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tv   Book TV visits New Orleans  CSPAN  June 17, 2018 10:00am-12:00pm EDT

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shouldn't work and couldn't work. and it's not supposed to work that way. you are supposed to be looking for some people on the other side to get 65 or 70 votes. of course he would say that would be impossible because none of them would vote with us because they're against trump, et cetera. ..
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♪ >> southeastern louisiana on the mississippi river. it a major port city during atlantic slave trade. with the help of our communications cable partners. learn about the history of voodoo in new orleans. >> people assume even the scholars that the history they
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equate the insert population with the origins of voodoo in the city. the evidence we have the prosecution of voodoo practitioners. bhutto has been criminalized from the majority of the history of louisiana. the earliest reliable we found have to do with the prosecution of folks practicing voodoo in the 18th century. again, that doesn't tell us what the prior dislike or if it resembles what we think voodoo is now and people are being prosecuted >> new orleans does have a right to its voodoo history. bhutto came via slave trade that
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were taken then brought here. we had slaves that were taken from different areas, so there are different spirits. people always wonder, they find new orleans voodoo the tradition to be very eclectic. well, there's a reason for that. because if you go to wine area and africa, you will see how voodoo or the tradition, whatever they call it in that particular reason, how they are practicing it bare. if you go to another area, see how they practice it there. then you have new orleans, which is this gumbo of the parts of africa so we have many different spirits represented in voodoo. african spirit and they are just
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in new orleans and they've taken not on her of her and included into their practice, but marie lebeau is in northern spirits. >> so marie lebeau is the most famous voodoo queen especially in the 19th century and i would argue still and as far as we can tell historically she's an african-american woman of some mixed racial dissent, though the break down is that some of the research of that is still a little sketchy. but because she looks like the people think women in new orleans look like supposedly, supposedly fair skinned, distinctive, people think of new
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orleans were interracial relationships are common and because she looks like that or she is reported to have looked like that. we don't have any photos. then she becomes the exemplar, not only of voodoo and its disk, but the way that we read race into the practice of voodoo in new orleans. voodoo is viewed overwhelmingly with a negative land in new orleans history for almost the entirety of its history. at the end of the 19th century, the negative stigma is so pronounced that maria bodo dies and they do obituaries for her. her daughters go out of their way to disassociate her altogether and don't admit to practice identify her as devout catholics and don't when it do anything or speak at all about
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voodoo. in the way it's treated for all of history. during the 19th century before the emancipation, again, voodoo is criminalized for most of its history. something call to call the wire, where people come especially black folks from practicing any religion that isn't catholicism. after the french were gone and the americans come in with their pretenses towards religious freedom, voodoo practitioners are prosecuted because they are this often involves people to gather who should not be together, specifically enslaved people and free people of color who are not allowed to mix in certain places and numbers. they are broken up and practitioners are jailed for
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mixing. after emancipation, when an slavery is no longer an issue, voodoo crack missionaries are criminalized for breaking economic laws around fraud because there looked at as fleecing their clientele because obviously the authorities don't view that religious practice or the practice that they claim to have as legitimate. anything they are doing for money, and they view as fraud. they've been criminalized for different reasons throughout history, but for most of the history, it has been in equating of voodoo with crime. >> i think part same new orleans voodoo for pretty much all my life. i carefully remember a time the spirits are calling to me. i would say that consciously thought about maybe somewhere between seven to 10 i started to
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investigate the books that were in my grammar school library. the only problem with some of the older books so a lot of what they were seeing is a voodoo ritual they were witnessing a voodoo ritual and they didn't understand the elements as they sought representation and they would assume this is some kind of people honoring the ancestors if they see it present with a pin, they would assume it was to hurt someone and set it to heal someone. they would assume it was a sign of evil.
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what they are witnessing within their own conclusion. when people come in and i am sure other shops basting.. they call the voodoo doll. they stuck a pin in it and not make the monthly rake in one town over, one country. the truth about the way we use voodoo dolls today and as a tool of healing. kind of like a spiritual acupuncture, imagine that someone is having an issue with
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the proverbial or physical heart relationship went awry, they are hurting, having a heart procedure. we will assist them to send protective energy coming healing energy to that region. the dollar is a tool of sympathetic magic. so we are going to have a nail clipping. even spare from the person that we need to a fact. the person dare they have the heart ache from a breakup with her their girlfriend. they want to feel better about it in a day addition to whatever else they are doing that is healthy for them, we would take the doll, lite hair and nail clippings, place it inside the doll and use it. we don't always use pins. but it's. but if a pin is used or misused focus the healing energy into that area of the doll. we are using the doll to
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represent that pn's body in a person's energy. >> be american. when they are arresting practitioners what they are most concerned with is the social message of people who should not be together. free people of color, african-americans who are not slaves, mixing with slaves. one of the things that i found most surprising was that voodoo was not quite as black as i thought it was. i thought of this is a very racialized tradition. and it is in a lot of respects. but from the earliest report where we have documentary evidence, the newspapers report that they are always there when the arrests he been spared a lot of the problem people have with voodoo is that it is costly not only does claflin between free and enslaved, but crossing
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the racial line in a period when none is very unacceptable, pecial to the newly american population that is the black-white divide as a very polar kind of thing. the folks being a restaurant must always black. even the white folks there don't seem to be jailed as least as far as the newspapers tell us. they mention newap reports about the arrest is there a white folks there and completely gloss over the fact in order to get to the corrupting influence of black people. part of the whitewashing of why participation has to do with this stigmatizing of all things black. part of the reason voodoo become so americanized in the early 20th century is because everybody has just accept that this cultural landscape for all
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things black, all things african or negative. and so, even voodoo practitioners who are born into the american south are imbibing this notion of blackness and inferiority. a lot of the charge against voodoo allows the critiques of it have to do with the notion that voodoo is backward and savage and that the presence of voodoo degrades the local population, specifically the local white population to african-americans do want to be associated for that same reason. a lot of the persecution of voodoo practitioners has to do with the racialized scene of the tradition, though there is some notion that part of the reason it is so barbarous and backwards is because it is not christian. they are born and raised in the christian space and think of themselves as christian. >> you weren't allowed to
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practice voodoo. they had catholicism forced upon them. so they did something pretty ingenious. they would substitute the catholic saint for their voodoo spirit. but say the slave master would come in to the slave quarters d see an altar set up and married the big picture of the virgin mother while that looks all fine and well, well, they may have been honoring a buddhist spirit, not the catholic saint. at this point, it has grown to be. people kind of grew into the disc. beyond just masking committees in catholicism as a mass, there were similarities in some of the
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circumstance in which a role. so today, like my godmother is haitian, mama lola. into the haitian tradition, while mama lola, she loves her haitian mola of love and abandon and misrepresented by one of the aspects of the virgin mother in catholic pictures. she also loves the virgin mother for herself. she loves the catholic saint. she loves the haitian represented by the catholic saint at the same time and equally and has combined them at the same time as honoring them both. it's hard to understand unless you do it. you can love the same and they
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cannot have their own identities , whether someone is acknowledging themselves as a priest or priestess, and they are still incorporating some aspect of magic were voodoo into their life typically. sometimes they might not even realize they're doing it. in norlin's, for example, who will do something that has nothing to do with cleaning. you'll see people, older people, young people cleaning their dad is not cleaning anything. that is a spiritual protection keeping out anybody, anything negative. we still use it today. they don't know why, but their mom did a them there great
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grandma did. it is tradition. they just say it's a tradition, not realizing it is a spiritual tradition. a lot of times it's voodoo. >> i would say that there's a group of folks here who are working to change the stigma to mark voodoo as a legitimate religious practice disassociated from all of the stigma. whether that statement the religious christian or socioeconomic with poor folks or racial because it's associated with just being associated with going out of their way for a lack of a better word, proselytize, introduce other people for the is covered to bring other folks then in to take control of the narrative
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about what their practices like and what it means to them. >> interest audubon park in new orleans learningbout author, journalist and professor walter isakson on his work about her limbs neighborhood. >> i think when you write about history, you have to realize that human memory is fallible. even if you are looking at people's oral histories done right after a meeting, they are actually taken into a meeting. as a journalist and historian who combined the discipline going into that, but also when possible interviewing people and saying what was it really like? and so we have to get sort of
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multiple sources before you say here's what i think the truth really is. when you get somebody alive, kissinger, steve jobs in my case coming you keep growing and you also have to realize other services to collaborate with a sad. >> when you write about contemporary figures to find a balance of maybe making that upset was that even something you consider? >> yes, i think for me, i like the people we write about. i deeply admire and respect steve jobs. he added a lot of aspects to his personality that were difficult. he's tough on people. when i was dealing with him, i
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would read him certain parts of the book and say wants me at calming her former partner says they really end up giving permission to put it in the book. the same was true with kissinger. there are times that criticized in the narrative his lack of appreciation for the values of american democracy and how they had to be included in the foreign policy. and not to sugarcoat everything. and robert caro, very good at being cold eyed and taff for me. i like the people i write about. contemporary or not. i like steve jobs a lot admired
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him. the downside or a story that is to come a kind of flinched a bit. these are your friends so you don't want to say anything unnecessarily harsh about them. i think that makes me less of a good biographer and away. we find that good night i can lose on a particular and other subject, but i know people read my books including the subjects of the book and i was too harsh. he tried to do it honestly. not just rigorously honestly. you also do it with a good heart, which is let me see if i can understand why somebody did
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it this way even though i don't think it turned out to be the right wao i d >> you get any pushback from anyone you've written about who may not have been particularly happy? >> henry kissinger for a while was not happy with my biography about him. if you read my nobel peace prize he would be unhappy. an understated his accomplishments. that said, i spent a lot of time with him and we have a good enough relationship and they think he understands even if he doesn't agree with that interpretation, so he was somebody early on after the book came out push back and had been too critical of some of his actions. >> you like to choose people that you particularly like to have a third amount of respect for. what goes into your decision-making process in who you're going to write.
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>> people who created an imaginative. some people write about great heroes are george washington or ulysses grant and read about military people are sports heroes or even literary heroes. people stand at the intersection of the arts in the sciences, who are able to love also the subjects in the humanity and technology. they tend to be very creative. that is albert einstein. that is steve jobs and leonardo da vinci. i look for people who have creative minds and his creativity comes from the type of thing you and i can appreciate. in other words, not just unfathomable like isaac newton. that's like leonardo da vinci
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who asked the steve jobs and ben franklin sort of drop out of school. they are a bit rebellious, but they become very observant, very curious, very much in love connect to beauty with technology. those are the type of people like it most passionate about. >> has there been someone you'd want to write about but you haven't taken on yet? >> yes, started to read a biography about louis armstrong. i love new orleans and i thought it would be a way to show how different mix of ethnic groups of people coming back from the spanish-american war or songs coming down from the old plantations all melded together to be a birthplace of jazz. i think i learned almost everything you can learn about louis armstrong except for who he was. i couldn't quite get the time
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that smile. couldn't quite figure out was he very happy. so i put that aside and sunday i may try to take on that period of time. i talked to him and said i'll give all the facts on armstrong and you give me the interpretation. you have things they might go back to. your connection to new orleans. here we are at tulane. both my parents and my aunts and uncles. the house i grew up in, my brother now lives in, but we have a house in the french quarter and especially after the hurricane, i came back as the
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vice-chairman of the louisiana entity and you realize that a city that served embedded into your heart might not recover. it just reminded me of the importance of home. the community and more recently with the dysfunction of employees than our national politics and said, you know, this is not going to be solved, and is ripping apart of america by politicians in washington. they should take time and move back to her home community in in the community level and try to make sure we do things that are healing and bring people together. i've always thought it was a new arminian. i came back a lot after the
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hurricane and a year ago i came back pretty much full time. >> have you written any books about new orleans and you have any coming up? >> i've written a book called american sketches. it's a series of essays and recorded pieces that deal with the heroes of the hurricane and deal with new orleans and its culture. it begins with walter percy was a mentor of mine, a novelist and this is many, many years ago. they were actually happy. and we know suddenly we will be tested and have to work together so i start the book with walter percy's hurricanes in the people
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and rebuilt to. i did essays about other leaders as well. and the importance to me. i've also been interested in baby due in louis armstrong, but if not, which is very louis armstrong first started playing his going up at me with six or seven or eight years old, which was the red light district right on the edge of the french quarter in which there was a great mixing, different races, different ethnicity. the light skinned free person of color. she has the biggest tall, the greatest businesswoman in story though. so the music and the sex in the
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race and all of that jazz would be a ground and i keep poking around to see if there's a good book. >> your latest book to come out has been the biography on leonardo da vinci. how did you choose him and where did you start in your research process. >> i chose leonardo da vinci because over the years i began to notice a pattern of how attractive a list of people who cannot did the arts and the humanities, sciences and engineering and all of these fields, whether it's ben franklin, a great scientist as well as a great diplomatic humanist publisher. or even einstein who whenever he was stunned by the equation of general relativity would call it general relativity football at his violin and play mozart because he said to the harmony of the fears. when i was writing about steve jobs, he kept emphasizing that
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all of my book had been about people at the intersection of the arts and technology and he was part of that tradition. it was leonardo da vinci. people write about him and his 12, 15, books the buyer. somebody should also treat them as the way they thought of themselves, which was as an engineer as well as an artist. bill gates bought a come he said where to look at leonardo to the lives not just as an artist but as a scientist. over and over again i was,
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thought of how cool it would be to ascend that mountain, to try to take on the greatest of all creative geniuses, leonardo da vinci. i approached it by going through his notebooks. as i said, of the writers approached if i say let's go to his artworks but he left more than 7200 pages of notebooks. on a single page you could see him do a sketch for the last supper but also tryo figure out how to score every circle mathematically come into spirals. and then do some mathematics. and then raise questions like why is the sky blue? something einstein asked. what does the tone of the woodpecker look like? just curiosity questions. i would go through the notebooks and connect his art and his engineering. >> you went to italy to see the?
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>> italy is a tough job. my wife and i had to go to places where there's notebooks and that florence and venice and milan, paris, madrid, windsor castle and so there was a lot of fun. because nobody has ever collected only all of these notebooks. you get to go to the places like the biblical text and procyon or the notebook on the flight of birds, that's in milan. or in seattle with a notebook on waters where bill gates is. there's something thrilling being in the actual presence of a notebook page looking at vitruvian man, the guy in the circle in the square and its in the top floor of the place in venice and just staring at it and say my goodness, look at look where he put his projector needle and feel a connection after 500 years.
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>> was the anything you discover in doing your research of the vincy or anyone else thateally surprised you that you didn't expect to come across? >> i was the price with leonardo da vinci as how he connect all the disciplines, how understanding facial muscles and nerves and how a muscle that do with the eyebrows touches the lipscomb have deflected what he's doing that smile of the mona lisa. i also loved looking at how affected him. because during his 20s, his main work was as a theatrical producer of pageants and plays both influence and in milan. so those contraptions like a helicopter we know that he drew, that starts off as a prop to bring angels down to the state. you look at the last supper and how the walls come in fast in the last supper and i didn't come it's like the scenery drawings he did in his notebook
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in which when you do scenery on a stage and make the walls coming faster and so looking at how his theatrical were connected to his side and his art was to me just one of the many wonderful discoveries about leonardo that i enjoyed. >> do you ever see yourself going back to washington? >> i can imagine but it do think that most of the creativity is happening at the local level. most of the binding the nation together is happening at the community level. people holding at a park, on a bigger stage. this is why c-span, not just on this type of trip, but for 40, 50 years c-span in my mind is always at its best when it on a bus going somewhere and stopping in at local communities. i've watched that for 40 years on c-span, how they capture
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what's happening locally. and to me i'm just deeply in love with new orleans, but also even the content that bore going to get right in the station, whether it's innovation, creativity, tolerance, diversity, all of those things we will start by getting it right or keeping it right at the local level. >> tennessee williams first came to new orleans in 1938. 1938. up next to learn about his time in the city and its inspiration for the "a streetcar named desire." >> tennessee williams first came to new orleans in december of 1938. he was, st. louis, a city i loath because that's where he had grown up and he hated
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st. louis. thought of its a cold, northern city so he was fleeing from the background and he came to new orleans. he said it changed his life. he said he sat in accordance of freedom i had always needed at the shock against my system gave me the material about which i've been writing ever since. we first came to new orleans he sort of circled around the french quarter looking for place to stay, and finally wound up in the french quarter. the french quarter was much more italian in those days than it was french, and it was essentially a slum by 1938. there were even plans to tear it down. business people who wanted to just bulldoze the whole area. it was a very inexpensively in
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which to live and a great many writers anarchists were attracted to the french quarter and lived there in the 20s and 30s. across the street is preservation hall where tennessee spent his first night in new orleans. state your way before it was a jazz venue. back then was hope of two of his friends, and he stayed in the back apartment. he didn't stay here very long because he didn't have that many experiences here, but this was already famous preservation hall for the last 20 years of his life, and i'm sure he liked the poetic symbolism, the fact that this place became known for jazz and blues all over the world.
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tennessee incorporate jazz and blues into his place. he wrote which pieces of music would be played at which moment, showed the dramatic opening of music in a streetcar. that's all tennessee williams and represents us love for jazz and the blues. >> tennessee at this point in his career when he came here, he had already been writing since he was a teenager. he had published a short story when he was in a magazine called "weird tales" when he was 16 so he already had that background, but he already produced several place in college. and so he was sort of on the brink of breaking out, i guess
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that's -- in that early. in new orleans he entered a playwriting contest and it was for one act plays, and he was limited to writers under the age of 25. 25 or under and he was 28, and yet been forced by his father to work at a shoe company in st. louis. his father had been with the shoe company for many, many years and got tennessee a job there. he said those three years at the shoe company didn't count, and his name was thomas lanier williams, is first name, and entered the contest under the name of tennessee williams, and it stuck. he had been called tennessee by his fraternity brothers in
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college because they knew he had a southern accent and he never lost it. and that he visited his grandparents in tennessee, so they assumed he was from tennessee and digest met it stick and let them use it. somebody asked him why he didn't call himself mississippi williams since he was born in columbus mississippi, and spent those early years in the mississippi delta and he said if i had called myself mississippi williams, my friends would of called me ms. williams. and he didn't want that so instead they called him ten. his first big literary success was "the glass menagerie." he worked on that here. he actually wrote a full script for it when he was in hollywood hoping they would make a movie of it, called a gentleman caller, and, of course, it was
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too advanced that in hollywood, to literary for them so they wouldn't do it. his agent managed to get it placed with the right people, and that was in the early 40s, just after the time of living in new orleans. he actually made a considerable amount of money off that book. >> this is the big dress wear tennessee williams -- address ere tennessee williams completed "a streetcar named desire," his most famous play. but it's also where he got the inspiration for its title. he said as he was up there on the third floor he would listen to the old rattling, rumbling
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streetcar passed by, and it struck him that it fit the theme of his play perfectly. so ut a a motif and as the title. he remember at the beginning of streetcar, blanche says that she arrived in new orleans to the streetcar named desire, past the cemetery, and went to a legion field where stella lived at 632, the same street address on legion field as where tennessee was living at the time. you might remember the character of the mexican flower seller. in shias hard crying florez
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flourishes, which means flowers, flowers for the dead. that character was based on poncho rodriguez, his partners mother. poncho and tennessee did not remain that close much after streetcar. they broke off the relationship. one of the sticking point is actually the way his mother was portrayed in streetcar. those of you who visit new orleans today would say there is no streetcar much less a streetcar named desire on wednesday today. soon after streetcar made its premier and tennessee had success with that, he won the pulitzer prize in 1948 for it. i bet he probably thought he had been pretty lucky to stumble into this stretch. we did because the very following year the city removed the streetcar line.
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>> "a streetcar named desire" was an immediate success, of course made his name and, of course, making money so he would gain from the poor impoverished writer who arrived here in 1938. he became at the time of his death worth some $10 million, and now the estate is valued at much over 100 million. >> that are many stories about tennessee and this house. he bought this house in 1961. tennessee was known to fans out on his balcony in the middle of the winter in his big raccoon coat, and asked friends to join him for a swim back here in the cold water of the unheated pool.
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the very first time i met tennessee williams was when i was still a bus boy at marty's restaurant. i had a long period of training to become a way to because i was barely 18. i was 18 though and able to sell, serve liquor at the time in new orleans when the drinking age was 18. tennessee was, in my estimation, the perfect gentleman at all times. but having read his memoirs and having read books about him, note about them from other people, he had quite a volatile temper at times and could be extremely talkative in the life of the party, once he got going. when i met in a new york, he did
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remember me. and that one party is secreta at the time came up to me after we had talked. i had sort of drifted off into the rest of the crowd. it was a fairly big party, and he's sexy cam up to to me and said, i have a family emergency, and tennessee doesn't anybody to have dinner with tonight. and said even though he knows quite a few people at this party, better than you, he wants to go out with you because of your new orleans connection. he said also because you remind him of someone that he once knew. but, unfortunately, or stupidly on my part i said no because i had, i had to decline because my
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partner was waiting for me at home and this was the day before cell phone. we hado rendezvous at home at a a particular time, and it was really no way to let him know in advance, which jeffrey really was very angry with me afterwards picky said, you passed up a dinner with tennessee williams? he said, i am very flattered but i'm also very just amazed that you would do that. in fact, he said, that you know, i know tennessee to his literary agent, and will get you to meet tennessee. to have dinner and actually get to talk to them this time. unfortunately, it didn't happen. i'm not sure about the dates exactly. i moved from new york in about 1981 or the end of 1982, back and forth, maybe was 1983 when i finally moved to los angeles,
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but i do know that shortly afterwards, at least in retrospect, i learned that tennessee had died at the hotel in new york. >> i saw him the last time he was in new orleans. it was in 1983. it was may be two months before he died, and i was leading a literary tour at the french quarter. i had a literary tour that i lead for years before i created the tennessee williams tour, and they didn't create the tennessee williams to work until after tennessee was gone because i thought it was sort of obtrusive. i was leading a tour and while leverage who was tennessee's chosen biographer and wrote the best biography of tennessee that have been written, although it only goes up to glass menagerie it doesn't cover the rest of the
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rich years, so many other plays, but while was coming out of the gate and a friend was in my tour and introduce me to lyle and introduced the rest of theou as a small tour, to lyle, and we chatted him and lyle and i became friends after that. we looked up and tennessee was standing in the window of his second-floor apartment, and he waved to us. he was wearing a greek sailors cap that he often wore in his later years, and that was, he left a few days later and then went to new york and died. lyle said that it reached the point where he could no longer right. he was very depressed, and i'm
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not exactly certain what happened because he had been i suppose borderline depressed all of his mature life. that was the last time he was in new orleans was 1983. just a month or so before his death. i think in terms of his importance to the literary history of new orleans, he's probably the most important writer. tennessee williams, i would say, was a major literary figure associated with this city, and continues to be. that doesn't mean that more of the population -- but he's left his mark here. >> we are at audubon park which is been putting about the cities literary scene. next we speak with tulane professor and first female
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two-time recipient of the national book award for fiction, jesmyn ward. >> and the winner of the national book award for fiction, jesmyn ward. [cheers and applause] >> "salvage the bones." >> i've been obsessed with this idea of the idea of history and how history bears in the presence, and how our past is a will to our past are passes also present. i think this is one of the reasons that i wrote about incarceration in prison and it that way sort of writing about incarceration, incarceration of black people, black man, black boys, right, and how dehumanizing that is and how traumatic that is. and then how i guess the specific circumstances of the
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mass incarceration might have changed, right. maybe our prisons today don't look, don't really look much like parchment prison did. they are not working plantations but they are still dehumaning places. they are still places where, you know, many, like a generation of black men and black boys are dehumanized and also traumatized. i think that another theme of writing about that i've been writing about recently is also like intergenerational trauma. so what does it mean for, say, the grandfather pop in "sing, unburied, sing" to suffer trauma while he was incarcerated? and then how does that affect his relationship with his wife?
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how does that reflect his relationship with his children? so how does that affect his behavior and how does, like how does the trauma affect his behavior so that he passes it on to his children, right? and then how does it work their sense of intimacy or family or the ideas of safety, right, and how does it affect the way to interact with each other and way they interact with their children, right? i don't know, i think those are two of the things i've been thinking about life lately in my work. the reason that i wrote, the most of it work is fiction and not nonfiction is because writing nonfiction is actually really hard for me. writing fiction is easier. it comes easier. the process is more intuitive and it feels more organic.
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whereas when i write creative nonfiction, not only to have to sort of work against my usual process, right, because my usual process is i begin with my main characters and have a vague idea y're gng. but nothing is plotted out, whereas with creative nonfiction i have to plot everything from the very beginning. i had to plan everything from the very beginning. so not only is the process much a different and much harder for me because it's much more deliberate i guess, it's also, creative nonfiction is more difficult for me because it demands honesty and demands also a certain amount of like intimacy and making yourself vulnerable on the page, and writing towards uncomfortable situations and uncomfortable subject matter, right, especially when you're writing
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about trauma, when you're writing about the way history bears on the present. that's really hard stuff to write about, and so when i write about those subjects in creative nonfiction, it takes me a very long time, one, just to get a rough draft down. and then have to revise again and again and again and again, because a lot of the times in my first two or three or four or five drafts and avoiding the painful subject. i'm sort of writing a rented or i do want to confront it. i do want to sit with it. i don't want to live with it in the ways that creative nonfiction demands. so that's why i mainly stick to fiction, sort of writing about difficult subject matter in fiction is easier for readers because in a way they can read and say, well, this is fiction.
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this is made up. i mean, i think that they understand that their something of the truth and real life is present in fiction. but i think there's a different experience and, therefore, the reader, between reading a made up story that h difficult subject matter and then reading a story that's based in real life. i think people are resistant to it a little bit. i think it's easier for them to experience a painful sort of story in fiction than it is in creative nonfiction, in memoir. i think sometimes that's why creative, like works of creative nonfiction that are about difficult subject matter, i think that's why they are hard to sell sometimes. sometimes people just want to escape, and i think that fiction allows a certain amount of escapism, whereas creative
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nonfiction really doesn't in a way, right? you are able to escape into someone else's experience, but if you know it is based on real life i don't think it feels like escape sometimes. >> i'm so happy to be and i'm so happy to tell you the winner is. "sing, unburied, sing" jesmyn ward. >> again, that was a surprise, and it was even more of a surprise when i won because i thought, i don't know, i was convinced that i would not win twice. i mean, it's been done, it happens so rarely so i thought i'm not, i'm not going to win twice. it's an honor just to be, just to make the long list and just to make the short list. there's no way it would give this to me again so i was completely shocked and of course very happy, very pleased when they gave it to me for the second time.
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>> throughout my career when i perceive, when i been rejected it was sometimes subtext, and it was at this people will not read your work because of these are not universal stories. i don't know whether some poor people felt this way because i felt about poor people or because her book about black people or because i thought about seven years. as my career progressed and is a cut some affirmation, i still encounter that mindset every now and again. i still find myself having uncomfortable conversations with reluctant readers who initially didn't want to read my work because they said what do i have in common with the pregnant 15-year-old? they said, why should i read about a 13-year-old-year-old poor black boy or his neglectful drug addicted mother? what do they have to say to me? and you, my fellow writers and editors and publishing people and national book foundation folks who read my work, you answered plenty. you looked at me and the people
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i love and write about. you looked at my poor, my black, my southern children, women and men and you saw yourself. you saw your grief, your love, your losses, your regrets, your joy, your hope. and i'm deeply grateful to each and everyone of you who read my work and find something that seems to you, that mushu in it. i hope to continue this conversation with you for all of our days -- moves. >> i do feel a certain amount of pressure but it's the pressure that have to actively resist because i think it's the kind of pressure that makes me very aware of my audience, you know, and now that audience has responded to my previous work, right? and so i do feel a certain sense the pressure because i'm wondering, okay, how are they
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going to respond to this, whatever this story is that i'm trying to tell what i'm working on now, right? and is this what the audience wants from you, or did he want something else, or would expect something else or what disappointing, right? that was especially problematic for me after "salvage the bon" won the national book award, right. when i sat down to begin working on my next book, i couldn't write anything. it was difficult because i was very aware of audience. ..
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she said forget all this. forget the claims, forget the prizes, forget all of that and when you sit down in front of the computer, remember the emotion that drew you to storytelling. that drew you to the page in the first place. and try to hold that close to you and forget everything else. that is what's important. emotion, that feeling on the page and i took her advice and that's the only way i was able to push away that sensation. get rid of that sensation of pressure and that awareness of audience and really write again so i began working with
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that and everything and now there is a second step to that process. not only do i try to forget everything as i'm writing and remember the emotion that brings me the storytelling but i also all the award that i get and i bring them to my mom's house because if i don't have them, then it helps me to forget about them when i'm sitting in front of my computer and just really concentrate on the story and the characters and in telling the best storythat i can about those characters . >> c-span is in new orleans to learn about its history and feature its literary community. next, we visit to jack's restaurant to learn about the history of new orleans cuisine. >> food here takes a much larger piece than it does
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anywhere else. we live to eat in new orleans. you can stand on the street corner and you will hear somebody talking down the street about what they had to eat. yesterday, what they had for dinner, how they cook those docs they shot at the hunting camp. we are a city obsessed with food. one of the biggest confusions about the food of new orleans is is it creole or is it cajun? what is it? originally you see creole and cajun food were two different types of cuisine. cajun food is hot cooking done by the cajun people of the southwest louisiana. creole food, the word creole itself comes from the hispanic food which means native so the first real were the first native offspring of the french and spanish
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settlers and their food is really city food. it's more refined. it's not as spicy as perhaps cajun food is but it's very well seasoned and we are situated right across from the french market, the site of the old wrench market which there was an active french market from 1718, from its earliest days so there's a bounty ofeverything that was available in season, fresh in the local . using french and spanish traditional preparations. it's indigenous, true indigenous cuisine developed and that is true creole cooking. the hallmark of creole cooking, first of all, we have to say no matter what it is we are cooking, it almost invariably starts off, first
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you make a roux and a roux is a combination of flour and oil.it's a french word, it was french reparation originally and in france it on her and flour but here in new orleans the water would burn before the roux gets to the dark color we like it to be. once you got that dark roux, the other thing that goes into everything is celery, bell pepper and onions. that is what i like to refer to as the real mere prios. the french mere prios was onions, celery and carrots. whense fir french people got here, undoubtedly the there seeds. a lot of their ingredients intending to carry on the way they had in france and here in the city where we are painfully aware of being 17 feet under sea level no
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matter what where you are, how are you going to grow carrots? you can't grow. you can't even get a decent grave because the water table is too high so that's how i believe the carrots came out and the pepper went in to what is really the real mirepoix so the crux of our flavor, the most important bas of erything is that dark creole roux with celery, bell pepper and onion added. real food is also typified tomato. cajun food tends to be brown. real food is often red, often tomato-based. they love the color and they love the flavoand of course there's thing as delicious as a creole tomato in season so that isanother very important element .
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2 jacks restaurant, 2 jacks is the second oldest continuously operated restaurant in new orleans, date back to 1856 and there have only been three so the traditions have made constant here. dumbo is probably the most emblematic dish of new orleans. sometimes the word combo is used to describe even who we are aspeople . dumbo is a very personal thing. here at tujague's we have a very typical gumbo. it's a filet gumbo. that means some of the autiful thicng com from not just from the roux which gives the gumbo it's color also from filet, powder. it was introduced to the creole settlers by the
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choctaw indians and it has a very unusual side effect of being added to a hot liquid. things, it literally thickens the liquid goes into. some gumbo's will have file powder, some will have opera. the most fascinating thing about gumbo is where does it get its name? the choctaw indians, the word they use for the file powder, file is the french word that means bread because if you add too much, it can get a ready, stringy on texture. the choctaw called those sassafras leaves kombo. the african slaves, many of them came from west africa. they spoke the bantu language there and the bird therefore opera was file gumbo so lots
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of people truly believe that gumbo gets its name from the bantu word kombo for opera. how can we ever tell?was it the choctaw and kombo or was it the african slaves?it's a mystery i don't think we will ever solve. this is combination run a lot. it's new orleans rom allowed two different ways. the original rommel on sauce you still find in france. it's a mayonnaise based sauce but when the remoulade sauce came across the atlantic ocean it changed. of course, it probably changed because of refrigeration or lack thereof . mayonnaise is a very icy issue if you don't have that
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refrigeration. consequently, instead of the possible deadly consequence of the mayonnaise based remoulade, the remoulade sauce dramatically changed in new orleans and became a fiery, kissing cousins with a base of what's known as creole mustard. creole mustard is coarse-grained, dark brown, kind of like a german mustard. it's icy and delicious and that's what forms the basis. you can even see those little mustard seeds in their traditional new orleans red remoulade. again and again in new orleans we will find dishes that perhaps come in a pure form from france but that or to a little bit when it got here. the remoulade sauce is a perfect example of that and
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yet conversely, we also in new orleans incorporate what are almost food museums. in some of the older restaurants, races like bonds, or knows, you will find this magical french fry called the pomme souffle. it's like a french fry it twice so it pops up,making this delicious, airy, crispy bike of hot potato that is like nothing else . much to my surprise, i discovered it back in the 80s that the french people have forgotten the pomme souffle. it wasn't on menus, yo couldn't find it in france but here in new orleans, it continued as it always did
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because we are real sticklers for tradition here. there are specific foods that center around some of our tradition. kincaid. it's not carnival in new orleans and less it's king case everywhere that goes on through the entire 40 days of. the poor boy sandwich is one of our most iconic dishes and was created in 1929 during the sport streetcar strike. it was the strikers who were originally the poor boy but one of the things that is most important to understand is that it's really all about the bread. new orleans french bread is deeply different. it's crusty. it's soft and beautiful on the inside so those original po' boy lobes were designed to be a sandwich big enough
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to feed an entire family with one sandwich. the po' boy sandwich was invented at the martin brothers grocery. then he and clovis martin, two brothers who had originally been streetcar conductors felt very sorry for those starving poor boys who were striking for a living wage, so they set out with their french bread baker, an italian man to create a sandwich big enough to feed a whole family so they sketch out on a piece of brown paper just how long that both would have to be and they did one other innovationit. instead of it being slightly pointed as a traditional bag would be, they blunted the ends so that whoever got and the cut of the sandwich wodn't get the short end of the deal. so the sandwich gets its name from the streetcar strike and there is a poor boy low and we do know how to spell it.
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it's not po' boy but the po' boy logo was a result of that. this is an off the menu ecial meal at tujague's. this is been on the menu about 1914. the second ohat wner t tujague's were partners. and madame castor and her husband john had been involved working for the madame whose lace was here before it was tujague's. that's where she learned the special preparation of chicken bond from. it is unique and delicious because the chicken is fried without any batter, any coding. it's just browned and the fry. they are fried in the same oil and thwhe thing is heavily sprinkled with fresh garlic and fresh parsley
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chopped together. it's delicious but you do have to order it in advance because it takes almost an hour to prepare. we are standing at america's oldest standup bar tujague's restaurant and the famous cocktail that was invented here at tujague's is the grasshopper.grasshopper, that famous dessert cocktail was invented on the eve of prohibition and we will show you exactly how to make it. you ready? you start off an equal or a white and dark rimmed to cocoa, then equal or of white ann crcme de menthe. add a little bit of heavy cream, the whole thing is poured over ice. we give it a good shake.
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to blend well and make it all frothy and beautiful . andthen , it's poured into a stem class. and topped with a little brandy floater. beautiful. and here it is, that perfect grasshopper cocktail. cheers. hurricane katrina changed the whole game because basically for the first time since 1718 we had a completely clean slate. sort of. it was kind of messy after the flood but the slate was clean and consequently, we had an opportunity to do two things.number one, the populace of the city realized how endangered our life here really is and consequently, how endangered our food
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traditions are. so suddenly, whether it was a poor boy sandwich or a sassy rack cocktail, it all seemed to matter more. it seemed to matter more that it was preserved and that the tradition was being carried forward. however, the same time, hurricane katrina brought a glut of very bright people who all across the country moved here in droves and decided they wanted to live here and based on that change of population, the food began to change. we have seen a greater divergent in the kinds of food served, the kinds of restaurants we have and an explosion in the restaurant business like nothing new orleans has ever seen before.
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here's the day almost 14 years after hurricane katrina we have over twice as many restaurants operating in new orleans as we did before the storm. when visitors come here, the most important thing to me is that they have an authentic food experience. whether it's trying a poor boy sandwich or having a bowl of gumbo, trying to pick crawfish for the first time, it's all delicious and it's an adventure and that's what i want our visitors to experience and then go home with a really special food memory they created here in new orleans. >> you are watching new orleans weekend on book tv. next, we visit falconer house books located in jackson square.
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>> faulkner came to new orleans in late 1924 and was staying with the wife of another writer, when joe henderson came back home. he suggested that the apartment was too small so he sent him over here because he knew a man who rented all house had space and was subletting. hereally was thought as a wastrel, a dreamer . nothing that could really recommend him to the local community. they got h a job as postmaster at the library, but he was a disaster there.
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close it whenever you wanted and read all of the magazines that came in before you put them in the boxes for the customers. so he actually lost the job . when he came to new orleans, it was important for him because he saw that there were lots of dreamers here. and dreaming was okay. so i think it resulted in that burst of creativity. he understood what being a writer might entail and it was all right to dream and to make up stuff, so i think new orleans was critical in his development. >> he had published or self published a book of poetry, the marble on and he came to new orleans with the hope of being able to sell enough copies to get a boat to paris to france. and he as i said, anderson
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turned him from writing his mediocre poetry, he said, to storytelling. sherman and was one of the most popular fiction writers in the country at the time so it was a wonderful break for him to associate with them. but anderson turned him from his, but anderson called mediocre poetry to storytelling. anderson told him to start talking about thittle postage stamp of country he came from in mississippi. oxford and the surrounding area, there's lots of stories i'm sure there and that's what you want to be writing about. he spent the rest of his life
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writing about that county and that part of mississippi. so his first novel was written here on a soldiers pay. and it's not set here. it's set more in georgia. for a first novel, was fairly good and it certainly open the door to him publishing his later novels. the same organization published the mosquitoes which was his second book and so, it sold fairly well. it was printed in large quantities, making two or 3000 copies but i think they saw the promise and the peak at the future, what to expect and he certainly got enormously better when he went back to mississippi and began writing about the people there that he knew and associated with. and in the summer of 25, he went to paris, finally got to paris and he went with a man
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was running the house. they spent about six years in paris and then came back. and he spent much of the rest of the year here and probably in 1926 he moved back to oxford mississippi. >> we are in the bookstore on his birthday in 1990. and we bought the building in 1988, it had been closed, had been used in probably 20, 25 years so it was not in the best of conditions. a man who owned it was retired and living in mississippi. he rented a room upstairs on the second floor where he could come visit but he had originally thought to make it into an apartment building and he had subdivided into about five or six little apartments and learned quickly that renting houses
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when you are remote and away is not a good idea we closed it out and my idea was we would try to open up this area. and it's worked, people love coming here. and walking through the bookstore and realizing this is where he lived. we have his books and do so it's been a successful venture, it really has. >> while in new orleans, we took the driving tour of the city with author, historical geographer and two-lane professor richard campanella. >> thank you for showing us new orleans today. you're an author you're not from hereoriginally. >> not from here originally, born in brooklyn new york .
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i was, one of my early childhood readers was a book about abraham lincoln. five years old in 1971 and in that book i learned that lincoln had come down the river to this exotic city at the other end and they were referring to the mississippi in new orleans and that my little boy imagination and that planted the seed for a lifelong fascination for new orleans and louisiana and the mississippi river that eventually became my life's dedication. >> you're going to drive us around the city and we are starting off in a place that maybe you typically don't think of when you think of new orleans. this doesn't look like the stereotypical picture of the city, where are we? >> the imagery of new orleans if you think about it is the narrow streets of the french corridor, the cast iron balconies of the old buildings. this is new orleans, this is city park over here, beautiful by the st. john's, we have live oak trees all around us, people enjoying the outdoors and this by you
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is, you almost can't overstate its importance in the history and geography of the city because it directly influenced why our founder established new orleans 300 years ago, the year 2018 is the tri-centennial of new orleans to what i thought we do is look around here, follow the bayou into the city, talk about the role it played and how humans build value around the bayou and how it led to the founding of new orleans. >>et's learn abouthistory and see it today . >> behind us to the north if you look at it is a title lagoon known as late on chartering. if you go in this direction you get to the mississippi river so the challenge for native tribes in precolonial times for the french
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colonials who started in the 1680s and 1699 was how to effectively connect these two water bodies, the gulf of mexico on the one side and the mississippi river and hinterlands on the other.so this little you allows the waters to circumvent the money shawl prone mouth of the mississippi river and instead come through lake pontchartrain and this little bayou by the st. john's. disembark and take a two mile portage route through the banks of the mississippi river so you can get to the mississippi not going up the mississippi so for that reason, the end the established new orleans at that point. as we come over this overpass, you will see bayou st. john.
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if you draw a line from this water bodies in the foreground to just to the left of the high-rises, that marks that little two mile portage trail. it was going through swamps but this particular route was just a couple of feet of all the swamplands and that made it dry celestial portage. we're over by the st. john right now and we are following more forcefully here, taking our right and because this was after the establishment of the city, this was an early lamentation region. truck farms and dairies as well as some larger commodity plantations. we have a couple examples of old colonial era plantation houses here. and in a moment, we will see a 1788 plantation house that is known as the old spanish
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customs house which also embodies that great look right over here. this is one of my favorite streets in the city. it's got a spectacular name. 1788, old spanish customhouse, notice the double room and the galleries, the raised construction . it is brick between construction. this, imagine different buildings of that size with various setback pieces dispersed through the french quarter and that is what early french colonial new orleans what it looked like so we are on right now at slightly elevated ridge that allowed for passage between iu st. john and the french quarter so you would have had slots to your left, swamps to your right here would have been a road that allowed
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people to get to the river without going up the river and new orleans to be located in a different way, with a different name work for the almost imperceptible ridge that you are on right now. >> it's almost imperceptible. >> bubble water nose. so water in pounds the areas but i like to make this point that in studying the topographic elevation of the city, people ask me what topographical elevation? it's a relatively flat environment what little elevation you have becomes that much more valuable so just a few feet of elevation can spell the difference between a neighborhood being established in the napoleonic age versus the jazz age.
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this is chantilly boulevard, notice how we curb here in new orleans whenever you see an old broken back curve, that's probably following a topographic ridge into the slot so continuing along the road here , we're going to be blocks of the full word period. folder is a french term and not the town itself butupon the bird , the original city is the french quarter and it was surrounded by a series of birds that were developed in the early 1800s as the louisiana purchase as the population started to boom. this particular one was founded in 1810. this was more substantial here and had more rises in new orleans than anywhere
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else in antebellum america. if you look at that actor, that is a monument to the unknown slave. you notice the shackles dangling from the anchor and this is saint paul church, 1841. a very kind of central american, spanish look to the church even though it had the same architect as st. louis cathedral and this all unquestionably is the cultural heart of this neighborhood. the catholic church, still active. there's great examples of mid to late antebellum cottages. >> what is this neighborhood today? >> this is changing, it's gentrifying. there's still a deeply rooted native population that is more likely to be african-american and more likely to describe itself as real. the architecture, the proximity to the french
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quarter, the higher ground that it's on exit attractive to many other folks for cultural and historical reasons. so we're going to cross, there was a fork here and now into the quieter, more residential end of the world famous french quarter. >> we were going to see sort of that wrought iron architecture that typically you think of new orleans. and we're at bourbon street which many people know. >> there's a client and. >> indeed, bourbon street is 14 blocks long. and the commercial infamous bourbon street is really only about the first eight or so blocks. the rest of it is a quiet residential neighborhood, almost indistinguishable from the other lower streets of the french quarter. >> why do you think people
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get wrong when you think about new orleans? when you think about bourbon street, are they missing out? >> i am the type who sees all impressions of new orleans as being interesting indicators of people's impressions. i see every person exploring the city or living in the city as having a hd full of impressions and expectations and i see that as all legitimate and interesting. one of my books is on the history of bourbon street and it took me a while to make peace with what i just said but piece i did make. >> where did the change come in? >> in studying this phenomenon of bourbon street, i came to realize that tourism and visitation and everything that goes on in bourbon street as the historic precedent and in and of itself , is a
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legitimate cultural expression. i should mention that it also, if you were here 200 years ago, there was an economy catering to escapism and hedonism and drinking. and bourbon street is the modern-day manifestation of repackaging of those historical realities. and so when you think of it that way, suddenly it's a little bit less less likely to criticize those things. we're coming down saint anne's street and this will get us to the edge of one of the most perfectly preserved urban plazas in the nation called jackson square, originally a it was the popcorn, the spanish here for 35 years or so called cookbook while the animus so what you see as we approach here is to spectacular circa
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1850 apartments known as the hunt although apartments and then you will see the st. louis cathedral and the build of which was the city plaza in spanishcolonial times and the main plaza . it's well-preserved from a barracks, 1850 on. very symmetrical, filled with streetlights, artists, musicians, busters, pedestrians. it is the absolute historic heart of the city, everyone knows it and everyone loves it. we are in about to cross into a neighborhood called bywater which has really been at the forefront of the post-katrina gentrification of new orleans . >> you mentioned post-katrina. what was this neighborhood before katrina weston mark. >> it was more african-american, more native local.
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more families, more children in the street, more residents. and after katrina, many of those renter families b& because of the whole disruption. we were living here and we stayed during katrina in our house in high water. and witnessed the entire day and week. katrina day, august 29 was incredibly intense. we were euphoric that evening that we had survived and didn't realize because we were inside, cut off from the rest of the world, we didn't realize the levees and breached. we were on high ground so it took a lot time for the water to reach us but only the next day biking around, surveying what happened did i start to surmise and it started to dawn on me that this is not
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the end, this is all on catastrophe and the rest of the week, one day, each day was quite literally and times worse than the previous one. by the time we got on friday, conditions were apocalyptic. this was the hardest hit of all the katrina affected areas in louisiana and mississippi.this was the hardest hit because it had the misfortune of being next to the two most severe flood breaches. it was a working class neighborhood, it had a surprisingly high level of homeownership,95 percent african-american .and it had the lowest return rate of any katrina affected neighborhoods because of the severity of those social
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vulnerability of the pre-existing population, coupled with the extreme nature of the damage done . >> you started biking around seeing the damage. how did you feel? did you think that there would be, no. >> when we got out finally that day, in 2005 , i'll never forget the moment we figured out that you could get out of the city by going over the bridge basically driving around the flood. the crest of the ridge was early in the morning and i'll never forget the view. look like a beautiful day except there were plumes of smoke rising everywhere and if you look closer you would've seen a machine of water that the city was drowning in. at that moment i never would've guessed that new orleans would have recovered to the degree that did but you can't say that without
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also looking around you at this hardest hit area and realizing that here, the recovery has barely occurred that sort of, i would caution again against overly succinct and cancellations of new orleans in the post-katrina era. there were many successes and people should tell those stories but you also have an obligation that the steps to nowhere is still there. >> we seen us on a lot of new orleans and there's a time that we can see. if there's one thing you wanted people to know about your city, what would it be? >> you can't know the rest of the nation unless you know new orleans? >> why is that? >> in a lot of ways it's an affirmation even as it's the exception to the nation. this was the soft southern
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underbelly of the north american continent. it's where the caribbean and the south atlantic in the african and the mediterranean and the latin world connected in with this vast hinterland of what proved to be the wealthiest valley on earth, the mississippi valley. this vast river flowing through the hinterland connecting all these diverse cultures, how could there not be a fascinating city, another location giving those two together? it was a mostly catholic city and the mostly processed protestant nation. it was a roman civil law society and an english common law nation.it was a french long-lost surveying of each region and a township and range surveying nation. it was a francophone city and a mostly anglophone nation. it was a west indian architecture city in a mostly
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neoclassical greek revival nation so you have all these different inclinations but that eventually assimilated and hybridized and affected the rest of the nation. in the form of themusic and the food as well as the architecture, that's why . >> thank you so much for showing us around today. >> you're welcome. >> once a month, c-span city tours take american history tv on the road to explore the literary life and history of the selected city. working with our cable partners we visit various sites and interview local historians, authors and civic leaders. watch any of our past interviews and tours online like going to booktv.org and selecting c-span city store at the top of the paid for by visiting cspan.org /cities tour.
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follow the cities tour on twitter forbehind-the-scenes images and video from our visit . the handle is @cspancities. >> c-span: where history unfolds daily. c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court public policy events in washington dc and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable and satellite provider. >> here's a look at authors recently featured on both tvs "after words", our author interview program that includes best-selling nonfiction books and guest interviewers. syndicated columnist jonah goldberg waiting on threats to democracy, former national intelligence director james
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clapper offered his insights into the us intelligence community and best-selling author harbor ehrenreich or the science behind how the body ages. in the coming weeks on "after words", congressman john delaney, the first democrat to declare for the presidential election willlay out his vision for america . mona had a will detail her efforts to provide scientific evidence of lead poisoning in the water supply in flint michigan and this weekend, television and radio host bill press reflects on his broadcast career. >> i was in los angeles in delaware doing radio and tv. the time, i was with tco tv channel 13 and the rodney king riots happened. we were on la brea avenue, that's where the views are located at the time i was a member of first ame church which is a black church in south centralla , wonderful community.
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and so i wanted to be where the riots were, i wanted to be with my people. so i suggested to our news director bob that i was in commentary on the evening news. can:00 news, 2 and a half minute commentary so i suggested but i do my commentary from the church because i knew people would be out there and also that the mayor was going to be there. and he said that's a great idea. go down there now and i'll send a crew. in time. i went to the church and it was, people were coming in and it was like old. and then suddenly, it really started getting harry. fires started getting closer, you can hear gunfire. you could hear a tax on the church and asked, holding of cars in the parking lot.
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my car was covered with ash and bob called me and he said you're stuck, we can't get a crew in there, it's too dangerous . so i was standing on the steps with a couple of ministers and parishioners and we looked out and one guy turned to me and said how are you going to get out of here? i was the only white person there, one of the only persons in the congregation and i said my car is here. he said no you're not. >> "after words" air at 10 pm eastern and sunday at 9 pm eastern and pacific, all previous programs are available to watch on our website, booktv.org. >> former secretary of education army duncan has a book coming out: how schools
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work, and inside account of failure and success from one of the nations longest-serving secretaries of education. fact or fiction, teacher unions support the teachers, not the students. >> the truth is always more complicated than that. we desperately need good strong unions. teachers need to be represented well. we've seen serious teacher strikes and walkouts across the country where teachers are not being paid what they should be. at the same time, all have to fight for what's in the bed rest interest of every child. so the truth is always complex and the truth is that unions are not monolithic. i've worked with amazing, innovative union leaders. i've worked with some that i wish had a little more correct thinking so there's a
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lot of gray there but at the end of theday the most important thing we can do is put a great teacher in front of every classroom, have a great principle in every school and if we do that, our kids would be much better than they are today . >> or fiction, charter schools are betterthan public schools? >> there's nothing about the charter schools , anything about quality. and whether it's a traditional school or charter school, doesn't matter. i look at outcomes. i've been to amazing charter schools all over the country that are heading extraordinary results for kids. i've also gone to the national charter school conference and told them there's bad charter schools that need tobe closed . so ideologies don't matter to me. our kids graduating, are they prepared for success, are they prepared for the world, that's all that matters. whether we can dothat well , we've seen failure and we need to challenge the status quo. >> you write using any positive metric, we are
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taught nothing in the united states. >> we have a long way to go that's troubling to me. we have to educate our way to a better economy. we need a civic engaged vibrant democracy. i worry about that honestly. i know of no better place to do that in school but if you look at 3k, i'm a huge proponent of high-quality early childhood education, we write 28, 29th in terms of assets. you look at math and reading scores, 15th or 20th. look at college completion rates, we leave the nation or lead the world in college completion rates. where not in the top 10 there. we have to get better faster and i think we lack urgency and our kids, our families, we doour nation a great disservice if we're not working hard every day to get better results . >> we sometimes hear people saywhen i was in school, the
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school did great and everything was perfect . we've all gone to school, we've all had negative experiences. the world is changing much faster than we in the united states are changing in terms of educational opportunities and other nations are out innovating us, there out investing and they're getting better results and in a globally competitive economy in a flat world, jobs are going to go to where the knowledge workers are and i want those types of jobs to come to america and to stay in america but they're going to go to india or singapore or china or whoever it is where the best educated workforce is. this is the first generation where parents are concerned that their children will have not as good a life as they will. that's a huge worry and the way to challenge that is to create much better educational opportunities for all and we lack the courage and the will to do that. >> what in your view is the
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one or two greatest obstacles to improving schools? >> we have to invest in a very different level. the fact that we allow so many children to start kindergarten year or 18 months behind, they often don't catch up and you can draw a straight line to those that start behind to those that drop out. there's no good jobs there. we have to hold ourselves accountable for adults . are we gettinghigher graduation rates? rr-graduates ready for the world ? and ultimately i think the politics of theleft and right hurt kids . we need to have politicians of both parties willing to challenge their base and challenge this status quo and do something different. we need nationalgoldline education. we should try to lead the world in college completion rates .we have ice school graduation rate of 84 percent , the goal of the
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administration should go to 90 percent. there's nothing democrat or republican or left or right about any of that. we don't hear any talk about goals so all that troubles me and we need to go, behind and bought bipartisan way, fight for our kids and our country and right now i'm not seeing that and it is troubling quite honestly secretary duncan, why so much pushback to no child left behind? national standraisar, to the top, whatever you want to call it, there's a lot of similarities . >> we can talk about things we are proud of and things i wish we'd done better. at the end of the day i would say a great military serves our defense but a great education is our best offense and we can agree on goals, we could have honest and vigorous debate on strategies and the means to achieve those goals but if we could agree on access to pre-k for
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whoever wants it, we can agree we have to get high school graduation rates to 90 percent, if we can agree on leading in college completion rates, then we can come together because it there's lots of local creativity . but we have political leaders afraid to stand up and be held accountable for results, we're not going to get there. i've never met a politician whose an education, never met a politician, i don't see many saints, i'm going to hold myself accountable to seeing graduation rates in my city and my state and my district or the nation from x to live. the kind of political leadership we need on both sides of the iowa. there's politicians, president barack obama who i work for president, governor casey in ohio, governor haslam in tennessee, republicans, democrats who were willing to challenge the status quo and got results, those are profiles encourage. >> what's the value added of a federal department of education . >> it's as to what the right
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federal list. what is a focus on equity. we have to fight for all children, those who civil rights are being violated. the federal government has to back and there has to be a commitment to excellence. i standards for everybody. the fact that we spend in, eight, 9 billion each year on young children go to college and have to take remedial classes, you are paying college tuitions, taking high school classes and getting no college credit. no one wins with that. and finally i think the final would be innovation, putting money behind best practices. thosethree things, equity , excellence and innovation are appropriate . creativity and scalable work at the local level in your years there, what are your greatest accomplishments? >> i'll tell you my successes and my failures.
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i love that we put more than $1 billion behind access to high-quality pre-k. historically we did none of that and our department and that felt fantastic. i love we got graduation rates to all-time highs. i love that we put $40 billion behind telegrams without sticking taxpayers with a nickel. we stopped subsidizing the middleman, we that was common sense. we went through 50,000 pell recipients to 9 million, those are all things i was extraordinarily proud of but to say mission accomplished, there's always a long way to go. i wish we could 10 times the amount of money into pre-k to provide universal access. we had buy-in from republican governors and couldn't get out republican friends in congress to back that way. i definitely wish we could've gotten some kind of immigration reform done. for me, that would have meant dreamers.
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we would've had financial access to college, the young people who have lived here all their lives love this country is much as you and i do and great grades, we say you can't go to college, that to me is insane. we're coming up our nose to spite your face and the biggest is our failure to get anything done around gun violence . and president obama dealt with the hardest issues by definition on the planet and his worst day and my worst day was the day of the san diego massacre 20 babies and five teachers killed in newtown connecticut. he went down the next day and a couple days after that, unimaginable and we got nothing done in terms of keeping our children, keeping our nation safe , in terms of that. we continue every single day to pay that price around the
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country not just in schools obviously but in our society and i think we value our guns more than we value our children . >> do you know betsy devos at all? >> i met her once briefly what do you do what she's been up to? >> i don't see any goals for the country. i never hear anyone talking about greater access to pre-k. high school graduation rates are 84 percent, that's good progress but it's nowhere near where it needs to be. how do we get the graduation rate of 90 percent, never percent ever. our goal should be to lead the world in completion, don't hear any of that so it's sad that they're not a bigger picture since how we make a stronger nation, stronger families, a more vibrant economy and a thriving middle-class. that's what education has to be. and i just frankly feel a lack of leadership, lack of clarity, lack of goals coming
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from the current administration. >> what are you doing these days? >> i'm working to reduce violence in my hometown of chicago and wointo rebuild the education space in different ways trying to make my hometown safer. so many people provided me with academic and athletic and social experiences and right now our children are living with a level of fear that is entirely unacceptable . we'd like to focus on that. >> august 7 is the publication date of this how schools work. an inside account of failure and success from one of the nations longest-serving secretaries of education, the author is arnie duncan. this is the tv on c-span2. >> here's a look at some of the current best-selling nonfiction books according to the los angeles time. topping the list is the soul of america, john meacham's look at critical moments in american history and how they
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relate to today.and the late zora neale hurston called the life of one of the last known survivors of the atlantic slave trade in food followed by investor and venture capitalist john dewar's thoughts on how companies use thoughts to achieve growth and measure what matters. after that on in the dark, on true crime journalist michelle mcnamara's account of her search for the golden state killer charged with a dozen murders and 50 sexual assault in california during the 1970s and 80s and in, arizona senator john mccain's reflections on his political career, the rest will sway. our look at the best-selling books according to the los angeles times continues with mark manson's advice on leading a happier life and michael collins report on how psychedelic drugs are being used or medicinal purposes in how to change your mind. in eight is investigative journalist ronan farrow's report on the role of the
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state department in american diplomacy in the world today on war on peace. after that, it's an account of the life and career of comedian robin williams and wrapping up our look at the los angeles times nonfiction bestseller list is clinical psychologist norton petersons 12 years rules for life. some of these authors have appeared on tv. watch them on our website, booktv.org. >> ..

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