tv Book Discussion on Choosing the Hero CSPAN August 6, 2016 4:00pm-4:46pm EDT
i feel blessed in a sport that named team players. i have never been about making my $250 million, it is about remaking that money in 1993 so you can find a different in the city of chicago. bothers me the president is from here and this is happening. no way should we be in the condition we are in with the number of championships, the amount of money we make and entertainers and athletes from here. >> host: what is unite? >> guest: when i was in milwaukee, in 1989, the report comes on with young comrades, looks like we are living in a war zone. in the paper i felt like we need
an organization but first we have to see what is happening. what is happening is violence. when you are sick, you head the operation. the uniting point is saving the youth. framing an organization, to be a part of it and utilize our economic input to help existing organizations and that is the basis of it. >> host: you write in your book that a lot of athletes have charities organizations because your tax lawyers do. >> guest: it is cool to give out some turkeys. what are we doing? what are we doing on the 9-5
basis? the way the world is right now if we are not on this every day i got to worry about my children. my baby boy is 4 years old and from that standpoint i know there is work to do and the work that has to be done, if you are not courageous, you are not willing to stand on the principles that need to be standing on right now, that generation, like right now, don't care about life, they have no hope, their mindset is got some nice gear, i will reject you. how does that happen? why does that mentality permeate? we can do something about that. >> that is a preview with former nba player craig hodges.
i am bradley graham of politics and prose with my wife and on behalf of the entire staff thank you for coming out on this afternoon. a few quick administrative notes, now is time to turn off cell phones, when we get to the q and a part of the session, we are recording this for our youtube channel and c-span booktv is here, if you have a question, step up to the microphone here so it can be recorded and heard by everybody else in the audience. at the end normally people who have been to our events before we ask you to fold up your chairs, don't do that today because we have another event coming up. it is not often that we have a head of state at politics and
prose. it is pretty rare. at the moment it is still pretty rare because she is not with us yet. but she is on her way with an escort. she should be here shortly and we thought we should just get underway but we will feel very privileged when she is here to welcoming president ellen johnson sirleaf of liberia. it was a decade ago president sirleaf became the first woman in modern african history to be elected head of state and is widely credited with measuring her country into a stable piece after years of brutal civil war, educated in the united states including masters degree from harvard, president sirleaf was in and out of her native country several times earlier in her career as a result of the political upheaval there. she was minister of finance --
finance in 1980. within a few months she went into exile and what turned out to be over the years a series of international banking for development positions with world bank, citibank, hsbc and united nations, returning to liberia she ran for a senate seat but after speaking out against the military regime she landed in jail, back once more a decade later she ran unsuccessfully under warlord charles taylor and again went into exile with transition to democracy in the general election in 2005, she ran a second time for president and won in a runoff. taking charge of a nation shattered by years of civil strife, grappling with burdens of widespread poverty. she was reelected in 2011, the same year she shared the nobel
peace prize with two other courageous women are recognized for their, quote, nonviolent struggle, the safety of women and women's rights to full participation and peacebuilding. her story is told in a new book, choosing -- "choosing the hero: my improbably journey and the rise of africa's first woman president" who was a featured guest this afternoon, k. riva levinson is actually here at the moment. as head of the national communications and government relations firm k. riva levinson represents liberian interests and served as long time advisor to president sirleaf. her career as a strategist on international issues began three decades ago after she talked her way into a job at a political public relations firm founded by paul manafor to. at that initial interview she told maniffort there is no place in the world she wouldn't go,
she has been globetrotting ever since, she has been involved in a number of complex projects but much of her work has focused on africa. she weaves her story together with president sirleaf and international friendship and achievements. by the way i would like to note, here today is the former president of malawi. [applause] >> and liberia's ambassador to the united states. and now please join me in welcoming k. riva levinson. [applause] smack >> good afternoon, thank you for
being here. madam president, 5 to 10 minutes out, we have to be a bit flexible. i will start and stop and we will move that way. an honor to be here introduced by bradley graham and eventually alongside madam president, with my american family and my liberian family and in the company of so many friends and colleagues i have worked with over two decades in support of the people of liberia and ellen johnson sirleaf. special thanks to my husband jeff and my daughter kylie and my son andrew. you guys are everything to me and to my work family and the remarkable team brought my book to life. there are so many reasons i wanted to write this book but here today for the sake of time
as we are running 30 minutes late i want to focus on the first one. as brad said, i spent three decades traveling the world to its most inhospitable places, in somalia, angola, iraq and liberia. these are the front lines of history and i bore witness. many of the people i have come to know did not live to fight another day. i needed to make sense of it all. how would my work be judged and by whom? this helps make sense of it all. i wanted the world to know ellen johnson sirleaf who hopefully you will know soon, not as madam president or as the first woman elected to lead an african
nation, president or nobel laureate but the person underneath all of those titles, underneath those accolades. to meet the grandmother, to meet the mom, the sister, the and, the friend, the woman i came to work with in february 1997 when everything was lined up against her. her own countrymen come of the african regional players, the international community and the us government was against her as well. even her own family who will be coming in with her including her grandchildren had hoped she would relent because rightfully, they feared for her safety but she was seized with her mission in life. her calling, to bring peace to her country, liberia, she was willing to fight no matter the cost, no matter the consequence.
i hoped madam was going to be here. this woman is not perfect. she makes mistakes, has regrets but has been utterly consistent her whole life. it has always been the well-being of the liberian people she desired most, their future and their promise that she sought to advance. i met ellen johnson sirleaf when she was determined to return home from exile, to her native liberia to challenge the rules of warlords, she was looking for someone to fight for her in washington dc. i met ellen at a time i doubt almost everything about my life choices and brad shared with you how i started with the consulting firm in 1985, it is ellen's faith in me the restored
my belief in myself. final of three i am going to share, i wanted to demystify washington dc, to show how things really get done, to demonstrate the importance of american leadership in the world and what happens when we get it right. for much of liberia's post conflict success which is. >> the ambassador went back. her motorcade is here. should i wait? she is here? okay. i am going to wait. no? i am going to wait? who has read the book?
anyone want to summarize it? i am going to do a reading now, i wanted to make you cry. i will do a reading from the book, it is the close of the second chapter and ask madam president to come up. the year is 1996 and i just met madam president for the first time, she was serving as head of the un vp for africa, she sat over the entire program and budget for the african continent and i just met her and these are my thoughts. how did i get here, trying to sell to ellen johnson sirleaf on that summer afternoon in new york city, 1996, have the overwhelming sense of being at a personal crossroads. it is time to stop and examine
what i am doing and why. i need to put everything on the table and take a brutally honest look at my life. what difference had i really made? what lasting good had i done? what would omar say? i wish with all my heart she was, which he think i was adrift? would she reassure me this is life's journey and i'm accumulating experiences and lessons that will be applied with meaning one day? would she think my trial so trivial given the decisions she had to grapple with in her lifetime coming from berlin. i know to be right and good. my husband jeff, my infant daughter kylie, my unshakable belief that there are people in the world dedicated to doing others and i want to be one of them and a new thought just
beginning to take heart and grow. she will change the world. i don't know how she will do it or what it will entail but i know i want to help her, come along in that journey and to work with ellen johnson sirleaf. [applause] >> we are going to have you take seats here for questions. >> good afternoon to all.
when k. riva levinson told me she was going to write a book, my first reaction was why do you want to do that q there is so much to be told, and i want to be able to share some of these experiences with the world. all right? go to it. and then i got the first draft out of courtesy. and then i call k. riva levinson and say you sure you want to write a book? and are you sure you want to say the things you are saying? are you sure you want to disclose confidences? but she said this is my story
and in a way this is your story. and besides, lots of things in this road but i traveled that people ought to know, the good side, the bad side, the trails one gets from following development work and the agony that one faces from time to time when you run into obstacles. and so she did a little tweaking here and there, and the book is a wonderful book. it tells a story of k. riva levinson. some of the daring things she did, story of courage, the courage to go into uncharted
waters and to be able to come out of it and succeed and have your goal accomplished. somewhere along the way because of her commitment to work with me it tells my story in a way. and that too has the hills and valleys, the good times and the bad times, a long road. let me say quite a few people in this room can write similarly. i can see many of them in the room that have shared those difficult days and good days leading us to where we are.
i think one has to give a lot of credit to k. riva levinson in the midst of everything she was doing, although the difficult part was over and she could tell a story that ended in success that would mind taking on a task of joining others to rebuild my country but still she continued doing that, to be a part of what we are trying to do, to reconstruct our country, to rebuild something that has been badly destroyed and she has always been there with us. sometimes i think k. riva levinson knows the country as well as i do because she is always probing and finding out and questioning and talking and
sharing her own ideas. she is truly a part of liberia, renewal and what she has contributed, the support she has given me, to achieve what we have. to all of you who are here to be able to share in this, you ought to read the book. that is the end game, right? the end game is to buy a copy of the book and read it. i hope everyone will participate in that end game because the effort is not only to write the book but to share it and have people read it and maybe after
reading it, you might want to write your own experiences, could be just as interesting or captivating, or you could be encouraged to start a journey of your own identifying somewhere along the road something you want to achieve and pursue that, leading, to share your experiences after you reached the goal after you set up to achieve. i could recognize quite a few people in this room. i know joyce is working, aren't you? okay. we are waiting for that one too. i know that so many others here
have been part of that and i want to say to those who contributed to what we achieved in liberia, because you have been here, you have been able if not directly, indirectly through the organizations you are part of, through the support that comes through your own government, through the universities that we had an opportunity to speak to, to work with them, all of that has made our story the success story that it is so i want to thank you for being here and for being a part of it, the second part of the
take the first question, madame president was not here for my opening, i want to take the liberty of reading a paragraph from the afterword of my book which helps people understand what the meaning of the title is. it is a single paragraph. working with ellen has taught me to follow my heart and to not fear being misunderstood. i have come to see that certainty is a luxury and destiny a journey that reveals itself with time. it is easy to stray off course, to doubt and to lose faith, see compromise as surrender, to feel judged, feel isolated, even abandoned, the belief that things will be better. i come to appreciate we need people to guide us, those we
admire, those we believe in, the heroes the we choose. [applause] >> questions, madame president. >> madame president, k. riva levinson, it is my privilege to be here. i read the book before it was even printed. i went through, line by line, let me congratulate you for writing this book. second, may i be allowed to say i was amazed how the two of you
found one another and how you supported the president throughout her journey. i know how critical it is for you to have someone you can call anytime of the day or night and especially if that person is here in america, i want to thank you, and thank madame president for allowing her to let us see through your journey but the question i have is take us through iraq. what took you to iraq? you are not well and you ask yourself what am i doing here? take us through that. one chapter i read again and again and trying to understand
how you left your husband behind in children and found yourself on the streets in iraq. >> thank you. i think i will take that question. madame president, thank you. also thank you for the inspiration you provided. madame president read my book and she was in london and sends me a text, somalia, i don't get it, i was laughing the whole time, why is this relevant? iraq, she didn't get that one either but it is part of my story so it is part of madame president's story through my eyes but a couple friends from iraq including francis brooke who came through as well. long story short, i was a state department contractor to the
iraqi national congress, hired by madeleine albright in 1999 and i thought it would be an easy assignment. i go back and forth. the iraqis were in exile in london writing press releases talking about saddam's crimes and then 9/11 happened and george bush happened and the i in c went into baghdad and i felt that was my place, they need to go and set up there operations. one of the most fun and ridiculous chapters of my book, just when you think we are going to stay on the african continent my convoy in baghdad from kuwait city, it is pretty harrowing and at one point our vehicle is stoned, those who recall iraqi history, it was where private first class jessica lynch was kidnapped and raped.
at that time i was completely second guessing my life and i was holding a card from my son, andrew, and it said mom, i love you, because you take such good care of me. i am thinking i am not going to be able to do that anymore. i went there because i felt it was my obligation to help the inc set up an operation and despite all the craziness, once i got there after 13 hours it was a remarkable period in history and that chapter defines that and closed the meeting with the famous quote, which is he quotes winston churchill, he passed last year, he says americans -- i don't remember it, americans, what is it again?
something like we will eventually do the right thing after trying every other poor option. that was iraq. in liberia -- questions please? >> i am a college student in the washington dc area. "choosing the hero: my improbably journey and the rise of africa's first woman president" is one of the most meaningful books i have read, i mean that with great sincerity. my question is as follows. what do you think is particularly important for future generations to understand and believe regarding the main messages of the book and why? >> do you want to take that?
go ahead. >> you go ahead. >> be what you want to be, set your course, stick with it. do not be distracted by whatever you face, stay on course. i think that is the best message. it will take courage, it will take commitment. if you stay on course you will get where you want to be. [applause] >> i want to remind people one of madame president's most quotable quotes is if your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough. that is one of the quotes and i think i would second that, just
to persevere and even when you think everything is as bad as it can get, know that there is always an opportunity to reach out and step back up. there you go. >> my name is rachel and i spent the last we 9 years living in uganda and kenya working with journalists. the reason i wanted to come here today is the importance of female role models particularly for young african women, nexus of culture and tradition and so many things that keep them from aspiring to reach this level. i would love to have you speak to the need for perhaps more mentoring, networks, whatever it will take to have a young african female in our lifetime
and even children's lifetime to aspire to be in a position of utility. >> i can't say enough for networking. networking defined as reaching out, getting to know others, understanding their culture, their tradition. identifying common cause and working together. in this room i will dare point out a few people who have done this so successfully in my own life story. debbie is one of them. debbie is one of them. joyce is one of them. so many of them have been part of this and what they have done is to be able to bring together young people and talk about a
world of people having shared values, a world of being able to work together in unity. so i will say to all the young black women, college women, don't just stay where you are, reach out, maybe be a little courageous like k. riva levinson, do something in some other place, it may be sacrificial to do it, take a lot on your part. in uganda and kenya, that is great experience, i wish you would take that experience and share it with people in alabama,
florida, places where perhaps you will not be able to identify where uganda is or where kenya is and if you can inspire, some of the things you have done, and share your experience, you will find that will be reaching for them. >> a great honor to be here. if both of you have a different view in terms of the future, if you have the opportunity to be with the new president, what advice would you give them? passing president bush who did a great job with millennium challenge, i cannot go through the many programs president obama had with power africa, assistance during the health
challenge in liberia but what advice would you give the new president as far as what should be his legacy? what advice would you give my presidential choice in terms of what she will do? [applause] >> i have a two word answer, be presidential. [applause] >> i have nothing to add. >> good evening, madame president and k. riva levinson. my name is jermaine done, i ask
a question about current politics in liberia. i would like to ask adam president for her comments on recent bribery allegations with respect to senior people in the legislature and other officials. and being reported by global witness and well-known international organizations. >> there is nothing more to what you said. there is a report from an international ngo. that report makes certain allegations as you rightly said.
and they have determined or are some people to be indicted so they can defend themselves. and being able to follow the rule of law they had an opportunity, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. >> we have time for one more question, how appropriate, david smith of the guardian. >> the us politics, and the charity is the charity in africa and do you have advice for hillary clinton trying to become the first female president in
the us. >> on the right road. i don't think anyone aspiring to be president of the united states needs any particular advice. they had to respond to a different constituency, their commonalities, the objective of the leadership particularly as we live in a global village these days. the united states is not an island under itself. the changing global world is very inclusive. i would not be the one to give
advice as a youth. >> i have been asked that question by someone else, i want to return to my afterword, and the advice you gave to me which was follow your heart and do not fear being misunderstood and that is the way i answered that question. i think we are done. [applause] >> booktv is live on sunday with legal analyst and author jeffrey toobin. on our weekly awfully interboro program afterwards, kimberly strasser weighs in on tactics used by the left to disrupt the
political process. >> that is a few programs you will see this weekend on booktv. booktv.org, 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors, television for serious readers. >> welcome to the 32nd annual chicago tribune lit fast. i want to give a special thank you to all our sponsors, the theme is what is your story?