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tv   Book Discussion on The Black Calhouns  CSPAN  December 22, 2016 1:39am-2:19am EST

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buckley. [applause] [applause]ful
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they key you very much for being here i am delighted i say have been announced to speakve d a little bit about myself in. however first became interested in renting. -- riding but i was born in lif 1937 there were pretty g important changes in american lives i graduated from radcliffe college withnd a harvard education i wish i studied more. [laughter] after college i had ajob i terrific job as a reporter l at "life" magazine although "lways paid less than a man doing thife same work. part of i and talk about writing as a career many were quick tond wisd
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get married and i gave upork with my first husband andd then did not work 15 years and have been married twice my s my first husband rooseveltondena director by second husbandldren is a journalist anwr dcrrespondent and editor ii have children in grandchildren.becaused was basically an only child chid with a mother who was a voracious reader. that would travel with her and in the summer with nancy boardi drew and the "catcher in the travling b i remember certain great moby
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moments from the york to california flying nonstop. have and arriving in london myou havd mother immediately thrusting fim a book and to make and to say you have to read this. inspi i have been asked about my life the idea that makesolific prolific and importantntn people with that that, intermittent wipers i book published 1986.n my third was published 2016
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but all three of my books imp are inspired by those objects found in my crib as strong a story of blacks in was the military in my greatrd uncle who died as an officer in the third current book ofly. who the founding family who are the black calhoun's been? very typical african american family 1865 through 1965. were also with dreams andather, aspirations with the great
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great grandfather moses calhoun although he was a slave until he was 35 he was lucky and was educated andandree from slavery the first man to joining george's article coui of succession and was powerful enough in becauseause e he lived in a town and not and on a plantation. his because great reconstruction nee gheiverything he neededde beside the 13th amendment gave that made him truly free. erican therefore american citizen of
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in they took the advantage hav of everything we construction had to offer. with that he could create a and successful life for his family and then was able to 20 announce -- amass enough property and many that theytlan. would call him the wealthiest colored man in atlanta. and then would start the family business mother was the cook they were considered favored slaves. they appeared to be is thevely benevolent butt
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the story of the black of calhoun's in the family of moses sister from atlantahe and in 1865 through 1965 the sure black calhoun's would live through the landscape it was han wonderful and terriblereedom, injury for black americans. fo frdomreedom and inspiration and achievement but on thephem other hand,eral the doors of cl- aspiration and achievementnt wee were closed.merica's america emancipation and m then mandated education yea
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construction only lasted 10 years and through that generation to believe thatlay it they have a role to play andnd then to fulfill that su aspirationccess. those that stad in atlanta s were successful and in some ways even more successful obviously wither than theiraspects life was easier in the north and the south. sign there were no white only signs high achievement wasesting normal bull sides of the channel.nt -- both sides of the channel
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the differences were personal and marriages aended to be done happy butng while the southern marriages my p for a longer lasting and seemed to be happier so with fewer opportunities they turned inward toward family northerners had more tracesmoses the also more temptation a bri also waiting until he was ndee to marry anne was born cora freed in new orleans. miss they were both highlyhat educated so sponsored by ahite n philanthropist it wouldll as
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instill confidence who were firt trained to become the first black teachers so those cored graduates from mantegna diversity in where the dubs, massachusetts youth were her. hopelessly in love.. sense colonial days he was had the star student and athlete and then he saw those aubiogral young girls. apd was bowled over by the autobiography from calhoun of atlanta up.
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but the 10 percent of thehose jw negro race was jobs both me girls married successful young men when married a slightly older graduate and later in the classic black and a thess wayaissance journalist and teacher and then caught the eye graduate of the atlanta university p to be heidi respected the first their laces real-estate broker. as they would move towards couns
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with the decision that would to entrench white supremacy to of whom were born in the north.ocrat a former republican activist w became a democrat and then to be elected as governor of new york. it also the first black national guard unit to be highly decorated although on didng under the french flag to hold arms forlieuten
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america butan a professional soldier died in the war from pam the pandemic of black life in the southbound begwart daughter married a wartime captives officer and a father and grandfather solacks n while life in the south s remain difficult life was. busi very good indeed today's a business culture meant theretaib is always one i are in northern investment.lace and it was good for family oriented blacks.
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but true member came inton duria her own during the '04 -- leagua mores as a director of theederan federation and was from the bron mayor of new york. sagist the former suffragistade her meanwhile in 1919 made anaacp ae [laughter]ember of the naacp at the age of two to be a successful man with a happy marriage his grandfatherspite by also had an unhappy marriage der
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to my mother john parents -- deserve her.on -- deserted her. and then left to pursue easyhe money. origiy from a brooklyn family from massachusetts would pursue that career until she was six years old grandmother never spoke to her husband. postwar black life in the now north change radically. ssiblycame a republican activist for historical reasons. she campaigned for calvin coolidge for the republican the
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party as the national organizer of the women's auxiliary. hat just in new york better around the world s from thehtclp factro it was protected by a diy compliant mayor to discover that tribal art and then toffle write a broadway show with it the hit song that this call i am just wild about harry. they'll hold new novelist the f secoier m her son.
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frank horn was the poet but clas in typical black da middle-class family and addis hthalmoob. intrialthe mid 1920's the first black acting president could have been involved for the college. i'm and roche about the new southern experience. but from now on sometimes there is no door at all.ughters but now they were also themiddlc club would never very different in nature to
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concentrate on selfting improvement which could be a they dangerous occupation the to 1920 south. fo they wanted to discuss the order coulter and travel and done strictly through the first congregational.southn her granddaughter in 1923 bonbon to become an objectther,e of contention between the secure brooklyn life ofso so with the roman catholicl in primary school where the other children always hated d c. but in 1927 for life changed
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completely but happy at last next to the field say.k doors --of fiancee and through those i back doorsn because thevisionf communications through the afai black cabinet with the position to be prepared inndfatk 1929 with of beloved grandfather, she was so smitten with her divorcens, that she asked and received. b with that middle-class younge ie amateurs everything changed and
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for me however when koresh a died and her mother returnedst from cuba with and spoke no english. adition f her mother to a crowd of the fos girls high-school to club, a audition for the world, famous chorus the mob brianent showcase the all white audience to the black community. fri per father used to be in thear i show because his best eventers k friend and former world warutifl war i was known as the king of parliament she was 16 andessy beautiful was also protected by the black mob. howev, by 1935 but she was ready to move on. wh dispirited her way to boston
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with black musicians playing for the whites. the first black orchestra in the first black singer to appear she saying blue moon in a white dress but in doing that at 19 years olds her as well as her mother hovering in the dressing livedto occasion to visit her father who with live-in with pittsburgh who owned a small hotel. and then buried my father. who -- married my father and is now a young housewife buty,
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despite the birth of my baby of brother the philanderingving the call then end to the off lel atgee. session with back to new york to look for work.lena . . shaw. barr nyet, shaw and benny goodman were the only big band leaders who hired black singers or musicians. but lena was tired of bands and hated touring. she wanted to be in new york with her children. she now got another career break, singing at café society in greenwich village. café society was unique in its day. besides presenting extraordinary young talents like billy holday,
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it was the only integrated night club outside of harlem with black patrons as well as black performers. lena was an enormous hit. unbeknown to most of the performers and patrons, however, café society was a fundraising outlet for the then-legal communist party usa as the american communist party was known. if she had known, lena doubtless would not have carried. she did not know a communist from a republican. [laughter] but in the 1950s, every performer who appeared at café society would be blacklisted. now, however, she was able to bring me and little teddy to new york where we all entered her childhood brooklyn home. little teddy's visit was short-lived, however. louis' cruel divorce agreement stipulated that i would live with my mother while teddy lived with our father. but my mother and i were soon to move even farther away. because of her café society
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success, lena had received an offer from hollywood not for the movies, but from a new nightclub called the little trock. once again, she was an overnight sensation. one man who came night after night was mgm's roger eden, the man who discovered judy garland. talent and beauty won lena a long-term hollywood contract, the first in hollywood for a black performer. but it might not have happened without world war ii. lena arrived in hollywood the same time that walter white and the naacp and 1940 republican presidential candidate wendell willkie began their campaign with hollywood producers to eliminate degrading, racist stereotypes of people of color including negroes, asians and latins for the sake of wartime allies. thus, lena -- whose contract partly brokered by her father stipulated no servant or jungle roles -- was almost
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single-handedly expected to prove to the allies that america, unlike germany and japan, was not a racist country. so lena became known as the first black movie star. she became the first black member of the board of the screen actors' guild and the first black person to appear on the cover of a movie magazine. despite allies of color, however, her scenes were always isolated from the main portion of the movie so that they could easily be cut out of the picture when-shown in the south. in fact -- when it was shown in the south. in fact, she was cut out of every picture she ever made in hollywood except for two when they were shown in the south. unless the cast was all black, the southern rules stipulated that blacks in movies could only be shown as servant types. nightclubs continued to be hugely theatrical venues for lena, from harlem's cotton club to boston's ritz carlton to greenwich village's café society
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to hollywood's little trock. and now in 1942, while she was waiting for her first movie to be released, she became the first black entertainer to appear at manhattan's very elegant savoy plaza hotel. once again, she was an overnight sensation, so well noticed that she was features in time, life and "newsweek" all in the same february 1943 week. nightclubs gave lena recognition, but world war ii made her a star. black g.i.s needed a pin-up, and lena was always embarrassed that she was the only one. while two atlanta cowz to sips married tuskegee airmen, lena was chosen as queen of the 99th pursuit squadron, their combat arm. she toured black army camps but was kicked out of the uso for refusing to sing at a camp in arkansas where black g.i.s were forced to sit behind german prisoners of war for her show. her grandmother would have been
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proud. the postwar years saw many changes in lena's life. one door was shut and others were opened. by 1947 her movie career was essentially over, but her nightclub and live performing career went from strength to strength. in 1947 she went to europe for the first time. she had great success touring the still war-torn british isles. she'd built in fans though cabin in the sky and stormy weather were unfit for g.i.s, they'd been deemed approved for the british fleet. she married her second husband, lenny hayden, a white mgm conductor/composer/arranger who became a wonderful stepfather to me. they came home to find the blacklist which began in 1947 with the hollywood ten. all screen writers and former communist party members who went to prison for refusing to testify before a congressional committee. the blacklist ultimately touched
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all professions and walks of life. lena was finally named in 1950 when she was listed and red channeled. lena's crimes included her appearance at café society and especially her friendship with two men, w.e.b. dubois and paul robison. because they were actually her grandparents' friends, the relationships were more dutiful than political. hollywood communists had, indeed, wooed lena, but paul robison, in fact, warned her against them m. in reality, lena was one of the luckier blacklisted artists. although banned from network tv for ten years, her nightclub career and international touring career never suffered. in the days before tv kept people home at night, she remained one of the highest paid performers, nightclub performers in the world. by 1957 she was cleared by the blacklisters and starring in jamaica, a hit broadway musical.
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broadway, by the way, basically ignored the blacklist. lena wasn't the only black calhoun to be suspect. frank horne came under his own blacklisting cloud in washington where he was investigated by the civil service loyalty board as a founder of the national committee against discrimination in housing. supposedly ferreting out un-americanism, blacklisting was also an excuse for racism and anti-semitism. appropriately enough, the modern civil rights era began in 1960 at cora horne's alma mater. in april 1960 a full-page ad appeared in the atlanta constitution. we, the students of the six affiliated institutions forming the atlanta university center, have joined our hearts, minds and bodies in the cause of gaining those rights which are inherently ours as members of the human race and as citizens of these united states. we must say in all candor that we plan to use every legal and
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nonviolent means at our disposal to secure full citizenship rights as members of this great democracy of ours. that same year a young atlanta cousin, moses calhoun's great, great grand niece, was chosen to be one of the desegregaters of an atlanta high school until her mother, fearing the traumatic upheaval surrounding the integration of little roxanne -- [inaudible] high school had second thoughts and sent her daughter to a massachusetts boarding school. meanwhile, in the north lena threw herself into the civil rights movement. she and frank sinatra produced a famous two-night carnegie hall benefit, one night of which benefited the student nonviolent coordinating committee, the youth branch of the southern christian leadership conference. lena went to jackson, mississippi, on behalf of the naacp, the organization which she had been enrolled at the age of 2, to join medgar evers at a voting rights rally two days
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before he was assassinated. she went to the march on washington wearing her naacp cap, and she recorded a civil rights song called "now" that was banned from the radio in several states. the enemies of civil rights had very powerful weapons at their disposal, but the civil rights movement won the high moral ground early, and the long arc of justice ultimately turned towards the american blacks. the larger and more systemic aspects of official racism were defeated in what could be called a second civil war. it was a strange war waged on one side by churches, children and young people and waged on the other by murderers, there arists, snarling dogs and fire hoses. despite assassinations and too many martyrs, voting rights were achieved, and jim crow was officially dismantled. by 1973 the thety of atlanta -- the city of atlanta, the city
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that famously became too busy to hate, had a black mayor, and former students of the atlanta university manifesto were now in charge of the municipality. although the 1970s were personally mournful years for lena who lost her father and husband and son between 1971 and 1972, the 1980s saw another extraordinary change in the career of moses calhoun's great granddaughter. she opened in a one-woman broadway show that brought her every honor and accolade known in the theater. the 1980s were a decade of horns for black calhouns north and south. in march 1981, the same month that saw lena's triumphant broadway return, dr. homer nash, the great grandson of moses' sister, died at the age of 94. in the words of the atlanta constitution, dr. ohio her nash's -- ho her gnash's death ends in error. he was the longest practicing
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black doctor in georgia and the longest practicing doctor of any race in atlanta. you could call the black calhouns lucky, but they were never selfish achievers. they shared their bountiful gifts and achievements with their community and their country. it is fair to say the black call kinds is as much the story of america as it is of a family. thank you. [applause] >> oh, i move down for questions? >> [inaudible] >> anybody have questions? >> you come to the center? the microphone is here. [inaudible]
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>> i can hear you, yes. [laughter] >> i grew up in flatbush. where did you live? >> well, i was born in pittsburgh, and i grew up in california, but my mother grew up on chauncey street in bedford stuyvesant. it was then called stuyvesant heights. >> right. >> and it, she grew up on chauncey street. she went to brooklyn girls' high school, and she went to catholic church in brooklyn. she was a total -- she adored brooklyn. she was a total brooklyn girl. >> i grew up in the '30s and '40s in brooklyn which were great years -- >> yes. >> -- to grow up in brooklyn. thank you very much. >> thank you. any other non-brooklyn questions or -- [laughter] >> i'd like to know what favorite story you have with your mother. >> oh, of my mother? oh, my goodness. that's a difficult question.
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well, the james bond story is one of them, because she didn't even, like, say hi. she just said you've got to read this book when i walked in the door. so that's one of my favorites. she was a good, a fun mother. we had fun. i mean, i didn't see her all the time, but when i saw her -- which was always on summer vacation, christmas, big holidays -- it was total fun. so that was a good part. yes. >> you come to the microphone? >> the microphone is off, we couldn't hear you. >> it's on now. [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> aside from james bond, what was your mother's favorite reading -- >> she loved reading histories, especially french history.
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she knew about all the queens of france. yes, loved that. and she was a voracious reader because she always felt she was uneducated because her mother took her out of school at the age of 16, put her in the cotton club. and she always -- everybody around her was so bright, she felt, and she was really uneducated, and so she read and read. she was self-taught, basically. i mean, though she'd had -- in a funny way, in the south she was the teacher's pet even though the children hated her. they hated her accent, everything about her. but she was always the teacher's pet, so she didn't really receive a bad education. thank you for your question. >> would you please repeat the questions? we can't hear them. >> would you share the way your mother did stormy weather during her one-woman show? i saw the lady in the music? stormy weather two times -- [inaudible] >> yes, yes.
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the question is why or how did my mother sing stormy weather twice in her one-woman broadway show? she did it twice because she sang it the first time the way she was told to sing it in the hollywood which always said, lena, pretty lips, lena. she was -- you always sang, you spoke to the sound recording, and you had to make your face very perfect. and she was always told to think of irene dunn. [laughter] so the second time she sang it in the show was how she would sing it herself at her age then. so it was a much richer, fuller version. and the critics all noticed that. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> brought down the house. and about 5 minutes later she -- 45 minutes later she said now here's the real -- [laughter]
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>> thank you. [applause] any other questions? well, i hope you're going to buy books -- >> [inaudible] >> very little. [laughter] i sing christmas carols, that's about it. finish. [laughter] so i think we're going to go across the street. [applause] thank you. [applause]
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