tv Panel Discussion on Southern History CSPAN September 24, 2017 3:00pm-4:03pm EDT
>> i want to get a few points across please put your cell phone on silent. if you would like to share on social bdm ago to a book festival. thank you. welcome to the session on southern history and we also want to thank our sponsor for this session. i would like to introduce you to robert who will be our moderator for today. he is a member of the board of directors for the mississippi book festival as well as a director for the center at jackson state university whereja
hhe's also a professor. he is also an author. thank you and welcome. >> glad to see everyone here this afternoon. i'm going to go down and introduce our panelists today. first, we have to my immediate left adrienne is the author of water tossing boulders help of chinese immigrants led the first sitedevice to desegregate schoon the south. she currently serves as managing editor of the daily paper in williamsburg virginia and at the school of journalism recently served as the writer an and a resident at the delta state university. her book was awarded the work in progress and that northampton we been massachusetts for the digital outlets such as apc 2020 and fox news. l
her investigation into the life of a bounty hunter in afghanistan is a feature filmthh also adrienne was raised in the northeast, she does come from a long line of mississippi women so we will clean you at least five generations long her mother was born here in jackson and they lived in a foreign new arch virginia. with an energetic corgi named clover, so welcome.ri [applause] to her left is patricia michele boyd of the research center at new orleans where she focuses on projects and programming that advance feminism and she teaches courses for the department of history including comparative histories of oppression and resistance and gender violence and justice.
she earned her phd at the university of southern mississippi and a ba from mississippi valley state university and in theater from arizona state university. her book the crusade for racial justice and a central blog 26 p.m. 2016a member of several organizations that fight for the equality of people including the social justice movement is newlo orleans. [applause] as the author of the critically acclaimed book how race changed memphis politics the cbs affiliate station at memphis and a panelist for important
services of public affairs at channel three, plus he writes a weekly viewpoint column for the commercial before joining the university of memphis in 2011, the editor for the opinion and editorials at the commercial the land formerly served as the managing editor the first african-american to hold both positions. working at the pittsburgh press sandford is a nationally recognized lecturer on management of journalism ethics and first amendment issues and past president of the associated press media editors and past board chair of the mid-american press institute.into t in 2014, he was elected into the tennessee journalism house of fame. [applause]
his father owned a coffin plantation and the father moved to arkansas when he was two and he graduated from southwestern college in 1965 and served as a volunteer on the northern coast of colombia for two years in the development and in 1967 he wasas drafted and spent two years inhe the military. in 1972 he graduated from the wall school in fayetteville and was employed as a legal service attorney for 32 years representing indigence in civilf cases and subsequently he was an attorney for the disability rights center in arkansas and five page ddn series published between 91 to 97 by simon and schuster. his nonfiction books include black-white relations in
arkansas from slavery to the present, race relations and thee natural state, civil rights crusader from arkansas, blood i: their eyes the massacres of 1919. the recipient of a certificate of commendation from the american association for state a and local history for blood in their eyes and among other community awards he was named the 2016 civil libertarian of the year ended in 201 and in 20a lifetime achievement award from the arc in all historical association for his, quote, pioneering investigations of arkansas's racial history. [applause] we thought we would jump right into this and not tiptoe around some pretty sensitive topics. i know we are here to talk abous all of your books, but it seems to me as a civil rights
historian at the festival this weekend we have an obligation as southern historians to make some comments on what we have seen happen in the last couple of weeks in the state and this state and others in places like pl charlottesville in particular as well as what is going on in the white house and the current debate over the mississippi state flag, something of particular importance that you consider the room that we are all sitting in the right now. i think maybe we can start with you and perhaps get your thoughts and consider your work on racial justice in mississip mississippi. >> thank you for having me i'm pleased to be on the panel thank you all for coming.
does the images coming out of charlottesville i think some of us want to think of american history in this linear progressive line towards a great dream o of enlightenment and equality and justice for all, but that isn't reality. it's more of a maze and the heavy dichotomy of these great ideas. we have the civil rights movement and defend the southerd strategy.crow we had great strides in the 21st
century we have the first african-american president and a lot of great strides that happened under the time to cope and now i think we are in a backlash began.gh alway there's always resistance to the first moment african-americans are forced here in resistance to. you also see these people that are standing up against it if i wasn't here, i would be there but i think this is important. i start the buck looking at the long history january 101966 when
eight klansmen came to forrest county and their mission was to murder a civil rights activist and voting rights case. he was living in the store and the children were living at home. he shot back and called on his wife to get the children out. they did manage to get everybody out of the house but betty sustained severe burns on her head and hands and it was such a horrible smoke inhalation that he perished later. six days after that the fbi was already considering the case and they sent an army of agents ints forrest county and there was a powerful civil rights and the road and demanded justice in the
case and also justicetation implementation law and all kinds of demands.. six days later as a funeral procession, a car unloaded three white men and tried to plow into the procession. they missed their targets and grazed by one person. we are watching images. we see many of this in the video and we have seen people get in the car and plow it into the antiracist nonviolent protestere and kill so as much as we want to believe that we are going forward, we have made greate strides and tuesday it's also scary we have to stand up i think.stink. we have to speak out and we have to continue that resistance, because we are in some reallyme
troubling times. >> iem a native of mississippi. i grew up in the 50s and 60s internal accounting mississippi. my older brother joined forces with white young men from the northern have registered people to vote. i was about ten or 11-years-old and had a fear he would never come back home and when he went to do this he integrated the lunch counter at my home in the drugstore or at least tried to until they took out all the seats and that nobody is going to fit in there because they didn't want and african-americans having their. what i see going on right now with the charlottesville and the issues over the statues andd
flags is a kind of resistance and backlash that is, to be very honest, it is so troubling that it is mind boggling. but i do believe that decency wins in the end. i believe that the statute state have one in memphis, we have two in memphis. right in the heart of east of downtown memphis in the park, jefferson davis statue to that used to be named after him but now it has been changed. i think that they are going to leave public places. i've advocated this in as you said i write a column in the newspaper every week and i am steadfast in my calls to get these out to the public venues.
i don't want my taxpayer money going to the upkeep of these statutes. they need to be in a museum. you can request the statutes that is fine. he wanted to be buried in the elmwood cemetery and he was for more than 27 years until they dug him up and put him in douglas park. so, i think that again, decency is going to then in the end and i am going to keep shouting for it. i hope the majority of the voices keep shouting for it and i will talk about my book a little bit later. i >> of this hits home in a lot of ways.
[inaudible] unfortunately, we are experiencing difficulties in our live coverage of the mississippi book festival. stay with us and we will return to the life programming as soon as possible.a that >> so the idea that these are just statutes and crazy protesters, what people are fighting against is rhetoric that can become law and we would have to fight that forno generations to come. >> i wanted to start by reading from the introduction just a couple paragraphs in the book. i'm sure you are aware who elsie and dc dates were. there was a fire at the schoo industrial school but i wanted to put the historical context
and i will start in the middle of my introduction with a couple paragraphs. they will see the ne new me too well that the white supremacy was carried out by slavery, science, murder, rape, terrorism, lynching, massacres, mass incarceration, disfranchisement, racialrson, cleansing, racial covenants, predatory lending, loan discrimination, grid planning, segregation, intimidation, humiliation, discrimination, denial of free speech, combination from employment, the
truly massive debt of the financial resources for services intended for black citizens, quarantined rather than effective treatment of thosegn diagnosed with tuberculosis in a civil and criminal justice system that routinely denied the due process in equal protection of the law. as an integral part of their rights, if sometimes resembled propaganda rather than history in order to justify the action of the white southerners. notwithstanding the carnage and devastation caused by the civil war account of class struggle and its defeat over time havee often been transformed into an
occasion for nostalgia reenactments and legends rather than the attempt to come to terms with its actual history. i am going to stop right there and make a couple of comments. one of the things that has been important in our history, and i am talking about arkansas and mississippi as we were saying earlier it had a saying which sounds ridiculous but the race relations would be the name of my book at one time. we know how poor arkansas and
mississippi in the south has been. it's been inspired by the primal address at the historical association and the closed society. the doctrine then and now has been white supremacy whether its is achieved through a slavery or segregation and the inherent states rights and bolstered by the religious fundamentalism. some of you may not know that doctor silver had a shotgun in
his house after he made a fuel over civil rights in the early s 60s so what does this have to do with what is going on inttesi charlottesville. w it's been white supremacy. at the forefathers ithe forefaty whether they came out of washington and thomas jefferson so we have a whole issue about what statutes to take down. one of the things that at least we have in little rock right nor is we have the statutes of little rock nine and guess where they are?
they are on the lawn of the state capital, which is something to think about when we contemplate what statutes are going to be removed every day of my life i would drive past those statutes and live two blocks from the state capital. every time i go by their there is not necessarily dozens of people but often there areaf busloads of mainly african americans who come here to get inspired by the nine to statutes of the little rock nine and integrated central high school and so, one of the things we have to think about and removing thin removingthe statutes is whh the first amendment rights for
people to protest. one of the best roads to tierney is demonizing the media that is part and parcel of what is goin. on here. i was very dismayed yesterday, thursday, when the senators from mississippsenators frommississih mississippi and when asked to comment around the issues of what the president had said that the statute and things of that nature and how he refused to give a full throated criticism of the neo-nazis.
it was then a startling remark by saying it's time to move on from the incident inchtt charlottesville. i am repeating what i said onso, television yesterday. we cannot move on from the incident in which a young lady was bolted down by a neo-nazi. we have to address these issues. we cannot just move on and forget and do nothing about the. state flag. we have to address these issues in a clear way and understandpe the feelings of people who see them as oppressive symbols. and until we do that we are not getting them. [applause]
i for one fully believe the work we do as scholars and historians and journalists and writers is important in addressing these issues into the research that we do and the work that we do needs to inform the present and complicate the past. i think it complicates the notions of the motion understanding that the movement wasn't something that just bega in 1954 and ended in 68 and doctor king's assassination but the movement happened all over the country and has different people involved than just even the black-and-white dichotomy. i want to go down the line and ask each of you to talk about ways that your research complicates the understanding of
the past and how it informs the present.fore, so we will come back full circle. it seems to me that in particular are complicates the movement in terms of place especially and put our attenti attention. and a part of mississippi that gets very little attention. we usually talk about the deltai so i'm going to turn it to you. what did we learn in that regard?and i look >> when i first looked at researching, because he's a study for jefferson and what i refer to jointly as southern mississippi was looked at as moderate. they did cooperate with them.
the history is seen from that point forward in the convictions on murder and arson and those were the first. they were watershed cases that didn't get three nice trials but then they brought it back. so that is important that we have to look at what happened before that and what led to that. they like to say they came fromh jones county. it was a pretty tough county buw so was forrest county. so then i go back in time and i look at the inception of the counties. you had a linkage between the
two in world war ii and jones county. there was a case where he was charged with raping a white woman and was tried with a matter of hours. there was no physical evidence and it was railroaded and they found him guilty. he was to be executed i and then the civil rights congress took on his case and was executed that these things were happening and one was tried in forest county he was found guilty again there's no evidence at all so i
think that's important in terms of place and longevity and when you talk about the confederate symbols and so forth it was the general ogeneral of the confedes well as the first of the ku klux klan. they had a revolt against theeer confederacy and they have a common law managed to become marriage. he had an affair and so the fact that president trump is talking about this history is not looking at what that history ist
i just think it's important to talk about these ideas and it's far more complicated when people try to say things are moderate it's important to get the good things that happened but not if you try to hide the darker history so i think that it is import in to point that out. >> particularly in the movement that nominates the conversations about race especially in mississippi where does the experience of chinese immigrants tell us about the complexity and social construction of race and how we understand the civil rights movement? >> i am so glad that i am sitting in this chair right now, because this is where one of the most racist supreme court decisions was ever rendered in a state and this is what i wrote about and i get to sit here in this chair.irl na
there was a 9-year-old girl that was of chinese descent, she and her older sister were attending school in mississippi, a whitesl school and in that year. we talk about this binary concept and here we are the history of chinese immigration and the delta and the thousands of chinese slaves were bought and sold by him to build a
troponin doe does, so he's got t on a street, too. so they went home as they were told to do and they were put in the position of having to decide are we going to fight, and what does that mean to fight and they found a lawyer who later worked for the naacp. he crafted the case that is eventually the hinge explicitly on the 14th amendment and the equal protection clause. they crafted the case. it was an incredible victory for 1924 but then of course the appeal that came here ruledin obviously against it which made it become state law and then it
was appealed again and became the law of the land in the in country. then over the course of the three years the family was back and forth and didn't know what to do with their children, they didn't know and they eventually landed in arkansas. it's kind of been pushed to the side because it does not fit easily into four paragraphs in the textbook which is why i devoted this book but i would love to see a lot more come out and look at the fact that there were enslaved immigrants in the mrmississippi delta and there we ethnic minorities being forced into portable conditions.
this family was fighting awa really racist case that we want to be accepted and luckily i got my hands in it a couple of years i'm hoping to see a lot more literature coming out about this going forward. >> one of the things that wee have seen in recent years as a modern asphalt on african americans and we all know that that is not a new thing but a historic thing and thinking about your book, when we think about the assault we often think about the institution of lynching and we think about the newest report from the equal justice initiative of the number of known lynchings in america
and we know it is the number there are hundreds if not thousands of others but disappeared. her calf and the total number o known lynchings. nationwide was 4,084 over 73 years. it also said a friend story and we would love to hear you talk about that. >> one of the things i think we have not done as a society dot coming to terms with our history
is the fact that we do not know the depth of the assault on black lives. one of the books i wrote is about the greatest massacres and despite the amount of research that has been done for so long,f there is an effort to believe that this riot that occurred in eastern arkansas was by blacks that were attempting an insurrection as sharecroppers that formed a union for up until
2000. the research cried out for a recognition that in fact what had happened was a massacre of african-americans estimated at 200 to 250 black men, women and children were shot down in the cotton fields by a combination of troops brought in from the camp and this was from 1919.w, e historians debated we don't really know what happened and ic fact, we do know what happened
this is the consequence of our society. when we tell the story of the modern civil rights movement, what does the local transition from edward crump to willie harrington tell us if traces the political evolution of memphis u from the undisputed done this for 50 years to the first african-american mayor in 51. they lost power for those many years because of the
african-american vote.en they were voting long before they were voting in my hometown of mississippi just across the state lines. african-americans were voting. some historians have said they manipulated the vote but at least for african-americans, this population and in this us who were leaving the plantations of mississippi, arkansas and some respect is louisiana going north, those that didn't go to detractodetroit, milwaukee, cle, came to stop and the ones that populated and has at least saw been listening to the concerns when nobody else would even care about their issues, so they did didn't give their political allegiance. now the book contains a lot of
characters who were either courageous or cowardly when it came to racial equality and took fairness. this was an enjoyable experience for me as a person that grew up around memphis but living in mississippi, he was from mississippi and i also talk about ida b. wells the first african-american millionaire,ins robert church also was fromom hy mississippi and who lead for good and sufficient reasons, but the one thing that really stuckt out for me when we talk about custody politics is this, african-americans just want a seat at a table in memphis.
they want some participation in public affairs, they want to be public office, they don't want to run the whole city. and at every turn for more than 75 or 80 years, the establishment said no. we are not going to let you sit on board of th the board of then memphis even though the majority of patients in the hospital are african-american. it was based on two factors.ti one is the assassination of doctor king and 68, which started the influx or the outfox if that is the word for the white residents from memphis to the suburbs. and then the second one wasof mh desegregation through busing
which completed this migration to the suburbs and bow out of the african-american population to be a majority population andh then culminate with the first african-american mayor in 51. the first major point that i took away from this book is thai voting is critical and that is still the case today. voting is absolutely critical for everyone. and i have said this a lot of different times. i have the message that i have is if you do not participate in the electoral process, you get who you don't vote for and we have seen that too often. i think that we sold last year.a the voting was not as robust as
it should have been. there were times in the past, 1961964 for example when the vor turnout for the presidential election was almost 90%. can you imagine any turnout that is 90%, that is unbelievable. but it was in the 64 because lyndon johnson, everybody was afraid they didn't want goldwater in there and so people in memphis and shelby county turned out in droves to talk to lyndon johnson and of course he won the election. what this research told me is that if you don't participate in the electoral process, you are giving up your right to really
complain about what's going on and you don't get to complain about who you vote for. that is my message. >> we are getting close to having q-and-a for the audience, so i hope that you will come to the authority of your and line up for the authors so that you can address them directly. i want to throw out one more question and i will come this way as people come to thato me become. i wonder why it's taken so long for these stories to be told. >> i think that it is convenience on the part of whites not to come to terms with their history. it's been part of our tradition at least in arkansas. you can look, i am not an academic historian in the sense
that i do not teach. in some ways, at least in one point in our earlier history, academics want to protect themselves and they may not like to hear that people want tenure and we have had a tradition if we were not going to admit how bad things were we were going to say we really don't know the extent of it. they've been hired at the university of arkansas and our other institutions. it's getting better.
but until we have a representative of people with color in academia, we are not h going to have that kind of participation. and we are not going to have that kind of truth telling i'm afraid. >> i'm going to be brief i think in my case, there have been books told about doctor martin luther king going back as far as i do b. wells and some great books written but i don't think there was any attempt to connece the dots in the history of memphis and when you look at memphis is a place that has a strong position in the mid-south there was a dominant place going back all the way to the 18 hundreds. there is a place where coughing came from mississippi to be a sold and that is what i was
happy to connect the dots. >> i think particularly in forest county there's the effort to make it look moderate and so people thought that there was not much there but there was tons of sources once you start digging. fat but the city fathers made a real effort into there was violencect that happened.e there was a decision so they came out and protested him every daday but what the city decideds they were going to try really hard to make sure that it was nonviolent so they took on a nonviolent approach and the media got bored and left was part o of that. , but i think that it is important for us to realize we
are looking at charlottesville. that was horrifying and terrifying but the nonviolent oppression is also really awful and it also really just does terrible things to people's lives. they tried to desegregate and i then they framed him for something he didn't do and het got cancer. people stood up there and i guess the greatest lesson i took away from my research is that it's through the post civil rights movement i go into 2008nt and 2010 and they continued to fight for the rights and there were amazing women so i just have to say that, there were some amazing women out there
every day on the picket lines and the mother when they arrested her kids she showed a police station and started screaming and yelling at them that they better not mess with her kids and they gave her kids back. so i guess my biggest thing i've taken away is that we just havet to keep resisting and mythologizing some of these things that are being said.this >> i'm going to use a big word this whole talk and that is the word historiography how historye is made and i think the reason this book was not written yet is because it was really hard to find any kind of record a central family comes to send it as undocumented immigrants who cross the acadian borderr illegally.
that story was all the way back in the paper and it was thed associated press copy. the story was some debutantes winning. so as journalists, we have aon responsibility for the sake of history to make sure that we are maintaining voices for all of what this nation is. i am struck by the fact that many of the confederate monuments were as early as 20th century from 50 or 60 years after the events woodrow wilson's racism is well-documented. we are now 50 to 60 years past
the people of the civil rights movement. i wonder if the panel would comment. in those two to three t generations are we forgetting or are we remembering in a way that is painful? >> you see how they are in thato charlottesville march and we think that the racism is dying out, so as much as i think there has been this sense that it was built in the campaign and before that it was all this stuff that had been here but it's kind of been under this politicallyt correct veneer that there was all this rage under their.
and there is a sense that among some of the whites in this country that they are being alienated and there are people that are suffering from poverty and so forth and what they've done in this country is try to get all of them together thenes they wouldn't stand a chance so you would have a different political situation. i think a lot of it has to do with this privilege that this is their country and it's not.'s it's all of our countries and i think people feel like it is being taken away and so in our fight to talk about this i think it is also important that we figured out how to address that and then we teach our history better and true.ic
>> that led to a question i had, and i want to read if i can pull this off now, two sentences from the mississippi declaration of succession. i can't pull it up right now. but talks about none the black race can do this due to tropical climates, though here we still have debates about if it was the states rights when the language was clear so my question is how you as writers deal with history and misstatements of history and how in today's society we engender empathy for each other as getting back to a place at the table to think without that empathy some of the greatest
change arrives out of empathy so how do you see your role in that and going forward? >> if someone has written thisum book i write a weekly newspaper column and i also do believe thn television commentary so i'm talking every single day on these issues. half of them love me and the other half, well, you know how they feel. but everybody, whether they love what i write an essay on television or they hate it and want the station to fire me and to get me rid of on the campus, they know i am consistent. i've been persisted ever since i started writing the opinion
columns so we just have to be consistent about it and continued to explain the histo history. they were marching in charlottesville and have no idea about the history. it's just unfortunate that the political leaders are doing too much for political reasons and not doing what is right that we are in the shape that we are in if only we could have some people that have the political will to say i don't care about the next election. i care about equal with the end of civilization that we are in and i care more about us and what ithat thanwhat is going to.
>> president obama 20 ted the stuff from nelson mandela and i think people are taught to hatee and that is why burning is so important and i think as much ah it is making you so angry to see these images and stuff i came from the movement that it was going out there with love and fighting hate with love and so that is something to think about going forward, and that is important. >> a memorial to the political or military leader my thinking on this is somewhat nuanced in the memory of president reagan.
before coming on here i was talking to my reporters because we had a monument in williamsburg city that i covered and the question of what is our role now do we just say there's a monument here i guess is the story. but i think what we do now in terms of this conversation wengh were having after what happened in charlotte, what i don't want to do is say taking the statutes down is going to solve the problem because i don't think it does.
i don't think they should stay there but i don't think the problem stops when the statutesv come down. i think if we just take it offf, the flagpole, we are not doingng justice to the history of how it was arrested in the first place. i think people should be made aware that this nativism is a part of american history and it doesn't push it away it just takes it off the central square, but that doesn't mean that it's not their so we have to be able to make it a first step so this is a long road and there is no way to separate that from the creation and itself. when we go back we have slavesis
on that ship. >> saying that we are going to take the statute down, that's ty let people think they are off the hook. the first reason i started reading the introduction is because white supremacy is not dealt with simply by taking the statute down because people think that they feel like they've done something and then we aren't going to do anything else when we have this incredible laundry list of things we could be working on that will begin difference in the community instead of ending up like we are in little rock right now.
that is where we are but in fact there is so much more we could be giving that we have not done and those are the things that i've listed in the introduction. >> i hate to do this but please, let's think the panelists for this robust conversation. [applause] thank you all for being here at the festival and please, buy some books.ions] ..