tv Tour of Black Classic Press CSPAN April 15, 2018 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
on obscure books. many people wanting to be familiar with authors who have done these books, and that is the point of it all. if i've mentioned books, we would go those of the books we focus on our authors that have been lost in history and at the same time when they were alive, people like a black woman who in 1926 wrote one of the more important pieces as far as i am concerned for history and that is covering ancient history for black folks. when we published it it had basically fallen out of memory,
and the importance of that and people like george wells parker, those were done at a time people fought hard to establish against those that were told they had no history. so the contribution at this time, which was one of the earliest contributions of any person writing in ancient history, the contribution was very sick as a kid and lost. our job and our mission is to make sure. >> does it hold up historically? >> that is the beautiful thing about the work we do.
there are many things he says or might cite in many of the historical things that he cited that historians still live by but there are probably just as many that don't hold up, so history is a narrative people tell. it becomes less important for me and historians. you want to look at what they dealt with and of course you will still look at those things. i am looking at people that are told constantly you are nothing,
you have no history. for a person to go back and put together three volumes of history, there is a narrative that designates. she is doing this work before people like carter wilson, the so-called father of black history. so she is working before him in ancient history he has some efforts in it so if the effort and the ground that's been covered not that someone would want to look at this today in to say this is the bibl bible for ancient history committed six apiece for others to look at and begin their work on and that is most of the work we do. >> wwe deploys right on the turn of the last century, does he
hold up? >> only in the same flight as the excuse given that it's the same for most writers do that is to take people write almost any book that has been attend you will find falls or errors in the book that people say do not hold up and at the same time you will find other things in the book that you might say let's build something on this and see what we have. he was onto something when she was onto something here as an early investigator and in that sense he definitely holds up and was a prolific writer so there will be more things that he wrote that do without but just as easily we can find things that don't. the boys debate could he was the
promoter and it didn' it hasn'tn that long but he would did eveny disown it so writers will write things that are if they live long enoug enough and they are e enough as opposed to a generation coming behind them i think we have to look at writing and creating that way there is not an absolute truth and at the same time there are some that can be explored and held onto that are important for us as a generation or two generations look ou at and bill vaughn. >> this is so important. mrs. houston who at this time lived in oklahoma city and i
know you are familiar with many of the towns founded in oklahoma. her father had gone to oklahoma and they've gone with the promise of there being more freedom in oklahoma so they were participants in the establishment of black towns. she was an early educator and opened up a school and talked in oklahoma and holds a an dead was there during the tulsa bombing. this was a plot for a road i thank god on this day that i do not have a son or i would have sent him off to war. the first city that america planned to actually one of the very first city she was prepared in her mind to raise this and
her thinking of god was a statement oas astatement of thae this woman who is in my mind a warrior and on the other hand resisting the notion that so much of the world used. if you can get rid of the history of black people than you can enslave them because they are no more than horses or cattle and that sets up the whole thing oholding of the shaw enslavement. >> do you print first looks? >> i do. we've done a few. it's not my passion. as i say that, we have t too wee
books in production but my passion if you want to get me started, this is what gets me up in a morning there are so many ancestors and people should be clear these books i'm talking about are by and about people of dissent. they are not necessarily books that have been written only by black people so there are a number of white writers who courageously stood like mrs. houston and even before mrs. houston these people knew the waves of blacks being enslaved was false and voted against these things and these people we celebrated, it doesn't matter white or black.
that's what gets me started in the morning. i like good looks at the same time but there are so many publishers that have capabilities beyond our capabilities and experience is beyond our experience is that i regularly send writers to that you should find a commercial publisher because your talent he cleats that. our mission is a little bit different. >> what is the process of finding a writer like mrs. houston is it in the original, mainstream publisher? >> she was a self publisher. people think self-publishing is something new, but it's not of course. people like whitman and other folks published books on their own. mrs. houston was following in the tradition.
she came from a family of her brother was a newspaper man in she was a newspaper woman so the two of them worked together to establish one of the early newspapers so in this case she's publishing her work and you have to remember we are talking about 1926. history is done on black people in the ancient world very much at all during the period and that is because of the universal denial of black history going beyond and certainly not a civilized history going beyond in some cases west africa but beyond west africa you're talking about people not having a history supermarke so the mars type of publishing was not available, not only mrs. houston but people like j. k. rogers,
they would try to publishers to pick up his work and he was one of the people that did tremendous work. he was interested and we publish them as well, he was interested in black blood in the white ra race. at the time it was white blood in the black race and he went the other way so he did enormous studies and research. i used to be a bookseller and people would come to me all the time and it was and remains fascinating to me. i didn't know about j. k. rogers
or other people or john clark when i opened the text were. i learned about mrs. houston and people like rogers because i would supply books to people in jails. people would send to the bookstore and say do you have this book and they would have no idea who it was and after doing research i would find these people. people would send messages out for probably not going to be able to find this book because the white man really don't want this truth out there so i would go through the research and sure enough find the book and this led to the founding. there was no economic basis for anybody to publish these books.
there was no economic model that would support the publishing of these books certainly by the commercial companies and then became part of the mission recognizing that there was material people didn't know about and the idea that it could be brought to press because it wasn't economical to do it frustrated me and led me from the bookstore into the publishing of these books and i found tons of them. i've been doing this work now almost 40 years and i haven't come close to scratching the surface of the books i would like to publish i just haven't been able to do it that much. >> host: is it economically viable for? for? >> guest: it wasn't economically viable and even
looking at the model regnery book publishing requires so many readers and a type of interest and just a regular publishing printing books doesn't work very well as a model unless you have a ton of them out there. in our case the decision was whatever they published i we pud be decided by the economics. with the deciding factor would be if it was precipitated here and that was based on knowing that the information was not known. i used to traveling still travel with a bunch of people that know a lot about history.
these were people who lived in history. that tells me that information has to be in the world, the same thing with the gentle men who did a small pamphlet in 1970 dealing with the civilization. you might ask that the thought of a black man in 1970 remember he has no history that pulls together enough sources that he can argue that in fact not only is there a presence there is an origin in the civilization and
it holds the same that most of the writers that have taken a look at the civilization use some of the same sources that he used. is it economically? no. so one of the reasons in our case that i say to that we formed a printing company about 20 years ago now in 96 or a little but more than that. the printing company allows us to be economical on the publishing side and it allows us to print books for other people and print our books so we've been able to survive. >> this is the other part of the
company. right now they are working on a large book project so this is focused on printing those books right now as we go along. >> when we look at a machine like this, number one it looks like a pretty expensive machine and what does it do? >> these are covers. he or the machine is assisting the cover to the body of the book which is here. you can see he's actually dropping books into the machine
and the cover is here. it's doing a circle around and coming off here. >> what do these other machines do? >> this one throws out the book so you end up with a completed book. we deal with all different sizes of books. this one is a color printer. it prints all of the color. the others are committed to
printing. >> do you do the typesetting as while? >> we do not. our scripts are in the actual printing. there are so many people that can do the typesetting, so when we are working with companies they usually send a complete and at that point it is exactly how they want it and all we have to do is print it and it's a seamless process at that point. >> has publishin publishing on-d paint your life easier or harder? >> publishing on demand is different. usually you will find there are printers with one title, one
book that our operation isn't set up for that we are setu seto do short runs. if you want 200 or 500 but if you are doing one book that's more of an on-demand printing company and there's only a few that do that work. most are in the digital space and most will do what we do. it moves them down much smaller than they used to be. >> how did you end up in the book world purposeful or accidental? >> it was purposeful but that wasn't my intention to do it. purposeful in that sense my history goes back to the black
panther party and from the black panther party i knew i wanted to be engaged with what i felt with aspects and that was community work, community education and the other aspect i became connected to was working in the prisons. i sold the charges that i might go to prison and i had other people who'd been in the party with me who were in prison so one of things i did is disconnected from the party butt still wanted to be active in a community so thecommunity so i n program and this may sound familiar it had three aspects.
first was a bookstore and it was intended to get books into the jail and and into the community. books that would help increase the awareness and consciousness because they had a model of the head george jackson as a model come he'd gone to jail, educated himself and has become devoted to the community. we had malcolm x. as a model who'd gone to jail as a petty criminal and educated himself and came out and was committed to the community. feeling like there was so much brain power and knowing that self-education was one tool to transform people in jail that's why the bookstore was there.
it was connected as a vision to a publishing company that would publish books for not only that bookstore but throughout the community and they sold and moved through the jail's. then there was a printing company connected to it so that's what i created when i came out of the black panther party. i've been fortunate enough to deceive those phases manifest themselves but the publishing company that was in 1978 closed the bookstore down it opened at the company.
that was opened almost 20 years later. you have a plan. i had no idea how that would work. but i had no idea people like frederick douglass, people like martin delaney. it was the importance of having a voice and instrument to be a voice for the community to get that out and attract it subconsciousness created could restore and build that community
and that is what i saw in the programs and intended to do and what i've been fortunate to see come to pass. >> why did you leave the black panther party? >> the easiest way to say it is that it was time. i left the party at a time that the party was transitioning into something else. i went out to california under the charges were in jail. there were people facing life as and the party promised legal
help. i was waiting to talk to get support and it never happened and i reached a point that became clear to me i was with the wrong people, so i left and came back and i was disconnected because when i left the party was at the center of political activism and coming back, i was disconnected from that and confused. i have five children at that
because the fbi still had a thing, the opposition got stopped dead but from the books we did get into the jails, in jail you don't have a life so you gravitate to the centers of power and collected into books. sometimes people would use them as a commodity which i understood that was very demoralizing so that program went on hold and we are in the process of working through right now because that always bothered me.
the original motivation for it is conducting the books into the jail that was different. one of our largest constituencies is people who are incarcerated so we stil they std books into the jail and sometimes they don't have money they will send books into the jail as long as they make an effort on the offer so if you ye in jail and say i don't have a dollar for that book say i will do the deal with you and send the book and i that goes back to the whole thing of doing for self. the early notion was just to send books into the jail but i think folks and things that you want you do what you need to do to get them even if you don't
have $10. and people have done this, postage stamps. here's the book. but if you were willing to extend some in a few heading dowyou had them downyou in exchg that means to me you really want it, what you're asking for. >> you've referenced a couple of times you said the fbi was looking for you and you potentially had charges to go to prison yourself. what weror so. what were those charges? >> i don't know. here's the thing i never had federal charges. always the local and when i say i don't know i say because they don't do multiple ones. during the time i was in the panther party there were probably about 16 different
arrests and they were always on charges folks can get dismissed. it's not like i was out there doing anything. when i was in the party, one time we were moving rifles which was legitimate. even today if you have rifles you can move them so we were between the panthers moving rifles, so they got arrested and the charge was like a 15 attempted murder charges out there and it's because when i came out i had a rifle in my hand surrounded by 17 costs. they could arrest me but they couldn't make the charges to be dismissed the charges good for bail said there were an so therf
times from attempted murder down to parking ticket i was arrested once because my car was parked in the wrong place and i don't know how they did that but i got arrested and i got arrested one time or practicing law without a license and there was no law in maryland about this and the judge finally had to let me out after about three or four hours because there wasn't a law and would have happened is one of the panthers was in court and looked to me for advice. if you were in charge of the chapter, you know what little bit of everything. he looked to me and i nodded my head and he turned around and said who are you what you have to do with this. if you say something else, i'm going to arrest you.
i hadn't said anything mind you but he said i would rescue for practicing law without a license. if they looked at me he said the arrested men, so there were a lot of charges. [laughter] none of them were ever tried but it was a tactic that the police would use to cripple not only the black panther party that all activists and they still use it as a tactic, to take bail money and stop people. >> you've written about your own experiences and your own life? >> i have a tough act to follow, so -- >> host: "is that? >> my son is a tremendous writer, pulitzer, national book
award. he sets a high standard i'm going to have to come up to one day but right now it's not so much of him but for my own purposes i'm writing because there is a story to tell but also because i think it's important to my grandchildren that the story be known. my children have heard it over and over. whether they remember it or not is different about iraq a larger version of walter mosley who's a good friend and enrolled me in the possibility of writing every day. i said i can't do two hours a day i will do in our.
he's been a great friend and mentor and coach. >> as you write your autobiography or experiences or thoughts are you writin writingr and a? >> most days not everyday. i do it at home the first thing i do when i get up in the morning and most days i'm able to get it in. >> did you recognize in the early days and where did you come up with the name? >> f. name comes from one of the people someone in jail told me about a. he was alive at the time that people knew him through his lectures. i came to know him because people in the jails wanted his books and i came to know him and we became good friends. i shouldn't say good friends
because he was always kind of mysterious but i think we were good friends enough that i became his publisher when he retired and he was also a self publisher so i wasn't his publisher when he was born but i sold his books and his books deal with the consciousness of black people so it's a combination. i visited to the hospital because we had to pick a nam pun the birth certificate. he called, he very seldom called at this time he called and i said i'm glad you called. i headed to the hospital to do a name for my wife's baby at the
time. he said what names have you looked at and i said i've looked at these two names you're dealing with. he said then that it will give him a strong name. it is interpreted as land and people who are located somewhere around sudan and his suggestion was to do that. and he would always ask about him as he grew and when he began to write he could never remember his name, how is your boy, the one that i. >> among your childre children e only writer at this point clicks you have nine children?
>> i have nine, two of them are married. i have seven biological childr children. it's interesting because they didn't think he was a writer. his older sister i always thought she would be the writer should have notebooks full of writing. he ha used to do a lot of crap d went to a poetry and hung out with a tremendous group of young poets that helped shape him and he had the howard experience that shaped his writing. i watched his writing over the
period but i think that his mother appreciated him much more than i did. she bought an early book of his poetry. he writes about him being a bad poet but i don't think he is, i think he's a very good poet but the people he hung out with he thought were much better but he published a book he put together and his mother brought it to me to print for him and he didn't know at the time that i read it closely and i felt his power and his poetry and i thought this must have been 20 some odd years ago and when he went to work under david carr at the same paper, he really became a sensation under david carr even at the city paper he did a front
page and he'd only been at the city paper of two months were something. i say this to say of course i followed his writing from the period forward and could always see his power as a writer and he's just gotten stronger. >> did you publish that poetry that? >> guest: i printed that i didn't publish it as again it wasn't inside of my mission. your question leads me to this because people always ask are you going to publish in and i don't know the answer to that. we came close to doing the recreations. i wanted to do that as a
standalone after it had been published it was in the atlantic original and i wanted to do it as a standalone, however he and chris got together and eight years of power was born to so that article became a part of the book in what should have been a soapy came close to republishing this but i don't know much about his original work. his first book he wanted to publish the classic press. it's what became the beautiful struggle and it was s was so ean and didn't even have a title but the first book was the beautiful struggle and at the time he and i discussed at a distance of the
title there were just some essays. but what i told him is he didn'e didn't need to publish the book with me he needed to get a commercial publisher. commercial publisher could support his work in a way that ours could not. the commercial publisher could pay him in advance which he deserved a what she needed because he didn't have a steady source of income, a commercial publisher could do that. if i published the work it would be more like what people would be like a vanity job because i'm publishing him as my son. if he went to the commercial world he would be out there with everyone else and that's precisely what happened and that is the best.
i sat on the board for many years and a even though that's t part of the foundation isn't the part selects the award of seleci can't imagine that he might have been a candidate being published with the press with his father. he needed to be out there swimming with the big guys and that's what he did. >> as we talked about with some others, will between the world and me in eight years of power hold up 50 years from now? >> that is a question that i would have to say the same thi thing. with literature, period there are some lines that are so powerful they will stop you in your tracks and other others yot
say whcansay what is he doing t. it doesn't matter. there are elements that you like and those that you won't even today when you read it and there will be pieces like eight years in power that people will criticize today and 50 years later. the wonderful thing about eq is in power is that he's able in that book to go back and do a self critique so it just verifies the point even if he was giving one away when he wrote it and got further down the road but i don't know about this, literature isn't an unchanging body of words and ideas. there may be some truth to them i'm not saying it's not true that the whole truth coworkers
more in the context of their creation but it's also what they indicate and suggest and the ideas they give us today. some that what inspired a generation that is what is important. >> if your youngest children come to you or somebody in the community comes to you and says what should i read what comes out of your mouth? >> it depends. it might be the autobiography of malcolm x.. after child can't and he had said what should i read, i would
say malcolm x., something like george was parker, there's any number of small books i would point a young person to have them read and engage. my advice would be no different for a white child or black child in fact i might even be more adamant with the white child because it would be an opportunity to introduce them anyway they wouldn't normally have access to so that's the day that i would approach it and i would certainly introduce them and i've done that ther but thes other people of course. it really depends.
one of the questions i'd ask i k that would help me is what are you reading now, what are you in arrested him because in becausd you to a comic book. there are some people that don't read comic books but they are a great access point for people to read. you probably already have this but what we want is access. it's like with food, how do we get to that point. reading is similar. how do we get someone to develop as a great consumer of words they come out of the womb that way that's one thing but what do you do if they are not. comic books standing as a point of acceptability for me as they were my access to reading.
i read comic books long before i read any other things. >> there is a connection to the black panthers. >> by the time i was old enough to steer the reading and make sure that as they would with any other child in america to make sure there was a grounding in black history children will have a grounding in what some people may call american history. you get that every day. a black history, native american history and asian american latino coming to don't get that grounding and that's the opportunity for the expansion of our children and that doesn't
necessarily happen in schools. i don't know if you can demand it. it's nice if it does as a parent it is incumbent to take on those things that expand our children's minds and curiosity and ability to define themselves and connect with other people in world and i think reading is a great way of doing that. >> to think there shoul you thie separate sections for black history and native american history? >> the sexuality doesn't bother me. i don't care. i just think the books need to be there. when you go into a store and they are not there that is where the problem is for me. when i go into a bookstore, i am
looking to be informed and if the information isn't following the narrow path that i feel kind of let down. i want the bookstores to have -- don't get me wrong here because it's just say for example if i were in a french bookstore i would want it to have an extended experience of the world because that's what i think things should do. >> founder and director clark classic press.
in 2018 the five tech companies that are the largest most highly valued companies in the world and they are undermining -- google, apple, microsoft, amazon and facebook. they are not in themselves but companies. they want to be monopolies that is natural you want to dominate your market that isn't good for innovation. i think it is wrong to say it benefits society. they don't and you need regulators to step in just as you do any industrial age to make sure 11-year-olds don't work in factories, to protect the environment and social
security and we need the same regulation today whether it is antitrust regulation, new walls on protecting data privacy for consumers or about how people use technology these have been essential through history. so i think sensible business people. as bill gates recognized the value and i think silicon valley is changing and recognize ink technology is about to be regulated. we moved into the third wave and it's the political stage it's why they spend more money here than in washington, d.c. than anyone else. it's not a bad thing and it doesn't mean regulation is good.
the french law that forces google to pay newspapers when they send them users is absurd. when we think about privacy we all say that we want it but we don't really know what it is with some sort of abstract sense with the consequences of losing privacy. >> you know all of them had spent a long time thinking about them. have you given up anything? like has this lets you to say
the book is not apocalyptic and is a little disturbing about the way we live now. like it does make them aware the way you live now is problem. >> i have tried on the margins so maybe that testament that you can be entirely conscious of all the pitfalls and still go along with things. there's a couple examples of ei gave him the book and i think over time i've tried to find moments i could put my phone in a different room. >> that's it? [laughter] that's the best you got.
[laughter] it's actually not trivial i don't think. two defining moments that you can disconnect from technology to me it is like a ballgame because we can never escape technologies. a lot of the problem is for society to find some sort of solution in terms of employee and regulatory solutions that protect privacy or find a better way to put antitrust to make the companies a little less overwhelming in our lives and help create true competition. it could be your worst enemy artist friend depending what you do with it which is why i think we are at the point everybody should have an understanding of what is and what it does and
that's why i wrote a book about it it's not that you need to understand the details. it's like driving a car you need to understand how the engine works. you do need to understand what to do to move the pedals. today the machine learning as i think we as a society have a lot of decisions to make about machine learning and most have been in the past.