tv Blood at the Root CSPAN December 29, 2016 12:21am-1:34am EST
forsyth county one hour drive from here he received his ph.d. in renaissance literature off and a fulbright scholar and national endowment for the arts fellow in recipient of the translation prize for for his translation mark. his poetry flexion a finalist for the book award for tonight's feed will discusses 111th book story o "blood at the root" a racial cleansing in america." facing the broader and historical phenomenon thator led to similar violence around detonation and the story that is tragically
much larger than and foresight county. into tell the story who have been debased from the historical record i've excited l1 negative excited to welcome home before and this is a most famous figure from forsyth county. [laughter] patrick phillips. [applause] >> thank you for coming and for that introduction with from for inviting me call coming medium history center and i will talk about my book of the story of the
racial cleansing 30 miles north of here from the '70s and '80s. because the last time i was here i was doing research and in the archives for a run discoveries that eurekaed moment that there were false turns that did not pan out to find day couple of letters so there was a deep debt to that history center and a heartfelt thinks to the archivist at the library and and to all the donors to support this work and books like pied would not be possible with alpha briefly.
and hope this turns into a conversation i was in brooklyn said this is a little different to do this in atlanta as people here have involvement. but before that there are things i want to title falafel for of racial cleansing looks like. . . and i want to flee you how the whole project came to be. for and has set foot sphere teaching and every and my other life i am really a poet.
into nonfiction challenge me 10 years ago to finally tell the story. and one of the rare people when. >> host: was from forsyth county and has an african-american woman she was also the head cheerleader i need to mention that. [laughter]ld decided they the only poet laureate who was also head chair later. [laughter] and a dear friend of mine and her father was white mother was a black woman and she was born 1964 her parents' marriage was illegal in the state of mississippi she has written about this agreed deal. those who know her work so the project release started
with the late-night conversation at a professional writing conference in new york is a riding in a cab and she really surprised me by asking me a startling question i did not see coming. why is it sheet as other in woman of color but i is a white man for one of the most racist places in the country and she knew that was she found out where i was from, i never said a word about weakness - - white this why is a racist subject only four black writers writing keyboard not involved complex there really did change my life. so i went on the search for the truth of the story that i had always heard about forsyth county park appearance moved to forsyth
from sandy springs now is an affluent suburb of atlanta won back to write the book i was constantly getting lost i eight did not recognize any of it but it was a sleepy place a lot of cow pastures and chicken housespa and as more part of those appellation with foothills land suburban atlanta but when i got there it was something strange that unlike in my old neighborhood there was no black people many where. when i asked about a kid on the school does told me what their parents and grandparents had told them. . .
it's easy to forget now that a 1987 o1987 and was rather controversial and so a guy named chuck blackburn that moved from california and had been shot none of his friends from color in atlanta would come north to visit him he came up with a modest plan to march 2 miles along the road to indigo where there would be speeches celebrating martin luther king and it was called the brother march.syth. before the demonstration began, the kings center was joined by a small handful.
my sister noticed an ad in a paper and processe brought thisy parents attention. the. a lot of them were armed and they convinced them to abandon the march and they got back on the bus and headed back towards atlanta. they were sitting on the site of the road with their car in the distance and a lot of very angrh white people between them and the car and they were eventually lured into the police cruiser but i think my dad double checked the locks that night.
this is th the day that lewis ws leading the marchers up the edmonds bridge in 1965, so i found this photograph moving 22 years later in the same situation. i was 16 that year and like a typical teenager, i was late top meet my parents. when i finally got their and was looking for my parents i knew the march was going to conclude at the courthouse, so i went expecting to hear you say williams and other members talking finally within the county speaking out about all this. i fell in with a bunch of otherr young men walking towards theg d courthouse and only when one of them held up the news did i
realize i wasn't in the middle of a peace march but i stumbled my way into the middle of the victory celebration. and i thought i had imagined cele this guide. i remember vaguely i thought that is an exaggeration. then in writing the book i was in contact with a photographer and she sent me photographs that were not published and when i clicked on this one, i couldn't believe it. i was standing close to where the photograph was taken at that moment. there were a lot of racial slurs and jokes and there was a lot of
what we would consider bad behavior but this is the moment i realized there was something unusual. a week later, 20,000 people came into this is the best known part of the story. john lewis, dred scott king, gary hart was running for president and first viscount he was all of a sudden on the national news with a lot of attention focused on it. they filmed an episode of oprah winfrey. you can find this if you look at verse i county. only six months into her show and she filmed an episode on the county's where, the coming square. once the national media picked up the story, verse i come to my hometown team known as one of the racist places in america and jim crow segregation. fast forward two decades i was a
long way from my childhood in georgia living in new york and after that conversation i decided to finally see if i could learn the truth about that old ghost story. i call it goes to story because it was always told in these mythic terms and it was hard to believe any of it was real, the story of a murder bureau and rampage by what i would imagine was ku klux klan. i wondered if the whole thing was a racist fantasy, something kids like to talk about in the backseat of thback seat of the i typed in to the newspaper database up came a list of headlines that sure enough toldc of an 18-year-old woman who was raped and killed near the base of the river allegedly by three black men. here is a photograph of her.
she was near where my parents house was near this little village. i was in graduate work on the 17th century plague outbreak. i was bored and tired of writing my dissertation so i was playin hooky. but this computer terminal had a lot of information coming online as of 2005 a lot of things were coming online for the first time in archives like the history center libraries were scanning all this information andor digitizing it so with the newspapers and the stories i always imagined as murky ands in unknowable suddenly started to come into view sway click a link that led to the old constitution and this is what came up. this is from october 2.
the prisoners in front on the left, jean daniel, her brother oscar daniel ki young 18-year-old man, ed collins was 24, isaiah. the two boys here, oscar daniel and ernest knox would eventually be hanged for the murder they didn't know any of that when i first saw this picture. it was something i couldn't escape. as i panned across the photograph i knew it would raise more questions than it answered. if they belong to the teenage boys that were doomed to swing for their crime, which to him if they were accused of raping and killing macron, who were the others. i questioned if they ever lived in riverside but now i was face to face with the truth or something closer to it than i ever thought i would get.
it made me realize while the image i grew up with was riddled with lies, it's hard for some -- no myth. these were people at the start of the season of violence that woulwould lead to the expulsionf all 1,098 african-american residents of verse i. as i learned more i begin to understand how they stripped the names, dates and places that had always made the racial cleansing seem like only a legend. like something we would never fully understand rather than what it was, a deliberate and sustained campaign of terror. this is another photograph i came upon early, jane and oscar being led to the street from the tower with a goat on a train and went to verse i for their trial from th,the same day october 21. i got my first look at these photographs that give me hope
that it might be possible to learn at last to the refugees of the word and what happened to them in the fall of 1912. i spent a year searching for every scrap could find a. a. they are adding their stories to a mountain of evidence now that the expulsion happened but where, when, to whom and by whom and in this case the devil was in the detailis inthe details ai was after. this is a photograph of the children exposed in 1912. the book aims to finally tell the true story behind the legend i heard so many times and speaks of a murdered girl, the court
trial and execution of two teenage boys and months of terrorism and arson that succeeded for nearly a century. the characters include the county sheriff and even if i didn't call you you could guess who is was a villain and who ia good guy. i'd been thinking about these for a long time before i found a photograph of them and when i saw this picture i thought that's definitely read on the left. characters include the county sheriff who a few years later helped found the local chapter of the ku klux klan and the number of unexpected heroes including the deputy who tried desperately to stop the violence and the mayor that held up in lynch mob. the protagonist of the heart of
the story are the african-american farmers in the field and the ministers and the merchants and servant the servat were forced out. all my life these people had been absent from a civilization whose names i discovered were unknowable and lost forever that i've come to know more about them than i ever thought possible and how heroically they carried on. this is the largest black property owner and the county and helped the methodist church and was a leader in the in the community. one of the lies i picked up is that the community was a monolithic group of poor or marginal sharecroppers and there were plenty of people like that, but there were also educated and property owning african-american citizens who were deeply enmeshed in the culture that some of the elite white people in the counties so this was a
surprise to me it's complicated my sense of the community. i am hopeful that this one story which is a kind of historical sample drilling down for 200 years in the life might suggestr ways we can begin to come to grips with the nation's history and racial violence and injustice. as i was working on about truth and reconciliation hearings were never far from my mind was for their insight about the effect of denial and the healing power of the truth. i've been confronted by those that were angry that i was dredging up what they saw as ancient history most recently in the comments section of the institution which i made the mistake of scrolling that far down. but it's still there. people see the need to want to reward of the revolutionary piece process without first
paying the price of facing the truth. when i started searching in the sources like the documents and data centercenters archives i fn and again the myth of the racial cleansing contains distortions and often outright lies many designed to shield whites from the guilt and pain of whated happened in from facing their ancestor's involvement in the crime. i've been told by example the clan did this but i wanted the original was prosecuted out of existence in the 1870s and wasn't reconstituted until 1950. there are people that probably know this story. in the wake of the lynching as a number of stories you will hear in a minute. i learned the night riders i always envisioned as a kid were
the invention of filmmaker g. w. griffith and his blockbuster movie the birth of a nation. in atlanta in 1915 and was the new clan, the modern clan that imitated the film rather than the other way around so the first night writers came out and watched the film and that's when it all comes out of his imagination but that rebirth was still three years in the future in 1912 and so it is impossible that the campaign of terrorism is the work of the klansmen. who wer are the persons unknown responsible for the purge? i found a letter written by an 80 year old who is another one of those moments when searching and then there's something significant. a 14-year-old girl when she at
the very end of her letter recalling how all hell broke loose on the night of the funeral, jordan wrote the clan did and do this it was ordinary people in the county. how did they manage to drive out more than a thousand of their black neighbors? i realized i left my boo butt bk here. one second. [laughter] i'm back. how did they manage to drive out more than a thousand representing almost 10% of the county's population? i found one startling example returned to the governor in georgia at the outset of the troubles and this is from a document i found in the atlanta history center collection.
a longtime resident was a grand maki browfriendof maggie brown r hearing reports about the lawlessness he wrote to the governor to make sure browngover understood the convictions haven't bought the end to the mob of violence and the situation was growing worse by the day. a very important matter i desire to draw your attention to is the protection of the citizens of georgia and first i. there's a gang of night writers that have run off all the negroes and they ar their bold r operations. it seems they are sheriff's fearful and cowardly. c they held a raid on the group of young women and against the children after whites made sure the adult men were okay and the women were unarmed. five men went to a house and sent a young man to see if the
women had any guns and they went up and on with a baby in arms in pouring rain. they shot the dogs go dog's guil their furniture and clothing and set fire and burned dogs and all. the image of a young mother with a baby in arms driven out into ththe storm is her family's household was burned down. he also knew the governor what he troubled by news that farmland lay abandoned. i land will not be called to did this yeagetit this year he wrote governor which will be allowed in texas to both state and counties where it cannot be found. is this to go on a.
rampage against the black racists. rob edwards was never tried in all he was dragged from the jail, beaten with crowbars and hung from a telephone pole. this is the same square i watche the fourth of july parade where i bought my first baseball glove and you can go there now but you won't find a sign of a. the two other prisoners and his cousin were tried and convicted of the rape and murder during the trial but new new ten morris
himself the future will ensure that would have the hanging of a man named leo frank so if you know the story, the ringleader of that is abducted from the state penitentiary area i think in louisville so the leader of the lynching is the judge who hears the trial of these two boys. they would join him in that party and the sheriff as well as the jurors would go on to find the ku klux klan in the 20s.
this is to say again and again from the legend i heard as a kid i had been led to believe thatli community was made up of the marginal illiterate field hands those educated, prosperous and enmeshed within born a slave and to slowly and steadily the property and person i spread the mountain going marc more to 200s and i followed this guy and his wife from slavery to emancipation to owning a tiny bit of land and over the course of 30 or 40 years, investing the profit and buying a little more land to make sure that this isie the deal and they eventually hae
built this 200-acre farm but it happened over a long time so this was undoubtedly home. there was also all over a local minister and a teacher who would go on to find the high school in gainesville which for 40 years were african schools in north georgia and finally, there was a black minister that owned 120 acres in the county and was inducted as the first and only black member in a group of clergymen. i should add that i'm honored to have these descendents you withs us tonight.tewart charles leroy.gr [applause] >> their generosity and kindness
to me when i was a total stranger calling to ask about the family is typical of the descendents i interviewed and the great grandchildren and great great grandchildren has been one of the rewards of this work. i could never tell the story without their help.without th all these discoveries in the archivearchives in georgia helpd expose the falseness of a very convenient old lie that all the refugees had been marginal and never owned much in the county anyway so the expulsion was no major crime. this was implied and said when i was a kid. instead, prosperous owners weree driven out most by th the white sheet to the klansmen with klanh ordinary white men they had known and worked with all their lives. which brings us finally to the most folkish ufo and that is of land and reparations. 1987 in the wake of the marchers
governor joe frank harris appointed a committee to investigate the history and tool look into the charge of the unlawful taking land. i want to read a passage to tell you how the community worked in its highly controversial findings. the story stated though i never knew what came of the committee it took a year to go through its work and i've never seen the findings until i was working on this. only a week after the news cameras recorded the scenes of violence on january 17, 1987, the meeting rooms at the county courthouse were also filled with racial strife as local lawyers and businessmen refuted the notion that the people he represented deserved anything at all from the county. here's eventually settled the dispute over the makeup of the committee by appointing six
members favorable to common whites and six deemed acceptable by the commission of the civill rights leaders.. the county committee me county l times over the next ten months tasked with improving race relations in the county and investigating 1912. the striking thing is that it contains not one set of findings but to. one was written by the atlanta numbers and in other words even after working together for almost a year, the races were as divided as ever and above all on the first issue they discussed, reparations for the victims of 19 faults of th1912 for the doch george archives contained a black report and a white report. not surprisingly many of them on huge amounts of property and rejected the idea of returning land or paying reparations and
they wrote at length the fear stirred up in the community. the members set in the paper that racial incidences drove a substantial number of claim economics in the exodus. they argued early signs of depression and they never figured out what that's talking about. they had an equal impact and in their view. i sat on the floor of my living room and thought my head is going to the slowed. it was a local title attorney
when the journalist went looking in 2,007 he discovered a mountain of evidence. they quietly absorbed into the q property have been neighbors anr ironically they were in the basement of the county courthouse which the committeeal met. it's a suburban housing developments built with homes. once was taken with a wink and a nod has become some of the most valuable real estate in all of atlanta. they changed the paper that was submitted to the governor and scolded the descendents of the expelled families themselves.
the report for perpetuating the devices and contract issues and an ever pointing finger of blamt that fosters volatile presentiment. there is no similarity in 1912 and they have no apologies to make to anyone. they also have no han handout oa welcoming hand of fairness and effort as has built this county for over 150 years. they suggest the way that it wasn't just a product but thepr primary cause.
by wiping them out of memory thm generations of law-abiding white citizens could go on believing that each new pilot episode was an extraordinary event.ev members of the committeeco recognized the role of the denial into said as much in the competing report. there seems to be a prevailingi philosophy. it allows for the growth andgr spread of the philosophies and silence is interpreted as consent it was that the tradition of silence, denial and motivated me to write to the first place.
i always told the full story in 1912 and started the project when i thought no one else was going to write it but if i wanted the truth i would have to research it myself. i found that many sold early often at depressed prices given that they were in no position to bargain. others held onto their land in hopes of coming back someday when it became clear it was no place for a black man and finally they left with nothingrs in exchange for their land and whose property has no record of the sale. 1987 they claimed there is no evidence and they mysteriously disappeared in the transactions. it seems that happened with a little more than a wink and a nod at the county courthouse as one clerk after another ignored
history and about whites to sell prosperparcels of land they dep. the crimes had been explosive in 1912 that there were happenings quietly one at a time. i've been working on a story for many years and it's not shocking to go home to see how successfully these have been written.t much has changed and it's now 10% latino and 8% asian and 3% african-american. i was heartened to learn that the candidate was currently running for the state senate seat and per side and i'm honored to have him here as well my friend daniel blackman running in the 27th congressional district. he is on the ballo ballot in the notorious count county as a test for how much has changed but there is still a lot of work to.
do and i'm rooting for him to win on november 8, because if he does they might finally have ay leader of the wil that will lete the county's history and put an end to more than 100 years of the denial. there is then no reckoning. i will read one more excerpt near the end of the book.s. people are working and shopping in the stores walking the streets in the town square sending their children to the local schools. what you won't find is a singlee trace of any acknowledgment to define the county for most of the 20th century. instead of the timeless suburbia
has covered over to realize that it was white only just a few decades ago that along to theer farmers. how could they know there are no photographs among the confederate portraits in the county's historical society. gazing out over the square is a larger than life statue of some of the self-described defenders
of the white domination he was the famous son of his moment came when the visiting head of state in 1984 spoke before congress and was joking with a colleague that in the good old days that king would have brought $1,500. the caucus of democrats who succeeded by the end reversinggh nearly all of the gains they made under the reconstruction and at the end of the day colonel balthus proud of having stopped what he called a folly. athe statue is new.
welcome to the corner of main street you will find signscounts everywhere with the glass façade of the jail, branches of the major banks but nothing will point you to the spot where on the afternoon of september 10, 1912 nowhere is there a photograph of this seems to be the same stills in the recurring state of insurrection. if history is written by the victors 100 years after the expulsion, the victorious white people in verse i hav i have red the racial cleansing completely out of mind and anyone familiar with the crime of 1912 might expect to find signs of reflection, apology and even truth and reconciliation that is only a deafening silence now that they joined the level ofirn wealth and ancestors could never
have imagined it is clear most would prefer to believe this tale of lynching, murder and theft of terror in the archives safely hidden in praying before plain sight. the significance is known to dwindling hands of people that still remember the stories they once heard that one old-timer's feet. in closing i want to make a case for white americans to take up the challenge that the tauscher gave to me a decade ago which is to delve into the physicalhe history of home and seek out the truth about the injustices that shape so many places in thisrms country wake redlining, unemployment and lending discrimination. i learned talking about race can feel like a minefield and i never imagined i would be
talking about this. like a lot of people i spent much of my life until now tiptoeing around the subject to uphold the hippocratic oath do no harm ca, give no offense. although he might have a faint southern drawl -- that might be debatable. i seldom forge seldom forgets tt takes note of the victims were bystanders but the white male perpetrators and for a long time i approached discussions with anxiety in person and on the page but when i began probing the surface of my homesperous a prosperous veneer i found this loyal rich with black schoolhouses, homes, churches and i can now see my silence on the subject wasn't respectful or polite as i used to pretend.
instead i was being dangerously in curious about the history of my home. it took decades before i woke ui and began asking the right questions and as difficult and painful as it was to learn what the refugees endured writing the book also gave me an unexpected glimmer of hope to truth and reconciliation might still be possible even in places like pli verse i where prosperity is on the edge of the expulsion and communal fact that it begins healing those wounds they must turn and face the profound involvement in the struggle for equafora quality into the deep curiosity of what reallyentury i happened in the seemingly innocenthat seeminglyinnocent p. james baldwin said the architects of injustice cannot fall through the innocent it's the innocent that constitutes
the crime. with racial strife threatening o two separate communities acrossp the nation i believe we can no longer afford to remain ignorant of ancestors violence that gave birth to this violent president. i want to thank you all for listening and for coming and iia am hopeful this might generate a conversation and i think we've opened up for questions and again thanks to the history center and to c-span for covering the event and all of you ar for coming and listening. [applause]e rais [inaudible] >> i'm miked up whether i stand here or not, right?
but today they are demonized whether you believe in christianity, male, female [inaudible] >> i'm going to try to pick up on a few things you said.th i understand what you're saying and i wouldn't want to claim in the book to have gotten to the bottom of exactly where thisf el comes from. i got interested in how they perpetuated for so long and what happened in 1912 has to be situated in the context of the democratic party at the time. but what's interesting is the
same effort happened a lot of places and i got into interested it's not that this happened in 1912 that i1912 but it was stilg in 1987 so that's the unique part of it across generations that requires the transmission so i was interested and you can explain this from the context of the period it's happening and that's just how it was in those days.ns a lot it happened in a lot of places. the local sheriff send a deputy who pursued, arrested, charged and tried and convicted and
jailed the men that did it into their names were in the front page of the paper and later thes sheriff told the reporter we don't need troops to stop this we will crush it and by simply engaging in the wall that's what happened. there is no record of an arrest or any other engaging in a response to the crimes when they were perpetrated. i do understand what you're saying that the same time i don't buy the argument that this is how things worked at theo wee time. there were people that tried to stop it. a
>> [inaudible] who >> who is your great grandfather [inaudible] tellhat deserves a hand. thanks for coming and telling us that. >> listening to you talk aboutog the statue in cummings square tore me a little bit because there's a lot going on right now and i'm a mother and i have a son who is 13 [inaudible]
>> thank you for sharing all that. when you say it feels like it is still going on, i was watching the news seeing these deaths and one of the things i couldn't shake is these were big man and rob edwards, the man that was lynched was known as big rob edwards and so when i saw the cases happening over the last year i couldn't shake the parallel that these were large men and seemed to be a targeting of them simply because they were tall, just like what you said. there are some sociologists that have done research on this and it's not imaginary, they frequently targeted tall large
men who often came from outside somewhere else, if they didn't have kids often nearby they were targeted. i don't have a solution for race in america. i don't have a solution. what i found one thing that motivated the book, the devils in the details and it matteredai who, what, when, where and how and that microscopic look at one place i don't have an answer for how we reconcile that i have a rebuttal and i became convinced there are a lot of people who would like forgiveness and reconciliation but don't want to do that hard work of turning and facing the reality of it.
you have people with two different histories andgs of th understandings of what it's like to walk around in 2016. i don't have an answer but i wish i did. i have a faith that the truth is some part of tha it and the only thing i could add is one smallwh piece of the truth [inaudible] >> before >> befor the march i moved into
this has everything to do with it and was very demoralizing. it's totally embracing [inaudible] >> thank you so much for sharino your memories of being there. i want to pick up on one thing you saisomethingyou said which f the kind of wishful thinking that maybe it's all over and this goes all the way back to the beginning of the newspaper articles over and over again the
last paragraph of the article would say no further trouble is expected. a i understand it comes out ofns wishful thinking now this is over and we will be done withh it. i found things in the journal where people would say why are you digging this up, leave us alone. 17-years-old in 19121968 he told the reporter if they just leave us alone this would all be okay. through his whole life this occurred and he was still repeating if you just leave it alone it will all be okay so that's one of the main ideas i was writing against the.
>> can everyone hear me? >> c-span might not. >> i want to thank you kindly for your presentation and for documenting everything in the book. your research and looking at the census records did you find a date which the migration of african-american people began was less than 20 years ago [inaudible]
>> i wouldn't be surprised. this is what my friends in new york said is how does this end. there's not a date. as a sociologist who wrote an article and at the end his conclusion was a tsunami of atlanta development int and at a certain point it breaks and washes over the county and iton was about 80,000 but now it is over 200,000 today and that means these families were just outnumbered at a certain point. there were so many newcomers in the county.
in the census even then it's very gradual. there are 600 all at the southern edge of the county. it looks like any other and daniel may know better than i do this 4.6. i'm not ready to give anybody aa gold medal. all i can come up with is the growth and arrival of so many people in the county and also maybe generational change.
>> thank you for your research. were you able to unearth in the details anything that started this whole issue? >> i'm not going to lie i wish i could tell you i solved the crime. i don't know what happened to her. i didn't want to say anything in the book that i didn't document. i'm proudest of the 35 pages of notes in the back. i didn't want anything somebody could claim was poetic liars orh
claims. i didn't have the facts to make the claims but i found overwhelming evidence to the. o-oscar daniel was described as the lowbrow guerrilla type ofth negro, rapist. then you see the picture there is all screwed daniel wright a air. here he is 16-years-old. then his cousin, second from tht left, e. teen-years-old.
i'm not saying automatically they are innocent but when you look at census records they were the young black men in the area and at their trial was conducted by the sheriff that arrested then the future member of the ku klux klan. i felt sadder and sadder the more i read. i wish i could have exonerated him in the courthem in the court there's no o question the scruty today.iginatin this is the originating moment of the injustice that came aft after. thank you all so much for listening. [applause]
>> if you want to read a book written by a poet, 25% off tonight and he will sign it for you. thank you for coming to th. [applause] >> that was patrick phillips. i'm the review editor of the publishers weeklforpublishers wl tell you a little bit about how we choose our list of the best books each year. there are eight of us in the reviews department and at the end of the year, we pull the
pool of freelancers and ask them what they thought were the best books in over the course of the year the each read as many of them as we can ourselves. one i read and enjoyed is this next book i contain multitudes which is about the unexplored world of the micro bio. [inaudible conversations] >> thank you all for coming. you are all in a panel that is a discussion in which we