tv Whitney Plantation and Slavery CSPAN January 1, 2016 8:01pm-9:51pm EST
1750s, the whitney plantation has been renovated as a museum of slavery. john cummings who spent well over 20 years and $8 million of his own money on the project tells the story of the whitney plantation. he appears in a conversation with a history professor and the museum's director of research. this two hour event is hosted by the brooklyn historical society. >> hi. good evening, everybody. thank you for your patience. new york city subways have tripped us up. we're going to begin because i know he is on the way. we're eager to start.
so thank you, thank you all for being here. my name is marsha eli. i'm the vice president of programs and external affairs here at the brooklyn historical society. and on behalf of our president, deborah schwartz, and our board of trustees, some of whom are here, and thank you so all -- all so much for what you do. i am so pleased to welcome you to the brooklyn historical society for this program tonight. i will just say that we are a place of -- hello! yay! [ applause ] >> if you start, that's when they come, right? we're a place of learning. we're a museum and education center. we're a place of exhibitions and extraordinary library and collections, a site of wide-ranging public programs. we really are especially proud to offer programs that tackle
issues of social justice, and give voice to history that is all too often unheard. and that's one of the reasons we're especially excited and honored to have our guests tonight. last february, the new york times sunday magazine featured a cover article by david amsten, titled "building the first museum of slavery." it told the story of a louisiana lawyer, john cummings, who took his own money and spent well over a decade transforming a plantation 35 miles west of new orleans into the first museum of slavery, the whitney plantation. he describes his impression of the whitney plantation, and i quote, "located on land where slaves worked for more than a century in a state where the sight of a confederate flag is not uncommon. the results are both educational and visceral." he goes on to describe its
founder. "stocky and bespeckled with a mop of white hair, john cummings was as much a topic of conversation among those gathered as the whitney itself. for reasons almost everyone was at a loss to explain, he had spent the last 15 years and more than 8 million of his own personal fortune on a museum that he had no obvious qualifications to assemble." so tonight we are very honored to welcome john cummings to the brooklyn historical society. he's joined by dr. ibrahim sek, the scholar who early on became the research and scholarly backbone of the whitney project. we're also especially grateful and privileged that jilani cobb,
associate professor of history at the university of connecticut and director of the institute of african-american studies who is well known to many of us for his insightful articles in "the new yorker" and as the author of numerous books such as "barack obama, the paradox of progress." in a moment they will all come to the stage. but first, to give you a taste of the origins and inspirations for the whitney plantation, here is a brief film that serves as an introduction for the visitors to that site. sbrp
'tis he who has entour -- endured. only those who have endured slavery can answer the question. what does it feel like to be someone else's property? the opportunity to learn from thousands of people who endured slavery in the united states was almost lost. in the 1930s, president franklin roosevelt created the works progress administration. >> my most immediate concern is in carrying out the purposes of the great work program just enacted by the congress. >> a network of hundreds of agencies designed to put to work the millions of americans who had lost their jobs in the great depression. one of these agencies was the federal writers project. it employed writers, editors, historians, and researchers. more than 6600 in number, led by folklorist john lomax. the federal writers project was sent across the country to
record the experiences of everyday americans. the fwp had an active african-american unit who took it upon themselves to interview former slaves. they sent these interviews to the washington office for comment in 1937. john lomax immediately realized the importance of preserving the story of slavery as expressed by its survivors. the formal collection of slave narratives in this country began on april 1st 1937 and ended in the spring of 1939. at that time almost 74 years had passed since the end of the civil war in april 9th, 1865. the majority of the former slaves that the fwp interviewed in the 1930s were children at the time of emancipation. for the most part their stories recall their time spent in slavery as children and teenagers. these stories provide us a glimpse of the heroic efforts of
millions of individuals held as property in the united states for hundreds of years. their voices reveal the strength, spirit, and endurance of the people who were enslaved and forced to provide the free labor that built the foundations of this country. the statues you see around you represent these former slaves as they were at the time of their emancipation. children. whitney presents the stories of these children as told in their own words. read them on the wall of honor, which records the names of 350 enslaved individuals held in bondage on this very property. read their words in the memorial field that names and honors over 100,000 individuals held in slavery in louisiana before 1820. remember them in the field of angels, which records in public for the first time the existence of over 2200 children born into slavery in st. john the baptist parish.
the tour that will introduce you to this property is the story of the lives of enslaved workers based on the recollections of those who endured and who shared the stories of their lives as children in slavery. the children will tell you their own story. their words will help us all understand the strength, spirit, and hardships of those who endured slavery. welcome to the whitney. [ applause ] >> i heard we were going to have a big time moderator but i had no idea. i better behave. >> good evening. can you all hear me?
okay. so my apologies for keeping you waiting. i wasn't trying to make a grand entrance. i'm coming from new orleans, actually. >> i hope the sheriff isn't after you. >> i know. so one, we've had a kind of previous conversation about some of these things. it's really kind of fascinating. i just wanted to talk to, you know, both dr. sek and yourself about the genesis of this idea. before we get to that, there's something that you said when we talked about that when people say, why don't people get over it, when people raise the question why don't african-americans just get over slavery, you said something really insightful about that. i wonder if you could say that. >> first of all, i'm honored to be here. i thank you for inviting us. and welcome to the whitney. i want everybody to come to the whitney. i want you to all get involved. we need all of you. we're not experts.
we've only been open since december. we're still in diapers. and we need all of your help. we have room for everybody. i'm just the cheerleader. sometimes many early on african-americans would ask me, what is a white boy doing here dealing with the slave business. and i reminded them, they shouldn't be surprised because there's a whole bunch of rich white boys that started it in the beginning. but what i was telling the moderator was a common experience that i have. whenever there's a policy issue, whether it be opening schools, closing swimming pools, taking down the confederate statues in my city, we have blacks on one side and whites on the other. and blacks are screaming at the whites that they're racists, bigots.
they're usually right. and the whites are hollering back, why can't you people just get over it? not knowing what the "it" is. and slavery is only part of it. and this is one of the things that we hope to do at the whitney. we hope to be able to take -- to educate as many people as we can. incidentally, we've been open for eight months, nine months, and we already have 30,000 people who have come. tonight i've counted ten people in the audience who have been there. and there's an irish girl back here in law school. she was there with her parents, misbehaving, but she's here tonight.
and everyone is telling us what the reaction is there. the raw facts of slavery have been hidden from all of us. from all of us. who knew? [ applause ] >> i should be donald trump. >> no, no. [ laughter ] >> i'll tell you this very quickly. i'm from queens. donald trump is also from queens. i travel a lot. every time i land someplace, i say, "i'm sorry." [ laughter ] >> we don't know really if we're doing it right. and no one can tell us about
slavery except those who have endured. and that's why when you go there to the whitney, you won't be the same when you leave. you won't. you will read the words of ex-slaves, testimony that they gave after they were free. and you will feel very strange as you read them. and of a sudden you'll feel as though you're talking to a slave, and they're telling you what happened. so when you have this great divide, and this has never worked really well for us in america, screaming and hollering, put up a confederate flag, take down the flag, don't use the n-word. and people spend millions of
hours writing and writing and writing. and so what we would like to do, with your help, we would like to figure a way that we can abolish quite a bit of racism. and one thing is to educate primarily people with this color skin so that people will know what happened. we don't care about what happened in africa, if tribal chiefs were involved. we want to know what happened when the africans were first forced to our shores, and what we did and didn't do during that period. and that's why we are in the
endless search to define the "it." slavery was only part of it. and in the south, in the south -- i have a different audience here today, my wife reminded me. she told me not to tell jokes. but you can see that the civil war is still being fought. why can't you people just get over it? and i think that's interesting. they talk about freedom and equal opportunities and how everybody was freed in 1865. you know, the gates were open in '65, but there was a first attempt at education in 1965, when lyndon johnson signed so many important acts.
and from there we still have serious problems. in louisiana, in new orleans, we judge everything and report everything not bc and ad, but before and after katrina. before katrina we had african-american high schools where only 35% of the freshman class graduated and the balance, where did they go? i'll tell you where they went. they went into the cemeteries and they're going into the penitentiaries. and we can't rewrite history, but we can right some of the wrongs of history with education. so when we were talking on the phone the other day, i was asking him -- incidentally all my employees have business cards with two words on them, "stop
talking." and they walk around with signs that say it so i can see. i'm almost through. tell me, what "it" do you know? no one has to explain to an african-american about oppression, about ridicule, but humiliation, about pain. but do you believe me when i tell you that caucasians don't know what the "it" is? they don't know that. that's what we have to do. we think if we can combine the raw facts of what happened to certain realizations, we'll start on the 3,000 mile journey. we'll start. [ applause ]
>> dr. sek, we also talked, and you kind of gave a really interesting narrative about how it is you came to be involved in this project. and, you know, what it is that you're really hoping to do with your scholarly skills as it relates to the whitney plantation. >> i just happened to be there at the right time. but if i told you how i met john cummings, we say things just don't happen by chance, you know. i was leading a delegation, i the mayor. we were invited to the
african-american museum in southwest louisiana. i was a consultant for the african-american museum. they have a big cajun museum and for the first time in 2000 they were allowed to have an african-american museum. even in that african-american museum, the cajuns have a piece of that museum. but anyway, they have a portion of the building for it. and i was a consultant. we spent about three nights in saint martinsville. on our way back to new orleans, we were introduced to john cummings. he came to meet us at tulane university. he said, i would like to show you something. we didn't know what something was. he took us to a very old plantation. it was really scary, weeds all over the place.
he told us this is an 18th century old plantation, and i i want to turn it into a museum of slavery. and he told me, abraham, young man -- i was young at the time, and beautiful -- can you join me on this, you know, adventure, because he knew that i just came from the university of dakar, after teaching for 20 years in high school. i said, why not? and he told me, are you coming back soon to louisiana? i told him i come to louisiana, i travel to louisiana every summer for my own research. because thanks to a professor who is not here tonight but who i will meet here tomorrow in nashville tennessee, she published in 1992 a book. next year she traveled to
senegal for the immigration of the west africans and that's where i met her. she gave that wonderful lecture about louisiana, about slavery in louisiana and how africans and in particular people from senegal contributed to the making of the creole culture of louisiana and how africans influenced the culture of the whole united states. because i was among people who were taught in high school that this is the culture of america. this country is anglo-saxon. we were never taught about the contribution of the africans. i said, yes, i will do it. you hired me right away. >> i didn't realize we had a person in common. you said gwendolyn hall? from rutgers. we'll talk after.
[ laughter ] >> so i will travel back to louisiana the next summer. i met him in the spring. and in the summer, he hired me to be the director of research of the future whitney museum. i was not -- and i'm still not the best-qualified person to do the job. the only problem with louisiana is it is almost overwhelmingly in french, and i'm from senegal. maybe more french then the french themselves. that's how i met john cummings. a wonderful video. do you know who put it together overnight? when we were about to open on december 7, it was donna cummings. she is in this room. you're in trouble. you did not tell that.
>> she's right back here. >> this is donna cummings. [ applause ] >> they didn't see you. you should stand up again. they didn't see you. she doesn't like it. she speaks french, italian. and he's very happy to have this woman on his side. we are very happy to have her behind us because she's the one who makes us behave and makes sure that things are done on time. thank you. >> so i want to make sure that we have time to cover -- like to have audience participation. there are a few things i wanted to talk about prior to that, which is that, one, what were the obstacles that you all encountered in doing this? this took a great deal of resources. it's taken a kind of steep
learning curve. i wonder if you could talk about this. it's still staggering to think about the minuscule amount of cultural resources that we've devoted to something that created the american economy, the modern american economy, basically. if you'll read ed baptist, half the story has never been told, he talks very clearly about the way slavery was foundational to american capitalism in a system that is deeply implicated even outside of the south. when we talk about louisiana and sugar and cotton in the deep south, mississippi, you know, and tobacco, but cotton is really king. we had this conversation. i teach at the university of connecticut, and sometimes people have a sense of superiority about what happened in the south. they say, they grew all this cotton in mississippi. where do you think they sent it? these textile mills that we have in new england, where do you think they were getting the
cotton they were using to turn into fabric? so it was this national system, but we've devoted very little of our cultural attention and resources to chronicling it. so i'm wondering, this is kind of a two-part question, what is the logistical thing, the most difficult things to create this, and two, kind of the emotional and psychological resistance that people have to grappling with slavery? >> when we first came, the county of the parish there is about 90% african-american. and there was quite a bit of skepticism. and so before we really started, i visited all of the african-american churches. although they were looking at me like that, i told them what i was going to do. i asked them to participate. slowly i was received by the community.
i want to tell you, on opening day we had 942 people, and more than half were african-americans. and african-americans don't go to plantations, but they came. we wanted to do something very different. and this is what we struggle with. i don't want to -- i've been to plantations. my wife is -- has joint citizenship with italy. her name was scarella. she's from calabria, the tip of the boot of italy that's kicking sicily. and she's not only my life partner, my law partner, and my business partner, she checks the books all the time, but when she came back with her passport, and it's brown, ours of course is blue, and she was drinking a glass of red wine, and she was looking at it and showing me how her name was on that passport,
and the husband's name is on the third page on the bottom. and calabria is the center of the mafia in italy. and i was looking. i got a little worried. we were about to go to italy, here she is an italian. i looked at her and said, look, your people are from calabria, the mafia. i said, do i have anything to worry about? she took that glass of wine, took a little sip, put it down, she said, fuggetaboutit. [ laughter ] >> but we are interested in doing something that means something. i would never write a story where there was a complaint. i will never tell you about a problem and how bad it is a problem. i don't have to do that with slavery, do i? nobody has to say that. what we have to do --
>> actually, before you even say that, is that exactly true? >> what's that? >> that you don't have to tell people that? there's actually a body of information within kind of popular culture that's deeply entrenched that will tell you that slavery was kind of a familial system, that it was wrong -- >> zip-a-dee-doo-dah. and that's true. when you walk through our plantation and you see this, i don't tell you if it's right or wrong. if your stomach doesn't tell you when you finish vomiting that it's wrong, then something's wrong with you. we have an obligation as a nation to understand that most people know that slavery was here. they don't have the facts of slavery. how do you get people who use n-words come with confederate
flag shirts, how do you get them to suspend, to suspend their beliefs and their prejudices just long enough that you can get something in between those ears? and how do you get it in between there? well, i'll tell you. we were told, best way to do it, slave children. don't put big slaves up with chains. forget about the awakening, coming out of the ground. and so we did that. we met this wonderful artist, and they're friends with them, woodrow nash in ohio, he created about 60 slave children statues for us. and they're beautiful. and you fall in love with them. many of them are in the church. and if i am taking a special group around, people that should be impressed, mayors, people
like that, they'll look at them. and we encourage them to take as many pictures as they would like. beautiful children. little girls and little boys. and then you ask rhetorical questions. how could we have allowed these children to become beasts of burden and breeders? and here, there's a little girl, you saw her in the film. and her mother had 16 children from 15 different men she was forced to live with. and so we asked those questions. how could this have been?
how could our religions have betrayed us? who knew that in -- i didn't, and i'm not the dumbest man on earth. second to dumbest. but i'm not the dumbest man on earth. in 1452, nicholas v gave to the king of portugal the right to reduce africans to perpetual slavery. what? you would think the pope would read the bible every once in a while, wouldn't you? even if it's just bathroom reading. >> ouch. >> but if you look at exodus -- i speak in short sleeve english. if you read exodus, you'll see a man who kidnaps another man to sell, three words, "shall be killed." no one ever asked, i wonder what was meant by that?
"shall be killed." yet popes owned slaves. everybody owned slaves. how did that happen? can it happen again? can it happen again in another form? so we wanted to educate so that you could see what was there. and that's one of the things that we did. we have a tour that's an hour and a half. you are with the slaves' story for an hour and 20 minutes and you go through that beautiful house in seven to nine minutes. and the whole time that you're going through there, at every venue we have beautiful bronze bells. and you go through the slave section first. and you're encouraged to toll that bell in bondage with the slaves.
so as you go the through this house that my wife handled, beautiful antiques, you hear the bell and you've already been there. and you know, you're reminded who built that beautiful house. and it's the last venue on the tour. and when you approach it, you approach from the rear, from the slave quarters, like the slaves did. and so we are taking things as they come, as we are advised. we take them when there is a racial class that we could not feel because we're not african-americans. for example, in the church, where we have those beautiful children, we had a statue that woodrow created for us of nicholas v. it's a bust of him.
and i thought it would be that you would see these beautiful children and part of the tour in this church would be this pope who did this terrible thing. then i was advised and know now, that was the wrong thing to do, because the african-americans who came saw it a different way. they saw a white man, religious white man, overseeing these poor slave children. so nicholas got pulled out of there the next day. he's now in the welcoming center. we have 11 popes who were involved in slavery. nicholas wrote a paper bull, it's called, dom de versa. that means until further notice, where he gave portugal the right to reduce africans to slaves. incidentally, it's never been
recalled, so notice has not yet been given. so that's what we're doing. we're trying to figure ways to teach, open hearts. when people see those little children, they just sit with them. they hold them. some of them are worn on the shoulders where people, everybody wants to identify with them. we want them to identify with the history of those children. and it's working. it's working. in our welcoming center -- i'm almost finished. >> okay. [ laughter ] >> you see my wife back there like this. >> he's going to make me work for my supper today, i see. >> i think that answers your question. >> so, dr. sek, i had kind of a different version of this question for you, which is that when you deal with the history
of this, it also co-exists not just with absence of knowledge but as an actual presence of mythology. so, you know, we might say that african-americans don't go to plantations. but lots of white people do. there are plantation weddings. there's an apartment complex in atlanta. it's called the plantation. as a quick aside, i once met a realtor, i swear this is the truth, a realtor whose name is jim crow. you can google it. a white man named jim crow. no more tragic instance of being unaware of african-american history. it's literally in your self-interest, dude. how do you kind of get to this point where people not only see the narrative that you're telling, which is difficult and emotionally wrenching, and it exists right alongside this idea
that the plantation was romantic, that it's a place where people want to go have weddings, have tours, kind of idealized versions of the american past? >> yes, thank you very much for asking that question. and i hope that everybody understands my english. like two or three weeks ago we had a big group, more than 100 people. it was only white people. and i'm sorry to use that word, you know, white, black. but maybe we'll end with that. white, black, are phenotypes. that's what you see. but what you really see is not what you see. there is something deeper in us that takes all of us back to
africa. we are just being miseducated about our origins, about our real history. shianti wrote about the african origin of civilization. we all came from africa. we'll end with that. our problem is about education. so these people came to the plantation, more than 100 people. very well, nice. and i was there to give a lecture to all of them before they took them to the grounds to see the memorials and the historic buildings from the slave cabins to the big house. and also, forgive me, for people who don't like the name,
s-l-a-v-e, every time we say "slave," just put it in quotes, okay? so i did what i thought was the best lecture of my life. at the end i told everybody, told them to ask questions. if you have any questions, please ask me. and they asked questions. and at the end, someone didn't ask any question. it was a lady. and her husband. they came to me, and the lady told me, don't you think those africans were better off here in america than staying in africa and being mistreated? >> a common perception. >> and i didn't know what to tell them. i was so confused.
and i thought about, we have three memorials on the whitney plantation. the first one is dedicated to all the people who were enslaved on the whitney plantation, real names which we found in archives. nobody can deny it. the second memorial is dedicated to all the people enslaved in louisiana, from the louisiana slave data base. and the third is dedicated, like you said, to children who died as slaves on plantations in louisiana. we just focused on the parish, which is our parish. in matter of 40 years, 2,200 children died on the plantations of louisiana. only the documented ones. we know the majority will only be found in the records of the catholic church because their
parents were baptized. those who were not baptized were just buried somewhere on the plantation. the fourth memorial, and i told john we have to build it, we experimented. it is about a 1811 slave revolt in louisiana. the largest one in the history of the united states, of the history of slavery in the united states. when hundreds of people descended from the parish walked down to take the city, liberate all the people there and maybe capture enough to sell to free countries like haiti or mexico where slavery was outlawed in 1810, they knew they could not win, but they did it anyway. many were killed in action. those who survived were taken to court. and some of them were able to reach new orleans. they were taken to court to be
tried. the sentence was every slave who was convicted had to be executed in front of -- on the plantation where they belonged. and their heads posted on poles to allow men to see, women saw it, children saw it. it was very graphic. real things. and today, people come to us and say, you cannot do that because it's too graphic. i said, john, we have to do it, they're just ceramic heads. it was real heads in the past, in 1811, we have to do it. i said, if we had that memorial on the ground, i would say, here, i would pull the hand of that lady saying, madame, is it better off here than in africa?
but even in africa, you know, black people went through jim crow. we went through at the same time in 100 years of what they call colonialism. it was slavery under another name. after 400 years, if those companies, when i say companies, i want to avoid to put all the white people in the same boat, because white people were enslaved too in the u.s. south. the so-called indentured servants were slaves. i think if europe could solve the problem of labor in the western hemisphere, they would not bother to go to africa and do it because it was a very tricky and unstable business.
but they wanted to have stability in europe. and africa had to pay for the stability of europe. that's why black people came here and were enslaved, okay? 400 years, people of africa being deported as slaves to brazil, to all of latin america, to the caribbean, to the united states, to canada, before it was outlawed. and then one day they said, this should stop. and they came back to africa as saviors, you know, we came back to stop all this barbarism which they studied or they contributed to and they said, now, we're coming here to bring you religion. we are coming here to bring to you science, development, whatever. it was 100 years of slavery under another name. and africans who were enslaved on their own lands, they didn't call it slavery, they called it forced labor. what is the difference between forced labor and slavery?
it is the same thing. and also there were books, when they talk about slaves, they didn't call them slaves. they call them laborers or whatever, workers or whatever. in africa too. when i went to school, i studied with the same books maybe they used to have over here. i was taught when i was in the primary school that speak -- [ speaking french ] >> slavery or the fact of selling people is a bad habit that only existed in africa, and french, the white people came to africa to save africans from this bad habit.
>> short? >> yes. >> i've become the bad guy here. >> so this is not a black and white issue. it is about some people, some companies trying to build big money. and they have to justify it. they have to justify it. and they use religion. before the europeans, africans were deported as slaves to the sahara desert and the indian ocean. and the indian ocean. to the middle east, to india, indonesia. and in fact, all the sugar that was consumed in europe came from the middle east. came, and sugar, processing sugar, they took it back to the
countries in the middle east, and they also produced a plantation system that was gradually transferred to the west. when they conquered spain, and spain became a muslim colony, that's what they call moorish spain. sugar was produced there in islands surrounding spain. then someone discovered america. and the system was transferred to the western hemisphere. and it became a big business, you know. unlimited land taken from the natives. africans paid the price for the stability and the wealth of europe. and all the people who came over here. so we need to be educated about this.
but, you know, we have the best knowledge of slavery in this country, including those sitting here today. since the 1920s, 1930s, especially after the 1970s, there's so much known in the history departments in this country. but with that knowledge, in visitations, in fine books, but did it get to the people? now they have -- they talk about public history. now many people are willing to take the history from, you know, from high up there to the real people and allow people to learn about it. what about history? what is the usefulness of history if it does not get to the people? if you don't educate the people about the past? we all need to be educated about it.
[ applause ] >> i want to raise two questions. i want to get them in before we open up for the audience. either of you can answer either question. one, i'm interested in the extent to which people have come forward and said i want to help you do this work. have there been people who've come out and said, you know, we want to contribute resources or the state of louisiana have they said that this needs to be commemorated or recognized? or just kind of outlets in general. i want to know how the reaction to that has been. and the other thing is this. here's another dynamic. i talked about widespread reluctance among white people in the united states to confront slavery and what it was and what its implications were. but people who teach this know very commonly among black people we don't want do go there either. like when i teach african-american history, i know this like there will be students who will take those classes and there are students who attach so much shame and sense of
humiliation and a sense of kind of fear of what they're going to see that they don't want to engage with that at all. and i wonder if there's -- if you've encountered that as well. or how you've dealt with that. the two things we say the way have people reached out to assist in the work you're doing and have you encountered that same kind of reluctance for different reasons among african-americans? >> yeah. no, it is not easy. they are very painful memories. you don't talk about a rope in the house of someone where they had someone who were hanged, you know. if you bring back those painful
memories, even in africa, you talk about collective amnesia in africa. people don't want to talk about slavery or whatever. >> uh-huh. >> and i know why. but there's a way to do it. you have to always start somewhere and somehow. god bless you. this means i'm not lying this time. in africa when you speak and someone sneezes, that means the person's telling the truth. [ laughter ] [ applause ] you taught me to be a joker. okay. when i was a student i went to ghana, nigeria, all over the place and seminars. everywhere the same people just not talk about this mess. but you have to do it anyhow and there's a way to do it. i have learned to do it -- i
mean being a teacher and synagogue and high school and then at the university of dakar synagogue, i was involved for like more than ten years in teaching american students involved in study abroad programs. they always hired me to do a regular class on the atlantic slave trade, a class which i designed to be not only the history of deportation. if you teach the history of slavery to be only the history of deportation, wherever start, luongo, rwanda, you miss a lot
of things. the history of the black people in this country didn't start with the middle passage. you have to start way beyond the middle passage and to know that the people who are deported over here have a ground. they built civilizations. many of them were built thousands of years ago. you have to know all the background. and you get to the periods when you talk about the transsaharan slave trade, how it was built upon that trans-saharan slave trade and then middle passage, go to the plantations, talk about indigo in the late 18th century.
after that you have the contribution to these people to the building of american culture at large. what wonderful contributions, you know? american culture is so everybody know want to come to this country. everybody love it. and i can swear that although students say i don't swear, i'm going to say, what makes it very attractive was partly built by africans. you know. everybody in the world knows and loves about jazz, blues, rock and roll, the way we're talking or the way we're walking or whatever. there's so many things involving african-american culture and civilization. and it was worded in the culture of those people deported here. it is not only the history of people, you know, being
mistreated on the plantations. you have to teach about that, but you also have to teach about the contribution of these people in term of culture. and that's why people will be willing to sit down and learn. most of my student in synagogue, american students in synagogue are whites students. i don't know why african-americans are not involved. maybe it is amount of money too. >> are you talking about study abroad? >> yeah. the majority is female and whites. even among the white people you have a majority of female and maybe you have two or three boys. but i'm telling you at the end of the program they're all transformed. they've become different people. and i know about many of them who went back to africa to synagogue, some of them to get married, some to learn more about the culture or whatever.
the problem of this world is a problem of education. someone somewhere, somehow is trying to blind us, you know. not to let us know the reality. and we need to take that thing away and really learn about real things, the history of all mankind. and this is the only thing that can save the world. all the mess going on now in the middle east or somewhere else is rooted in the way people were treated in the past. and if you keep shying away from those problems, it always pops up in the future. if you don't solve it, if you come back again and again and again. you know. it is not a matter of black and white. it is a matter of fixing this war that so many mistakes that were made in the past we need to fix it. and one of the problems is the problem of slavery.
>> uh-huh. so thank you. [ applause ] >> so mr. cummings, i wonder if you would talk about to the extent people have reached out to participate or the extent to which they haven't? >> well, usually you can brag and complain in talks like this. and i'm ready to brag. we have over 3,000 people who have signed onto get involved in the whitney plantation. i have yet to talk to any visiting without inviting them to participate and if they wanted to as a separate roster where you write your name and
your e-mail and your zip code and we'll be in touch with you. and we stole something from new york from the -- for the museum of the slaves who were found under the construction site. >> oh, yeah, burial grounds. >> my wife is the best buyer in the world and come back with a thousand things we can steal from different places. we're still in diapers. we're only 9 months old, so you can do that. but you had a wall there where you were asked to -- here in new york. you would write your view of the tool or of the presentation and a little stick and you'd stick it on the wall. so we have a wall that's about 20 feet long. and about 8 feet tall. and we have two desks set up there with stick-ems and pens.
and sometimes, i mean, it's loaded. you have to peel off and store. and when i remove those, and i'm the primary mover because i read every one of them as they come off. sometimes i cry. when i hear people say their lives had been changed. they had no idea. thank you for educating us. we must not let this happen again. things like that. thousands of them. we probably if everything goes well we'll probably have close to 50,000 -- between 40,000 and 50,000 people who will come there for the first year.
that's unheard of. and we did nothing except to send the message, made the message so that it was -- could be received. and had never been received by anyone who came in. on the way out of the plantation there's a sign that's hidden from you when you drive in. it simply says, freedom, educati education, family. pass it on. we cannot continue on this path that we have here in america. doesn't work for any of us. and reading this man's work has helped us with additional ideas.
we have to find a way, and it's always evolving. you know, as i told you, we don't follow ready, aim, fire, because it can't work. we have ready, fire then aim. see what you did, see if it's right. all of us have to be leaders in changing. if we just change one person, we've done more than we did in all of our lives. if we can just change one person's attitude. if we can just get whites and blacks to talk. don't talk about racism. just talk. if you see a family, if you're black and see a white family man and woman and a baby, stop and comment on their baby. if you're white and you see a black couple and a baby, stop and congratulate that family.
talk. talk. start that talk. now, we did have one complaint that i can remember. and it was by an 8-year-old african-american school kid who came here with his school. and one of my employees says there's a complaint. i said bring it to me. so i looked at it. this was the complaint. before i went on the tour they had plenty snicker bars. when i came back they were all gone. no snicker bars, underlined see. so i sent out to get a case of snicker bars to get them in there. but you have people who really can help because they have different views. they know more than you do. and even children when they come, you know, the child standing on the shoulders of a giant can see farther than the giant. >> uh-huh. >> they have to be open to that.
we have to say thank you. thank you. >> so i have many more questions, but i think i want to make sure the people here have a chance to engage as well. so there's a microphone going around. dr. sek was about to say something, so you can make your comment while we're getting to the person with this microphone and go from there. >> i just want to make sure that everybody understand me today. >> yes. >> i'm looking at you. i don't see your color. let me talk to you about my background as a synagogue, someone from senegal, west africa. 5% christian, 100% african legion. our first president darker than me, his wife was white and he was a christian for a country
that is 95% muslim. so we don't deal over there -- we have different experiences, you know. there's something about color that's really different in this country. and we have to find a way to get together and see how we can fight together, you know. and find people on both sides. one thing i want to say about religion, and i tell it to my student all the time, do you think that jesus or muhammad stood over there and say it is right to enslave people? it is all about politics, about something else. people can use every tool they can have or handle to justify the unjustifiable. okay. you cannot find any justification of it anywhere if you're really spirited, speak to real people who know the books, there's no justification about
slavery. and one thing that really heartbreaking for me that some people cannot talk to them, you know, i think they are already cooked. you cannot turn them back into being raw vegetable or whatever. one thing i remember is about the flood relief. we see it on the helmets of the saints. i didn't even know there was a controversy about the flur deleu. when that shooting happened in charleston and people thinking about taking down the confederate flags, the statues of all the generals of the -- the southern generals. there was a meeting. i was invited2n6! to it. but i didn't know there was something someone said that even the flor delieu should be taken
from the landscape of louisiana. or tv company came to my office in new orleans, i didn't know anything about it and they interviewed me about the history. and i told them this was the symbol on the french flag of the old days. i know also used to block people. the french say that if you run away for the first time, at one they cut you you have to be branded on one shoulder. and then they cropped your ears. they cut your ears. on your shoulder and cut your hamstring. the third offense would be death penalty if you can run or crawl away. that's what i told them.
when they say should we remove big challenge because i see people coming to the museum with the tattoo of the flor de lis. they say they put it as a reminder. or just know it is beautiful for them and they put it on the back. how can you remove it now? i said i don't think it would be a good idea. but it is good to remind people what is the real history behind the flor eur de lis. >> we have a question over here. oh, wait, before we do this. we have a little bit of ground rules. so we want to make sure that as many people get to ask their questions and interact as possible. so we would like everyone to keep their question within a question form and also your comment in a comment form but succinctly.
so if everybody can think about 30 seconds and then we can kind of respond and get the maximum amount of participation from everyone. >> so that's going to be hard, but i just want to thank all of you for coming. and i was at a late presentation, but it's so sad to hear you say, dr. cobb, that your students -- >> can you speak up a little bit. >> that your students you feel they're ashamed still, black students, to even, you know, take classes. and that's so sad because i'm like 60-plus when i was a young girl i was sort of ashamed. but, you know, you talk about people talking about it, not talking about it. i was raised in los angeles, california, and it wasn't until i moved east that i heard more about the struggle. you speak of people not wanting
to talk about slavery, well, there's that book my parents didn't want me to talk about slavery. but my parents didn't talk about it. i didn't realize until much longer or until i had a child that, you know, people going west to l.a. maybe they were hoping they would escape that when my parents got to los angeles, when my mother got to los angeles at 11, it was segregated. my father was born in los angeles. but i just wanted to say, your sign that says freedom, family and education, it should also say truth. because truth. because you ask about, well, how we're going to get over this. it's truth. people are not telling the truth. there is no truth in education. there is no trickle down of the knowledge. and that's the sad part. the books are there. you know. it's written down. but also with atlantic slave trade -- >> do you have a question?
>> i'm just happy to see you. and to hear things finally of the mythologies and lies created to legitimize the atlantic slave trade. those things need to be attacked, addressed and the truth really needs to come out. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> we have a question up here in the front. >> hi. mr. cummings, thank you so much for opening your museum. i think that it's long overdue and that every plantation museum in america should also be a slavery museum. the question i have is there's been a long mythology in u.s. history for not just slave owners and not just people in the slave trade but in america overall for people to -- and oftentimes needing guidance of their owners and to treat them like children and/or animals, and i wonder if you worry at all about that by presenting slaves
primarily as children in your museum? >> i couldn't hear -- >> oh, so the question was because this is long tradition of infant liezing people who were enslaved, like the mythology about black people is they were like children. and so she was asking if you were worried about that kind of being echoed in depicting the enslaved children at whitney. >> okay. >> no, go ahead. >> okay. i understood the question at the very beginning. and we always have question like this at the plantation. and someone put it in some textbooks. or maybe just a myth that is conveyed all over the place, and people, black people, finger
some the same way. in new orleans, maybe this is unique to new orleans where people very early in the history of slavery people who were enslaved on plantation had the right to buy themselves out of slavery. or you as the master you can free a slave. as early as the 1720s people were freed and became free people of color. that's the way they call them. and later they have point to anyone own slaves, black slaves, and freed slaves, owning slaves in new orleans in louisiana all this happened. and finally there was some kind of clash between the owners and the slave. and they call themselves cleos. and those ideas are still going around. this is a book, you see -- the
first -- her family -- she's the great-granddaughter of hide el. it was a haidel plantation built by a german immigrant in the 18th century. this family gave to new orleans its first black mayor. the first black mayor of new orleans came from this family. but i have a problem with one. he wrote about the history and although all the communications say his ancestor were enslaved, victor hidel was born on the plantation a slave in 1835. his mother was anna, she was deported as a slave from
virginia earlier. and she came -- she remembered being on a boat with her mother and two siblings. and she remembered the mother falling asleep on the boat and the slave traders throw the body into the water. she made it to new orleans with her brothers. there were sold away from her and never to be seen again and she was bought to the hidel plantation. but some of the members of the family cannot just accept that victor hidel, the ancestor was a slave on the plantation. he was a
fight against those ideas. >> thank you. on the business of the children, do we think that by having those the children of whitney does that in any way suggest that the slaves were childlike, excuse me, and is that a distraction and the answer to that is no. any more than the field of angels where we have the names of the 2,200 slave children from that parish who died before their third birthday have those names engraved in granite surrounding a large bronze african angel carrying one of those dead children making 22 trips to heaven. what it does it talks to everybody. about children. you can be intimidated by a
large slave with chains, and you don't tell the story. what you have to do is assume responsibility at least through colors for allowing those children to grow, to be breathers to provide us the steady supply of slaves. and it's working that way at the plantation. i'm happy to report that most people receive it like that. >> uh-huh. is there a question back here? i think we have another one over there. >> hello. my name is ronald lewis. and i was fascinated by the presentation. mention the federal -- >> could you speak up a little bit? >> yes. i was fascinated how the presentation mentioned the federal writers project. but i was wondering, since slavery lasted so long and you're telling the story of a
plantation and there were so many plantations with many different stories, how do you plan to encompass the story of so many people over so long a time? and do you plan to get -- like the federal writers project, do you plan to get more information like maybe going to the county courthouses and getting the information from the people, the lives of the people who lived during that time period? you know, to get information to bring more information out so that people can hear these stories of what life was like? >> so your question was about the generations of people and about going to the courthouses and getting additional information about those lives? >> yes. more information and being -- and also how about putting a documentary out.
>> and also what about at documentary? >> about doing a documentary. >> oh. let me tell you, this man here who talks too much and i just gave the moderator a card that says stop talking -- >> i have this -- i have someone in mind for it actually already. >> let me tell you about those -- about our oral histories. i think we have over 2,000, maybe 2,400 of them. and we have -- when you come there, if you're from mississippi, we have the oral histories from mississippi. we encourage you to get that, take it home and read it. we have the oral histories of all the slave states. and inso far as louisiana is
concerned, when he was a younger man, he worked with me dwin hall who came to louisiana and this man has been to every courthouse in the state of louisiana. and the magnificent book on slavery in colonial louisiana was based on his shoe leather and his group. magnificent job. and then we find other slave information. and when we do, we get the engraving machine. we have our own engraving station there and we put another slab and printed up and then put it up. it's the most powerful presentation that you can make. we have found we talk recently to the editor of the dallas newspaper who had been writing
stories about the need for texas to have a slave museum and citing us and they wanted to raise $30 million. and they were pointing out that it would have so many tourists and whatnot. and so they e-mailed us and we e-mailed them back and told them to come. bring the stakeholders of the people who were really interested. and you didn't need many. you just needed a couple of people who had passions to come. don't talk about $30 million. don't talk about tourism. come and build it for the right reason. and if you do, and if you move people and you do the right thing and you have enough mea culpa in it, the money will come and you will be praised for doing something and moving that
along. we're working with texas. we're going to work with virginia. with governor terry mccullough, we hope. what we have to do is to get in a position where we can understand what happened from the people that it happened to. and we can do that, thank god. it's the only thing that really has worked so far for us. >> uh-huh. this quick point. we mentioned a couple times, dr. hall -- excuse me? >> i didn't have a question. i just wanted you to see. you can get on amazon, it's called -- i know you get it on amazon. i'll ask my questions. >> dr. sek, tell them what the name of the book means. >> the title of the book and
then you have in smaller font the history of the slave community of the hidel whitney plantation. a folktale character and you find him in louisiana. name for the hyena. he survived in louisiana in folktales. his name is not book, he's briar fox and briar rabbit. and they made it all the way to hollywood, you know. briar rabbit became bugs bunny. and i think bookie became the wild coyote. a lot to learn about. it is about the master and slave
relationship. makes the gumbo and the rabbit eats everything. the rabbit is a trickster. that's the master and slave relationship. put together it is a discretionary proverbs hidden under. now, as you see the presentation it is about the master and slave relationship. and we even have in senegal, the monkey make the props and gorilla eat everything. master and slavery, that's the title of the book. and all the story of the plantation is woven around that proverb. >> there's a person over here who's been waiting patiently on the left side. i mean my left. there was a person over there who was waiting patiently. unfortunately, this was a very
important event for me to be to, so i came here directly from the airport from new orleans. and i actually have to run out shortly. so i think this is the last question. but you all can continue the conversation. >> we'll be glad to. [ laughter ] >> so we're going to -- actually, i'm going to call him and trade insults for a while after this is all done. but we have a question that's over here. >> hi. when i worked at the 9/11 memorial museum that opened in 2014, you might recall there was a lot of controversy about the museum gift shop. so i'm curious about the kinds of conversations you might have had about retail at your site. did you decide it was totally inappropriate? did you decide you should open a museum store? did you have conversations about the kinds of things that you might sell when you were talking about the fleur de lis it made my think about completely different interpretations people can have about the stories and the objects that go with
slavery. so it made me curious about this question of retail. >> your question i know is i'm 78 and i have a brand new set of ear horns on. but i understand your question to be about the visitor center. >> right. >> and there was a controversy -- >> is there a gift shop? and was it thought to be inappropriate to have a gift shop or retail in the context of what it is that you're commemorating at the museum? >> not at all. in fact, we have deliberate ly researched items that we would move through there. we have items made in africa.
fair trade items. we have african dress. and head items. we have a bookstore. we have every major book that we have been able to find on slavery. and we continue to build a bookstore. we are very interested in our visitors reading the bookstore -- reading the books in the bookstore if they'd like to. we direct them to books that we have found helpful. for example, i was talking to you about the "it." and slavery's just part of the "it." and a very dear friend of ours
who was a first lady of new orleans, this is cybil when she was a young lady. beautiful, beautiful lady. and we are going to donate this book to your institution here because it's called "witness to change." and she without any ran corp describes her life in new orleans, the rejection to be accepted at tulane university only to be told several days later that they discovered she was a negro and under the law of louisiana she could not attend tulane. and when that happened she called her fiancee who was later the mayor of the city and told him. and he said loyola university's right next door. go over there and apply. and she did. and she was told that she could not come to the school because
she was a negro. and she used to ride on her bikes. and all the kids would get together and her gang and would tear into the city park. it's a thousand acre park there. and the park rangers would run them down and run them out because they were negroes. there were no big restaurants they could attend, that they could eat at. there just weren't. there were no hotels for their visitors to stay in. so they had a family and big meals and everyone would be called upon by their friends to house a few of the other families friends while they were in new orleans. and once they tried to go to the museum in city park and they were excluded by the police. so this courageous lady, and i
urge you -- i'm not selling her book, but i'm telling you it's wonderful. because she presents history. and she's not angry. because she knows it's changing. and she and this wonderful man she married would compare notes. and although it would appear as though they had suffered a defeat, it really meant that they had moved ahead. and this is part of the "it." this is part of the "it." we're going to sell this book. this is one of the sellers. and we will bring people to tell them exactly what i told you. when we look for the "it," sibil's explained quite a bit of it. we don't sell balloons and things like that. you know. at some of the plantations you can get jesus christ on velvet. elvis. you know. what we sell is directly related
to our message. clemantine, the great artist, primitive artist there, we sell her work. we sell the pictures -- we have platters. we have her paintings impressed in there where we have the slaves working, going to church. and that's what we do. we make sure that there is nothing there that detracts from our message. >> i know -- >> someone came to the plantation. >> i know that jelani is going to leave, but we can take a few more questions. thank you. >> you have to leave? [ applause ]
>> someone came to the plantation, to the museum, and said if you could like sell, you know, we have the children of whitn whitney. and someone said if you can like make small children of whitney and sell them. it sounded really weird to us. we say no we cannot do that. >> we actually told them that the whitney plantation no longer sold slave children. [ applause ] >> we have a question. >> someone asked about narratives. it was very hard to make a selection of narratives and engrave them. we write every single narrative from mississippi to oklahoma to virginia, louisiana. it was really hard. all of them really heartbreaking. although many of the people who were interviewed in 1930s who
led a slave when they were children, they will tell you that they have plan to eat, you would think it was nice. no. you have also to put those into the context to know who are interviewing them, and the kind of questions they were asked. but you have very well spoken out people say what they really endured in slavery. and we made a good selection of those stories. and you can find them on those grand slabs at the plantation. in the courthouse you have inventories. you don't learn too much about inventories. you may see real names, where they came from, the price, the skills, but you have also trials. people who went into revolt, people who resisted slavery,
people who were marioonsmaroonsy slaves. why they did it. and you also have real also narratives over there. those are also things you can learn at the whitney plantation. i think it is really important. >> can i ask a question? thank you. i visited oak alley plantation several years ago. and i remember learning there somebody who gave us a tour s d said, a little bit not as rough a type of slavery in new orleans. i never heard about that. is that true? >> will you say that again? >> code noir, was the kind of slavery that went on in new orleans. and it was a little less rough than other parts of the country. is there any truth to that? >> they should invoke the doctrine of huh-uh.
there's one place you can get elvis on vel ret. >> to try to compare different nations, slavery is slavery. you are not free. and if you try to resist wherever it is the same. they make you suffer in your flesh. the code noir or the black code may have some very nice about food and clothing, all that. but do you know they do just out of philanthropy. every smart muster would treat his slaves while make sure they eat well because property, valuable property. would work better for them. slavery is all the same all over the world. you are a slave, you are not free and someone owns you. yeah. >> hi. sorry. i have a sore throat. thank you for coming to new york. thank you for your museum.
and also personally thank you for being you. you're both extraordinary people. it's very great to watch you. i was wondering, are you talking to the group in rhode island at the episcopal church making the museum a slavery in the north? >> isn't that an undertaking? and the descendant of that family is there supervising it. and i've talked to one of the i call them stakeholders. those are people who i know have an interest. but that's as far as it's going. you know, we still very much in bricks and mortar. and i've talked to dallas. and i want to do something there, you know. whatever they do is good. it's important that the populous then would have to focus on that. they'd have to focus on slavery and what they did, you know. and same with virginia.
there was an attempt to build one there and then all the money was absconded and it went bankrupt. no, i'm serious. everybody got contracts and millions of dollars disappeared. >> okay. thanks. every time you say dallas i remember that i'm hearing recently that texas is taking out the word slave and changing it to worker. >> yeah. >> she said in texas they are taking the word slave for worker. there's a conservation going on on facebook everywhere and it is really wrong to say these people were just workers. just like if they came here willingly. no, they came in the hulls of -- with shackles in slave ships. they were not free.
no. they're going to take it out. >> sorry. if dallas is talking to you could you please tell them that it's unacceptable? >> well, they don't talk to southern democrats too much. they would have a slave display that would discount obamacare. you know, that unfortunately is what you're facing. but anything that they do to open that door is good. anything they do to open the door. they call them slaves of course. we went to thomas jefferson's plantation one time, and there were no slave quarters. but we had the foundations were there and we were told that's where the servants lived.
they now call them slaves. they used to call them servants. [ inaudible ] >> we have time for one more question. >> we got time. >> i think the most important thing we can do when we come to see you in november is to write better curriculum. i think you all know if you've had kids in school that you don't see this. we do a kind of a monolithic job of talking about cotton in georgia. the interesting thing for us i think will be to particularize this story because this is the story of people belonging to german immigrants who live in louisiana who make sugar. what i would like to know now i've taught for years how you make cotton, how did these slaves produce sugar? >> how did they produce it? well, you know, the sugar cane
looks like. and it has a bunch of joints, looks like a piece of -- what's wrong? looks like a piece of bamboo. it has joints on it like that. and you take those and you dry them out for a while. and you plant them about four inches deep. and where every joint is a new sugar cane plant will grow. and then that was harvest time, right now it's starting. and the plants are cut -- used to be cut with machetes. now cut by machine. and then that was taken to a refinery. and each plantation, big plantation, had a sugar house. and they would take the sugar cane and it would be -- you can just imagine two wheels and a
machine like that that turn in opposite directions like this. in the middle you would feed the sugar cane, and the juice would be squeezed out of it. sometimes you would have a slave with a mule walking the mule around just to turn these wheels. and the juice is then put through a procedure where it's heated and it turns into sugar, to molasses, syrups and the -- when the sugar was made, when the sugar was made, it was poured into cones like this. they looked like when you put them -- when you sold them about this round. and they would come up like a christmas tree. it was poured, they were dry and
those would be sold. and you had little tools and you would just break a piece like that to put in your coffee, making something. and then a black man discovered a way that you could granulate sugar so it was like the sand that you see today. that was put into barrels that were called hogsheads. it was about 500 pounds of sugar in the barrels. so from our plantation we would move those barrels to the mississippi river, which is right there. and roll them onto barges that would be taken down to new orleans, offloaded into warehouses. and then that sugar was sold around the world. >> if you go to louisiana now, the grinding season have just started just like in the old
days. it started in mid-october, the latest would be the fourth of november. it lasted from that time to christmas. very hard time for people who were enslaved because some of them had to work, you know, the sugar mill worked 24 hours a day. and of course they could not work 24 hours. they have shifts, you know. sugar cane was plant and came to maturation in october. and then it was cut from the field and taken to the sugar mill. usually sugar mill has two rows of kettles, open kettles, you know, heated by firewood underneath. and those kettle were connected to the grind er, just like he explained. and slaves, people moved -- enslaved people moved the hot liquid from kettle to kettle, like four of them in the last
one. it was very dangerous. they would have explosions, people burn to death. and it was really demanding. and each row of kettle needed like 76 people behind it. when i say 76, you have what they call 20 knives, slave cutting the cane in the fields and 20 slaves to roll the cane into bundles and put them on carts. and you have drivers who took the cane to the sugar mill. when they get over there they have slaves feeding the grinder with cane. and then the juice was put to boil from kettle to kettle until it granulates. you have an engineer for the engine. you have fireman who make sure that they have enough wood and
fire under the kettles. it was a very dangerous process. in the 18th century the main crop was indigo, less demanding. it was really less demanding in labor whatever. but the sugar industry was so much demanding and went really high. it's not surprising that in 1811 the largest slavery in the united states happened in louisiana. and connected to the revolution which happened in like two decades in revolt. and the president -- i mean, the first governor of louisiana support slave ships at the mouth of the mississippi river to make sure that the troublesome haitian people would not come into the country. you know, slaves from haiti. they were labeled troublesome. but i wrote in the book that the
governor was wrong. instead of monitoring haiti, he would have looked under his feet right there there was a big problem. people dying on mass and he would have done a better job. they had largest slavery revolt in the united states happened over there. >> and we will display that. and it will be horrific. woodrow nash has just delivered to us 60 abstract skulls. and they will be there, right there with their names, where they came from and the whole transcript of the trial. before we leave, i'd like to say that we thank you. we're honored to be here. and it's interesting, it's
interesting to always talk and to attempt to persuade people to adopt whatever it is that you're selling. we sincerely invite everybody here to get involved. and together we can change the world. we really can. and there's a message that i just thought of. and i'm now delivering it. you know, like i said, we're still in diapers and you learn every day. we all came from africa. our ancestors left early. but we have to care for the ones who left later. we're all african-americans. and thank you. we're up here to talk. [ applause ] >> thank you all so much for
coming. i know there are other questions. and i'm sure that john and dr. sek would be very happy to talk some more in a less formal way. thanks for being a great audience. great audience. you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation like us on facebook at c-span history. the george washington book prize is awarded annually to a work which advances public understanding of george washington and america's founding era. this year's prize went to lin-manuel miranda for his broadway musical "hamilton" which is based on the life of founding father and first u.s. treasury secretary, alexander hamilton. next the award ceremony. and we'll see a performance from