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tv   District of Columbia Emancipation Act of 1862  CSPAN  August 30, 2019 10:07am-11:38am EDT

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and if you're on the go, listen to live coverage, using the free cspan radio app. >> next, a look at the district of columbia compensated emancipation act of 1862. the act freed about 3,100 slaves in the nation's capitol and compensated owners for each former slave. the panel also talked about the influence the act had about emancipation proclamation which was issued eight months later. >> on this day 157 years ago an act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the district of columbia became law. the d.c. emancipation act and -- ended slavery in washington, d.c., freeing 3,100 enslaved individuals. for the past year as war raged between the union and the confederacy opponents of slavery had decried the scandal of slavery continuing to exist
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within the nations capitol. 8 1/2 months later president lincoln sign said the emancipation proclamation which did not free all enslaved persons but sent a powerful signal slavery would no longer be tolerated. the emancipation proclamation has assumed a place among the greatest arguments of human freedom. the story of the emancipation proclamation is one that would help to redefine freedom and eventually change the course of history. both the proclamation and the d.c. legislation represent a praups of hope, freedom and justice that continues to inspire and resonate with the american people more than 150 years after its creation. now it's my pleasure to welcome the reverend to the stage. he's the director of the office of religious affairs and the executive office of the mayor and the interim director of the
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mayor's office of african-american affairs and the commission on fathers, men and boys. he serves as a liaison for the faith community in the district of columbia and also provides support to the mayor's interfaith counsel. please welcome the reverend. >> well, thank you and good evening, everyone. it's a pleasure on behalf of mayor bowser who perhaps will come back for our book discussion. you'll get that later. for she is the second two term mayor in washington, d.c. in quite some time and the first woman two-term mayor here in d.c. it is a pleasure to join the national archives for this occasion. the emancipation proclamation and the compensated emancipation act of 1862, president lincoln
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signed that document although he did not author it on april 16th. because of that we have since 2005 claimed april 16th as a holiday here in washington, d.c. [ applause ] >> in the proper way as many other holidays, king holiday and others, to celebrate a day like d.c. emancipation day is not with a day off. it's not with spending our time in commerce but it's to come to events like this to study our history, our culture, to know from wens we have come. -- from whence we have come. i must say that i'm also -- i consider myself a member of the national archives family. when the first job i landed was at the national archives
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southeast region. it's with all that i've understood about history and i will leave you with these words. that those of us who do not remember our history or our past are condemned to repeat it. and i would just portend to that statement, the best way to value, to appreciate our democracy is with a knowledge of our history. and so today it's a special day. so i come just like you have to view those sacred documents and to hear from these esteemed panelists just about the road we have traveled to pause as we continue along the struggle and the journey for total freedom for everyone.
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thank you. >> thank you, reverend. and now onto our panelists and a special musical tribute. our moderator this evening is a professor, current chair and former director of graduate and under graduate programs in howard university's department of history.graduate programs in howard university's department of history. our panelists are elizabeth clark louis, professor at history at howard university, davidson at bowie state university and historian and author c.r. gibbs. yes. before we start our discussion, we have a special music performance by the artist group corral of washington. it is composed of professional and community singers who have have been delighting audiences in this region since 2008 and
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very recently upstairs in the rotunda. there under the direction of co-founder calvin page who was president of the ben holt branch of the national association of negro musicians in teaching in the performing arts. now they will perform the song "soon i will be done" by william dawson.
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♪ ♪ going home to live with god ♪ calling home to live with god ♪
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♪ i want to meet my mother, i want to meet my mother ♪ ♪ i want to meet my mother i'm going to live with god ♪ ♪ i want to meet my mother, i want to meet my mother i'm going to live with god ♪ ♪ calling home to live with god ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ soon will be done with the troubles of the world. ♪ going home to live with god ♪ i want to meet my jesus i want to meet my jesus i want to meet my jesus ♪ ♪ i'm going to live with god ♪ i want to meet my jesus i'm
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going to live with god ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ i'm going to live with god i'm going to live with god ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ i want to meet my jesus, i'm going to live with god ♪ i want to meet my jesus ♪ i want, i want to meet my jesus, i want to meet my jesus, i'm going to live with god ♪ i'm going to live with god
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[ applause ] >> good evening.
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thank you so much for coming this evening. it's a very nice evening outside so i know that some of us would rather be out there enjoying that beautiful weather. but you're going to be imprisoned here for about an hour and a half or so. but we know it'll be well worth your time. i want to make one slight correction. i am no longer chair of the department of history. i'm sure that dr. nikki taylor who is the chair would want me to let you know that. i am currently the interim dean of the college of arts and sciences at howard. but i will be returning to the department you know. i will be returning to the
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department in august, and i'm really looking forward to it. we are here to commemorate two very important documents. the first is the d.c. compensated emancipation act which was signed by president lincoln on april 16th, 1862. it was actually passed by congress on april 11th and president lincoln signed it on april 16th. and we'll talk about that little period where there was lingering doubt about whether or not he was going to sign it. of course the emancipation proclamation was signed by president lincoln on january 1, 1863. so the d.c. emancipated compensation -- the d.c. compensated emancipation act was enacted or passed more than eight months before the emancipation proclamation.
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and about 3 1/2 years before the 13th amendment. and we will get into a discussion of how each of those different -- before i start grilling my colleagues i want to indicate just a little bit about each one of those documents. the d.c. compensated emancipation actually stipulated that all enslaved people in the district of columbia would be declared free. their owners would be compensated for the loss of their property at the rate of no more than $300 per enslaved person lost. we will talk about the fact that some people did get more than that. owners had to be loyal. they had to declare allegiance to the united states in that they could not have taken up arms in order to get compensated for their loss.
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it was also a colonization stipulation as well. $100,000 was allocated to enable african-americans to go voluntarily, it says, out of the country. either to liberia or to haiti. and that's a part of the measure that we don't talk about a lot. there was a commission established, a commission of three men established who would investigate the claims of that -- these people were owned that enslaved africans were actually owned by these particular slave holders. there was testimony given by african-americans which was really unusual for this period especially in the south and d.c. was the south during this period.
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and so black people could testify about that. i missed that, but i'm sure someone will fill me in later. and it declared a felony to reenslave anyone or to transport them outside of the city once the law was passed. and of course the emancipation proclamation issued eight months later stipulated or at least promised the freedom of enslaved african-americans in those areas -- in states and in those areas of states still in rebellion. and so it refers specifically to certain of the southern slave holding states, but the states that were a part of the confederacy. as you know the states that were still in the union -- the slave holding states that were still in the union were exempted from the proclamation. one of the most important things beyond the fact that it is freeing 3.1 million people it
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authorizes the incrusement and enlistment of african-american men into the union army and navy and that was extremely important to the winning of the war. let me turn to the panel, and any of you can answer these questions. when i want one of you specifically to answer i will call you out. but for this first question anyone can answer. at the beginning of the civil war d.c. had a population i believe of about 75,000 people. 14,000 of them consisted of people of color, people of
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african-american descent. among the latter there were just over 3,000 who were enslaved. so if one of you would briefly describe the characteristics of slavery in the city on the eve of the civil war. >> i think the thing we probably should keep in mind was that the district was becoming more and more urban and switching economies from rural to urban and we begin to see a change. now that both characters still prevailed in many parts of the city, i'm reminded of a slave owner who would be compensated. she was the fourth largest slave owner in the district.
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her name was ana marie and she was a shy retiring elderly woman who they say seldom wept out. her address was rock creek georgetown. she decided to take advantage of the changing nature of the city by hiring out. she had 32 enslaved people, and she had -- she was able to provide folks who wanted to do the rural stuff and folks who wanted such as cooks and maids to do something a little bit more urban. so she could go either way. and to show you the wisdom of her investment, it is estimated that she made about $900 with a 5% return on her investment. i don't think we can make 5% on anything we have invested today. so just to give you an idea, and when compensated emancipation occurred, this lady who never went out, went out and she decided to get a -- she decided to get a boardinghouse in georgetown and with her
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financial wind fall, lived her best life. i think that's probably the best way you'd want to put it. so we have a city in the ferment of change, and they were able to ride it out. i just say in closing my colleagues are aware of a raebt article on the 7th of this month in "the washington post" it talked about how quickly elite slave owners were able to recruit their losses within about 20 years or so. and so when we hear people -- we were talking backstage about a lady who's still mad, september that right, roger? -- isn't that right, roger? >> she's still angry. >> her family lost everything, and i don't want to take it away from roger. >> i was going to say when it came to -- just to add onto what professor gibbs was saying, you have a situation in the city that urban slavery is just a
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little different. you have a lot of skilled individuals, you have domestics, you have mechanics. you have people engaged in all sorts of trades. so and their routines are somewhat different. in this city where you have a majority of free blacks intermingling with the enslaved sometimes their lifestyle was a little different. you had situations in which the enslaved attended church with the free blacks and intermingled with the free blacks. and so though they were enslaved there was some feeling of freedom. they could see it, they could walk amongst and they could feel it. so d.c. was a little different. baltimore was a little similar in that vain. one way to get a feel how similar they are if you read one of frederick douglas' biographies he talks about being hired out in baltimore in which he had a room and a stipend he could live on. so these people are living though enslaved on the edge of
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freedom. they can smell it, they can taste it, they can touch it. >> there's a notation somewhere in the census list for 1860 where the census taker listed an enslaved black man as free and then he had to correct himself. and he noted that the black man said we live like freedom. we live like freedom. this is why we appreciate the pencil mark, but he wanted to express the nature of his existence in a changing environment. >> however, there's a gentleman who talks about this intermingling with enslaved and free people, and there is this back and forth. but i do think that even on the preface of freedom, there is still that distinction in that
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you are unfree, and that i think the work of either jones in her work looking at the church in georgetown, there were clear stipulations that individuals who were enslaved talked about in one case feeling the strangling effects of enslavement. so although there is that interface i do think there are those stipulations that in the end there are those differences. and even for those persons who are free, with the black codes that are instituted in the district near the middle of the 19th century, it becomes a situation in which freedom becomes a lot more tenuous and a lot more difficult to maneuver about this city particularly in the evenings. so i do think there are as you said there's that incorporation of freedom and enslavement. but in the end non-white people
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are far more vulnerable and i think that becomes a part of what pushes the president in this era as he thinks about and rethinks enslave lt. -- enslavement. >> dr. clark louis there had been intense debate for a number of years. what's happening during this period especially -- what happens that intensifies that debate during the winter and the spring of 1861, '62? >> i think in that period everyone in the city feels the -- as you said the intense pressure of the war all around them. and it, of course, comes to a head for people living in the city. but i think as a city that from its inception had been -- had slavery as a significant part of it, it never really becomes something that they ever can
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hope to get away from. other than a dramatic action by the part of lincoln. i don't think that there's a belief that these individuals who owned enslaved people were going to free them. i think it took bold action on the part of the president to take this step. i'm not sure if it was always what he wanted to do, but it was a reality of war. and as the war raged all around the city, the idea that these enslaved individuals could create an internal problem or other issues, i think that he tried to balance everything out. it was a horrific situation for him as the leader of the union, but i also think he was very sensitive to the realities of the city. and so trying to balance both as you said created these tensions and in a way i would say is the
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least bold, he made a decision. it was a decision slow in coming but when he made a decision, he stuck by it. and it was the decision to end enslavement even if was just an experiment. he was going to end it, and it was going to be in a way that allowed the union to make a statement in particular to the europeans. they had to do something. so i think there were a number of realities that pushed him and pulled him toward this decision. >> so in terms of what's happening in '61, '62 with emancipation in the district of columbia, specifically who's push that? it certainly would not have happened if not for the secession of those states and certainly there were men in congress who voted against it this time as well. but who are the people who are actually pushing it?
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lincoln does sign it, but who are the folks who are introducing this into congress during this period? >> i think that any conversation that opens as you did, there's several people we must consider and i happen to be a fan of a man who originally not born under the name he was known as. he was born in new hampshire in 1812. and he will go onto be the 18th vice president of the united states. he will also be the senator from massachusetts.
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and i'm going to leave that to the audience. does anyone know who i might be speaking with. that's right. that's right. and thank you, by the way. and we understand that it may have been his own upbringing. i mean here is a man whose father offered him according to tradition at least, you know, if you would take my son, i'm willing to change his name to whatever it might be, whatever yours might be in order to give him an occupation. and yet the fact that henry is not properly recognized, not since his demise. i mean, black people in the city knew him for two things. being a major force on behalf of abolition and emancipation. also honored him for being a force behind getting rid of the black code in the district as well.
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but it's important to know there had been a push over a 30-year period. the historian temple talks about an attempt during the administration to strike slavery from all of the law books on the eve of the renewal of the city's charter. and yet the southern powers defeat that at the last moment. so lincoln himself had had an idea in 184 as well. but what we see also are efforts by citizens in the district that there is the founding of the washington abolition society in 1827. and then various attempts, there's also an abolition society in alexandria. and prior to retrocession both groups existed in the same -- same area. so we have people -- and one of the earliest petitions was signed by all of the judges on the local court. so we saw people that were repulsed by the sight of slave
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coppers in the district walking across the capitol square. one of the earliest female reporters talks about being surprised at a slave sale at the foot of capitol hill, and she talks about how the -- it's near where the peace memorial is. so for you hard core d.c. historians, that was literally at the foot of capitol hill, she was so discomforted and disoriented she stepped by accident on the very platform where the slave sale was going to occur and her husband had to pull her off of it. so things got a little dicy there. so what we see are legislators, the judges of the court who realize for good or ill we need to take action, this is national
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embarrassment as a capitol city and a nation which prides itself on being the land of the free and home of brave. there's a fundamental contradiction here that has to be dealt with, and i think that pressure going back several decades only accelerates as we get to 1861 and early 1862. >> the issue of embarrassment is critical because we know that in 1850, with the compromise of 1850 one part dealt specifically with the ending of the buying and the selling of enslaved people in the district of columbia. it is an international embarrassment that several times at least twice a week you have as you said on the national mall, the buying and selling of human beings. and all the drama that surrounds it. so in 1850 they make the decision as one of the compromises to end the buying and selling. the growth of enslaved -- the sale of enslaved people would
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then shift to alexandria and those areas contiguous to the district of columbia. with the focus on the capitol and people who come here in particular it gets a lot of exposure and it is an embarrassment. but i think you have to consider not just those individuals like sumner and others, but there's lots of individual working against the instulation because of as i said the political impact which is so negative. and the international articles that are constantly being written about this institution and its flourishing and its existence in the nation's capitol. >> let's talk a bit about that time span between april 11th when congress passed the bill and april 16th when lincoln signed it.
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there are suggestions that lincoln delayed signing in order to give a friend of his the opportunity to remove two of his enslaved laborers from the city. on the -- with the suggestion perhaps that they were too old to take care of themselves. and so can either of you tell us about what the conditions were once freedom arrived? was there any kinds of institutions in the city that sort of made certain this transition from slavery to freedom was smoother, or was there some truth in the idea that people who were older would just be left out on the street to fend for themselves? what was in place that made it possible for people to survive? >> at that point really there's nothing but charitable organizations. and so you have people like
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elizabeth keckly, you have visitors coming from virginia, jacobs, who are trying to do what they can to put together organizations. you have camps beginning to setup here to help the formerly enslaved. but there's a big problem. because as the war goes on and you have the break down of slavery or the progress of emancipation, so you have the consfiscation acts which starts in virginia where benjamin butler confiscates three men or actually they push the issue by running into federal lines. and the official policy is to return the enslaved so that the south will know that lincoln wants to reunify the country. but the people in the fields realize the best way to attack slave holders, to take their property.
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the british realize that in 1812 and it ended the revolution. but anyway you have a situation now where these three men are telling the commander here, ben butler, they're being used to augment the confederate forces. they're bringing food. they're bringing supplies, they're nursing the sick, they're building fortification. as a lawyer he decides i'll confiscate this contraband of war, and in july if a slave could state they were being used to the benefit of the enemy, for the benefit of the enemy for the confederate forces they would be escaped as contraband. well, people are running into d.c. and, you know, wanting to be confiscated even if they're from maryland. they're making their way across the bridges, they're coming in
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and you have these contraband camps. so at this point as emancipation takes place in d.c., there's nowhere really to absorb the formerly enslaved, and that's becoming a problem. you know, the court master corp offers jobs, but the camps they throw up, the government isn't doing much to help. so you have squalor, you have disease, other issues. >> absolutely. and so we know that enslaved people are freed in the district of columbia. but what's happening with -- you talked about hiring out. what's happening with those enslaved people who had been hired out to maryland but their owners lived in d.c. or peoples whose owners were in maryland but were hired out to people in d.c.? what's happening with them? are they freed as well? >> no, technically the marylanders are not because the owners are in maryland. but there were a lot of slave holders even those in washington
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who were trying to resist the emancipation -- not the emancipation proclamation but compensated emancipation in d.c. so they would remove slaves from d.c. take them into maryland. baltimore jail is full of those taken to baltimore. others were taken to other areas of maryland because maryland since it was a loyal border state, slavery would be protected. >> you have 3,100 people approximately being freed as a consequence of compensated emancipation. it's a small fraction of the people who are enslaved in the south. does d.c. emancipation really have a major impact on the emancipation movement considering there are so few people who are freed? >> i think it's a forced multiplier. i think the symbolic importance of d.c. emancipation cannot be underestimated. it effectively puts the nation
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on a freedom road where we begin with april 16, 1862. then the success of d.c. emancipation emboldens lincoln so gnat in june 1862 he signs legislation ending enslavement in the western territories. then in september 1862 we have the preliminary emancipation proclamation which is something even bigger is coming. get ready for it. and then we have the emancipation proclamation. even though texas is lested those texans are not going to give up more than a quarter million enslaved people. they have to be forced to do it. and slavery itself is not yet dead. it is still moving, its arms are quivering. we have to have a 13th amendment.
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oftentimes people ask didn't that other stuff do it and the answer is most certifiably, no. it's insufficient. something else must be done. but the fact that the nation is put on this road begins here, 157 years ago today. >> and of course the 13th amendment does not truly get rid of slavery in the united states. there are pockets of slavery that still exist. >> pockets of slavery still remain. i know in a lecture i do on -- and there are those slave masters who simply don't tell the black folk that work for them that they are freed. they're not going to bother with that last little detail. they're just going to keep it going. and that ranges from -- we now believe that members of jessie james' family kept enslaved people well after emancipation.
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in a lecture i do, a man shows up in texas in the early 1900s wanting to know if we are free. so, you know, unfortunately the way it's taught in the schools, abraham lincoln is like the tooth fairy, he comes along with a star on a stick and touches people and they change their minds overnight. that is not the way it works. >> harriet tubman said in the wider society, she was speaking about the fact that just like freedom emancipation was declared but there was no one there to welcome the emancipated. she talked about the fact that d.c. -- and she was saying in
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general, but specifically her freedom -- d.c. emancipation, this whole issue of emancipation, it was like a stranger in a strange land. but there's constantly this ebb and flow about freedom. and it can be contested, it can be legislated. but frequently on the local level, that's where really the issue has to come to head. the situation in virginia in which people as you said are running to the union line and saying i want to be a part -- please confiscate me. please, i want to be a part of whatever helps the demise of enslavement, those individuals through family members, through talk, through whatever means, they get the word is continually spreading. but as you said very well, it's an issue that is not easily resolved either socially or even with politic. it still takes time for these
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issues to be resolved. >> now we know that d.c. emancipation checks some of -- actually most of the boxes that lincoln wanted in place in terms of an order for emancipation to actually occur. nationally we know that it was compensated. we know that colonization was a stipulation as well and a possibility there. what lincoln had hoped for, though, was gradual emancipation, and that didn't happen. and he had hoped that there would be consent of the owners, and that didn't happen. we know that d.c. residents who are slave owners in general did not approve of what was happening. what similarities do you see between compensated emancipation in d.c. and the emancipation proclamation, if any? or what were the differences other than that? >> you had a great deal of public resentment almost either way. there were people who refused to see that there was change
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coming, that that perhaps mirrored the nature of the response from the compensated emancipation act -- d.c. emancipation and the emancipation act and in d.c. emancipation and the emancipation proclamation. they had to be convinced. they had to be forced to let this happen to them. we must realize that these forces, once set in motion, did oftentimes meet with, if you will, speed bumps or brick walls. and the nation would have to be dragged into a new racial geometry. we find this in response to d.c. emancipation, when people, as roger told the story of one man who moves his enslaved labor force to the maryland side of his plantation. anything he can do to hold off
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that dreaded date, to fend off the freedom that he dredged in coming. on a larger role we see as a result of the emancipation proclamation to amend its resist by the slave owners because they don't want to see their moveable property actually move. it will be ultimately up to black people to make these documents real, to give them a sense of tissue and blood and muscle. and i don't think even today we fully understand how strong the desire for freedom was and the risks that people were willing to take. i'm recalling right now an account given by a soldier who would ultimate join the usct. this in the southern state. he has to evade bloodhounds and crocodiles in order to get to
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the union lines. and he observes that the bloodhounds -- crocodile, rather, preferred the meat of the bloodhounds instead of human meat. think about it for a second. and if our children knew of the risks that were taken in order to be free. i was telling an audience earlier today about an event that we all know in the -- congressman seth gates witnessed. actually witness. he told frederick douglas about it. it's in douglas' second biography "my bondage and my freedom," if not his third. a woman just down the street. and she's running toward the long bridge which is approximately where the 14th
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street bridge is today. in her desperation, we don't know how she got out of the slave pen. but she makes it to the bridge. by this time there are slave owners pursuing her from the d.c. side and down along the span of the bridge she can see men with angry faces coming toward her. they are yelling, catch her, seize her. and so she looks and she chooses to go over the side of the bridge. she chose the cold, gray waters of the potomac rather than live one more millisecond as an enslaved person. i think we -- take a moment like that. she wasn't around to make a lofty speech about give me liberty or give me death. she didn't have time to do that. but she showed with her actions that she was willing to make the
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ultimate sacrifice if she could not have her freedom. that's a powerful lesson. >> i also think there's a social fabric we have to remember. this nation had this social fabric and enslavement was woven into it. you can't get around it. whether it's the people involved in commerce or up north or the actual individuals reaping the benefits of the slavery. it was worked into an essential part of this fabric of the country. to end it, whether you see it, as you said, from a very dynamic way or individuals who see it in a very static way, its ending was going to force this nation to reframe everything it stood for. it makes it almost impossible for people on either side to really understand, as you said,
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how all-encompassing this issue is and why its change, why this shift. this paradigm shift that changes everything is so critical to the history of this country. everything changes with this era. and you cannot take it away from lincoln. it had to be a heavy burden that he carried, but i also think there were so many people, particularly those african-americans advising him, who continued to push and insist by writing the times they had to speak with him. they made it clear to him, lieu sid lucidly clear. >> what role are african-americans in the district playing in terms of influencing lincoln to move forward with the emancipation proceed look ma proclamation? we know people like frederick douglas are doing that. what about local people, what is it about people in this city,
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plaque people in this city that might have convinced lincoln that he needed to move forward in this, or was it simply for military expediency? >> i think, i think david terry's article, he talks about the rise of the powerful individuals in the district of columbia. the fact you had so many schools here. when you look at the -- the early histories of the district of columbia, they talk about the advent of schools. they talk about the activism of the churches. i think george william's work con celled the church network, the limited number of schools but there was also a social network that was extensive. i think the pressures of the -- i would say to me, the church leadership and church congregation was paramount with people like 15th street presbyterian. you have 19th street bab ticpti.
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in the end it is lincoln that has to make these hard decisions and he has to live with those hard decisions. and i think it is not easy on either side. i think in the end it is a moral decision for him. it is military, it is economic. but i also believe in the end it becomes a moral decision. and he makes the decision in favor of emancipation, push by all these other factors but i think the moral issue is critical to him as an individual, as a person. >> i have to agree with that because, i mean, i know there was some military expediency. i know it served the purpose of diplomacy during the time of war. but with lincoln, to some aspect, in the 1840s when he was a congressman he was pushing the idea of emancipation.
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when war work out with the preliminary emancipation proclamation he was pushing the idea of emancipation so slaveholders would buy into it. the two documents, the one with d.c. would be sort of a test. somewhat easy to do because congress can control d.c. they could mandate this is going to happen whether you like it or not. now, he can't lose the border states. he tries to convince them to buy into the compensated emancipation but they won't. in fact, maryland won't emancipate until 1864. you know, when they write a new constitution. and that barely happened. this is after the emancipation proclamation. because it actually protected slavery in those loyal regions. in fact, when 12:00, when midnight struck on january 1st, those people were supposedly free in those states -- in
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rebellion, no one really gained their freedom. as my colleagues have stated, people had to take their freedom. they had to get up and move towards lines. this erodes slavery even more. yes, i think lincoln had to make a moral decision. and live with that. he was a man of his times. yes, he could be -- would be considered a bigot by some in the 21st century. he stated this is a white man's country. he did push colonization. at the end of the day, he thought slavery immoral, so much so that he acted upon it. one last thing. in d.c., with the people here, with maryland and virginia bordering washington, he couldn't help but see those people streaming towards freedom, fighting their way towards freedom. reading the report from his
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commanders in the field, he knew what was going on. they would risk death just to get to where they could find refuge, where they could claim some freedom, if any at all. and one report from maryland, slaveholder named cox wrote into the bridge aid, these guys from new york are no angels. of course, they were men of their times as well. but when they saw the enslaved for the first time, some of them were truly shocked. some of them -- just like anyone would if you saw someone coming to you for refuge. sam cox caught up with one of his slaves in the camp. to prove the point, when the officers made them give up this enslaved individual, he threw a rope around him and dragged him behind his horse, dragged him to his death. that's just to let people know, well, this is my property. well, you just made a few more
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anti-slavery a rr rry adherents that. >> we know emancipation occurs before other areas during the war. to what extent does it serve as a model in terms of the post-emancipation era? what are the differences or the similarities between what happens in d.c. after emancipation and what happens in the former confederacy? >> you're going to have people coalesce like iron filings around a magnet. they're going to come in from the countryside, to a lesser extent, in the cities. they're going to go to union post. they're going to go to places where they feel some measure of safety. they're going to take havens or refuge under the union guns. i'm often thinking about a little place, insignificant, up
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in the palacades, you know the river and the high cliffs dominate that drive. you just wonder how these folks coming in from montgomery county, even after -- in post emancipation, they're coming. they're going to build a community in what is now the edge of palisades. but they have to get there. they are willing to surmount the physical, formidable, physical obstacles to come in from mo montgomery county, to come in under the guns of battery kimbell. that road is still there today if you turn on chain bridge road. there's a cemetery there. it's one of the few reminders in an upscale neighborhood that black people lived there in some force, in some amount. and then if you go a few more
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yards up that colonial era road, there is the chain bridge road colored school, which is a reminder that there was a significant number of freedom seekers that came from hardship in maryland and came into the district and settled there, willing to establish their own communities in peace and safety, if people would leave them alone. and contribute to the country at large. that's all these men and women and children ever sought. was to take part in the full banquet of american rights and liberties. >> i have to say in answer to your question, when you ask what happens, one of the articles in "first free" talks about it's a brief moment in the sun, that you have individuals in the district of columbia who through their own tenacity pulled together literally grassroots
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political parties. they become activists. they really work very hard to economically, socially and politically, move the city forward in very progressive ways. in education, for example, they begin to move all the stipulations away so there's access to education for every individual. but you ask what happens. there was this brief period of progress but with the return of the southern states in congress, there's this clear, heavy hand that begins to move over the district of columbia. and many of these progressive experiences are slowly but surely scaled back so that you begin to have the -- even if it's not segregation by law, it's understood by custom. you have limited access to economic and social activity.
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of course, political power is cut off. and that slow-moving scale that you're talking about comes to a head in the 20th century when president wilson absolutely reinstitutes segregation in all the federal agencies. it was always believed these federal areas were somehow these islands against segregation in washington, which is in the south. well, with the advent of president wilson in 1912, that begins to change. in the district of columbia there was this brief time for progress, but those exterior forces, who are focused on recreating if not enslavement at least a world in which segregation dominates. they become the powers that be in the nation's capital. so, i do think there is this pendulum that for a short time there is this progress, but very soon the pendulum swings back.
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and individuals in the city experience it, but in spite of that, i'm thinking in terms of emancipation that no matter what, they continue to celebrate emancipation, even when the scholars said it ended in 1900. when i was doing my own research, i was interviewing an older person, my great aunt. i was explaining and she was talking about emancipation programs in the '30s. with my aunt, you have to be gentle. i was gently correcting her because emancipation ended. a person of her age i figured she was mixed up. she mrilly said, i don't care what those books said, emancipation didn't end. she talked about the -- all the different civic organizations and helped me understand that i had to go back to local records, the nanny helenberger school, the place where they have
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flyers, they have material that shows they were celebrating emancipation up through the 1950s. so even though there is almost this invisible celebration that continues in the african-american community, even if it's ignored in the wider community, emancipation still resonates with individuals in the district of columbia, in spite of those external forces. >> we're going to open it up to questions from the audience. i do have one last question for you. you have large numbers of people coming into the district who were not born there, who had not labored there, who had not lived there before the war. they are mixing with a group -- a large group of free black people. people who were free before the war. some had become quite prominent in their own communities.
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what kind of mix was there? what was the dynamic between that new group and the group that had been there already? what was the relationship between the two? >> i guess would be similar to some of the stuff that happened during the great migration. where you have people, rural people coming in from rural areas, migrating into urban areas. so, you have the established individuals that have, you know, the difference between a middle class and a working class to some extent. and so they saw some of the newcomers as loud and sometimes uncouth. nonetheless, they worked together when they had to. i worked in a neighborhood called shepherd park named after alexander r. shepherd, so he brought in a lot of people and
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provided jobs for them. and they were somewhat menial jobs. then you have veterans coming in who are gaining jobs as clerks and whatnot in congress. you have other activists was it george w.hatton, 9th infantry. not everyone gets along but they make it happen. >> there are tensions that we see, as rogers pointed out, this is sometimes reflected in the emancipation parade, where they're ultimately going to have two parades because folks are not getting along. this leads to the end of the parades but want -- let me make this clear -- not the end of the emancipation celebration. and that is important. as professor clark lewis has pointed out, there are black organizations that take it over and are responsible for the
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celebrations and they give it to another group that's responsible. and they're doing this in the face of an increasingly hostile congress. understand that one of the basic reasons that d.c. lost the vote is because there were southerners in congress and the senate who were repulsed by seeing black men and white men standing in line to vote. they never forgot this. there was one southern senator who had been a confederate general and a member of the klan, so not surprisingly he was not in favor of this. but in the halls of the senate he compared this to burning down the barn to killing all the rats. that was his -- and one of his fellow citizens said, this is what you mean, is to kill the vote for everybody in order to
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kill black political growth? he said, yeah, i want to burn down -- i want to kill all of the rats by burning down the barn. and the barn is the franchise. this represents a portion of the obstacles we had to face in those times as we're moving, supposedly into the 20th century when way too many negatives of the 19th still hung like a shroud over the district of columbia. so, first question? >> frederick douglass in 1888 had a speech about ee unanimous pags and he denounced it as a stupendous fraud. a fraud on negro and fraud on world. emancipation never produced a citizen. so, how valuable is freedom without full citizenship?
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our emancipation was followed by black coats, the prison industrial complex. emancipation created a situation of not a slave and not a citizen, a middle position that could be exploited. so, my question to you is, what is the value of freedom without full citizenship? >> i'd like to remind you that history -- john henry clark said, history is not everything, but it's the starting point. history is a clock that people use to tell their political and their cultural time of day. it is a compass to find themselves on the map of human geography. it tells them where they are, but more importantly, it tells them where they must be. emancipation is not the answer. and that's clear. however, it is a significant part of people moving forward
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and they're not moving forward easi easily. they're not moving forward without resistance. but there is still that forward movement. and as professor clark has said, it is the compass, it is that clock. it may not always move the way people think it should, but there is movement. [ applause ] >> of course, we know that from the period of emancipation right down to 1875, people are pushing to make sure that those citizenship rights that were not granted with emancipation now will be a part of the lives of african-americans with the 14th and 15th amendment and the act of 1875, but of course that's overturned by 1883. that's when things start going downhill. yes? >> good evening, folks. first off, i'd like to
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acknowledge one of miss harriet tubman's descendants, miss tina white. i appreciate her being here. come on out. come on out. yeah. [ applause ] now, to my point. there was no embarrassed slave masters in america, period. abraham lincoln was a racist to the core. he said the there were two races, one white, one black. the whites just happen to be superior. if you have any questions about that, you can read a book by the author, he used to an ebony magazine writer. did an excellent book on him. remember, abraham lincoln refused to allow black states into the union army. >> could we get to the question? could you please ask the question? >> okay, my question is, with
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frederick douglass and harriet tubman putting pressure on abraham lincoln to finally allow black folks into the civil war and their courageous fighting gave rise to then abraham lincoln deciding what was he going to do in relationship to aiding those black men as far as legislation? what did he sign? >> i'm confused. >> i'm not -- >> let me clear it up for you then. >> the south and the north, they were winning sometimes, the other side winning sometimes. it was even stevens. then harriet tubman and frederick douglass put pressure on him to i will finally allow black folks, like harriet tubman became the first spy and officer besides being a nurse in the union services. their courageous fighting of
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those black men with weapons in their hand killing white folks and there's -- i think miss clark said earlier, those black men coming back to d.c., african-american soldiers from the civil war, they would become a problem because they were -- >> so the question -- the question is what this is. >> so the question is, what about those black soldiers fighting gave rise to abraham lincoln deciding, i'm going to pass legislation to give them what to do? >> well, if you're talking about compensated emancipation, that was prior to blacks being enlisted formally into united states army. even though african-american sailors had been serving in the navy from the outset and even before the war. in 1900. but i didn't get a good, clear sense about the what as far as
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afrs afterwards. after the war, a lot of these veterans will come home and be involved in community. you have them coming home and creating small areas. well, throughout the south actually they're building schools, they're forming towns. they'll later be part of a militia movement. there were black militias in various southern states. in d.c. they were part of an early civil rights movement. so, they are quite active. and even before lincoln gave his approval, you had african-americans, free blacks, drilling in various cities and petitioning congress and the president to be able to serve. so -- >> and, actually, lincoln writes a letter to a friend in august of 1863 in which he talks about the fact that he is freeing black people to help win the war. and so what he says to his
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friend is, when the war is over, there will be some black men who can hold their heads high because they helped to preserve the union. and there will be some white men who will lower their heads in memory that they did all they could to hinder it. so, he certainly recognized the significance of the black soldier and sailor. yes? >> yes, good evening. my question is revolving around the freed man. we mentioned the 3,000 slaves that were emancipated, but this is in the face, according to carter g. woodson, this is in the face of 74,000 freed men in maryland. 54,000 freed men in virginia, which at that time included parts of washington, d.c.
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and the district notates another 18,000 freed men. this is in 1850. so the concept of freedom, these freed men had homes, these freed men had businesses, they built churches, they were prosperous in business. they had carriage companies. they were blacksmith, masons, carpet smiths. they had a life outside of the dialogue that always goes on around emancipation. you know, we get this image of this raggedy field person that has -- that's just always running. the point i'm making is these neighborhoods, you're talking georgetown. that was a black-built neighborhood. logan circle, that was a black-built neighborhood. foggy bottom. these freed men built hospitals, churches. these freed men had -- it's not
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the image we continue to push. so -- and then there's the friedman-spiro act, which was really one of the first forms of reparations. can we ever deal with that? because the records are in this building and they would probably fill up that stage three times over. and they're probably the most complete records of american history in the country. >> could we have your question, please so that we could -- >> what do you think about the freed man bureau act and general grant, who is another guy we never talk about who set up the justice department to enforce our freedoms. and he was president for eight years and we never mention him. he enforced it. >> i would like to say in regard to some of this, that stuff is out there. there have been -- there's tons of material written about it. it's been researched. and it may not seem that it's
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popular, but you can go, let's say, do an amazon search and you can find some of this stuff there. there's literature on the freed man's bank, freed man's bureau. three of us up here are closely associated with a school founded by howard. i don't -- i don't want to belabor it, but -- and when we talk about -- we talked about a free black community. yes, they had that throughout the south, especially in the upper south. no matter where you are, you're going to -- i apologize if it sounds like we talked about ragged men. 15th street presbyterian, these places are historical landmarks. so maybe we should highlight it more or shed more light on it, but there are books on d.c.
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during the antebellum period. one is the pearl, where the black people put together an escape plan to get away. the stuff is out there. it may not be as prominent as it needs to be and -- >> in terms of grant, there's a lot out there about grant. there are volumes and volumes and volumes about general grant. and there will be more very soon because we're about to commemorate the bicentennial of his birth. there's a commission that will be doing all kinds of activities all over the country. i know because i'm on that commission. so, you will be hearing a lot more general grant. you're absolutely right, there are some presidents that don't get a lot of attention. he should get more. he should get more not just because of what he did do but some of the things he didn't do as well. so, there's a lot of stuff out
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there that people need to learn. >> i quickly would like to add that in spite of, as you said, the images of the raggeds and the persons -- like my ancestors were enslaved in virginia, eventually with 33 children, they imbued in these children the desire for freedom. that doesn't wax and wane. when my colleague here who went to hampton, they have an emancipation tree. howard university in its earliest periods had specific programs that addressed these issues of enslavement and freedom and the responsibilities. no matter what group you were in, this whole movement towards emancipation doesn't necessarily take on a class issue. it is something that is important to all african-americans. it meant freedom for individuals, no matter where. whether it's at a college, whether it is in a community,
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whether it's a civic organization. emancipation and the ending of enslavement is significant for people at all levels. no matter what and where and what their status. i just think that that has to be added. >> on the evening before d.c. emancipation, daniel alexander payne, the great ame, made a speech in a church at 2606 o street in georgetown. that is ebenezer ame. the speech is called ransom of the oppressed or the duties of the black folk that are doing better than the people who are going to be free. and what our responsibilities are. this is -- sets forth the relationship between those free black and those about to be free black folk. so, that was discussed, reflected on. and there was unity. it was never going to be easy. it was never going to be perfect.
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but whatever we had immediately after emancipation, in my humble judgment, beat the heck out of slavery. so, you know, i think that we're -- as we trace the scheme from slavery to freedom to the use of our rights, this is an unfinished road. we have -- we ain't done. and so -- [ applause ] so, this is not finished. this is not finished. it's a reminder that whether we're in d.c. where we continue to press for the vote or whether we're in other parts of the country where it seems the vote is being taken from us, this is an unfinished journey. this is -- true freedom is an undiscovered country. >> absolutely. >> yes? >> thank you. >> this is a fascinating discussion.
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i've always been a civil war buff. i grew up with ken burns, civil war glory. and -- but the more i read about this, the more i want to learn about it. when it comes to abraham lincoln, and, of course, ken burns dealt with the subject i thought fairly honestly, accurately, lincoln is the same person that said, i would, you know, preserve the union by freeing all the slaves, some of the slaves, none of the slaves. so, are we, perhaps discounting a fact that he's with a party, republican party and his congress. and congress does have democrats. it does have slave owners, right, in congress. so -- but as a political cover for the emancipation starting with the d.c. emancipation,
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could it have been the political cover he had that this was revenge against the -- in other words, they are going to pay for breaking up the union. and isn't that what the abolitionists said from the beginning, that the slaves -- that the price of this union will be the end of slavery. >> are you saying that -- >> i'm saying, perhaps, that lincoln himself knew he had political cover because -- >> i think we got it. >> there's a triumphant of power in europe. england, france and, although germany isn't unified until 1871, oppressions, et cetera, there's external pressure on lincoln that is unceasing. there is the internal issue of
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how to preserve this union. i think that -- i know that one of the leaders in london wrote that this union was not -- lincoln should just let the south go and the south would be choked off by the international pressure. he refused to do that. i think that the external pressure, the internal problems and this issue of how to create a union in spite of this institution is what we have to understand or we try to understand. we have the records, we have oral testimonies, but it is a period that is complex on every level. that's what makes it so fascinating. but i don't think there are any easy answers. it's not simply the domestic issues that these international pressures are very real. and he has to figure out how to do it in a way in which he doesn't destroy his precious
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union. >> i don't think anyone could read the second inaugural address and think lincoln is trying to punish the south. there's absolutely no way that's happening. just take another look at that and -- yeah, it's -- >> sherman maybe. >> sherman definitely, yes, yes. >> sherman was going out there and destroying everything. >> yes, yes. >> thank you to the panel. >> ma'am, you talked about a pendulum shift. as d.c. is emancipated and african-americans are making their way to the district, what can you say about our current history and the pendulum shift of african-americans leaving the city and how will this, perhaps, impact the celebration of this holiday? >> it is one of the most nettlesome issues we're confronting today. we're worried about the continual drain.
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we're worried about the difficulty of getting information into the schools and in a gentry fiing environment. we're still working on it. that's the only way i know how to say it. we are aware of it. we are are dissatisfied with the status quo. there are people working valiantly to talk about this history. and to inspire our young folk, it seems many of them -- because they're unfamiliar with it, because it's not really taught in the schools, they don't want to approach it thinking they're only going to get a tale of woe and sadness when, in fact, there are marvelous episodes of resistance and inspiring courage shown. so, we're going to continue to tell that story. we hope it will catch on. it's still worthy of being noted that d.c. is still 45%
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african-american. according to greater washington, there are small numbers of african-americans continuing to move into the district. so they at least see something worthy and salvageable in coming here. perhaps for the future of the black community, it may very well lie in increasing those numbers of young people, several of whom i know personally, that have decided to make the district their home. >> i think part of that reclaiming of history, you have to look at people like dr. phillips cook, who was a leader in minors teachers college and which becomes federal city college and university of district of columbia, there's a long legacy of teachers up through the 1960s. it was required they did one important segment of civic history on emancipation. that begins to change when you have teachers coming in from
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other areas, who don't have the same sensitivity. but i think this issue of gentrification and movement is not new. if you look at georgetown, if you look at the west end, if you look at other communities, there is this constant pendulum and a constant shift because if there's nothing more in the district of columbia, land is finite and people come here for employment, whether it was in 1800, 1900, 200. this draw is continuous. and woodson and others talk about the district of columbia and its impact and that importance of land and landownership but it is not necessarily just a -- an issue that is going to be resolved very quickly. it has been an ongoing issue. you have people writing in the 1930s and 1940s about displacement on capitol hill. in the 1970s the push of displacement in the southwest. it's an ongoing issue. i know you talk about in several
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of your articles, palisades and what is up near american university. this is an ongoing issue. it's not new. it just takes on a different form. >> with regard to the continuation of the emancipation celebration, it has to go beyond the black community. you can't see this as just a holiday or black celebration. in is a celebration of our city. this is a celebration of american progress. you know, you have now this thing about make america great again. let's go back to the constitution and talk about making this a more perfect union. what happened here in 1862 made us a more perfect union and it has to go beyond the city and has to go beyond black communities to be celebrated nationwide. >> i'm so sorry. we are out of time so we're not going to be able to take any additional questions.
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really sorry. so, thank you for coming. thank you for your wonderful questions. i'd like to thank this marvelous panel. [ applause ] can we thank our marvelous moderator. [ applause ] have a good evening. all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. lectures in history, american artifacts, reel america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency, and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on c-span3.
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weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. this week a look at our weekly lectures in history series which takes you into college classrooms around the country. tonight programs that examine legal history, including the 1981 trial of jean harris, accused of murdering scars dale diet dr. sarah fields discusses mrs. harris' background, long relationship with the doctor and her conviction for the murder. watch american history tv tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern and every saturday and sunday on c-span3. labor day weekend on american history tv, saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history, a discussion about abraham lincoln and native americans. sunday at 4:00 p.m. on reel
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america, the 1950 army film "invasion of southern france." and monday, labor day, at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of virginia's first general assembly held at jamestown. explore our nation's past on american history tv every weekend on c-span3. sunday night on q&a, university of pennsylvania law school professor amy wax on free expression on college campuses and the conflicts surrounding an opinion piece she co-authored in the "philadelphia inquirer.." >> i think this is what roughlied a lot of people. we were trying to tout this code of behavior as one that was functional and suited our current technological democratic capitalist society and comparing it to other cultures which, you
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know, aren't as functional. we gave some examples. and that immediately caused a firestorm. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q & a. university of maryland history professor george derek musgrove talked about race in the district of columbia during the early republic and antebellum period. he's the author of "chocolate history." >> you decided to co-write a four century story about race and democracy in washington, d.c. why did you decide to narrow it down to washington, d.c. and why not give yourself a more narrow window of time? >> we wrote about d.c. because there was a need. there were a lot of new residents to the city that wanted to know what they were getting into, a lot of older residents who felt the old city slipping away and wanted to
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