tv Rep. Jackie Speier Undaunted CSPAN December 28, 2018 4:58am-5:32am EST
welcome, everyone. thank you for coming. i would like to welcome congresswoman jackie speier come to california congresswoman and a recognized champion of women's rights, privacy and consumer safety. she's included in the 2018 list of top influencers and reforming american politics. "undaunted" is an inspiring memoir of dividing the massacre
and becoming a voice against injustice and inequality. thank you so much for coming here and we are looking forward to this. everyone, enjoy. [applause] thank you all for coming out tonight. this is my first reading so people get through this together one way or the other. i thought i would start off by reading was probably brought many of you here which is the jonestown experience and then the last chapter that discloses something deep in my life history that has formed a great deal of what i've done in my life. in between, there is lots of remarkable and not so remarkable experiences that shape who i am today. we can talk about jonestown and the people in general and we can
talk about the washington experience and how we make a law and it's very much lately and sausage and go from there. okay so i'm going to start with a prologue. i was dying. it was just a matter of time. behind the wheel of the airplane out of the right side of my devastated body, i waited for the rapid shooting to stop. then said i wrote for forgiveness. i use what little energy i have left to finish that prayer but the lights didn't go out and i began to take stock of my situation. i was 28-years-old and i was about to die. my wife would never be the one that i imagined. i'd never get married will become the mother of a boy and girl or leave the world a better place.
or change the path when it was my time to go surrounded by loved ones. instead, my story was coming to an end on a dusty runway in the jungle thousands of miles from home. i don't believe it is possible to articulate how aware you become of the fleeting nature of your existence when confronted with the end. i laid there for what felt like an eternity somehow through the encroaching darkness of my final thoughts by saul ieee 7-year-old grandmother, the tough, marvelous matriarch of my family. all i could think was i not going to make her live through my funeral not if i can help it. i couldn't bear the vision of her in front of my casket suffering. if not for my reference for her, i don't believe that i would be alive today. she encouraged me to summon my
will to move, breathing heavily i dragged my body away from the wheel. neither my doctors nor i could explain how i managed it did in my state, but i pulled myself up by my feet and stumbled around to take shelter in the baggage compartment. i survived. survival against unfathomable odds can make every day that follows this blow with a renewed sense of purpose did not immediately and not for everybody but with the hindsight of 40 years i see that my baptism by gunfire guided me into the wifi was to live. one that would ignite the courage to take my voice heard and one that would carry a visceral appreciation for each new day. that sentiment was far from my thoughts at the time. truth be told it would have been easier to close the box long ago
pushed the memory away into the recesses of my mind. what happened in that jungle was a massacre, a nightmare. though i survived, something within me did die on the airstrip. be at my innocence or her belief that natural fairness of life, but i can't deny how radically its molded my perspective and by instinct and how much it has informed the woman i am today. we don't get to choose our moments. very often at diversity and failure shape us more permanently than fortune and success. that has been the case in my life the major setbacks that i have endured have propelled me onward, each one reminding me how important it is to stand up again. as difficult as it may be,
stronger and more steadfast. pain yields action. it can introduce a fervor to stand up against those whose voices are not heard. surviving crystallized where i needed to focus my energy and it convinced me that i had a purpose. all i have to do is figure out how to fulfill it. so, fast forward into my term in congress and what happened in between as they ran for the congressman's unexpired term of office and lost and then i spent six years on the board of supervisors in the county and 18 years in the state legislature and ran for the lieutenant governor of california and lost. then when the late congressman announced he wasn't running for
reelection i decided to run for congress and it was 29 years from the first time i ran into the second time i ran and won, that is a record i might add. chapter ten is called shattering silence. expecting the unexpected got catapulted to a whole new level in january 2017 when donald trump was sworn in as president of the united states. the morning after the inauguratioinauguration i hostea breakfast reception at the capitol mobilizing hundreds of women, many of whom were from my congressional district in the fight to ratify the equal rights amendment and to make women's rights a priority in the 115 11h congress. that's proposed amendment 24 simple words would make it illegal to discriminate against citizens based on sex has been proposed in congress without adoption since 1923. most people are shocked to learn
the sad truth about the constitution. in an interview given by the supreme court of justice in 2011, he provoked outrage by stating, and i quote, certainly the constitution doesn't require discrimination based on sex. the only issue is whether it prohibits it. it doesn't. he was correct. the only issue is whether it prohibits it. and the immoderation seemed a perfect day to send a message to the republicans in congress to the upcoming administration and to the american people that women were not going to be treated as second-class citizens. we were not going to allow our century's worth of rights to be rolled back an inch. today for many of my colleagues and much of of the nation decet responsresponse in 2017. it was a critical year to come together and address discrimination in its violent forms.
it was a tipping point when enough outrage when then stood out and determined to take matters into our own hands. there was no more accelerating information than the march that took place in the cities across the world. i've been in politics most of my life and i've seen a remarkable change in the conversation. when i was a brian grow after feminism was practically a dirty word i'd been fighting for laws to my entire adult life sometimes i hav had to settle fr incremental reform rationalizing half was better than none at all. in 2014 i tried to pass an amendment to mandate training in congress. the chairman denied even to allow the measure to be debated
. >> only 289 women have served. that i have a huge responsibility to protect women for their daughters and granddaughters. when it comes to issues like sexual assault on college campuses and the workplace and on the hill. the abuse of power towards women has always felt deeply personal i know i am far from
alone to have experienced sexual abuse the memory of feeling so vulnerable and confused and disgraced has shaped me irrevocably. as is too often the case i was abused by a family member. in my case it was my grandfather. astonishing how many children are sexually abused in their homes often the uncle or the stepparent or the cousin are more prevalent than will ever come to the surface i fear my own recollection is fuzzy because i was quite young and long ago out of my memories but i do remember i would stay with my grandparents at six or seven and take naps with my grandfather in the bedroom they had a german duvet it was nice and cozy under those goose feather covers and would
follow me and put his hand inside of me sometimes place my leg against his penis. i knew it was happening was not right but i had no idea what to do about it so i did nothing i don't remember how many times it happened five or six although i cannot say for certain i also don't know precisely when or how it stopped there is a human instinct to suppress such horrors are violations and that they did for years hiding what has done to me under a layer of shame but it kept resurfacing clawing its way back i did not know where to turn i could not tell grandma as much as she loved and protected me she was also a devoted wife eventually told my mom. i was 11 or 12 years old and i remember feeling terrified if she would not believe me or
blame me i didn't have the self possession to know if i had done something wrong but instead of anger that i was expecting her face crumbled into an expression of anguish and guilt and did not respond i could see in her eyes how crushed she felt for not protecting me i very much doubt my grandmother found out if my mother told my dad what kind of man her father what his father was and what he had done to me should give it to herself at that time families were in silence so i learned to compartmentalize that is one of several coping mechanisms that have kept the hardships that i have faced from overtaking me but it's not always the most useful method sometimes things cannot stay filed away and molestation was one of them for me. even now when i go to the cemetery my parents are buried in the same area as my
grandparents to take flowers for dad and mom and grandma. i avoid even looking at my grandfather's grave site. trauma has lasting effects and made so much worse when victims are accused of making it up or exaggerating or their trauma is an unnameable secret. we need to do better baseline for dealing with sexual assault needs to me we believe you and i believe you. we will make sure this doesn't happen again. okay. at this point i would just love to answer questions you may have about the book.
. >> could you talk a bit about how you come to terms with the experience of what happened to you at jonestown? when you got back what did you go through to overcome that trauma? . >> i have never go back to guyana. certainly i was offered the opportunity to go back with media from time to time but i never really wanted to but in terms of coping, it took a very long time and the surgeries that i endured were many. over ten and hospitalized ten months even than getting out of the hospital and recovering, it was years physically and probably decades emotionally.
. >> thank you for the reading. . >> and to go through with your grandfather and then when you said you also survive the attack with your husband i'm sorry it just feels overwhelming for crime not sure if you want to share that story of your husband's loss? that that was actually even more difficult than the experience of jonestown. >> 14 years after guyana. i was challenged once again
and it was much more difficult and far worse. after jonestown i came to terms with the trauma to say everyone is given their fair share of grief but mine just came early in life. but 14 years later when my husband was killed in an automobile accident by a young driver who had no breaks literally and ran a red light was beyond description. i was pregnant with our second child, it was a high risk pregnancy. and i was driving to sacramento to give a speech to the california bankers association when i got the phone call. i was with my district director we turned around and drove back and that started an
unbelievable journey to try and cope because i had a five and a half -year-old son who was in kindergarten i had to take from school that day to bring him to the hospital to say goodbye to his dad and then pull the plug. it was probably the hardest thing i have ever done in my life. that is one of a number of stories in the book that i use as a basis to talk about the coping mechanisms i have used in my life that i call family friends and faith. it's very important for all of us to reach out and ask for what we need when we are traumatized because people are there for us but they don't know what to do. >> thank you for your story.
i am fascinated with social movements that colt thinking mentality so i was in new hampshire at the time at the trough rallies and when i was there i would say it just doesn't feel normal like a republican rally and it failed to very cultlike to me not like non- partisan politics so i'm just wondering doing a talk about how that was like a colt in a way is your
experience at joints - - jonestown does that shape your view of who trump is aside from everything he is but adding your experience to that? . >> that's not the first time that question has been posed to me. the parallels of individuals who are charismatic and can compel an audience to listen and to follow them as certainly jim jones did and president trump did in his campaign and even now is telling certainly. i don't know if i would go so far as to say that trump supporters are part of a col colt, but certainly they have coalesced into an entity that
defies reason from time to time. and ask irrespective of what is fact on their issues i don't know how much of that is shaped by cable news if you only listen to one cable news station that can change your perspective. but with jim jones, he also prayed on vulnerable people. there was a whole universe of people that became attracted to the people's temple that were down and out and disassociated with family and we're for loan on - - forlorn looking for a father image and a family and the people's temple created that another
group were interested because they saw the utopia that we could show on earth that blacks and whites could live happily together in a commune setting in a socialist way to pull all of our resources together to turn over all earthly belongings and live this utopian life. that jim jones was a foster he was a man he lied and conducted sexual violence against people men and women. he used physical abuse he beat down the human being that we cherished the mind control that was at work in jonestown
was sinister and shocking and unbelievable but yet he had all those forms of abuse and by isolating them was able to do all that for a lot of people to lose their lives in the jungle it wasn't suicide. i hasten to add it was murder. those people did not want to take their lives. . >> thank you for sharing your story with us and i'm curious you identify as a survivor of jonestown there are not many but obviously your entrance into that was so different from those that lost their lives so how do you situate
yourself with some of the people who escape door with family members who mourn their loved ones who lost their lives? have you met with families? and then i'm curious and hindsight looking back were people acting suspicious to say we should have noticed they were acting shifty? . >> to the first question over the years i have engaged with many of the family members we were successful to bring some of the defectors out with us and the could survive and move on with their life. there is trauma associated with surviving when others have not. i think many of them are also broken that they hade that
jones imposed upon so many of them but the second question what was interesting at the time as i was fearful about going on the trip i was actually in the process of purchasing a condominium in arlington virginia i literally had written into the contract that it would be no and void if did not survive the trip to guyana. i did that because i thought if anything happened i didn't want my parents to be saddled with a stupid property 3000 miles away and then people say why did you go? this was 1978. there were not many women in legislative positions in congress i feared if i didn't
go then there would be a staff member from the committee that was going that it would set women back. so i told congressman ryan that i was very concerned about the safety and he said come on. you have nothing to worry about and from his perspective there had never been a member of congress assassinated abroad in the line of duty that was the first and hopefully the only one. but it was also a situation and where we were duped in part by the safeguards one .-dot - - the state department gave us the impression everything was great down there. the people were happy. even though there were defectors and told their stories to embassy officials