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tv   Q A  CSPAN  April 2, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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that is what makes the recording so significant and important to us. ♪ this land is your land. ♪ this land is my land. ♪ from california. ♪ to the new york islands. >> watch all of our events from tulsa saturday at noon eastern on c-span2 book tv and sunday afternoon at two on american history tv.
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>> c-span: thomas allen harris "through a lens darkly" is what? >> guest: "through a lens darkly" is a documentary that looks at the way african-american photographers and communities have use the camera as a tool for social change from the beginning of photography in the 1840s through the present and it is also a personal memoir a personal memoir because i come from a family of photographers. so i am in the film as well has my family members. >> c-span: you are the narrator? >> guest: yes, i am. >> c-span: before we get to
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the opening part of the documentary what is the story of you and your father? >> guest: my father and mother divorced when i was maybe six or seven. my father never took any photographs of my family of me my brother. both my brother and i are image makers. my grandfather, grandfather, my mother's father, to thousands of photographs of the family. and so, you knowbout the ways in which this idea of framing and taking a picture of a family what it says about both the person in front of the camera, camera, the person behind the camera, the connection between the two. yeah. and also a certain amount of grief that i never got i never got to see myself or my family do my father's lens. >> c-span: still alive? >> guest: my father is still alive.
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>> c-span: do you have a relationship with him today? >> guest: a relationship perhaps you could call it a relationship, yes. >> c-span: why do you think he did not take photos with everyone else in the family seems to have taken thousands? >> guest: well, he told me come i asked him about a year or two ago why he did not take photographs. he said because your grandfather was taking so many. but. but you know, once my parents divorced i very rarely saw him. i did have a step that who ended up taking lots of photographs, not that much some of the family, but he was part of the african national congress, from south africa from a political exile who came to this country to spread the message of the anti- apartheid message. he used the camera as his
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weapon of choice. so he was so he was the one that basically raised me from the time i was nine years old. >> c-span: let's watch the 1st minute or so so that people can get a sense of what this is about. every negro boy and every negro grow underwent the agony of trying to decide through the bolick -- body politic some image of himself which is not the meaning. ♪ >> when you look in the mirror what do you see? >> i am a professor of photography. >> artisan tap dancer. [laughter] >> do you see yourself now?
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>> what would be and who you are. >> do you save yourself through your own eyes? >> i i don't subscribe the victim knowledge in. i am not a victim. >> african-american. who? how do i feel? in my looking through? ♪ >> c-span: why the name? >> guest: well "through a lens darkly" comes from the bible, corinthians. the 13th chapter and it is how we see god. we see god right now through a lens darkly a lens darkly and it talks about the idea of reflection and seeing divinity within oneself. so thinking about the ways in which great art has been
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about this kind of reflection of the divinity and how certain types of -- and how within this country african-americans in some ways are seen as the opposite of being worthy being divine being connected to something that has value. >> c-span: how long did you live in africa and where? >> guest: i lived in africa from the time from 1974 until 1976. and i lived in tanzania which is in east africa. >> c-span: and is there a way to characterize great hallelujah? >> guest: i was there from the time the beginning of
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adolescence. >> c-span: is there a way to characterize how africans look at themselves versus how african-americans look at themselves? >> guest: actually, i make a film that talked about that. it was shot in brazil and tanzania and the united states. i think that generally in terms of the way african i think african-americans are a minority in this country. they have a particular history and a particular struggle here whereas in particular african countries in which they are not a minority, i think there are significant groups but i think that there is also definitely a connection between in terms of the guys poor. so a lot of african communities look to african-american in terms of cultural exports whether
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you're talking about musical fashion and also african-americans look to africans. this kind of back and forth. and we went because my grandfather had a dream. he always he always wanted to go to africa. he was part of marcus garvey and is universal negro improvement association movement in the 1920s. it is when he came to new york from albany. so his dream was really to get to the continent, and he was never able to fulfill that dream he passed that dream on to every one of his children. my mom went in some ways to fulfill his dream, but also she was looking for a missing face of africa. at that time there was a sense that we can go back to a kind of homeland. so she went thinking that we were going back home.
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you know what emerged was that actually there was a connection that a connection that we have to africa, but we are definitely americans. have that tension of this homeland that we want to go back to but that is in many ways a method, and. >> c-span: when did you graduate from harvard, and what did you study hear? >> guest: i graduated in 1924 and i studied biology. i was going to go to medical school and do my md. >> c-span: what happened? [laughter] >> guest: somehow i realized i was an artist. i knew that i had always been a photographer and worked with the images and poetry actually was my
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ninth-grade poet laureate in high school. but i did not really no any artists filmmakers. and so my mom was a scientist is a scientists and grew up in a lab. so i felt very at home. and when i was living in africa the scientists translated from tanzania to america. so when i came back i was able to get influence through my studies. my english was not -- it was basically learning english through secondhand in -- secondhand english speakers. not secondhand, but not native english speakers. and so i was not as -- growing up when i went to high school i was not as
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comfortable with my english skills as much as the science and math. when. when i applied to harvard i immediately followed my strength. it took a while to really feel comfortable with my writing and ways of expressing myself to realize that somehow i could make a career as a filmmaker. >> c-span: here is the story about your family and a little bit more about your father from the film. >> there are secrets in every family. sometimes they are very deeply and sometimes they are right out there in the open willfully unseen. ♪ there is one place where all the secrets reside. ♪ in the family photo album. ♪♪
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in what it chooses to represent. ♪ and in what is absent. ♪ hidden. ♪ my secret is connected to the day my father left. ♪ and that day i remember him roughly wiping vaseline off my face saying do you want people out there to think you are a greasy monkey? ♪ >> c-span: why did you do that? >> guest: why did i do what? >> c-span: why did you characterize that part of
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your life in this film that way? >> guest: well it is a big story. everyone i think has the story that shapes their childhood, and this story happened to coincide with a big change in my life my father leaving and also his in some ways trying to pass on to me the you know what to expect growing up as an african-american male in this culture and that i was not necessarily going to be seen. and maybe he was also trying to tell me as a little boy i was six years old or so what he might have gone through as an african-american male of dark skin a beautiful man the 1st in his family to go to college, west indian
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immigrants. so i think there is a lot in the story. and i think that when i was in tanzania a lot of people would say there are a lot of exiles. they would they would not necessarily have a fair shake in this country in terms of african-american men. it is interesting. i have had some privilege in terms of being able to go to certain schools, whether the high school, the college, having the kind of access but i do feel that you know, what we are experiencing right now in terms of on the streets of the culture and what we have experienced in the last 40 or 50 years in terms of the intense incarceration of african american principally men but people in general the connection between that and this issue of representation that you
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know people have been fighting for their civil rights in terms of the laws. but there is but there is this other part of representation, the representation of how one is perceived in popular culture and as i was making the film i was -- the film was based in many ways on the work of deborah willis, reflections and black but i was also very much aware that there was this other narrative that was going on as well in which black people were constructed post slavery and even before the end of slavery as something other than human. it was part of the marketing of photographs and memorabilia and stereotypes that now would be considered class a but in many ways in terms of the way in which we
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ought to see ourselves when terms of the way in which we might see others. and i think when people on the streets talking chant and ask for and demand their rights after civil rights in terms of this protest the killing of unarmed african-american men somehow they are seen as demons, you know as darren wilson called michael brown before they shot him six times and ferguson or they are seen as something to be taken down and not given a certain type of respect as citizens in terms of eric garner being choked to death and these things are happening with increasing frequency. and i think that that has to do with perception and the way in which we are able to
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see one another and not only are african-americans not necessarily perceived as humans or citizens but also not necessarily seen as within the family of man so to speak you know, and so when i was making the film i was very much aware of the idea of the family album. and if and if we had a national family album how we construct that. do we have space and time to do that now through reconstructing the family album which is interesting to think about him because the family album is rapidly disappearing you know now rapidly moving into the space of museums and libraries the digital age but the idea of how we as a culture can construct
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ourselves and the importance of trying to understand our familial connections and that, you know, the biases to which would be jaundiced eyes through which we see because of the kind of negative images. >> c-span: let me show your of mars in the film to deborah willis who wrote wrote the book that got you into this in the 1st place >> and i started meeting photographers from my generation and younger their works were centered on ideas not necessarily the things that people wanted them to work on. they were really working on projects based on their ideas of being an artist. ♪ >> deborah willis. >> deborah willis.
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>> deborah willis. >> deborah willis started doing all these shows in cultivating and writing the book and putting it out there for the public to see. ♪ >> if not for deborah willis we probably all would have disappeared at some. ♪ >> c-span: who is she? >> guest: macarthur genius award-winning scholar groundbreaking scholar who has written definitive text on african-american contribution to photography. she is also an acclaimed artist a professor and chair at the university the new york university department of energy -- imaging and photography a a friend, mentor to many many people, and she in many
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ways single-handedly changed the way in which we look at african-american contributions to the field of photography. >> c-span: when did she start? >> guest: in the 70s. she was studying photography, and her teacher had told her that african-americans did not make contributions to photography. and she had her own path to actually prove this teacher on and to look not only to see what photographers there were and resuscitate them but also to look at the ways in which black families who were the principal subjects a black photographers emerged over time. >> c-span: before i i show another clip from your film who did you have in your mind that was going to see this?
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let me add to that black people or white people were all of it? >> guest: i i knew that the film was going to be on public television. i did not know at the time it would have such a robust a robust theatrical life. that did not happen until after sundance and so on, but i knew it will have a general pbs audience, for the most part a certain demographic, but i did know that i as i as an artist was charged with creating content for the underserved. for me that is african-american audiences and particularly i was interested in younger audiences. i had a certain amount of education and experience. it took me 50 years to understand how to see myself in terms of a larger movement of people want to
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understand the country in a a way that one can only understand it by incorporating all these other missing pieces which is a a contribution of the hundreds of african-american photographers taking pictures 1840s and 50s reconstruction, through the turn-of-the-century his images were sent to europe to represent the accomplishments of african-americans 35 years after the emancipation proclamation throughout the harlem renaissance and the renaissance is that happened all over the country. african-american people were building themselves up way before affirmative-action but there was also this ongoing assault on their images that they somehow were not they were not valuable contributors to society not citizens. you know, i actually approached some french tv
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station about the film and she was interested in the film and came and studied in america a french woman in 1970s staying with an italian family in new jersey they would drive across the george washington bridge. everyone said zero, larger doors, lock your doors. these people are dangerous. they look like there driving nice cars but don't have plumbing and the houses. so you have this kind of distortion. who does that serve? and it also belies the fact that many of us are actually related, you know my grandmother's side of the family, charleston, family charleston, south carolina is a mixture, fluidity in terms of between the black white, latino. and you know moving in to this new millennium this new world that we have it
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is so important for us to not leave any segment of society and make this segment disposable. we cannot afford it. >> c-span: you make this issue in your film the civil rights movement, very important after civil war during reconstruction. reconstruction. here is some from your film that focuses on the film birth of the nation in 1915 that we 1915 that we just featured on another one of our programs. >> this larger-than-life misrepresentation all but obliterates the individual and collective images of black families building themselves up in the aftermath of slavery. ♪ like my grandmother's
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grandmother, elizabeth and my grandmother's grandfather , wallace both from charleston, south carolina pictured here in our family's oldest surviving photographs. ♪ how do you protect the child a family? a people? from being branded as the coward shiftless, lazy. >> shifted to the criminalization of black people. and the rise of what was called -- this gave us
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entrée into many ways of controlling black people. >> once photography takes off as a commercial medium you get all of this fake imagery. ♪♪ a lot of imagery of stating the kind of activities that were classified as crime that blackmon arrested during jim crow for life. >> c-span: what has been for you the most interesting reaction that you have seen in young black people after they watch this? >> guest: well i mean people cry, people come back to theaters to see it two and three and four times, people feel validated. they feel transformed.
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their relationship to their own family albums is also transformative. they all of a sudden realize that the images that they have inherited from there grandparents have this political social value that they had no idea before. and so that is something that has been reoccurring. and in many ways the way in which we set about the production in terms of its transmedia aspect led to this because when we start making a film i started the film about ten years ago 2,003, 2,004. in 2008 and nine we develop what was called the digital diaspora family of the union it was supposed to be an
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online people space bar people can upload their photographs and become part of the larger family album. i was very much aware of that like me a lot of other african-americans had photographs and their families that you could not find in the national archives the library of congress, public culture. so i start pitching is around. pretty soon people are asking me to start coming in doing a roadshow. the public to come and bring family photographs and the 1st one was atlanta, 2,009 and people came with truckloads of images. one woman came with images from her family that dated back to the 1840s. follow the family as they moved in the 1860s and 70s up to actually i think it was 1870s up to connecticut and then back down to the 1920s to atlanta. i mean amazing history, stuff i had never seen. never seen. and so we started this roadshow. ..
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c-span: how many different people did you interview for this film? >> guest: 52. c-span: how many of those are black photographers?
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>> guest: half. 26 african-american from photographers. c-span: how did you select them? >> guest: i worked closely with debra williams. i was interested in looking at photographers who had went the last like, 20 years really moved into the space of fine art. so carey weans, the first african-american photographer at the guggenheim artist. lauren simpson. my brother, lyle harris well-recognized photographer and artist performance-based artist. hank louis thomas. younger, amazing artist who works with ideas around the market place, and marketing. also some other artists who were part of the kumogyi
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collective in new york. john penderhughes an amazing photographer and younger photographers as well. c-span: you must have hundreds of hours. >> guest: yes span -- c-span: what are you going to do with the outtakes? >> guest: we have some of them on youtube and some will be on the dvd extras. c-span: are they on the youtube channel now? >> guest: yes. c-span: to you do you find them. >> guest: -- c-span: can peep upload. >> guest: yes. they can upload to digital and they can also -- we have another web site which brings together at the digital diaspora one world one
7:32 pm and that has all the videos as well. c-span: you make a point in your film about when blacks who fought in world war i, came back, they wanted the photography to give them their bona fides that stabbed they were there. here's an excerpts from your film. >> black american returning from world war i knowing we helped win this war for democracy, and they went immediately to the photograph studio and said take my picture. with a sense of pride and expectation they'd receive their rights. in their world war i uniforms because it was considered an affront to the southern gentry front to white supremacy.
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>> i'm trained to look at images to understand them to decode them, and i couldn't look at these pictures. c-span: where did you discover that -- i gather there were southerners that would lynch or burn these people that came back from world war i, just because they were black. >> guest: well, that was something that has been in the history books. i had read about that, i think as early as taking black history courses at harvard. and that was the idea of -- it was at the height of jim crow to the idea that empowered african-american male with the army uniform, who was a citizen
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could somehow change the status quo, was really threatening to -- particularly southerners but lynching happened all over the country, and there's a huge amount of photographs that were done to document the lynching, and there -- they were also sent in the mail with any cover. people swapped them. people also cut hair and so this -- those images were very prevalent at one point, and there was a big exhibitions when i first encountered them, called -- goodness just skipped my mind -- witness -- anyway these images have been put together in a book but they're also on sale on ebay. you can find them everywhere. you can't find them as much
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online but you can find them on -- in a variety of different places and people, not only the lynching images but people also finding stereotypical images. for instance the image of the black -- young black person with the watermelon. we were doing a digital diaspora road show in houston and a woman came up and said my daughter found this horrible image, it was the image of the young naked babies and underneath there was a text that said alligator bait. so you can imagine a six-year-old finding this image, and taking it to the parents and saying what is this about? and so she had to figure out, how do i talk about this? and so saw the film and was thankful to us for bringing these images to light. it's important to not only show the positive images of african-americans but also to
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show these other images so that we have a sense in some ways a truth reconciliation in the way south africa had where, after slavery, post civil rights movement, we understand where we have come from and who we are and what we have been through. c-span: how often are you uncomfortable as a black man in this country? or are you ever today? >> guest: i would say i'm comfortable in myself. c-span: as you travel around and face public audiences and all that your accomplishments are rather significant. do you see prejudice today still? >> guest: yes. you speak prejudice constantly. c-span: how do you see it yourself? >> guest: you can read about it in the "new york times." an article in the sunday times, about hiring practices.
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how do i see it? i think that certainly in terms of -- not to beat a dead horse but in terms of the policing in this society -- c-span: i mean you permanent lyric as you travel around, do you see that? policemen stop you? >> guest: yeah. i have been -- i was at sun dance once and someone shoved me and i -- you see snubs you see this, this constantly -- this sense that you are not -- you don't necessarily belong. but do they keep me down? no. c-span: tide you see it at harvard? >> guest: oh, yeah. it was called the n-word several times. >> host: span pan by your classmates. >> guest: not by my classmates but certainly in cambridge, on
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the street. absolutely. but also a at harvard, by the harvard police actually stopped me and a colleague, two colleagues and basically roughed us up. i wrote a big article in "the crimson." because they were looking for guys who were 6'2" and we were 58 and 5'9" and they did not accord us is in civil rights and were very, very rough, and slamming us into the wall and on to the street. so, i think there's a cumulative sense that you do not have certain rights and that somehow you're not afforded certain rights in this country as an african-american male. c-span: you deal with something called passing which has been written about a lot in this country. but you deal with it in the
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film. let watch what you did with this. >> my father's sister who is very light-skinned. small child, she was followed by a local school teacher who would take her on train trips, and it appeared that her school teacher was traveling with some white child. they could sit in a better class of train seat. delia got used to that and in later life she passed as a white woman. we never had the type of close family ties with delia because we were obviously black, and she had been portraying that she was not. c-span: how often do you see that today? >> guest: the idea of passing? c-span: uh-huh.
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>> guest: i don't know how often. i think it still goes on. it was a lot more prevalent before the 1950s in terms of people having access to jobs. there was an article in "the new york times" about resonates, where people who have certain types of ethnic names, their resumes get dumped versus more anglo names that might be more ascribed to a white american versus an african-american. and so i was thinking you could -- certain levels of passing. changing your name. race is not necessarily as easily readable and i think that what was interesting to me is around that issue -- different types of passing. there's -- i'm just going to pass to get bred for my familiar -- bread for my family. work and come back and be with my family, be part of this
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community. and this other types of passing where you say, i'm just going to leave and going to leave all of this behind. too much for me. and you become somebody else completely, which means you have to cut certain ties and you have to live a lie 24/7 and so with also the fear of being found out. someone mentioned the other day when with digital diaspora road show at howard university they knew of several stories where people found out that a relative had been passing all their lives and they sent the relative back even though it was their relative in a box, to the black relatives and say this is yours. and so it's more important here is the idea that race is a construction and that we are related biologically, genetically, and why do we keep
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this construction today? that's something that is more interesting question why are we invested in our racial identities? c-span: young people today, that do they know much about slavery? sunny don't think they know much about slave rhythm don't think they know much.history in general. this goes back to your earlier question, who i made this film for. i think in many ways the young people find themselves detached or removed from history because they and their families are not necessarily seen as historical agents and so i really wanted to make a film in which people's families, my family your family that did stuff that actually changed the course of hoyt and a -- the course of history, small things to larger things.
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my great-grandfather worked for fdr when he was governor in addition to several other governors, and i'm sure he had some influence with regards to ideas around race and/or -- what african-americans could be and the idea of citizenship with regards to african-americans. and i think that young people when we don't necessarily allow them to see that they're historical agents and they are disempowered, and when i'm making this film i wanted to make it more of an experiencal kind of project in which they could somehow connect what they were seeing in the film to their own family narrative. c-span: you live where today? >> guest: i live in new york state. an hour north of the city not far from the appalachian trial.
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c-span: why that location? >> guest: i like to hike and i'm always on the trail with me dog and my partner so we hike a lot. pan span how did you -- c-span: how did you find the now get this film? >> guest: part of the ten-year journey was about the money. i was fortunate that the ford foundation came onboard. this is the second film they have supported directly and the third film -- one film they supported, about nelson mandela, which was on pov. point of view. public television, this the second film they've supported through itvs. the independent television service. the nea, the neh the new york state council for the arts. c-span: the national endowment
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for the humanities and arts what kind of requirement do they put on you when they give you the grant money to do this kind of thing? do they have any sayso on the content? >> guest: sayso on the content? it's a thorough vetting when you apply so you give a narrative of the project, and they judge based on the narrative. c-span: how long does that process take? >> guest: months, if not years. pan -- c-span: you have a film you're working on and i want know why why you named it. we're africans seeking compile in canada. >> guest: oh actually -- c-span: what is that? >> guest: a colleague of mine -- i was advising her on that project, and so she -- i'm not sure if she is still making the project but it's a project i was advising her on. c-span: what's the elm tuesday
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-- tim tuesday to do -- if i said this, it would be extra sized. we're african seeking exile in canada. >> guest: she's a canadian producer and that's the canadian aspect and there's the we're aspect. i'm an openly we're person. c-span: whoa use we're instead of gay. >> guest: other it could be gay or we're. african-american, black. know. same gender loving but i think in terms of civil rights and the continent, people are being killed and -- because of their sexual orientation, and i don't think that it's enough support within the lgpt movement and the civil rights movements. i think to raise the awareness about what is going on there is
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really important. c-span: more from your film. this is the part of the story of photographing slave families from pow through a lens darkly." let's watch. >> i remember looking at them over and over. the eyes are one of the most captivating parts of the photograph. almost all of the subjects are looking straight at the camera which is something that enslaved and free black people couldn't do in the 18th century and the 19th century. they couldn't look directly at their master or another white person. she absolutely understands what is happening to her. she absolutely knows already the power of photography. >> i knew i couldn't leave them where they were. i couldn't leave them where i
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found them. if i could reconstruct and bailed context for them, they could take an new life and a new energy and a new meaning, something that would question their historical past and at the same time propel them forward into the future. that was sort of my responsibility to that family. c-span: when did the -- i don't know what you call it -- certainly the custom but when was it required that black people or whether they're free or slave, couldn't look white people in the eye? >> guest: well it's unspoken for the most part. but it was -- to look at someone in the eye is to be on level fields in terms of equality. and so certainly i don't know necessarily in the north if that was as prevalent a practice as
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much as in the south certainly. that you could not look directly at someone and say, we're equal. i do want to add that in photography, that was something you could do with the photographer. when you sat down, several people in the film make this point -- to sit down and say i'm ready to have my picture taken, in part you are creating that situation for yourself. in some ways it's a self-portrait. people think about selfies today, but to go to the photographic studio decide what clothes you're going to wear to decide what photographer you're going to city in front of and patronize, is something that has a lot of meaning and value, and just beginning to seize some of that stuff out. c-span: back when the photos
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were taken, were they taken by blacks or whites? >> guest: probably in the south -- by both. by both. we do know that black photographers took many of the photographs of black families, and so by not looking at the works of black photographers, by not celebrating the works we're missing the evolution of african-american families from before the end of slavery to the present day, and i think -- we're very hurt as a nation by not having that visual vocabulary, certainly in hollywood. the stories that come out of hollywood, we don't have a sense of the fullness of who we are as a country. often with black directors or black actors they're told to act a certain way, which hark 's back to a stereo type rather than an actual story. c-span: what's the worst kind of thing somebody can say to you after they watch a film like
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this? i asked you the best. what do the say and you say can't believe they're saying that. >> guest: um what's the -- worst thing. some people don't get the film and they say -- they say it doesn't make sense to them or that they don't see the value of the film. i think that in many ways the film serves as a kind of reflective surface. you see what you bring to a certain degree. what you see and what you want to see. c-span: here is a little bit on emma till. many of these shots seen before? >> guest: stanley nelson claimed filmmaker, documentary filmmaker, had made a film on emma till that came out seven or eight years ago, the murder of emma till, on pbs and several
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other films were made. so i don't know -- c-span: there's one photo in the casket. i don't think -- didn't you mention in there that jet magazine was one of the most either sold issues ever? >> guest: exactly. that image was used by mimi till a mother. she actually said that she wanted the casket to be open so people could see what they did to her son. c-span: let's watch it. >> all the guys that went to photograph the emma till trial knew they were going to intervene in a political legal process by bringing the cameras. >> after documenting the trial he was able to create a little
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pamphlet. that was an important movement for the press and for photographers during that time. >> mimi till allowed the press to photograph her son her unrecognizable son. in his casket. one of the most powerful images that jet magazine ever published. it's one of those photographs that when you see it, you remember it. and when you see it again, it still hurts like it did the first time. c-span: so when did you first know about emma till? >> guest: i was young. c-span: what impact did it have on you? >> guest: it was a horrible story. a horrible story.
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why wasn't that young boy protected? why -- how could this have happened to him? and traumatic story. 13 years old. and going from south -- north to the south. and my family also did not allow us to travel south. even though my grandmother is from charleston, south carolina, we did not travel south at all, and i don't know if that is because of that particular story, but that something that i think that people, african-american people are very much concerned about how to protect their children. c-span: do you notice any difference when you travel in the north and south today? >> guest: i it's interesting. i did a southern tour, atlanta
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st. louis, the first time i've seen the south in this way in a particular kind of way, because i've been there with the film. and festivals and theaters. i have never lived in the south, so i don't know the south that well. it's some place i'd like to know a little better. as an american. because i think that so much of this country has to do with the dynamic between the south and the north. for instance with "about birth of the nation" i know a lot of southerners that kind of are a little bit more hesitant about talking about that as propaganda. but when you look at the history and look and see what african-americans and mixed communities did, and during reconstruction in terms of universal education, as robin:y -- robin kelly talks
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about or the transition program being enslaved to holding elective office. that's pretty much a miracle, and to have this kind of "birth of a nation" which was produced some 30 40, 50 years after in its different incarnations to rewrite the narrative, and somehow create this black demon as opposed to thinking about the ways in which we created this country together. c-span: here's the last clip we'll use -- how long was your documentary? >> guest: 92 minutes. c-span: here's a minute of you talking about yourself or your family. >> my take. reflected in their faces. our gaze meeting across time. giving me the power to use my
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camera lens together with my community, to create an homage to an enduring legacy of self-affirmation and self-invention. >> we have a responsibility in our image-making capacity which is where we share the wealth of who we are. we have the responsibility to wind the path to open up all the possibilities of what blackness can be. now. c-span: who is the woman talking at the end there? >> guest: carey reams. a wonderful artist. c-span: when does this run. >> guest: broadcast on february 16th nationally on the independent lens series. c-span: what about the ability
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to purchase this if people want it for themselves. >> guest: it will be available online through first run features, our distributor, and i believe the dvd is coming out at the end of january and will be on sale throughout february and moving forward. c-span: last question to you. when you look back at this ten-year experience for you, putting this together what in your own mind changed the most over that period? >> guest: what changed the most is when i first started the film i was very -- i had a lot more anger, and i think that around the country around the abandonment of the country, the abandonment of my father, and i think that what changed for me is the embrace of my creative power, and that that's where the solution is. so for me the solution is not in
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the guns. the solution is in the camera, how to reframe the narrative, how do we reframe our community? how do we build up and nurture our community as we begin to move into a new space. c-span: i read you ailes have a camera with you do. you have one today? >> guest: yes. c-span: what do you carry? >> guest: right enough it's a a canon. c-span: our guest has been thomas allen harris. the name over the documentary is "through a lens darkly." we're out of time andty thank you very much. >> guest: thank you, brian.
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booktv in primetime continues with guy consolmagno with "would you baptize an extraterrestrial" the author is an astronomer and the recipient of the carl saggan award. this is about an hour. >> good evening and welcome to the adler planetarium. i'm dr. grace chase. i'm an astronomer here and also very pleased and honored to be able to present to you tonight's speaker, brother guy consolmagno. brother guy is


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