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tv   Sandra Bolzenius Glory in their Spirit  CSPAN  August 11, 2019 2:15pm-2:56pm EDT

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is mark levin's critical look at the media, "unfreedom of the press." all of the authors have appeared on booktv and you can watch them online at booktv.org. >> tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern, on "after words," former virginia democracy governor terry mcauliffe talks about his book "charlottesville. >> if the can say this stuff i can do, and emboldened them. that's why the felt comfortable coming to charlottesville. make the pint that people used to wear hoods and do there is at night. they don't think they have to ware hoods anymore. charlottesville, their big coming out party but they were hurt beside in charlottesville.
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>> okay. welcome again to the 16th 16th annual roosevelt reading festival. my name is kirstin carter and i'm the head of the archives department here at the library. we are so pleased to host such a wonderful group of authors this year and one of our very, very favorite events. and if you enjoy the event and would like to support the library we encourage you to become a member and you can do that online anytime or by signing up at the table in the hallway today. so, let me remind you of how the festival works. we're going to have an author speak now for 30 minutes, followed by a ten-minute question and answer period, and then i will walk the author out
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to the front of the visitor center to sign books and you can visit -- you can purchasemer book in our new deal back store and then meet the author and discuss the book even more. so, our next author today is sandra bolzenius. she worked abroads as a soldier in the united states army serving in germany and later as a teacher at international schools in europe, africa and asia. earned her doctorate in history at ohio state university where her focus on gender, african-american history, gender and african-american history, led to the publication of her book "glory and spirit" how four black women took on the army in world war ii. eye holiday she ising a if the grassroots movement, move to amend, and in the move to protection ohio's national
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resources, she reflect her interest in a dynamics of gender, race, class, and public policies. let's welcome our author. [applause] >> hello. ready for a story? so, i first like to thank the roosevelt library and the national archives for this opportunity to share the experiences of the black pioneers of the women's army corps. i'm especially pleased to be able to acknowledge here at hyde park, yet another of eleanor roosevelt's achievements and contributions to the nation. this one not particularly well known. the first lady was a champn of the women's army corps, or the wac as i'll use that acronym this afternoon. even less known was her interest in the success of
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african-american wacs. her husband's contributions to this end were less personally directed to these women, yet immensely important. in 1940, president franklin delano roosevelt sign if an 0 memorandumdetailing the requirement for equal treatment of military personnel regardless of race. upon the establishment of the wac two years later the policy carried over to in new female personnel, providing a platform for black wacs who were serving in a segregated military after all, to assert their rights for equal treatment. franklin, you have no idea what you started. and eleanor, i think you did. can you all hear me? this -- glory in the spirit how
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four black women took on the army in world war ii tell thursday story of one of the most were public sized court-martial of the war. for years when i mentioned the project the most con response i got was, i didn't even know black women were in the military during world war ii. frankly, i'm not sure that i did either. at least not before embarking on this project. the fascination of americans, including this one, with the ground-breaking achievements of women has long failed to recognize that women often translate to white women. this was certainly how americans understood the team in the 1940 sez when nervurations military services plunge bid goal war turned to women to help alleviate the severe personnel shortage. the navy, marines, coast guard and army air corps, created
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their own women's forces. so none of these initially accepted black wacs or black recruits. only the wac did. a compromise i argue that the war department offered civil rights leaders whose demands for integration of the armed forces is rejected. this afternoon i'll introduce the fort devyns' wac strike. the character and plot provide the context to explore army personnel policies and how they let to the strike court martial and public interest in the case it and was a sensational trial. i will conclude with a brief thought 0 whan the fort devin strike is to so little known today. promised you a story which i'll guinn 1944 when the four women at the center of the fort devin strike and court-martial enlisted.
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alice young was a middle class washington, dc resident with a well-paid government job. she also had some training as a nurse, recruiters assure her that the army need her as medical technician. johnny johnnie murphy, had clerical skilled no jobs and like soldiers an appetite for adventure. trapped in cleaning jobs, anna morrison from kentucky and mary green from texas saul the army's offer of specialized training as an escape from domestic service. now, all four of these women would have been familiar with the wac's recruiting campaigns. they were intensive and prolific, and they were pleading with women, pleading with them, to do your part, join the wacs now. there's an urgency to this. they also would have notice that these calls to duty featured white women exclusively. nevertheless, they saw the wac as an extraordinary opportunity.
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young, murphy, morrison and green, among the 6500 black women of a total of 140,000 blacks who enlisted to help the war effort during the war. they wanted to help the war effort, demonstrate their patriotism and through skills learned in the army, advance their post war employment prospects. how, then, did these four women, eager to do their part, lan in the dock as defendants in a court-martial. the subtitle of the book offers the concise response. young, murphy, morrison and grown, challenged the army. we'll go into more details today, though. also makes for a good place for the cup. so, these women had inlest today
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fill specialized jobs such as medical technician, clerk care works, drivers or any of the hundreds of other army trained skills the wac advertised. instead at fort devin white wacs performed these assignments at one post hospital and black wacs cleaned at another, the ward at another. the relegation of the latter to menial labor was common across the country. consequently, soso was the resiststance of the women to industrialer in treatment. the strike at fort def vince was the most publicked before the protested about by no means the only one. conflicts were inevitable. african-american women viewed their inclusion in the military and the mayor's new policy of equal treatment of black personnel signs of a generalter and racial progress in the country. in contrast the war department considered these treasure
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temporary emergency ruhrs and recruited black men in large numbers as it always did crisis and temperature the first time in its history enlist itsed witness. itself did so to win the war, not advance the status of unbored nat? is -- subordinate citizens. the war department's policy for pen mel fought maintain the scat tuesday quo even at is have live relied on the subordinate citizens and prom mitts african-american soldiers equal treatment it continued to racially segregate them, prohibit them from spanned command polices over white groups and' sent them to menial lane 'er and while it accepted women in the military it funneled them interest a separate and a temporary corps. the wac was supposed to dissolve after the war remember also limited its numbers a signments
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its deemed appropriately feminine. when the war department drafted detectives for african-americans, itself did so with black men in mind. likewise, when directing those for drifting force for wacs it did so with white women in million apparently the war department's leadership assumed the sum of its policies would overlap to cover black wacs. >> rather than overlap they often excluded them. the motor pool held training programs for black male soldiers and others for white wacs. but as al lisch young discovered when she requested a transfer to the motor pool, there were none for black wacs. as a result, the motor pool's commander denied young's request for a transfer. he also rejected any notion that discrimination was a factor.
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after all, the motor pool offer training to african-americans, and it offered training to women. where is the discrimination? while the army prided itself on its uniform treatment of increasingly diverse personnel, black wacs regularly slipped through the cracks of its policies. in this manner, military policies mirrored civilian laws which likewise overlooked black women. let's take factory work, for example. roosevelt's new deal legislation during the great depression did not mention race. yet its labor protections primarily benefited the white men that white managers overwhelmingly hired. in 1941, civil right leadersed used their emerging clout to pressure roosevelt to create the fair employment practices committee. the fepc. forbade difference contract ares from discriminating against
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black, wear but was silent on gender discrimination to comply factories mainly hired black men. wardtime civilian shortages brought white women to factory floors. black women also applied nor jobs but were not taken an -- very rarely, i should say. in 1942 in detroit's industrial factories, fewer than 100 worked in the these factories. 100 black women. black female women again fell through the cracks. dessite the invisibility of black women in state policy and the historically appalling treatment of black men in the military, african-american women had reasons to expect better opportunities and greater respect in the wac than they had as civilians. i'll mention three. first, as previously noted the war department had agreed to policy of equal treatment regardless of race. second he shortage of wacs to
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fill essential noncombat military occupations was heavily publish publicized the women knew they were needed. third, the army claims to be fighting against temperature niksch inspired modicum of hope it would not tolerate tyranny in its forces thieves factors emboldens thousands of black women to enlist. rhetoric did not always match reality. certainly circumstances differed around the country. yet most black wakes at some point during their time in the service experienced the same types of discrimination that young, murphy, morris sin and grown encountered when the arrived at the induction center in fort des moines, iowa, the wac was under pressure to immediate mounting personnel requests from commanders. to expedite the process, it
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quickly trained and transferred them to assignments. at least this was the case for white wacs. soon, since -- few commanders requested black recruits, most of them languished for months at fort des moines. young, murphy, morrison and green, who arrived at different times during the spring and early summer of 1944, did not receive transfer orders until late october. months later. the army extent four ford devin to work under the command of colonel walter cran develop administrator of the post hospitals. unbee known to them crandall forth the transfer tooth and nail help insisted he didn't need them. later he warned his superiors that with black men on post, the prepares of black women would surely lead to in his words-social problems with fort
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des moines overkneing with unassigned black wacs and we're talking a thousand black wacs at different times, whereas white wacs would about go through and be sent elsewhere. the war department was not having this. orders are crandall to put in the requisition, how the employed the women was left to him. clearly intending to marginalize these troops he did not want, crandall requested wacs with military skills so he could place all but those needed to staff the cadre as orderlies in the hospital. members of detachment arrived at fort def vince excited to at last begin thyratronning and their assignments. imagine their surprise, then, when ushered into jobs that consisted of cleaning wards and waiting on staff and patients. assuming this was temporary, after all, they joined the enlisted faced upon certain agreement -- the new rivals
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inquired but their training and diligently carrying out their current tasks. the cleaned up the place, recalled their supervisor, sergeant harold wicks. in the 1940s 70% of employed black women worked in service job. the same proportion of ford devins black washington, dcs assigned to cleaning duties and this was the case with all wacs. 70% or them workedded a orderlies at some point. these women did an excellent job, scrubbing floors, which as the women increasingly suspected, their officers assumed they were installly best suited to do -- naturally best suited to. do the women's hopes of other opportunities were dash when two months after their arrival, crandall noticed alice young taking a patient's temperature. according to witnesses, he bellowed that black wacs were not here for that purpose. they were their do the dirty
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work. quote-unquote. crandall later contests the phrasing, but not the meaning. the orderlies already flagging morale plummeted. several other incidents over in the next two months brought further demoralize is the women, including the demotion of three new arrived, all army trained surgical technicians to orderly duties. tragically another was the attempted suicide of a member of their detachment. on that a month later, three others attempted the same. but there's no problems with the detachment. the explosive situation came to a head on march 9, 1945, after yet another incident had at last convince third women that nothing would change unless they took a collective stance. that morning, they launched a strike to protest treatment that was incongruent to the military policies that had encouraged
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their enlistment. i will mention here this was not planned in advance. incurfew baited overnight and that's what happened in the morning. the soldiers knew a strike or mutiny in military terms, involve great risk. the black press regularly reported similar actions by black men in uniform and the years and decade of prison sentences incurred for resists racial discrimination, yet after five month 0 hard lobyear it was hard to refute the women wore working like dogs and it was time to take decisive action. not all were ready for fish, according to private lower rain overton, upon waking up she remarked you all strike while i sleep. most of the others, though not initially not sure what to do, chose to join the strike. as hola jackson explained, it
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was a matter of cooperation, that if automatic the girls refused to go to work it was up for me to stay with them. nearly all of those on duty at the hospital refused to return to their orderly jobs under the same conditions. that is, until the general of their command, of the first service command -- finally got their officer's attention -- presented them with a choice, record report to work or face a court-martial. private young, morrison and green opened for the court-martial so did murphy who forcefully declared i would take death before i would good back to work. arrested and held incommune cad dough the had no way of knowing their actions sparked a national fire storm . outside their con confinement area news of the court-martial spread rapidly in the black main stream produces which was urn.
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mer mcleod buffon, found are to the national association of the colored women, and a member of the president's cabinet, demand an investigation as did several members of congress. other civil rights organizations especially the naacp, contacted high level officials about the case and worked with local members who rallied behind the defendants. scores of ordinary citizens, male and female, black and white, followed the case, many barraging the secretary of war, and president roosevelt with inquiries how the -- but the armies treatment of women who volunteered to serve when the country was in such great need. others were furious over crandall's dirty work rack ands reminded leaders that the nation was waging a war to suppress tyranny. are we going to be as cold and inhuman in our practices as
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history supplier asked one white woman of roosevelt. the president called the wac director to the white house to discuss the matter. eleanor roosevelt also sought an appoint of with hobby, only to be referred to her assistant. with the vast majoril of civilians supporting the women, the naacps where have to corn, thurgood marshall, considered its potential in taking on segregation in the military. the fort devins case obviously hit a nerve. at other imto when courts marshal of black personnel claiming racial discrimination was as routine as they were ignored, outside of african-american communities, this one stood out. featuring defendants who were both black and female, the case laid open fresh and thorny contexts to discuss three of the most contentious issues of the word, women in the military, racial segregation, and the war
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for democracy. in the extensive war department investigation of the strike, the army wholly denied discrimination at fort devins. just didn't happen. the fact that 75% of black wacs worked as orderlies compared to just 12% of white wacs would suggest to us otherwise. but not too many white personnel in 1940s. instead they pointed to the poor army text scores as confirmation that black wakes did not qualify for skilled assignments. officers describe the women as sullen, surly, lazy, often calculate and all-i complaining. haroldly the character of a model wac. a number of them spoke of the women having a tendency to play the race card when they did not get their way. these were the usual complaints leveled against black wacs across the united states.
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let's see how they stacked up at fort devins. first, the army general classification test core, the atct. at fort devins the women's army test scores were low as was the fun offering black school inside south where more than 70% of african-americans lived. as an aside, black soldiers from better funded schools in the north typically outperformed southern white recruits. in enough case, back at fort devins the deattachment's overall scores were actually engineered to be low. crandall requested personnel with no training so he could isolate them in menial jobs. his re-assignment of the three surgical technicians to orderly duty substantiates this intention. despite character, black wacs complain but their jobs at for devins, but this -- they were increasingly tardy for work but not at first.
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when they first arrived, they worked very hard at their jobs, but after their officers ignored their requests for explore they realized this was probably the job they would have, they did startmer more real deteriorated. the race card. yes, wacs claimed discrimination but not as a card of convenience. i it was the reality. and not only at the hospital where they worked. but not white wacs put kp. stands for kitchen police. nobody in the military ever like is to perform kitchen police but white wacs did not have to blackhawks die. many report problems in the px such as clerks waiting on white customer before them. that was one example. reports of complaints merged later but during the trial the prosecutor, major leon mccarthy, focuses on black wac assignments or their refusal to
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do them. all fort devins -- all four defendants expressed a desire to work so when military positions the wac that advertised urgent live needed, not at maids. mccarthy shot back this was in the the point. they were on trial for diseye ing" military ordered and he enter jecks there are thing its have to do -- interjected there are thing i have to die don't like and things you have to do you don't like to about but we doo them the best we cack take the chance offest smuggles. at while male and an officer he did not understand, i don't think he could comprehend the the opportunities strike him were rarely aclu sis table african-americans or to women, and certainly not to women of color. their dual identities but african-american women in a category of their own and largely on their own. as the defense strategy that the
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naacp's attorney adopted in the trial illustrates. a prominent boston lawyer and an naacp member julian rainy was a black veteran and personally familiar with racism in the army. racism, however, was not a viable defense during world war ii. the government and army insisting that segregation did not constitute discrimination. rainy therefore cautiously broached another strategy. the perception of racism. not that it was true, he said, but his clients perceived that it was. throughout the trial rainy attempted to win the defendants' release by describing them as confused and hysterical woman. they listened to this and knew what they were doing. this were fighting racism and also sexism.
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black men who seamlessly fold the plight of black women into their own failed to recognizes how the experiencees differed. bethune and other black women, the defendant's most vigorous shoulderrer's -- soldiers were too well of the discrimination. hogly murray, young -- holly murray, lone female law student at howard university, expressed their del lame march they were a minority within a minority. the court-martial illinois open to public lasted two days with reporters crowd bed the courtroom the army delivered the verdict. guilty. with that, the court adjourned and the army wiped its hands of it. much to the war department's embarrassment the verdict only intensified the debate surrounding the case. many americans agreed with me verdict yet men more were outraged.
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ordinary citizens called for justice for the women. some fought authorize crandall's dismissallal. civil rights leaders depended up to investigate and the war department was busy. they had to consider -- it had to consider its options. the civilian reaction compelled the army to do what it rarely diin candidates estopped in charges racial discrimination. it dismissed the verdict and restored the service personnel to duty. very rare. no or two week this press debate the stunning and interest midsted closure of the fort devins case that "time magazine" krisened an easy way out. then within a month the case disappeared from the press and from popular accountants of the war. today americans know black men who served in the war most notably the tuskegee air men and the white wacs through the iconic images and recruiting campaign but not of black wacs.
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black women, overlooked and undervalued, fell through the cracks. glory in the spirit glory explores the reason for black wacs invisibility and look test reese e -- refusal of the women to be invisible. they in other words they didn't feet neatly into civilian laws or military laws but not why. having enlisted to help the war effort they expected the army to deliver the jobs they promised and respect they had -- that had prompt emtheir enlistment. whenned did not, ordinary soldiers like young, morris sin, murphy and green and other wacs across the nation, assert is their rights, compelling officers to respond and acknowledge their existence as military personnel. so, yes, of course black women were in the military during world war ii, even though we don't hear about them that mump. though that's beginning to change.
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the were in world war ii, contribute to war effort, the civil rights woman and the case for the val you've of women military they there to prompt visibility for people across the nation. thank you. [applause] >> i love questions. >> i'm think can about the test that these black wacs took that showed -- purportedly schöpf they had no an thank you tied for job -- aptitude for jobs after cleaning am generation after they took that test, me and many other people in the room were taking the sateds which were called the scholastic
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admission test instead of the scholastic aptitude test, and i remember taking the -- but didn't remember the particulars until i saw -- until ralph nader came to our college and gave this talk, and among the things that he raised in the talk was the class and race bias of the scholastic admissions test, because the first assault on the s.a.t. and the educational testing service came from him. right? and a young man at princeton and then i remembered questions on the test that were using sailing terms. questions on the test that asked me about starboard versus -- i don in the -- what's the other -- i was from a working class family and knew -- new nothing of sailing.
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>> you should have spent more time on your yacht. >> i was so busy with high school. but the point is he it to -- insure '68-'69 and '70 if the best die come triists in america were. -- at princeton were getting together a test as biased as the s.a.t. i can imagine how deeply biased the test that the military was administering to recruits. so, i was wondering if you could comment on that. >> yes, briefly. the tests were very biased, originally i had this in the talk and i thought the audience will know that. one over the black wacs who joined said the test -- he flew through the test no problem. grew up in connecticut, went to schools that were well-funned and said it just tested your reading, how much you read. so, yes, but i appreciate your comment about the sailing terms
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very interesting. >> did their duties ever improve, get better jobs? >> i was hoping someone would ask that. thank you. i'll slip you that ten afterwards. yes and no. they returned back to orderly duties because as the army -- during the investigation, there was a month-long investigation and it was intensive. the investigation is this thick. this thick. i kid you not. and the interviewed hundreds of people, including many of the black wacs, and they came the conclusion that there was no discrimination -- racial discrimination, sex wasn't talked about but there was in racial discrimination. so these women return back to their jobs and also realized that the detachment was not working well, the washington, dc detachment -- white wakes were
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working okay but the black one was not so they made a bunch of changes and, including instituting a training program for black wacs. well it was for orderlies, for civilian orderlies, for all orderlies, military or civilian but finally instituted the training practices, which were not there before, and there were a few other things that changed, mainly trying to make sure things were written down people knew what thy -- their duties were. >> upon them restoring them back to their service duties, were there any bills passed or rights for women in the military that changed after this incident? >> my gosh. again, i'm so glad you asked that question. because for the women of fort devins, what i explain -- it's extended to about what i explained to you, but at the
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time the army was also working on a transfer to send black wacs a contingent of black wacs to gardner hospital in chicago, just outside of hyde park. and there was a lot of -- many civilians around there did not want that to happen but others said we're okay with it, we welcome them. what happened is the military, after seeing house disastrous that's work but by just flopping a detachment on to this colonel's lap that didn't want them, that the same thing could happen again so there are many memorandums going back and forth, discussing in detail that the next detachment that was going to gardner hospital would have a number of different skill levels, many different ranks, that their commander would be
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aware ask there were high level visits to gardner hospital and the women who served in that unit afterwards said they really felt important, they got a lot of out it and helped the military so really good for morale. >> thank you. if you fast forward to today, i keep hearing the conditions for women don't sound all that much better. of course there is isolated case of people being promoted and get through the glass ceiling, but just curious if you have any -- did any research or comments. >> oh, do i have comments. the reason i wrote this book and i pursued making sure it was published, is because of that very reason. i was me military myself, in the 1970s. and i didn't see much difference
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between the way that women were treated. for six months if was a wac. very proud of that. at the time i didn't know i was a wac. only learned when i'm doing my research. but i just thought everybody is treated the same so great, the military dish wasn't still happy our women were treat. but i didn't see the race component. it's only when i'm-i was working on the research and continuing looking at white personnel during world war ii that didn't recognize the racism flight their face but after a while i started recognizing some of myself in them. and so today i think many of us are aware that there are problems, that women are -- black women are still falling through the cracks and overjoyed to see that not all of them are staying in the cracks.
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they never have. the policies that were constructed had that in mind, but the women did not. they always rejected it. but their story was not always told. so, the way to find those stories is to really look at the black women's experience, not at the people at the top but look at their stories, and they're there in the archives, they're there. a lot of times in court-martial cases you'll fine them. mo sore than in the advertisements. but because that's actually a tribute to them because they took the chance of getting in trouble and being disminimummed and having a court-martial to state their point we're here week visible, we want to help in the military, too deal with it. [applause] great questions, thank you.
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>> every year, booktv covers book fairs and festival around the country. here's vens coming up. enemies saturday, tune in for at the live coverage of the mississippi book festival, held in the state's capitol city, jackson. then over the labor day weekend, the ayc decater book philadelphia? atlanta and we'll be live from the national book festival host bit he the library of congress in washington, dc. and in september, look for us at the brooklyn book stifle in new york new york -- book philadelphia in -- book festival in new york city.

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