Skip to main content

tv   American History TV  CSPAN  August 15, 2015 11:42am-12:01pm EDT

11:42 am
i said in the introduction, i forget in which book, there's too much hyperbole in the way we talk about lincoln. i don't know. people use lincoln for whatever they want to use them for. it is hard to say. i we done? we are done. thank you. [applause] >> first lady helen taft made several notable changes to the white house. obvious with replacing the white male ushers with african-american staff. she also raised funds to create a memorial for the victims of the titanic's. but, her greatest legacy was bringing japanese cherry blossom trees to the capital.
11:43 am
c-span's series "first ladies." washington to michelle obama. sundays at 8:00 eastern on american history tv on c-span 3. recently, american history tv was at the society for historians of american foreign relations annual meeting in arlington, virginia. professors,h authors, and graduate students about the research. this interview is about 15 minutes. >> keisha blain, a graduate of princeton, and you studied at penn state. the premise of your research is really working and looking at women at the margins. african-american women. why? dr. blain: i have been interested for a while in capturing the voices of women
11:44 am
who have just -- their voices have been lost, and really hidden in the crux of u.s. history. i wanted to excavate their stories. i wanted to help us better understand african-american history, the lack freedom struggle, and the complexities of that struggle. i wanted to add to the discussion, beyond mainstream narratives of the civil rights movement, for example, or women's involvement. i wanted to look at women activist that most haven't heard of. >> what did you learn? dr. blain: in that paper, i life of aut the woman, a working-class black woman from this joy. i spoke about the ways in which she and gazed in the concept of black internationalism,
11:45 am
primarily through the 1930's. forgingabout her work activists.etween part of what i did for this particular panel was to try and get people to think about the , whohese historical actors we hardly talk about, black women can be thought about as shapers of black international discourse in the 20th century. >> how do you get information about the? where do you go? dr. blain: lots of digging. for one thing, given the nature of their political activism, many of these actors got in trouble for the ideas. unsurprisingly, i had to go through fbi records, for example, to find out more information. or, they would write letters to
11:46 am
each other. i had to go through different archives to find bits and pieces. thewoman wrote articles for detroit independent gbm. i had to go through that newspaper to pull some of her works. rights we are 1930's and 1940's. what is black internationalism? dr. blain: in the concept of united states, black internationalism captures african-americans global racial consciousness. at the heart of rock internationalism is understanding that the challenges facing people of african descent in the united states need to be on the larger totext, and certainly linked the challenges of people color across the globe. >> give some more detail as to she was and why she was so motivated? she was from alabama.
11:47 am
she relocated to detroit. she was actually a member of the nation of islam in its very formative stages. she left to join an antiracist political movement. part of it was promoting afro asian solidarity. she was frustrated. she struggled to the great depression, as many african-americans did. she was really frustrated with united states because she feels like the united states is complicit in advocating, or at least endorsing, and supporting rights of privacy on a global scale. out of this frustration, she joins this movement, looking for solutions and strategies to combat white supremacy. this particular organization becomes an interesting avenue for her. >> did she have advocates? where people cheering her on?
11:48 am
there had to be some dark days for her. certainly. the organization she was part of had approximately 10,000 members. there were certainly lots of north,ts in the urban but by large, these were ideas that were generally not supported, ideas that were not accepted in mainstream american discourse. she clearly had to be very careful. that is part of the challenge. she was my phone that she could get in trouble. was arrested and deported because of their ideas. she had to work behind the scenes, in many ways, to make sure she could maintain the political movement. in these, it crumbles early 1940's. >> how did she live? dr. blain: that is a question i cannot answer yet. i have been digging the digging
11:49 am
to find out more about her. she quietly goes away, not surprisingly, because of all the attention of her political activism. she becomes very conscious that she might be arrested, as were many of activist in the organization. the last record i have of her, the early 1940's, there are references to her raising money for the japanese government. then, there is a letter with somebody says they saw her in detroit at a resort. knowsaid, perhaps she'll what you're doing political activity. that is the last reference i have to her so far. , did she have any children? dr. blain: she did. she had three children. what i'm doing now is trying to track down her family members in the hopes of finding great-grandchildren are, or someone who can shed light on her. have a chance to ask your questions, what would you ask her? dr. blain: i would ask you what
11:50 am
motivated her. and so many ways, you spoke about the challenges earlier. it was a difficult moment. african-americans during the 1930's in particular were really shut out of the formal politics in many ways, denied the vote. she was also struggling to make ends meet. knowften times did not where the next newest come from. i'm struck by the fact that somebody who didn't even know where she would necessarily find the next meal was so concerned about this global vision. that is really fascinating to me. i would love to hear her words about what really motivated her, despite the odds. family you are here at this conference in arlington, virginia, what kind of reaction have you had? dr. blain: it has been good reaction. what we talk about black internationalism, we talk about .orming relations
11:51 am
she is really a nonstate actor, not backedwn terms by government or any corporate entity. people are fascinated by her story. i haven't met anyone who have said they have me heard of her before. they're excited to know there are voices to add. presented, i heard, i can see so many commonalities betw dubois.and w.e.b. that is what i want. i want these women to be thought of in the same canon as w.e.b. dubois despite being a poor black woman. >> do you know anyone who followed her or were aware of what she did? dr. blain: so far, no. i'm not aware of any civil rights leaders who knew what she did. i think, in looking at her life
11:52 am
and ideas, we can see direct links to the black power era. indirect, to be sure, i think capturing her story will help us understand by large the black struggle of the 20th century. my original back to question. why do you relate to the so much? dr. blain: in many ways, it is reflective of my own background, coming from a working-class background. tois fascinating to me capture the lives of these women and their voices. i have been able to show that regardless of one's socioeconomic status or level of education, really, we can be part of a larger conversation concerning improving the lives of people everywhere. .hese women are inspirational to be clear, there are ideas that i challenge and question,
11:53 am
but i think it is important to know the stories. >> you are thoroughly immersed in this. can you hear their voices in your head? dr. blain: sometimes, yes. i think other historians can relate. when you go through their stories and read. sometimes, i come across a document without name, and i a particular activist. i got accustomed to particular words or phrases that she used to be a certain intimacy with them. granted, there are limitations doing archival work. it is exciting to be will to do it. e-mails, age of tweets, and facebook, letters have become a lost art form. reading these letters from the 1930's and 1940's, what has it
11:54 am
been like? dr. blain: surreal in many ways. there was a a letter i was reading from an activist saying something like, i don't think we will ever be able to see a black president of the united states. i chuckled and thought, if only you could see this moment. isis the real reading -- it how they imagine the future of this country. sometimes they were right, and sometimes they were wrong. >> how is it relevant today? dr. blain: we have so we challenges at this moment. it is easy to raise her head and say, there is nothing i can do, i don't have support or wealth, or what have you, but these women stories really help us understand that it is not about these things. when you have a conviction about whenthing where you know --
11:55 am
you know what is right and you are fighting for justice, you have to figure out how to move forward. for these women, they had to come up with strategies. like i said, some words, some didn't, but they never have the sense that they couldn't actually change the world. that is amazing to me. they were so deeply -- maintained a deep conviction that they could change american society. i think we have to have that conviction today. when you watch this course and your syllabus or presented to your students, what is the mission? what is the goal? what you want them to learn? dr. blain: i want them to learn that when we talk about political thinkers, or political leaders, that they come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. i hope that is inspirational to students so when they hear these stories, they say, i could be where ever i desire to be. i can make a difference in the world.
11:56 am
dubois made a difference, and she made a difference in her ways. >> you are trying to 20 century black internationalism, and the research you have done for your dissertation. thank you. dr. blain: thank you. >> with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span2, here on c-span 3, we complement the coverage by showing you the most , and on therings weekends, c-span 3 is home to a with sixhistory tv original series. joining artifacts, museums and historical sites. history bookshelf. the presidency looking at the policies and biases of our commanders in chief.
11:57 am
lectures in history with top college professors delving into the past. and, our new series, reel america. c-span 3, created by the cable tv industry, and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. tv visited history long beach, california to visit the queen mary. mary was inn service between 1936 and 1967 and has been restored and operated as a hotel for the last 40 years. declared in ii was europe on symptom or third, 1939. the queen mary was out at sea.
11:58 am
she was two days away from making her 143rd atlantic crossing. in the early morning hours of the day, the course of the ship was changed, not only for the rest of that voyage, but for the rest of her see life over the next eight years. in a coded message from a british admiral, the ship was put on full war alert. particular to pay attention to the threat of submarine attacks. immediately, all 2000 windows and portals were blacked out. lightsher exterior were extinguished, and additional lookouts were posted. the helms and was ordered to start steering is the exact course to make her as difficult to target as possible. passengers2330 aboard that last civilian
11:59 am
crossing. most of them were americans. the two most famous people aboard on that last civilian crossing where bob hope and his wife, dolores. ♪ >> the former luxury liner, queen mary, seen in the city harbor, loaded with troops. thrillingmary has a war record. reinforcements are needed, queen mary does the job. faster than enemy submarines, the vessel continues to play an important role in the war. make 72ueen mary would wartime wages, transporting eight hundred thousand troops between 1940 and 1946. she began in 1940 with chips of of0 soldiers -- with trips
12:00 pm
5000 soldiers. by 1942, 15,000 soldiers. passengers,umber of 16,683. that still stands as the largest number of human beings ever transported on the vessel in the history of the world. >> coming up next, james perry examines diplomatic relations among the allies in world war ii, and the impact on military strategy in the pacific. this program is part of a symposium that marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the pacific war in august 1945. perry is the vice president of the institute of the study of strategy and politics, which hosted the event. it is about one hour. >> let


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on