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tv   African American Actor Ira Aldridge  CSPAN  April 10, 2015 11:38pm-11:55pm EDT

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shakespeare's plays. he does "richard iii," "macbeth" and what not. he will then tour england. and life in england also presents some opportunities in a way that he will marry in 1825, he takes a white woman for his wife. that would have been impossible in the united states. he will have only six children, only four of those will turn out to be illegitimate but that still didn't bother -- he wasn't bothered by that and it didn't set his career back any in his day. but he decides that he really wants to tour and that's to tour europe. and that's really when he makes his money and also establishes his name. he will tour with a european theater group through germany. he's well received.
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switzerland he's well received. austria, poland and especially his zenith will be in russia. and, again doing these different shakespearean plays. it's in poland where he's thinking about in 1867 he's thinking about returning and he's lining up a 100 performances back here in the united states. on the eve of his departure, he falls sick and dies and is buried now in woodage, polandeandpoland. and that's where his tombstone is. that's 1867. 1867 robert e. lee has
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surrendered the army of northern virginia in appomattox in 1865 and that celebration, commemoration, will be this coming april. and he is now the new president of washington university, which will become washington and lee. and lee will live until 1870 where he dies of heart trouble. lee is buried of course, in the lee chapel at -- on the campus of washington and lee university. where does this go after next month? so the connection is pocahontas -- jamestown pocahontas pocahontas, robert e. lee, ira aldridge both born in 1807. both men, again, knew exactly what they wanted to do, lee being a soldiers aldridge being an actor next month we're going
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to look at -- we're going to follow the african-american heritage a little more and we'll look at everett dirkson. he made the cover of "time" magazine a number of times and the r magazine has the collection and we have a coverage of everett dirkson on display. and we'll look at dirkson. senator dirkson basically was the catalyst of moving the historic civil rights legislation through the senate and congress in january -- just this time in january/february, the winter of 1964 that legislation would eventually be signed by president johnson on july 2 of 1964. and that's, of course, the historic civil rights act of
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1964. so it took another hundred years from the time -- the end of the civil war to really begin to see some of the social equity and the civil rights for blacks that whites had enjoyed since the beginning. so ira aldridge would have -- a hundred years later would have found a little more inviting america than what he was used to. but it took that long and even longer after there was the civil rights act of 1965. so ira aldridge represents a free black which is somewhat unusual and one that knew his mind and pursued his goals and
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dreams and prospered. from those european tours he -- they were very lucrative for him. he ended up building a very nice house in london and he lived there quite comfortably. any questions? >> when you were talking about aldridge being in england and russia i was thinking a lot of paul robeson and i'm curious do you know if there's any -- does robeson -- was he aware of aldridge and was he inspired by him? >> i don't know, i can't answer that. but he certainly may have been aware of him. any number of african-americans web dubois was aware of ira aldridge so again in his day he's not so much known -- americans don't remember ira aldridge but europeans more or
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less do. he met richard wagner the great german composer and what not he's one of these characters like george c. marshall. if you ask high school students in america who is george c. marshall, of course the great great -- the man that winston churchill said won world war ii. if you ask american high school students they may not know george c. marshall. but if you ask german students who george c. marshall was, they know he was the man behind the great marshall plan after world war ii. so there's certain americans that are almost better known in europe than they are in this country. and i think ira aldridge is certainly one of them.
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>> thank you. thank you all for coming. a third thursday of next month with jim barber and everett dirkson. thank you very much. >> yes, thank you for showing up. [ applause ] you've been watching c-span city's tour. find out where we're going next on line. and a quick reminder that every weekend on c-span 3 experience american history tv beginning saturdays at 8:00 a.m. eastern. for more information, follow us on twitter @c-spanhistory or follow us on facebook. and join american history tv sunday for live coverage of ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the surrender at
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appomattox. in april of 1865 confederate general robert e. lee met ulysses s. grant at appomattox courthouse and effectively surrendered the shuffle warcivil war. we'll be live sunday as historians reflect on the last battles and explore the aftermath and legacy of appomattox. we'll also open our phone call for authors david blight and elizabeth marron. that's sunday on c-span 3. here are some of our featured programs for this weekend on c-span. on c-span 2's book tv saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern president of americans for tax reform grover norquist says that americans are tired of the irs and our tax system and sunday night at 8:00 author susan
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butler on president franklin roosevelt and josef stalin allies during world war ii and their unexpected partnership beyond the war. saturday night at 8:00 eastern on american history tv on c-span 3, on lectures in history university of virginia's college of wise professor jennifer murray on how civil war reunions have changed from the reconstruction era to present. and sunday afternoon at 1:00 american history tv is live from appomattox courthouse national historical park commemorating the 150th anniversary of the confederate surrender and the end of the civil war. all this week we've been featuring american history tv in prime time and tonight the c-span cities tour will begin with austin texas that will be followed by a visit to wheeling west virginia, and greensboro, north carolina. and later galveston, texas. that's all ahead here on c-span 3.
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here are featured programs on c-span 2's book tv, saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern, president of americans for tax reform grover norquist says that americans are tired of the irs and our tax system and sunday night at 8:00, susan butler on president franklin roosevelt and josef stalin allies during world war ii and their unexpected partnership beyond the war. and saturday night at 8:00 eastern on american history tv on c-span 3, on lectures in history, university of virginia's college of wise professor jennifer murray on how civil war veterans reunions have changed from the reconstruction era to present. and sunday afternoon at 1:00 american history tv is live from appomattox courthouse national historical park commemorating the 150th anniversary of the confederate surrender and the end of the civil war.
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-- historical park. the the c-span city's turn takes c-span 3's american history tv on the road. up next, a visit to austin, texas, where we'll tour the lbj library and presidential suite. but first, a look at the fly girls of world war ii and the inspirational servicewoman known to history as wasp women air force service pilots who answered the call to duty in world war ii. >> so the bullock, texas state history museum is texas's official state history museum. we were open in 2001 and we are charged with telling the story of texas. we have three floors of exhibition space where we feature around 500 original artifacts that tell the story of texas. we also have temporary exhibitions, including fly
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girls, which is what we're standing in right now, and two theaters which show films regularly. >> this is texas, cradle of our army's air force this is an aaf field, too. but overheadquarters rides a strange little girl gremlin and out of those buses are stepping girls, girls who give a new angle to an air force story. they're wasps, women's air force service pilots. >> the fly girls exhibition is very special to us and it's an exhibition that we opened on veterans day. and to tell the story of these world war ii female pilots and share that with the public was we thought an important texas story but also an important story that connects texas with the nation.
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when world war ii broke out in 1938 and 1939, one of the women pilots of america, her name was jacqueline cochrane she was a business entrepreneur and a fearless pilot. she approached president franklin roosevelt and first lady eleanor roosevelt with the idea of using women to fly america's military aircraft should women be needed. at the time they word, they did think it was a great idea so in december 7, 1941 pearl harbor was attacked by japan so men immediately enlisted, were sent off the european and pacific fronts from america and at that time by 1942, america was experiencing a severe shortage of male combat pilots over north africa and so thinking back to jackie cochran's proposition of a woman flying these military aircraft, general henry hap
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arnold took her up on her offer and the women air force service pilots was formed. >> when i got out of high school, i started taking flying lessons and this was in piper cubs where the instructor sits in the front and the student in the back. one day when i had had perhaps nine hours of flying he told me to pull over on the tarmac when i landed and he started getting out of the airplane and he told me it was time for me to take it around by myself. so he closed the door and i took off. and he said "watch me from the ground and i'll let you know whether or not to go around again." so when i came in for a landing i made a smooth landing so he waved me to take off again. when i took off that time, when
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i got up to about 500 feet where i'm supposed to level off, when i started to push forward on that stick to level off, it came off in my hand. and i thought "he did this on purpose to see if i would make a good pilot." but then i realized i was about to crash. i didn't have any power to go forward. so i grabbed my seat belt off, left the throttle wide open i leaned across the front seat and with the tips of my fingers i started pushing forward on the front stick, which started lowering the nose of the airplane and i just held over there until i knew i had enough speed that i wouldn't crash. so then i climbed over into the front seat but i made a fairly smooth landing so i started
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taxiing over to where he was and when i got close enough he turned around and started walking away. so i finally just stopped and sat there. and he turned around and he came back to the airplane came up to the door of the airplane and looked in the backseat and i wasn't there and he said "what in the hell are you doing in the front seat?" and i just pointed to that stick which is like just a stick that you fly the airplane with and it was on the floor board. and when he saw that, he said "now you know you have the right stuff to be a pilot." and that was before john glen had the right stuff. but that's how i learned to fly. the day i was 21 i applied for the program and eventually i got a letter from jacqueline cochran which i still have that said

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