tv 2016 Mississippi Book Festival CSPAN August 21, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT
>> how many of you remember studying world war i in your u.s. history course? that is more than i thought. my course, we never got to world war i because we spent so much time of the american revolution and civil war. i know that i got to world war i when i set the w because i saw my textbooks and i took it out for this and i saw that i underlined things. people i talk to consider world war i to be the forgotten war. we just do not talk about it. we do not study it. the world that changed with world war i. we became a recognized world leader after world war i. even though these individuals and their individual stories and letters, these were farm fit boys for the most part. people who had never left
mississippi or their hometown in many instances. they were going overseas to fight for a cause. they were really behind it of the most part all of the ones that i found were willing to go and serve and in some cases people wonder why we had not been there before. i had one letter from an individual who fought with the canadian expeditionary forces. he went early went early because he thought it was a just cause. we always read about people saying, what if the south had won the civil war? what my question is, what if we had not entered that war? the world would be a vastly different place. as for its relevance today i would not have know this if i'd not been researching this book, again i was not aware of the consequences. all of this trouble in the middle east that we are having right now, so so many of those
countries involved, involved after world war i. promises were made after world war i and we do not look up to them. conflict is still resulting today because of that. so if it is any more relevant i do not know how you could be more relevant to the wars we are fighting right now. go back and read the result of world war i and you will some promises were made and were not kept, but also because world war i technological advances were made, military advances, tanks, artillery, the bad things, but the field of psychology and psychiatry, treating shellshocked victims, the plastic surgeon feel came into a great boon after all of these individuals faced these terrible injuries. so the world changed and we made a difference but i do not think we appreciated the fact that these men and women served. >> for james weaseling for many
ways he was the public face of a way of life which i hope, for which i hope that time has passed. on the other hand, if you look at eastland you can explore a man of the contradictions. a man who did work across party lines easily with members of both parties. he literally did see the supporting of people vastly different philosophies and in his own party seem to support members of the other party we worked with rather strongly, whether closely and measures which did not affect civil rights. maybe that is something that needs to come back into our politics. we see in air of that act, all was was probably complained one party more than another or what
candidate more than another. i think most everybody is pretty guilty of it these days unfortunately. i think that should come back. there is also one other think that if you look at this book you are going to find a number of changes in james eastland attitude is going to develop between his 40s and 70s. during the time and many of them are produced by something he opposed rather strongly called the bony rights act of 1965. it may be one that you can trace his relationship with a very different man named aaron henry. aaron henry -- was head of the naacp and one of the first black legislators in the state of mississippi. these guys are very close friends. by 1978 the aaron henry literally was in the back office
when eastland announced his retirement. maybe aaron henry may have recognized that henry put his power to work for the black community as he never had been before. they had developed a close relationship eastland had hired named ed cole who was an african-american who ran charles evers campaign for governor in 1971. he had became friends with a man many of us remember named walter payton, one of the better running mates i've ever seen. by 1985, james eastland was dying. one of the last thing he did was send a $500 check to the state naacp in the name of aaron henry who he said had made it possible for him to see the other side. so here it is the change that develops. i hope the change in that sense continues to develop in our
society. >> thank you. has anything the panel have said so far prompted any questions? if so please feel free to step right up. >> i do not know if this man is leaving her coming to the podium. laughmac. he's leaving. okay if you do have a question feel free to step up. this lady has a question. >> i did not plan on me being the only want to ask a question. >> hopefully you won't be. >> james eastland was a skilled politician who probably love his wife, his family, and his dog but he was also a segregationist and a racist. why is it that southerners, many many southerners have so much difficulty accepting his role on the role of many southern
politicians and basically destroy the lives of so many generations of black people? there was value in those lives. as good as eastland were stennis, whoever was, they still destroyed people's lives through racism, oppression, and terrorism. why is that. why is that so hard for many southerners to accept? >> that is a good question. if you look at what james eastland red, there is a great book on man named his hero by the name of jason moore and it was something that jim eastland was born into. there is 11 that we follow the lynching of a man named james o eastland who is
the brother of james eastland's father. but after that 11 people died. as a result of the first to james o being killed. as for southerners accepting the, i think people reflect their constituencies. james eastland reflected the white constituency. he reflected the people who elected him, as far as white people today have not learned, eastland was learning. some of the others did learn by the 70s and 80s if they did not learn it for psychological reasons they certainly learned of for political reasons. especially if you're a democrat you need to recognize that the democratic party is no longer a monolithic white agency. you're going to need african-american votes to get reelected. as far southerners and southern
whites not accepting it, i think that is something that most of the folks that i've run across share those prejudices in a people my age or older. a lot of times i guess the case was not if you're looking at in the case of james eastland in 1961 and he did kind of deal for the freedom writers to be protected, many were still kept in jail but that was the same with bobby kennedy. but southerners do not, what i think is still a learning process, it is still learning process it may take another hundred years, god help us if it does. >> we do not have that much time, i hope not. >> it is said to say, you are right. >> okay.
thank you for the question. did you have a questions or question okay. >> most of these will be for lee. did you ever find that picture and perhaps included in your book of aaron henry hugging and kissing senator eastland? >> i did not see that picture. i guess aaron henry came down here in 1978 to old miss and ted kennedy was also there and it would the great story is that he kissed, that aaron henry kissed jim eastland. there are two things i want to see, one is that picture of aaron henry kissing jim eastland and eastland's reaction when you
saw the reaction of henry kissing. but no, i no, i did not see it. >> the previous panel in here and i apologize for not remembering the nice lady's name, she made a very compelling and strong argument that senator stennis was actually more damaging to the african-american people then eastland was. i wondered if you had any comparison you would want to make specifically as to silva rights between eastland and stennis? >> they both voted a straight segregation allis line. they voted together, 97% they voted together and talked about not only how they're going to vote but what arguments they're going to use to defend their votes. in on the rare occasion if they disagree they would let each other know why they were going to disagree. this was a very strong working relationship although they were different as night and day. some say that stennis came
around earlier and obviously the previous panelist disagrees. >> over a period of time, according to her and it was very convincing, stennis was was more damaging maybe because he was more subtle and did it in the back room more than in the open committee or senate hearing. it was very interesting. it was was the best book on stennis? >> there has just been a couple. there is a book on stennis and vietnam, again that is not one i consulted much and there is a new one which was a very celebratory biography. i do not think there has been a full, complete balanced biography of john stennis. again i would encourage people, here's a great man to study. >> thank you, sir.
>> siege jackson, we know jackson's nickname and in the destruction, i assume your book goes into that. i would like to know what buildings, i know we have the old capital, the governor's mansion and's mansion and home behind here that apparently survived, or did they? were they destroyed it had to be rebuilt? what lived after that siege of jackson? >> absolutely. i have to confess that i went into looking into this book with the assumption as i had, as i regret to say told many people brought the years that jackson had not been destroyed to as great of an extent as had been advertised by that nickname. when i got into the research i realized that it had been. so i had to back up and take another look at it. my conclusion is, i hope i've
made the case, is that both armies contributed to the destruction of jackson. not only during the july siege but also during the may battle of jackson. of course to the largest extent, the damage was done by the union army. jackson rebuilt, fairly quickly, and based on newspaper ads, or builders coming back and comparing the city directories. i hadn't opportunity to to see that change to take place after the war. what has tripped people up through the years is there was a wonderful panoramic photograph taken from the kubla of the state capital by a local photographer and that shows a city that is fairly robust for its time.
so a lot of people, including me assumed that the damage really was not that good. so what so what i hope i have proved is the city, we are not looking at a photograph of a city that was not destroyed, we're looking at a photograph of photograph of a city that was rebuilt. as far as what remains, i understand there are about 12 structures that are considered nonoaud, of course you have named their primary once, city, city hall, the old capital, the governor's mansion and a few other buildings here and there. many of the other ones around the turn-of-the-century, right before your for because they're updating houses it is simply that. i think jackson earned the name
jimmy ville. >> thank you. >> i have a two-part question. can you explain the mechanics of how the letters worked? did they mail letters back to the newspaper? you mention that and also did you find any letters from african-american newspapers or african-american clergy are soldiers or any of the other people you mentioned? >> the letters for the most part were actually sent to the editor of the paper because he was saying, the soldier was saying i cannot write my mother, my daddy, my sweetheart, my friends. they might write their mama but then he would write dear editor, would you see that my friends in the county so if you publish this i won't have to write everybody because i don't
have time to write everybody. so a lot of the editors were very accommodating. mr. moore wrote down at the seacoast echo in st. louis, he published a lot. and the gentleman in natchez were very willing to publish the letters. a few others appeared but those were the big three that publish the letters from home. i did find some african-american letters, there are some included, regretfully the newspapers on microfilm on the archives or african-american newspapers don't start until after the war. so we have some from the 1930s and 40s but we did not have any from the mid century there. i did not have any from african-american newspapers. i actually wanted to see if i could find native american soldiers as well. i tried the community news, the shall be democrat, whatever but i but i was not able to find any
neighborhood american letters as well. >> could you speak little bit about the experience of african-american soldiers in world war one because i thought those in interesting component of the book. >> the ones that i fountain i did find this to be true, of course they were not able to serve quotas fighting soldiers, but they were in the service of supply. they were right behind the lines helping the engineer building roads, getting the food to the front, making sure the wounded had care in the back of the lines. as well as it, i found some african-americans who were stephen doors -- they were unloading for the trucks when ammunition was sent over there helping to unload the ships with the cargo. it's interesting, one of the
passengers, philip davidson who had been a passenger at the st. james episcopal church, he worked for the ymca and he explained that it he was about 10 miles behind the front line. he had four camps, ymca camp that he service. two were were african-american and two were white. he would do the same service at each one. we have music, we have games for them, we try to provide writing material. of course i offer religious services to both. >> thank you. yes, sir. >> regarding the natchez indians, could could you give a historical context as far as ethnically and culturally for them compared to the choctaw's and chickasaw's and mississippi.
>> i will try to. the natchez indians were not a single ethnic group. they were confederacy. the choctaw's were also a confederacy, the chickasaw's' were confederacy. these were groups of people who, because of the european invasion of north america, they were clumping together for protection. so the natchez group had at least three ethnic groups that made up their so-called the natchez tribe. the natchez people, the natchez people had been there where the city of natchez is back into prehistoric times, and then these other groups that were more or less refugee groups that had attach themselves to the natchez.
the greengrocer. [inaudible] they -- when they left their homeland and went to the east and were settling with other indian groups, they took some african-americans with them. the natchez people became sort of fused with the creeks, cherokees, and these groups over towards the east. so their ethnicity kind have got spread out some. as i said earlier, their language miraculously held on for 200 years after there is a need for it to exist. >> thank you.
>> i have researched and written for books of history in my experience has been when you're doing research there there's something to expect to find in some things, and you find them, or somethings you expect when you don't don't find them and then there are the things that you find that take you by surprise. that it's been my experience. for instance, when i wrote theater roosevelt and the assassin i was really struck by how the political situation in 1912 was so similar to the situation today. concern between the growing divide between rich and poor, widespread feeling that government wasn't working and needed to be fixed, split split in the republican party. my question for the panelist is it what was there in doing your research that really taken by surprise? what did you find that came out of the blue? who ever would like to tackle that you are welcome.
>> for me, me, i was fortunate when i was writing my book that the french national library in paris at that time was scanning a posting online there on believable collection of the maps from the french colonial period from around the world. a friend of mine in natchez named smokey joe frank contacted me one day and told me where to look on the website. at this this amazing map by a french mapmaker, and ancient named butane. i had seen some of his maps but never saw this on before. it was a manuscript was a manuscript map which means it was never published. the deadly attack website, doesn't have it anymore, they took it down or something.
it used to have this zoom feature where you could zoom in on this amazing map. his map was not just pneumatic like others. you could actually go down roads and see houses. one thing that he did was he wrote down the names of the french colonists living in natchez in 1723. you could actually go and look at where these people live. some people who who had later become quite well-known. so the opportunity to see this wonderful map, now i have got a good color copy of it thanks to the university of north carolina chapel hill chapel hill. and there's a full-size copy of this map, these colonial maps being put on line that allow people like me to see them. otherwise they would have been
rolled up and kept in the french archives and who knows who would have gotten a chance to look at them. >> that was example of a good surprise. >> i have read hundreds of letters from all over the state. what struck me is that i actually knew some of the families represented there. i was blown away. i had four individuals that i've found that i knew families today that were related to these people. samuel corey was an architect and help preserve a lot of buildings around the state. his his grandfather was one of the first aviators. earl waters was from columbus, a good friend of mine from the w.
his last time have to be waters and i just said, that is an unusual name, you don't see that mississippi every day. would day. would you happen to have a relative who is in world war i and she said uncle earl was. and i was like yes. doctor james percy wall was a jackson position. he lived up the street from my family and belhaven. i was a child but i remembered my parents talking about doctor wall. and the final one that i happened upon was, anything, now it's gone. oh, church member. the cavett family are still active members of galloway church. and i found a ought a letter. how small can this world be that you actually run across letters from relatives.
>> i think i had are ready alluded to the biggest surprise and that is that i had been wrong so many years and had to change my mind. kind of related to what jim said earlier, i think that i was surprised most that i have to give credit to archivist out there already country who are doing terrific work digitizing records. this is a fantastic time to be a researcher. >> it it will never all be digitized, you still need to go to the archives. [laughter] >> that's right, and i did. but i was surprised by the amount of information that is available out there now. the jackson campaign simply had not been covered to any great extent. in almost no personal accounts. when i began really did gain i
found more that i could handle. but it's always nice. i was always surprised by the amount of material that is out there. i have been. >> i been pleasantly surprised by that too. i'm not sure if you're familiar with the online database downstairs called chronicling america, they have hundreds of thousands of newspapers for more than 100 years in american history online, available to anybody. you can search by keyword. if you not familiar with that and you love history, it is a fabulous resource. >> one of the things about senator eastland is that he is looked at as a segregationist but i was surprised how easy it was to get to his colleagues. they they are not always easy to get to. or it's easy to get to his colleagues as it was to those of
senator howard baker who is one of the more popular senators of the party and people did want to tell a story on all sides. i surprise that some of them were more liberal senators were some of those that had the best stories because they differed so much. just one story that may be we historians don't like, one of the great tales that i found was in attorney generals memoir about when president kennedy spoke to the nation the night of the battle of oxford. that was in 1962, supposedly eastland was at home and they were on the plantation watching president kennedy speak and his guest worked walked up to the tv and kicked in the tube. that is a great tale, isn't it? the one little problem, eastland was in washington. so i cannot have.
they were holed up and the office and they tried to get a hold of ross barnett for three hours. think about about it the state, could a senator get a hold of a governor like that just with the speed the, but three hours people cannot get hold of their governor. with the whole tale of the kicked in tbi just recognized that they use ghostwriters. laughmac. >> i think we have five minutes or less left. let's consider this consider this the last call of their questions from the audience. going once, okay. jim barnett address this a little bit and his opening comments about where his love for history came from. i have a very specific place where my love of history came from. i was five years old and the older friend of my parents would take me and tell me stories about the american revolution.
for me that was the beginning of a lifelong love of history. i'm just wondering whether any of the other panelist, and already has one, has a similar epiphany as a child or another point in your life and he felt like you had fallen in love with history? >> you remember when we said mississippi history required in the seventh grade. in junior high school i was given an assignment to write a paper on somebody, think it was welty that i once read a paper on a my mother said, well, well you want something different let's go to the archives. my mother took me to the memorial building where the archives were in a little, the
public part was not any bigger than the front part of the room here. there are little blue haired ladies looking at microfilm on the old machines. we still have one of those in the old reading room for you to look at. again, i'm in this little beauty room and i asked to say do you have anything on welton, and here i was a seventh grader and they said probably a subject said probably a subject file would be good for you. they brought out all these files of information and of course i wrote this wonderful paper and i was so thrilled. what got my eye was, again these little ladies were pulling these little gray boxes, having someone go downstairs in the basement of the war memorial building and they were coming out the boxes of who knows what. i wanted to know what. so that was it. >> i guess my love of history goes back to some of my earliest readings. i was a fan of going to the meridian public library and sitting in the floor and mostly looking at pictures i have to admit. but as i got got a little bit older i began reading things
like bruce catton and his wonderful book, this hollow ground and it captured my imagination. also a personal connection for me i had always been interested in that other war, that other great work. part of that is because of people like my grandmother who was from the pia county who knew someone who had been injured at the battle of shiloh. that really brought home to me that this was something i was interested in and i was so glad to have the opportunity to do it now for a living, it is great. >> what about you? did it come earlier to the comely? >> perhaps real early i developed an interest in political history well into, in well in my early teens but maybe
for this particular project one other inspiring feature was a man named doctor tony edmonds at paul state university who marinate may not of had a terribly unsuccessful date with one of senator eastland's daughters. at any rate, he he may have mentioned that to his students. they laughed at it now we determined that that may not have taken place. but a historian who told the story of a bad day based upon a misguided prank. >> good afternoon. i have a a question to anyone on the panel. it is a pressing question i have always wondered about. i also have familiarized myself with the archives and basically the main reason i have gone to the archives was to try to someone
find some type of lineage to learn about my lineage. as historians, those of you on the panel, what research have you all done in terms of trying to find the direct lineage of african-americans with a history of everyone being mixed and being disbursed to this place and that place. in terms of where african americans that were, where there from in terms of africa. when you are speaking about records and things like that, have any of you did any research on that concern? that always been something
really pressing to me to know where i'm from in terms of africa and i know it is difficult because of the fact that the history of being enslaved here dispersed children and adults and such. has any any of you historians ever address that concern? >> i think we'll let an answer that. >> for 35 years i assisted researchers and about 70% of them were working on the family history. family history is a big part of what the archives staff assist patrons with. if you you have not asked for help, go ask for help. of course you're going to find the records of enslaved people, you have to realize that you have to search the white records. you you have to search the deeds, the wills, very honestly and sometimes they are not there. the county courthouse burned, family got rid of the
plantation records, it always amazes me when i go to see a pilgrimage home, a lot of times the family home, they still have the plantation record there on display in the pilgrimage home. they are not available for you to research up there in that home. a lot of times the family took the records, lot of time the family destroyed the record and did not want to have that memory again. it was taking up space in their new, modern home. home. sometimes the records are truly not available. if you can identify a possibility of a white family, the records might have found a way inches in. >> what i found is that when i was doing, when i went to the archives office there was so much that you could actually research and i got as far as, unfortunately they named the people in the same category as they did animals.
but they did not go so far as to naming those plantation owners and then from there the question is, the question that i had was, where those people came from prior to do that and yet they put a federal seal on those records. so my question is, don't you you think people deserve to know where they are actually originally from? >> of the answer is, yes they do but the records must exist for that possibility. to find out where you're from, the dna testing would help with that for african-americans, in a big way. but again, that is a field that i have not pursued. i. i would deal with the paper records myself.
>> i think on that notes we need to cut and off. we are getting the signal from the back of the room. i think our time is up. again, thank you very much for coming. thank you to. thank you to our panelists for good discussion. [applause]. [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] >> we will take a short break while the mississippi book festival prepares for the next panel. that will be a discussion on history of civil rights in america. this is book tvs live coverage from jackson on c-span2. >> book tv recently visited capitol hill test members of congress what they are reading the summer.
>> first well, thank you to see spend for all you do on this front. it is very important service that you give to the country, my folks are watching this on my kids will get a kick out of this. have they see the pitcher behind me. i have extensive reading list coming up not only list coming up natalie for the summer but over the next year. i thought i would start off with the recommendation for folks for prayer for people under pressure written by a former member of the english parliament. i thank you knows little bit about pressure and i thought he i learn something from him. second new one, "thompson young men" has to do with rise of a small band of conservatives in the parliamentary the churchill. it motivated, i am a member of the house of freedom caucus, we have 40 or 50 folks were trying to get the cut country on straight and solve some of the fiscal problem and represent the people more. do with the people want to do. i think this book
will give me a little motivation there. next one the title may not give it away but it's called "on civilization". it is an amazing mind on for policy. i learned so much from him i wanted to read some of his books. so his subtitle is urban geopolitics in a time of chaos. may be at first glance it is and on likely source of grounding for international policy, but his thesis is that some of the certainty that we're seeing across the globe is driven by the urban role split in our country with the growth of the urban cities a little more detachment for the jeffersonian yeoman farmer and love of country, patriotism, nationalism in the positive sense and that
maybe we need a little bigger dose of history in arcata 12 and some of those things. i've not finish the book but i started reading about it a little of it. the next one, the desire of nations by oliver o donovan was recommended to me on political theology. obviously theology. obviously that is probably the issue of our day now. isis and the debate over constitution. the role of the judeo-christian, how does islam fit into the conversation and so the desire to the history of thought. i think most of you know that islam, we all used to have nice conversation around aristotle from about 1300. the conversation is possible, but it requires some unity of thought. so aristotle is one nice place to be. there are others that i might mention if you come in a. i think we need to urge of our
brothers and sisters in the hotspot that reformation may not be a bad idea, enlightenment would surely be a good idea. those are some of the themes i'll be reading about. the next one, more contemporary extortion by peter sweitzer. i read it a few years back. i'm going to give it another look, why are the politics broken? everyone back home seems to think there's a right-wing, left-wing war going on between the parties and the factions of the right-wingers and left-wingers, talk, talk to bernie sanders at a white house christmas party. he shared my view that is not the case. most of of the case has to do with maybe the middle and dolan out $4 trillion to the insiders and cronies appear in dc. that i think is a stronger stronger explanation of to why the politics is broken. so i think schweitzer addresses that well. money correlated correlated with elections, correlated with committee
assignments, correlated with everything appear, putting records, etc. he et cetera. he traces them out with footnotes and evidence. the next one is a shameless plug, it's called american underdog by congress men named david bratt. so i plug in my own stuff. it is wide-ranging. i had a friend help me put it together but i sent previous books i put together, lecture notes when i taught economics and ethics. basic american themes. since then i went a little 30,000 foot up in the air and so the three pillars that have made our civilization the greatest i think the greatest country on earth, the three pillars that
hold up the foundation and include not surprisingly the judeo-christian tradition, went to princeton summoner before i did economics i did economics in madison. i went to the college of new jersey and studied hebrew for kicks when it was done. the judeo-christian leads into the second pillar of the rule of law and then in 1776 also by divine intervention or not you can make up your own mind, adam smith, the author free economics, cross the pond in england, scotland doing economics and ethics as well. he was a chair moral philosophy. a lot of great thinkers. religion, philosophy, political philosophy, in the past not so many doing it today. that is why these books and for my reading list. next 11 was given to me by four-star general a few weeks ago, combat ready by thomas hansen. by all accounts are military, army, navy, air force, the
weakest level since post-world war ii in terms of troops, ships, planes, et cetera. it is an analysis of combat readiness and i recommend that one highly based on what i have heard. next line, "how god became king" , again a political theology and local philosophy. how god became king, not necessarily what you might think at first look. maybe a david and goliath, malcolm gladwell explanation that the king in this case is a humble king. next one by sociologists, "the triumph of christianity" if you look at the countries who look at we have strong civil liberties and civil rights, women in the workforce, protections, all sorts of christianity and reformation. basic things things i want to
explore deeply. and then a whopper, a 3-inch biography "george washington, sacred fire by -- it was given to me a gift about a year ago after i entered office. i'm going to do my best on that one. washington is just one of those amazing figures when you read about him and what others say about him and all men and women left him and respected him. there's something to this guy that is extra significant. the more i read about him the more i see that. but i can never get enough of seeing what resonates with such an important founder. some argue that it's in indispensable man who all the others looked up and loved and respected. it's good to take note something like that.
>> welcome, everyone. i'm chris goodwin with the mississippi department of archives and history. if you've not already, please silence your cell phones. welcome to the civil rights history panel number two sponsored by pigott and johnson and the mississippi humanities council. we also thank the mississippi legislature who lets us hold this book festival in this beautiful state capitol. we could not ask for a grander setting for it. thank you to the authors, the panelists. they are all authors. their books are for sale downstairs. if you have not bought them, i'd advise you to check them out. [laughter] our panelists will also be signing the books. there's a schedule for when they'll be signing in the brochure, and they should all be available downstairs later, if not already. but thank you for doing this with us.
our moderator today is pamela junior, the distinguished director of the fantastic smith robertson cultural center and museum here in jackson. pamela? >> good afternoon. i am pamela junior, the director of smith robertson museum and cultural center. let me just say how much of an honor it is to be here, especially in this room and the things that happened here, but mostly because we have these phenomenal authors. let's just give them a hand already, please. [applause] i'm such a big fan. i've been back there talking to them about the book, and i was asked you really read the book? yes, i did. [laughter] i read the book. but we have with us, to my left, martha wyatt rossignol, she's written the book "my triumph over prejudice: a memoir." coming of age during the turbulent years of the civil
rights movement. wyatt-rossignol has two daughters, three grandchildren and one great-grandson. our next book, "delta rainbow: the irrepressible betty bobo pearson" by sally palmer thompson. sally was raised and born and educated in california but has lived in memphis, tennessee, for over 50 years, so you're a tennessean. oh, my goodness. [laughter] she retired as dean of continuing and corporate education at rose college, and she has authored three books. next is patricia michelle boye, t who is the director of the women's resource center at loyola university, new orleans, where she also teaches courses on race and gender and on comparative studies of oppression and resistance. and she authored the book "right to revolt." and our next panelist is --
[inaudible] but with the introduction a new edition by trent brown. thank you so much, guys, for coming and being part of this. you know, i was in the back talking, and i think -- when i was thinking about civil rights and mississippi and all the power players that were such a large part of where we are today, our legacies, those soldiers, those marchers who made it possible, and to have these authors to be able to write about these wonderful people or to do a memoir about her life in fayette, mississippi, is absolutely phenomenal. and with that, i'm going to allow the authors to talk for about five minutes about their books starting here. >> good afternoon. my name is martha wyatt-rossignol. my book followed me from a child up until 1990.
i didn't play, i don't think, a major part in civil rights, but it played a major part of my life. i wrote about being, growing up and my whole world was black. i never came in contact with white people until 1967 when i was integrated in school. and that was an eye-opener for me because my first day of school you see all these white faces, almost like i'm looking at today. and, you know, you begin to wonder when people say, well, i feel black, i felt black that day. but i no longer feel black, i just feel like a person, and i try not to look at -- i don't meet color, i meet people. and i don't forget where i come from, but i don't want to continue to live in the past. i want to remember where i am today.
and i hope that when you read my story, you will understand where i'm coming from. i think that to say that my life has been easy, it hasn't, and i don't take anything for granted. but i just feel it's time for me to live for who i want to be today x. at 66 years old -- and at 66 years old, i'm going to live my life, and i'm not going to let anyone dictate to me how to live that life. and i hope you as a reader or will find your truth and live your dream. >> very good, very good. beautiful. >> good afternoon, i'm sally thomasson, and i want to, first of all, thank everyone who organized this festival. this is one of the most remarkable events i've been to in a long time. and the depth and wisdom that you all have gathered together
has just been such a fabulous day, and i just want to thank you so much. what martha says is, i think, so important because she is recognizing her own individuality and living her own life. and the story that i have told in "delta rainbow: the irrepressible betty bobo pearson," is another remarkable story. and one of the things, as pamela said i grew up in california, and i moved to memphis. but i didn't know mississippi. i had wonderful mississippi relatives, but i just really, you know, and friends from mississippi, but i never got to know mississippi until another friend of mine said -- i had just finished a second book, and she said, what are you going to write about? i said, i don't know.
she said, well, you should write a book about betty bobo pearson, and i said who is betty bobo pearson? and she said she is the most remarkable woman i have ever known. and i said, hmm, okay. well, let's do a little investigation. and so we started going down to sumner and to tutweiler and to clarksdale, and we started talking to people who knew betty. betty now is living in california. they had one child, and she is live anything a retirement home -- living in a retirement home at 94 years old. and still i defy anyone to write a better e-mail or articulate anything than she does. i mean, it's just -- she is an amazing woman. but she's been an amazing woman from the start. she is a seventh generation mississippian whose parentage had come into mississippi, into
the delta, established their plantations and had gone through -- and so she was of that class of plantation owners who grew up knowing that there was something. she had incredible loyalty to her family, but she had a sense of purpose that was different from a lot of people. and, for instance, i'll tell you one brief story. when she was in, at ole miss in 1942 now, she was a senior in her philosophy class and had to write an essay about anything she wanted to write about. and she wrote about why the schools of mississippi should be integrated. well, the professor was really very, very taken with essay, and
he said can i submit it to the rosenthal competition which would give you a full scholarship to a four-year graduate school up in new york at columbia? and she said, okay, fine, that's okay. and so she went on about her business. and about six weeks later, he called her into his office and said, betty, you've won the scholarship. and she was ecstatic. she borrowed a car and rode home to clarksdale where she -- and she said, ran into her daddy's office and said i've got a scholarship to go to columbia for graduate school, and he looked at her and he said, no daughter of mine is going to yankee land. well, she was, you know, she was just -- what do you say? and she said, so she screamed, she hollered, and for about six weeks they argued back and forth. but she was so loyal to her
family, she decided that she could not accept and defy her father. she was a good mississippian, good southern girl, and so she wasn't going to defy her father. and so she turned down the scholarship. but it was starting to eat at her, and she was graduating, and so he thought i've got to show -- she thought i've got to show my power that i am a grown woman now. so she borrowed her mother's car, drove up to memphis and went to the marine recruiting office which had just owned. the marines had just decided a month before that they would have a woman's reserve, and she joined the marines. [laughter] and then she drove home and said, daddy, i have joined the marines, and he was delighted. you know, patriotic man. [laughter] and so she didn't show him anything. but anyway, so then she served
her time in the marines. and the next really remarkable part, she came home, married another mississippi planter, which was just, the plantation is delta plantation which was right outside of sumner. and she attended the emmitt till trial. and she was sitting in that and watched it and realized what was going on, and it really changed her life. and she became convinced that she had to do something to the try to show the world that all mississippians didn't believe many segregation or -- in segregation or didn't believe, all white mississippians believed they were superior people x. so she went up to the
reporters from new york times and look magazine and life magazine and london times and said, listen, we have a place outside of sumner where all of her friends were ignoring, just -- they were denying that the trial was even going on. and they were just kind of turning their backs on the whole thing. and she was just astounded. so she asked these people, she wanted to show that all, everyone in mississippi wasn't this way, so they came out, and she entertained and got to know these people from the times and such. so that became a cause for her to continue. she became on the civil rights commission, she worked with her -- her home was open to all the freedom riders were coming down, and it is a remarkable
story. and she has gone on and just one incident to tell you that she just -- oh, i have to say this. part of what the problem was is she didn't believe in trying to convince people through the word, she just knew she could only do it through her action, and she thought she -- so she joined the naacp and did, and worked that way. but she lost many, many of her dell a that friends -- delta friends. and most importantly, it created this incredible schism in her family. and to the point where she wanted her daughter to know her grandparents, she wanted to keep close to her family, and so they just didn't talk about it. i mean, it was just one of those things that nearly broke her heart, and it even got worse. but that -- you have to read the book to find out about that. [laughter]
so, but she, she, as i say even today, she moved to california in her 80s because that's where her daughter and her family were living into a retirement home, and so i think at about the age of 88 she became the president after three years of that retirement home and then the next two years after that she was nominated for the most outstanding resident for the state of california in a retirement home. so anyway, she is one of those daughters, mississippi daughters that you all should be very, very proud of. >> very good, very good. >> hi, i'm patricia boyett, and i wanted to thank everybody, first, that organized the mississippi book festival, it's phenomenal. and i'm very honored to be among this panel, and i thank you for including me. i open my book, "right to revolt," on january 10, 1966,
it's 2:30 a.m. in the morning, and two carloads of eight klansmen are across the county line into forest county, mississippi. they are on a mission from the imperial wizard of the white knights of the ku klux klan, sam i but aers, to -- bowers, to murder vernon day minnesota -- daymer who owned a ranch home, several businesses like a store and a gas station, gristmills and so forth, and he was also a very powerful civil rights activist. he had been a former president of the forest county branch of the naacp. he had been one of the lead plaintiffs in one of the most important voting right cases that led to the voting rights act, and he had a also just started a voting rights campaign. and all those things, of course, entour rated -- infuriated sam bowers, and that made him want him dead.
when these two carloads arrived on his property, one stopped front of the store and the other stopped outside his ranch home. he had eight children, several of them at the time were actually away. many of his children served in the military. one was living in germany waiting to hear if he was going to go to vietnam. but three of his children were living at home at the time. and when the klansmen arrived on his property, they blew out the windows, threw molotov cocktails inside and continued shooting, and their goal was to kill all the occupants inside with fire and bullets. when the special agent in charge of mississippi, roy moore, he was headquartered in jackson, heard of the crime, he immediately dispatched an army of fbi agents into what i call the central piney woods. the war on the klan had really started at the end of the summer of '64 when they found the bodies of three civil rights activists, but it hadn't really
reached, you know, all across the state. and, actually, there was very little federal intervention in piney woods, it kind of had come and gone because it was, particularly forest county had been very adept at making its county look like it was a moderate county. once the civil rights movement really got going many this part of the area which wasn't really until -- i mean, there was earlier efforts, but it wasn't really until '62 when it really exploded, the powers that be there, some of them were moderate9, and moderate's always a difficult word to fully define what that means because it meant different things for different people. somewhat moderate in the sense they were segregationist, but they opposed violence for moral reasons. but some of them to opposed violence for practical reasons because violence always brings in the media. if it's sensational, the media stays. that forces the federal government to intervene, and
they wanted to prevent that from happening, so they actually orchestrated a plan to resist the civil rights movement with nonviolent mass resistance as much as they could. so instead like when you see a hot -- and this is why i think the area got ignored for a long time. you were used to seeing things in the delta where, you know, police would attack the protesters right in front of the media, or they would allow mobs to attack. they tried not too far that be done in hattiesburg, particularly, which is the seat of forest county. what they did is they policed freedom of movement. the police would arrest people that stepped out of a certain line. they relied on citizens' to council to do economic intimidation. this is not to say there wasn't violence, because there was a lot of violence, but it was after they were arrested and put in jail. and also what really frustrated a lot of the leaders in forest county was sam bowers had headquartered his klan right next door in jones county, but they had a pretty active klan in forest county, and actually the
person who asked to have vernon murdered came from forest county. does it have modern elements? yes. does it have progressive elements? yes, it did, but it does have some really radical elements too. when i first came to this case, i think if you look at this case and only go forward, you would think of forest county as a more moderate place. but sam bowers was quite sure -- he wasn't even worried about it when this army of fbi agents came into forest and jones counties. he said to his klansmen, even if we are arrested and indicted, no jury in mississippi will convict a white man for killing a black man. and he had reason to to believe that. i mean, this is two years after the passage of the civil rights act of '64, it's a year after the passage of the voting rights act of '65, it's long after brown v. board of '54, but you only had nominal desegregation. there's so many cases the fbi
has not investigated. he had reason to believe he could continue to do this. in fact, he had been indicted and many klansmen had been indicted, but they let them out to go plan the murder of daymer. he also underestimated some changes that were going on, and he underestimated how devoted many of these forest county officials were to keeping the federal government out. and now that they're in, mitigating what they would do. how can we hold onto segregation and then prosecute this case. but i should also mention people are complicated, right? so there's so many nuances that go on here. you know, i've interviewed a lot of the local leaders, and many of them talked about vernon daymer, that they admired him very much even though they themselves were segregationists. there were progressives in the area that were heartbroken about his death. he lived in a place called the kelly settlement which a lot of white people lived there too, and he would lend them a cotton picker.
one biology teacher broke down the next day after the killing in his class when he was -- and he told his students, this was a friend of mine. and so that really mobilized forest county against the klan. it was also, you know, a lot of times could be xenophobic, and it's like how dare jones county come into our county and do this. so this case does lead to some great change, the marginalization of the klan, it leads to the first state conviction of a klansman for killing a civil rights activist. but in a way that also kind of buried this history of forest county and jones county because of a lot of locals tried to distance themselves from jones county because the newspaper articles and the press releases and all the political speeches were, you know, this came from jones county. jones county's radical, and we're not lining that, -- we're not like that, right? but i found the counties were linked in a real brutal racial history. in fact, i find traces back all the a way to settlement days.
they had slavely are there -- slavely there too d slavery there too. there were interracial relationships, and that often brings people together and families together. so you have all these nuances there. but during reconstruction and then during the turn of the century where forest and jones counties became really industrialized and then heavily populated and then commercialized hub of mississippi, you had really all these forces kind of coming together. on one hand they needed labor, they needed black labor, right? so they were trying to get sharecroppers to come, and they're going to pay them five times as much, so a lot of people are going to come to mississippi. and then you have a bigger population. then you need commercial outlets because this is segregation, right? so a lot of african-americans can't get services that they need because white doctors refuse to see them or white pharmacists, and the schools are segregated. actually you have moderate,
progressive whites that will help bring in some of those industries. even segregationists are going to help x. african-americans are going to capitalize on that and create black capitalism in the area. you have this progressive thing going on in the sense that you have a really sturdy black working class coming in the area, a very powerful black bure joy emerging, but when they try to protest, it's almost suicidal in this area, right? there were so many lynchings in hattiesburg because you have a lot of african-americans that actually did have some economic opportunities here, and you had black middle class and some even black upper class, it was harder to control them economically. there's still many ways they do that, and i can go into nuances of that later, but violence, violence, violence is what they're going to use. in fact, one newspaper called hattiesburg the hub of black lynchings, and laurel, the seat of jones county, as a up to of hangings -- as a town of
hangings. one time a mob reformed and said they would lynch everyone in the crowd unless they dispersed. it was almost suicidal to -- [inaudible] so what they focused on was black uplift. by the time of world war ii when you have a shift that starts to happen all over, you have some early ones in world war ii, but for central piney woods, the government's talking about we're fighting for the freedoms abroad, right? but you're oppressing african-americans deeply at home. a lynching occurs in 1942 in jones county in the middle of this war, and that's the first -- two lynchings, actually. and the roosevelt ordered the fbi in there to investigate, and that's the first time that happened in mississippi since reconstruction. so you have a moment, a turning point there. so -- and you already have this great foundation, this african-american community that's ready to revolt when they get a chance, right?
so they start to build that up and build that up. and they keep trying to do direct action but it's really difficult until '62. i trace a case in jones county, some of you might be familiar with the willie mcgee case. he was an african-american that was charged with interracial rape of a white woman, and it led to global protests. and then i traced the clyde canard case, some are probably familiar with james meredith who desegregated ole miss, but lots of people tried at universities earlier, the university of southern mississippi. and a lot of these cases end very tragically, unfortunately. but even when things end tragically doesn't mean that you're not pushing forward. these are the civil rights soldiers, as she mentioned, and they're constantly pushing this forward. and then '62 all these forces sort of gather together, and they really -- they start bringing in sncc and other forces, and finally in '64 they do freedom days, and that gets massive publicity, and freedom
summer was one of the strongest places in central piney woods. it does have a brutal racial history of unjustice but also this incredible, inspiring history of racial crusades for justice, and they culminate really in the daymer case. i start with the case in my prologue and trace the roots through all these different cases and struggles and how the daymer case changed. and a lot of people, we think of it ending in different times and places, and here it really goes to '74, and then it doesn't end. it's not like so we got some begs legislation, i mean, we're still fighting for civil rights today, right in so i look at the third part. the first part or the third part moves into the boardrooms a lot into the political battles, but it does go back on the streets in the '80s and '90s, so i look there. they started protesting police brutality long before the black lives matter movement in the
'90s. so i take it up to 2010. sometimes i still wish i was with writing because so much is still going on right now. basically, the story traces people i consider heroes, and so in many ways it was sometimes really hard to write book, and i'm not going to cry. it's always so hard to talk about it. i cried last type i was speaking of it -- last time i was speaking of it. there's so much sacrifice, and it is, in many ways, a tragic story of brutal racial injustices, but it's also a really inspiring story of these people that stand up, that are really brave and that really fight for every right and are still fighting for those rights today. and i see this central piney woods as one of the most tortured but one of the most transformative landscapes in america. and, you know, certainly racial equality continued to elude the central piney woods, it continues to elude the nation, but my feeling is let's just keep fighting, right? we'll get there eventually. thank you.
>> thank you. [applause] >> speaking of violence -- [laughter] we have next a book on mccomb, mississippi, in the summer of 1964. this is a book up like the other panelists -- unlike the other panelists, i'm here to talk about a book that i did not write -- [laughter] it's a book that i wrote about. this book is by hying carter ii who many of you will remember as a very distinguished mississippi newspaperman. he edited the greenville delta democrat times for years, and i think that one can judge a newspaper by the enemies that it makes. ..
>> it is a function almost as a branch of government. so i will start by saying this is not in carter's book, one of my intentions in taking on this project was to bring it back into print and help a new generation of mississippians and americans to appreciate the work that carter did. this book is part of a series that the university press of mississippi is launching, called civil rights mississippi. we will reprint a number of titles from the 1960s with new scholarly introductions. we hope that readers will appreciate them. we hope that students can use them in classrooms. i want to say a word about what
a good job i think the university of mississippi or the university press of mississippi does. it is a fantastic resource for the state. a fantastic resource for scholars and scholarship. it deserves your support. [applause]. the story of the hefner's, albert hefner, called red by his friends, mary alva called alva, were respectable and respected macomb citizens in the summer of 1964. red was an insurance salesman, he won civic awards locally for his work in the community, his activism in the community. in the summer of 1964 macomb was
the place, one of the places in mississippi that had substantial number of civil rights workers volunteered to attempt to register african-americans to vote. that is the catalyst for violence in macomb that summer. read hefner and his wife melva were like many respectable people in the cold, they were worried about the potential of violence in their community. they believe that it was bad for business. they believe that it was bad for the community. they wanted to understand what was happening in their town. they invited to civil rights workers, both of whom were white, to their home for conversation. immediately and to buy immediately i mean that evening, within an hour or two, they began receiving threatening
telephone calls, harassing telephone calls that escalated. in a matter of six weeks the hefner's left's left the community and did not return. so carter's book published in 1965 is the story of how so quickly a very respected white couple could be driven from a community for simply asking questions about what was going on. they found that people they believe they knew, people they knew for years turned on them, ostracize them socially, struck at them economically, the lease that read hefner had on his office building was canceled. their dog was poisoned. they received something in the order of 300 telephone calls over a period of about five
weeks warning them to leave town. eventually they did. so the story carter published in 65 takes the hefner family through the summer 64 into their exile for mississippi. many, many thousands of mississippians were exiled in those years. there exiled for actions that were more transgressive you might say that the hefner's. what makes their story worthy of the telling by carter and the republishing #carter, let me say for those of you who are listening and don't know mississippi geography, macomb is not in the delta where carter's newspaper was. however carter and the hefner's were both both episcopalians.
there are active members of the episcopal church. so their faith was a connection. also, read hefner like carter was a man who enjoyed asking questions about the way things were, who was a brave man and i think there were personal elements of the hefner story that appealed to carter as well. as i said, we are bringing this book out in this new series, civil rights in mississippi. my role as a a historian of the civil rights movement was to try to say a few words about the story in its broader context. what struck me about the broader context of the story is, as i said the hefner's were exiled, many thousands of mississippians
were exiled but the hefner's did not set out to try to make a stand on civil rights issues. they simply wanted to find out more information about what was going on in their hometown. they wanted to act potentially as a conduit of information between the civil rights workers and respectable elements in the town. they had been in the home they built in the new subdivision for ten years. they thought people in their church, the community, and business, new them and knew what they stood for but in an instant practically, in a matter of weeks literally they found those friends turning on them and shunning them for the work they did. their story says something about the bonds of community in a lot of the small, southern towns that saw the civil rights movement. the bonds of community to work
and hold people together but they can also work to expel people were perceived to have broken the code that govern the bonds of those terms. so the hefner's story is one of the way that ostracism and economic pressure, and even threats of violence could silence people who would have been considered moderates or progressives. but who were not aware often of the dangers that asking questions would present in those years. i was born in macomb. one of the things i do not remember from growing up is it very much discussion of the hefner story in the 1970s and
1980s when i was a young fellow. so one of the things that struck me about the importance of the book is one of the functions of repression and retaliation is silencing. so with the hefner's left their story was largely lost in macomb. there are no memorials, there there are no signs, there have been no apologies, other than obituaries in the jackson newspapers, the deaths of the hefner's were not covered. they get treatment in histories of the civil rights movement in mississippi but nothing very expensive. again, i would say of all the of mississippians who were exiled in those years, why would the
hefner story loom larger? i suppose my answer would be, so many thousands of stories just like the hefner's were similar to the hefner's have been lost to the silencing that occurred because of the pressures not to dissent in those years so i think one of the tasks that we have as a community and as it civil rights readers is to recover and remember the stories because they speak to some of the same limits that are definitions of community still present to us. definitions of we and they that still have roots that were formed in the jim crow. and we have not done a sufficient job in redefining as we have moved in other ways beyond those years.
>> thank you. i just have a couple of questions before i turn it over to the audience. now i want to talk a little bit about, i remember reading about you being chosen in regards to desegregation of schools, talk about that please. >> in 1966 is when our schools got integrated. i woods might last year of high school and i had an idea what is going into. i thought i was just going to school. i thought school would be different it would just be another school. what i did not understand at the time was why nobody prepared us for what we're going into, they just said they wanted to send some black kids to the white school.
i can't say that we really were integrated, we were still segregated because the black kids would sit on one side and the white kids would sit on another side. teachers. teachers didn't talk to us, they talked at us. so i do not think at that time that i felt like i integrated school until later in life. what am i trying to say? i guess we do not really, really integrate schools, not at all, not in my year. the kids were still separated, the white kids from the black kids. later in life i learned that the only way to integrate is for us to try and come together as people, not have somebody dictate to us what we should do and how we should do it. as people we should be the ones to come together and that is what i have strived for in my
life. integrating, will i don't even think i integrate anymore, like i said before, i don't need color, i don't meet color, i meet people. people. we have to stop looking at people as black or white. we would have the need to integrate, we would be integrated. is that clear? >> very. ms. thompson. [applause]. in reading this wonderful book about betty bobo, talk to the audience about her finding her purpose in the train wreck that happened. >> this to me is one of the things that shows how people influence other people and you don't even realize what the consequences could be. when betty was 18 months old
she, her mother was driving the car, her grandfather was on the front seat, her grandmother was on the backseat with betty. it it was one of those old-fashioned touring cars were it was all open. they stopped for a trade and they were coming back from a visit in florida and they stopped at a train stop in top weiler. the train was coming along on they thought there is a fellow on the caboose of the train that waited for her mother to go on across and then betty's mother started to cross and there is another train coming from the other direction. it smashed into the car that betty's mother was driving. it instantly killed her
grandfather and betty was thrown out of the car onto the front of the engine of the train that was coming along. she went for about 100 yards and then rolled off of the little boy that saw the rack ran and took betty back to her mother who was just stunned and shocked. it was a horrible situation. betty doesn't remember that incident. but after her grandmother whose pelvis was broken i was taken up to the clinic in memphis and stayed there for about three months, came back to bobo where the family, several generations of the family were living. the. the grandmother realized that her husband had been killed and she begged for the little girl,
betty to come down and live with her in her bedroom. so betty so betty moved downstairs to be in her grandmother's bedroom and every night, i think she stayed there till she was run five or six. every night her grandmother would tell her story, tucker, listen to her person and say, betty, you know that god saved you from that train wreck because you have a purpose in life. betty then had a very lovely childhood growing up on the plantation. which was, she had many black friends, they're playing together. it was just a good life. but until the emma tilt trial when she witnessed what the situation was, it was then that she realized what her purpose in life was.
that was the thing about betty. she she lived that purpose and she really felt, as other people she found what she was supposed to do with her life like we're all supposed to do. but this is a very important thing. i think it shows what an individual can do because of what her grandmother did for betty. >> very good. >> how did this affect you in your life? >> when i first came across, just came across a couple of lines of the book about him when i was an undergrad and mississippi valley. i asked my professor about him and he give me a couple of other books. i don't know, something about a couple lines maybe because i was a sparse mention of him. this. this minutes advices life and i read all of the stuff and the more i learned about him and it
change the course of my life. i was subletting my apartment in york and was way to go back there. i decided to go to the university of southern mississippi because i wanted to live in the town where this happened. i wanted to learn from the people and the culture there. the never thing i read about him it just seemed like he was most unselfish people i could read about. i know you could get into -- and idolize someone. but i can find anybody who said anything like a cruel word about him. he sacrificed so much for everybody. he worked all of the time. he had his kids work on the farm five of them went to go serve in the united states military. he was the person that every time he made a profit he shared it with someone else. he give it to the cut cursor someone to use. if he of someone was sick he would be the first person there. he did not have to make those sacrifices. he he could have let
other people and a lot of people would in that situation. you have have kids, wife, i'm not in a position to the myself out there, but he did. again, again, and again. ultimately he was murdered for that. so it is always hard for me to say that without getting really sad. >> mr. brown, curiosity, you talked about that and those people be in being exiled, talk a little bit more about that please. what were they curious about? this overwrites, what in regard to the civil rights movement? >> without retelling the story of freedom summer, no one in mississippi in 1964 who read the newspapers could miss the idea that something very significant was happening that summer. if you read the jackson
newspapers were told that there was an invasion coming to the state. people in macomb were prepared, in several senses they knew that several civil rights workers were coming to the town and some were prepared for violence against those civil rights workers. there have been civil rights activism in macomb for years, there were black businessmen, cc brian to notably and other people in the community who had been working for black political and economic advancement and rights. more recently in 1961, robert moses had attempted civil rights work in macomb, he was rebuffed violently then. i think that was a legacy that some him macomb remember as i
think they were white macomb residents who believe that if they could be driven away once they could be driven away again. so, again this was a history, this was material that people in the community would have known and as a businessman, as a person person who was invested in the success of the community, read hefner wanted for macomb to work. he wanted for macomb to be one of the places that was not torn apart to the point of economic dysfunction by civil rights activism. so he wanted to find out from people on the ground what was going to happen. he believed that he could, he spoke with the chief of police before he had the civil rights workers in his home.
he told the man that he considered to be his friend and told him what he was going to do. afterwards, the police chief denied enough of the conversation to make people believe that that conversation had not happened. so the family has i said, they did not see themselves as progressive, they do not see themselves as crusaders, they did not see themselves as getting involved with that work, but simply asking questions and appearing to dissent was in that context enough to destroy relationships, friendships, and economic livelihood of the family. >> thank you. do we have any questions? if so, please come to the podium. just a reminder i have heard a couple of phones so please make sure those are off. >> i have a question. >> this question is for doctor
nonoaud. i want want to thank you for writing this book. the murder was something that was very influential in my thinking about civil rights. i was a teenager when it happened. i know most of the people wrote about in your book in fact i saw just a few months ago and they're doing very well. my question is this in hattiesburg where i live, this story is frequently told that if stan byers had known that he lived in force county he might not have ordered that murder. he thought that bowers lived in jones county. he knew that he would never prosecute. is that something that you came across, is that a credible
story? >> i'm not sure. the force county, now by last name of hamilton was one who asked bowers originally because he cannot order it. only sam bowers could order the killing. he was in the county. i think a lot of that developed out of this idea that sort of the myths that came out of the story where they wanted to shove everything over to jones county. jones county was going through a lot of its own shifts. i guess may be more likely they would have been able to get off in jones county. you had some prosecutors coming up in jones county at the time who is really against the clan. so i'm not sure that is actually a credible story. i'm pretty sure he knew that he lived in force county. when you would rick west from
the wizard to do something, it had had to be from the county that you are from. i think you were trying to say this is in jones county this would not happen in forest county. forest county to me it is fascinating and hard to describe a place in five minutes. there is a lot of nuances. there was a lot of progressive there. there were moderates there. one thing i did not mention is that the county prosecutor, james duke, his brother james duke, his brother was an fbi agent. there far more cooperation between the federal and state, federal and local authorities there. to my knowledge they never found anything in force county where you had heavy involvement of law-enforcement in the clan. i interviewed mr. dukes, james duke that is, and he told me that killing devastated him and
he was determined to have sieges. he he was also very much is segregationist at the time. that is why people are so complex. they could could be really against violence but for segregation. but i think the killing changed a lot of people. right after that dukes prosecutes and gets a conviction of a white man for raping an african-american teenager. those were hard convictions to get. so force county is a very complex place with complex people there. it was not all radical or progressive. there is all that mix kind of fighting in the county. >> we have just one more question. >> the panelists will be able to talk to any of you afterwards. >> good afternoon. my question is to -- i wanted to
hear a little more about your life experiences after you met your true soulmate and you began a new. >> in 1973i went to work at a store, it used to be here in jackson, deal supermarket. my supermarket. my husband was involved with civil rights much more in-depth than i was. he came to came to mississippi to work in the voter registration. the same as the three civil right workers that got killed. he came for that reason. i met this man in 1973. they built a new deal in fayette and i did not know this man was my boss. so i had gotten a job there, he he was not there when i first got there.
and he had long red hair. i thought he must be one of those freakish people they sent here to help us out. he came in and he walked up to me and he said, hi, my name is joe. why never had too much conversation with white people so i said so, i'm stupid but it popped out and i could do anything about it. but he continued to try to talk to me and he would always have something nice to say to me. i just did not understand why this man was being so nice to me, why. and finally he asked me one day, he said can i take you to lunch. and i said no, i'm mary. he said well i didn't ask you to marry me, ask ask you to go to lunch. but i was separated from a previous husband at that time. we just struck up a friendship
and it didn't take very long for me to know that this man was my soulmate. i have been been married to him for 42 years. [applause]. >> how wonderful is that. this has been a phenomenal phenomenal panel. let's give the panelist another hand. >> will will end up with the same that it takes a mighty courage to be in this place. it takes a a mighty courage living in mississippi. it takes a mighty courage 2016, and 16, and we thank you so much. [applause]. [inaudible]
[inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv on c-span2. joining us now from chicago and the publishers convention is ron charles who is the editor of washington post's book world. mr. charles, what do you do for a living? >> guest: i assign most of the daily reviews in "the washington post", and every wednesday i write my own review. >> host: of books? >> guest: of books, yes. >> host: how many books a week, seven books a week? >> guest: we review 20 books a week, and we get about 150 of them. >> host: about 20 books a week are reviewed in the post. >> guest: right. >> host: why isn't there a
stand-alone book section? >> guest: there is online, but we decided about four years ago to spread the reviews out through the paper to try and see if we could find more readers. it seemed like a disaster at the time to me, but i have had to admit that we do, in fact, have more readers for book reviews now. we just put them in places that people read more. book world, the old book world, the supplement, was much beloved but tended to be the section that everyone put aside to read later when they had time, and that time never came. whereas now we're in there every day in style, in the weekend arts section, we're in outlook every sunday, people see our reviews more in the papers. >> host: what kind of books to you -- do you review? >> guest: i tend to review only literary fiction, but a lot of political books, history, science, biography, we do a lot of arts coverage on the weekends, on sundays, books about the history of film and theater and that sort of thing. >> host: why do you stick to fiction mostly? >> guest: because i don't have to know anything. [laughter]
>> host: that's the end of your answer? >> guest: yeah, that's pretty much -- [laughter] to do a nonfiction book, you got to be an expert in five days on the subject. who are you go to up against david mccullough, whereas if it's fiction, i can sit back and say whatever i want. >> host: do publishers want to have their books reviewed in "the washington post"? >> guest: they say they do. i think they do. there are fewer outlets than there used to be. our reviews get syndicated so, yeah, i think it's one of the important venues. >> host: jonathan yardley -- >> guest: yeah, we lost him. he retired. yeah, my colleague for many years. sometimes twice a week for many years before i got the post, yeah. but we still have david, we still have michael every thursday, another one of our pulitzer prize-winning book critics. >> host: so, ron charles, how'd you get into this business? >> guest: i was an english teacher for many years which i
loved, still my favorite job, but the paper grading was just wearing me down. i just thought if i graded one more paper, i would kill someone. and a student, a student's mother suggested i review books instead, and so i just went to a a bookstore, bought a book off the new fiction table, wrote up a review and sent it to the christian science monitor, and they bought it and asked for more. >> host: so how long were you at the monitor? >> guest: seven years. i was their book critic and book editor there. >> host: can a good review or a bad review sell or hurt book sales? >> guest: jeez, that is the question we all want the answer to. there is some academic research that i've read that suggests that a review in a major newspaper has a marginal positive effect on sales. but it doesn't, apparently, matter whether the review is positive or negative. it's just getting the cover and the name out there helps a little bit. so i know there are cases where very, very positive reviews have pushed book onto the bestseller
list, and once you get there, of course, the bestseller list is sort of sticky, and you tend to today there. >> host: will the post continue to print book reviews? >> guest: oh, yes. >> host: not only -- >> guest: i know we will because we just added staff for the first time in many years added staff which is very exciting to it. yeah, we're committed to it. >> host: what are some of the books that are coming out that you looking forward to? >> guest: the underground railroad which -- i haven't read it, but it imagines that the underground railroad before the civil road was an actual railroad underground, and everybody said this is fantastic. annie -- [inaudible] has a huge novel coming out, robert olin butler, pulitzer prize winner, he has a book coming out that, apparently, reaches back to his vietnam war days that's supposed to be wonderful too. >> host: who are some of your go-to authors? >> guest: i am a sucker for anything anne tyler writes, anne patchett's always fantastic.
i love jonathan franzen. o'brien's novels are always wonderful. steele, i think she's in her 80s, her last book was just fantastic. i am amazed by the number of really fine authors that we have in this country and the number we keep producing every year. and i hate to say it, but our writing programs are really good at producing fine fiction writers. there are many more books being produced that we want to review than we have room for. many more. i won't say that every review we run is a recommendation, but more and more i think we are turning that way because people need direction. they go into the bookstore, and it's just overwhelming, there are so many books, so they want to know, basically, you know, what should i read? and it's getting hard exercise harder, i think, to justify using our limited space to tell people here's a book you've never heard of, don't read it. there's no danger of them finding that book anyhow.
so i tend to -- i don't want a lot of pans in the paper unless there are very big name books that i feel like i can save people's time. otherwise i want to point people to books that they'll enjoy, they want to read. >> host: in washington is it important that you review a lot of the political books that come out? >> guest: it is. people do turn to us a lot for that. we have a lot of expertise in that area. a lot of political books particularly now with the election coming up but all the time, we'll write on the history books, policy books, any books that would impersonal injury on law or government -- impinge on law or government. >> host: how do you develop your bestseller listsome. >> guest: the bestseller list is generated by nielsens, and they take from maryland, virginia and -- [laughter] d.c. yes. and that information is just given to us, and we filter out some things like textbooks, other things that might show up,
you know, certain times of the year. as everyone else does with our bestseller list, to make it cohere to the editorial judgment. >> host: what are some of the best selling books in washington right now this. >> guest: it doesn't tend to differ that much from the national list. once in a while a conference will come in, and that'll push books up on the list or someone will visit, that will do it. someone will come to politics & prose, they'll move 300 copies that week, but in general, the list tracks pretty much the national list. so keep looking at that seeing if we should switch, and we kind of like the idiosyncratic elements that pop up once in a while, but it didn't that different. >> host: you're here at publishers convention in chicago. what's the importance of this to you? >> guest: i get to meet a lot of publicists that i've talked to all year by e-mail. they give me good recommendations, some of them have become good friends, trusted friends, they tell me what to look for.
i also get to meet some authors, which is fun, i can set up future interviews with hem. sometimes i'm just a fan and i can just get an autograph or, you know, kind of embarrass myself, that kind of thing. >> host: do you do anything electronically with the book reviews? >> we tweet them, we facebook them, i've started to experiment with vine videos. i've got this comic series, this satirical series that i do about books the post wants me to start up again. ♪ ♪ >> hello. i'm ron charles. you may know me as a book critic for a major american newspaper. no, not that one. in response to our previous episode, we received literally dozens of kind messages from all over my grandparents' retirement home. clearly, we're meeting a need. in these hectic times, you need book criticism that's fast, fun and incredibly hip. people often ask me, how long can you keep this up despite the
workload, the expense, the humiliation? [laughter] it's a good question. i mean, here we are at the, oh, i don't know how many expos there have been so far, but still the show seems just as challenging as it did way back in the beginning. this week's new book is a blockbuster by jonathan franzen called "freedom." the lit gaer chat started long -- literary chat started long before min could buy it. the -- >> this is a masterpiece. what does it mean, pa? >> i don't know. i don't reckon anybody knows. friends, it's even been on the cover of "time" magazine. do you realize what a big deal that is? we're talking the cover of "time" magazine here. and three weeks before the book even came out, president obama was fighting for freedom. so what is it all about? if you read the previous bestseller, the corrections, in 2001, you'll feel like you're in pretty familiar territory. the whole story follows the rise and fall of a troubled married couple with two children in
st. paul, minnesota. it's classic franzen, a smart, finely-fanged take on suburban life. we're trying to figure out where readers are any kind of a platform and reach them with book criticism or book news. like everybody else. >> host: and are you finding success? >> guest: the book videos, it has been fun to talk to those who see them and enjoy them. i don't know what numbers are yet. on twitter i meet people, readers all over the country, and that's great fun. facebook too. it is fun to talk to people, and it's weird to have relationships now over several years with people and talk about books that i will never, ever meet. enjoyable. >> host: a lot of washington post writers are also authors. do you review washington post -- >> guest: we do, and that is tricky because a lot of my colleagues do write books in the office. and we go through a very strict process to make sure those books are assigned to people that have no connection to us, that aren't
trying to pay us back, that aren't trying to soft pedal a review, and it is the worst part of my job, is waiting for those reviews to come back of my friends' books. and they're not always, they're not always positive. that's really agonizing. but we think it's important to our independence as a book review section. all my colleagues put up with it, you know, even if it hurts their feelings, they know -- and i can honestly say they've all been supportive even under the worst circumstances. >> host: what book reviews do you read? >> guest: i read that other book review on the east coast -- >> host: that would be "the new york times"? >> guest: yeah. i've heard good things. the l.a. book review is a great start-up online -- it's not a start-up anymore, but i'm very impressed by quality of their reviews, and i read those trade reviews in publishers weekly. i'm trying to figure out what to assign three months out. as far as book review sections, the guardian, just a great section. i'm full of envy for their book