tv QA CSPAN August 28, 2016 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
" with laurence leamer . then what westerners can learn from islam. after that, you look at the future role of the u.s. in the middle east. ♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," author laurence leamer talking about his latest book "the lynching." , you areurence leamer now an owner of 15 books you have written. why did you do books? mr. leamer: i cannot do a living writing magazine articles. i tried. i cannot write fast enough, so i wrote books. i did not make much of a living
for a while. the secret is persistence. brian: how do you pick your books? mr. leamer: it is a stupid thing to do. i should choose an area and keep at it, but i wanted to do something much different. experience different lives. when you write a nonfiction book, you are thinking back in somebody's life. i want to piggyback on as many lives as i can. brian: of the 15 books, which one sold the most? mr. leamer: the kennedy women by long-sought -- long shot. -- ak about a multigenerational book about women. nobody had ever written a multigenerational book about women. to put women at the forefront just totally changed things. the kennedyabout women do you most remember and what did the audience want to hear when you talk to them? -- ieamer: it was a book
suggested that you do not have to be a woman to love the kennedy women. it was a book read by women. and theyd that book just loved that it was their story and they could all identify one way and another with the evolution of women in america. brian: you did a trilogy on the kennedys. which one came first? mr. leamer: the kennedy women. brian: 1994. then what? mr. leamer: i work in a coal mine come earlier. writer.as in magazine i put my finger in the coal mine, went back in. lived in west virginia in a trailer for six months. developed a love for country music. i went down and wrote a book about country music, which did not sell very well. then a publisher came back and said we want to do a book, the kennedy men, and if you do not
do it we will find summary else to do it. that convinced me i should do it. brian: what was special about that particular book? mr. leamer: it was the story of the men through the five generations, just the way the kennedy women had been the women. i was supposed to tell the entire story, but i did not. it got so long we broke into. the second volume was the young generation that came after that. sons of camelot. brian: did you get to talk to any of the kennedy men? mr. leamer: yes, and the women. brian: of all of those, who did you like the most, or who did you get the most from? mr. leamer: mrs. shriver. since we have an hour, i'm going to tell you the sort. i went to the minneapolis games and i got in the car with the shriver's and spent the whole week with them.
i just hung out with them. i came back and i set up -- she agreed to an interview. i have a journalists soul. the phone rings, i'm going to answer the phone. you are soing desperate to talk to somebody. the phone rang that morning of the interview, and i have to answer the phone. i totally panicked, do not know what to do. what can i do? i knew this woman who had -- who gave this wonderful oral history for the kennedy library. i do not know if she was still around. she was, living in georgetown. i called and said -- yes, i'd be happy. can you come over right now? i took a cab, walked in.
would you like to see my memorabilia? here is winston's cigar. i said, this is fascinating. i'm good this book on the kennedys, can we talk about the kennedys? yes. how are the kennedys? great. i think the history of the family changed with the assassination of president kennedy. he's dead? so, that was my day. that would have been about 1992. then she talked to me. became quite close to her. i would go out to the events that she would have over there. it was interesting because we talk about the special olympics, to my mind is the best thing the kennedys have ever done. changed our attitude towards those with intellectual disabilities, all across the world.
in 1968.ted that kennedy, of course, who wasthe lobotomy in 1941, mildly intellectually disabled and her father tragically want to be on the cutting edge and gave her this lobotomy they gave her the mental age of a three or four-year-old. they started the special olympics. but mrs. shriver was convinced the special olympics had nothing to do with her sister rosemary. i said, of course it is. i was made the mistake of calling her eunice, you don't do that. of course rosemary had something to do that. maybe sheshe admitted did, but you cannot intellectually bring herself to do. but i think the special olympics should consider rosemary the cofounder. brian: where do she fit in with
the family? mr. leamer: she is the second oldest sister. brian: what about one of the men you talk to? mr. leamer: i talked to teddy. brian: how open was the? the tragedies -- remained an open wound to him his entire life. you bring up his brother and you think -- we have all had our parents -- we talk about our parents we felt so much about them. we do not tear up when we hear their name. but it was very hard for him to talk. when i was due in that book, i also spent not thanksgiving day, but the wednesday evening before things i was invited to a dinner party in hyannisport at the kennedy home with all the close friends. were the only people who were not close friends were there that evening.
it was the strangest thing. even among intimates, everyone is watching teddy. teddy wants to watch the football game, they watch the football game. and i thought, what a mad way to live? even in intimacy of your home, people cannot be themselves. brian: why do they trust you? mr. leamer: if people advise me on being a journalist, was the most important thing? to be trustworthy. it bothers me when journalists live because it comes back to haunt us all. juste had a problem -- you have to keep your word. people are shrewd, they are a good judge of people. i also take my interviews as much as i possibly can. when i read a book, i can usually tell where there has
been tape recorders or whether people make casual notes and try to remake it afterwards. that saved me from lawsuits. i was sued by judith, jfk's mistress. she sued me because i talked to pr lawford -- peter lawford's manager who said she was paid to sleep with kennedy. i never said that, she made us up. think goodness i had the tape and i quoted precisely what he said, and that really saved me. brian: what happened to the lawsuit? mr. leamer: $400,000 later it was thrown it. this the tragedy of journalism writing books. yes, there is libel insurance but there is a deductible. that cost me $50,000. we won, it cost me $50,000.
thank goodness the kennedy women was a very successful book. i could afford it. it does not matter. there was a stellar reporter who wrote a biography of donald trump, said he was worth $600 million and trump suit. it was thrown out. -- suseded. it was thrown out. when he had to come up with the deductible. on in lost, but trump w terms of causing trouble for that writer. brian: how many different publishers have you had? it used to be one publisher forever, that is no longer true. i cannot even count how many i have had. we are all mercenaries. you go wherever you get the best deal. nobody is loyal to anybody in america. corporations are not loyal to you and you are not loyal to them. people move on. brian: you live in washington dc
and palm beach florida. mr. leamer: i used to hate people who lived in two places. what a jerk they must be. i live in florida partially because -- i do not like the winter and there's a big tax advantage of living down there. i like to play tennis, like to play year-round. and i work very hard. really what i do, i can work anywhere. brian: one of the books you have written is a book called madness, the subtitle is under the royal palms, love and death behind the gates of palm beach, which i have read and when i read it i thought, how does mr. leamer survived living in palm beach? what is the story? mr. leamer: i had never been to palm beach before. trialer the willie smith
when he was accused of ripping this woman in palm beach? a kennedy relative. he was the precursor to oj. there were hundreds of journalists down there and i was one of them. i stayed at a hotel in palm beach. i said, this is the strangest place i have ever seen. there is no life. nobody in thee, streets, no bathroom on the beach. there is no place to eat if you want to get a cup of coffee or something. this is bizarre. i thought, i'm going to get a place here and write a book about it. i got a place -- i tell this story in the book, we get this condominium and suddenly everybody treats me terribly. came a leak and the people -- the board members, he would not sit down. they were just incredibly unpleasant to me. i cannot figure out what it was. christmas rolls around in my
wife is the world's ultimate shopper. she said the only place was boynton beach, about 20 miles. we go to boynton beach and here's the place we go -- a guy out of "deliverance." the tree is too big to put the trunk of a car. i have to take the side roads. we are late call we were supposed to go to a dinner party. it rises in the basement of the building. we -- the garage is in the basement of the building. carry the tree, it is enormous. she said grandpa kerry betrayed, why cannot you carried a tree? i'm not grandpa. my wife is 5'2". she holds the tree off and brings it up. this is a very ritzy building. there are all these people going to parties and here's my little
wife carrying this tree down the corridor. i realize what it was -- i am not jewish. everybody thinks i'm jewish, ok? but i'm not jewish. as a methodist. the reason they were cool -- curel -- the reason they were so cruel -- and they were cruel -- was because they thought i was jewish. but palm beach has changed. we have all kinds of people in the building. it is a different palm beach and a different building. , and it ismy book partly about the jewish world of palm beach and the wasp world of palm beach and how they have very little to do with one another. it is one of the good things donald trump did when he bought mar-a-lago. of wanted to build a bunch
big fancy homes on that land. the town would not let them do it, so we had finished -- dinner with a jewish lawyer and said we have these wealthy jews coming, most of them cannot do into the country club. lago, theyt mar-a- will all come and join it. that is precisely what happened. brian: we have all heard about mar-a-lago. sea to lake? what is it? mr. leamer: it is one of the most incredible buildings in america. era when people thought no one wanted these big homes, trump got it and return it -- if i had billions of dollars, the lasting out want to do is hang out with a bunch of wannabes. wannabes in every way.
but they are there with him every weekend. people call, if donald is in town, the place is full. and he wants to be around them. this is before he ran for president, but even now he does that. easter sunday at tr ump golf course in west palm. it is a very fancy buffet that have, $100 frozen buffet. all these fancy cars are out there, very wealthy people. they're getting the lobster and the fancy things. i have no better than them and i go get a steak. i looked to my right and there is donald. there is donald trump he wants a hamburger. he gets a hamburger, he gets it cooked until it is charred and he puts an inch of ketchup over the top. i thought, this guy -- brian: have you talked with him?
mr. leamer: yes, he was in my book. it starts off, the great donald might have been the son of a wealthy real estate developer but the protestant mobile is the uncrowned king of the new yorkers. mr. leamer: yeah. he is it. brian: why do people want to live the way they do in palm beach, and would you describe why i asked the question? mr. leamer: when i cannot figure out is, if i had that money, i would want the most interesting people around me. what is the point? it is segregated in terms of its wealth. who has earned around $400 million. he does not go down there because he is not wealthy enough. so, you look at me and you do not thinkhe does not go down the because he is not wealthy enough. how much i'm worth, you do not care how much i were
spirits there, they look at you and know precisely how much you are worth so they are -- you are on their level. brian: how do you fit? mr. leamer: i do not fit. i am the odd man out. brian: how do they know that? mr. leamer: thanks to my book. my book came out, i was driven off the road. there is a video on youtube of someone screaming at me about how of much of a big it i am. the book is the truth. that of all my books, that would be the most controversial. brian: kennedy, rush limbaugh, donald trump -- i'm sure you can name other people that lived in and around palm beach? what is the draw for these folks? what is donald trump want to live in that world? to leamer: he doesn't want -- i wrote a book about arnold schwarzenegger. notas the same way, he did
want to be alone. he cannot stand to be alone. way too. that they love to have these people around. and he is a wonderful host. i used to go to a chinese buffet in upstate new york. mr. trump is a better host the net. he would be there at the entrance greeting people. he just likes people in that way, no way around it. brian: what kind of a president would he be based on what you know of his activities in palm beach? mr. leamer: i do not know. i have been writing a novel called victor's way. it is the story of a flamboyant new york businessman becoming president of the united states. brian: when did you start it? mr. leamer: a few months ago. i finished it. my editor said it is a terrific novel, terrific, that we do not know if people are going to want to read it next spring.
we think when our national nightmare is over, nobody were to read about this kind of character. well, it is not a track. it is about the rise of this man. i'm not sure where i'm going to do, whether to send it to publishers. i might just self publish it next month, i'm debating what to do. it is not just about him, it is -- arnold schwarzenegger is in there. unique characters. teddy kennedy is in this book. brian: the arnold schwarzenegger book was 2005? was that before or after he left his wife? mr. leamer: before. i knew about his womanizing but not that. brian: how much time did you spend on the schwarzenegger book? mr. leamer: two years. brian: and you do not know he had a child by the woman who work at the house? mr. leamer: nobody did. ellie mae, if i knew it would be in there. brian: what was -- believe me,
if i knew it would be in there. brian: what was your reaction when you first heard it? mr. leamer: i was stunned. his closest friend was telling ran,e story -- when he the before there was a scandal about all these women and how we like to touch their breasts. he was denying this. maria said you can either believe me or the l.a. times. the california people believed him. friend -- this is just ridiculous, it is not true. if he said i liked ot touch their butts, i'd have a problem, but they didn't say that. that is why he was drawn to
this woman. brian: why is the clip drawn to these people? thaem.mer: it comes with it hurts them clinton would be going down in history is a great president if not for monica lewinsky. that hurt him dramatically. brian: how political are you? mr. leamer: i try not to be that political. when: i saw you on c-span you announced that you were a liberal democrat. mr. leamer: yes. this novel i have written is not a liberal democrat's book. they to keep it -- look, kind of journalism that you and i represent is pretty much gone. who, what, where.
the way we were taught to write, what was considered objective and fair. mild professor was of that school. -- my old professor was of that school. if he saw the new york times, he would die. when i read the newspapers, i am editing. you cannot say that, you should not say that. let the reader decide. but that is gone. brian: why? mr. leamer: if you want to be successful, you have to have an edge. if you want to go on television, you want to go on his cable networks, you better have an edge one way or the other. if you want to be fair in in the middle, forget it. they do not want you. brian: have you developed an edge? mr. leamer: not enough. a few years ago, it was ted kennedy's birthday and i got a call from bill o'reilly's producer to talk about ted kennedy. and i said, sure, that would be
great. they said we want you to talk negatively about him. i said, why do have to speak negatively? speakingomeone positively. i said, i'm not going to do this. get one of your usual right-wing hacks. and i hung up. i had a few drinks that evening. then the producer rang and said the person who is supposed to speak positively, the satellite connection to network. could i speak positively about him on the phone? i said, ok. i am on with this guy from the national review. anti-kennedy. i said you live in an intellectual prison that you cannot escape. just destroy this guy. i was unbelievably good, shattering to him. i walked out saying come i'm so good at this. i'm back in washington, would you come on this evening?
i said this is great, they wanted to talk about teddy again . they bring me down to the studio. then i realize that, number one, the picture of a, his head is about twice as big as mine, the sound is bigger, and they say we are talking about ted kennedy and the sexual molestation of the priests in boston and ted kennedy -- what are you going to say? i said, i think we should really start talking about the history of the catholic church -- i don 't want to hear your pathetic history, i want to know how this sleazebag -- i went out of there limp, devastated. i never wanted to go on television again after that. it is veryknow successful and profitable. why? ailes, he isoger
so despicable. fox do aike to see story about their guy. these other women have come forth. there is a culture they are that is just disgusting and invigorating. i wish more people would come forward talk about it. book. what i readin your mr. leamer: the world of palm beach is the country club world all across america. what money does and what people do with their money. brian: who ran you off the road? mr. leamer: i don't know. brian: at this stage in your life, what do you think of the united states? mr. leamer: i fear the best days
are behind us, in so many ways. brian: why? mr. leamer: i just think we have such a marvelous thing going and we are not dealing seriously with the problems. i do not think either candidate is. my brother is a candidate for vice president with his professor at boston university who is running for president. they are probably going to get three votes. i do not know if the ticket is called, but they are out there trying to get publicity. he just did this essay about how he thinks every bill -- the should be a rule -- how will it affect the future? the next generation? the infrastructure of this country -- you cannot believe this is the united states. you go to europe, you get on the isds, their trains -- this the richest country in the
world. the poor people, the democrats ignore them, then they moved to the republicans, the republicans ignore them. now they have come to trump. if he becomes president, will not do good for them anyway. but they deserve to be treated better than they are being treated and have opportunities they do not have. brian: of everyone you have written about, who is the most interesting in your opinion? mr. leamer: mrs. shriver is pretty interesting. the bottom climber who climbed and waserest in 1963 the director of the peace corps who died, he was fascinating. book, the cofounder of the law center, he is fascinating. the thing is there are so many fascinating people, you could write books endlessly. so many interesting people. brian: let's talk about the new
book. it is called "the lynching -- the epic courtroom battle that brought down the klan." mr. leamer: he made a lot of money, poor boy, made a lot of money in the direct-mail business. then founded habitat for humanity. it a civil found rights law firm. brian: let's look at morris. is he still active? mr. leamer: yes. brian: here he is. >> the judge is beginning to tell the jury what their role was in the case when all of a sudden he leaped to his feet. he had been brought there from prison and they jumped up because they thought he was trying to escape.
he turned to the judge and said, your honor, can i say something to the jury? he cleared his throat. he said, can you forgive me for what i she went back in her chair and looked at him in front of the jury and i will never forget what she said i would to be 100. -- i live to be 100. she said son, i have already forgiven you. brian: that was 1999. talking about michael donald and his mother. who are they? mr. leamer: michael donald was mobile,in 1981 in alabama. his mother -- that is the lynching.
the klansmen were convicted. one was executed and one spent 25 years in prison. and now as a chef. was not justt this these two young men who did this, they had been led to do this by a violent philosophy promoted by the united clan of america. it civil lawsuit against the united clans of america. robert sheldon, the head of the clan. it was such a controversial thing that the five lawyers of the southern poverty law center thought it was the prosodic case that would be thrown out. they do not like the fact that when wars was going after the clan come the officers had been firebombed, there had been death threats against morris, people showing up at his ranch with assault weapons. they did not like this. there was some security at the offices.
morris was going to head this new matter what. the five lawyers all quit. they brought a new team of lawyers. wars continued and thought this lawsuit. brian: here's some video of robert sheldon. before we show it, is he still alive? mr. leamer: no. was the head of the united clans of america. the imperial wizard. brian: what did he do as a living? before the clan? mr. leamer: he was a prelaw student. he was a smart guy. at the university of alabama. to the out and went army. he saw the black soldiers dating the german women and that is what made him realize he should join the clan. he rose quickly in the clan. brian: here's the voice of charlie. this is the voice of 1965. robert sheldon. >> imperial wizards and grant
jargons that longer avoid the press. crew cuts,s sport button-down collars and well tailored suits. the most publicized and best organize clan leader is in pre-lizard robert shelton of united clans nights of the kkk. he spent much of his time in his tuscaloosa, alabama office constantly listening to tape recordings of martin luther king jr. while he examines pictures of civil rights demonstrators. those he can identify are circled and file. shelton expense why. -- explains why. >> i might add to this that it is effective. we uncover a lot of evidence that other departments might miss. brian: plan bureau of investigation -- klan bureau of investigation? mr. leamer: thank you the success of the lawsuit, it does not exist anymore. they have used the lawsuit against other large white
supremacist organizations. there are not too many of them now. the book points out that robert shelton was close to george wallace, the governor of alabama. brian: what got you interested in the story? mr. leamer: in 1967, i was a graduate student at the university of oregon. i was bored to death. i took a course in magazine writing. i taught my way with a grant from the was foundation -- wells foundation, i talked my way to george wallace is playing -- wallace's plane. the reader digest george wallace. i talked my way into the plane. i spent four days with him. i submitted an article to the new republic about laws which a state publisher i got a student not using -- magazine, they sent to alabama to interview wallace in his office.
i got a fellowship to come to the university of journalism to had no background in journalism. as of november, they sent me back to alabama on election night. go back a long way with george wallace. brian: what was he like of close? -- up close? mr. leamer: feisty guy. he loved to use tobacco. he would spit into it but to in. spatoon. you hoped it would not end up on your shoe. he was a good spitter. brian: we have some video of him. this is george wallace. >> i would like to point out to all the people of the state that segregation is in the best interest of our constituents. a system based upon what we believe in our hearts to be in the best interest of all concerned. brian: did he really believe
that? mr. leamer: he did not believe that. he is a smart guy. he knew that segregation was going to end. with theought, -- clerk but to south africa who worked with nelson mandela to end apartheid, he could have done that or could have tried to do that. he thought, i can rise to power if i'm the most militant supporter of segregation even though he knew it was going to end. that is the parallel to me with donald trump. needed a device to write department when donald trump talks about during a live in mowing people out of the country and not letting muslims out of the nine states, -- into the united states, he knew he needed something to get attention. that is what it was. brian: back to the store, morris deese worked for george wallace? mr. leamer: he started out as a segregationist.
he would say that everyone is a segregationist and so was he. he was a student at the university of alabama. in 1958, he took office semester from school to be wallace's student campaign manager for the state. three years later, as a young lawyer, he defended the clan leader who led the beating up of freedom riders in montgomery. he defended him. on the last day of the trial, he came out and said, how could you do this? then he had an epiphany and knew it was wrong. three years later, when the 53 baptist church was bombed by the united klansmen of america, a killed for black girls, -- killed four black girls, he was said,ist, he got up and folks, we have some fellow
baptists in trouble. church inst birmingham, these poor little black girls were killed. we must help them. we are christians. folks, let us pray. he bowed his head and prayed. when he raised his head and looked up, there was nobody left in the church. that is how divided they were. that was the risk he was taking to stand up. brian: morris deese married five times? mr. leamer: yes. now is with a lawyer that he adores. maybe married a six-time. a sixth time.ied brian: what kind of guy is he like? mr. leamer: he wants to be atticus finch. atticus and has probably destroyed by lawyers and health. if you can't be out of his --
helped. bench,can't be atticus you don't want to be him. -- can't be a lawyer. he is more like schindler. he saved thousands of jews. morris deese israel. he is to drive his motorcycle 100 baht per hour. on weekends he would go into rodeos. this is the same time he is doing all of this. he is an unbelievable character who has done so much good. he's very controversial. if you look up his name, you will find very positive and negative things. he has done all this good in the world. awardsrves some the top that any american gets of his generation. he has not gotten them because of his controversy about them. brian: let's watch a little bit more of morris deese from the same speech. >> i have family members i love despite of them. -- in spite of them.
the reason i love some of my family members, i had a couple of uncles who were members of the kkk. because i knew them personally and i knew the good things about them. i need them as individuals. i'm not talking about that kind of love you have for your girlfriend or boyfriend or the members of your church or the people you work with, i'm talking about that love for people who are different than you are. you say in the book you 68 -- he is six foot eight? mr. leamer: he is tall. brian: back to the original story. you have the picture of michael donald hanging from the tree. they did not hang him from the tree? mr. leamer: there was a clan meeting three days before the leaching -- lynching. there was a black bank robber
who shot and killed a police officer. they had a fair trial and he was on trial. they brought him to mobile. the clan on that night decided that if this guy got off or there was a hung jury, they would find a black man and hang him as retribution. there had not been a hanging in america since 1955. they did that. michael is a and teenager and is trained to be a bricklayer. he is the youngest of seven children. he is home with his mom in the house. his aunt once had to get a pack of cigarettes. he gives him a doctor -- dollar. he goes out and an old pupils of behind him. tiger noses in the buick and pulls out his is and orders him into the car. he knows when he gets in the car what is going to happen. a black man in alabama, you know. they drive him down the
countryside, he gets out. he's not a fighter. he is a timid man. locallys with -- against these people. -- heroically against these people. three times he is knocked down and he keeps fighting. finally they hold him down, pull rope, singlehing him to death. they throw him back in the truck. they do not leave him back in the woods or throw him in the ocean because they want to make an example. they drive him back to mobile and hang him in the tree. why that? 1870-1955, there was an average of one racial lynching a week in the south. it was a brilliant psychological device to hold down a raise. race. were black -- if you were black, you were afraid this would happen. how do you raise your son if you are black mother?
back to the original clip inalking about tiger knowles the courtroom with michael donald's mother in the courtroom. what was the circumstance after all the trial? when was it held? mr. leamer: 1987. brian: who prosecuted it? mr. leamer: it was a civil trial. morris deese. it lasted for days. four days and it was in mobile. brian: how did you verify the story about tiger knowles? when theyas with him put the noose around his neck? mr. leamer: the other killer that was executed. henry hayes. they went to this whole trial, how did you find out
about the story and verify it? mr. leamer: i had all the court documents. they gave me an office there and documents- all the are needed. i also went out on my own. i knocked on a lot adores on the countryside to find his klansman which was interesting. doors on the countryside to find the klansman which was interesting. i interviewed tiger knowles. brian: what was he like? mr. leamer: he was only 17 years old when this happened. it was as if he was talking about somebody who is not him. it was not him anymore. out and years, he got would not be any more trouble to anybody. brian: what was the reason they wanted to kill him? where did the hate come from? mr. leamer: that was so interesting. hate was the ocean they lived in.
do, they had would missionary activity. the favorite missionary activity was to beat up a black man. when you left them there bleeding, you say, go to the police. we have klansman all over the police and we will kill you. those are the kinds of things that did not reach the newspapers. just like mrs. donna. -- donald. she wanted her son to be remembered because she was old enough to know that black people were just disappearing. nobody knew or the police did not care. that is the south. that is why we have to remember. just the way we remember the holocaust as part of our lives. we have to make it part of our remember it -- memory of our country. thanks to these stories looking at slavery now. we are beginning to do that.
we desperately into do that as a people and country. -- need to do that as a people and country. brian: is mrs. donald still alive? mr. leamer: she died shortly after the verdict. she did not care about the money. the photographs, how did you get your hands on those photographs and why do people want them published? mr. leamer: i debated that. why hide it? this is a horrendous thing. that was happening in the south in 1884, i believe, it was a wereing in texas and there 12,000 people there to see it. it was a family event. you would bring your family to see it. you go to the church and then you go down to the lynching. justost of racism is not
to african-americans, it is the white race also. what it is like to be in a culture where you do this. what is the cost of that year? -- to you? brian: this book took you how long to write? mr. leamer: two years. brian: what did you find in alabama about race today? mr. leamer: it is still a troubling scenario. i saw that the restaurants are integrated but you will not see too many african-americans in the schools. there are three target schools in montgomery. they are excellent schools. the extra of african-americans, whites -- mixture of african americans, whites and asians. excellent education. the black schools are terrible. they don't educate very well.
it is funny, i asked morris. i can speak candidly to him. where the not african american center parties -- why are they not at your parties? they don't want to be here. they have their own world. they don't want to be at my party. brian: how does the southern poverty law center make its money? mr. leamer: it raises money. that is one of the criticisms of it. they have an endowment of over $200 million. that is because morris is such a brilliant fundraiser. him --criticize them him. he was to make it so solid that no matter what happens to be economy, it will go on and on. brian: how big of an organization is it? mr. leamer: about 50 lawyers.
it is still in montgomery. one thing i admire is that he loves alabama. been easy to move it to washington or atlanta, but he loves that place. he loved it when he was ostracized and people would turn their back on him. now it is a pain to going dinner -- to dinner with this guy. you walk into a restaurant and everybody stands up and says hello to him. down there, people do admire what he did and does. brian: how many african-americans did you talk to that might have been around back in 81? mr. leamer: when morris was growing up, he had mainly black friends. with segregation, it would not come into the house for dinner but his father was known as somebody who is fair to black people. that meant he had a cotton gin
and that meant the black people who brought the cotton would get the same prices. morris still has these friends. i talked to a lot of african-americans in montgomery about those times. civil rights leaders and others. brian: what were his friends mostly african-american --why were his friends mostly african-american? mr. leamer: those were his buddies. brian: have you given much thought to another book? mr. leamer: i'm desperately looking for a subject. wrote ahis novel -- novel. i am always looking for a subject. brian: where did you grow up? mr. leamer: i was born in chicago. my father's a professor at the university of chicago. -- father is a professor at the
university of chicago. then i moved to new york. brian: you have lived all over the world? where have you lived? mr. leamer: i went to antioch college. it had a your broad and i studied. i worked at a factory in france. they made the engines for french trains. that? why were you doing mr. leamer: antioch had a work-study program. it was great for a lawyer. the peace corps to nepal. a two day's walk from the mountains. i was there for two years. brian: what did you get from all that? mr. leamer: the best group of people i've ever been with. i'm still close to many of them.
everything from people that went to communicate colleges, people that went to harvard. just a mix of people. one of these guys i still play tennis with occasionally. a marine officer says it was more difficult in the pre-score -- peace corps been in the -- than the military. some of these people still have health problems. it was a great expense. -- experience. brian: what do you think the peace corps gets us today? mr. leamer: i took three months off when obama was elected to push him to keep his promise that he made many times during the campaign to double the size of the peace corps. he has not done that. i also worked to bring a new leader to revitalize it. my best candidate was tim
shriver who is the head of the special olympics international. not because the name and his father was the founder of the peace corps, but because he would have done a great job. we have not doubled the size of the peace corps. brian: what did you do during the three months when you are try to get him to double the were trying to get him to double the size? mr. leamer: we lobbied. we could lobby all the senators and congresspeople. tim shriver had nothing to do with it. just as knocking on doors, we petitioned. we did an event new the white house. we did all these things. we worked hard. it was inspiring. luck raising the amount. democracy. of
the citizens do not do as much as they should. friend worked with a group of dollars -- bengalis to change american foreign-policy. we tilted towards pakistan things to henry kitchener. they had nothing. they had knocked on doors. without poweroup or money changed american foreign-policy. david, a couple years ago, he retired as one of the top bankers at the chase manhattan. he won an award for what he did. it shows what you can do in a democracy if you take it vantage. -- advantage. brian: you are in a classroom with writers and asked this question, can you make a living off of writing books? mr. leamer: i hit the wave. a mission to tell you how big my advances were. it were enormous.
-- they were enormous. i get a million-dollar advance for kennedy women. then a million dollars again, three times i got a million dollars. now i get 10% of that sometimes. that is what is happening to publishing. it is hard to make it living. people are discovering new ways. self-publishing. lastly week i was reading about it and thinking that is exciting. maybe we can do this. new ways to do this. that is the greatness of the entrepreneur greatness of america. we're constantly reinventing ourselves. brian: did the publisher get their money dollars back? mr. leamer: they sure as hell did. brian: besides the advance, he got more money -- you got more money? mr. leamer: when i started writing, nobody would ever talk
about money. now, people talk about it all the time. even if they are writing books that will not make it. mid-list writers would never have a bestseller, you are respected and honored and made a decent been. that is not true anymore. -- decent living. that is not true anymore. the current circumstances, what is the chance he would live this life --life again? mr. leamer: i am persistent. i think if you really want to do something, you can find some way to do. i think i would find some way to do. i feel so passionately about it. brian: what is the biggest mistake people make writing books? mr. leamer: not being persistent or rewriting. brian: how often do you rewrite?
mr. leamer: with the computer now, he don't even know how many times. brian: you spent more time in washington dc or palm beach florida? mr. leamer: are you with the irs? [laughter] about half and half. brian: there is no state tax in florida. that is why so many people retire down there. the name of the book is "the lynching." you have 14 other books. our guest has been lawrence leamer. a new york times best-selling offer. think you very much. mr. leamer: -- thank you very much. mr. leamer: take care. ♪ or to free transcripts
give us comments, visit us at q and a.org. these programs are also available as c-span podcasts. >> if you like this interview, here are some others you might enjoy. 1950 film with a portrayal of african-americans during the civil war era. and the state of race relations davis.litics with artur you can find these interviews and more online at c-span.org. monday night on tuesday, entrepreneurs and helping permission technology on teacher innervation -- innovation and
what that means for privacy. >> i think we can learn a lot about disease if we study healthy people. not just sick people. thatnk we all talk about physicians and clinicians talking about sick people. that is great. we need to help them. i think how you really help sick people is by concentrating on the healthy population and motivating the healthy population from a social impact and social dynamic. just one example, instagram. peoples me that so many share so many things on instagram. and they don't think twice about the. whether they are on the beach in a bikini or in the bathroom taking a selfie. they don't think twice about how much private data they are sharing. what if you can anonymously
share or donate or monetize your health data in a way where it is protected? that would be key in getting the government, for example, involved with that. as we can see from the nih and all the support from the joe biden and friends with the cancer moonshot. that is a great example of where our government and other governments around the world are very interested in population genetics. we have to get over the fact that is this really private. we are sharing so many other things that are way more private. >> watch the rest of that discussion tomorrow night at 8:00 eastern here on c-span. >> throughout this month, we are showing book to be programs during the week in primetime.