Skip to main content

tv   BTV LCV Fresno Tim Hernandez - All They Will Call You  CSPAN  January 5, 2018 1:56am-3:04am EST

1:56 am
of advocacy, so to speak? >> it wasn't difficult. it has been for some i've known. in fact, i've known people who became judges and so disliked the decision making process that they left the bench. i was an advocate. i was glad to be an advocate. i found the decision making process while it was different, enormously challenging, enormously satisfying. i got to say i loved being a judge. because the opportunity to resolve disputes large and small, they all matter to somebody, but some of them have large public significance. and that's a very satisfying role. >> watch a after words at 9 eastern sunday night on book tv on c-span 2. hi, i'm debby lam, the coordinating producer on our cities tour team. this year we visited 24 cities
1:57 am
exploring their unique history and literary life. we're going to show you several stops from fresno, california. it's the statist's largest inland city and serves as a major hub for agricultural production. ♪ ♪ they're flying me back the mexican border ♪
1:58 am
>> it comes from woody guthrie's lyrics. it story goes when the plane crash happened in 1948 and the news reports went across it country woody guthrie was in nuvg at the time and of course one of the great sort of rebellious folk icons that he is, he heard the news reports and he really was upset at the omission of the names. he himself had traveled to the valley, so he was familiar with the plight of migrant farm works at the time. and he was upset by the omission of the names. he said that's no way to treat our brothers and sisters, and so he wrote a poem about it. and in his poem he attempts to restore the dignity of those anonymous passengers by giving them fake names, assigning them names. and he says in his poem, good-bye to my juan, good-bye, rose litta, you won't have a
1:59 am
name, all they will call you will be deportee. that really caught my attention, and is that all they will call us? i come from a family of migrant farms, so who is they? who is all, and what will they call you? to me that was such a poetic piece of that lyric, so i use that for the book. there were talks between the presidents at the time. this was the early '40s, and the basis of the conversation was how can mexico be an ally to the u.s. during its time of need. and the result of that was what they called a settle problem, from the word brazos meaning arms, in this case workers arms. they looked to their brothers and sisters in the south here, mexico, and they began this program that started to literally bus and train people, mexican workers in.
2:00 am
the first series of that -- the first sort of i guess you would say the pilot program, they imported about 4,000 workers here to the central valley to the town of stouktckton. it was such a success the farmers said bring more, bring more. so then within the next couple of years they had upwards of 40, 50,000 workers coming in. and now they weren't only being used for the agricultural labor but the railroads and all kinds of things across the country of course during world war ii and while our country was off at war. so after the war is over, what do we do with all the brothers and sisters we invited to work with us and gave these work visas to? well, it's time to send them back was the idea. and in fact some of the politicians here in the central valley at the time would come out and state that, the kind of
2:01 am
worker specifically that we're looking for is the kind of working does great job here, doesn't look for trouble and then we can send them back when we're done. they would say that publicly. and now here in 1948, a few years after the war has ended -- actually, in '47 they start sending back, doing mass deportations. you know, in some cases the workers contracts were up. in some cases they were here without papers, and in some cases, you know, they were just rounded up as, you know, a part of the round up. and in manies of the cases even tlut history from the '30s, '40s, and even into the '50s some of them were american citizen they were sending back. the dragnet was so wide they
2:02 am
just rounded up people who liked like mexicans. and that's what happened in 1948. they had rounded up a group of workers and sending them back, deporting them. at this time they had just started to use the douglas dc3 airplanes. those airplanes specifically were the workhorse of world war ii. now they had a surplus. let's change the name, they were actually called c 47 airplanes during and the war and they said like call them dc 3. let's clean them up, put some seats in them and use them to deport folks. and so that's what they did. and in 1948 this plane left at 9:30 in the morning and it was heading towards tijuana to drop
2:03 am
off reportedly 28 mexican citizens and that had a copilot, the stewardess, the pilot's wife and an immigration officer also. and about an hour into the flight leaving the bay area flying over the diablo mountain range and the plane experienced difficulty with the engine, caught fire, torched the wing off. it tumbled in the air and crashed right into the canyon, which is you know it's just actually 60 miles southwest of fresno. and it was annihilated and all the ranch owns, they saw it, witnessed it. there was a nearby county prison road camp there, minimum security place. all prisoners out in the yard all saw it happened, witnessed it. a lot of those folks who i used
2:04 am
and interview for the book. and it changed the lives not for obviously the passengers but even the people who witnessed it. so that's what wuss happening that morning. the media's reports of the incident, you know, it was at the time it was labeled the worst airplane disaster in california's history. this was 1849, january 28. and the media, the associated press actually has one of the more popular ones, the 28 deportees being sent back to mexico all killed. out of these newspapers, out of all of them there was no mention of the names with the exception of two newspapers. the prez no be made an attempt to publish the names a couple days after the accident. the names, you know, were badly misspelled erroneous. some of them looked like they were spelled phonetically, but it was an attempt.
2:05 am
and they only published i think a dozen of the names. the only newspaper that actually did publish the names -- the popular belief at the time or even now was maybe they didn't have access to the names or who were the names? or how do they find the names? and i thought to myself as an author who's exploring this idea, i thought there's a manifest somewhere. there's a government program. you know, someone has the names, right? and lo and behold i find an article published in a spanish language, independent newspaper, only published in fresno at the time, specifically published for the mexican community here, the farm workers. and it was called el faro. and it lists -- it says here's the name of all the dead campaneros who died in this plane crash, not only the names but the town they're from and
2:06 am
the surviving family members. it lists all of them and when i found that article, it was the jackpot. it was a spanish language newspaper that did them justice and gave them their due of just saying their names, which was a basic human right. it wasn't about like, you know, trying to, you know, spew some bias or anything like that. it was just here are their names, here are their family members, they lived. and that newspaper published it. that newspaper came to me by way of the family members. when i first found one of the families, and they knew the story, and he said to me when i first met him at his restaurant he said do you have a list of the names, and i said yes, i do, but the list i have is sort of inaccurate. and he said well i have a list, too. and i said what list do you have, he says hangs on and pulls out this old tattered stained
2:07 am
wrinkled newspaper from 1948. according to him the mexican consulate had sent his family this newspaper as evidence of his family member's death. and that family had kept it for 60 years. i haven't found another copy of that newspaper. i didn't feel like i needed to embuit with any overtly political agenda, because the story was such a human story. and it already had metaphor, imbued with metaphor. here was this one vehicle transporting, you know, 28 mexican peoples. four of them caucasian, you know, the pilot, world war ii hero, the copilot also a world war ii hero. you wouldn't want any other pilot flying that plane.
2:08 am
if you were going to fly that plane, that's the pilot you want flying. you had crash landed that same plane before during world war ii during the burma india hunt, and he crash landed out of that safely. he had over 2,000 something hours in that specific airplane. that's the pilot you wanted. and he was a newly wed, and 30 years old. his wife was bobby atkinson. they had only be married the year before, you know? and they were just starting their lives. and in fact this was going to be his last flight and then he was going to retire and go back to working for the military again on some other duty. and so his wife was not a stewardess, in fact. i'm not sure what she was doing, but she wasn't a stewardess. she had no business being on the
2:09 am
airplane, in other words. and what happened was the stewardesses couldn't make it that morning. according a family she called in sick, and i guess at the time you couldn't fly one of those planes without having a stewardess onboard. and i guess he said do you want to come with us, and she said sure i'll go, and she jumped on the plane with them. and oorg oo the family only two weeks before that accident, frank, i guess had experienced difficulty on another airplane. and so his wife had made a comment to some friends and family, if something ever happened to frank, i would want to be with him. that was just two weeks before she actually would be with him when that plane crashed down. i was able to interview the atkinson family, and i learned other than being newly weds
2:10 am
frankly oz franky -- that blew my mind, you know. one of the grandsons of a migrant farm worker who also had tastrugg to struggle and make it here on his own, i said what makes you identify, and he said as a young man i could relate to what he was doing. frank atkinson during the depression would go out and cut rail ties and make 50 cents and bring it back to his parents and help them survive. he said i remember doing that same thing for my mother. i'd go out and bring her back the change i was making. so all i knew was i had to talk about the humanity of each of the people. all 32 passengers, frank atkinson, his wife. the last love letter --
2:11 am
actually, it wasn't the last one but he the love letter he wrote home to her in preparing for their wedding. and i put that side by side with one of the last love letters that a passenger sent home to his wife about he struggled trying to work for one farmer, working with another farmer. and he's telling his wife back home i know we have a few garbanzo beans back home, sell them, and we'll make it. and when you see those side by side all the glaring humanity is illuminated in it. i don't have to spew any of that political rhetoric around that. the humanity is palpable. you read those letters and you can't deny here's two men who loved their families working hard for their families. so january 30, 1948, the funeral
2:12 am
services happened right here. and the founder people were here, and the service had 28 coffins lined up. and on that day, january 30, while they were doing the services, they actually only did a fewf the caffens. so before the audience and the crowd they entered a couple of coffins. and once everyone dispersed and went about their lives, the coffins were put underground, buried over. as i understand it wasn't initially but years later someone donated a placard. and that part is uncertain, but years ago someone donated a placard and the placard said it was anonymous still. it said 28 mexican citizens died in a plane crash january 20,
2:13 am
1948, rest in peace. it doesn't say buried here, but just 28 people died, rest in peace. kind of ambiguous like that. and it's a small little placard and set there. and that's all it had for years, and it's a large patch of green grass where they don't like any other head stones nearby anymore. some people walk by and they say that looks like a good spot, and they can't. it wasn't until i came upon the story in 2010 and i learn of it, this was the first place i came to i i said i've got to find out where they're buried. it was astonishing they were also buried what was considered at the time the largest mass burial ground in history. i knocked on the doors of the
2:14 am
cemetery here and i said do you have the names, and they said, well, we'll look up the file. and they looked up the file. and they said actually we don't have the names. we have the file, but on that file where every name should be tip cloe goes, it just says mexican national or it says mexican national, mexican national, mexican national 28 times and that was it. and even they were kind of astonished by that. in fact one of the cemetery directors new here at the time, he said, that blows me awas. and he i i started talking and i said i'm looking for the names. i said i'm looking through the halls of fresno county here, and they won't give me the names because you have to pea related. but you guys can go on official business. and he said i have a list of names a names. and we looked at the list of
2:15 am
names together, and we were excited because it was a first, middle and last name. and we could tell some of them were still wrong, but it was a start. and it was actually that list of names that led be on the search. i asked him that day. i said, you know, what would it take, i'm way out of my league here, but what would it take if these are the correct list of names what would it take to put them on a headstone here, a marker. well it would take two things, permission from the bishop and money. and i said how much money, and he said at least $10,000. and i said you work on getting permission from the district and i'll work on raising the money. and about a month prior to that i was with a local musician and he and i had first said to ourselves -- i said once we find a list, we should figure out how to put that headstone here.
2:16 am
so that day stand ing with the cemetery director, he's a beloved musician here so i knew if we had artist power and musician power, we're going to raise the money. within three or four months we raised $14,000. carlos got permission from the bishop, the bishop agreed. so we installed a headstone right here behind me, and that headstone is now a 4 by 8 granite slab that is actually used to bury the bishops. and on that slab in english and spanish, it tells you the story of what happened and has the names of every passenger onboard including the crew as well. and then it has 32 leaves around the stone. because it's got these lyric. well, they're not just deportees
2:17 am
anymore. and one of the beautiful things of this headstone behind me is we've still included in that show how it went from anonymity to having the names today. all the talks around immigration today is has become a vast sea of noise. you know? you know, some of it of value. some of it -- for creates for valuable dialogue but a lot of it, specially today as we enter this new administration, we start to hear everywhere, not just from politicians but people in general, we start to hear sort of the ramped up you know, polar of us versus them or you know, immigrants versus americans. that kind of rhetoric is out there. i feel like what gets lost in that, and i think part of that is intentional gets lost in those kind of abstractions i was mentioning earlier is the human face behind it. i feel like this book really
2:18 am
provides the opportunity for us to look through that rhetoric to, cut through it and to just look at one situation, one isolated situation, 28 mexicans, four american citizens, all crashed and all regardless of race, regardless of social status, regardless of spiritual beliefs or background, they all met the same fate together. none spared. none. in the end, they were in one vehicle transported or deported to that great other place in the sky. you know? that's what i hope people take from it is that we're all in this together. ♪ good-bye rosalita, good-bye juan adios mi amigos. ♪ we won't have a name when we ride the big airplane ♪
2:19 am
♪ hollywood called us dirty deporties ♪ cities tours journey of the literary world in fresno, california, continues with author of the book "harvest sun, planting roots in american soil." the author recounts the story of his childhood, race and identity in california's central valley. >> and one of my books i've written is called "harrest son," a journey into my family's past and looking at the immigration of my grandparents from japan to america and trying to plant roots in american soil and, of course, facing the contradictions of america, the racism of it, and the struggles to try to establish themselves. historically, japanese americans
2:20 am
had a very vibrant agriculture community partly because when the immigrants first came, this was the only entry point for a lot of them in american economy and american communities. certainly relocation and interment during world war ii shifted that so it concentrated even more the stronger sense of being japanese american. my generation has shifted. it's very classically immigrant story. my generation we call ourself sansi, third generation in america. >> the time, spring and summer of 1942. the place? ten different relocation centers in unsettled parts of california, arizona, utah, idaho, wyoming, colorado, and arkansas. >> the experience of my parents during relocation and world war ii interment of japanese americans i think was very common. there was crisis, there was turmoil. there's hysteria and they didn't know what to do. so i think like many of them,
2:21 am
they realized they had to just accept what was happening through their own type of civil disobedience but really accept had broader frame of this history that was unfolding along with all the chaos and uncertainty. so they -- growing up they rarely talked about it. and i only started piecing together stories i heard here and there, reading about it and understanding what a traumatic moment it was when you're trying to establish yourself here in america and trying to literally plant roots here but also at the same time, understand, this is a country that didn't want them. that told them they were the enemy, that told them they needed to go back home. of course, the irony for my parents, they were born here. back home was here. and it was that struggle i think that as i grew older and began to understand part of the idea of struggle, i think of the struggles that i went through were dwarfed by that moment in
2:22 am
history. and how they had the resilience to work through that and then come back and literally plant roots here in the valley in our farm. my parents did not talk about it. my dad was this traditional stoic farmer, hardly said anything. my grandmother who lived with us only spoke japanese and my japanese wasn't very good but they wouldn't talk about it. i think it's because had he carried within them a kind of a shame, a guilt that's embedded whether he you're accused of being something that you're not. so as a writer, i began to try to probe into this, ask questions, read more about it, talk to other families and gradually and it took time, gradually i began to hear a story here from my father, a story there from my mom. my dad would talk about when we were runs burning some wood from dead trees, he said, let me tell you about a fire that i once made. he told me the story about how
2:23 am
when they had to leave, my dad was so mad he decided to say he's going to burn all the possessions they had that they couldn't carry because he didn't want to leave it for people who didn't want them. i thought this is my dad, this quiet reserved farmer showing this protest sort of like japanese american lives matter type. and it was amazing to hear these stories. so gradually as a writer you begin to piece together these stories and the take away i had with that, the one take away i had was this idea of silence. it's hard to write about silence because writers think about words and dialogue. but part of my writing was embedded in this history of understanding what that silence means. and how that silence carried everything from their shame and guilt but also their resilience that they had to respond to come back to here in california to say, we are america.
2:24 am
we are part of america. we did not own land before the war. as most japanese americans did not. when we came back, when my parents came back after the relocation camps, my father realized the way to get ahead in america was to own property. so he took this huge gamble and he bought 40 acres that we farm now. my grandmother, she was appalled. and i heard about this story. they argued because my grandmother said why do you get, buy land here in america because they take things away. and she was absolutely right. because of the hysteria of world war ii, they took everything away from japanese americans. so she was right to have this bitter attitude. my father at the same time understood that in order to establish yourself, you needed to become a farmer. you needed to transition from farm worker to farmer. so he bought this land.
2:25 am
that day that they were leaving this rented shack that they lived on to move here to this house that was on this property, my grandmother refused to go. so she stayed in this little shack and my dad got mad and he said look, i'm going to wait in the car until the sunsets. my grandfather who was alive then was happy. he said we get a farm. i'm waiting in the car. so he waited in the car. as the sun went down, my grandmother came out of the house carrying this black suitcase with the stenciled number of our family as our family internment number and they got into the car and in silence, they drove to this new farm. and that's how our farm started. it wasn't this magnificent cheering ride. it was really capturing that whole sense of history that i try to write about and it's one of my favorite stories actually that i end up writing about and thinking a lot about how things
2:26 am
begin and how farms are part of this whole wave of history that embodies all those elements of history. our farm faced.challenges. and it's really in two generations. one was my dad's generation, post warorld war ii, no one wand to buy food grown by the enemy, the zwrap niece americans, of course. so they struggled. they united together. they formed cooperatives. they started jointly marketing things and found a way to work through the system and work the system. when i came back to the farm, the overt racism wasn't there but there are still embedded biases and one of the biases was against large versus small. there was this drive that you need to expand your farm. you need to grow things that are cheaper, that are more efficient and more productive. and i cape back thinking, that's not the farm i want to do.
2:27 am
i want to grow something that has quality, that has flavor, and again, that had that back story that came with it. so that's one of the reasons why i talked my dad into saying let's start farming organically because i think it's a consumer, it's a part of the public who appreciates this value that we're growing. and all through the course of our family's history, we think about it, we were driven by values more than anything else. you know, my grandparents did come to america because they wanted to suddenly become the wealthiest people in the world. they were driven here by dreams and hopes. my parents came back from the relocation camps to farm because they were driven by initially desperation and also the sense of wanting to become american and plant roots here. and i came back to the farm knowing that i wanted to continue that legacy in many ways and at the same time, write and tell stories about the
2:28 am
things i was witnessing. i was like lots of farm kids that grew up in the '60s and that i couldn't wait to get off the farm, right? no one wanted to farm. i grew up in a ry lively japanese american community and all of us went off to college and that was the goal for all of our parents and generation to get the kids off the farm, get them educated so they could find something better. so i ran off to a college that i thought would never bring me back to farping with berkeley. i studied sociology and i thought they'd never bring me back to farming but then i did spend two years living in japan as an exchange student and that changed my life. it was retouching a culture that was around me but yet realizing i was not japanese. i was japanese american. during that two years, i spent about half the time working the small little rice farm that my grandmother had left and working alongside of her brother in japan and i remember stopping
2:29 am
and thinking, this is exactly what i'm trying to run away from. what is it? it was really the call of the land. but the dynamic was i did not understand how to grow rice. i understand how to -- i did not understand how to grow rice but i understood how to grow peaches. and i realized i need to come back here to see what this was like. so i came back and shocked my dad saying i want to come back and farm a little with you. he was shocked because he thought none of his sons, none of his children were going to farm just like most farms around here. so the transition was wonderful in the sense that my dad was very quiet and very reserved. so when i came back to the farm, started making mistakes, started doing things, there was a lot of just a few soft grunts, nodding the head and then silence. and that's when i began to go crazy say tell me, am i doing it right, wrong, how do you feel about it? he was wonderful because he just allowed me to fail.
2:30 am
and i there that was the biggest take away that i had because when i came back, i also started looking at the landscape of farming and understanding the growing pressure to grow in size to, grow crops, to grow crops that are designed for a mass market. and i came back wanting to do something different and that's why we starred farming organically. and at the same time, hoping that this precious fruit that we grew would fit in an organic marketplace that valued flavor, character, and ironically, valued the back story of the fruit that we grow. and it seemed to have all worked. my daughter as she begins to farm with me, i begin to think and we often talked about is my role a teacher, is it a mentor or someone who just passes on something and hands something down. it turns out it's a little of everything. i think my daughter wants us to be partners. which really wasn't quite what i
2:31 am
was expecting because you think of your best teachers that you had, they were teachers. not partners. but then i starred thinking more about it and maybe this is part of a millennial way of looking at the world where the world is much more inclusive as opposed to hierarchical. we're evolving this new relationship and now she's a partner on the farm, understanding how she wants us to make decisions together. there are times when i thought, you know, i'd be really happy if you kind of made that decision but no, she wants to do it together. who could complain about that. so i have to stop myself from thinking oh, this isn't quite the story i thought was the narrative, i thought was going to happen but it's a very different and unique narrative at the same time. there's this ironic twist being japanese american and understanding that whole legacy of immigrants and immigration that affected my family when they first arrived from japan and understanding california
2:32 am
agriculture that's swirling and churning and growing expanding all at the same time, this whole issue of immigrants and immigration are part of the fabric of agriculture. it continues today so that the workers we have are part of this whole new definition of what does it mean to be an american and an immigrant. and they're all part of the food system that we have. >> i hope people take away from my stories in my books a sense of authenticity. this is the real world. i'm not a -- i'm not a journalist who spends one summer on a farm and then writes about food. i've live this had. my family has been part of this for generations. this is what i live and breathe and hurt from at the same time because i try to write about that authentic life of farming and being a family at the same time. and the struggles and challenges that we have within that book, economic forces, environmental, climate change, prices, shifting
2:33 am
weather. those are all part of what we do here on the farm. that's part of again the story of food that i try to write about. i hope people take away that real taste of the food from the stories that i write. >> next cities tour shows us the economic and geographic landscape of the san joaquin valley. >> i had a choice a long type ago when i went to school in the east and started my career in baltimore, i could have gone around the country and each place maybe written books and stories. i decided to come back here to this place that shaped me and try to understand what it was. and who the people were. and i began with my own family story and then you know, that linked up to the other stories. and when i hear the stories of the african-americans who came west, the japanese, the mexicans crossing the border, they're not very much different than my grandfather's tale. my grandfather came here in
2:34 am
1920, his name was aram arox, the name of a river that flows from mount arafat. he was a poet and arax was his pen name. the pen name was osepian. we were the son of joseph. he changed it to arax because it was a more literary pen name and was going to be a poet. the army and genocide broke out. he had to hide in an attic in istanbul from 1915 to 1916-'17. he went up there with his books, mo pa sant, all these french poets and short story writers. and he became a lover of french symbolism. when he came down, he had a choice. was he going to remain in turkey after the genocide? he had a chance to go to the sorbonne in paris to study literature.
2:35 am
but he had this uncle who had come to fresno, california, to start again. and he was writing my grandfather these letters saying, there's a new armenia here. there's a place, a valley surrounded by mountains. just like our owld place and grapes are as big as jade eggs and the watermelons if you carve them out you could float down the rivers in them. my grandfather took the bait. he had a choice between paris and fresno and he cape to fresno and he carved out a life here of farming, being a grocery man, and writing his poetry. his sons became these jocks, great baseball and football players. my dad had a football scholarship to usc. that literary thing skipped a generation. and then it landed on me. right now, we're sitting in my office in northwest fresno. surrounded by you know, i don't know how many tons an of
2:36 am
documents that have to do with this history of california and the story of water. so that's where we're at. this is for me, it's like this is heaven and hell. getting up every day and having to you know, oh, i'm writing about something. where did i first read about that and then sorting through all had stuff trying to figure out where it is. so you'll see thousands of post its with topics. each color represents a different topic. it's about as strike as i get. the middle of california is called the central valley. but the central valley really goes from a place bakersfield to sacramento. even beyond. it's 400 miles long. it is the longest valley in the united states if not the world. i'm talking more about the san joaquin valley which is the central valley is made up of two valleys, san joaquin and sacramento. the san joaquin valley is where
2:37 am
all these dramas have taken place. steinbeck's stories, sore royian's stories and it is a place that's geographically exiled from the rest of california. it's physically exiled. it's surrounded by mountains. and it's psychologically exiled. it's a place that has its own kind of ethics. it's backward if you come here, it feels very much like the south. okay? it feels like the south for a reason because when my grandfather arrived here in 1920, these sons of the cotton plantation were coming here, too. what happened is the boll weevil was ravaging the cotton fields of the south and the sons of the plantation had to find a new place to farm cotton and so they came west and they landed in this valley in a place called tolure lake which was actually a
2:38 am
lake. about 50 miles from here, there was a lake that was 800 square miles in girth. and it was the most dominant feature on the california map. these plantation, the sons of the plantations came west and they drained that lake dry. there were four rivers. and they ended up damming those rivers, turning the meanders of those rivers into straitjackets. so if i showed you rivers today you would see they're as straight as an irrigation canal. they've been confined. and then they controlled the philosophy those rivers. they actually put pumps along those rivers that would make the rivers run backward so they can control that flowen an all those rivers were captured in the name of agriculture. so our rivers here in the valley are rivers of agriculture. 95% of their flow have been taken by farms and that flow gets shut off by a dam and then
2:39 am
the flow gets shunned through this lattice of irrigation canals throughout the valley. so it's the most industrialized farming in the history of man. and it's created these factories. and really to begin with the nonfiction literature of this place, you need to start with factories in the fields by carrie mcwilliams which was a book that was written in the depression time. and it really put on the map the sense of how industrialized this agriculture was and how we had created this feudal society where you had these farmers who didn't even call themselves farmers. they called themselves growers. and they had captured you know, tens of thousands of acres of land and had industrialized it and then to find a workforce, they went south of the border and imported a workforce. and we basically imported you know, a whole lower class that
2:40 am
cape here. and so that struggle created kind of a vast plantation society in a way. and that feudal kind of structure still exists today. it's a place of tremendous disparity where the land and the machines are controlled by maybe 300 families up and down this valley, the vast majority of the land and the water is controlled by a handful. and so that's the story i've been trying to tell, picking up you know, where kind of factories and the fields left off and telling that story of this place. i was born here, spent most of my life here. but it's still a mystery to me. for instance, if we were to take a drive, i could take you on a drive for, it will take 20 minutes. we would begin in the suburbs north of here where there --
2:41 am
it's a very conservative place that probably voted 60, 70% for donald trump. and out there are these big megachurches and these big megahouses. and then we would drive from those suburbs to downtown fresno where you would have the highest concentration of poverty in the country in these neighborhoods. then we would drive 15 minutes beyond and we would land in a rural vineyard in the middle of a place called fowler or selma which is the raisin capital of the world and we would be surrounded by this whole different kind of life, a beautiful kind of life, quiet, agriculture but also rural poverty. so in that half an hour drive, you see these three kinds of landscapes and i would say that you would be the find that anywhere else in the country those three drives. those three places in one drive. it's quite a canvas to write about.
2:42 am
it's a hard place to write about because you have to makeern judgments and it can be a depressing place to write about. i this i that's why so much of the literature that's come out of here has been the great literature has been fiction and poetry. fresno has a really rich history of great poets. larry lev vis, peter everwine, phil levine who came here from detroit and we have some great fiction beginning with steinbeck and sa royian that's been written here but nonfiction has been more difficult because you have to dig into these the brokeness of this place. and it doesn't make you a real popular person to tell the stories here. i live here and yet you're writing these stories that not everyone embraces because you're telling the history, warts and all of a place. i think the wisest person among the wisest people i've ever beened was a woman gamed girtha
2:43 am
tony. i found her in corcoran while i was doing the king of california. she was 100 years old at the time. and she had come from texas. followed the cotton trail west. but she didn't come all in one migration. they stopped along the way. she referred to her children, she had seven or eight of them as stopover kids. there would be a kid in each place. and they landed in corcoran and they picked the cotton. and as i was interviewing her in that little house on the outskirts of that city, that town, she was taking me all the way back to the slave days of her grandmother. so in that one interview, we were spanning you know, 150 years of history. remarkable lady. she's got on a piano and started playing. and above the piano was all the photographs of her children,
2:44 am
grandchildren, great grandchildren. and wisdom and so you know, it was her voice is one of the powerful voices that i had the privilege of capturing. and her story is told in the king of california. so it's been a joy to be able to do this to be able to travel with this old beatup little sony tape recorder. i don't even use the digital ones. i should because -- and then just capturing these stories. and telling the history of a place. i think if you're going to be a nonfiction writer and live in this place, you have to write in a way that is going to -- you have to tell stories that are going to upset the people. and so that's not an easy thing to do where you're basically telling on your place.
2:45 am
much easier to come in from the outside, write whatever you need to write, scathing or not and then leave. you know, i live here and so i'm a pretty polarizing figure here. writing these stories. but i try to write them the nice thing about like the king of california and hopefully this next book is people read them and they see that i've taken, made an effort to try to gather the story from the people. but it's hard to hold back on certain judgments and ultimately, some of these books, pieces become indictments of a place. and then when you live in that place, it's difficult. i'm waiting for that great mong nonfiction writer. the great punjabi fiction writer. if there -- if their cultures are telling them the same
2:46 am
message that my culture told me which was to go out and become an attorney or a doctor and make money, then they're going to have a hard time. but that's what you hope for is that this story continues because the story is evolving. this kind of landscape, this big with these many issues, it's going to evolve. and someone's got to be there to tell that story. >> next, c-span cities tour shows us the 9066 japanese american voices from the inside exhibition at california state university in fresno, california. the exhibition tells the story of the japanese american experience. ♪ >> the commanding general of the western defense command determined that all japanese within the coastal areas should move inland. noticed were posted. all persons of japanese descent were required to register. >> we have to put ourselves in
2:47 am
their shoes in 1942 and not think through the lens of 2017. things were very different back then. and so what we're trying to do is humanize the experience and explain to people the environment that people were in so that they can understand how people endured that period. we're at the special collections research center at the henry madden library, california state university, fresno. what we're here to talk about the 75th anniversary of the executive order 9066 that president franklin roosevelt signed on february 19th, 1942. after the bottoming of pearl harbor in 1941, the president, franklin roosevelt, decided that japanese americans needed to be evacuated from all areas of the west coast because either they may not be loyal to the united states or just seen as some kind of threat.
2:48 am
and so they rounded up all of the japanese americans, including children and elderly people and sent them to these ten camps. executive order 9066 was the executive order that authorized the removal of all japanese americans from the west coast. people wonder why didn't they say something at the time. well, they did. you maybe didn't know about it. there were different court cases at the time. one went to the supreme court, fred can koramatzu case. he lost that case. it wasn't till the 1980s that decision was overturned by a federal court. fresno and the san joaquin valley has always had a large japanese american population because of the agriculture. that's what they're known for. and so obviously, when all the japanese americans were evacuated, all the japanese americans from this area where are sent to two camps. one camp in particular. there were ten camps in the
2:49 am
nation all out of the west coast area. so there were no camps in california except for man zi nar. the rest were in colorado, arizona, wyoming, those kind of states. but a lot of our japanese americans were ached. so this is why we kind of have this collection and we focus on it. we've had a japanese american collection for a long time. it comes from different donors over years. it sort of comes in fits and starts but it's only more in recent years we've gotten a lot more material and there's been a lot more focus on it. we've been fortunate to meet up with a number of families not just japanese american families but other families for example, the man who ran the fresno assembly center his family gave us a number of items that are important. so in recent years, it's really become a major focus of ours although we've always done this, had this materials on this topic. i think remembering the 75th
2:50 am
anniversary of executive order 9066 is important because we have to remember that two-thirds of the people put in these camps were american citizens and so what was done to them has never really been talked about from their point of view. that's one of my main focuses and goals of the exhibition is to talk about how they felt about it because for many years, for decades nobody talked about it especially from their perspective. so one of the main goes like i said of this exhibition is to explain to people what happened, but how the people actually felt themselves who were in those camps. so in the collection we have a number of photographs. some of them are well-known but they i straight what people, what the environment was like before the japanese americans were sent 0 camp. and these are just examples of the racism and prejudice that was rampant at the time. people didn't distinguish
2:51 am
between japanese americans and japanese nationals who obviously we were at war with after pearl harbor was attacked. so we will show these to remind people the environment that the japanese americans were in. these photographs illustrate what they had a few days to get rid of their property, their farms, their -- everything had to go. they were only allowed to carry a certain amount. only what they could carry is what they say. if you couldn't carry it, you couldn't bring it to camp. they didn't know lounge they were going to be gone, where they were going to be going but they were given a few days to dispose of everything. these photographs show them packing up and so you see a variety of duffel bags as well as suitcases. they were taken by either bus or train, and as i understand, the
2:52 am
government didn't want people to know that they were transporting japanese americans so they had to be out of sight. so they had to put the shades down on trains. they weren't allowed to be seen. they didn't want anyone to know this was happening. this is a shot of a family and you see they all have these tags on them. their i.d. tags. every family was issued an i.d. number. and they were told to wear the tags when they were being transported so they could be identified. they didn't use their names. they just used their numbers which is part of the shame and the dehumanization of this whole experience for the japanese americans. these maps show how the japanese americans were evacuated. they're color coded by where they were sent. so the first one talks about the exclusionary. it's all of the state of california. it went all the way up to the washington state, oregon, of course, was included.
2:53 am
and then this map shows where each of the assembly centers are so depending on where you lived you were sent to a different assembly center. and this explains where all the centers were. there was one in pine dale and one at the fresno fairgrounds. the assembly center was just a temporary location so it was people literally lived in the horse stalls and there are accounts about that. how hot it was in the summer and how there was no air conditioning, and it dawned on me that hitting the hay was very appropriate a terp because they literally had to stuff nature tresses with hay and that's what they slept on. we use at term internment knowing that officially the word interment is meant for prisoners war and military prisoners. and obviously these people were never blamed for anything. they did nothing wrong. so they were technically not
2:54 am
prisoners but they were incars res, they had no choice about going to the camps. while the families were in the camps people may not know they did their own newspapers and this is the one from fresno. it's called the fresno grapevine done in the fresno assembly center. even though they were there six months, they took the time to create a newspaper for themselves. they wrote about you know, happenings in the camp. i think they were trying to create a sense of normalcy for themselves as well as to share information and again, they didn't know how long they were going to be there, and this was a way to communicate with each other and to maybe create a sense of community while they were in the assembly centers and later in the camps. so the grapevine is from the assembly center. and then later a reference to grapes, they wrote the vignette and did this all them selves. the camp residents them selves
2:55 am
wrote, produced and printed all of this themselves. so you can say, you can see how they sort of mimeographed it. it's not a renewspaper because they didn't have real printing presses but they did the best they could. people might be surprised to see that they actually had yearbooks. this is like a real yearbook. this was from 1943-'44 in man zi nar, the only camp in california but a real yearbook and they had who classes and these people graduated while they were in the camp. so this was their yearbook. i did want to point out that there were a lot of the japanese americans who enlisted in the war. while their parents were in the camps, they some of them chose to sign up to join the war. they were made up of only japanese americans in the 442nd infantry. but when they came home on leave, they would come back to the camps and visit with their
2:56 am
parents and other family members. one of the highlights of our exhibition is the go for broke national association will be doing an exhibition in this space to talk about the military aspects of the world war ii and how the japanese americans helped win that war. and it wasn't just them fighting. it was -- they also helped the military with intelligence. so there's a whole section called mis, military intelligence service and anyone that could speak japanese and read japanese was recruited to work for the government. some of them were actually sent to japan. we'll move on to some of the items that will be in the exhibition that are on loan to us. we're here looking at items that will be on in exhibition. these are items on loan to us. and the first one is a trunk from the morashita family.
2:57 am
there is actually an earp blanket issued to them in the camp. and this is their family i.d. number, 40421. this is what they could carry. so whatever they could put in this top layer and on the bottom layer, this is what they were able to bring to camp. and the family kindly gave us this earp blanket because a lot of the camps were very cold, very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. and since they didn't know where they were going, a lot of them did not bring appropriate winter clothing. so they were issued army blankets or given old earp coats. so this is an example of one of those. this is another piece of luggage. a duffel bag. and this is from the kumano family. you etheir number is 40896.
2:58 am
and the kumano family br from sang gore which is in the san joaquin valley. what's interesting about this is they had to make their own duffel bag. this is actually a sulfur sack. and as you can see, this company was a local company from fresno. we have a wood carving from the posten camp that is being lent to us. we don't know who made this. it's not signed. but it's quite beautiful. you see the guard tower. and a lot of the intricate details, obviously these people had a lot of time in camp. a lot of them didn't have jobs. they were allowed to work later on/off camp. some of them had jobs in camp but a lot of older people really had nothing to do so i think a lot of them took up arts and crafts and taught themselves a lot of little craft work. this is a little sculpture and i
2:59 am
have the translation here. someone caved in japanese, it means stay tight and go forward, which is part of a value, an ethic that the japanese americans have. they call it sigata g anae which means endure you know, just make the best of things and go on. and i think that's also one of the elements of the exhibition we want people to understand is that they went through this horrible experience bus over the generations, they've hopefully come to terps with it and of the families have gone on to prosper and you know, incorporate this history into their family histories. so there's a lot of history here that i think people don't realize. and i think it's especially pertinent today. we talk about how certain groups are being targeted and i certainly know that the japanese americans them selves have taken up the banner to fight against any civil liberties violations.
3:00 am
for example, with muslim americans. they don't want this to happen again to anybody. and i think that's why the history is important. i like 0 people to understand that again, this is something that is not that far along far away. it happened 75 years ago but in the span of a history it's not that long ago. so when people say could ever happen again, again we have to understand it did happen. not that long ago and it could happen again. so that's one of the main reasons we're doing this exhibition. >> this weekend, c-span cities tour takes to you springfield, missouri, while in springfield, we're working with media come to explore the literary scene and history of the birth place of route 66 in southwestern missouri. saturday at noon eastern on book tv, author jeremy neely talks about the conflict occurring along the kansas/missouri board offer in the struggle over
3:01 am
slavery in his book "the border between them." >> in 1858 sxwraun brown having left kansas comes back to the territory and he begins a series of raids into western missouri during which his men will liberate enslaved people from missouri and them them escape to freedom. in the course of this, they'll kill a number of slave holders and so the legend or the notoriety of john brown really grows as part of this struggle, that people locally understand is really the beginning of the civil war. >> then sunday at 2:00 p.m., on "american history tv," we lift the nra national sporting arms museum. >> theodore rose vet was probably our shootingest president. he was a very, very avid hunter. first thing he did when he left office was organize and go on a very large hunting safari to africa. this particular rifle was
3:02 am
prepared specifically for roosevelt. it has the presidential seal engraved on the breach. and, of course, roosevelt was famous for the bull moose party and there is a bull moose engraved on the side plate of this gun. >> watch c-span cities tour of springfield, missouri. saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv and sunday at 2:00 p.m. on "american history tv" on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates as we explore americ america. >> saturday, "american history tv" on c-span3 takes to you the american historical association's annual meeting in washington, d.c. for live all-day conch. 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. eastern. join as historians and scholars talk about civil rights in 1968, watergate and the rise of partisanship. commemorating civil war reconstruction in national
3:03 am
parks, and the new birmingham civil rights national monument. live coverage of the american historical association annual meeting saturday on "american history tv" on c-span3. >> for nearly 20 years, in-depth on book tv featured the nation's best known nonfiction writers for live conversations about their works. this year, as a special prong, we're featuring best selling fiction writers for our program. in-depth fiction edition. join us for our first program sunday at noon eastern with david ignatius, the author of several national security thrillers including "agents of innocence," "body of lies," "blood money," and the quantum spy. our special series in-depth fict


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on