Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 27, 2010 3:00pm-4:15pm EST

3:00 pm
talk about a condensation, that is of the 21st century. [inaudible] >> tom wolfe, contribution to american arts and letters award from the national book foundation care of the national book awards. thank you for coming to this session today. we have michele norris and isabel wilkerson, and i'm going to do a brief introduction for both of them and then i'm going to ask questions, and i will leave time at the end so that people can ask questions, so
3:01 pm
probably about 3:50 we will stop and you can ask questions. in the introduction to the grace of silence, michele norris writes should begin the process in 2009 because she became convinced an unprecedented hidden and robust conversation about race is taking place across the country in the wake of barack obama's historic residential campaign and his >> from this project he show apl net painful family secrets from her father shooting by thefshooe birmingham police left been twos weeks after discharge from service in world war two to a grandmother peddling pancake grdmothe makes as an itinerant and jemima. traveled from her childhood home to her father's childhood home in the deep south to explore the things left unsaid by her famile when she was growing up. the chosen as a journalist ofsea the year in 2009 by the nationat association of black joheurnalis and is a co-winner of a dupont columbia award for the york p project race in the 2008 vote.
3:02 pm
blichost of national publicpu radio all things considered and has appeared on meet the press,a charlie rose, rand the chris matthews choke. as written for, among other populate -- publications, thegtn "washington post," chicagochicad tribune, and los angeles times. "the warmth of other suns: the epic story of america's great migration" is a pulitzer prize-winning i author.abel it chronicles a watershed event in american history.y, the migration of astrakhan americans to the south and norto through the stories of three people and their families. the trying on archival materials and conducting more than 1,200 r interviews it traces the lives i from their difficult beginningsr in the south to their decision to leaveer for hopes of a bette life int chicago, harlem, and ls angeles. their stories parallel the experience is of immigrants whos came to america and chronicles majort shift in american life.
3:03 pm
she wilkerson won the pulitzer prizh for her work in chicago bureau t chief of the new york times inek 1994 making her the first blackn woman in the history of american journalism to win a pulitzeritz prize and the firstr african-american to win for individual recording.she's cuen she is currently a professor ofe journalism at boston universityr and going to start by askingrt g some questions. the first question i wanted to how ask was out each of you came tok work on your project. >> i have been working on thisyw book for as long as i've beenen alive because i grew up as the daughter of people who migrated. the majority of of african-americans that you might never meet in the north andeverm midwest and the west.midwest and i grew up around people who had migrated from georgia, the carolinas, virginia, washington, d.c.d.c. g her up with there music, the language, though folkways, the
3:04 pm
feud. oo d one ever talked about it aske being a great migration. no one ever said i am someone no who ca ome up in the great migration. ag it was everywhere. i later as a journalist in interviewing people all over tho country became more aware of hoe huge it was. yo wherever youu went whether you were in los angeles or chicagoco or detroit there were always detr references to the south everywhere you went. and it all became -- came together. i wondered why there was no hug migration which had gone on fori most of the 20th century. ce that's what i set out to do. d. not being a novelist eroded as non-fiction predicted 15 years of interviewing. 1200 people. it took 15 years.15 ea if this book or a human being ik would be in high school in dating. [laughter] >> that's how long it took. i have the chance to meet out of
3:05 pm
that 1203 amazing protagonists whose stories tell the three major changes.ration i'm part of the east coast., asn michele is part of the centrale stream from alabama, mississippi , tennessee back inup to the midwest. that is the reason why i decided to do it. do >> if you look at the cover of my book it says to words, a memoir, and that is as surprising to me as anything ins pro this process. it is an accidental memoir. it is not the book that i setmot out to right. 'sthe book i set o. i intended to write a book that looked at how americans talk and think about race in the wake of the election of barack obama. i wanted to write a book of essays by would principally be of other people about how other
3:06 pm
people talk and other people think, and i try to listen to the hidden conversation in the country based on some work i had done that we did in your pennsylvania with a group of diverse voters. what happened is when i turned the frequency to try to pick up the hid in conversation and lots of different places across the country i started to pick up static on the dial in my own family and i started to hear things in my family that i've never heard before. but i think happened is older people in the wake of the election that brought the, sort of fix field. they saw something they never thought they would see in their lifetime. you talk about the warmth of other sons. for my parents and my grandparents in that generation to dream a man of color would have been to the white house would be like reaching out and trying to touch the sun. when that happened they tried to excel and the stories came out
3:07 pm
and i realized the people i thought i knew so well had locked away certain parts of their history purposefully to make sure that they could move forward to protect themselves but i realize it was mainly to protect me, to protect my sisters, to protect my cousins. they stopped talking about very painful things, in dignities, mistreat and my father's case violence, because they wanted our path forward to be clear. >> why did your own families leave the south for the north? >> garrey good question. that is one of the reasons i set out to do the book because my parents never talked about it come as with michele. this generation was and some ways a misunderstood segment of the greater generation. they grew up under incredible -- they were in many ways locked in
3:08 pm
a system, and i describe the great migration as the inspection from the system which was unattainable and could not last and also ended violently through the civil rights movement but ultimately, these people needed to be -- i felt their stories needed to be heard and told, and they were not talking. one reason the story hasn't been told his people were not talking. they were not talking for many reasons. one -- very selective to get one is it was just too painful. another, when they left they left for good and did not look back. some people changed their names. one character in the book how no longer wanted to be known by the name he grew up with. some people melted into the new world and didn't look back and they started anew. they turned the page and acted as if what ever happened before hadn't happened, and their children were raised in a new environment without knowledge of what had gone before them or how it even got there and one of the questions i wanted to know is how did i get here?
3:09 pm
how is it the majority of african-americans in the north, midwest and west can trace their roots in some very specific part of the south? i mean, it is no accident that michele's father was from alabama and in that in the midwest? i know that he went to boston but he ended up there, and i find it so inspiring this isn't a haphazard unfolding. these people making a decision, the decision of their lives, to leave the only place that they have ever known for places the have never seen, not knowing what the future held. and many african-americans, as is the case for any americans, wouldn't even exist because i wouldn't have existed, and michele like what not -- it would have been very different. my parents, to get to the answer your question -- story, you get us started -- [laughter] my mother from georgia to washington, d.c., my father might read it in a different decade from southern virginia to washington dc.
3:10 pm
they were from -- families were the people that have their parents that had some education. they themselves had education but they couldn't use it in the system in which they were growing up. and they decided to go to a place where they thought they could. the happened to meet there and they got married. had there been no migration i wouldn't be here. i don't know who i would be or who would be sitting here but it wouldn't be me. and the same goes to you as well. so they were seeking that. i think the idea of a kind of political asylum the people were seeking is the kind of thing that it's a different way of looking at what happened with a migration that occurred within the border of our own country. within the borders of our own country there was an immigrant experience that wasn't unlike that of people coming across the atlantic. and it is my goal to show how much we have in common, how we have so much more in common than we have been led to believe. these people were left under incredible odds just to make the
3:11 pm
decision to leave, and my goal was to try to understand what were they against, and how they make the decision to leave, and that the reader would be able to put himself or herself in the mind set of these individuals and be able to say to themselves what would i have done if i were living in a system and which it was against the wall for a black person and a white person to simply put checkers to get there. it is astounding that someone actually said that down to the law and in courthouses across the country there was actually a black bible and a white bible. that is astounding. and this is not that long ago. and how much was lost on both sides, have any -- how many black people, how many white people were deprived of the opportunity to just know people they might have actually had so much in common with? so many wonderful experiences were deprived of all races because of the system that we were under. so that was the reason they left. >> in my family's case, i learned through the reporting of
3:12 pm
this book exactly why my father and his brothers had left. i had a different experience in that they didn't look back in terms of telling some of their stories, but they remained tethered to birmingham. i went back to birmingham every summer, and so in that sense i may have been slow the writing this book and collecting stories for this book, and my father did me and the enormous favor by making sure that i knew his birmingham. i didn't know that it was a place that he was also shot by a white police officer, but i spent a lot of time in birmingham and that is what makes his journey so surprising to me in so many ways. i knew that day moved to chicago ultimately. they settled in chicago. he had five brothers. they were all incredibly handsome man. which you would see if you read the actual book. there's pictures inside. and i knew that the fed moved to chicago looking for better work. and you would see how handsome they were in the pictures because the use to take pictures of common experience that even though they worked in
3:13 pm
blue-collar jobs, my father and his brothers were postal workers and teachers, they would go to the portrait studio and to this up and look like the nicholson brothers or john barrymore and send the pictures back home and those pictures will be essentially say we are doing all right up here. and desert of imagined this because when people get the pictures they would say they are doing okay, i want to get of north. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> which was good work. you know, hard work but good work and honorable work, and my father was very proud to do that work. what i didn't know the ways they were not just running to something, they were very much running from something. in my father's case, running for his life. he had stood up to a police officer when he returned from the war of 1946. and he was part of a colewort of black veterans who returned to this country has changed.
3:14 pm
degette aboard a military uniform, they participated in the fight for democracy, and when they came back they wanted a piece of that, and this is before the power to the people marches in the city. it was a very simple set of demand they wanted. they wanted jobs, they wanted respect, and they wanted to vote. and they were unable to do so. they were met with a white wall of resistance, and my father, this mild-mannered postal worker -- remember this is 1946 birmingham, alabama, so for a black man to stand up to a white police officer was to invite a special kind of trouble. and he wound up being wounded when the police officer gun discharged and grazed the side of his leg. he had to get out of birmingham jury quickly after that. and the rest of the brothers had to get out of birmingham. they couldn't stay carrying the north main at that point became a bit of a risk. there were consequences though they didn't understand when they moved north of only understood in the riding of this book. the greater opportunity when
3:15 pm
they moved north. they had jobs, they could use the g.i. bill of more than ways they could not in the deep south. but also, when the six sons moved north, even though they came back and visited from time to time, they left behind parents who continued to age, whose homes continued to age, whose health continued to deteriorate. and what i realized, the letters that i discovered and the interviews i did, that my grandparents who gave birth to the six strong hand some strapping sons were left alone in the later part of their life because their sons had moved north and felt like they could no longer come back. so the more you understand this migration, you see the benefits but you see that there were also great costs. >> michele contador mother is a fourth generation minnesotan. her experience and you're father's experience -- how did they need and what did she teach you about life and the north? which her experience would have been different when she was born
3:16 pm
and raised in minnesota. >> my mother is -- her family was the only black family in a small town in the central part of, the north part of the state, alexandria. she and my father meant when her brother worked the post office, and my father and jimmy became good friends and he went home to minnesota with jimmy and at my mother and i was eight, you know, and loved minnesota and left the sort of tolerant community. and i grew up in an integrated community and i thought that that's just the way that life was and minnesota, that there was a sort of level of tolerance that i didn't see or experience in birmingham. what i realized when these stories started to spell out from my family was that the sort of easy integration i took for granted was not always present and even their community. my family's or blockbusters, so when my father left chicago and most north to minneapolis, that meant they were the first black family to purchase a home in the south side of minneapolis on that particular block.
3:17 pm
and the people that on the new, the parents of my friends were very jolly to my parents when they first moved in. most of the families got up and left when we moved into the neighborhood, and i only learned this from my mother later on because again, she was protecting me, but the stories i share with people and talking about this, i realized how strong they were also help coming and how they sometimes used humor to help them get by in a situation that could have crushed them. when everybody moved out and they were trying to sell the houses next to the black family, my mother or i could have a little fun with this. [laughter] and what she would do is when the prospective buyers would come to look at the house directly next door to hours, she would send my sisters out in the yard to play. they were very clear they were going to be moving next to a black family. and if that didn't work she would walk outside herself and
3:18 pm
she was very pregnant with me, and so when she tells the story she talks about how they go inside the house and we got the right moment and she would say to herself showtime. [laughter] .. for african americans of that generation. >> i think that working on thehl book helpsp me to dress better. [laughter] because i was -- because i >> i have known her a really
3:19 pm
long time.e is she will put you to sand.helle e >> because of the expectation which is one of the things. so so much to say about theout t assumptions made about thisut t generation of people. the assumption was that they had not gone to school, did notschon value education, did not work'to hard. to get to your point aboutn thet working hard, good, strong, sturdy, reliable, honorable work.parent my sparents during the same doin thing.a my mother had been ame teacher.r my father was a civil engineer.g he had been at tuskegee airmen.i this group, this migration generation and generations of people have been miscast and been misunderstood for so long, which is one of the things i want to r get across. appearances were crucial. one of them -- the story of a man named dr. robert foster in iny my book, the story of a surgeon who had been in the army duringr the korean war, he get out of the army. fun determined were found at that h
3:20 pm
kidnapped practice surgery in home town. terribly far from here. he decided that he was going to set out on a course that ended up being more perilous than he anticipated on the course funthr monroe.untry on through the western states to get toth california which is his vision of the american dream. more perilous than he thought. n it turned out that he could notd after getting past texas and astern section ofeaste new mexico, he could not find aa place that would renton a motel room.ot that meant that he had to drivey for a three have a huge western states to the mountains, throug, the desert, at night by himself and he was in a good driver. his friends say it was a miracly that he made it through the i desert, but that he made it anl all. that's another story. he had to go alone.d a
3:21 pm
he had to wonder whether he had ce made the righrtt decisions.he i to get to the idea of how we present ourselves before heto would tell in tot try to get the wrong he was very aware of how he was -- what he was up lnd against. so he made a big effort to comes is there.oatand run out this sport coat. made sure that he was not wrinkles from the ride.t he went to a great deal oft to effort before going into ask fon a round.a room and this was well past the bordersst of what was considered to be jit crow. not get a round.get a he recounted the story.the he said they have over 3,000 whi times. there was really nothing heon could have done.there wa i attempted to recreate that journey with my own parents.that i could make it as far as he t had. at a scertain point we wereat ae driving through the desert.ht ae
3:22 pm
was night. you going to happen turns in the mountains and arizona.and en i was trying to follow it to th, letter.stretches even now the stretches of landy very spread out.any you can go for many dozens of mi miles without a single settlement.yo you have no light except your helights headlight. as a nonfiction i wanted to bein able to be able to create for the leader what it felt like too have your winner swell from gripping the wheel forf so longs what does it feel like to have your eyes feel so heavy from lack of sleep that they begin th eight? what was it like for him to have through in spite of all he of that through the darknessofth knowing that he had been hijected in this new land that he had chosen for himself. all the people.in monroe and so i wanted to recreatereat that.we mad we made it ase far as human arizona. was there that my parents saidas as that was beginning to veerr from the road -- i had rented a buick.he sai he said that if you have seenuik
3:23 pm
his buick roadmaster you wantedp to. i rented- a buick. we got to this part where i wasi very off the road.he oa my parents said we must stop the car. they had been through jim-crow. they had to go through theugh th experience of not knowing woulde whether to stop or having toto g gather up all of the food youheo might possibly need kamal of loy water you might need if your madiator went out. make sure it you had a spare tire working. all of this effort to getr a si through for a simple drive. so my parents said been through that. they saida to me, stop the car. we've been through this before ourt self. if you will stop led us out. aughte so we stopped in yuma, arizona.r i felt very disheartened.hearted he had not had that choice. this no longer in 1953. so inspiring because it shows us how very far we have come as aot
3:24 pm
country. i could not even fully recreated to the letter. we are passing places that we -cre can state. my parents said, we've been through it. we been there and done that.t'st let's stop. was reading it i wrote in the margins that he did this without this cell phone.on. >> without this cell phone. yes.ut a cel >> i will leave my house to go[e down the street without my wn t phone. >> and he was driving through the desert.hone >> probably could get service. >> probably. [laughter] >> chino, when you talk aboutk the appearances, the reason tha, i spent so much time on it in the book is because as i looked back with the wisdom i started p understand my parents and little bit more. i just always thought that there were taipei. they kept the garden th beautifully. we had to shovel snow before shov anybody else in the neighborhood in shoveled snow. i just thought that was sort ofa a work ethic. i realize that everything they
3:25 pm
did in the way they ordered was the a statement. they were sending a statement.. our yard is taking care of.is thank you very much. they would dress in a certain way because they were asking for respect.i in no way that they dressed and in the way that they demand todn be addressed. i did not include this in thewe book, but what of the things ib discovered commander want to i mention this, you know, whenut women of color would dress to go into town in birmingham forirmim instance he didn't go into town without gloves.thout you know, you always had goeslos on. on. you always were addressed.ess the war chief of the men wore hats. an and i don't know if i'll tellolr you how old i am, but well intoe time when people were doing that people of color still didcl that and went to the business district. what ii found in trying to find the police officers who shot myy father, i was able to talk toto people of that generation who an
3:26 pm
that point would have lived onto the other side of the colore line. one of thein o things i talked t was having to dress a certainaia way.yll te all the black folks would always dress so fine. if all like the whole point was to rise above the black folks. bl even if they wanted to go into town and just where a simple frock they couldn't because they had to prove.soh there were burdens on bothides. sides. living on the other side ande ad trying to decide if you could say hello to someone.ou there would be a sanction fornct that. could you call that person mr. misses? if you did you were often on the other side of the color line. p that is why i view it as a castt system. thcause the cast is something. that means that no one can moven even outside of the line that is set for them. the mold that is set for them.n and its artificial by definitio
3:27 pm
and could not last foreverrever because if you have a cast youan can't wait to get it off. i o is not a natural way for humann veings to live. li when you talk about that. >> now >> in genoa, to be honest it iso what you see sometimes in kids today in a different way. difft w all of the blame is sometimes an effortg to say i have worth.se,a i am expressing my worth in eight gigantic chain that has come a you know, a big gold encrusted cross. it is in some way saying i am of value.ou i want you to see me.th this is to ibm. >> one of the most interesting chapters was your chapter on and nderia. i wngonder if i you could talk a little bit about that and what jemi surprised you about your grandmotherma. > first of all, if you use ou ndncake mix and if you use and a jemima pancake makes too muchmia
3:28 pm
today it looks like girlfriend.. she looks like she shops at macy's. she has a wet set, pearls, she is on the church council. what i discovered in this time from one of my ankles bye by accident in a casualt and conversation is that my thamy grandmother had worked for aork time as an itinerant and jemimai she had traveled throughout the midwest. she had a six state region. he dressed up in that headscarf and hoopskirt selling pancakeonn mix and a time when convenience cooking was not the norm.ort add water and store was new.my my mother was so angry that myua uncle had talked about this, shs said like this away. i couldn't let it go. what i discovered is that my grandmother had earned a good go deal of money doing this.nt jema there were in jemima's all across the country, one right
3:29 pm
here in texas. in a big state. she only had one state.ly had e sometimes she worked in obama. what i discovered in my grandmother's case, i get luckyn i fodmund newspaper clippings or for work under the headline and jemima is coming to town.dline a picture of my grandmother. and what she said was that she would focus on children in thes towns because she knew that this was the first time that theyfirl would ever see a person ofsee color. of she wanted them to be left with a good impression. res she would talk in a certain way to let them know she was educated.is this rang very true to me. i remember this very polished lt churchwomen. that was true because of a kid. she was always telling us, diddy you leave the g at the door?or? could you please finish the word. it's not i'm gone somewhere, it's i'm going somewhere. that brings very true. she worked in her own way. by presenting this image of a
3:30 pm
hard-working woman who spoke the king's english and sing church songs was very different than the and jemima you would have e encountered if you picked up a you wo newspaper or magazine oful the a and jemima this did not look like an seminole. an jemima then spoke with aithai certain slave patois which was supposed to let you know that she was an educated and fairlyud happy with their lives.th and what i wound up doing ing id digging for the story was givina my family and a gift in filling out the picture.e pict my mom and her siblings and thei older folks in the family hatede that story.story what i was able to show to them was that, did this in her ownn r way. o she took a job that could have b been demeaning and lifted herself up with her earnings, but lifted her people up by serving as a kind of rep. i do i dn'on't know what kind of harw bargain she made for herself. she had to tie headscarf, had to write on her head. r i don't know what that i don't kn conversation was like.on wasike
3:31 pm
i know when she talked toen newspaper reporters about a there was not shame in the way she described her work. you know, after hearingomeing something that was very uncomforta uncomfortable that great mecomft great comfort and a good deal of pride. >> you in that chapter with wend judge and jemima and ourselvesen by what we see reflected in thei mirror of our history. histo what did you mean? >> what i realize is there is a whole lot of psychology wrappedd up. why she looks differently right rit n now, just walk up to a black woman and call her aunt jemima. she might look benign. i dare you to do it. and yet when i talk to peopleo e about it, i did this wholeorki o exercise. no matter what i was researchins a would ask people at the end o a conversation among what do you think about and jemima?y i'm kig ontil i'm asking thequsti question.
3:32 pm
justin me a favor and tell me what you think.me what i realized is that many people -- black people haveple nymplicated views on this.s anda many white americans have complicated use, but in aamerano completely different way.rent i found a woman who runs a restaurant in mississippi.na have yout ever been there? it's a gigantic and jemima. it's so large that the restaura restaurant is in her hoopskirt. she has had a makeover. letters can't. she's had a breast reduction.uc. she's less was a knee. the woman who runs the restaurant said i don't understand why people of color denigrate or why they don't embrace her.e that was like, i'm going to hea, you out. she said, well, in my communitys so many of us or raised by women of color who worked in our family.an many of us had betterhad relationships with our mammiese than we did our mamas. and so she said i don't understand why people don'tundew
3:33 pm
honor that in some way. isn't she yours?onhe oth you know, on the other hand i to talked to an african americancar man in birmingham. she looks like my grandmother. e is she is the smartest person ime know. what bothers me is that the companies through their advertisement is trying to takea that image and turn it into something ugly. it's something that i love. when someone controls your image you don't control who you are. i realize that she is so much more than justin icon. it so much deeper than that. >> i love the story you tell atl the end of the chapter about tht white didn't target.e the you want to tell them? >> i have young children.i my son's favorite food ispan pancakesc. he particularly likes and jemimr pancakes.jema's he likes the sea has her hand oy her head. i wrats always arguing, can weby just buy a pancakes? right now we are making pancakes
3:34 pm
from scratch. it's only about five ingredients.in i was at target.i wa a little boy at targets,itle caucasian boy asked his mom, who is and jemima? mima? she lifted me. this sort of expectant look. i'm. i'm not going there., after working on this book i, id would have a conversation with uld her.ty i would actually sit thereget entire it and talk to her.talk t you know, and jemima is myraher grandmother.let's talk abo let's talk about this. thank you. you interviewed 1200 people,wedt more than 1200 people for youro. book. and curious how you settled onae item may, roger foster, and george darling.the book f> i started the book with adeao great deal of urgency. egan this migration began in 1915 ana didn't end until 1970. the conditions that led to thehg migration ended in the south.o
3:35 pm
itu was no longer -- there was s longer a need for this the needf outpouring of people. t that meant that threeh me whoerations of people whoeople participated in this directly. o i need to get 6 million of them, and i needed to get to them as soon a s i could. i i felt this urgency because they were getting up in years ands ai to tell they before is to story before it was too late.so that meant i had to get alles. these places. senior centers, the arpand meetings, a catholic mass in los angeles. wh many of the people are from louisiana. i went to new york where everybody is from south carolina. i went to the zero clubs thate t exist in all the cities that represent the originating statet where people came from. there is lake charles louisiana. there is a monroe louisiana.lub there are hundreds, as you can im dmagine of texas clubs.an there are similar clubs inilar chicago and also in detroit and
3:36 pm
new york. i went to all those places. i was doing an audition, kind of a casting call. i had one case where i went into a senior center in los angeles. i would go in and i would sayd o i'm working on a book about the great migration. generally i have a story to my general approaches that i would take trying to let them know what i was doing.ld take one place i went in los angeles, i was on the schedule to begin angeles, y had to getou on the schedule.er there were certain days that were better together than others.o day if there was estate loans that was a good day. onc i had gone on a good day, but io was on the schedule. before me on the schedule was a representative from los angeles county department of asian. he passed out brochures to the seniors to have been gathered there. he said we are getting reports of our senior is being takennios advantage of.nge there are people who are running
3:37 pm
scams are seniors. they will ask you all kinds ofqn questions about yourself.elf. they will ask you where you're from, wh from, where you were born, whenn did you come to los angeles, hoe many children you have.do you what do you do for a living? that's about everything i needed to know when more. he passed this out and then said next up isabel wilkerson will be here to talk with you. fortunately i they had not beeny listening because they weren focused on the state dinner or they found me to be especially e trustworthy or whenever. i don't know what the reasonwwha was. i went with it and was able to talk with them.at is what i did that is what i did for many ca months. i narrowed it down to these i nw three. the three were people that ii needed to have. three protagonists, people youvd eave never heard of so that youe can see yourself in these people the and why at they've gone through. three people, each of whom would represent one of the threerepren extremes of the great migration one would represent the eastre
3:38 pm
coast. one would represent the one in reprent th the middle., and then the one that is near becausar to people in texas.s many people in texas know peopl in los angeles or other parts oh california because there is a constant back-and-forth. i wanted to tell that. that has been less written had n about. about i needed to find three people, i and i wanted each of them to t i have left in different decades.u i also needed to have people of different glasses. there are great differences evei among people who had been in thl caste system.st there were cass' within cass'. t i wanted to reflect that. also i just needed great ede characters, people who were open honest about themselves. the kids read a page and know that you were reading about item may. you can't read about dr. foster. it's obvious when he became aga.
3:39 pm
gambler. he was the character untohe was himself. so your would know who you wereh reading about this by turningt the page.ou could s people the you can see yourselfe to become engaged. one of the big questions, whyth are there no pictures? and my editor and i decidedecid simultaneously that there shoule be nine because we wanted the te reader to be able to see him or herself in these people. peo now, the people have photographs available on the web site. more interviews a been done.rv it's been wonderful. d you can see them now. they are in the book. we didn't want people to bee di distracted. ito b needed three people who wd together to tell the story ofthe the anonymous beautiful and be amazing and courageous people do made the decision of their lives
3:40 pm
fect and affected as in so many ways that we're still trying toigur figure it out. so many famous people are a products of the great migration. tony is a product of this great migration. herat parents migrated fromher e alabama to ohio where she got the chance to do something that any budding writer withuddng absolutely have to be able to dn but that she would not have been able to do in alabama, go in a public library and pick out a book. her parents saw that and migrated to ohio where she hadve the opportunity to get exposed to that. some of the huge names and so literature are all products oflu the great migration. in music motown wouldn't even ei exist. his pas because berry gordy, his parents migrated from georgia.er once he became a grown man heown decided he wanted to go into the music industry. didn't have the money to go out for talent. he looked around him.
3:41 pm
there was diana ross. chi her parents that migrated from alabama.fr alabama was a great source of >> ala talentba. so marion florence, all of them ballard, were children of the great migration. fan ariza franklin.her pa so many people created an entire new art form.cr it's hard to imagine what culture would be like. like when it comes to jazz. jazz wouldn't exist as we know it.n migrated miles davis, his parents migrated from arkansas to illinois. he would never have had thehe opportunity to spend hours upont hours that would have beenen necessary to hone his genius and become the musician that he was at his parents' not migrated out ofa cotton country. felonious mott, parents migrated when he was five years old fromr north carolina tos harlem where he had the luxury to spend hourr
3:42 pm
cpon hours upon hours and dideti susic lessons. there would have been no time ta do that in the con the country out in the farmland or small-town north carolina. kol john coltrane migrated at 17 from north carolina to t philadelphia where believe there not he get his first. be where would jazz be if he had not migrated? get the opportunity to go listen to music. and so he actually, people in pl aparapartment building in philadelphia, complaining. the man in 12 see his playing as all hours of the o night. i bet you anything that all those people would deny up and down to this day that theymplait complained about john j coltrane
3:43 pm
playing. he played so much that he had to turn to the minister who gaveavm him the keys to the church. ngs one of the unknown thingshi about this migration orr unre unrecognized things is that eace stream is of beautiful translation of the southern state and culture from which it derives. in other words the migration from texas to louisiana, thoseat people are very different.. the culture is different. i had to learn to eat all kindso of food because the food and thc music andc the language werege d totally different. the question you would get is where your people from.e from in los angeles my people wereple not from this strain that had created the migrationed experienced. my people were from georgia. it was not always so easy to go out and interview people. and so it turns out that miles davis and felonious monkeys tols fight over john coltrane.
3:44 pm
it turned out that john coltrane always had a special feeling fos felonious mont. they came from the same stream. peoplee people were the same people. this is a permutation that showo you how different the african-american experience isax even within our own country. everything comes from the southr one thing i had to discover,a bg food became a big issue. in chicago i was on the bus wite some seniors heading to a riverboat casino. it's a big thing and the world was entering. someone broke out a delicacy and that there is up for.as upr i'm wondering what this says. they haven't brought up from mississippi straight and director of the source. .as the good stuff. stuff it was hard headcheese. a few hands. pickled eggs.
3:45 pm
i had never heard of it before. never heard of it.the gratio we could talk about grits.n't what i'm saying is that the isth culture,e the people carry therd culture with them. they transplanted the south with them when they went. in some ways they were we embassadors. it's a beautiful thing that thel th did.s the culture, american culture and urban northern and western ulture embarrass the north and the south as it was altered byas the arrival of these people.hese we are still living with the or effects. what we are the primary wear beneficiaries. we had the opportunity to growwp up in a freer place. now that everything is different there is a reverse migration. at that momente that was theomet thing they needed to do.do and >> wedi have about 15 minutes lt to become going to ask one more. question. people want to have lined up, please do that now. questio the question i wanted to ask, he
3:46 pm
talked about how your booky emerged from the conversations about. how yo i'm curious are you think yourtd book has contributed to the conversations to back why people have these conversations. how do you feel like your bookh will contribute to back. convers >> i feel like it has come for server.out i wound up writing a book abouto the composition of my family.f as i travel the country on a th book tour i found myself in that conversation. people often come to hear about my story and wind up telling meb there's. on my website i actually have ak link call your story wheren people can leave their stories. i wound up writing a book aboutt race. in many ways it's not. rac i mean, i captured by racial legacy because of these hiddenbf
3:47 pm
conversations festival starteduy spilling out in this time ofperi historical indigested in myd y family. stays just started coming up. but that is the thread. the broader tapestry is about a central question the. how well do you really know theo people who raise you?ly how much to you really know of history?his there was this complicated about legacy a didn't fully knowether about.s the whether it's the depression or t the holocaust or polio epidemic, ryten ve parents are often very careful about what they tell their children. hil if they wanted children to sort whey don't put rockets in their tocket on the way out the door, they keep their harder stories to themselves. i call this the grace of silence but i hope that it would spark .nk it ision i think it's starting to happen. in some ways i have decided that
3:48 pm
there is benefit in having those conversations and try to capturo your history.your it's your history.r it's your birthright. eve even if it's a difficult history it's yours.is a an incredible gift to be able t take that and pass it on to you- children. you might not want to put rocks. in their pocket, but it's okayrc to put pebbles in there.i they need sto be grounded. becae they need to know where theygro. came from. in the end i hope that it has th contributed ina some small waysy that people might be interestedd in their own history. people might pick up the bookk and learn something not just about my family. there was a big revelation. a my father was shot. there were smaller revelationsth that i have learned erabout theu country, little things that litn painted a bigger picture.hope i hope w that when people read t book that they will put it down and want to talk to someone .
3:49 pm
about it, a family member, amem co-worker.i i hope -- that is my race.be i share with you that mywitho grandmother just turned 95.5n i'm having a hard time nowime n trying to go back and tell these stories.o she doesn't remember a lot. see you have advice for how tots get the stories out?especi especially older people who mayt remember. >> i have a a bit of advice.e we e couple things that are rarelyr simple. if you want to talk to all theto people and they don't want to tell you certain stories askn ss them about the era. abo you might not beut able to go i the front door, but you candon knock all around the side doors. if you know they love -- wasuld see the yankees, but so iin the wrong state for that. i'll stop now. i if you know they lovfe baseballl or you know they or love footbu think about the tough educateedy yourself about the 1950's of ths b9 sixties. ask them what you were when you went out on a saturdaywh night.c
3:50 pm
bringmusic reel listing to?? bring them into the era and get ehem comfortable. mb maybe the stories will start toe come forth. take it if you can. a hard time talking about ab this. is b myec father died in 1988. the swim in audio allr the longh my children will never hear myar father's voice because i never recorded. if you can record the people you love, take the opportunity. you don't have to invest a lotet of money. your phones of recordingon devices. you can record them in quality. take the time to do that.gges the last thing i would suggest o you is do it over food. [laughter] every time i learned something i profound about my family it wasm always atil the table. every every time i needed to have aede difficult conversation with someone that was not related to me i would usually introduce
3:51 pm
food to try to lubricate thethe conversation. if you have a loved one who who loves lemon meringue pie giveile them a big mile high peace.me ifue they like the pineapple upside-down cake, the part thatn burnt and crispy on the edge tot make sure they get that piece of it.y get that will bring back memories.ad they don't call it a comfortt food for nothing. >> i would say that i actually shared a lot of the experiences my parents, my mother andy other particular never talked about her experience inpa the south. in the process of doing thein t research on this book we are oug interviewing over 12 and the fot people.ht turns out my own mother was not talking. talkin she was by far the type of interview.ad. she did not want to talk. one to talk about that. she was not going to talk. there are a few references in my book.ience
3:52 pm
every single thing that youg yot might see in this book i learneh in the course of research, not growing up. becausemot my mother didn't talk about it. i discover things about, out of left. he left because he discovered the man he was working for.he he found the man he was lookingg for and decided he was leavingwa for detroit as it is possible. so i had no idea.the te way that i found out some of this was i read every word ofofh this book to my mother.and m my father had passed away. he did not live to see theo seeh publication of this book.k a that is such a heart wrenching thing fors me. he believed in it. every word of this book to her. at a certain point i could notcl read it to her because she kept interrupting saying all of the things that she started to talk arted about. when ia was in rome, georgia. what my mother used to do.so i felt that in some ways my hope is that by making it okay bykay invalidating these experienceshe
3:53 pm
and giving them dignity because they are dignified and incredible things that peoplethe wave done. what makes people more willing to talk about that is one of tht places i went, los angeles doing a reading. of mother, -- a father and hisdp daughter showed up.wet i signed the book. they told me that we are getting ready to gowe right now. he has not talked before, butoig talke going to sit down and talk now.maybe maybe this would be annspirat inspiration. doi michael would be that the people i've been about are not just afrjuican americans to left one place for another. in some ways they left for the same reason many of our would forebears would have ever leftrf d the part of this world, to bn on the land that we are now on.. my goal would be for us to see e that we have so much more inmmoe common than we have been led toe believe.pe eleven of popeople, to be unsafr by great grandparents came fromm romania. i love it.mani that is exactly the goal of all ahis. my hope would be that it wouldeh
3:54 pm
make everyone want to go back, find the oldest person in theiro family, take some lemon meringue pie, whenever it may take to be and i found that it was quite helpful to get them to describe recipes. have them cook.th then it starts to come out.ut. in my is actually a crisis in my ook where i may from mississippi discover that they are using self rising meal for the corn bread in mississippi.cs she has a connection.nnection we never made it like thatthat before.n and ta friend who was from ita, an italian-american. he said we get to the exact samh thing with the possible. we make it from scratch. they are doing that. so i love the way of gettinghe people to talk, often by going where you're not getting resi resistance and hoping that they will leaveel from there. t and now we have to go thestionsq questions. if you are trying to talk to to people the other thing you can usle, do is use your children.
3:55 pm
mine were a big help to me. i have and children.ren my mother did not want to talktw about any of this.s ut i can move forward. it took a lot for her to dofor that.to do she isth incredible.nc i'm so glad that she did. we have learned quite a bit le because of that. ouse one of the ways she asked her why was that the kids could aska a question. children are innocent and in demanding at the same time. they can get away with askingonv questions that you never can. mom would talk to me to my kids. go to questions. the have a wonderful opportunity ly do that the day after facerei giving.tory if you're familiar, hechpions championed the national holidays. a relatively new holiday.h it is the day after tasting, the day when a lot of people go toe the maltl. a lot of us are already withy mb
3:56 pm
family members eating leftoverse watching football. when your altogether take the the opportunity of the national day of listening to listen to the people that you love chronicle their stories and put them awake. them are there questions people want test? i have others. [applauding] [applauding] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> there is another migration that is worth documenting,re ani although it is largelyy invisie. invisible. the century ago, estimated that 5-10000 black people.
3:57 pm
like me. comes from reading account by the first white person to turn himself black and travel to the south which is not john howard griffin but in 1948.in 1 he uses the expression you can't figure behind the man for the economic its petition ofs and sharecroppers.our can you explain for the audience what you can't figure behind the man refers to?but >> a question that was asked about the concept. african americans. i have discovered about a dozens stories just in the last two eeks malic coming over throughs this link on my website where wr peoplee are you willing stories thatt family members that they discovered had passed for people who themselves had passed andssn
3:58 pm
want to know. they reach back and find history.on in it is a phenomenon in this country that probably is greater than even the numbers. it probably happens quite often. and so it's something that i would love to know more about. in each of these cases the tortured position to try to figure out how to reclaim family members, you know, that reached over to the other side. i would pull out your question a littlen bit farther. around the no, look around the room. look at african americans, what they look like irin this countr, the fact is that many of us are related to many of you. no one really wants to talk as a lot about that. that is the american -- anothern part of a hidden conversation in america. >> so my question is basically obviously your stories, i hope you can find it there.
3:59 pm
the older population.a have you had any experiencestois with gender people? be not just necessarily younger african-americans, but thethe digital kids can stop texting were looking online because it'p definitely something that has ay lot of resonance with people inf the community.he idea migration and looking for better pastures. have you had any experience with talking to kids in that agethate gr group? >> well, two ways. it ta it takes awhile to get the book and read them and pass it on.t m when it comes to migration there are many people in the hip-hop generationop that are representatives of the great migration. stimp doggy dogg, calvin broadest, he migrated. sean combs, his family migrated from north carolina to new york and to park was one of the besto known people of the iconic
4:00 pm
people of this generation. a descendant of that migration t also from north carolina to newo york.hin but it takes time for people to of recognize the connection.e cd is the reason why we want to wat ecord history.tory maybe people are not ready forpa itre now, but one day they willd be. i have a friend to actuallyht if bought it for her five year-old who wanted me to sign it. it nob he can read it now, but when to they shall be able to. i think that's beautiful. .. >> we have time for one more question. >> i won't tell my story even though i would like to very much, but do you guys have any sense of what that migration has done for the south itself, for people who are still there, how may be the culture reverberated a little bit and change things or made things better there? >> it is my contention that the great migration helped to accelerate the drive for civil rights and for the end of the caste system for which the
4:01 pm
people-- in other words, it showed the first of all the lower castes-- this caste system, the people who were being underpaid or not paid at all because they were working for the right to live on the land, they were farming had offers and they were willing to take them. that cost a lot of handwringing among the powers to be. editorials all over the place about what did we want to do? do we work them harder or do we aesop on them? there would be wholesale arrests of african-americans on the railroad platforms when there were large amounts trying to leave. authorities would board the trains and arrest them in their seats if there were large numbers of people leaving so there is a great deal of handwringing that attended those early attempts of people to leave. ultimately though it also led to an opening up of the sense of opportunity for those who stayed. may be that people didn't want to go but they had an opportunity to see what it was
4:02 pm
like and that helped to set in motion what would not have been possible at the beginning of the great migration when there was believe it or not one out of, there was a lynching somewhere in the south every three days in the decades before the migration and the early decades of the migration so this is a very real threat people were living under so it would not have been possible for people to be marching in the streets and protesting as the later would in the 60s. by the 1960s african-americans who were here and the white people who supported the effort for freedom had more support for being able to move forward without. that had an immense effect on the south. that meant people knew there was a place they could go and there were people coming back showing them how they were freer in the north, even if some of that was untrue. they would save all year for that matching tan coat and people didn't know that.
4:03 pm
then the final thing they did was they provided leverage for people who were there and might have needed a place to go once they put themselves on the line. that is black-and-white, and the people in the north as immigrants often do worse than-- sending money back south to move this process forward because they love the land they had less. one of the beautiful quotes from someone who was in the early stages said if i had a choice i would not have left. if i could do anything i wanted i would not have let the south but those who left ultimately said, i heard it over and over again in one form or another, based on how things were i have made many statements but leaving the south was not one of them. the south is still living with us. the south can take great pride in what these people did because these people did what they did not just because they left because they left with southern
4:04 pm
culture. that southern culture was the music, the spiritual, the gospel, the rhythm that john kohl train took with him to philadelphia when he got that out helps out so sex and he has a lot of ménage is to the south and his work. i think is a interchange between the two. >> i see that when i go back to birmingham. what you had was a certain kind of bright light. people who could lead last, people who were the most ambitious left and when i go back to the birmingham that i used to know as a kid which was a vibrant black business district, it is decimated now. you know it is difficult to talk about. you talk about progress, moving forward and good things happening but under segregation doctors and ditch diggers live down the street from each other.
4:05 pm
they sent their kids to the same schools. they lived in the community that might not have been rich but was rich in social capital and what happened is when people could move, you have this diaspora and it's sort of took something from that community. black businesses suffered comets additions like harper high school-- if you are black and lived in birmingham until the 1950s he went to harper high. it was the only high school. i could list a number of people who have gone to harper which is quite illustrious. when my father went to harper all of the teachers, all of them, every single one of them had masters degrees because they couldn't work anywhere else, so they went into teaching. that is a bad thing that they couldn't work anywhere else but imagine the kind of education you would get in that kind of environment.
4:06 pm
there was this sort of underside to integration that we don't always talk about that i had to face in very painful ways in writing this book and something that really makes me quite sad. >> thank you. we have run out of time. [applause] >> i want to thank you for coming and sharing this hour with isabel and michelle and me. thank you. they will be signing books in about 15 minutes in the authors tent which is on the other side of this. thank you.
4:07 pm
captain sullenberger is the author at the highest duty. what is the highest duty? >> it is to do the best we can to take care of each other and as a captain of course the passengers are my first responsibility but my book is more than just about that even the of january 15th, 2009 and the hudson river landing. it's more than my life, it is a preparation for it. i had to have an insightful survey of my life and the important events and the people with me that day that helped me synthesize a lifetime of experience is like never seen before. a lot of my crew. so i think finding one passion early in life, being diligent and working hard to become expert leads to a purposeful life full of passion and i think that's what helped me more than anything else that day on the river. >> so what led you to write the book? was at the landing in the hudson
4:08 pm
river? >> absolutely that was a certain part of it. i think much of the book was already in me. my life story. but that was the impetus, it was a story that needed to be told i needed to make sure i could tell it through my eyes. >> half of the world has seen the video of that landing and everybody xing the plan at this point. what was your thoughts on impact? >> i will tell you a quick story about what happened immediately after the landing. jeffrey scott was my first officer that day and i had never landed an airliner in the river before so we didn't know quite what to expect and i didn't know how successful life be making the the touchdown gentle enough to keep the aircraft intact i didn't know how hard it would be if we had no thrust for the gradual pushed to the water. so after we landed soft on the water, right before i opened the door and commanded much evacuate some we turn to each other and
4:09 pm
the most amazing coincidence of the same time in almost the same order said well that wasn't as bad as i fought. so that was our first reaction. >> what do airlines look for in the airline pilots that today seem to have this calmness? >> weld we exited that today and forced on our self is a practice policy. it's not really having this discipline to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand the most reaction is to respond pressure and pulse and the narrowing of your perception of how this content seventh life so we did our job despite that. >> in your view now is a retired u.s. air captain, is the airline industry secure in the united states?
4:10 pm
>> in any way or do you mean financially? >> more threats and more of an air traffic etc.. >> i think we are working very hard to manage all these risks both in terms of the safety of the system and irshad control and also in terms of our security. but there's always more to be done and we are always trying to find more ways to learn from our experiences and to do it better in the future as part of william trying to do now is being an advocate for the highest professional standards in my profession and highest level of safety. >> and how are you doing that? >> why speaking out and this even this last year has given me the chance to have a greater voice in things i've cared about and first officer jeffrey is also doing that. and in terms of trying to do our best to fix the system we are not done yet. >> captain sullenberger, the
4:11 pm
highest duty is the name of hiso book.rlton thank you.r author. >> thank you. be with you. r the winner of the pulitzer prize in his new book, the twilight of the bombs, recent challenges and the prospect fora a world without weapons. rhodesy speaking is there a prospect for no nuclear weapons on the planet? >> i think so. they really lost the utility since the cold war. they cost us $50 billion a year. it is official u.s. policy that we move towards zero. it's just a matter of working out some of the security relationships that are standing in the way. >> with regard to working out those relationships, will we be able to come to agreements with countries like north korea and iran who seem to be on the path to making their own nuclear weapons? >> they do. partly because that's the only way they can -- they feel they can defend themselves against the major nuclear powers like the united states. but each of them has -- has
4:12 pm
security needs. if we can kind a way to satisfy those, north korea would like to be an ally. they have been saying that now for more than 40 years. in fact, they'd like us to build them some nuclear power plants to replace the electricity that we destroyed. >> in the book you talk about iraq's secret program. how did the story of this bomb program grow? and even if they didn't have any bombs, or they haven't found any bombs so far. >> you know, we went into that first gulf war argues that they did have a bomb program. which we did not know at the time. but afterwards when inspectors from the united nations and the international atomic energy agency went in, they found a huge effort to enrich uranium to make material for a bomb. they cleaned all of that out. so did the iraqis. they were tired of having our people. they blew up all of their stuff. but they didn't keep records.
4:13 pm
so when the second bush came along with an interest in resolving and settling the country down and getting rid of saddam, there wasn't any proof. but the fact is it was fully cleaned up by 1998. >> speaking of cleaning up, you talk also in the book about the scramble for what was left over about the soviet nuclear arsenal. talk to us about that. >> it wasn't so much the arsenal . los alamos director said to me, they know the -- it was the material they used to make the bombs, the whole country had a prison camp. there was no way to get it out. when the walls came down, they were like us. we went in and sent a lot of money. with the real effort on our part helped them begin to put all of their materials under lock and key. we're still sam nunn the former
4:14 pm
senator estimated that about 60% of our nuclear materials are now carefully guarded and accounted for. so the job still remains to be finished. but we've made a good start. >> earlier today, you had a presentation at the national book festival. tell us about that and during the question and answer period, what was foremost on the minds of the people that were asking you question there is? >> i really went through my new book, the "twilight of the bombs" and talked about some of the serious issues and sometimes the cops and robbers stories that came out after inspecting iraq after the first gulf war. ultimately what i talked about was the serious question of can we get rid of nuclear question. the usual question today, what about iran. as if a country that has not figured out how to build a bomb is as much of a threat to the world like a major power. like the united states which has l

166 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on