tv Q A CSPAN August 28, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
2009. another chance to see "road to the white house" with candidate john huntsman on his strategy of winning the nomination. >> this week, clarence lusane discusses his book, "the black history of the white house." >> clarence lusane, author of " the black history of the white house." >> what is the picture on the cover? >> the picture is from the late 1900's. it is a picture of the white house easter egg hunt. it is significant because, by the end of the 1900's, the white house was one of the few places in washington, d.c. that was racially integrated. we thought it would be a great
picture because it shows the ongoing relationship of the white house with the black community and how that relationship has gone up and down, black and forth. -- back and forth. most of the history, the white house has been very central to what happens to african americans. thatanted a picture of captured that particular relationship. >> to your publisher is city light. >> right. >> had to define them? -- how did you find them? >> they found me. they were looking for someone to write something about the importance of the obama election. of course, there are now probably hundreds of books about obama. when i was approached, i did not want to write what everybody else was writing, in terms of his politics, in terms of the black community.
what i wanted to do was find a niche. one of the experiences i had begun to have as i traveled around the u.s. and around the world -- part of what i do as a professor of international relations is travel a lot -- in 2007-2008, as the obama candidacy was beginning to rive nationally and internationally, people would ask me what i thought. could he win? what would it mean to have an african-american as president. -- president? people would also ask what is the white house? why is it called the white house? will obama change the name if he becomes president. i realized that, actually, i did not have the answer to those questions. i knew he would not change the name. but i did not know the history
of the white house in terms of why it was called the white house and specifically the history of african-americans to that icon, to that institution. so i thought i would do a little research, write about 150 pages and then trace it through there. what turned out to be the case was that i began to discover just fascinating individuals whose mark on the presidency ies and whose marks on the white house were virtually unknown except for a few scattered stories here and there. everyone knew that george washington and thomas jefferson had slaves. but most people probably do not know that eight out the first 12 presidents had slaves. there were slaves and side of the white house itself, not only the white house, but the president's house at george washington lived in for his administration's in philadelphia.
this history kind of threw itself at me and then the book started to write itself. upstead of being a straight- political history of the white house, it has become more of a platform for preventing these fascinating individuals whose stories tell the history of the country. each chapter opens with a long narrative about a particular individual that i thought really captured the moment, really captured that historical ad kinds of strokes in terms of politics. i had not heard of this woman at all. all of us who grew up in the united states learned the history of the first president. remain not know the history of
-- we may not know the history of all the presidents, but we certainly learned about george washington and about him cutting down a cherry tree and about never telling a lie. what we do not have information about are the individuals who were slaves for him. she was one of nine slaves who traveled and lived in washington during -- with washington during his presidentcy -- she was not back in mount vernon. for most of his presidency in philadelphia, she was there. a young woman, early-20's, 21, 22, she found out an early 1796 -- in early 1796 that martha washington was planning to give her way as a gift. during slavery, slaves were given away. this was upsetting to her because the washingtons had promised that, when they died, they would free individuals who were slaves to them. so she had some hope that down
the road she would be out of this institution. but if she would be given away, that meant probably her whole life would be in slavery. so she began to make plans to escape. as she writes and talks about later, one evening in late spring 1796, while the washingtons world literally -- were literally sitting at the dinner table waiting for her to serve them, she went out the back door. eventually, they figured that she was not coming, as she had gone, and that she had escaped. they were very upset. that in and of itself is fascinating. when you think about it, we're talking about a young woman who basically has never traveled anywhere on her own, who escapes the most powerful person in the country, the president, who has the entire government at his disposal, the military.
she escapes from him. if the story ended there, it would be fascinating. but as it turns out, she escapes and goes to new hampshire. she is discovered accidentally by a friend of the washingtons, who inform the washingtons that they accidently ran into oni -- her name was oni maria judge -- they ran into her and they did not know why she was there. she told the washingtons. now they knew where she was at. george, in his conscience -- george was still image- conscious. this was important because george was at the center of the abolitionist movement. pennsylvania -- out of the 13 states that were coming in, it was the most active against slavery. george had been bombarded
during his entire presidency and he was very sensitive to his image around slavery. he also said that he opposed slavery even though he ended up -- although he did not free his slaves. he did not want to be very public about this. -- about going after her. he sent a nephew after her and she agreed and sat down and said we would like -- the nephew said, well, oni, we would like you to come back. we can work it out. things got out of control. we did not really like this. but all is forgiven. you will eventually be free. but her responses i am free now. freer response was, i'm now. i do not see the rationale for giving up this freedom to go back into slavery. so she said no. so nessie goes back to -- the nwephwe -- nephew goes back to
washington and says much shthate refused. they decide to kidnap her. they said the nephew back to -- send the nephew back to organize a kidnapping, which was fairly common. the slid catching industry had -- salve-catching -- slave- catching industry had arisen during the slave period. there were people all oover the country to willing to kidnap -- who were willing to kidnap people, whether they were slaves or not, and bring them back. so they bring her back to new hampshire. he meets with the family that had initially exposed her only to the washingtons. it turns out that the family is anti-slavery. ence they found out what nessite nephew was up to, they delayed
the nephew and oni was never caught. georgia does not that long -- died not that long afterwards. she is pretty much left alone. >> what is the legal status of her at that time. >> she is an escaped slave, a fugitive. >> could she have been arrested by government and brought back? >> absolutely. this was really fascinating. in the original constitution, there was the fugitive slave clause which basically said that, if a slave escapes from many state into another state -- any state into another state, that state is obligated to arrest the person or capture them and send them back to the other state. in 1792, the fugitive slave act, which was a specific law, which essentially said the same thing, was originally signed by george washington. probably while some of this slaves were standing around -- his slaves were standing around.
so there were very clear federal laws against people who escaped from slavery. however, many of the states in the north simply refused to enforce the law. they would not allow law enforcement personnel to arrest people. they would not arrest people who had escaped from slavery. -- to help people escape from slavery. there was a contention going on between the states long before the civil war actually broke out. part of the justification articulated by the states who seceded from the union was that there were states in the north who were not enforcing the federal law. now where did you find the story -- >> where did you find a story? >> i found some information online trade house able to get context from people in philadelphia. the philadelphia connection is important. and 1999 or so, the national parks service decided to move
the liberty bell from its old location to its new multimillion-dollar per billion. -- pavilion. this would be extremely fancy. it turns out, where they were going to build the pavilion was over this land where a house that drug washington had his -- that held george washington and his slaves was at that location. it was specifically over part of the house where the slaves arwere kept. once it was discovered by historians and other activists in philadelphia, there were protests. there was cause for honoring -- were calls for honoring these individuals or remembering these individuals. you cannot build this brand-new artifice to the liberty bell, which is the celebration of american freedom, and not acknowledge or ignore what happened at this very sight. -- site. it took a 10-year or 12-year
battle. eventually, the national park service are great and part of -- agreed and part of the new pavilion that opened in december 2010 is a commemorative section that notes the nine individuals who were held in slavery. that public airing of that particular issue is what gave me some access to these individuals. oni in particular. >> who was hercules? >> that was washington's cook. he also escaped. his story is interesting because he was considered one of the most famous cooks in the country at the time. he had been trained in europe, i believe. he was well known. across the country as a great cook, but also as being
extremely loyal to george washington. out of the nine individuals who were enslaved by washington, hercules was the only one that washington would allow to go back and forth between philadelphia and mount vernon by himself without being guarded. there was a great deal of faith that hercules would be there with him. at the end of washington's presidency, when he was preparing to move back to mount vernon, hercules escaped. they never found hercules. they thought he was in philadelphia, but he was gone. it is my sense that hercules was probably in touch with the brother of sally hemmings, two individuals who were enslaved by thomas jefferson.
a lot of listeners know sally hemmings. she was the african-american woman who was the slave and mistress of thomas jefferson. her brother was also a crook. -- cook. he traveled with jefferson when he lived in paris. he went to cooking schools in france. he was a very talented cook as well, like hercules. they were both in philadelphia at the same time. he bought his freedom at one point. it was with the stipulation that jefferson said he had to train someone else to cook before he could actually. -- actually leave, even though he had saved enough money to buy his freedom. so, hercules was in touch with him. i believe he was probably influenced by the fact that not only did he buy his freedom, but oni had escaped. there was a way in which there
was a buildup of freedom and reaching for freedom on the part of people enslaved to george washington. the other thing that oni talks about later on -- she gave interviews. she lived into her 80's. she lived a long life. she gave interviews. she learned to read. she became active in her community. that is where some of this information comes from. she had been influenced by the haitian revolution which had happened in the 79 days. -- in the early 1790's. people who were enslaved around the world knew about the haitian revolution and the american revolution. when you think about the individuals were the closest to -- the individuals who were the closest to those debates that happened at the constitutional convention, in private sectors, that happened all over were many individuals who were slaves who were serving tea, cleaning
the rooms, were in and around. they, of course, heard these debates. they heard the arguments. they heard that people were willing to risk their lives for freedom. >> what were the rules of slavery? in your book, you talk about that they were not allowed to write and read. >> it varied across the country. but bottom line, they would be enslaved for life. they had no citizenship rights. they had no human rights. most of the slave owners, particularly in the south, but not exclusive to the deep south ,the prohibited reading, learning to read or learning to write. other than work skills, there was very little opportunity for any kind of personal development or even professional development for many people who were enslaved.
as it turns out, sleeves became -- slaves became extremely skilled because they did the work around the plantation, around the farm, but there were also a great deal of slaves in what constituted the cities of the country at that time. that meant, for example, all of the buildings that were built, all of the large structures that were built up and down the east coast from libraries to university is to city halls to -- to universities to city halls to mansions were built by slave labor in many instances. that meant people had carpentry skills, masonry skills, even some architectural and design skills. so there was this whole other level of development that necessarily happened, but was not necessarily recognized and was not compensated. >> do have slaves in your family background? >> yes, but i do not know who
they are. i have done a great deal of genealogical research personally. but like many african- americans, there is a certain cut off. it was not until the 1870 census that people were listed, if at all, -- people who were enslaved were listed as individuals prior to that, if they were listed at all, it was like, john, 12, bob, who is 4. unless you had very specific names and very specific locations, it is very difficult to do that tracing. i live in washington, d.c. i have had access to the national archives. i spent a bit of time down in the archives going through census records. fortunately, my family's names were unusual. i did not have to look for a
thousand smiths or 10,000 johnsons. lusane was a very unique kind of name. side, theer's names in the family were unique. so i found some records. but then there is a cut off. i have also been to the daughters of the american revolution. a lot of information is in diaries. this had to be 20 years ago. i found the family's name that was the family that own med my family in alabama. there was a diary that went back into the 1500's. in that, there were references to some individuals who were enslaved. it is difficult to connect all of those dots. >> where were you born? >> i was born in detroit. my mother is from alabama and my father is from louisiana. >> and the name lusane is what? >> it is a creole name. you can see it in texas,
louisiana, georgia, and mississippi areas. there are not a lot of lusanes. for many years, whenever i would travel, i used to look and phone books to see if there were any that i could trace. there were not a lot. over the last seven or eight years or so, in part because of the internet, i have had more contact with people named lusane through the internet and some of us have been able to find some connections. >> un to grad school where? -- you did your undergraduate where? @ wayne in detroit. in rated tv and film. >> what was next? >> i spent a couple of years working mostly as a journalist, covering international issues. i eventually ended up working on capitol hill.
i worked there for about eight years. the d.c. delegates for two years and then for five or six years for what was called a democratic study group. that was the main office on capitol hill that did research for house democrats. a lot of the posters and big billboards that you would see on the house for, those were the -- house floor, those were the kinds of things that i worked on. however, in 1994, the republicans took over and took control of congress. new to gingrich and the -- newt gingrich and the republicans, one of the first things they did when they came into office in january was defunded a number of organizations, including the democratic segment that i worked -- study group that i worked for. the office had been there for close to 40 years. basically overnight, the office was closed down. >> where did you get your ph.d.? >> from howard university.
>> what year? >> in 1997. >> how long have you been teaching? >> now going on 15 years. >> who is paul jennings? >> paul jennings is another one of my favorite characters. maybe we should not call them characters. he was an individual who pounced out of a research. he was enslaved to the madisons. james and dolley madison. -- dolly madison. by the time he was 10 years old, he was working at the white house. this turned out to be fortuitous because he happened to be there in 1814 when the white house was brought down, when the british invaded and burnt the city down, including much of what was in the white house. he was they're literally on that -- there literally on that day when, further down the road, the british were burning and looting and headed towards the white house.
the white house staff, both slaves and non-slaves were in a very hectic kind of matter trying to grab whatever they could to get out before the british actually got to the front door. so we know the story because, in 1865, paul jennings wrote a memoir, a very short one, but one of the first, if not the first, memoirs of someone who actually worked in the white house. he tells that story. he tells the story of being at the bedside when james madison died. he also tells the story of how dolly madison reneged on the deal that he was supposed to be freed after james madison past. -- passed. for primarily economic reasons, dolly did not free him immediately. so he had to work to earn enough to buy his freedom a few years later.
>> because of you, i got on the internet and found the memoir, which is available to anyone who wants to see it. it is very short. a number of stories popped out of there. did he not end up paying dolly madison's bills at the end of her life? >> yes. as he talks about, she fell upon very hard times. when someone leaves the presidency, they're pretty much guaranteed some kind of security for the rest of their lives. but that was not the case during that time. so her friends and her family basically abandoned her. although she did him wrong, he felt some compassion, some human compassion, and he writes in his memoir that he would often visit her and bring her food, probably give her some money when he had it. so he looked after her. by that time, by the mid-1840's
or so, dolly madison was pretty up there in age. she had no one to look after her. he writes that he did what he could with what he had. somewhatlly became -- he write successful when he bought his freedom. he stayed in washington, d.c. and got a government job which he retired from in the 1860's. what he does not talk about in his memoir is his central role in a gigantic slave escape attempt in 1848. it was in the spring when the city was very bustling with parties, celebrating a lot of the revolution is happening in -- revolutions that were happening in th europe.
this is a very common -- a very big contradiction. while people were celebrating freedom in europe, they were enslaving people in the united states. this had been an ongoing week of partying. that is when jennings and two other free african-americans had been part of this plan to bring them down to the wharf and -- to bring the boat down to the docks, down to the wharf, and people in the area who were enslaved, who wanted to be part of this, would come down to the boat on a saturday night in ones and twos and sneak onto the boat. it was not unusual on tonight to -- on saturday nights a see african-americans walking about. that is the only time that they had some time off. so it was not unusual. the plan worked. close to 80 people got on the boat and the boat took off. the idea was that there wouy wod have such a head start by the time it was realized on sunday
that people have escaped an, ty could get away. they ran into problems. one is that they hit bad weather. boat to pulle vote to pul to the side. there would be forced to wait for the weather to get better, which would still not have been a problem so long as no one knew where they were. back in washington, however, someone betrayed them who knew about the plan. when the's gathered to go after afterse gathered to go them, which they initially thought that people had escaped on foot and were headed north, this individual told them that they were on a boat and headed south and this is where they went. so they got into a faster boat and caught up with the people who had escaped and everybody was captured and brought back to washington, d.c. it turns out that paul was not on the boat, probably because he was free and have freedom of movement, so he did not need to be on the boat. who knows? but he was not on the boat.
also, he was never exposed. so he became active in trying to get freedom for people who were caught, but no one ever came forward and said, well, you know, he contacted the captains and had the boat down there. maybe he should be arrested as well. in fact, it was not discovered until after he died. >> the story of paul jennings and daniel webster? >> paul jennings eventually either worked out a deal with daniel webster or in some way became -- left dolly madison's enslavement and went to daniel webster. it was for our relatively short period -- a relatively short period, because webster was
working it out for him to get his freedom. webster would be a key individual in the period around issues of challenging slavery and issues leading up to the civil war. >> at the height of the numbers, how many slaves were there in the united states? >> 4 million. there were millions. >> how many non-slaves were there in the united states at that time? >> probably about 200,000 or so. >> was a 40% of the country at the time? >> it varied. overall, african-americans were probably about 30% to 40% of the country. but depending on where your, if you were in some states, south carolina, mississippi for sure, likely north carolina, likely alabama, slaves were the
majority of the population. >> i know this is over time, but in the 1800's, how much was a slave worth? when you had to buy your freedom, what did it cost a slave? >> good question. it seems to have varied. a great deal of it depended on how much had been invested in individual, the age of the individual, different prices for men versus women. for example, children were a different price. it could vary from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand, which is an exorbitant amount. but it depended if it was somebody who was extremely skilled, very young, who had 40 years to 50 years ahead of them. they could potentially go for a high price. then there was the issue if you took the whole family or if he
took part of the family. all that came into play over these negotiations around buying and selling other individuals. >> who is peter? >> peter is one of the carpenters. he worked on the white house. reno from the records is that there were five black carpenters who work on the white house bid and for some time, they also work on building the capital. the reason george washington was not in washington, d.c. is because it did not exist at the time. there was a serious negotiation right after the constitution was ratified and the debate over where to have the seat of government. the south wanted to have the seat in the south and the north resisted that. so it compromise was worked out. for 10 years that it was estimated that it would take to build this brand new city, the
new government would not be in one of the old cities. it would be a brand new city to be built. the government could be in pennsylvania. but at the end of the 10 years, in 1989, it would come back to this new city, which was washington, d.c.. this was land that was seated by maryland and virginia the time. it was jungles. there were trees and rocks. that was it. the roads had to be paved. buildings had to be built. and a lot of it was done by slaves. what we have not focused on in terms of our own historical acknowledgment is that slave
labor and the building of the white house and the building of the capital, these institutions that were icons of liberty and freedom, also carry with them this history as well. that is part of what i was trying to do, bringing that history out. >> this is thick, 600 pages. you said you thought you would write a small book. this is a paperback. city lights only publishes a paperback. how was it done? >> we were a bit surprised at what had been the success of the book. city lights was great for me to publish with. i started off with no page limit. i had written other books. one of the things to negotiate
from the very beginning with publishers is the question of page numbers. they figure out what their costs are and how to design the book. you have to write two hundred 50 pages or 300 pages. city lights said to write it until it is finished. i said fine. i had no idea that it would literally grow like it did. again, as the stories started to emerge, then it became impossible for me not to include oni or to include peter or to include paul jennings. even with all the individuals i have included, now that i have given talks, particularly around washington, d.c., i am often approached by people who say that my uncle used to be a barber at the white house or my grandfather used to work upstairs at the white house. the stores have not been told. if we think about the history of the presidencies, we do not think about the particular
relationship between the presidents residents and the white house as a global icon. people around the world know the white house and they may not know any other structure in the united states and all. the statue of liberty is the only other equivalent icon. people the white house, but we do not know the white house history. >> here is what you say, page 19 of the book --
when did you reach that conclusion? >> i reached that conclusion and a long time ago. >> when, a long time ago, did you reach that conclusion? >> i was a child of the 1960's. that means that i was born in 1953 and i was relatively young when the real kind of spark of activism around civil-rights and around by power issues emerged. but i was old enough to be affected by it and enough to be engaged. in detroit, which had had several riots in 1967 and 1968,
many of which were in my neighborhood, it was impossible to not be affected. fortunately, what this meant for me is that, by the time allows 14 or 15, i was active in community groups, community organizations, part of the way that the city responded to these riots or to attempt to get a lot of the young folks in my age into more socially active and socially productive kind of endeavors. in that sense, i was probably rescued to some degree from not being active around these different issues. that is where my own kind of ideas about social justice and beginning to look at american history, looking at american politics, and the way they evolved. >> there were 43 people killed
in july 1967. what impact did that have on you? do you remember it? >> i remember it vividly. the 1967 riots in part began a few blocks from my house. my mother, my father and i and my sisters had been in canada. it started on a saturday night. we had spent all day saturday in canada. often, people in detroit crossed the bridge and went fishing. when we got back, there was a full-blown riot going on. i was probably about 12 or so. nobody was inside. at one point, my mother, my sister, and i walked down a couple blocks to this main intersection where there were just hundreds of people. after being there for a while, a car drove up and two white men got out and fired at the
corner. they lifted a shotgun and fired. everyone on the corner, probably about 20 people, was hit, except for me. my mother was shot. my sister was shot. some of the injuries were more serious than others. but everybody was -- people were bleeding and there was panic. i ran and got my father. we got the car and came back and loaded up with the four or five people we could fit in the car, including my mother and sister, and it took people to the hospital. fortunately, the injuries to my mother and sister were not very, very serious. my mother's injuries were a little more and she was in the hospital for a few days. my sister was there basically overnight. but that was my experience. it is impossible for me not to
be very conscious about something going on in society. i cannot ignore what is going on around a. -- me. >> what impact did it have on you? >> it made me an activist. i think it also made me reflective. it made me try to begin to seek answers for why violence existed, why racism existed, while poverty existed. again, it was at a time when these were the kinds of issues that were being raised in schools, being raised in the church that we went to, raised in the community center that i used to go to. all around me, there were discussions going on about american society. >> what was that race riot all about?
>> that was -- the immediate spark of it was similar to riots in london where the very acrimonious relationship between the police and the black community, where there was a long history of indiscriminate shootings, beatings, arrests of people for trivial reasons. so there was a long history of basically an all white police force and an all black community. >> to do know any of the 43 that were killed? >> know. -- no. i did not. >> there were two white men shot there. of the 20 people that they shot, did any of them die? >> no. >> did you know who they were? >> not at all. it was complete chaos. we get to the hospital and hundreds of people were there
who were injured. it is the kind of situation where they investigated the homicides that happened. i am not sure if there any of them that they ever solved. but there was a wide range of injuries that happened and nothing was ever followed up on the. >> you said you went to wayne state. how much education did your parents have? >> by parents were working class. my mother went as far as the fifth grade and my father as far as the eighth grade. my mother had always planned for us to finish high school and go to university. she was originally from alabama. she came up during that time when several million african- americans came up between the two wars. she came up to detroit for there were factories and jobs and met my father. they were both working class, but my mother very much said you guys have to go to school.
you have to finish. do not get in trouble. >> how many in the family? >> two sisters, one older and one younger. our neighborhood was very low working-class, not the worst, but far from being the best. probably because my mother was just so determined, it kept me from engaging in activities that probably would not be good for my long-term future. there was some engagement that she never found out about. for the most part, she was really very education focused. when i graduated from junior high school, i ended up going to a school in detroit that was rated in the top-10 schools in the country. she was very proud of that.
but it really was her determined effort to make sure that we did our homework. she went to school and talked with our teachers. even though she was not extremely highly educated, she valued education. >> what was the work that your parents did? >> my father worked at a factory for a while and then he start doing that he basically ran an illegal activities. he ran what we call after hours joints. these are places where people would come and buy drinks and gamble, those kinds of activities. nothing hard-core, but those kinds of activities. my mother worked in a laundry for about 25 years. >> are they alive? >> no, they have both passed.
>> i want to read two paragraphs. i want to contrast to these two paragraphs in this book. this is pat buchanan. i will read the other one in a second. when did you put that in the book? >> that is a very common view. pat buchanan is very bold. but for many people in the country, that is probably a very common view. some of what we are witnessing in the growth of the tea party
and obama on different levels is that we reflect some of the demographic changes going on in the country that counter what many people feel had been a history of whites and that the browning of the country, people coming from asia and africa and the caribbean, is a cultural rupture. but, in fact, the long, long history of the country has always been one of multiple people from all over the world. >> there is a second quote, but efforts have to ask you what is walker's appeal? >> david walker was an advocate in the 1830's. he was a free black man who wrote a pamphlet called "david walker's appeal" which
there is quite a difference in those two views. >> the very first quote in the book is something that has been with me most of my life. it is from a langston hughes poem. it is simply -- "i, too, am american." it is very straight forward. as many african-americans have said for hundreds of years, this project that we call america has been a collaborative one. some of that collaboration has been forced, but we cannot honestly traced the history of this country without including the indigenous people who were here, the africans who were brought over, the agents who came over from china, people
from all around the world who, at every step along the way, both the political, economic, social, and cultural systems that we live under. what we have not done is always acknowledge those contributions and value those contributions. >> who is elizabeth keckly? >> she is another fascinating women. elizabeth, it turns out, ended up being the best friend of mary lincoln. elizabeth's history is one of amazing serendipitous encounters. for example, this is a black woman who grew up in missouri, who was a slave, and was eventually able to buy her freedom. she had very good skills as a seamstress and a dressmaker.
just to give a sense of her historic encounters, the individual who she was enslaved to was one of the lawyers who argued the dread scott decision before the supreme court, the 1857 cred scott decision, the most important supreme court ruling before the civil war regarding slavery. it basically said that slavery can exist anywhere in the country. it upset what had been this delicate balance going back to the 1820's of bringing in one slave state and one free state to try to dampen down the tensions between the -- that was in the country. but the tensions were still growing dread scott and his wife were to individuals who had spent time in a free state and they argued that they should be free. the presence and the time that they spent in a free state
should give them liberation. the court said absolutely not and fat, "blacks have no rights that whites are bound to respect." it was argued against dread scott, one of the lawyers phoned elizabeth keckly. >> there is a part of the story where mary lincoln also got into financial trouble and elizabeth keck way who was not a slave, a friend, ended up helping her? >> yes. elizabeth was an independent businesswoman. her business was making dresses. she came to washington, d.c. by circumstance, she ended up becoming the dress maker for mary lincoln, but also her confident and her friend.
elizabeth spent a great deal of time at the white house just out of her work but also out of her closeness to mary who was actually alienated by many people in washington, d.c. because of her personality and her background. elizabeth also got to know -- she was in debt while lincoln was president. he more or less did not know the degree of it. she let elizabeth come up with a plan to secretly try to sell her dresses in new york city. but the plan does not go very well.
>> before we run out of time, the 48th anniversary of the "i have a dream" speech, what does it mean? >> it means there is another step forward in the country reconciling its history. i say that because statues are important symbols of recognition. what this says is that we are at a point where we will recognize the contributions of martin luther king who gave his life for making sure that this country live up to its stated
ideas. this was to include poor people, to include black people that those not include poor whites. people across the board who have been excluded too often. the focus on martin luther king only stops around the efforts of desegregation. but he had a broader vision that included people across the spectrum who he felt were marginalized, who ostracize, who were not being included in the american dream. so this statute gives us another opportunity for his ideas to be discussed and to be lived. >> how long has this book and -- been out? >> since december 2010. >> what is the most surprising thing or interesting thing that a white person that has read
this book has said to you? >> i have given many talks. one is a talk i gave at the white house. i was very surprised at how emotional it was. there were a lot of young black people at the white house, a lot of older black people and a lot of whites who had no idea of this history and that obama is another stage in its history. as i went through the presentation and talked about the different individuals, people felt very emotionally attached. that was really a surprise to me. in terms of what people have come up to me and said, it is usually in the vein of i had no idea -- i have had no idea whatsoever. >> did you have an idea?
>> i did not. i will be very honest. i spent many years writing about black policy. i would say that 80% of this book was new to me. i literally had not heard of almost all of these individuals as i was going to this history. in many ways, i went back and looked at some of the things i wrote before. >> before we run completely out of time -- when did you get married? >> december 2007. >> how many children do you have? >> one. >> what is his or her name? >> his name is ellington. >> is ellington named after duke? >> yes. duke ellington is such a positive symbol of washington, d.c. and we wanted to honor him.
clarence lusane, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you very much. >> for a dvd copy of this program call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q-and- a.org. these programs are also available as podcasts. >> tomorrow, janice crouse talks