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tv   Remembering African American History  CSPAN  November 23, 2018 4:55pm-6:31pm EST

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of unique programming exploring our nation's past. to view our schedule, and an archive of all our programs, visit the association for the study of african-american life and history known as asala recently held its 103rd annual meeting in indianapolis. next on american history tv, we'll hear a history of the smithsonian national museum of african-american history and culture from u.s. court of appeals judge robert wilkins who worked to get it built. during this event, organizers also recognized the service of african-american veterans. this is about an hour and a half. >> my name is sill vylvia cyrus we are delighted, delighted to have you here today as we salute
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our veterans and our theme, african-americans in times of war. that is the guide post for this week's events. we are excited to share this day with those who have and are serving in our armed forces and in civilian roles. i want to take a moment to thank you and our sponsors for making this possible. your conference bags are sponsored by indiana university and the kennedy king memorial initiative. in addition, the support has been tremendous. our goals sponsor, the hutchinson center for african and african-american research at harvard university, our silver sponsor, alpha phi alpha fraternity, there's been a lot of talk about different fraternity stuff up here in the past couple of days, so we do accept support from all members of the divine nine. our host committee member, mr. danny partee and his
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indianapolis based company professional management enterprises there at table number seven. and finally, the honorable senator elizabeth warren of massachusetts who sponsored a table for local veterans to attend as a salute to their service. we are also delighted to have duke energy who has been a great supporter of this conference as well here today as well. thank you for your service at table number six. this afternoon -- oh, yes, let's -- absolutely. this afternoon, we are fortunate to have as our mc author and journalist a'lelia bundles. she grew up in indianapolis and for those of us who know her from d.c., we may not know that and she has written four books about her great great grandmother, madam cj walker, the hair care industry pioneer
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and philanthropist whose business was based in this city for many decades. a'lelia's book "on her oun ground: the life and times of madam cj walker" is in talks for production on netflix starring octavia spencer. isn't that wonderful? she is immediate past chairman of the national archives foundation and is an asalah life member. without further ado, one of our shining stars, please welcome a'lelia bundles. thank you e. >> good afternoon. so, nothing like being in your hometown. just really glad to welcome all my asalah friends from all over the country. this is always such a wonderful
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reunion. i don't know -- yesterday i met carolyn washington. i don't know if she's here or not. but this is her first time coming and if you all see her, she's retired from the military, her professor is lillian williams in buffalo and lillian told her she needed to come. she's presenting and i told her, you can go to whatever conferences you want to that have to do with historians, but this is where your people are. this is where you will be welcomed, and that's what i always feel when i come. so, although i've lived in d.c. for many years, there really is no place like home. i hope all of you will take the time to learn something about indianapolis' and indiana's very rich african-american history. i know some of you were not sure there were black people who lived in indiana. but we are here. and maybe you'll get the chance to go to the indiana state museum where i understand there's an exhibit on the roberts settlement so i have some peeps from the roberts settlement, free people of color, who moved from north carolina in the 1830s so we really have been here a long time.
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and i hope you'll find out about some of the other things. i'm really sorry that the madam walker theater center is not open right now, but it's being remodeled with a wonderful $15 million gift from the lily endowment so it will be opened. late next year. i think you'll enjoy today's salute to america's veterans, but a few items before we start. first, if you haven't already noticed with these big bright lights, c-span is in the house. and they are taping this afternoon. though there is no air date yet. but please do me a huge favor and silence your cell phones. i just -- mine just went off with some telemarketer, so mine is silenced now. we don't want them going off in the middle of the program. we encourage you, however, to use your cell phones on mute to send messages and photos about today's luncheon to anybody who's following you on facebook and twitter and instagram.
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when doing this, here are the hashtags. #aslah, #aslah2018 or #cartergwoodson. let's get that trending. i thank you for that. so, also, please take note that we had a voter registration table in the back of the room here today. if you are not registered, you still have time, but who's -- everybody's registered, raise your hands, please. uh-oh, i don't want to see any hands down. please vote. these are nationwide voter registrations, there's something for every state and if you are not registered, you can do so here at the luncheon and during friday and saturday's luncheons and on poetry night. no excuse. so, i know i'm preaching to the choir. but seriously, if you're registered, make sure everybody in your family is registered. i'm just glad this is happening. so, now, please welcome reverend
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marilyn gill, who gave us the grace at the beginning. she's coming back for a few more remarks. she is executive director of the indiana christian leadership conference. referenda gill. reverend gill.verend gill. reverend gill. >> thank you. one thing that we do want to do is invoke the presence of our supreme being while we're here today. so let us just reverently give grace and respect to him and to this organization. eternal god, we come here today thanking you and praising you for the mindset and the wisdom of carter g. woodson. we are eternally grateful for the concept and the ideas you
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have bestowed upon him to make us aware of the presence of the african-american male, female, woman, child in these united states of america. we also come thanking you for the blood that was shed among veterans who were at one time, as a race, not even allowed to serve in the military of the united states of america. but for those who were able to and did serve and for those who gave their lives as a memorial to them, we say thank you, lord, and then for those who are here and present with us today, continue to bless them in a manner that will help them to be proud and to help them to understand the importance of them sharing in the war that gave us as americans a place to
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live inside of boundaries without fear. and so, as we close, we just ask your guidance and your blessings upon this program, the rest of this week, and to know that you are indeed welcome in this place in the mighty name of the one we love so much, amen. >> thank you very much, reverend gill. and now, it is my pleasure to introduce this year's annual meeting and conference honorary chair, brigadier general wayne black. he is -- yes. [ applause ] he is indiana's first african-american brigadier general. with more than 34 years of combined active and national
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guard leadership experience, he currently assists in leading more than 14,000 national guard service members. general black. >> thank you, ma'am. just a slight correction. i'm the first african-american to be promoted to the greater brigadier general in the indiana national guard. so, just want to make sure that's clear. well, good afternoon. ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, fellow veterans and especially our vietnam veterans, you know, it's an extreme honor and privilege for me to serve as the honorary chair for the 103rd national annual meeting and conference of asalh and i want to take this time to thank dr. higgenbotham
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and the board for allowing me this opportunity. today, i want to welcome each of you as we pay tribute and celebrate the african-american men and women and not only african-american men and women but all those who have worn the fabric of our nation and protected our interests, both at home and abroad. particularly we want to honor and recognize those who have served in and supported the vietnam war. to our vietnam veterans, i want to say welcome home and thank you for your service. i want to thank you for all that you've done to pave the way for veterans and service members, many like myself who followed after you. first, i say, welcome home, because many of you did not
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receive the warm welcome you deserved upon your initial return from southeast asia. in fact, some of you were met with protests, harsh words, and other things. and in some cases, you were told to get out of your uniform as quickly as possible in order to avoid confrontation. this was a wretched time in our nation's history. i say thank you because you stepped up, stepped forward, and answered the call of our nation and protected her and our constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. you did this with duty, honor, commitment, dedication, and selfless service in mind. i also want to thank those fallen comrades and their families. i thank them for their service
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and their sacrifice, and lastly, i want to thank each of you for attending this luncheon today. i hope you will enjoy the program and the meal. thank you. >> thank you so much, and it really is important that we are now honoring the veterans of my generation who were in vietnam, exhibits all over the country, i know at the national archives there have been -- there's been a yearlong commemoration, so thank you very much, general black. and those of us who are here, especially, know the history of african-americans in the military. we know that we have been serving our country that we built this country. there are some of us, like me, who have great-great-great something grandfathers who were in the continental army during the revolutionary war so we have been here and we are real americans. i just want to say that. another round of applause for
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brigadier general black. and now, it is a special joy to introduce reginald duvall, my home boy and a long-time friend. our families have known each other for three generations. he is president of the indianapolis chapter of the legendry tuskegee airmen. he was also in the 25th class of the air force academy. he embodies indianapolis' rich black history with a family legacy of, among other things, accomplished musicians and community leaders and in my history of the walker theater, i learned that his grandfather's orchestra opened the madam walker theater center in december of 1927. r reginald duvall. >> thank you. welcome to indianapolis. i bring both greetings and a challenge on behalf of the
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indianapolis chapter of the tuskegee airmen as only one of over 50 chapters of the national tuskegee airmen, inc., organizations throughout the nation. so for anyone who's not from here, i encourage you to join or explore the chapter in your neck of the woods and everybody from here, i look forward to hearing from you. it was a time of war and rumors of war. it was a time when many thought that some were more entitle than others to the american dream based on just how they looked. am i talking about world war ii or am i talking about today? it's my contention that this week's conference is a great occasion for you each, for all of us, to relive the tuskegee airmen experience and to affirm some of the great goals that they aspire to and incorporate them into our lives. so as old aircraft officer
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maintenance officer, what you have to do before the plane flies, you have to make sure it's pre-flighted so i'm going to pre-flight my comments here with a little bit of background. there was over 15,000 men and women in the tuskegee airmen experience. men and women. black and white. so, i challenge you all to recognize everyone that's working with you, not just those who are in charge or in the spotlight. the plane didn't fly without the supply clerk. so, here we go. just like the airmen who were all volunteers, i don't think anybody here is nonvoluntarily, right? so we'll start off, you're just like the volunteers, the airmen. you can read. believe it or not, all the airmen could read, and not only could they read, they could understand what it was that they read and they acted upon that understanding. so this week, i'm hopeful that you look at our web page, share
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the literature among your friends, and act upon the encouragement that you get from other leaders. you, like the airmen, can, and they exceeded the expectations of others, especially those who thought that black men couldn't fly. through perseverance, teamwork and giving your best effort, i'm confident that in whatever role that you play, you're going to surpass the expectations of others and hopefully surpass your own expectations. you, like the airmen, who worked with others they wouldn't normally, crossing established social boundaries of their time to achieve and set standards of excellence for today's united states air force, you too can reach across disciplines, organizational and geographic silos to envision and embrace new possibilities for your organizations. just being like the airmen.
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you like the airmen who had the courage to do the right thing without expectation of reward. yes, right here in indiana, there were a hundred black men who refused to say they wouldn't go to the white only officers club. it's my contention that they did not do that in 1945 expecting to get a congressional gold medal in 2007. so, my contention is, if you, like the airmen, keep your eyes -- keep your heart with your country and your eyes on the target, this, ladies and gentlemen, is the patch for the 477th that flew down in seymour, indiana, and in columbus, indiana. this patch was never made because the unit was disbanded after the freeman field mutiny and because japan was glowing by the time that nuclear weapon was dropped so there was no reason to deploy them.
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this, i would suggest, is the embodiment of the question about african-americans at time of war. their hearts were with their country, and they had their eyes on the target. so congratulations, sasalh, on over a century of collective and individual effort and especially on your choice of today's recognition. i know personally, from working with many different vietnam veterans, that the tuskegee airmen legacy would not be what it was if you did not live out their standards. so, with that, i will close. may the keeper of all watch over all of us while we're absent one from the other. thank you.
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>> thank you very much, reggie, and you know, listening to him, regg reggie's a little younger than i am, but our parents, our fathers, that generation in indianapolis, they were mostly world war ii veterans and korea war veterans, and they were the people who really set the example for us. they had such high standards for us, and made such a difference, so we paid tribute to them today as well. and we were talking about charles, who's now very well known because michelle obama mentioned him, but to us, his kids were, you know, just the kids that we played with, so we were surrounded by greatness and we didn't really know it. i'm now delighted to introduce a woman whose scholarship, intellect, and grace i have long admired. our national president of the association for the study of african-american life and
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history, dr. evelyn brooks-higgenbotham. she is chair of the history department and of african and african-american studies at harvard university. she is one of the nation's foremost authorities on african-american history and culture. those of us who do any work in black women's history have used her book. please join me in welcoming our president. >> thank you very much. welcome to the salute to veterans luncheon of the association for the study of african-american life and history. i speak for all of asalh when i express my profound gratitude to the men and women who served in every capacity and in every branch of our nation's military.
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this luncheon is in honor of you. i have the distinct privilege of introducing our keynote speaker and one of my heroes, the honorable robert l. wilkins. judge robert wilkins is a son of indiana, a native of muncie. he was appointed to the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit by president barack obama in 2014. he received his law degree from harvard university in 1989. he has had an illustrious career beginning in the public defender's office in washington, d.c., and later becoming partner of a prestigious law firm. and yet with all his achievements, he was the victim of racial profiling, which led him to take the state of
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maryland to court. and to win a landmark civil rights victory that called for reform in police stop and search practices and the collection of data regarding those practices. [ applause ] >> judge wilkins has won many awards. in 2008, the legal times called him one of the, quote, 90 greatest washington lawyers of the last 30 years. and when i say he is one of my heroes, it is not simply because of these achievements. i read his book. "long road to hard truth: the is 100-year mission to create the national museum of african-american history and culture." and he will be selling and
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signing his book after his presentation right over there. "long road to truth" is a must-read. because judge wilkins is the crucial figure in the establishment of this great museum in washington, d.c., of which we are so very proud. [ applause ] it was his knowledge of a much earlier vision of black veterans for such a museum. it was his sacrifice and his determination to pursue congressional authorization for the museum to be situated on the national mall. millions of people have now visited that museum. i know many of you in this room have visited that museum, which is led by dr. lonnie bunch. to view the history of african-americans in full display.
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we are indebted to you, judge wilkins. thank you. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. >> good afternoon. >> thank you, dr. brooks higginbotham for that very kind and generous introduction. i guess it's heroes day because we are celebrating veterans who are, of course, heroes, all of us and i'm introduced by one of my heroes, dr. brooks higginbotham. i want to thank asalh for asking me and inviting me and welcoming me into your midst for this luncheon, and i'm going to talk
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about this story, this hundred-year journey to create the african-american -- the national museum of african-american history and culture, which, as you heard, is chronicled in my book, which you see there on the screen. but it's relevant to this conference because the spark that lit the flame to begin the movement to create this museum was african-american veterans. and to understand that, we have to go back to the end of the civil war, and at the end of the civil war, once the confederate army had surrendered, it was decided by general grant and president johnson that there should be some sort of a victory parade to honor and thank the union troops who had sacrificed so much and had literally saved this republic. and so they organized what they
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called the grand review of the armies. it took place over the course of two days in washington, d.c. about 160,000 soldiers marched down from the capitol, you see them assembled there, down pennsylvania avenue. to be greeted by president johnson, cabinet secretaries, all of the dignitaries and of course tens of thousands of thankful citizens cheering them on. it was front page news and every newspaper across the nation. it was deemed one of the grandest spectacles that had ever been done. there was just one problem. none of the african-americans who had fought in combat were invited to participate. the official story was that none were available.
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none were around. we've heard that before. you can read the evidence to the contrary in my book. there was black representation in the parade. you see, general william sherman did not believe in having black combat soldiers and so he did not have any serve under him, but he had black soldiers and others who served with his army as part of what was called the bummer's brigade. they were scouts. they helped to build roads, build bridges. they helped attend to the cattle to cook and do all those things that are important, especially with his army that was going through the south behind, you know, regular supply lines, et cetera. so, they needed the blacks for intelligence and scouting and all of those auxiliary things. so, he let them come into the
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parade kind of at the end, you know, on mules and carrying pickaxes and shovels and things. and of course, the predominantly white crowd thought this was very funny. as this person chronicles that these foragers were the most comical appendage ever seen with any army. so these people who had served and served in important roles with dignity were laughed at, and of course the blacks who had served in combat were forgotten and excluded completely. this did not sit well with the black community, and you see here a historic marker from outside harrisburg, pennsylvania, because they decided that they would have their own revue. so there was a u.s. color troops grand review in harrisburg a few months later but of course it's not the same as having been included in the grand review in washington.
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why is it, do you think, that they weren't included? well, one clue you see here from the battle flag of the 24th regiment of the u.s. color troops, it's hard to see, but the motto across the top of their battle flag was, let soldiers in war be citizens in peace. because after all, these black soldiers were fighting not just to preserve the republic. they were fighting for their humanity, for their citizenship. for the end of slavery. for equal rights. this meant a lot more to them than just winning a battle. they wanted to preserve the country but to gain their true place in the nation. and perhaps having them in that parade was too much for president johnson and some of the leaders because that might
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endorse this motto. and so, best think to do, leave them out. further evidence that this might have been the motive was president johnson's speech to color troops. he did finally greet them at the white house. there was a district of columbia regiment of the u.s. color troops, query why the d.c. regiment couldn't have been at the grand review. so they were invited to the white house, and he thanked them for their service, but then he dressed them down, essentially, and told them that they need to understand their proper position. this is a headline from, i think, "the washington post" about this. and that they need to understand that their rights to residency in this country is a problem, and that no law can make a white man out of a black man. he basically told them that you
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need to govern yourselves accordingly and be -- committed treason, taking up arms against the country were able to swear an oath of loyalty and they were given their citizenship rights but these black soldiers who had fought for the union were told, you know, wait your turn. so, you're asking me, what does this have to do with the african-american museum? well, 50 years later, it was decided to do a reenactment of the grand review, and this is from the "new york times" in 1915, and they anticipated a civil war union veterans from all over the country coming to washington for this reenactment.
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the good news was that black veterans who were still alive were going to be able to come and participate. the bad news was that this was the era of jim crow, and so the veterans organization that put this all together, the grand army of the republic, said, well, all of the balls and banquets and tours and everything, accommodations will be for the white veterans, and the black veterans, you're on your own. and so, a group of african-americans put together a committee, the colored citizens committee, to greet these members of the grand army of the republic, and they got people to open up their homes because, of course, these visiting african-americans couldn't stay in the hotels in washington and they organized tours and balls and banquets, et cetera. and so, they were able to come and participate, and here you see an image of them coming down pennsylvania avenue in 1915.
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of course, some were too old to make that two-mile journey from the capitol past the white house and had to be driven in vehicles or on horseback or lean on the shoulder of someone, but at least there were black union soldiers who were able to come and finally get their due and to be reviewed, walk past that reviewing stand where then president woodrow wilson saluted them. but the occasion was bittersweet, bittersweet not just because of jim crow and all of the segregation and the exclusion that those black veterans had to go through. it was bittersweet because the movie, "birth of a nation" had come out earlier in 1915. it had even been screened for president woodrow wilson in the white house earlier that year. it was taking the nation by
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storm, and of course, i'm sure most of you know what "birth of a nation" is all about but for those who don't, the movie is essentially a celebration of the ku klux klan. it's based on a book called "the klansman" and the essential plot of the movie is that everything was fine in the south, the whites were happy, the blacks were happy, the north comes along with this war of aggression, they win, they even had the temerity to arm blacks as part of their army. after the war, those armed black soldiers stayed in the south and were essentially ruffians, where they harassed the white residents and the black soldiers, you know, intimidated and assaulted the white women and so the klan had to rise up to fight back and chase off these black soldiers to intimidate black people so that
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they would not vote because they were voting and were sending incompetent black legislators to the state legislature, so the klan came and stopped all of that and the whites regained their rightful place in the south and it was the birth of a nation. and the movie was taking the country by storm. and so this was the scene, the specter during this 50th anniversary in 1915. well, there were people who thought that something needed to be done about that. one person who thought that something should be done about that was, of course, dr. carter g. woodson. here's a headline from early 1916 about how now they are beginning to write negro history celebrating the first edition of "the journal of negro
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history" and of course the founding of the association for the study of negro life and history in 1915 and scholars have said that dr. woodson was inspired in part to respond to "birth of a nation." but that wasn't the only response. that colored citizens committee that had formed to welcome and host the black civil war veterans decided to form a nonprofit with the money that they had left over and they were going to raise more money and they created what they called the national memorial association to build a permanent physical memorial in washington, d.c., to negro soldiers and sailors so that their place of honor would be in the nation's capital so that hopefully no one would forget their sacrifice in every war from the revolutionary war on up until that time.
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and they were inspired by "birth of a nation". this is one of their very first flyers from one of their very first meetings in may of 1916. there's a couple of things that are significant about this. look at the top. "the birth of a race." the movie "birth of a nation" was showing in washington, d.c., at this very time. and they felt that what they were doing was a way for them to respond. the second thing that's significant about this is that this took place at the 19th street baptist church. a historic church, and the pastor at the time was reverend brooks, our own dr. brooks higginbotham's grandfather. [ applause ] so, they were going to fight
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back and fight back with this movement to create a memorial. and this was very tough sledding because the southern democrats in congress were against these bills. they were actually introducing bills to ban african-americans from serving in the army during this time. but these people were without fear, and they organized, and they raised money, and they started chapters in states all over the country. and within a couple of years, they actually realized that this memorial should be more than just a memorial to veterans. of course, our service in the armed forces is important, but we've contributed in the arts and in education and inventions and business and music and you name it. we should have a national memorial building to negro achievement and contributions to america. and so, they introduced
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legislation beginning around 1920 for that purpose. they hired an african-american architect named e.r. williams to design a building and this is his design. he actually built, i think, a four-foot by six-foot scale model of that and took photographs of it and that's what you see there. it took a lot of fighting, but they actually got the bill passed by the u.s. congress in march of 1929. but because of the opposition of the southern democrats, all of the seed funding was stripped from the legislation. now, march of 1929 was not a good time for that to happen, because what happens in october? the stock market crashes, and the country enters the great depression. so, this was approved by congress but given no federal support and no federal funding.
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the depression hits, and the basically the project is doomed from the beginning. it doesn't get off the ground. so, the people who were involved essentially pass away and all of their efforts are forgotten. forgotten by the time we get to the 1960s. of course, with the black culture, black arts movement, movement to really celebrate black history, causes there to be a lot of interest in museums, and here, you see an article depicting the foundation of what would become the museum in chicago. founded by margaret burroughs
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and her husband. so that was 1961. in 1965, dr. charles wright forms the african-american museum in detroit. he started out with it being a mobile museum, so that it could go to neighborhoods so that kids and other people could access it. he was bringing the history to them. and there was an effort by dr. charles wesley, then the executive director of asalh, to put a -- get a bill through congress in 1968 to actually create a national museum or a national institute for the study of african-american history and culture, and here, you see dr. wesley's testimony in congress at a hearing in march of 1968 for that purpose. james baldwin also testified at
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that hearing. he told congress, yes, you should do this, but you should understand my history contains the truth about america. it is going to be hard to teach it. i paraphrase baldwin's words with the title of my book, "long road to hard truth." he talked about how this museum or this institute should study why all of his heroes seem to end up dead, referencing metger evers, emmett till, malcolm x, so many others. 17 days after he said that to congress, reverend dr. martin luther king was assassinated. the legislation didn't pass. no museum was created. there was another effort in the 1970s and '80s to create a
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national museum located at wilberforce, hoohio. there were those who opposed it. the plan was to make it part of the national parks service, because the smithsonian at that point wasn't really interested in creating a national museum. but the parks service said, well, we're not really in the museum business, so we don't want it either. so, it really couldn't gain a foothold within the federal government. with support from the state of ohio and private flphilanthropy and others, the museum would open later in the 1980s and of course the director was a person that many of you know in this room, john fleming. but by the end of the 1980s, the pressure was on the smithsonian to do something with respect to creating a national museum
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dedicated to african-american history and culture, and so they appointed claudine brown, shown here, to put together a commission to study what the smithsonian should do. should there be a museum. and that commission said, yes, there should be a museum, and there are people, many people in this room who were involved in that effort going back to including my friend john franklin who you all know who's here in the room. and they came out of that saying, yes, there should be a national african-american museum as part of the smithsonian. and they began planning for that. but legislation needed to be introduced to really create a full-fledged museum, and they could never seem to get that legislation passed. it passed the senate but not the house in 1992, and in 1994, they
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were able to get it through the house but jesse helms blocked it in the senate. it looked like the effort to create this museum was, again, dead. so, i really knew nothing about any of this and was not involved in any of those efforts as they were ongoing. i got married in 1995, and you see me, about 40 pounds ago, with my beautiful wife and a couple, lewis and margery fraction, at our wedding in 1995. we were living our lives, not really thinking about this issue, and about a year after this picture was taken, brother fraction was celebrating his 60th birthday with his wife. they were at a birthday party. they were out on the dance
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floor, and he collapsed and died that very evening. my wife and i went to sit with his widow and family, and that evening, we listened to all of these stories, stories about growing up, some people going to, you know, one room all black schoolhouses, other people were involved in sit-ins or freedom rides or things during the civil rights movement. people involved in various efforts to desegregate institutions, just talking about the differences and the evolution in black culture, music, all of these various things, and of course it was a sad occasion, but it was just this beautiful, rich conversation, and as we drove home that night, i said to my wife, why don't we have a museum to capture all of this? and i guess that's what really lit the spark in me to want to
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find out what i could do to be a part of making this a reality. so, i started meeting with people in the smithsonian and meeting with congressman john lewis, who was the primary advocate at that time for this museum in congress. and a group of friends and i formed a nonprofit organization to do what we could to support the effort. i became obsessed. i will confess, with this effort. so much so that i went to three days a week on my job and was spending the other four days working on this. and then, in august of 2000, i had the revelation that maybe if i could work on this full-time, you know, it could help move this project towards the finish line. and so i shared with my wife that i need to quit my job to work on this full-time.
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she was seven months pregnant with our second child. but being the determined lawyer that i am, i was a public defender, i gave the best closing argument of my life, and i got her to say yes. and we agreed that we would go from two incomes to one and change our day care arrangements and eat a lot of beans and cornbread and do what we had to do to try to push for this. but it was also, i guess, a need in me to work on this. dr. higginbotham shared with you that i had been involved in this racial profiling lawsuit. i had been involved in that since 1993. up until that time, in working as a public defender, and just seeing the blood and guts, basically, on a daily basis and the destruction of lives and to see so many of my clients who were young african-american men caught up in this criminal
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justice system, and also many of them not really understanding the sacrifices that so many people had made for them along the way to be able to have halfway decent schools and to have a right to vote, et cetera. i really felt like i needed to work on this museum. it was probably in some ways therapy for me. and so, i and others began to work very hard with congressman lewis, and that's our son, aleem, born shortly thereafter, and a few months later, him and his brother. so, besides the miracle of our young children, another miracle was happening, and that was a miracle in congress because some key republicans joined congressman john lewis in really, really sincerely wanting to see this museum happen.
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then republican senator sam brownbeck of kansas, then republican house member jc watts from oklahoma, other prominent republicans like rick santorum, then senator of pennsylvania, ted stevens from alaska, and others came together so that here at this picture in may of 2001, you had all of the top leadership in the republican and democratic side all cosponsoring legislation to create a national museum of african-american history and culture as part of the smithsonian. and you see john lewis there with then senator hillary rodham clinton and then senator sam brownbeck and senator john edwards and then congressman jc watts speaking and you see senator clinton and senator rick
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santorum and they were joking that you'll never see this group assembled all in favor of anything, but they were all in favor of this museum. and president bush is not at this press conference, but he, behind the scenes, was a strong supporter of this, and he even dispatched vice president cheney, who, of course, as vice president was the president of the senate, to meet with the republican senators and tell them that president bush wants this to happen. and to get behind it. so, i congratulated congressman john lewis at the end of that press conference, and i thought, this is a wrap. this is going to sail right through. we've got the support of all of the leadership, both sides of the aisle, the president. we'll have this museum in a few months. silly me. and then september 11th happened.
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so, i guess just like that 1929 commission that was hit with the great depression, we were hit with this tragedy of the september 11th attacks, and of course congress and the president were then, of course, occupied with issues of war, national security, intelligence, creating a new department of homeland security, a usa patriot act, all of those things, and it was really very little oxygen in the room or appetite for creating a new museum, especially one that was going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. and so, we had to go with a plan b, and the plan b was an agreement by that bipartisan coalition to create a presidential commission to plan this museum.
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and here's a headline about when that legislation was passed. and we essentially had a handshake agreement that this commission was going to be unlike the former commissions that had been created because there had been about four different commissions that had been created previously to study this issue. but this commission would be called a plan for action presidential commission and that if this bipartisan blue ribbon commission came up with a good feasible plan and showed that we'd be able to raise the money to do this and that there would be collections and that there was a way to put this within the smithsonian and to have it work and that there was a location for the museum and we could answer all of those questions, then they would support a bill. so, the commission met. and these are some members of the commission at a gathering in 2002. you can kind of see me towards the back in the left.
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you had museum professionals, you had claudine brown on the very far left in the front who was a person who had led the effort in the late 1980s for the smithsonian was on that commission. you had other museum professionals and some civic leaders. you might see and recognize hank aaron, fourth from the right on the back, part of the mission with cecily tyson, third from the left in the front on that commission. we worked hard, rolled up our sleeves, john franklin, he was at many of those meetings, on behalf of the smithsonian, we came up with a plan we were all behind and we sent it to the president in congress, it was turned into legislation. in december 2003, you see president bush signing that
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bill into law. i had the good fortune of being invited to the oval office, you see me standing directly behind him as he signs the bill. the bill passed the house by a vote of 409-9 and unanimous consent. it was a true bipartisan effort. one sticking point, the national park service, national capital planning commission, other civic organizations said they disagreed with our recommendation this museum should go on the national mall. they said the mall was full. there's no room at the inn. it's not you, it's us. with the construction underway of the national museum of the american indian, that was the last site on the mall appropriate for a museum.
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i had chaired the site building committee of that presidential commission, in some ways, this was a personal rebuke or defeat for me, these people were against us getting a site on the mall. because of the controversy, the opposition they raised, congress passed the legislation, they left out where it would be located and they wanted the issue to be decided by the smithsonian board of regents. they told the smithsonian, you study it more, consider what the presidential commission did and you hear from everyone else and make the final decision. we pushed another two years and this is mono -- smithsonian board of regents made the money mental decision in 2006 to place this museum on the national mall. you can see the founding director of the museum with his deputy on the roof of the
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national museum of american history smiling and pointing across the street where that smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture would be erected. >> six years later, february 2012, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the museum. then there was a design competition, international design competition where many people submitted their credentials and it was whittled down to six teams and among those six, this was the winning design by a team led by three black architects. that is the winning design, this is what the museum looks like on the day of its
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dedication september 2016, two years ago. i include this slide, what we lawyers call exculpatory evidence. i wanted to show my kid this star, my wife did not throw me out of the house, i did go back and get a job. i became a partner at a law firm and was honored to be nominated and appointed to the federal bench by president obama. >> what does the story mean, the 100 year journey, i'm showing a picture of a third parade, we called it the first parade we talked about was one in which african americans, 180,000 african-americans had
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served in the union army to help preserve this republic. they fought to literally save this nation. and they were not invited to the parade. the second parade i showed, they get the 50 years too late belated invitation and we are treated as second-class citizens and the specter birth of a nation was hanging over them. the third parade, african- americans were invited, the parade was for an african american that happens to be commander and chief of the armed forces. this time, we see the parade coming down pennsylvania avenue, you see the tables had turned. you think about the symbolism of
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president obama speaking at the opening of this museum. this museum so many people had been waiting to see and fought to build. at the museum, to open it, they brought a belt from an african- american church -- a bell from an african-american church in virginia, it had been around since the 1700s. they had ruth bonner, that was then 99 years old ring the bell. her father had been born a slave in mississippi. you had someone, one generation from bondage ring the bell, signaling the opening of the national museum of african-
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american history and culture at the center of the national mall with the black president of the united states. >> this is one of my favorite photos, at the end of the ceremony, i think it exemplifies the spirit behind the creation of this institution. perhaps, it is a spirit we need to think about how we can recover in washington dc. as i bring my comments to a close, i want to thank all of the active soldiers and veterans here in the room, because of your sacrifice and inspiration, i think this museum , which you see depicted on the cover of my book, is really a
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memorial in part to you as it is a memorial to so many that have sacrificed and served this great nation. >> it has been a long road, there are many hard truths, the other things you see depicted on the cover, the cabinet had been built and inhabited by slaves in south carolina, which the smithsonian found and dismantled and brought it board by board to washington dc and redirected it, you can see it inside the museum. i thought this was a good depiction of that hard truth of the long road are people have tried and -- trod. it is the story of victory ultimately.
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the story of us, as african- americans, working to make america really america and make the country live up to those solemn and important words you find in the constitution and those founding documents because our story is the story of bringing those words to life. thank you all so much. [ applause ] >> i'm glad there was a spontaneous standing ovation because robert, there's so much we owe you, thank you so much.
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the brilliance and the glory of that museum, if you had not been there, you must make the pilgrimage. that is really what it is. there's so much to ponder from what you are saying. so much of our spirit and spirit of our ancestors, so much dij@ vu. i will just say vote, that's all i have to say about that. one thing that came to mind, to make a poet black and bid him sing, there's a lot underline what i'm saying. please give judge wilkins another round of applause. while you were talking, it made me think of our good friend, frank smith from washington dc
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that runs the african american civil war museum. i have to give a quick shout out to the madame walker legacy center. now i would like to invite the executive director to the podium to make a special presentation for this afternoon's keynote speaker. >> because now we know you are truly a solid person and asalh member, you and your wife joined our rings. you will come to know when you
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attend the many asalh conferences in your future , one of the most prized possessions we give to individuals like yourself, who have done so much to promote the legacy of doctor carter g woodson, this organization has a leather bound edition of his appeal. we refer to it as the lost manuscript, and manuscript doctor woodson wrote before the miseducation of the [null]. and promoting who we are and what we do. god bless you. >> thank you. >> because we have to be out of here by 2:00, people will leave because they have someplace else to go. we will handle one other presentation here. the wonderful and see, she was
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always there for us when we need her. -- wonderful mc, she was always there for us when we need her. we have a lovely ornament to display, not just the holidays, all through the year, to let her know how much we love and appreciate what she does. let's give her a round of applause. >> anybody at my house knows it is kind of a museum. it will be perfect. congratulations, judge wilkins . i have one of those books and i cherish it. please help me welcome alexis tucker who has a special message in the spirit of this year's theme as we salute our veterans. miss tucker is a veteran for champions, as a child of a disabled veteran, she takes special interest preserving the stories of service members for future generations. she leads efforts to promote
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the veterans history project, a national initiative at the library of congress to record and archive the personal recollections of u.s. veterans. alexis tucker. >> good afternoon. i bring you greetings on behalf of senator donnelly who could not be with us this afternoon. he sent along a special greeting for you all. >> hello, i'm senator joe donnelly. i would like to welcome you to indianapolis. >> let me make sure i did that correctly.
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>> for the association for the study of african-american life and history annual conference. the hoosiers are proud and honored to welcome you to our state as you host your conference in indianapolis for the first time. i applaud your decision to shine a light on the incredible contributions of african- american servicemembers to our nation. as a member of the senate armed services committee, i'm honored by the solemn responsibility of advocating on behalf of our country servicemembers and veterans. last year, i was proud my bipartisan legislation to designate march 29 as national vietnam war veterans day was signed into law.
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giving vietnam vets some of the recognition they deserve so much. words cannot accurately convey our gratitude, please note our country is grateful for your service. our vietnam that's, including those recognized today, are selfless heroes that have improved our families and communities. i hope you enjoy your time in indiana. thanks so much for your work to highlight the history of african-americans across the state and country. to all our veterans, thank you for your service to our nation and all you have done for our country. god bless you, god bless indiana and god bless america. >> thank you. >> thank you, miss tucker and the senator, please let him know we appreciated his greeting. this week, we are paying attention to what's going on in the senate and the halls of
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congress. as we salute the historical contributions of our nations african-american veterans, we also want to take this opportunity to recognize the veterans here with us today. please join me in welcoming retired army brigadier general doctor john rose that served in the air artillery branch of the u.s. army for 30 years. in retirement, doctor rose remains busy as a military advisor in the private sector, serving as professor of international affairs for missouri state university's graduate program and defense and strategic studies in the washington dc area. he is a senior policy advisor and consultant for the national institute of public policy. a vietnam veteran that served in country in 1969, doctor rose joined the united states of america vietnam war commemoration in july 2015 as a consultant and strategy and
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international affairs. in this position, he raises awareness of the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the united states during the vietnam war. this afternoon, doctor rose will reside over a special pinning ceremony of vietnam era veterans. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome doctor john rose. >> madam president, justice wilkins, members of the clergy, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, my fellow vietnam veterans, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to honor you. yes, i'm a vietnam veteran, i served with the american division from 1969 to 1970. as general black identified, i remember vividly coming back to the u.s., landing in seattle,
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washington and met by a noncommissioned officer that said take off your uniform, you will not be welcome here in this country. there's another story i wish to share with you that is personal to me and one that has characterized my life. when i got to vietnam, the air defense unit and the 196 paratrooper brigade, i will never forget when i was given my first platoon, 21-year-old lieutenant out of the university unprepared for the challenges i was expected to take on, met with my platoon sergeant, an african-american e7 i will never forget. he called me aside and said lieutenant, i know you don't have a clue. i know you're not ready for this, if you listen to me and let me show you what to do, you will be fine and we will leave
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together alive. i will never forget what sergeant first class williams, i'm sorry to say i have not been able to locate, did for me. he trained me, taught me and mentor to me -- mentored me. he gave me the fundamentals that allowed me to do what i'm doing today. believe me, you know in 1968, 69, 70, our country was on fire. my first assignment, directly out of college was fort meade maryland just outside of washington dc to an artillery battery that had no guns. that's because our job was riot control. for the next 89 days, that's all i did. times have changed. i want to take a moment to reflect on the fact vietnam covered a period of six
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presidents, it started in november 1955, president truman's and advisors to support the french and ended in 1975 when president ford helped the last americans out. over 58,000 of our fellow americans died in that conflict and their names appear on the wall in washington dc. over 75,000 today, according to the va suffer from what we call ptsd. we did not know what that was back then. our fellow vietnam veterans still suffer. there were and are over 1600 still missing. i'm proud and pleased to say we still find them here or there, we should never forget them. there were 7484 women that served with us. eight gave their lives.
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let's not forget the families, the families that stayed behind, who endured a very difficult time frame. it was the president of the united states, barack obama on memorial day of 2012 that issued a proclamation. i have copies of that proclamation open to everyone here. in the proclamation, president obama said in recognition of a chapter of our nations history that must never be forgotten, let s renew our sacred commitment to those that answered our call in vietnam and those that awaited their safe return, beginning on memorial day 2012, the federal government will with local governments, private organizations and communities across america to participate in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. a 13-year-old program to honor and give thanks to a generation
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of proud americans that saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced. while no words will be freely -- fully worthy of their service, an honor truly benefiting their sacrifice, let us remember it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women that answer the call of duty with courage and valor. therefore, i barack obama, president of the united states of america by virtue of the authority vested in me by the constitution and the laws of the united states do hereby proclaim may 28, 2012 through november 11, 2025 as the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. i call upon the federal, state and local officials to honor all vietnam veterans, our fallen wounded, those unaccounted for, former prisoners of war, their families and all that served with appropriate programs ceremonies and activities.
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signed, barack obama. this is one such activity occurring throughout the united states by our small office in washington dc to reach out and honor, respect and thank vietnam veterans. no era veterans, not just that so -- those that serve in country, those that supported the effort that often times, you could not go there. i think it is critical and important. that's why i'm proud and privileged to be here to thank and honor and present to both my fellow vietnam veterans, the lapel pin and to the spouses whose husbands or wives that have passed away, it has been designated by the president for our fellow comrades. i think you all. -- i think you all -- thank you
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all. what is unique about this, vietnam veterans did not quit on our country. we did not go to canada or anywhere else when we came back, vietnam veterans made america great again. [ applause ] >> she will kick me off the stage in a moment. ladies and gentlemen, i do want to honor and thank your organization for what it does. the pinning ceremony that has taken place, i understand the annual black history luncheon in february 2018, i want to thank and personally recognize julia davis. president of the charleston branch of asalh , who hosted
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sunday, september 23 at mother emmanuel church in charleston. we know how special that is. thank you. madam president, would you join me here for a moment please, sheila. i would like to present to you, on behalf of the secretary of defense of the united states and on behalf of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, i have a certificate i want to present. we know we can't reach out to all the vietnam veterans, there were 9.2 million that served there. there are over 6 million alive today, according to the va, we lose 300 fellow vietnam veterans every day. that is why an organization like this that helps us reach out, americans reaching americans, we wish to honor and thank both of you for what you
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do on behalf of a very grateful nation. [ applause ] >> i would be remiss if i didn't express special thanks to sheila because she made all this happened, she arranged for the office to send someone here, i'm honored and grateful to be here for personal reasons as well. thank you very much. ladies and gentlemen, i would like to invite all of the vietnam era veterans to please come forward and join me here in front of the stage and if there are spouses out there that lost their veteran, please come forward as well and i will invite members of my table to join me in order to help present pins to honor your contribution and sacrifice.
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[ applause ]
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>> let's give the veterans a round of applause. [ applause ]
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>> hello, i'm senator joe donnelly. i would like to welcome you to indianapolis. >> did i turn it off? he actually arrived. that was extremely special, thank you to all of you. i know as doctor rose said, this is happening in many places around the country and it is a very much overdue thank you, just as the veterans we heard about, had their overdue thank you with the museum on
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the mall. one thing i would like to mention, sylvia, flipped the note to the emcee, reminded me the fifth parade was organized by frank smith, am i correct on that? yes. there were parades and another parade. it has been a pleasure to be here with you, we thank our sponsors again, those people that believe in us, judge wilkins, as evelyn said will be doing a book signing outside, upfront, thank you. the emcee needs to be corrected, it is all good. there are panels going on this afternoon, i'm on a panel with other good friends at 2 pm. i hope to see some of you there. we will now have a benediction
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by the cofounder of the indiana association of muslim chaplains and imams , imam dr. umar al- khattab. >> good afternoon. i think it is fitting an african american vietnam veteran gives the benediction. we pray in the name of a law -- alah, master of the day of judgment, you alone we worship and call upon for help , guide us on the straight path, the path of those who you favored, those that have endured your anger or gone astray, we are
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gathered here today to understand and learn from each other regarding the continued legacy, speaking the fundamental truth established by doctor woodson, the missing part of american history and the preservation, promotion, research, interpretation, dissemination of information about black life, history and culture. we ask you to grant us insight to see the truth as truth and grant us the moral courage to proclaim it and abide by it. lord, grant us the insight to see evil in its new -- true colors no matter what other say, save and preserve us. lord of abraham, help us follow the footsteps, submit ourselves
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to you as we completely submitted to you. our lord, we believe in you and the revelation sent to us and abraham, ishmael, isaac, jacob and the tribes, that given to moses, jesus and mohammed, all the profits from the lord, we make no difference between one and the other of them and we bow to you in obedience. lord, you are the light of the heavens and the earth, give us the light to walk in, live in and be guided by. lord, there are indeed clear signs from the heavens and night and day, for those that celebrate your praises, standing, sitting, lying down on their sides, wondering over creation and the heavens and earth, and cry out, our lord.
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you have not created the universe in vain, lord be to you -- glory be to you. make us wife people and open our hearts and minds to your call, we have -- make us one people and open our hearts and minds to your call. make us listen and follow the words. free us from our hatred, biases and hatred, feelings for each other, create sympathy, love and understanding for all and give us the ability to engage in honest, sincere and beautiful dialogue.
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free from discrimination and negative feelings, we ask the positive impact this conference, this and presenters affect the insights and sensibilities beyond time and space. we close by saying [speaking foreign language] >> glory to you lord, honor and power and all praise and thanks to law of the world. amen. >> there is one item we did not take care of during the meeting, we want to make sure
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to do that. the deputy mayor, turned his schedule upside out to make sure he could be with us during this conference. deputy mayor, please come forward and give us a few words , we would greatly appreciate that, david hampton. >> good afternoon. i did not have to say anything after all of that. i'm certainly honored to bring greetings to this body at the city of indianapolis. i'm especially honored because one of the roles and responsibilities under which i serve is to oversee the office of veterans affairs. if i do it good job, don hawkins will let me know, if i don't, he will let me know that as well. i want to thank all of the service men and women as we celebrate the contributions of our african-american soldiers and all of us that helped us
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historically make it to this day. what a profound book in history by judge wilkins, i want to thank you for that. as i close, a bit of quick history, i saw carter g woodson, i heard somebody earlier mentioned, the distinguished men of the alpha fraternity, i have a great love for them. one of the greatest leaders of our time was dr. martin luther king jr., he was a member of that fraternity. his mentor was carter g woodson who was an omega. god bless you and welcome to the city of indianapolis. spend a lot of money downtown. thank you and god bless you.
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this weekend on real american on american history tv, the 1967 special news series, the cbs news inquiry, worn report anchored by walter kronkite investigating unanswered questions into john f. kennedy's assassination. >> sunday, november 24, the mob scene continues is also is brought into the basement of the police telling for the transfer to jail. in full side of millions of television viewers, a man named jack ruby goes through the crowd and shoots him dead. >> watch real america saturday night 10 eastern on c-span 3. when the new congress starts in january, there will be more than 100 new house and senate members but the democrats will control the house. the republicans control the senate. new congress, new leaders,
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watch the process unfold on c- span. former list -- first lady barbara bush died this past april. watch george w. bush as he introduces a panel of speakers to reminisce about his mother. she was the second woman in history to be married to one american president and mary -- the mother of another. dallas, texas hosted this 45 minute event. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 43rd president of the united states, george w. bush. >> thank you all. please be seated. thank you. [ applause ] >> romo


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