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tv   African American Museum of Iowa  CSPAN  March 31, 2019 6:14pm-6:32pm EDT

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technicians, all of the purpose, the nurses, doctors, the hospital administration -- demonstrators and the museum professionals on this post have one job and one job alone. we have one mission. that is to conserve the fighting strength to save the patient. that is what the stories you heard were all about. here at the u.s. army medical department museum, that is what we are all about. saving a life. you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] our c-span cities tour takes american history tv on the road to feature the history of cities across america. here's a recent program. the african american museum
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of iowa was built 15 years ago. the purpose of the museum was to fill in the gaps. gaps traditional education was not providing in iowa. there was an african-american contribution agreement in iowa that shared stories that were a part of our regular educational system. ironically, some of the founders of the museum were not from iowa. when they arrived here at the end of oregon to spend time here, they wondered about african-american history in iowa and we did some digging to find out if there was enough out a museum.arrant once they did that, they found out that there was a lot of african american history in iowa and that was the beginning of the museum. >> the german by health exhibit is our newest temporary exhibit. what we wanted to do was focus on african-american migration, not just throughout the nation after the civil war, but specifically to iowa.
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depictingf iowa is the african-american population by each iowa county for the year of 1870. one of the earliest censuses to be recorded. map, where by the the community started. , first of all, along the southern border, because this is we are above misery, and as early back as missouri, back when african americans were enslaved, they were undergone railroad routes that took you into iowa. we have some heavily populated areas starting in the bottom part of the state. iowa by thee into mid--- mississippi river. it borders the state of the right. we were the first free state to get to from the south. if you are traveling up the mississippi.
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anyone who was migrating, typically young african-american males, the idea was that they would come north, get a job, secure some funding, send it back home with the hopes that their family could come up with them. they ultimately were trying to north,eir way as far canada was a popular place to go, often times, they would get off on rafts. they would work steamboats. they would stop somewhere, they didn't have enough money to get further north into canada. work,ould stop, do some find african-american communities, and they would decide to stay. here,frican-americans got and settled into some of these already established communities, they found most employment as
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being farmhands, barbers, launder says, domestic servants. when theft occurs railroads gain in popularity. that's about the middle of the 1800s. that's true of the whole country. at the railroads started moving west, iowa was not missing out. they were basically the gateway to the west. builtilroads were being fast and furiously. run, -- to run the railroads, there were steam engines that required cold. coal.r big push -- another big industry in iowa was coal mining. often times, the actual minds wereundercut -- mines under contract with a particular railroad company, and they would supply coal just to that railroad company. the african-americans that came
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to work on the railroads and mining were brought here as strikebreakers. the coal mining companies, the railroad companies, what actually send recruiters to the south. to find able-bodied men met -- waiting to come up, they pay their way up to her, they gave and stories of jobs aplenty , potential to earn. didn't know they were strikebreakers, and when they came and found, more often than not, a hostile environment, they were taking away jobs from those who were trying to unionize, more equal pay, better pay, so a lot of hostilities occurred with that. one exception in iowa is the coal mining town of buxton. rest,rted out as the strikebreakers coming up.
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the company, which was consolidation coal company, was a bit unique in its practices in that 20 strikes ended, they would employ the strikebreakers, which was typically not done. they were given training, places to live while they learned the trade. if they didn't know it. they didn't always choose experienced miners to calm -- come. tos employment allowed them write letters home and bring their families and tell their friends. here, comeork here." there is land and work. the town grew. what else is unique about buxton is that the company, as near as we know, did not discriminate. equal pay for everyone. they allowed black-owned businesses to thrive.
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you had this burgeoning black middle class. it was a very prosperous time and place to live. it is a very short-lived span of history. 1900 and it was in a severe decline by 1927. only a few decades. the next surge of african-american migrants to iowa was in the illinois central railroad strike that happened in waterloo, iowa. around 1911. it's the same type of thing with mining. the company did not want to allow unions. they did not want to deal with fair wages. they brought strikebreakers up from the south. they worked the same line in mississippi. they brought them up by train.
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this did not go over very well with the citizens of waterloo, who were very much behind the striking workers. when thery difficult strikebreakers arrived. they were not wanted. no one would read to them. they had -- rent to them. they had no money to buy homes. what the railroad company did was set up a boxcar community. families, workers, said the families, all shared one boxcar. of the peoples --they wereaterloo looking at a population that had very few african-americans. about 30 at the time. in the span of a few months, you're looking at 400.
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it was a mass exodus in their eyes and a takeover of their town. they were really ostracized for being there. the area that the boxcars were set up was along the tracks. it was dubbed "smokey row." the press at the time equated it area, devils den kind of known for prosecution and gambling and that kind of thing -- prostitution and gambling and that kind of thing, when all of those entertainments were owned by the white population. they painted a picture. unfortunately, that area has not -- has had issues ever since in one way or another. there's still difficulty in waterloo today.
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an area that has the highest african-american population in the state. there are still issues to be worked out there. back this far -- stem back to when this first large group had come up. something to keep in mind is that all of this fluctuation of african-americans to iowa is therring decades before great migration, which is most familiar in people's minds. majority of people coming through during the great ofration, the peak years 1916-1918, and the waterloo strike was 1911. buxton is a late 1800s. there's a lot going on here before we have the mass exodus. people are coming to more urban
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areas in the northeast especially. they're also making their way through chicago. are still also coming through iowa. often, iowa had been a second or third migration. those that come to the big cities, they are coming from more rural areas. they're coming from farms. not all, but most or smaller urban centers. they find that the larger cities opportunities they were expecting to find art there. they make a second -- part there. -- are not there. so they make a second or third move. you can purchase a piece of land, you can work on someone's farm, the cities are a lot smaller and more manageable for people. i, many african american troops felt and hoped things would be different. they were fighting the war with their white counterparts.
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there was somebody quality there. they figured things would be different. race relations will be better. well, the opposite winds up being true. betweent's a year of-- 1919-1921, national news of race riots, chicago and tulsa. white workers feeling that african-americans are continuing to take their jobs. iowa, as possibly in other states, you had the rural railroad working and the farming and the mining, there is a shift away from those rural areas into the urban areas. manufacturing is now bigger. the railroads are in decline. the mines are closing up. you have this shift.
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you can even see in the map. a shift to more industrial areas. waterloo, now has jumped up between 1920-1932 of -- to almost 1300 african-americans. the cedar rapids area in the 700s. movement intoge the urban areas. againstbutting up european immigrants would come to work. other whiteagainst --her coming back for more whites who were coming back from war. you also see the rise of the ku klux klan, which was in iowa and many other states. the 20's was the largest decade for them. they had workers going through -- states and recruiting they had recruiters going through the states and
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recruiting people to join the klan. it was in the newspapers here in iowa. it was about a decade. they did hold some power positions in government. it was short-lived. of the people, the population that was moving to these urban centers, included buxton, that i spoke about previously. the coal mining town was in a 927.ined by a 1927 -- by 1 there were recruiters that came from the meatpacking plants in cedar rapids to bring them there. there was an exit is out of that area. cedar rapids was one urban center they came to. those that had grown up in buxton, those that had only new buxton were very
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at how lifedismayed was like for african-americans to live in these urban centers. they no longer have control over their job. they were given the most base, difficult,ardest, extreme heat and cold type of jobs that white workers did not want to have. they were considered unskilled. it didn't matter if they did have skills. it was not a factor. the realization that, ok, not every place is like buxton. there isn't equal pay. to realize that not every place was like buxton and that it was hard living and that racial disparity was so rampant. >> i think it's important to share african-american history,
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because black history, is iowa's history. people are interested in learning more about what that means. we often have field trips where students come through and we will hear later on that their parents come through and they tell us that they came because their students or children told him about the african-american museum and what they learned. children are what is galvanizing adults to come in. the >> you can watch this and other programs on the history of communities across the country at c-span.org/citiestour. this is american history tv, only on c-span3. >> 40 years ago, on march 28, 1979, three mile island nuclear power plant suffered a partial meltdown. the worst nuclear power accident
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in u.s. history. and edwarduel walker the legacy ofd three mile island. we begin near three mile island with a guest who lives near three mile island. this is about 90 minutes. march 28, 1979, the events just outside of harrisburg, pennsylvania. minutes, we look back at the three mile island accident, which was the partial meltdown of a reactor. occurred 40 years ago, the incident rated a five on the seven point international nuclear event scale. as the story continued to unfold, here is how ed bradley of cbs news covered it.

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