tv Book Discussion on The Firebrand and the First Lady CSPAN December 28, 2016 12:50am-2:00am EST
north carolina because of her race, eleanor roosevelt replied beginning a decade-long correspondent of friendship between the two women. patricia bell scott traces their honest sometimes contentious relationship. they got together at the white house and the roosevelt home in hyde park and new york city and eleanor admired her work her spirit and idealism but she didn't stop result results wheny pushed too hard on racial questions. murray was a brilliant woman ahead of her time who had a battle for all she achieved. she was a feminist and socialist and first in her class at howard university law school. she got a doctorate of law at yale and was the first african-american woman ordained a minister in the episcopal church. the "washington post" notables list was partial to the books
that explore questions of race, freedom, a quality, and justice the firebrand and the first lady has all. [applause]. i> good evening, everyone. i'm the director of the roosevelt house, and as always, it is a pleasure to welcome all of you to what is essentially i guess the first of our evening public programs to mark women's history month. march is women's history month. please remember that part of the
celebration is to have a look at the exhibition of the women's suffrage material that we have on the du upstairs.ugh we will be announcing an extension but don't let that detour you from seeing you soon again. t we wil will welcome two extraordinary women who will be speaking about extraordinary women and it is a pleasure to welcome both of them to the home of eleanor roosevelt who played such a big role in the courageous and ground breaking life on the book we are here to discuss the firebrand and first lady has made clear for the first time and it's a particular pleasure to welcome everyone here to the alma mater hunter college. phi beta kappa class of 1933,
january, 1933. that was one of the many idle stones in the life that we will hear about this evening.he as i think you know and the book shows, she played a hugely significant role in the life of one or roosevelt and they had an intellectual and politically intense friendship that lasted from the 1930s untilth mrs. roosevelt . death in 1962. you will hear all about her activism. later she was the co-author of the organization for women and it's an extraordinary life. i believe the rest of the story to cast. our guest patricia bell scott is with the university of georgia in a major chronicler of the
women's lives including her booc double stitch writing about mothers and daughters which one the book prize. i hope some of you saw the preview a couple weeks ago inagn which some of you will remember she came to see us at hunter ao few weeks ago, the co-author had high praise and knew nothing was ever easy for a black woman born in 1910. a woman attracted to women and the activist and episcopal priest. but her friendship with roosevelt sustained over a quarter-century commanquarter ce than 300 cards and letters helped. it is the rich earth she tells e
for the firebrand and first lady, a tremendous book that has been 20 years in the making. i think that is what we call the rave and the value of the time you spend shines. thank you for your book and for being here today to celebrate the publication in the home of one of the protagonists. in conversation with professor bell scott as miller froml-scot painter delete the -- bell irvin painter and one of the esteemed historians of recent decades. she's written many books that shaped our understanding about s the american history since she published her first book. her most recent was published in 2010 and its influence was immediate and has home even
growing. i met with the professor i thought it was a few years ago but i'm told authoritatively that it was 19 years ago when she and i -- she is still young. i am a rat but when she delivered a lecture on abraham lincoln at gettysburg college, it was a while ago. since the retirement frome -- iv princeton, she has embarked on a post-historians career as a visual artist. as far as i know, that has been equal by only a couple people i can think about, winstonnly a churchill maybe, and george w. bush. the second acts in american art. you should know on her website she identifies herself as the
painter formerly known as nell a irvin painter. please welcome professor patricia bell scott. [applause] >> would you like to say something about paulie murray before we start? >> i would like to say how pleased i am to be here at this event hosted by an institution that is part of the alma mater. hunter was important paulie. she came here in 1928 after having graduated a small high school in the south that only
went to the 11th grade which meant she had to come to new york and earn a high school diploma so she could be admitt admitted. and if you read her autobiography, what you know is hunter of all the institutions he approached is the one place that she found acceptance and encouragement and so she did come to hunter. she had all kinds of financial trouble so she did drop out after her sophomore year but eventually returned and one of the things she always remembered were her relationships with two professors one was a catherineoe reichardt was an english professor who encouraged pollycd to write.
polly had always wanted to write as i was saying to my colleague we know her as an activist and the first african-american woman to be ordained as an episcopal priest but what she wanted to be known as primarily were first and foremost i should say was as a writer and it was in catherine winegard's class she wrote an essay of the family memoir and she would always be great to the professor for encouraging her. she is friends with whom she maintained contact through her life, so it was an important experience for her to come to hunter, so i'm grateful that she came because it helps make polly who she became.
>> hello. nice to see you all. thank you. i have several questions, survival posed these questionsns to professor bell scott and she will talk to them or ignore them as a she prefers. [laughter] and then as we go towards the end, there will be time for you to ask some questions as well. this is an extraordinary book of two extraordinary women.think when you think about the times that we are in now, and you think about those women, we want things to get better as they go along. i'm not sure that is what happened.
i was curious about this unlikely friendship. so that got me started. and then once i opened that door, i became interested in the relationship long term. i wanted to know what were the dynamics and what did each bring to the relationship and because it was a long relation ship. a. if we are looking at the depression.
we are looking at several major historical events and movements. each of these women had a role to play in all of those movements and each was affected as an individual by these historical moments, so i was trying to look at each individual over time and then as i continued with the project it occurred to me that it would be useful to readers for me to try to make some sort of an assessment about the impact of the friendship for the cause of social justice which was the
cause of social justice and human rights. so i ended up with four questions. what drew these unlikely women together in friendship, what was the nature of the friendship, what was the chemistry, how did they sustain the relationship and how did they change over time and what significance did it add to the social justice and human rights? >> how many of you have had a chance to read the book? just one heroine so you will have to answer the question. one of the first things >> dif >> they had a lot in common. more than you suspect.
first of all, they were both we child and orphans who lost their parents very young and raised by elderly can. they had some personality characteristics in common. they were both shy because they both seem bigger thanbe life if you think eleanor roosevelt people think of a courageous woman and if you know, anything about pauli and use sierras of brave woman but they were both shot, they had tremendous energy. they would wear out thereld best friends. however naboth suffered from anxiety, feelings of insecurity. day for whom their overall sense of well-being depended
on large measure to have meaningful work, as well as company with their friends and their cherished friends included their dog. [laughter] so for eleanor she had a preference for the scottish terriers and there were other carriers that she had and pauli had a soft spot for strays and a large but it's. so -- can and large mutts. they were episcopalians that is that they devoted episcopalians even though pauli laugh to the church
briefly at least twice because she was upset with the treatment of women women, always came back and she was the sixth generation episcopalians and that was an important connection.importan they were both avid readers said they love to write. the above poetry in love reading poetry aloud to friends. there was the tremendous amount of commonality that isn't apparent when one thinks of them so they're surprised and interested toch learn how much they have in common one. also how they sustain this relationship? through letters primarily to
separate those with candy or flowers and to firs sees eleanor roosevelt and it was a very dramatic experience because eleanor showed that behind of wheel of a convertible coupe 11. the passengers are her private secretary, a man pauli thought was a secret service agent although i suggest it is probablyidn't tommy's has been because eleanor did not like to have secret service around so she showed up that this camp
which was the first for unemployed women, a female version of the ccc camps but eleanor was determined unlike those camps for men this would not be segregated . this was important to her and was the pet project and not located far from her home in the mountain area of new york, issue would go periodically and announced to inspect the camp to see how things were going for cauchy would drive the been the convertible coupe and get out and immediately starts to go through the premises. and the residents are really excited they follow her and pauli is shy and is shocked by the unannounced appearance by the first lady.
and is sitting in a quarter a -- and a quarter of the social hall and watching her behind a newspaper. she is too shy to introduce herself. so there was no direct interaction but i do believe eleanor saw her because she made a practice of counting the number of women of color determining that it was integrated san she would periodically count and makeke a note and then would fight to the camp if she saw something that wasn't right. for years later pauli applied to the university of north carolina and within weeks of her application application, the president franklin roosevelt went to
the campus and to his address would shortly after the midterm election widely anticipated people were excited and there were a rage men's team made broadcast nationally and franklin roosevelt put all kinds of praise of the university. for its faith, a progressive attitude, and pauli was beside herself because she knew that they did not accept black students but she hoped her application would be accepted anyway but it was not. which she read the transcript of the president's speech in "the new york times" she was in harlem at the time, she. could not sit still so with occurred typewriter a three page single spaced letter
which she sent to the president calling him to task for his praise of the university and the policies which would forbid the emission of black students or the hiring of black professional staff in any capacity as she also sent this letter to the president but as she got that ready to go she thought he has a maze of secretaries it may not make it through perhaps i should send a copy to eleanor which is what she did. now the president's office forded her letter to the office of education theyff responded about one month later. but eleanor wrote back properly with her own signature and in that letter she said, paraphrasing, i
enter stand your concern but changes coming in his best to fight in a conciliatory ways but don't push too fast. that was the caution. and pauli was very happy to get this letter from eleanor except she was not about to except the advice -- accept the advice so this was symbolic of the militia ship from when it first began.o the unwilling opportune compromise for dramatic social change so feeling very much that her role was supported as a measuredband's
approach of civil rights was contingent of let's get moving and eleanor says that is too fast. this is 1938 by the time elenore dies and then pauli doesn't ever vote for roosevelt but by the thaiim military is in her fiver years, this tells you a little bit about the germanic impact of the friendship, she moves from being someone who would never vote for franklin roosevelt and suspicious of the two-party system to become registered voting democrat and eleanor movesno from taking the position of one his says don't move too fast and work within the system you must obey the laws and segregated seating
and a common patients until those past -- so what finally happened i think pauli moved toward the center she was always left-of-center and eleanor moved of little laugh so we see them converging politically so that was just one example of solvay have overtime but how did impact that nation? had not bent for that relationship, i don't know if pauli, this may be too strong, but my speculation, of blood have been willing to work with
the system that allowed her to found the national organization of women andie pauli agreed to serve on the president's commission 1961 where she worked with the group will of the people rights amendment and became someone that it was worth to try to bork within of bureaucracy. she had a really hard time they would try her so the main people always found her difficult like the naacp. and i also think that is why we don't know as much about her because of the history of various movements the right to history of the
organization which was at the forefront of the movement some of we have walter wright and thurgood marshall but people who worked within the bureaucracy and there is a tendency to see the institutional u.s. the most important so i am hoping this gets interested in pauli because i cannot cover all facets of her life. that is a long response. >> i was going to ask what you thought your book will lead to contribute to american history when you began but he may have answer that.
says just starting out of these two women he thought of as very different premise sounds like as they havero come closer together on personal terms with their personal and psychological likenesses, so i am guessing when you began you thought this would be a book about activism and women working together as activist. but now you have finished the book after such a long time and since you have gotten such a warm response what is the book doingk the bo quick. >> i hope the book adds to
the interest to look at i women friendship. i think one of the reasons why this friendship has not been explored it's not like i found the documents. pauli has a huge archive but the roosevelt historians but even those looking at eleanor have only mentioned this friendship in passing and i felt that it deserves more than it had been given. and it is also my experience that women who are as complex and complicated raise such a challenge for us as scholars said where
the historian cap somebody with a good grounding of social psychology come and other disciplines and it has taken and all of that to look at this relationship because pauli is a rican-american, a woman whose primary into mitt affection was women. and was dave religious progressive always. one and dennis spiry right shirt and i think the deadbeats to be evaluated. so it was interdisciplinary more complicated story that i had anticipated. and i think t
is something i would like other historians to consider. >> why do you think it was more complicated than you expected? the professor is the psychologist that worked on women's studies and you were part of all of the -- [inaudible] >> so, you know at least on some level that this was going to be a complicated story yet as we were getting into it, you were surprised. is that because of the way that we grow up in the united states thinking about ourselves, is it because it is hard to think of a person who is a feminist having so much psychological baggage,
so much psychology? >> yes is the answer to all of that in addition to the fact this is a brilliant woman and in sociological terms it is a data overload because she made meaning out of her life through writing. whether she was writing poetry or just writing notes about her life there is a huge amount of material when one is trying to access with her thinking was at a particular moment in life.
so there's a huge amount of da data. also, for me even though she was born in 1910 and i was born in 1950, there's a difference in historical moments. so here i am trying not to bias the word only by looking at the lens of my life. it wasn't even though i'v i have read and studied mccarthyism it wasn't until i began to read the journal entries into her fear that mccarthyism i feel like i remember reading a letter that she wrote to a friend where she
had learned members of the fbi had been looking for information about her. and this is in the 50s. she was just petrified. and she was right about this. she knew frequently the information was incorrect so she wrote a j. edgar hoover letter and send a resume in the recent photograph. in the letter she sent i've heard from the library that you have been looking for information about me because i know and have learned from others the information you have is correct, this would be after langston hughes was called before the committee.
she said i want you to have the right information and she described walking to the post office buying the postage to send the return receipt signature and she described how her knees almost buckled under when we put the package in the mail box. she was afraid that she felt this was important for her to do. i just remember it felt different for me. and of course director hoover wrote back and said no, we were not looking for you. that may have been some other agency.
i have seen the final. they knew who they were. they were keeping records since her days at howard. most was incorrect and she suspected or one agent would write something and then a couple years later they would say they could verify if so just the experiences that were not accessible before my time challenged me to. >> eleanor roosevelt is a well-known public figure of enormous importance. what did you learn about her? you probably know more about
roosevelt going into this project. i had always heard that she was a compassionate person and the depth of her acceptance struck me. i asked her friends, one in particular who sold them together hell did they deal with paulie because as i said, she was a patient and said what she thought and later said polly could be embarrassingly direct by credit to eleanor roosevelt with hanging in there with her
and being unwilling to allow them to buy out alone crying in the wilderness so that was one of the first interviews that gave me a window into the patient's with young people, paulie in particular and her willingness to listen. that was the other thing. she appears to be in social psychology when we talk about making the relationships work you couldn't find a more active listener than eleanor roosevelt. she really opened her home.
they invited her to lunch with eleanor, so her openness i was also interested in her growth as. this friendship was a place of growth for her so she moved for a being a cautious woman who was trained and socialized to obey the rules and wait your turn and work with institutions to become someone willing. so i was impressed with her growth and there's a couple
instances where it was clear that relationship had made the discrimination wasn't just an abstract concept for her. this has become personal for h her. it was clear that it became a personal issue, so i was very pleased to learn about her compassion not just from a personal level but what she did on the political front. >> survey related to each other as activists and also friends.
>> pally refer to it as confrontation. it moved from a confrontation to one where they became allies to work around issues together and then it moved particularly after fdr died in 1945 and she was no longer the first lady and was free to the obligation of having to be careful about what she said and advocated because of her responsibilities to the administration. it turned into a genuine friendship. >> i want to ask you about something before and this will come out of left field. were there other similar
relationships in either woman's life? >> i will start with eleanor. pauly was ipauly wasn't the onld that she had. the friendship with mary mcleod she was also very close friends with the executive secretary of the naacp bed pauli argues that her relationship was different with eleanor because unlike those that were the age peter -- pierre and these were institutional leaders and president of the national council and
executive secretary of the naacp so they are thinking about those constituencies. pauli represented no one other than young people like herself. to deliver the votes and apparently they were afraid to go very far because they were thinking of the political consequences. so pauli believed that she had nothing to lose and to speak her mind and harry
belafonte date -- i don't know if they met at the world's fair in brussels before but still to this day speaks of her as his mentor i heard him recently speak of her as his mentor and she showed him a tremendous amount of compassion by our renting an apartment buildings in new york city and was denied as african-american she was so upset and said just moved in with me. just come he said thanks for the offer but i can't is like running
away from the battle. she had those friendships. but i think those two french ships xx knew who lillian smith is? souther a native southerner born in georgia wrote killers of a dream in which is the best known work and was a nervypo ally of martin luther king from that generation and that era never left the south.
letter by saying today's 70 years ago and tell you what happened. so i found myself so when i was working on this but there were several current defense happening that reminded me of what they had gone through.of the v there is a black sharecropper who was executed and while i was working on the book in my home sate, there was said case of a man executed and the victim's the recanted
the pope was is involved but he was still executed i remembered pauli writing how not sleeping the 94 but to lobby to the parole board i was just one around the world but i had this sense of their presence and eleanor was lobbying inside the white house to establish a commission of inquiry and she got on a train to go down to virginia ahoy -- to speak to the governor privately.. so the notion and the industry and it could have
been written by the black lives matter young people. but because she would burn candles that both ends, and would only struggle with the issue of activism.and want to be a writer or a poet and w also incidentally she also -- in photography. she said to lillian smith i may frustrated writer i cannot get to my work because activism keeps pulling me away some of to steady her life i tried to define my activism because i
was a lot like pauli so i have learned that that she worked so hard in health suffered so i have tried to learn the lesson about self care. kelso remember during that period of the list to maternal aunts who raised her aunt i remember going back to that passage as a couple of times dealing with my own father's passing and found confirmation. is interesting when i started the book 40
about both of those women and want to say it was about roosevelt with her ice-cream cone you will have the reading about this and the fellow in the services said he felt like tim mann after the first lady bit off of his ice-cream. ideas thank you already answered but in the book utah about her shoulder to shoulder and history through is that out all the things that they have done but you r mention.
you do mention she is right there shoulder to shoulder tallis again why she is not mentioned? >> some of the added.org as she is a woman, and found the bureaucracy's trying so she just had to maker contribution but what "this is it" is interesting about that that people were quite willing to take her ideas and contributions but not always credit her. so that is part covet i also think dealing with pauli is
not easy she is brilliant and complex and for some people this seems like a conundrum she is so radical and so brilliant but even some of her friends said they were stunned when she decided to go into the priesthood. they could not figure out how she got there. but that had always been there. is tried to show in the vote she would talk to him remember what paul wrote and
as a child would accompany her uncle who was episcopal preach going from church to church and she would go with him she would play the organ in. that was always there but people tend not to see that side of her. i think some of them is pauli personality some is sexism or prejudice against her sexuality. and what is interesting is that pauli helped to plan that bus ride into the south
. and we hear of his work as the leader but that was her. >> right behind. you mention those who first came to roosevelt's house in 1924. and obviously the generation before. so good use say you laid the groundwork of the friendship between the african-american woman and a white family such as the roosevelts? she was already well along that path fencers in may encouraging higher in
education of young women? that that friendship would pay the award -- pave the way for pauli? >> i definitely think so. because eleanor did stay in her palm and pauli circumstances were always precarious and never owned a home so the invitation for her to go visit her at home pauli only son to eleanor's place i had no doubt she would have gone chic invitede her in she knew the condition but they had eight little class standard of
living. i cannot remember where she writes it was a major development for a her in terms to see miss bethune as a real peter -- peer but she crossed the barrier that was possible to have relationships other young black people. >> pauli would challenge eleanor roosevelt to confront franklin on any other issues that were important to the african-american population? to you have documents or letters that show there was a direct connection between eleanor enter confrontation
with franklin on these issues? >> pauli did challenge him she said in silence on the issue of lynching and eleanor eventually made his statement has she was against it. pauli when she graduated from howard at the top of upper-class like her male peer there all decorated pushy was not allowed to go because she was female. she did not directly ask eleanor but just told her how unfair this was and
eleanor been on franklin chu was a graduate of the college to inquire. he did. it is not clear that franklyn cared about this as much as eleanor. in fact, his letter is almost facetious to say i don't want to you to think you have to build the dormer for her but when you get a chance have a deed right to me about the situation. he was going through the motions because eleanor was leaning on him.
she did not get to go she went to the university of california berkeley but she did act and tried to move things where she could. there is another case of 50 seamen who were court-martialed she that that was unfair she was covering the case and feeding eleanor material and she was pressing fdr to do something. >> is there another place where they interacted with another crossing between civil rights andan human-rights in some way pauli shaped that civil-rights struggle that
she was a profoundlyd involved and eleanor with the human rights struggle but yet both use the other's language eleanor often talked about human-rights beginning of home here in the united states and in the same way i think pauli does the first person to ever do an assessment of the human-rights compliance domestically. that was way ahead. so did you find this space where they could work in between everybody else where they found company? >> i can remember the second year of law school, your question makes me think of this but i don't know if it is an answer but for the
second year of pauli law school. the war is going along with an international student assembly in washington d.c. students coming from all over the world. allied nations. pauli and some young radicals from volos cool our delegates. eleanor is determined the students from the allied nations feel welcome and supported and get special treatment, spend the night at the white house but pauli and her group not just how word but others that are working with them to raise issues about the allies' behavior and other places in the world. pauli was upset about what
was happening and worried about the questions and they want to raise these questions. it is so interesting because they develop a list of resolutions that mirrors some of the language that uc alan norris speak years later. in this particular moment eleanor quarters pauli at the white house to try to convince her not to moveto forward with thesese resolutions because you upset the balance. but pauli does not back down the resolutions go forward. they are not approved but the group and the assembly does not fracture she said we are worried this will make the allies of set and the assembly will fracture. it doesn't.
that was an important moment for her also be coz it said that the notion of civil dialogue. to have a difficult dialogue and maintain a relationship individual, friendship nation state or institutional. so we begin to see rehearsal between the two of them with differences and in this question it has to do with the young radicals yelling human-rights. the allies are not behaving. >> one last question. >>.
>> that was patricia bell-scott talking about the book "the firebrand and the first lady" one of "washington post" notable books of 2016. i am the non-fiction editor of the washington post. in july 2012 the 82 year-old nun, a vietnam veteran and a house painter crack security at the highly fortified nuclear facility in tennessee as site known as fort knox of uranium with the massive concrete and steel building thousands of nuclear bombs the incident is that the centerpiece of the book almighty a frightening but dispassionate look at the current state of nuclear security and diplomacy. that follows the lives in the trials of the three nuclear protesters and makes a point to explore the impact of nuclear weapons testings at the marshall
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