while later, when republicans gained the majority in congress in 1994. two years after that original state of the union message, that same president declared quote, the error of big government is over and his state of the union message. >> to watch this program in its entirety, go to booktv.org. simply type the title or the author's name at the top left of the screen and click search. >> angela davis presents a critical edition of frederick douglass' memoir, "narrative of the life of frederick douglass" an american slave, written by himself. missed davis explores the abolitionist intellectual life and recalls the several other editions of douglass' memoir. angela davis is joined in conversation by nobel and pulitzer prize winner toni morrison in new york city.
the program is just under two hours. >> good evening. >> good evening. >> hi toni. >> hi angela. [laughter] i am sorry about that entrance. i wasn't doing it for theatrics but i do have a brand-new spanking new -- i love it, i love it, love it but the rest of the body has not caught up yet. so, we go slow. nobody is moderating us. >> we are just talking. we are talking about douglass, libraries, literacy and liberation. yes. absolutely. let me start with literacy, because i have this document here that i want other people to know about. we will read it.
i am interested obviously in literacy. i am impressed with what i've only recently discovered, which is that this country is unique in the world in terms of the distribution of libraries throughout the country. you cannot go in broommack areas in europe or in africa or in asia, in broommack areas and find libraries the way you can hear. every little town. not to speak of the huge university libraries that just jump up out of nowhere in indiana or someplace. in pennsylvania yoo for 100 miles and there it is, this enormous university with more books actually than cambridge or the and wrong. so it is really an extraordinary thing. the other thing is about the -- which i'm sort of interested in,
is on one hand the power of reading and of course understanding the meaning of what one reads, and what i like to think of as visual literacy, visual literacy. in addition to print or maybe without trans, what do people who are literally illiterate to do to negotiate around the world minus people who they depend on. and i don't mean just uneducated people. i mean people like myself, say in beijing and i don't read the electorate. i don't understand it. how do you negotiate, and what are the visual signs that you need to travel, the colors, the shapes, the sounds, the smells,
all the other senses. and it makes for if you have that, plus the ability to read, you have this third dimension, and artists true dimension of how to read your world. as well as how to read text. and i wanted to begin because i wanted to describe me, i don't know, explosives, the perception of reading particularly certain kinds of novels as not just explosive in a dangerous sense, but explosive in a way that could be lethal. in my documentation for this, angela, is this thing that paul made me bring from my house in my guest bathroom. [laughter] you know, downstairs by the front door.
that one. over the sink is a letter to, asking me what i'd be willing to do, come and receive the nobel prize for literature and write a speech. on the opposite end, over the, is this. [laughter] >> i know, i said i have seen this many times in your bathroom, toni. >> what it is, it was sent to me by an editor from knopf. the title is the publication denial notification. [laughter] the title of the publication is paradise by me. the above publication has been reviewed and denied in accordance with section 3.9 of the tdc rules and regulations
for the reasons checked below. now, there are five reasons why a book would be banned from the texas department of criminal justice. [laughter] the first reason is the publication contains contraband. the second one is, publication contains information regarding the manufacture of explosives, weapons or drugs. the fourth one is a specific factual determination has been made that the publication is detrimental to prisoners rehabilitation, because it would encourage devious criminal sexual behavior. and the last one, publication contains material on the setting up and operation of criminal schemes on how to avoid
detection of criminal schemes by lawful authorities charged with the responsibility for detecting such illegal activity. now i skipped the third one because that is the one that paradise is accused of. i publication contains material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve a breakdown. [laughter] not just your average break down, but a breakdown of prisons through it inmates disruption, such as strikes or riots. [laughter] this is february 20, right after my birthday, 1998. i was amused to get this but i was also thrilled or collecting
like an extraordinary complement. [laughter] that paradise could actually blow up into a riot in a prison. so, i thought in addition to my inquiry about expanding literacy to visual literacy as well as print, i wanted to make some connection between prisons, their organization in the prohibition and what they understand to be lethal and dangerous, like reading, like literacy, like understanding. >> i actually wanted to begin by talking a bit about the
inaccessibility of libraries, and i am thinking about my own childhood, when i saw this incredible building in birmingham, alabama, made out of indiana limestone. it was a birmingham public library, but of course it was only for white people. the one black library that existed was rundown, very few books and i tell the story because i first entered the doors of this library in 1959, and i can remember how it felt to actually walk into a a real library, because although i had used the library in birmingham, it was very lacking in resources. it was broken down. finally they built the new one
one -- speak years later. >> yeah, many many years later. so i think as we talk about the democratic impulse of libraries and the accessibility of libraries, it is also important to talk about those places where books have a hard time penetrating and your example of the texas state correctional system is one. just before the event, i had an opportunity to look at some of the items from the archival collections here and i saw a wonderful collection of a periodical that was actually published by prisoners at riker's island from i think 1939
to 1940 something, and i was thinking about you know, what was required in order to be able to do this. this is, for those of you who don't remember, a period when we did not have xerox thing. i looked at it and i said, this was mimeographed, or i think that is the word. is that they work? mimeograph? and the prisoners who put this together and the books that they had to read in order to put this literary publication together was quite astounding so i would really like to think of the librarians for allowing me to see these documents, and i also have a reef conversation -- what is his name? the head of the correctional -- what is his name?
what is his name? nicholas, nicholas, okay. that is right. you were there too. with nicholas, who coordinates relations between the new york public library and riker's island, and the women and the men's detention facilities there so i was actually telling him about my experience in the women's house of detention here in new york. i am having all of these new york memories, you know. [laughter] and, i was in jail in new york. did you mention that i was in jail? okay. some people don't know. and, one of the first places i went, i was able to go in the jail, was the library.
and i didn't see very many interesting books they are. i had just finished my studies in philosophy and i went to the library expecting something. so what i did was, i had people send books to me while i was there and i wanted to share those folks with all of the other women. there were something like a thousand women there. and i was not allowed to do that. as a matter of fact, in the library there was a big cardboard box. >> you could receive the book's. >> i could read the books myself and it was okay for me to read them. >> but don't share than. >> but don't share them and one of them was george jackson's book. that was not allowed at all, although a one of the things i learned when i was in jail there was how to secrete certain kinds
of things. so we had these clandestine rating groups with books that were smuggled out of that box in the library. and it kind of reminded me of frederick douglass. frederick douglass' effort to get an education, to learn how to read and his ideas that education really was liberation. >> absolutely. i am sure people who read, the master and the mistress wanting to bet but being afraid to. he uses an interesting phrase in describing her. which was irresponsible -- and i thought that is not just having that power. it is the responsibility of how
you manage it and his hunger was overwhelming because we all know the people who did not want blacks to read knew that. i mean that is why. you know, if it would have been simple stories it would have been quite different but not even that. there is power. if you can't read in a place like that they can teach you and beat you and the other route is extraordinary. the things people suffered in order to read. i remember him trying to figure this out, the novel i wrote on mercy, how would that child learn to read? she was in maryland which was a haven for catholics who were being beaten out the end killed and persecuted airing the
restoration england. the catholics have a different idea about the soul of black people then some protestants did. not that the consequences were very thrilling but they suddenly shaped the definition of what is a human being? so the priest would frequently decide, the virginians for example, and teach people to read, slaves to read, children to read. not that they wanted them to read for survival but just so that they could do the catechism and perhaps some religious tracts. so, there was that kind of priest in addition to other kinds, which would not choose to read that there were some exceptions in the way they would
interpret enslave people. and i also wanted to emphasize to nap though, i wanted to separate race from slavery. it wasn't really the same thing. we assume all slaves are black and that is not true. white slaves and indentured servants in order to give them legitimate -- they weren't chattel slavery although they functioned that way. if you had an indentured servant, you could extend their contract forever, any little infraction you could add another seven years. and if they dropped dead and happen to have children, you could use the child to pay off the debt. there were many instances in which white indentured europeans read alongside black slaves on
plantations, and i always remarked on this one incident in that book and what i learned was this thing called bacon's rebellion, where a group that was called the people's army, some indentured servants and black slaves and some native americans, indigenous people who all got together and oppose the governor of virginia. and they ran things for a month. they weren't so nice themselves, but still. i don't want you to think they were this noble group going forth. they were just another group. anyway, when the governor returned from england, they killed them all. the interesting thing is that they establish these laws and the laws were very very interesting. they said things like, no blacks shall be allowed to carry a
weapon, ever, for any circumstance. second, any white can maim or kill any black for any reason without being charge. now you see what that did to the indentured servants who are white? now they are better, freer, more powerful. they are in the same situation. they are still enslaved, but they are not -- they can carry weapons and they can beat up black slaves without punishment, so they have this little margin of status, nothing else, nothing else, but that little margin and that little margin has worked its way through this country since then. that was in the 17th century, and you know this other strategy, you know all these things in which you flag race
and racism as a cause or even eight goal. racism is not a goal. it is the past. it is the root, the power and money. that is what this is, that is what it is for, for the war or segregation or what have you. the thing itself is just a manipulation and a tool and its purpose is what i just described that went on after the famous rebellion. >> you no, i was thinking as you were describing, it as you were describing the conditions them, when you were talking about mercy. >> that is how i got there. >> i was thinking about a year now, frederick douglass',
another passage in the narrative, where he kept hearing this word abolition and he did not know what it meant. and he heard about the abolitionists, but he had no idea what it meant and he said that at some point he realized that it was connected to something, that he really ought to be interested in. [laughter] and then eventually, i mean he describes this painstaking process of learning, you know, learning how to write and learning how to read and learning how to write by looking at the markings that were placed on the board to be used to build ships. so, one would say something forward, starboard, ss and then he learned those letters, fs as a result. >> is amazing. >> and then of course he talks about driving the white boys to
teach him how to read and write. he says at one point he dares a white boy who was around to prove that he could write better than frederick douglass himself could. frederick douglass didn't really know how to write that much so the white toy could write a lot more and in the process, he learned with a white boy was writing. so, but the point that i was making about hearing this word and knowing, there was something about this word that was so important that he had no idea what it meant. he was like abolition, abolition. >> that sounds right. >> yeah and of course he becomes the most powerful abolitionist of the aero. at that kind of curiosity that really is only possible through
a process of education. you know, which isn't to say that people who don't know how to read and write don't have that curiosity but learning how to read and write opens up a whole new universe, opens up a whole new dimension and this is why these texas people -- exactly, exactly. >> what paradise. i mean, really. [laughter] >> and then you know when you consider there are now 2.5 p. will -- million people behind bars, what can they really do? what can they do that is significant? you know, reading and writing really allows for the possibility of inhabiting a very different world. >> but the control of the news 2.5 million people, i don't know about all that it is such a profit-making thing now.
i mean, you have whole city is -- i know in upstate new york -- better living off of the benefits of prison, employment of the guards, cooks, all the paraphernalia that goes with imprisonment, and i don't know know -- i read about somebody in one of those prisons in texas and, when the prisons of get out, they all money. >> they all money? because they have to pay, they have to pay for their own room and board. >> right, in college. [laughter] >> just like the students, right? >> you get out and you have this bill that your family can't pay. it will be paid in time or whatever, then of course the kinds of laws that are you know, heavily weighted in the system
for minor offenses and so on, not to speak up. but i was interested in your book, because i am not sure i understand fully that separation wealth implication is that there is a difference, well there is a difference between vengeance and justice. but justice itself has some unpleasant consequences. we have to assume that if we want justice for some bad activity by a bad person, we want punishment, we want restraint. we don't want want rehabilitation and that assumes that there is something called
the stranger, that your neighbor or the so-called criminal is some other thing, is and other. now, i was thinking along those lines when i was trying to figure out another area that is of great interest to me, has always been but haven't had the intelligence or maybe the research to follow it through, which is what the impact of torture, enslavement and violence has on the perpetrator. therapist don't seem to be terribly interested in that, but when i mentioned the other
possibility, it seems to me that when you destroy somebody threw vengeance and/or severe forms of injustices, that the real object of of the pain really is the self. you don't have to go there with me, but that is why it is so -- the menace is so mundane in a way, so i am thinking about the slaveowners. i am thinking about enslave women who were pregnant, lying on the ground. they would make a hole for her stomach and then they would beat her.
or any other sort of savage response that even the one that frederick douglass speaks of, it is very clear in his case when he finally confronts that covey. who is covey? i mean, he is destroying something that is in himself. it is not that person is animal or soulless or inferior. it is strong enough you know. it is the fragile personality, the fragile personality, not the strong one but the fragile, almost erasable personality that can do that, because there is already the self-contempt and the self-loathing and it is in that area that well, i couldn't say working, bush's list looking
at these various forms of. it is so icky sea. racism is obviously the easiest thing you could do. it is very easy to block off the so-called criminals and they are away from us. we don't even have to be tolerant because they are over there, but if they are us, if we are doing that in order to corral a certain type of behavior, whether it is high or low, in order to redeem something in ourselves, that is a whole different operation, entirely different. so, i read a couple of diaries, candid diaries, not the sort of little let me tell my grandchildren what they think of me but some interesting diaries of slaveowners when they are not showing off.
they are just marking how many barrels and writing up and down and so on. it is really interesting, because they are not cruel. i mean they do cruel things, but they are not cruel people. but what they obviously are doing is working out some relationship that is so damaging to them, really damaging. it is really a form of self-destruction. it is a powerful form of self-destruction. i don't care how big the spectacle, you know, whether it is germany in the 30s and 40s. it is still a spectacle and it is about one self-loathing and fragility that you need that spectacle. well, that is my lecture for today. [laughter] >> that is okay. i have a number of thoughts.
one of them i want to put in parentheses because i want us to come back to it and that relates to something that you said earlier about the profitability of punishment, but i want us to think about the privatization of libraries. >> beg your pardon? [laughter] >> well, just as we have experienced over the last several decades the privatization of health care, we are witnessing the privatization of education, and you know i won't talk about looking for superman or "waiting for superman," whatever it is called the privatization of prisons, but there is now a company called library services -- libraries systems and services that is taking over libraries in some communities. california for example,.
>> who pays that? >> okay, they make money. they make money because they hire nonunion staff. they either don't allow the employees to continue to be members of the unionunion, or else they hire entirely a new staff and they probably also cut back on services. the only reason for her company existing is assets profitability. >> what about the person that wants to go buy a book? do i get drafted a fee for joining the library? >> maybe not yet, but who knows what will happen in the future, and it is very dangerous. the privatization of everything is what we are in a process of witnessing but that is what i said i wanted to put in parentheses.
the other, and i wanted to make a list of that that i have been looking at the work of this woman from new york. her name is stay on enough. she was a quaker and helped to publish a book in 1976 which was called instead of prisons abolitionist handbook so she was one of the key advocates in the 70s. she was a quaker who had also been involved in the antiwar movement and i just saw -- there is a film with yuri koshyama called mountains that take weightings. some of my students are here who saw it. [applause] and apparently, and koshy, of
course is an amazing activist, japanese american activist who was in an interment camp, and she lived in harlem for many years and met malcolm x and was responsible for introducing the survivors of hiroshima to malcolm and as a matter of fact she was in the audubon ballroom when malcolm was assassinated and there is this incredible photograph of her leaning over malcolm's bobby. that is yuri koshyama. the woman i'm talking about is faye honey knopf whose daughter told me the other day that her mother, faye honey knopf worked with the same survivors of hiroshima that yuri koshyama introduced a malcolm x, so it is really interesting, all of these
kay and -- knopp. not like alfred. well, the point that i want to make is that she came to the conclusion after doing all of this work on prison evolution is that the only way, and the whole movement would be able to move in a progressive direction would be to demonstrate that it was possible to address some of the horrendous problems that imprisonment person to address, soshi started to work with child sex abusers. >> child? >> sex abusers. and she spent the rest of her life, you know, working with these mostly men who had
sexually abused children. because she felt that she had to answer the hardest question, and she also felt that if we continue to be incapable of confronting those rare in and this acts of violence that human beings inflict on each other, that it would never be possible to get rid of the prisons because what we do now is we say that, when someone commits such a horrible act, put them in prison where we don't have to think about them anymore and we they don't have to think about the perpetrators and we also don't have to think about the problem, and it continues to replicate itself so in a sense, dressing it in that way has guaranteed that there would need this reproduction of the problem
from one generation to the next. and, you were talking about the diaries of slaveholders and people who committed her read this acts, who weren't necessarily -- somebody has a cell phone that is ringing. okay, we will wait hertko. >> thank you. [laughter] and so yeah, you were saying that they weren't necessarily evil people. they committed evil acts and i think this is something we have a hard time recognizing today. >> somebody calls it a case of mistaken identity whose innocent
suicide was a case of mistaken identity. [laughter] suicide is a case? okay, i saysee, i see. she really meant to kill somebody else. you don't recognize yourself. >> you don't know who you are. [laughter] >> it is the same thing, you know, not the theatrical way, when we think we have but that aside. we don't have to address the problem anymore and then the activity, whatever the behavior is, is somehow beyond the pale and it is not us, you know. because i am getting a little weary with that notion of the foreigner. i get the whole thing at the louvre called the foreigner's home. the foreigner is home.
>> at the louvre in paris? >> for the foreigner, this is his home. he owns his home. a lot of foreigners, i mean in africa they are treated like foreigners, right? i mean after colonization you become a foreigner in your own own. >> in your own home. >> certainly it is true with african-americans who have ceded many of the people before them and native american people. the foreigners own home or the foreigners and home but the notion of the foreigners, not just linguistic or geographical community. it really is a kind of severance for, maybe just because of another group that doesn't have
the advantages you do. one of the reasons, back to this last completed work of mine about mercy, was that i know, as everyone does, that no one in the world is born with those attitudes and prejudices. no one. you can learn them early as long as you were taught in your environment in which such ideas can flower, but it is not in your dna. it is not natural. it can become environmentally, you know, necessary or you know, you live in a certain world in which there is none or there is. okay, that innocence of a human being i wanted to compare with this romantic notion of the innocent american. americans are always innocent. do you ever notice that?
there are hundreds of books, innocent abroad, so i want to go back before the civilization to see whether, these were people coming from europe for money or resources or they were scared to death. i mean you have a lot of something horrible going on to risk two to three months and some raggedy ship. most of those things sank. coming aboard. you were down there with the animals. that is who they were really chipping. there were cows and pigs and things and a few human beings. and then you come to this country with probably nothing, and it was bountiful, certainly that but what were they running from? usually it was poverty. but the point was that they did not come over here. italians who came to this country were not italians after a while.
they were white. >> it took a a longtime. >> it took a long time, you are right. >> it is a process in becoming white. >> right, it is a process. [laughter] but i wanted to get back to that notion, this country, particularly with the political flavor and poison now, to look at what it was like then when every country wanted a piece of this place. i mean because they are speaking dutch now or spanish or swedish. did you know there was a swedish empire? i didn't. i mean they were all in here doing what they did. obviously in africa, taking little bits to claiming. towns names changed every five years. somebody else would say no, no, no it is not new york, it is
this. it is not this and things change constantly. but that was the big thing. the people who were settling here who weren't really refugees came here with some other ideas, so what made this outrageous, the necessity for the level of enslavement and racism in this country was what i said, money and profit. i mean, this country entered the industrial revolution by ken, i don't know, three decades. other countries took a century. this country in three decades. why? because they had slave labor. they didn't have have to do anything, just feed them and corral them. and the new look at some places where they were making sugar in cuba and the -- they kept bringing slaves over, bringing slaves over. it was a little island. why did they need so many? you get, i don't know, 1000
people to cut sugar or 2000. then i learned that they were dropping dead. >> it is a died they would get another. >> that's right, they would replenish them. they would try to get younger and younger ones so you are replenishing them, like putting coal into a furnace. so all of this is my trying to figure out not just the consequences of race, which i did in the first book i wrote, but other things around it, since it seems to you now have a whole. you have to be zero -- ferociously against it or apologetic about it or you are the victim of it or the perpetrator of it and i just wanted to get rid of that
discourse because it doesn't go anywhere, and find out what the origins are, what its purpose is not just a scapegoat purpose but it has a real function, which is power and control and money, which is pretty much the same thing. that is what it is for. it is not something that oh yeah, this group of people are like this and i mean you know we all know that and that is why one of my best friends is because we all felt one who is not white like that and that is part of a staple. i am not really, but there is something in the diet, the intellectual diet and the ignorance, you know, of well-meaning people in even their own work. i was serious when i said i don't understand why therapists
ignore it or ignore the way they do. that is a powerful thing, you know in the mind. angela's experience in the library. somebody else is talking about difficulty coming into the library. >> it was alice walker. >> she just could not does. >> she said that she finds it difficult to enter into your libraries today. i was so hungry for the experience of library that i never experienced that difficulty and i haunted libraries all over the world for a very long time. >> i thought they were my home. my first decent job at 12 was to be a page in the library, which i got as my sister was secretary to the head librarian. so she brought me in and they quickly, they didn't fire me because i was very slow.
and i would read the books. [laughter] so they just moved me to another department. [laughter] >> toni before we move on i have a response that i want to share. i always loved listening to you talk and i realize i am also here to participate in the conversation. [laughter] so i can't just sit back like i usually do. all of your brilliance. but you know, this summer i was in colombia, as a matter of fact in september, colombia, colombia. and visited a community of people outside of cali who lived in this mountainous area,
afro-descendent people, peoples whose ancestors were enslaved 400 years ago, who were brought to colombia to engage in gold mining, and they still lived in that place where their ancestors settled when they escape slavery, so it was initially a fugitive slave settlement like they marin settlement and the people who live there now if on the same land and do the same work that their ancestors did 400 years ago. they still mine gold in this very different way. the women are minors and the children are minors and the women talk about mining in this incredibly passionate way. the guys minds too.
they all mind. but it is interesting that the women say i have been a miner since i was in my mother's one. so, the point that i am making is that now, even though they actually owned the land, they were able to get the title to the land but not to what is in the land, the subsoil, the minerals and there are a number of big mining concerns that are trying to evict them, so that they can institute these new industrialized modes of mining, strip mining and one of the mining companies, this kind of complicates our notion of what counts is racism in this day and age and its relationship to power. one of the mining companies is called a anglo golda chante.
[laughter] and it is headquartered in south africa. the ceo of the mining company is a black south african, so there we go, there we go. it is also about the way in which racism has its own dynamic and its own momentum, regardless of who the people are or what the people think. i mean, here is a black south african, who just, how long ago, it is. it's freedom from apartheid in south africa and who is now about to kick these people off their lands, people who have lived on the same land for 400 years, so what kind of a story is that? everybody should write the new
president of colombia. >> we will. >> that is one thing we can all do this evening. what is his name? he just got elected. >> we will find it. we will google it. speak uribe was the last president and a new president was elected just a month or so ago. what is his name? santos? that's right, santos. but you can google it. write a letter, write a letter of protest. >> what time is it? [laughter] >> do you want to take any questions from the audience? >> a few. >> it is a little after 8:00 now. how long if we been talking? >> a little less than 55 minutes. we have 20 more. >> we will take a few more
questions. that will be good. >> i want to apologize for that phone. it was from death row in pennsylvania. >> oh while back. [applause] we are talking about raisins and how we are being deprived of so many billion minds that are in prison that should be helping to lead the country, can we talk about mumia and all the political prisoners that are in prison who should be amongst us, please? >> well, first i would say that speaking of literacy and libraries and liberation, mumia
abu-jamal has made such an amazing contribution to all three of those categories, and yeah, this is something that we have to save mumia's life. we have to save mumia's life. [applause] and it is also about the relationship between learning and freedom. it is about the uses to which we put our literacy, and because of the fact that there has been this mobilization against mumia by law enforcement all over the country, it has not been possible to build the kind of campaign that we see in other parts of the world. as a matter fact mumia is an honorary citizen of paris and there are streets named after
him and all over europe and germany, everyone knows his name. >> why? if you are like stupid and sort of. >> right, right. but what can we do here? that is the question. what can we do? [inaudible] >> where? >> in philadelphia. >> where in philadelphia? [laughter] [inaudible] >> what? 's bmi big demonstration on november 9. [laughter] >> and also i think we have to do the work that needs to be done to build movements. that is to use all of your contacts to encourage people to think about this case. tilt the field about mumia.
if you have kids who are in school, you know ask the teachers to talk to the children about the meaning of living in a so-called democratic society and using capital punishment capital punishment as a preteen mode of addressing a whole range of issues. this is the only industrialized democracy in the entire world that puts people to death in this way, and mumia more than anyone has been the face of the campaign to expand democracy in this country, to abolish capital punishment and the death penalty, so thank you very much. [applause] >> good evening. the first thing i want to say is
that the women's health attention is now a market library which i think is really kind of great. >> it is a market? >> on 16th avenue, so it is awesome. my question is, professor morris and you mentioned the self and i wonder if that can translate into the current anchor but specifically around the suicides and bowling as well and i'm rendering if there is any thoughts about the connection between gender expression and the evasive systems, the hatred of the south and professor davis you have done is tone of research on that also. if you could comment on that. >> the, it is so obviously, the violence connection with thatcomment is so obviously a destruction of self. i mean, it is blatant.
to me, these others, maybe people don't realize that so much but calling people names and beating them up, hanging people office senses. i mean, it is just so self-destructive, you know. the more vicious it is toward the so-called person, the more violence there is towards oneself, and i think that is, distributes itself and other kinds of scapegoats. i don't know, mexicans, please. or somebody said, i read somewhere that when the berlin wall came down, my prognostication was oh, the end of communism is also the end of raw capitalism.
i mean if one goes, the other goes also, and i have been proven right, but the other thing is. >> you said you have been proven? >> correct. i mean capitalism is not dead obviously but it is crumbling. [laughter] >> it is, it is, it is that most people don't know it. >> they are horrified by the notion of not having a. >> they think capitalism, capitalism denigrates into our very emotions in ways that it was never able to do a. >> that is true. >> we look at the privatization of libraries. >> i am telling you --. >> okay, tell me a. >> it is decaying. >> how do we speed up the demise of capitalism? that is what i want to know. [applause]
>> you have to keep those republicans out of office. [applause] they are hanging on tooth and nail. you know, capitalism and its rawest form, not even its civilized form but there are the better. so that is one way. but i may not live to see it. i will be 80 next year, but you will my dear. >> i'm not that far behind. [laughter] >> so, that is one thing. oh, the berlin wall. interesting, when the berlin wall fell, this is how we talk all the time. all sorts of other walls went up the one between israel and the west bank, and then the wall in south mexico that is a border.
>> the first black woman to run for the office of the president of the united states of america and was on the communist party. [laughter] >> my first job was also on the library at 96 street and also a writer so i feel good about my prospects. [laughter] but two questions. one is about your ideas around visual literacy. i thought of movies in the context of how they are being adapted from books and the type of literacy we get to, i would hope the director walks a fine line although with like eat
parade of that become smaller complicated about black women in black movies like the color purple and waiting to exhale and now the colored girls coming up at what is your thought on adaptation and if you could flesh out your ideas in the realm adapted from books and how did you to meet? how did you end up added seeing her autobiography. the other way around? [laughter] >> i don't know what she was doing. i had a job at random house. [laughter] she was an acquisition labor very proud of so we got to know each other.
>> you're already song of solomon. >> you would won't write three or four lines in me would be driving to your house from the city there would be traffic you a pullout a notepad or fixed breakfast for a slave and and you would write to a little bit then when the book finally came out i said i cannot believe it. it was so magic all. [applause] it was wonderful. but i should say it was magic:when i wrote my autobiography. my was used to writing
sloppy so i did not think about rates seeing in the same way. rather than writing it for me, tony would say what was that room like? what did it look like? what was in there and what mccullers? she made me understand right teeing in such a different way and i am forever grateful. we also have fun. remember we went to the virgin islands? [laughter] i made the walk from one end of the aisle to the other. [laughter] >> we went to the virgin islands for a long time, like a month. >> we were going to stay at the holiday inn and it was not finished when we got there.
>> it was in complete spec remember we went to finland and sweden and denmark. >> of the charter first came out was it in helsinki? these women formed a circle circle, a huge circle and held hands with and gillette in the middle and i was there. [laughter] to keep the of the charter furs and adjourn the store the cops who ever. it was amazing price should have had a camera. >> it is a reminder for a question. it was visual literacy. and movies and adaptations. >> i think most of them are
pretty awful. [laughter] [applause] i don't know if it is the year? you know, how creative african americans have been with music? says somebody told them how to do it? i was just reading about coming out after the atom bomb how it was so chaotic people building shelters oh my god? but then it was turned into these odd notes and a new language and it took off. any way back to movies. is as though they are fearful of powerful and different creativity broke or they follow a certain pattern.
and you can tell from the first scene everything. by a understand the business requires a certain kinds of formulas to get the money and get them out. i a understand. it is such an expensive project parker i am surprised anybody does anything. it has nothing to do with the african american films, but what is that? no country for old men? my god, there's a movie with no score. nine. [laughter] i just blew his head off. no sound. it was just a mexican on a guitar.
it was like they trusted me. it was frightening and different but i was not pushed buy the music. and i thought is and that's interesting? that is a little bit that i know but i wish it were possible to do more inventive, creative, and non formulaic hollywood things. it is possible in the movies, i have never seen anything on broadway that moderate and musically inventive and staged in that way. that was a leap for me and i thought it was fantastic.
i just want to say and did not satisfied although well intentioned. that ain't good enough. it is okay i hope you are all happy. we have more than that. >> first about it is an incredible honor just to be in front of my a literary healer at -- euros i'm a barack ready to have my own breakdown. [laughter] i have two questions. first, you talk about writing a letter to colombia and protests what is going
on with the miners. it seems like lethargy has risen so high it is almost choking us. what do you think their role of written protest? does is still have mahan the fact, the written letter protest? the other question, what do you think the role or importunes of the storyteller? >> answer both of those questions, angelo. [laughter] but i have to preface fast-food nation, america they desert it. politically, everything.
just like that mcdonald's and you just drive by and tell the machine and pay ransom money. and so that to sit down right to a letter come and be doing it and telling other people to do the same thing and organize and get on the phone. that takes too long. it may take a while. >> i totally agree because we have forgotten how to write letters for a guy was going to say to those of you who have problems sitting down doing a letter and
finding out how much it cost to mail a letter. [laughter] perhaps you could figure out how to email. [laughter] but in a slightly more complicated way, it has to do with the previous discussion of capitalism and the extent to which we assume that as individuals we're powerless which is of neo liberal individualistic ideology that we only think of ourselves as individuals and do not think about possible connections, the broader connections with the community senator -- center
but if other parts of the world as well. it seems this is the challenge of this point*. even for people who consider themselves progressive. because we also imagine ourselves as somewhat different, america can exceptional wisdom has its impact from those who do pretended to be most radical prepared executive. is exactly and what would it take to create a connection with that committee? >> there are several several -- 7,000 people, many of whom have african names because they have created a history of a
culture that goes back to resistance against slavery and they are still resisting pressure as a matter of fact they had the eviction order august 18 and refuse to leave for pro and to answer your question, rating, the written protest is a process that could perhaps help us feel as if we are making community. we're reaching out beyond our sow's and we have the emotional connections with people who live on this mountain and in this village >> i have a mantra in connection when i was young, they called us citizens.
one river fighting for citizenship. >> weaver second class and. >> budget implied is a relationship with your neighbors and the village after world war ii they stopped using that word and we were consumers. the american consumer of this and that. now we're taxpayers. [laughter] all of a sudden i do not want to give it, i don't want those people who should net have it. of talk about capitalism seeping into the blood they just change the language and
you are correct. my memory. >> let me say something. many people don't acknowledge how important toni morrison was two the emergence of what we call a black feminist literature at. >> that is true. >> caller:. >> i say this to my students , i remember branch she was publishing so what we know what it took shape in the '70s and '80s would not be possible had toni
morrison insisted on publishing these works. >> caller: and also apolo's first book. [laughter] >> she dinar realize. in case there was a hiatus i was right to gain in between they did not hire me to write the books but to edit them. >> i am sorry. i interrupted. >> you are exactly where i wanted you, speculative literature, fiction, a sci-fi, how does it relate
to the third-world women and the movement through literature as anthropology would is rooted into what if israel? i look for fiction for ideas show me the reversing where are read the third world great team back about what is going on and socially? >> you have somebody coming here. this is a good story. create dangerously or something like that was a book just published and gave a speech at princeton and describing something that
happened in haiti. i was overwhelmed and i hope this answers part of your question. she said during the are really tough times, they established a rule if somebody died, on the street if they were killed you could not pick them up you could not go get the body. even if it was yours come at a rummage africa some point*, a few days later a garbage truck would come along and pick it up and do whatever they did. said they went to pick up the body to bury it,
everybody was afraid. at some point* in the neighborhood summit organized a theater and the local people came to participate some two be in it and to watch and they did it every night and they would walk on by but the play was antigone. to me, that was the most extraordinary thing. it provides the sell less about the subject the conflict between the of government and so on. i was thinking not only about your inquiry but also of the visual literacy, the many, many ways, the ledger
is a beautiful thing and important it is there. the same thing with theater, with portraits. the same thing as o saying tried to think in the world if you can read, use everything, everything to become the best human being that you can be. >> caller: -- . >> and notice that the lights are on an end -- is in the house. right there. luck.
>>[applause] >> you are my eyeball i represent the resistance in new york city the mothers who believe in public education use the libraries and are so opposed to control and the privatization of our schools those that have just sat in an for one month to get a library for their children. they sat in because they wanted a library. you are my eye dose and in
the '70s and '80s, now two year or do speeches like the foundation turned new york women's foundation where mothers like me and women in the community don't have access. i am asking now if you can give the of plan been a of new york that i represent can you give us words of encouragement to take that back to the committee to continue our fight and our struggle for proper human rights based public education for our children. [applause] >> send me your e-mail.
give me your e-mail. >> let me say what you said inaction and it it took you to explain who you were, i am sure inspired so many people here and so work that you were doing. the message i would give to take back is to continue doing what you were doing. we need to follow your leadership and all the involved in this campaign from the privatization of taking over our lives especially from the public education system. thank you. thank you very much.
>> don't forget. [laughter] >> before we saw the image of obama's, in the context of these images of and to the davis, how do feel when you see people putting it all i'm posters 30 sure it's heard you feel it spreads what you are trying to say? [laughter] >> i will tell you a story. it did begin to bother me now it is so easy to create the possibility that anybody can do a t-shirt.
so i was a bit disturbed. i asked one young woman who was a high school student who had one of these t-shirts. why but the reason negative to help to create this campaign to free me. exactly premises the 21st century and she says i wear this teacher because it makes me feel powerful like i can do anything that i want to do. i don't know whether she knew anything about me, really. but that made may recognize that people bring their own interpretation. that image is an image not
so much of me as an individual but the era of which millions of people came together all over the world and demanded my freedom charade was the executive from the committee to free angela davis. [applause] i cannot stop it. so with what might be a productive. >> who knows? i do get upset with people who think i am the only black woman who ever wore an afro. [laughter] i can remember when i was a high-school student in new
york can end i saw those. then of course, later, why do they keep picking on me? i do not understand. [laughter] thank you for the question. [applause] >> i am here representing my professors from concordia college and the it by being imprisoned or buy society for the fried lobbying corrects but just what is
a real diverse community. hot but we were citizens in some cases and the polish lady next door would bring us those things with me to in them. [laughter] and if we had something we would bring her. ever but a had third since. it was not throwing but old enough to know we were miserable. [laughter] my experience of race but might also grew up in a mixed neighborhood. people did not call me names but calling each other names. i remember some little boy called me a wicked name and
said you ethiopian. [laughter] i said, what is an ethiopian the? [laughter] >> i think the original human beings were born there or something and i thought what is he talking about? [laughter] but there were the toll minor things like that. but i never felt it the way it was meant. i think the reason is i always thought those people were deficient in some way. even as a little one.
i had a big racial moment when i was working for a white family doing housework before i got my job as the page. a lot of my salary went to my mother and the other i could keep. but she had some complicated equipment like vacuum cleaners. [laughter] and the stove and i did not know how to work it so she would curse me out. [laughter] i wouldn't say i have to quit but it was $1 and daddy, she is so mean, go to her and get your money and
but when i thought about how awful she would look. [laughter] also how beautiful she was. but i did not know if she was beautiful or not until i thought about what she might think but then the third thing is why does she want that? what makes her think that is an improvement? and that type of self moving which is real, which made me think of fact as a real subject for a book but how it works and how.
but that in turn old thing, i had trouble when i traveled south but with my ability to perceive southern blacks whose whole lives were zero pressed not being able to go to the library. not knowing is this place a floor knowing where those places are and how to escape from that are how does one internalize that? if you do, how would you get rid of it? i always thought those
people whether adults or children, i thought that was so stupid. they could not feel the degradation and i always felt that inciting which i called eric against. [laughter] but i think it was the way in which my family responded they were both from the deep south of bill that -- alabama and georgia. >> maybe i can add a couple of things. >> is this the last question? actually it on a different kind of register about freedom.
internal, external, what do we mean about freedom? talking about frederick douglass and freedom have a certain historical meeting of the most abolishing slavery and as i thought about this new edition of the narrative of the life of frederick douglass i thought it would be important to point* out as beautiful and brilliant as frederick douglass was, you live s constricted in seto it was about manhood and that the fight prove his manhood and and the process provides a
path toward freedom so the question and what about women? how could they imagine freedom? so i want to say this with a question about homophobia and the suicide of young gay people today, how we think about freedom to do believe historical character of our own imaginings of what it means to be free and what does it mean to be free of frederick douglass time and during the civil rights era? what does it mean to expand our notion of freedom today
talking about immigrants immigrants, mexico, palestin ians, how do we bring palestinian freedom in to our frame? how do we bring immigrants into the way we have freedom to day? what about transgendered people or day are lesbian or bisexual within a frame of freedom? what does that tell us about the extent to which our own framework for freedom this quite restricted? i asked myself sometimes 100 years from now, how will
people be talking about the struggle for freedom? because i don't think we will ever get there over reach a point* to say we are free. we can rest. we can stop now. we have one. so it seems in the process of struggling for freedom or reflecting about freedom, we constantly count -- challenge the framework with which we develop. >> it is powerfully magic it is this an and i think of freedom, a major part is knowledge. maybe wisdom but certainly
knowledge than i am reminded that genesis, the acquisition of knowledge. that is how they are thrown out of that little kindergarten they are in a. [laughter] a little playpen. no, no, no. you know, something and the literal word from king james this day mahan to become widespread of a new and in many other religious forms forms, that is why faith and belief, not knowledge. i am not complaining but suggesting there is something so powerful and so was attractive and
liberating about to scions common knowledge, which is the same sort of thing that we talk about from the texas correction in vero and when talking about the literacy of all kinds under strange circumstances having an intellect this works into the same thing. it led us to believe. [applause] >> on that note of knowledge i'd like to thank angela davis and toni morrison. thank you very much "sea gull oo
brothers to the rescue." lily prellezo with jose. who is this book? >> it's a book that rescued the cuban rafters escaping communist cuba in the 1990s. >> why did it have to be formed? >> well, when government doesn't provide or suffice, then -- and you have a community oriented necessity, you have to take action on your own, and this is something that is called -- i organized a group of pilots to
work in the straits of florida and fly missions in tandem to locate the rafters coming out from cuba seeking freedom in the united states and fleeing the disaster of that island. >> what was the government policy that said brothers to the rescue in motion? >> well, the government -- there was no really government policy that set them in motion. what happened that called motion? >> well, it was all result of cuba's failed policies probably and people left by any means they could possibly come up with, and there was all of sudden a surge of rafters leaving cuba, and one day, one young rafter, 15 years old, the coast guard filmed the rescue and died in the arms of the agent, and it was seen on the news and said we have to do something about this and that's how brothers to the rescue got
started. >> when government doesn't suffice with what they provide, it's the coast guard that was extremely helpful to us and without them, we couldn't do our job. to find the rafters, that was our job and community's interest, and we implemented brothers to the rescue to provide for that need. >> how did you train the pilots, where did you find them, and what is sea gull one? >> okay. seagull one is my sign as a pilot. i was seagull one making the radio calls to the other pilots in the formations that we flew to locate the rafters. the other pilots were from 19 nationalities who joined us in their interest to help others and it was a matter of helping brothers, and some came to gain hours as pilots, but believe me after you flew one or two missions there, you were hooked
with the idea of saving lives or you simply left. we have three brothers from argentina, the original brothers to rescue, and alberto and -- they were the first pilots to all organize the group and locate the other pilots like themselves where young men were part of the community and were pilots already, so we recruited pilots and recruit observers in the rear seats of the plane and carried members of the press, and there was no mission we didn't carry a member of the press with us because we wanted to document what was happening there to, you know, make everything what was happening in cuba and the reasons they were leaving the island so no better
way to say that than the image of a rafter, of o person floating in the middle of nowhere in an intertube. that's what we were doing. >> lily prellezo, what about the clinton administration? did they not assist? >> brothers to the rescue never asked the u.s. government for help monetary or otherwise. of course the u.s. coast guard was instrumental because they lifted people out of the raft and saved their lives, but the clinton administration, what happened after the exodus of 1994 was that the policy changed, and the dry foot came about, and then it was no longer viable to be rescuing or flying mission to rescue people just returned to guantanamo or returned to cuba. >> wet foot, dry foot policy? >> if a cube ban were leaving
cuba and touched dry land, he could be processed for immigration. if they were intercepted at sea, they were returned to guantanamo. >> i want to say in the clinton administration was instrumental in terminating and three of our airplanes and i was flying one flew in a search and rescue mission and make cuba came after us and shot down two planes and i survived the third plane. the clinton administration was aware that the attack from cuba was going to take place. all they did was document the attack, and what they could have done which was giving us a word of or a notice that this was impending to us. all they did was document it, and no only that they interrupted regular procedure of the defenses of the aircraft
from homestead air base would take off to interpret cuba, and that was automatic standard operating procedure was interrupted and it had to have been from the white house. they were told to stand down battle stations at the precise moments that brothers of rescue needed to prevent the shootdown, so i am pointing me castle at castle for the shootdown, the natural enemy, and the clinton administration for aiding and abetting the shootdown of the brothers to the rescue plane. > were you in cuban air space? >> international air space, and no matter where we would have been, there's no reason for a mink airplane to go out there. civilian aircraft with civilian pilots when they have been
notified we had a search and rescue mission and contacted by radio. they know what we are doing there. we had been doing it for years, and they chose to kill a at that time, and the u.s. government having previous knowledge did nothing to prevent it. >> now, there was a flight over cuba; is that correct? >> there has been -- we took flights over cuba on three or four occasions in the past. one time the previous year, i flew over havana and there was a demonstration for the cuban people, but that day, nothing, and we were forced or would have dropped leaflets there from international air space to cuba. this may be hard to come prehepped to someone who is not a pilot, but when the air is in
favorable conditions, you can put leaflets on the other side of cuba from international air space. >> how did you find this story, lily prellezo? >> well, the story was always there. it's how the story found me is how it happened. a mu chiewl friend introduced me to jose, and he wanted someone to write the story, but never felt comfortable with anyone, so i feel honored i was chosen to write the story and i interviewed a hundred people to tell what it was like to be a brother or sister to the rescue. >> how many people were lost in this rescue operation? >> you mean? >> brothers to the rescue? >> four people were murdered when the planes were shot down. four men lost their lives. >> how many rafters do you estimate that you helped? >> by 1994, we had already
rescued 4200 rafters running our missions, and then after that, we rescued 30-some thousand more by assisting the coast guard when the 1994 exodus from cuba came about. in our own efforts, 4200 saved by the efforts of brothers to the rescue. >> were they returned to cuba? >> those 4200 no, and the 30,000 we assisted later, most of them weren't, and from then on the policy changed to the wet foot dry foot policy, and the government started sending them back to cuba and renamed them migrants. they were refugees actually because the conditions in cuba
made them refugees. it was handled with is a map ticks as -- sigh systematics as usually and they went back which was sad because the united states was involved in as many circumstances that made it necessary for those people to come back to come to the united states on 1962 i think it was or 63, the president then proclaimed the lull -- i'm forgetting, but it made it possible for the cubans to stay here and the law was not repealed or anything. it was just a mandate where the clinton administration to return them which has made so far the return of the cuban refugees possible back to the island, and -- >> now, tell us your history.
when were you born in cuba, how did you get to the states #, and what's been your involvement in fighting the cube ban government? >> i was born in cuba, and as a young man, i was recruited by the cia, if you may, because we were working at the time with the internal organization in cuba called the mr, and cia promised to us that they were going to give us all the help we needed to change the government of cuba to a demographic government. those were only words. that ended up and known later as bay of pigs. >> you were involved with that? >> yeah. i was sent back into cuba as a radio operator to send back information. in other words, intelligence to the u.s. on what was going on
before the invasion, and everything they promised and said was going to be done on our behalf was simply betrayed. that included the invasion. >> now, what did your family do in cuba prior to your coming over to the states? >> my father used to work for a company, sugar sales, they were a u.s. company in cuba that, you know, was in the sugar industry. the ironny was fidel castro coming to power was something that we didn't like, like at all. >> lily prellezo, tell us your background. >> i was born in cuba and came to the united states when i was 4 years old. my father was involved in the counterrevolution, so my older brothers and sisters had already come here, but my mother wanted me and my little sister out and put us on a plane by ourselves.
i was 4 and she was 2. >> is that peter pan? >> no before that. that was 1960 but it was urgent that she had to put us on a plane, of course, it's only a 90 minute flight, but you know. when's the next time you saw your mother? >> i think a few months after that. >> she managed to get over? >> yeah, they came back and forth my father and her. >> how strong is the cuban community now in southern florida? is it still loyal to the overthrow or have enough generations succeeded that it's less? >> it's less hard line in let's go to invade them. perhaps that sentiment is that strong, but there are people who would rather go and just, you know, invade physically, but i think there are more people open to speak