tv 2018 Mississippi Book Festival - Discussion on Civil Rights History CSPAN August 19, 2018 1:50am-2:48am EDT
and how things have happened in u donown life like when peoplelo tell you stories and you don't believe hi>m because that's not how things happen in your life.u >> as i source material as an exploration and to bring them on the expedition and to make their own decisions about the material you presented to them the more honest you are with them the more honest they will see your work. and a bit of the authority on the material. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] p >> it is noon we will get started with the next panel. take a seat. there are still some good upfrot thoughts upfront is a zippy development of archives and history the fourth annual mississippi book festival thisio is a civil rights panel at the 40 minute mark we will open to
questions from the audience make your way to the center and ask u your questions. we will get to everyone who has more. we are delighted to have as our moderator as the director at smith robinson and the founding director of the civil rightsins museum.center[applae]. thank you. [applause] i am very excited to be here. this is my third year. thank you for coming out our phenomenal panel who has the most amazing books you want to read the first panelist is as oh past that won't rest images of the civil rights movement in jic
with civil rights history matched with today's youth with civic groups 1960s. linda travis 17.iate pressor >> as an associate professor in the history department in jackson mississippi and phd from mississippi state university 2,009 in addition to her work as a a phenomenal teacher the academic director for the consortium on poverty. this guy on the end please repeat from the mississippi
freedom writers. the author and photographer oreach of peace this containsspt the mugshots of all those riders arrested in mississippi as well as contemporary portraits andpof profiles eric etheridge. [applause] now what we will do and then we will go into some questions so tell us about the book. i apreciat >> thank you it is sufficed to be here.
taking pictures as a young man a young man he started to take pictures started working for the jackson daily news and kept allu of the negatives and were meticulouslys organized and was taking these pictures. the book covers events during the civil rights movement and onic mi they include into sheppard county they also include theith march against fear and they also include the murder and funeral
in mississippi the 1967 u.s.on o senate hearings on poverty were held here in jackson and fourint senators came to cover that including robert kennedy. marianne testified at that time at the hearing and with anita blackwell and the discussion with funding and who should control that funding? but then to go to the mississippi delta the next day to see the property firsthand se
there are pictures of what he found and very compelling pictures also there are some other images including the bombing of the synagogue.conors there are essays for each chapter with wonderful contributors that are scholars in their field that introduced you historical context to the pitcher to provide that verbal story. >> i use this to attempt to explain but i won't and that is
what my book is about that is why i am here today i want to thank the amazing co-author.hn,p please stand up 17. i met him in 2013 and we worked on the book for five years it'sp about a young girl here in the t state of mississippi that had that reckless spirit but it won't rest until it calms if comes if i'm alive but thatruggi struggle to make sure it comes.
delta and lord have mercy it was called the bombing capital of the world. there was just so much hatred and vitriol it was a terrible place to live. after a while if that was sick and tired of being sick and tired. i knew i have to do something about it. now the way, i became energized and all of us have an emma tilt story. when emma tilt was killed i was like ten years old. and i recall seeing his battered body body that did not look
human in a coffin. i remember how that affected me and traumatized me. and then a few weeks later the police busted through my grandmother's home where we were all living. snatched my brother and my grandmother ask what do you want with him. they took my brother way i thought sure, if and when i ever saw my brother he was going to resemble emma tilt in that coffin. it was at that point that i made a conscious decision as young people do make decisions. when i grow up i meant to do this.
i did not grow into adulthood to do anything about it. i took action as a child a number of people from voter registration. i was the president of the naacp at the time. and i began to work with a number of other people. in the voter registration was going very poorly. with the young people. to hold their interest. they decided on direct action.
we left the meeting in as i went home i now i just cannot share this with my mother. she would not have allowed me to go. i did not want to be disobedient to her. i'll not go if i have to go. i made the preparation back. the next day i went to jail i did kiss my mother before i left. and held close to her because i did not know when or if i would see her again. they were purchasing a ticket at the greyhound bus station i forgot to mention that.
we were taken to jail. i was in jail for 20 days. and upon my release from the pride county jail in magnolia mississippi. five days later i went to register and roll in my high school which was then called the berglund high school and i was told requested why. because of my civil rights activities. mind you, my civil rights activities have nothing to do with the school district or a school at all because these activities took place during the summer months. so after spending 20 days.
it so happened that the day i went to the school was the day they held assembly. ask plain to plane to them that i we went into the the word circle. and the students at that point decided that they're going to walk. if i was going to be allowed to enroll and enroll in school. they were going to walk with me. that's what they did. the majority of the school. we went to the masonic temple.
we plan to walk to magnolia which was a county seat. it was too far and too dangerous. so we walked to city hall. and we ascended up the steps. to pray. about the fourth person or so. the chief of police they have no better recollection of what happened. for all of us beautiful black people we were arrested. >> i will stop you right there. i have some questions here good. i have some questions in regard to that after i get to everybody.
caused so much trouble. so the first that they're talking about. it helped calibrate these arrests. and help supervise. it dominated the states. after the active parts of the civil rights movement. one of the things i think historians struggle is so much. is making sure that we are not using that past tense too liberally. it's very easy to talk about the past. especially in the space where white supremacy is for so long. two just be conscious of the space that we occupy today. across our country has included
when i started this project in graduate school why would you study the activists. who are so brave and achieve so much. what i am seen now in 200018 is that nobody is asking me that question anymore. and i don't need to elaborate on that it sounds like. i'm very disappointed that my book is relevant in 2018. as we move past this and what happened in charlottesville we are painfully aware. that white supremacy doesn't exist in the shadows. we really do have to contend with a different formation.
and to help us understand the way they are making their connection. for that reason there is a lot in my book about not just the local terrorism. that the council committed in place of the county. in hinds county and the mississippi delta especially. but i move out of that space a little bit. and i asked questions about who was finding these guys. where is the money coming from. what space bar they occupied. and the question that first open that up for me. was what happened to them after. and that was probably the most provocative part of the story for me. they found a lot of comfortable spaces to occupy outside mississippi. and outside of the united states.
where did the council go after 64 and 65. why were would they still in existence. and what sort of network where the able to help forge that ultimately transformed the way the political landscape looked. that is just a little bit of insight into what motivated me to get into this and to kind of think about not endpoints. i encourage my students to not think about this. and the citizens council. it did not end with a. i will turn it over. to stephanie's point where it is the money come from. my book is really possible
because of the work of the sovereignty commission saving all the mugshots in 1961. in one of the other things they did. they funded the public money in the private operation of the white citizens council. there will be no historical reenactments today of any money. this is a second edition of my book. the first edition came out ten years ago. and in putting together this new addition which has even more freedom writers than the first book did. the regular press announcer looked on and read.
i found a woman named shauna who had reviewed my book. it's like a gateway drug. and that has really been that for me personally. i came to this project as a former magazine editor. and i was looking for some photographic a project to do. i've seen some projects like that. one day in about 2004. i kind of remembered about the sovereignty mission files. they discovered the mugshots. and realize they found the project. they are examples of the state.
they want to go into the train stations. it was not being enforced. so they really weren't breaking the law. with the help of the sovereignty commission not only had they saved the mugshots by other data from the police department that have everybody's full name, and middle name included. i have a city where they were living in 1961. that plus the internet took me a pretty long way. in locating about hundred 20 or so of the 300 people that were here and we set out to sort of go and see them.
i realize very quickly it really became a joy for me. about her growing up in mississippi and what was her experience like. i have that pleasure with people from the south from the north from the west and people who had escaped europe in germany before the war. peoples whose families have come from all over the world to live in mississippi and then really to assam ask them why did you come to mississippi in 1961. the ability to tell the stories in this book has a been a real meaningful experience and i've
learned so much more about my story as mississippians and i just want to share quickly the story of one freedom writer who is from jackson. before i do that. dolores seen that. i'm not sure i can't really see very well. hezekiah watkins. did fred make it? they will beat with me in signing books if you want to come and talk to them later.
i was fearful for my mother that if i acted independently without support our end up like in the till. it's a great possibility that that would happen. he have a make the decision like miss travis is talking about. i'm ago get arrested he did that in new orleans. and then breast -- bus rides into jackson. if you were a freedom writer from jackson. i was a pretty hard decision to make. and this is what jesse told me about the night he got arrested. i went to down to blair methodist church. i heard james bevil speak.
they were saying things like you know guys if you want to change things in mississippi you've got to take an active role. their other actions that we are and a half to take. this is the initial one. our citizens and want to want to be involved in this. they like the way they are living. now back to jesse. i heard that from barnett before. he said look we have to go. yes we have to go but i want to think about it. we got in the car with fred. and we drove down to the railway station.
i felt like the chains had fallen off. about the chains falling off. [applause]. before we open it up for questions from the audience. i do want to ask myself starting with eugene in regards to who was jim lucas. because we need to know who was and the passion that he have when taking a photograph. the emotion that exudes from the photograph. talk a little bit about it. as i told you. he was a millsap student.
he was very much a perfectionist and need the technical side of photography very well. because as he was shooting he was also processing. he was a lab man. when he was at millsap that summer he have access to be able to take these photographs because he was able to get hired as a runner for the cbs news group that was in town. by doing that they were shooting film. they did not mind for him to be shooting the still cameras at the same time. in all of his negatives these types of photographs were
peppered in among college life because he was in school and he was taking sports and photographs and all other kinds of photographs. mid during the search for goodman schwimmer in training. when they found the bodies. he was at the market when they were waiting for the bodies to be delivered. and one of his photographs was used in the life magazine spread. covering them. he found himself as a stringer for life magazine. they have several photographs accepted there. and also he shot for ubi. he was a professional photojournalist while he was still in college. next access put him very aware
of what was happening in mississippi and every time he knew something was going on. he was there to cover it. he wanted to make a difference. he wanted to be where everything was happening. his work was very professional. the photograph showed. and natural lighting. they have beautiful quality. he could connect with the subject. because many of the photographs or groups with long perspective. and then some the others have
intimacy and the dignity in the humanity of his subjects. >> and even when you were looking through the photographs what emotions did come up as far as going through them when you are curating the actual show. >> they told the story. they were so explicit in telling a story. i began to do the research to understand what the history was there. and they have to research. it was not one that was well known in this part of the state. the composition and the beauty of the photograph i'm a designer my background and they just spoke to me in the context of
the story as i said was flushed out. by the wonderful scholars that did the essay for each chapter. mister travis. you talked about direct action. explain to the audience what direct action must end what actually happened when you went in and you said okay this will be an okay action. the photos told stories as activists we lived the stories we were out there on the front line taking the beatings and
that is what direct actions means. it means going into the war because that is exactly what it was. and every claim my past. is something i want to say further. i'm sitting here. i'm looking out over the audience and its piercing my heart every empty seat in here is pursing -- piercing my heart. is there a lot of in mississippi all over the country today. they failed. that direct action. the action that we take with a direct action.
especially if it's affecting lives. especially if it is upsetting attempting to change the status quo. that's a direct action. thank you. stephanie when i first opened your book. either we will stay white together. we will integrate we will be integrated county by county and state by state. and talk about the community of the people. who are they. and why did they go. pam did not give me this question have a time. it's a really good question. the idea of white unity really pervades the entire manuscript.
the idea that there was no room for him billy guillen's. any kind of that issue was a death sentence. as i navigated my way through the sources. and i looked at what historians have said about the council in the past. the thing that really struck me the most was the way in which the citizens council was there. it's where i adore. the cover of the book is a white-collar shirt. sort of trading and the white robe for the suit. that's what people know about the citizens council.
the citizen council citizen counsel repeatedly said it was not the clan. the genius of this movement was that these are bankers and teachers and attorneys. sheriffs, who are leaders in their community and who not only have the economic power but have the well to survey their local communities. and use the lead of power. to exact fear and people who were not only inclined to be active for a quality they also have the well to intimidate whites one of the campaigns that this counsel did early on was they conducted neighborhood surveys where they have ward
leaders who were members of the jackson citizens council. it would go house to house in their own neighborhood with the survey and it is so dimly it's comical. if you answer know enough times the natural solution from the person taking the survey is you need to join the citizens council. probably the best example who preceded ross burnett who through close segregation. if they did not join the organization they were under suspicion. we are right in the middle of the cold war. so any sort of not being damaged. you could put your children in
danger. it could do all sorts of things. that is not to take away from the local terror that black citizens in mississippi experienced. i think one of the under told stories is that they have to shift towards this organization. they were not willing to put themselves out there and one of the lessons that that raises for me as i think we need to be incredibly conscious of those that pervade the environment today. they are deadly. [applause]. thank you stephanie. >> thank you very much. he talked about how this project came into fruition what do you hope to gain from it. and what do you hope they will actually get out of it.
they really afford this incredibly unique perspective on the movement. we talk about the freedom summer. or the albany campaigns. various campaigns throughout the south. during the 60s. the mugshots really allow us to know i know what we had tried to do in shaping of the book and the inspiration included in it. you can see the strains of the movement and the conflicts of the movement and self in the story of the movement played out in individual people's lives. there was a great debate in the movement in the early 60s
about direct action versus lawsuit. it was very pro- litigation. and that yielded victories. but young people like the freedom writers they wanted to act. you can see that being played out. a tactic that may work. you see people struggling with that themselves. burks brooks was on the cover of the new addition was in school in tennessee. and the veteran of the city did -- seated campaign in the 60s. the campaign there. she had been schooled in nonviolence by reverend james
lawson. he is not as well-known as he should be. she wanted to be nonviolent. she was also a time of liberation for african countries she was drawn to that liberation. what i want people to get out of it is to see they can see in these individuals lives. when coming in through the mug shot. it's very good. one thing i tell people is that if you go through the civil rights museum you get to gallery aid. how do we get this through. his can be doing the work.
the travis a story about how to deal with her mother. is a story i heard over and over again from different writers. there is a guy from washington dc that told me if i ask my parents and they said i couldn't do it i would've gone. i just went anyway. his father got a call a couple of days after he had been arrested. he did not know where his son was. he said it where is your son right now. he said he's down at virginia union. he's in summer school. i may have to come and talk to you. other people even grown-ups who were married. he was an adult. he was married he had kids. either they didn't tell his mother or her mother. they come to jackson to get arrested. other people have arguments with
their parents. there is a guy name alex white. he got out with his family. he saw the photographs of what was happening in birmingham he was just amazed i'm get a decent thing about this. this is just like what you went through. and they said you know what. as us. i'm not going to stand by and let this happen. i know from history that's a good thing. so off he went to mississippi. we will open it up for question. we have a whole lot of questions with a little time.
i was curious mostly for brenda. how do you look at then and how do you look now. for some of the white involvement that activist. how did you look then at them and how do you look them now at the involvement. i looked in at them as brave people and i look at them now because anybody in their right mind would not be there. they would not had been in mississippi. especially for black people. i applaud them thank you.
with my former colleague on the board of trustees. i look forward to your book. my question is for ms. roth. i realize that realized that was it exceptional act of courage not only because of the way in which you pulled the cover back on the council but also when you made the connection and the current conservative movement my question to you is how much pushback if you've had any from individuals found it difficult to agree with your position. another great question. thank you for the compliment. i'm humbled by that. the response i think i have seen over the past maybe the past
year a little bit of an uptick on people asking me in very polite ways to clarify what i'm saying. just explain to them what the whole an argument might be. what are the advantages that i have. if there is this initial you must not be from around here i'm able to counter it with that. i think probably more of the pushback has come from the argument that people became conservative republicans for all kinds of reasons. it was not just racing driven. my response to that is why not earlier.
one of the things that i think has clarified that. as the new phase of this project. i'm looking at white republicans in california and their connection to the citizens council. so far they have seen that as racial innocence. i am seen them flee seeing them flee into the arms of the citizens council and that has really got my attention. to be continued on that. i think there is some resistance from just being honest about the weight white supremacy has controlled our political systems. thank you for the question. >> i mark lafrance us. the site where jackson was murdered. the naacp where his friend the maa -- naacp leader was nearly
murdered. i will make a statement and then a request from each of you. we spent the last three years producing another civil rights justice story. the untold story of documentary, the abuse and humiliation and the maximum-security and humiliation and the maximum-security from 1965. 150 young men and women were taken there illegally. in the documentary has done well. we have a book coming out in november. from the history press. were very excited about the reception they have received those who produce with the partnership in the humanities council to ask the question.
we have the next film. facing fear in the civil rights era. i would like to talk to each of you about helping and supporting. and we want to thank you for the work. in and appreciate it. and maybe afterwards i can address each of you about that. i would like to just thank you for your book and your work on civil rights. i like to think you for the great books. and the warning to see up and speak very clearly. as a slide. it is a time to be speaking out. i was curious about the white citizens council. did you ever find some of the
whites that were there came around and change their mind. and spoke out against racism. >> a lot of this history has been an institutional kind of intellectual history. look at the ideas and that sort of thing. they made some movement. and that was earl johnston who is the former director of the missions mississippi state direction. they were somewhat apologetic for the way in which resistance was conducted. i don't think he ever flipped. but i think he was apologetic for the sort of things that the organizational power was able to exact on a number of individuals.
there are a lot of people who come up to me now who were children of members of the citizens council who plead the case for their parents. my dad was forced into the citizens council. he didn't have a choice. those narratives are pretty common from just one on one interaction. i can't think of anyone out right who was publicly apologetic for that. that may be a product of my ignorance. the last question. he got the second question i was going to ask. and that goes for there is a lot of information about what you have done for your hometown in mississippi. and in the movement.