Skip to main content

tv   Stephen Carter Invisible  CSPAN  December 31, 2018 2:20pm-3:16pm EST

2:20 pm
the book is literally coming out and i think it is a month or two. and this tiny little t.v. show debuts for the first time on the air called the west wing. and everybody, at that moment in time, becomes interested in the white house again. and a week or two or a month later, my book comes out. and suddenly the only dumb as it had anything to do with the white house was the west wing and me. in the book took off. >> you can watch this and any of our programs in their entirety at type in the authors name in the search bar at the top of the page. >> all right. good evening, everyone. thank you for joining us today.
2:21 pm
am patty -- this is for the new book "invisible". organization and humanities they use history, literature, philosophy and other disciplines to help enhance the life of people in can learn more on mass we are pleased to have c-span booktv here taping two nights event.when asking questions in the q&a please know that you will be recorded. wait a big moment for the microphone overhead to come to you. we will conclude with time for questions. after which we have a book signing right here at this table. the line will form down the aisle to my left and we have copies of "invisible" for sale in the next room. and there is 20 percent off this evening to the book discount is how we say thank
2:22 pm
you for buying books here at harvard bookstore. your purchase to support this author series and ensure the future of an independent bookstore. so thank you. finally, a quick reminder to silence your cell phones for the talk. now, i'm very pleased to introduce two nights speaker, stephen carter, the professor of law at yale university where he has taught for over 30 years. he served as a law clerk for justice thurgood marshall. received eight honorary degrees and recently delivered the debbie-- he has books that are fiction and nonfiction. -- the emperor of ocean pike one that was on the new york times bestseller list. tonight he is here to present his new book, "invisible". the forgotten story of the black woman lawyer who took down america's most powerful mobster.
2:23 pm
and it is your market is brimming with intellect and quit. and new york times best-selling author, walter isaacson praises it as a riveting and moving story. one with enormous revenues for our own time. we are so pleased to have this author here with us tonight. please join me in welcoming, stephen carter. [applause] >> well, thank you for the kind introduction and thank you all for coming out. i think -- i think the harvard bookstore for having. i had to cancel last time and they said don't where we will reschedule. now three years later we are here! here i am. it is a pleasure to be here i suspect most of you know my work that you know me much better for my fiction. but this was a book that had been rolling around inside of my head for a long time and i
2:24 pm
want to get into the book in a sense of talking backward. before talk about the book i want to talk about the historical moment that gave rise to it. you have to take yourself back to new york in the 1930s. there had just been a big gang war in which the black gangs of harlem had been wiped out or subjugated to a coalition of various white ethnic gangs. harlem matter because it was the most lucrative territory in the country for organized crime. also because of members game. it was played and also employed between 10 and 20,000 whose job it was running numbers.
2:25 pm
they were dominant new york and there was cry from civic reformers and newspapers it was time to get serious about the mob and to try and investigate. the problem was that the district attorney in new york at the time, a man named dodge, was in the pocket of the mob and had no intentions of doing any kind of investigation. so, there came the runaway grand jury. the grandeur that so we don't want anyone else in the office. we want a special prosecutor to investigate organized crime and dodge eventually gave in. and the special prosecutor was finally appointed was thomas dewey. he later ran for president. that is how he originally came to public attention. when he took over you have some conditions. among that was that he would hire his own staff, his own offices, no one with any connection to the government in new york would work for him. and he hired 20 young lawyers. and 20 young lawyers, this paper is immediately labeled,
2:26 pm
the 20 against the underworld. and the 20 lawyers were 19 white males and one black woman. in the black woman was the subject of the book. "invisible", her name was eunice hunton carter. as some of you know, i sometimes hide the ending but she was my grandmother. so you have to imagine being a black lawyer, being a woman lawyer in 1930s in new york. it is a time when the bar was deeply segregated by race. they had a rule against black members for example at the time. they were very few women lawyers certainly very few black women lawyers in the country. for a black woman to become a prosecutor especially a special prosecutor was a big deal! it was a big deal. and it was news from coast-to-coast. dewey hires negro. you would see this in
2:27 pm
newspapers, she was in multiple stories and they were a lot of them about dewey's hiring ofhis staff , hers was the only photograph because it was kind of a man bites dog, this black woman, what is she doing there? he hired 20 lawyers, whose job was to investigate and break organized crime. and he gave press conferences, and he said that he wasn't interested in say, a conviction for tax evasion or something like that. or prostitution. he wanted what he called the real crime. like loansharking, or murder. municipal corruption, drug running. various things. and because of his political ambitions he had to make sure that he was not a certain crusade appear so they were given different things to look into they were all independent. do we had a big office and there was a long row of offices for the assistance and they
2:28 pm
were 19 white men and also the furthest down from dewey was a black woman in her office. and working on loansharking and corruption and one was working drug smuggling and so on and so on and there was eunice hunton carter at the end of the hallway and she was assigned to work on prostitution. because what he discovered when he invited new yorkers to succumb to my office, he would speak to my assistant didn't tell me what crimes are bothering you and your neighbor and he was waiting for people to come and say drugs were being sold and there was some of that. but mainly, new yorkers were concerned about as i used to worry about streetwalkers. but he had no intention of
2:29 pm
trying a prosecution case so we gave it to the black woman on the staff to look into. and he made clear to her this was not something that would ever be tried because he did not think it was i should take down organized crime in new york. now, one of the things that happened historically was that the few female prosecutors that existed in the analysis of the term and there were not very many, almost all of them were assigned to what we called the women's courts. which try the prosecution, child abandonment and others. the women's courts were seen as a graveyard from which the career of female prosecutors never recover when she went there you never got out.while eunice was not a women's court prosecutor but she was essentially assigned to the same work. she was assigned to work in prostitution. and i think a different person might have complained about that different person might have figured that it was over but she took it seriously.
2:30 pm
because alone among the investigators, in dewey's office, she believed that the mob had a hand in prostitution. and it was at the time when they had a lot of mob activity and there were a lot of entrepreneurs basically, she believed other words. her theory was the mob takes a cut of every other illegal activity in the city and it would be absurd that this multilane relativity pays nothing to the mob very long story short, she spent a lot of time alone in the office and you can find in the records, big heaps of files known also touch. and she was actually going to put together what she thought was a pretty good case that the mob controlled prostitution in new york. around this time, the man was thought to be the head of the mob, and eventually luciano,
2:31 pm
who rose to power that became the most powerful mafia leader in the nations history, at least that is what most historians seem to think. and so, luciano became the target. and the problem that dewey had was that he could not connect luciano to any crimes. the units that had spent a lot of time on the records and a lot of time talking to the woman, were involved, believe that she could connect luciano to prostitution. so finally, he allowed her to organize a raid. february first, 1936. 160 new york police officers, none of them vice offices, none of them had worked together before because of the corruption they were sent to raid 80 brothels simultaneously. in the idea was to arrest all the women. why? because there were these
2:32 pm
people, the fixers. their job was one of the people was arrested, the fixer gets her out of jail. so she won't turn evidence. so they rest the fixers the night before quietly. then they rested 160 woman, there were fewer than that but -- and they brought a judge in that came to the building where dewey's offices were to set high bail that the women could not possibly make in order to hold them as material witnesses. and then they waited for them to turn on higher ups and we should know, nowadays, is a staple of prosecution. you arrest the people lower down. you give them a reduced sentence. and then at the time it was a very controversial practice. there were a lot of serious lawyers that said it was unethical to offer a reduced sentence in return for -- if you did the crime, you did the
2:33 pm
time. should have a special way of getting out of that. and it was read by a lot of people as inherently unreliable. the governor of new york was one that said he thought it was terrible that dewey was, and dewey was the guy he picked to be the special prosecutor in it that it was terrible that dewey was trading a sentence for information. but trade, do we did. and eunice did most of the work with the women. in the end, luciano was indicted for prostitution. he fled to hot springs, arkansas. we eventually, he was tracked down and he was arrested after he first offered $50,000 bribe to the attorney general arkansas if he would let him stay. but eventually he was extradited and brought back and the only crime he was ever convicted of, it was all because of the work done by this black woman alone in her cubicle. at the end of the hall. now, this being the period that it was, here's the other
2:34 pm
picture. dewey hires this black woman. she develops the case against luciano, she is the one that gets the woman to turn against him, she develops almost all the information use to convict him in trial. but when they try the case it was dewey and three male assistance trying the case. eunice did have some response abilities but she did not have that particular one. and this pattern repeated itself a few years ago and dewey became the district attorney of new york. he decided to go after jimmy hines, who was probably the most powerful politician in the state of new york. and it was the same thing. that eunice largely developed the case against him, did the research, she got people to turn and talk to try the case it was dewey and the white male assistance that ended up doing the actual work. i'm not saying that dewey was not thankful, he always thanked her publicly.
2:35 pm
and when he became da he had her in the special bureau where the black press of the time, they reported she was with 71 white male lawyers. and so, she had a with career as a prosecutor and a very successful one. now, let's put this aside for a minute. and i will tell you a related story then i will do a couple of conclusions and let you ask your questions. so eunice had a yellow brother. and the parents were big black activist that believed in education and its importance. both of them were phenomenally well educated. but they went different ways. eunice became a very prominent republican. after member this is at the time when most black people voted republican and in fact the republican party was that of civil rights in the 30s and 40s and the democratic party quite emphatically, they had to get the players straight. and she was heavily involved with political campaigns and
2:36 pm
dewey ran for president, he cited eunice as evidence that he was not prejudiced because the, he looked at this woman, she done all these great things, she was ahead of the biggest bureau and so on. but she was a traditionalist, and she had a younger brother who had degrees in harvard where he was very badly treated. and nyu. he was a scholar, he had a wonderful dissertation about tennyson and socialism and the literary circle. multilingual. but he was also a communist. and he was not acute he was a member of the communist party. a high ranking member. he did favors for intelligence, he was a serious committed communist. the fbi file was 700 pages
2:37 pm
which in comparison to something like twice as long as martin luther kings fbi file. and so the two of them took these very different paths. one conservative, traditional republican and you have a communist. and they want to bring the whole thing down. now i mentioned that for the following reason. obviously they had disagreements but they begin was the mother died in the 1940s they grew apart. and younes among other things, not all did she think that her brother was wrong and he thought she was wrong too of course but she thought her brother was hurting her career. because what she wanted most was to be a judge. and people from that -- for example, william rogers who was secretary of state and attorney general was one against the
2:38 pm
underworld. murray -- became a very distinguished federal judge was one of the 20 against the underwear. -- there were about six or seven i became judges. and that is what she wanted most of all. and she never got it, she didn't get to be a judge. she never actually achieved that and she always believed that it was because of her brother. her brother in 1951 went to prison for refusing to name names and those of you that know my work know that i am very big on tolerance of dissent on not shutting people down and shutting people out various jobs and so on because of their views. and it comes largely from a great uncles experience. because after he got out of prison, he'd been in academic and he could not get work at the time. he was with all of his coefficients, he worked in a factory for a while.
2:39 pm
he had a ready he couldn't really publish. he finally left the country in the 50s and never returned. he went to ghana and then zambia. he spent a lot of time traveling as he would not be surprised to learn, in the soviet union and in china. but he never came back. i tell you all that for this. my grandmother blamed him for a lot. and in 1951 when he began to face legal troubles, here was his sister. who had been a prosecutor, now practicing law in new york as a trial lawyer. he never went to her for advice. he never asked her to help him in any way. he went his way alone and my father said that after he got out of prison, they never spoke again. and it was 20 years later, they died 10 days apart from each other. and in that period, to the end of their lives they begin to correspond a little bit when she was in new york and he was in africa. but they never really, they never actually reconciled.
2:40 pm
it is a tragic side but i want to focus on the things she accomplished because a way to think about again, the barriers of the time. i think the stories that, about people breaking through barriers when the barriers were very very high, are stories that we need to be telling. we need to be talking about and thinking about. when i was growing up, my grandmother was for me, justice very scary woman who'd quickly correct your grammar or which fork use at the table. she felt her grandchildren had very bad manners. and so she scared us. i didn't know anything about her life at the time. and i wrote this book of last few years i learned about her life and i'd come to understand the things that i saw as being scary were part of the fortitude and determination that carried her to succeed in the way that she did.
2:41 pm
so she actually became by the 1940s, one of the most famous black woman in america. now, there were not a lot of famous black woman in the 40s so nonetheless, she was in a magazine, something called liberty magazine. it does not exist anymore but it was the second largest magazine in the country. she was on radio shows, on television, even then, when television was young. she was very well known in part, because of luciano. of the trial. and she became very prominent as a republican political, and activist as well. i would like to say i did not do this work alone. my daughter, leah, left a law practice actually to come to be a research on the book. she dug through a lot of archives and a lot of interviews and other things as well. the book reflects her work really as much as mine.
2:42 pm
i hope to be able to be here tonight but she was not able to. so, two last points i will make and there will be happy to take questions. our anything that you would like to talk about. there is something else about eunice. in addition to what she did as a lawyer, there is something else. she was talking back in the 1930s about sexual harassment. talking publicly about it. a time when almost no one thought women in the workplace it was important. she talked about a lot. in one particular speech in 1937 for example, she talked about men who as she put it, use their positions of power to force women into she said, intimate relationships. and she said in the speech, that burning and oil for men was too good.
2:43 pm
this was a time when you did not see, this was not -- civil rights activist at the time did not want to talk about it. they worried. it is not that they didn't support but they saw this is a distraction. that if they tried to free woman at the same time that they would never get to the heart of their cause. and eunice did believe that between the end of her career she gave a speech actually increase. she did a lot of international traveling later in her life. and she talked frankly, about women are not allowed to be full citizens including the united states and she talked about as a kind of dictatorship. and she talked about the way that after a while, there is a voice that begins to whisper in your mind, she called it the dictator within.
2:44 pm
warning you not to do certain kinds of things. and they plant the seeds and peoples heads. so she was way ahead of her time on that issue as well. and we can talk about if you'd like. the last thing i want to mention about eunice is that she also came from an extra ordinary family. and her parents were both big and important activist. her father's name was william, he worked for the ymca. injected imagine it is a big battle organization with chapters all over the world. and he traveled all around the world. he most famously had lunch at buckingham palace where also he gave speeches in tokyo and other places. he was a very conservative man. but a big activist as well. those things went very closely work hand-in-hand with racial justice in late 19th century
2:45 pm
when he came along. her mother was known generally as addie. among other things, she was one of only three black women that went to europe during world war i with the black troops. there are all these hundreds of white women who went to work and now what we think of is a uso type job. so the troops replaced to unwind, before the thousand black troops only three black women. and when she came back she wrote a best-selling book about the black soldiers during world war i. a book that is still referenced when historians look. her mother went and talked to the naacp and was called a field secretary. and her particular job was to go to towns, especially in the south and midwest way clan had
2:46 pm
become so dominant that the black community had become subdued and frightened and she, this little black limo traveler towns by herself. and give these rousing speeches to get people feeling that they could do something. to face the ku klux klan and intimidation. but nevertheless, she believed in the work and traveled from what we know, quite unafraid. i should add that in the end, she left the naacp, they were complicated reasons. but one of them, she was the only females field secretary and again, this is addie, eunice 's mother began to feel mistreated as the only woman that did this fieldwork at the time. and was concerned about gender as well, and that was deeply in the blood of eunice. so here is as great an
2:47 pm
accomplished woman. the book is called "invisible" in part because at the time she started out, she was being shunted aside and she had this great period of being well known but now someone that is largely forgotten, you can occasionally find her in compilations of african-american history and so on. but a lot of history find about her is not quite right. and i try to write some of that in the book as well. her story in 2008 i published a novel that only years later i realized it had really been meant to celebrate in a sense, or generation of harlem. but i wanted to tell a story and the process i have come to realize that this woman who wants terrified me, has really become someone i really really love. and i'm very very proud. and i thank you very much and i'll be happy to take your questions. [applause] thank you. >> there is a microphone there,
2:48 pm
look up and be aware that it is there. wait for it to come over you. please, go ahead. [laughter] i just want to make sure it is there. >> the materials in the story, for example, many stories believe that dewey later on became quite comfy and cozy with -- and luciano was let go from jail and exiled to italy. did you ever come across any new information about that? >> so, i do not think dewey became comfortable with them but papers reflect that he was snookered into letting luciano go.there was intelligence that pressured him, when he became governor of new york, to parole luciano because luciano allegedly arranged protection using his mob connections for the docks in new york and
2:49 pm
sabotage and suppose they made contact with the sicilian mafia in sicily to help make the u.s. manning there easier. the stores are probably not true. history says that this was largely invented. but papers tell us that he was very resistant to letting luciano go. but luciano was ultimately released a few years after the war on condition that he accept extradition, which he did. i should add that luciano unfortunately, has become a kind of romantic figure two a lot of writers. there's a whole course of writers and a couple of novelists who say that he was framed bandwagon. they've not looked at the transcript or the evidence that my grandmother put together and it is pretty clear there was not any framing going on. we can differ over criminalizing prostitution and
2:50 pm
it is the only crime he was ever convicted of. >> wait for the microphone. that's why i keep pointing to you. please. >> you alluded to your grandmothers brothers treatment at harvard. can you go further into that? >> yes, so, her brother, alphaeus, came to harvard in 1921 to get a masters degree in literature. he had gone to howard as an undergraduate. and upon arriving at harvard, he was informed by the legendary dean of harvard graduate school. that because he went to howard university, although it was a masters program he was enrolled in, now -- when i first came across i said this must be something special to have for black students but it wasn't. you can track other students.
2:51 pm
there were black students when amherst or harvard that got their masters degree but nonetheless he was quite upset about this. and he resisted and fought it. frankly, the reason he was resisting it, he could not afford it. he did not have the money. and college tuitions were relatively low compared to now, alisa. people's income at the time -- he had trouble trying to get the money for another year. he tried several ways to get around the two year requirement. but he was never able to get around it. the other thing that's interesting, he went to harvard right after the episode that involved president lowell that you may know about. when they developed the house system at harvard, president lowell, who did a lot of great things for harvard, there's no question. but he decided that the negro students, as they were called at the time, really should not live in the houses.
2:52 pm
because they would not be comfortable there. so they should board elsewhere. and this was a huge battle, it was in all the newspapers and he was finally overruled by the harvard corporation on that. but the scores lingered as civil rights activists look toward harvard in the 1920s. that did not develop him because he was a graduate student, he would not have lived there anyway but it was part of history and it was current at the time. this gentleman right here and then we will come over here. >> what effect did -- carter's work with franklin fletcher have on dewey's decision to hire her as an investigator? >> i want to hear both questions i'll be happy to answer them both. >> second question is, the prosecution of jimmy hines
2:53 pm
began before the prosecution of luciano. and i am wondering whether eunice carter had a role in the trials of alejandro pompes-- he was my great-grandfather by the way. >> he was! let's deal with the first one first. there was a riot in harlem. after the right, mayor laguardia appointed a commission to look into this. and the first commission in u.s. history with the majority of members were black. i don't know if that's true but it's often what is written about it. so eunice was part of the commission and she was a secretary.
2:54 pm
there some accounts that say fraser, the great sociologist in the -- and historian -- the interesting story, if you look at the files of the commission, which never had much money because the city would not give it, the amount of money budgeted for it. that fraser often did not get paid until eunice as a secretary would go and beg city hall for a check for money to pay him with. and they became very close although quotes in the book the first draft of the commissions report but became close and they stayed in touch for some while although i do not know about in the later years for eunice because i don't have the records. and pompez, the raids that led
2:55 pm
to the arrest of hines in 1937. and the raids were initially directed against pompez and several other harlem members runners. pompez was enormously popular. he is your great uncle. he was enormously popular along the harlem streets. and when he was finally arrested, it actually cost something on the streets. a lot of people turned against her by the time, he was a great and colorful and wonderful man. the owner of the new york -- and she went to some games. she ended up taking a deal where he testified against hines. the reason i mention this is those times in the book where some of the others -- when i said before, when eunice was simply, prosecuting white gangsters, harlem loved her.
2:56 pm
but when do we turn his attention, this was after the numbers, a lot did turn against her at that point. the sense was that she was not, now she was doing something that was wrong. in those probably because pompez was popular and partly because 10 to 20,000 harlemites were employed there these are really colorful, he was a figure and pompez was the only numbers runner who was the baseball hall of fame. and in the baseball hall of fame. back over here. just wait one minute for this. sorry. >> i'm interested more about your grandmother. how old you were when you knew her. how close you are to her and how often you saw her. your grandfather. a little more family stuff. >> let me do a little more family stuff, that is fine.
2:57 pm
so, my grandmother died when i was in high school. and i really did not know any of the stories at the time my grandfather had died sometime earlier. my grandfather was a dentist in harlem. and then met in the 1920s when she was involved, she was a social worker and she was involved in designing and creating a free dental clinic in harlem and that appears to be when they met because he was the first dentist to volunteer to work with the clinic. they had a troubled marriage. they had a troubled marriage, i make no bones about in the book or hear. he was quite the philanderer. and i told you about the mother of eunice. her mother, addie, first came to prominence in the late 19th century as a public speaker on the duties of black motherhood.
2:58 pm
and she preached that the future of the race was dependent upon black women, basically staying home and raising children to be future leaders. now addie never stayed home. she was always off doing speeches somewhere but she preached about marital stability. in this is what eunice grew up on. even when her marriage went bad, she tried everything to keep it together because she had the sense from her mother of a duty. a duty to the race, not to leave her husband. and to try and find a way to patch things up. it appears that they did live apart briefly in the late 1930s but cannot pin down exactly when. assuming even that that actually occurred. that a very lucky marriage. when her husband was agnes with cancer in the late 50s
2:59 pm
, he sold the dental practice and she suspended other activities in order to care for him. as to my memories of her, i will share a couple of family stories. she's to come visit us every year at christmas. she will come on the train. we were in washington and she was in new york she had a fear of flying. she will come on the train and i remember meeting her at union station in washington. she always spent two days cooking the virginia ham with all more salt than you can picture. but it smelled very good and tasted very good. the other memory i have is constantly either waving her off or meeting her at dockside. she was always getting on what we called ocean liners at the time. and going to europe. she went to europe all the time. she very extensive taste, she had to go first class. and she was always wearing expensive furs so on and so
3:00 pm
forth. when her husband was alive, always wanted a mansion instead of an apartment so they went and did that and so on and so forth. and her expensive taste became, even for we as children realize that she either had money or want to the world to think she had money because she was wearing all of these fancy stuff. ... end fraser among them. something memorable about the notions they tried. a society was deeply stratified. one of the people was in reward
3:01 pm
and i was very sad. but they tried to do something in the midst of segregation, someplace taken him a a sense of accomplishment even if they don't quite agree with the way they went about doing it. what else do we have? >> experiences being admitted as solomon new york. >> i haven't told you much about education. she went to smith college, graduated in the class of me teen 21. her education was probably paid for by a very prominent smith graduate who is quite wealthy, wealthy activist and socialist and we believe she paid for unison on education at smith. when she left, she tried nina teacher in the south, washington like that very much. she returned to new york and
3:02 pm
became part of the renaissance spirit she was actually inducted into the guild, which at the time was the top of what later became the renaissance. all the people you can imagine where members and they were inducted at the same time, which led to write a letter to harold jackman to great black writers of the 20th seen how did these people get in. i didn't vote for them. she did that for a while and she was on a path that might have made her book might've made her in the arenas that ran harlem
3:03 pm
society was the path that she was on. evidently it scared her. that wasn't the life she actually wanted. she published a lot of shorts doors and essays and reviews but who knows how that would've worked out. she decided to go to law school. it's interesting if you look at law schools at the time, most of the big law schools only admitted men at the time and quite a few of them -- by no means all of them. the catholic law schools, the women's law schools. i don't know if you've heard that term or not it works created try to pick up the slack. the law schools -- they tried to shut down to give you one
3:04 pm
example. the catholic law schools had a particular mission to immigrants, to people of color in the jewish students most of them couldn't get into the law schools without really tight restrictions. so if you look at the history of the law school in urban areas, you'll find them but it's where she went. she entered in 1927 and then she got sick and left for a while. she finally went back to wherever she graduated in the early 1930s and she hung out a shingle in harlem and couldn't get any work. of course most people wanted white lawyers at the time but someone higher black men.
3:05 pm
but a black woman with something people took a while to get used to. she defended a man who is a very, very prominent black gossip columnist of the 1920s and 30s and she defended him when he was being extradited for failure to pay child support. but she lost an election jail in michigan could probably deserved it because he didn't pay child support i don't know how many years it was. she also ran for office. she ran for the state legislature. she lost in while she was on the state legislature, she took a case involving two voters whose registration was denied because of some mixup. she took the case on the eve of the election and she won that
3:06 pm
case where there were piles of hers and said they were to think about how she's out there protect your right to vote and she lost anyway in spite of that. what else do we have? over here? >> first i have a little side thing about your great uncle that he was a member of the communist party in the 30s and i just wanted to note that the communist party with very active . if not the most prominent, certainly one of the prominent forces working on now. so when we think of the party, and we might attach it to other ideas, but it's important to remember that history also. i was curious about how your father talked about his mother. >> welcome all gets out of talked about her in a minute.
3:07 pm
so a lot of black intellectuals were attracted to the communist party in the 20s and 30s. they came out for people, black americans at least around the time after the russian evolution. i do remember exactly when it was, maybe around night and 20 or so. the intellectuals of the time looked at the soviet union nearly established and saw hope. they saw the future. a lot who went and traveled there and studied for a while. it was not at all unusual to have that attraction. what was unusual as most of these people after few years decided that wasn't the way whereas her younger brother would double down and he would follow the party line. so look out for example entry into world war ii when germany and the soviet union were allies, he was adamantly opposed
3:08 pm
and as soon as germany turned on and invaded russian territory, he immediately said it's crucial that the u.s. get involved and so on and so on. my father talked about it. so here are things a little bit awkward because my father was unison is only child and when he was young, she sent him to barbados where he spent five or six years and there's a story around the das office that was because the problem was she sent him to barbados six months before she was hired by luciano, so that can't possibly be the reason. my father used to say she thought she wanted to get out
3:09 pm
underfoot. she immediately sent off to press school as soon as he got back. nevertheless, used to talk about her a great deal mainly with enormous respect. i'm not going to say with affection, but with respect and he learned a lot from her. he used to say that his happiest moment was this moment in the mid-late 1920s when he was a little kid in his early 30s. his mother got very sick and she had some surgery and so she went to florida to recuperate with one of her mother's best friends where he spent some month and he went down with her on the train and later in his life my father with a bad train ride with his mother when i think he was six or seven years old was the happiest time they ever had because he wasn't paying
3:10 pm
attention to him and had not experienced that he remembered at least. so he really loved our time together. he had enormous risk that and he just never told the story when he was alive. what was interesting is this only after he died i started hearing stories. i knew nothing of any of that when i was growing up. one or two more questions right here. and then there's one in the front. [inaudible] really must've made him look like a big shot. >> i think that's a really good point that the luciano trial made a national figure and like most national figures he decided he ought to be president. we are talking -- so, convicted
3:11 pm
in 1936. 1940, run for president. in 1940 he ran for president and actually read the convention when he got there. but he didn't get the nomination wendell wilkie got the nomination. the last candidate by which i mean a candidate who took a compromise at the end and of course got thrashed by roosevelt wilkie and my grandmother became very close. so in 1942 to a campaign for president and he runs in 1944,
3:12 pm
and they are drafting not impersonating and these were very important and given a lot of scrutiny. if you see the book, on the cover of the book is a picture of units standing there in the man next to her with his hand up in the air like that. in 1944 refusing to yield the floor between what the platform ought to say. in both 44 and 48 and he talked about her a lot when he was trying to bring the black vote back. that was his plan for winning. his plan didn't work she
3:13 pm
remained for after even though by the late 40s the black vote which had been heavily republican in the 1920s had switched in the wake of the depression the other way. we don't actually know that. we know that it was different in the data to say exactly what happened with a few little precinct level numbers. we have time for one more question. last one, okay. >> did you have any relationship at all nervous about? >> that's a great question. she was a great friend, so how did she thread that needle? so there is a speech, basically she would say she gave speeches
3:14 pm
to black voters, one of the great of our time, and intellectual president and how wonderful she was. she said it's about her has been. fdr was bought. he refused to allow and was impressed to do so by civil rights organizations. but he wouldn't -- but nevertheless lied to the public saying he went along, which is not true. everyone has things they did. we could get back in offense and he was very bad on a lot of race issues, which is why there's that famous by langston hughes
3:15 pm
and he didn't though he didn't vote, but writes this poem about how they've run over to roosevelt and gotten in his judgment nothing in return. the important thing about her story isn't what happened in politics later on. suffice to say which you must single-handedly brought an entire office of 19 white prosecutors must do it around to her theory, her lonely theory of how to convict luciano. thank you very much for your kind attention. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> all said i guess. i'll try


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on