all that lunacy and he believed it that was a part of his upbringing and things that people said to him and started making the schedules
6:24 pm
it was a little surreal. >> as a cardboard figure talking to anyone on one very thoughtful. as to be the unabashedly says -- racist. and very cold in his mind particulates with what he was trying to express the same to you think that this is an interesting moment for him and asking him these
6:25 pm
questions and felt with former friends that he lost he would have loved to of have these things in a call for setting it if you would pull over to a tower and there was a crowd all white of course, that he would have started pondering again all of his outrageous dogma. it would have gotten back and continued to have a conversation that we were having.
6:26 pm
>>host: elections in young harris georgia you are the last caller today. >> caller: i read your book right now into joining a very much. going up in the segregationist south and remembers marshall nomination hearing and strom thurmond especially, i just want to ask you now if we have an african-american president who is appointing who is getting the same kind of slack but in a different way.
6:27 pm
what do think about that? >> thanks for your question. i take -- i think that the u.s. senate has decided not to schedule hearings for judge garland. i feet there are shirking their constitutional duties. i was in chicago last week for a lunch and the judges took me out for a lunch and i was sitting next to a judge and he said i would like you to sign a book for a friend of mine. i said great. who is it?
6:28 pm
he started to sputter the name. it was obama and i said to president obama, we are all proud of your presidency and i know that thurgood marshall would be proud also sincerely yours wil haygood. >>host: that will bring our three hours to a close. you can contact sam at miami university in ohio. >>guest: and honor to be here.
6:29 pm
[inaudible conversations] if good afternoon. we would like to get started there from george washington in university and the co-chair of the history seminar along with my colleague history and public policy programming at the wilson center. as many of you know, is a joint project of the wilson center in the historical association national history center that we have been going for a good number of years now.
6:30 pm
. . this visualworks and the like. so their labor is -- [applause] indispensable to our success , as is the support of a number of individuals and institutions, the story of foreign relations has generously underwritten the seminar for a number of years now, as has the george washington university history department and a number of individual donors. their support is crucial for this programming. feel free programming. feel free to join their ranks should you see fit. after our session today they're will be a reception outside of his doors.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on