Skip to main content

tv   Raymond Arsenault and David Blight  CSPAN  March 30, 2019 4:26pm-5:45pm EDT

4:26 pm
forth between new york and berlin a lot still, you do see the legacy. you see that compared to new york, there's still a lot more kind of people power in berlin, and i think that's the legacy of this movement. >> all right. well, i would like to thank the authors here, if you can give them a round of applause. [applause] >> so please support the authors by purchasing books and then having them signed. i would like to also thank the virginia festival of the book for having us all here. take care. [applause] >> you are watching book tv's coverage of the virginia festival of the book. up next, biographers discuss
4:27 pm
their respective books on arthur ash and frederick douglas. >> my name is justin reed. i'm director of african-american programs for -- [inaudible]. we're excited to have a full house with us here today at the jefferson school african-american heritage center. i know we have viewers who are tuning in on-line so hello to all of you out there as well. we are excited to have you join us. before we begin, as you are probably aware, i have a few things i need to run over. first, we want to thank our sponsors of today's program, so we have the jefferson hospital. we have ragged mountain running shop. and we have my department, african-american program at virginia, so please join me in thanking our sponsors. [applause] >> if you are live tweeting or live facebooking today's program, please use the hashtag
4:28 pm
va book fest. those of you at home watching, i have my laptop here, so if you want to ask a question, using that hashtag, i will try my best to check at the q&a portion of the program. so again va book fest. if you are live streaming, feel free to ask questions on-line. we also want to remind you that the festival is free of charge, but not free of cost. so please remember to go on-line, give back. you can pick up a donation envelope at the information desk. we also have evaluations. we really encourage you to please fill out an evaluation. you should see them on the yellow form. that helps us continue to make the festival as great as possible. we want to make sure that we're responsive to your feedback. so please fill out that evaluation. all right. so today we have two incredible writers and professors and
4:29 pm
scholars for our program entitled "overcoming the odds, biographies of great american leaders". so we have with us to my immediate left here raymond arsenal. he's the author of arthur ash a light. he's the john hope franklin professor of southern history at the university of southern california st. petersburg -- excuse me -- i'm getting into the book. [laughter] >> he's the professor of history at university of south florida st. petersburg and one of the nation's leading civil rights historians who is the author of several acclaimed prize winning books. we'll get to southern california later as we discuss arthur ash's career. we also have with us professor david blight who is the author of "frederick douglas". he is the class of 1954 professor of american history and director of the guild center for study of slavery, resistance and abolition at yale university.
4:30 pm
he's been awarded a prize, the abraham lincoln prize and frederick douglas prize among others. please join me in welcoming our two authors. [applause] :: there had been some challenges that we still experience today. both men represent a wide spectrum of black ideology when it comes to activism. they also represent the diversity that exists.
4:31 pm
i asked both of our guest today to begin by simply sharing either an antidote or a favorite excerpt from either of their books. >> i am really pleased to be here in the interest of disclosure i think david and i have more in common than just our subjects we had been close friends for many years and we have the same agent who is in the audience. with the same editor. we also have the same publisher. and we share a very dear friend and one of the people that i dedicated my book to james horton who died two years ago. he was one of david's closest friend in mind. we are partners in crime and
4:32 pm
we are excited to be able to be on the same panel today. i guess the antidote that i would want to start with is the first one in my book it is in the prologue and i think in some ways it is consistent with the themes of the session about essentially figures to become great leaders but started from a very low base and certainly arthur ashe i think fills that description. when i was just starting research on this book and the book took nine years to write. >> nine long years i was not sure i would ever finish it. the trajectory of his life which is so heroic and ordinary and then he died of aids at the age of 49 just after adapting this young baby that became the light of his life and then he died. sometimes it's emotionally difficult to try to work my way through the downside of
4:33 pm
his life but when i was beginning i was actually at a friends book launch party a woman named pat sullivan who have done this wonderful book. it was an outdoor party celebrating her book and several hundred people i noticed this african-american woman a little bit older than most people there was by herself and she did not seem to know anybody. so i went up and introduced myself. i was just about to go to newport to the international tennis hall of fame to start my research a couple days later so i told her this. this is a cocktail party, she said, while i have a story for you. i wasn't expecting to work at this party but it turns out i actually spelled my drink. when she was a young girl 15
4:34 pm
years old she was touted as the next althea gibson. the original serena williams. she was the best player in the world in the mid- 1950s. this is 1955, doris they are touting her as the next great player among african-american girls and so she is playing in this tournament in washington dc and the organizers come up to her at the beginning and say we are so sorry but we only have an odd number of girls in the draw so we don't have anyone to play you in the first round. however, this little boy who agreed to play you and she said how little is he? >> he is 11 and he is very small actually he weighed less than 70 pounds at the time. his arms and legs were like pipe cleaners and she said
4:35 pm
imac in a play that baby. he agreed to play with you. just hit around with him for a few minutes. finally she said okay i will do it. then arthur the little boy comes out and is even smaller than she expected. she said i am not playing that baby. finally they prevailed upon her to actually play this. of course, you know what happened later. he just destroyed her. she hardly want a point in two sets and she told me as the tears started streaming down her face. this is a woman in her mid- 70s at this point. i walked up to congratulate him and i have to reach over and down across the net to shake his hand. he looked up at me and all i can say is his face was like
4:36 pm
the angelic assassin. he was not surprised at all. he was beating everybody and there was no big deal to him. he have this inner confidence that arthur always had. she quit tennis after that. she thought she would make her way in another way. as she said this is probably the greatest moment in her life because she later became friends with arthur many people began to respect him as a extraordinary human being. >> wow. i've never met anybody who played doris in tennis. first of all, thank you justin into the book festival i'm
4:37 pm
thrilled to be here with my friend ray. what he didn't tell you is that our dear friend jim horton looked just like arthur ashe and i'm not kidding. thank you for the memory. i will tend you -- tell you a quick in and out that's at the beginning of my book. it has everything to do with why i wrote the biography. i wrote my first book once upon a time it was a dissertation in graduate school. i was a thin little intellectual biography. i edited additions. but i had douglas out of my life forever i thought, truly. i wanted that way. until about 12 years ago i went to savannah georgia of
4:38 pm
all places to give a talk to the high school teachers on the narrative. i have done this many times in my host was the georgia historical society and the director said there is a local gentleman here. my reaction i think it was something like i guess so. i have the most extraordinary man. he has a name of walter evans. if you open my book at all i book is dedicated to walter and linda evans and another dear friend of mine who died just a year ago. at any rate, walter is an african-american, retired surgeon who grew up in segregated savanna and went north for his higher education and went to the university of
4:39 pm
michigan medical school and practiced as a general surgeon in detroit for over 30 years. i grew up in flint michigan so he and i have to trait in common. although walter used to have season tickets to that tigers game and we never could afford them. at any rate walter started correct -- collecting rare books, manuscripts and art in the 1970s. it is and it was and always has been the passion of his life. that in surgery. but he always jokes that he did surgery so he could collect. a lot of people do things so they can do something else. at any rate in his house he has a fantastic collection of african-american manuscripts and rare books, and art although much of his art is being moved to the savannah school savanna school of art and design.
4:40 pm
but that day he took me to his house and he got out on his dining room table a major portion of the douglas collection and i did not decide on that. if i knew at that moment that i was gonna write a new book. i did not want to take this on. i waited a while. and i realized if i don't do it though, something else well the collection in the court of walter's collection is about ten very large douglas file scrapbooks that work kept by the children especially two of his adult sons over the last 30 to 35 years of their fathers life. and quite an array of family letters and documents of all kinds. and photographs. and other items above the douglas family.
4:41 pm
what that collection gave me access to and i was not the first to see it but i was the first to use it now several other scholars had gone through the initiation. but what it gave me access too. was the last third of his life. if you know him and all he was born in 1818 in a backwater of the eastern shore of maryland along horseshoe bend. he lives until 189577 years the entire trajectory of the american story of slavery's destruction and all out civil war. he lives the entire trajectory
4:42 pm
the most pivotal issue of certainly the 19th 19th century in america. but if americans know something about frederick frederick douglass at all they tend to know the young douglas. they write a classic autobiography. and then rewrites a second-class autobiography. and maybe they have something to do with helping the country think about emancipation in the civil war. they don't tend to know anything about that designation. the man that lives 30 years after the war. the old radical outsider. who becomes the political insider. who was the former abolitionist who now becomes the republican party functionary after the civil war. a man who lives long enough to see the great tramp of his life which he experienced in his 40s and how many radical reformers actually live to see their cause when in the middle of life and then live long
4:43 pm
enough to see that cause being eroded betrayed and all but destroyed. at last third of his life is what this collection opened up. as never before. that is why i did the book. i spent many spring breaks in savannah a lot savanna a lot of other weeks i've never been to a better archive than walter evans dining room table. they have only two rules. don't come before 8:00 a.m. which was easy, and never put your coffee cup on the same table as the documents. other than that i had free reign. it is the most extraordinary research experience i will ever had. but walter evans is the reason
4:44 pm
i did this book. and it opened up a window like we have never had before. one little antidote to that. that last third of douglas' life is when he becomes the patriarch really of a huge extended family for surviving adult children and 21 grand children and at least three siblings who adopted him. and a whole variety of other hangers on. and virtually all of them were financially dependent on him the last 25 years of his life. he woke up every day that last third of his life wondering what can i do today to support the huge brood that i'm responsible for. and as a rate nose. you have to find the balance in this craft between the public person in the private
4:45 pm
person. if to somehow find that balance. and that collection made gave us material we have never had before it to understand to understand the family and how complicated it really was. >> i have other antidotes but i will get into that. >> i know i grew up knowing of ash douglas i viewed them as heroes but i realized that most of my life they have black history month understanding of both of them. there's really so much more that the larger public fails to understand. i'm curious to know what else did you feel like we needed to know. they went to great lengths to really perpetuate a certain
4:46 pm
self-image. they both wrote about themselves extensively. in my were these needed. maybe i should go back to the origins of this book i happen to know the sports writer frank the ford. i knew him and i approached him about whether i could talk to her whether she would help me. she is very protective of the legacy and she won't just talk to everyone. he gave me her contact information and i contacted jeannie i told her i was a civil rights historian i would love sports in tennis but i'm not a sports writer. that is the way i wanted to
4:47 pm
approach arthur story. that seem to open everything up with her. and she sort of gave me the keys to the kingdom and helped me on and off throughout the nine years and opened up an internal world that was only their life together but of who arthur really was. i tried to give as much material in the book as tennis fans would want to much for non- tennis fans. in trying to balance it with his life. more than any other person in sports. he transcended the world of sports in the world of tennis. here is a man who is compulsive about doing the new york times crossword puzzle every day. even when he was in the locker
4:48 pm
room. and trust me he was not helping him finish the crossword. he collected first additions he was a true intellectual very will read interested in everything incredibly generous spirit always giving of his time. he never said no. was extraordinary that he could do in terms of intercity workshops. any civil rights struggle. he was there. my favorite in september of 1992 he is known he has have a aids for four years. he was 61 and 155 pounds.
4:49 pm
he was under 128 pounds. he grew up with a man named randall robinson and he went on to become a very prominent activist. they were having a big rally in front of the white house to protest the george hw bush administrations. they were doing all kinds of things for cubans but not for dark skinned haitians. it was a pretty obvious cause to throw yourself into. it would mean so much to me if you would come down and be part of this demonstration. you can's imagine that he was crazy to go.
4:50 pm
macarthur said i've got two. i can't let randall down. there are 3,000 people there. one hundred of them are arrested including arthur. he bails out the next day and he goes back to new york and he has a massive heart attack. predictably. it does not kill him but he lived up few weeks longer and dies a little bit longer. he would not pass off the responsibility to anyone else. he was the only professional athlete there. he was always trying to get other athletes to speak out and be truth tellers and forget about what their
4:51 pm
coaches and owners would tell them about. you don't want to alienate part of your fan base. of course arthur was famous for being a paragon of civility. in his gut he have the fire to tell the truth as he sought. the day before he died he is on a breathing machine. he knows he only has a few hours to live. he asks for a note. he writes out this note please call president clinton. a very pro- civil rights attorney general. that is a last thing he did.
4:52 pm
i always thought that spoke volumes about extraordinary character. somehow he developed throughout his lifetime. >> just keep going. we do have a lot of parallels here. the self fashioning douglas wrote three. he wrote 1200 pages of autobiography. the third when he revised again. as a biographer the first rule there is never trust anybody that writes three autobiographies because they are manipulating them on every page. he was a genius with words. they are one of the primary six or seven teams of my book.
4:53 pm
we would not be here talking about douglas were it not for his language. his mastery of words. there is a whole history of how that came about. he was not born some genius with words. but he kept fashioning his own story over time. as a biographer you have to treat them both as a source and subject. you have to also explain why does someone keep writing his own story over and over why does he seem to believe he only has one great story to tell. it's all about him. and then of course you have to deal with the question. i'm curious how you have to work this dance. it has almost nothing about his private life. it has a great deal about
4:54 pm
about his youth as a slave. that's why the first narrative is now such a worldwide text. it is translated in many languages. he does write a great deal about his youth. but when it comes to adulthood and his public life his family is not there. his relationships with friends only to a small extent are there. the friends and rivals and enemies in his relationship with women and his relationship with his sons and daughters. it's so rich in important and difficult at times. they're not there. in 1200 pages there is one mention of his first wife anna he was married for 44 years. she is called my wife. his second wife helen gets a little bit more of a mention but that is mostly as douglas
4:55 pm
was telling about their 11 month tour of europe and the mediterranean. the crafty memoirs is always there trying to control his own story. he's very good at it. if the sea under and through and met behind those at the same time you use them and happily we do have quite a stash of letters. because of e-mail and social media and all of the rest. there is a great number as sufficient a sufficient number of letters between douglas and his adult children that you can get at is so important i
4:56 pm
also to say too. he have a responsibility. a tremendous weight of carrying the burden of the race. now he wanted it that way most of the time. you can hear and see douglas just wishing to hide i wish i
4:57 pm
was back at cedar hill. in washington sitting by the fireplace. just sitting in my favorite chair eating a peach because douglas i can't prove it. i speculate in the book probably traveled more miles than any other american of the h century. he lived ten years into the 20th century. he cheated by going to asia. he never stopped doing these endless speaking tours. way into his late life. touring across the northern states. and douglas probably spoke to more people this one i'm quite confident of even though i can't prove it more people heard him as an order than anyone else in the 19th century. even emerson who did these
4:58 pm
endless tours. there was this a responsibility to always be there with your voice. sometimes he would just lose his voice. by the way those scrapbooks are just full of local newspapers everywhere the old man went back came a clipping from whatever town he came from. he has lost his voice he will not speak on thursday we hope we speak on friday. his throat element has come back again. but also sometimes the speech just bombed on him. and you love that how human this guy could be.
4:59 pm
he took for example and it will pass it back to ray after the civil war particularly all of his speeches were written out in text and eventually in text script. this was not just some sermonizing order he wrote out the speeches very carefully we have text of all of them. in fact am convinced of this about douglas that he often did not know what he thought have to take some notes. then they would go out and deliver it from text. the more he got worried that he needed to stay with his text. he got concerned that he was not being taken quite seriously enough as an intellectual he was always
5:00 pm
insecure about that. no formal education ever. he became quiet and advocate about it. he decided he was gonna do a history lecture for this tour on the circuit. for reasons i still don't entirely understand he wrote up a big long 20 page lecture. it was the monarch who helped the dutch realize democracy and so on. and this was a heroic figure. the speech was not working. it just kinda bombed on him. and when you read it you see why. it is kind of detailed and good god frank rich -- frederick what are you doing. he is out on the to her. he's in iowa city he is
5:01 pm
sitting in a train station. the reporter for some reason i remember it was from a milwaukee newspaper. the reporter came up to him and said mister douglas, you didn't seem to quite had it last night. he admits to him that maybe this history lecture isn't working as well and then he says something like besides if i really belted out. mister douglas you do these tours endlessly. what's the hardest part of the now here being out here on the election circuit. my this is so instructive to
5:02 pm
the panels together. never about these two books. >> it is striking how parallels they are between the two men. they have an awful lot in common. one difference i would say arthur was deliberative he made himself into a find speaker. many of the 150 interviews they did for the book. he would never interrupt. he'd always waited for people to speak their mind. he really wanted to filter all of it through.
5:03 pm
as to his autobiographies he did for actually. he was candid about his private life. it is quite extraordinary. he could've filled all could have filled all of the gossip magazines. he grew up in richmond. in the classic jim crow in his ears. most of the best tennis courts were at bird park. all white of course. his father was the manager of brookfield park. his mother died when he was six and he was devastated by this. he wasn't speaking for a while. he would sit out on the porch. there was a young man named ronald charity.
5:04 pm
they saw this pitiful little boy. and try to coax him out to play tennis. charity was the best tennis player self taught. never thinking in a million years that this kid would become a world-class athlete. he was trying to help him. arthur grew up in brookfield park. he would often say arthur almost never got mad. when someone from richmond would come up to him and he would say arthur we are so proud of you. i'm from richmond. i used to love to watch you play at bird park when you are a boy.
5:05 pm
>> he talks about that in one of his autobiographies. a bit of compensation at 16 years old he lost his virginity in the parking lot at bird park. don't get mad get even. >> one of the complications of doing that because i worked so closely. a very eligible bachelor for a very long time. in all kinds of people. and other tennis players from it was a bit -- a bit controversial at the time. i would read some of that manuscript out light -- out loud. i would just kind of start
5:06 pm
blushing. i was very thankful for that when i started the book i was afraid he was known as such a great sportsman. he was the captain. and arthur was the captain. he was in his super breath stage then. i was such a jerk in those days. don't try to make me any more of a jerk than i already was. there was a lot of pressure for him to be thrown off. a lot of people thought this is insulting to the united states to have the support sport leading the cup team. he never did throw him off.
5:07 pm
in part because he loved his fighting spirit it was all in this the goal of playing the best tennis he possibly could. >> i would love to be him for 24 hours. i would love to go to wimbledon and throw my racket. and do everything that arthur ashe would never do. to let it all out. in the same way that he paid a huge price for having to keep his anger in those first two years. he was always so calm and cool. it was the icy elegance i think underneath that elegance
5:08 pm
there was a tremendous turmoil that he never satisfied himself a lot of young athletes before he turned 25. he was self absorbed. don't get involved with that mess. from 1960 on he was a full-time activist. he knew that when he was striking tennis balls. he was the only black of course there. that other young black men and women the attack dogs in richmond. as he once said as my fame rose so did my english. i think he really felt like he was trying to make up for lost
5:09 pm
time for the last 25 years of his life trying to make the world a better place. he was a very driven man. >> you probably want to take us somewhat house here. i have that quote highlighted. there were so many other commonalities we know that they were both famous. it was something that was really surprising. the way he was objectified and described by men and women. as being desirable this desire for both of them to have the freedom to be able to change their minds the evolution of their thinking. i found myself frustrated by the younger ashe.
5:10 pm
comparing the two. it's much more demure. they both had the evolution in their thinking. walk us through those shifts in the ideological thinking. the management of anger rage, really is a huge question. and in my book i make without getting too psychological about it. the scars in him were always with him. his great advantage over the
5:11 pm
other former slaves is that he gained this incredible ability with language than as an editor of his own newspaper. the management of his rage and anger came through words. then i have my newspaper to go to every week is how i survived. this is how i can sustain myself. he was not sustaining himself really well financially. by his ability to put into words is a very big theme in my book at least. particularly in an old testament story.
5:12 pm
he could not craft a speech without some use either quoting or paraphrasing the major prophets of the old testament that his ability to process all of that into language was where he put his rage. at times he was a raging bull. he would describe his early lectures as a thunderstorm hitting a room. he has been here for 18 months. this credible flowering in that useful life. he knew he was going somewhere.
5:13 pm
he goes to england. his own philosophy. with scotland and england. i'm very young angry black man. and since it was on her and four children. when he arrives back he is so angry in his speeches he is going on his road with a skeet where he keeps announcing the united states. i have no country. i have no patriotism my country disowns me and i disown it. and his fellow garrison in abolitionist took him aside and said can you tone it down. don't driveaway the audience.
5:14 pm
at that point he was called the demagogue in black. he was so angry. he could not process any more. at this juncture i've been treated like a real human being by british reformers in my adoring audiences in scotland they adopted him. he only lived there for months you think he would live here half of his life. the irish had a thing they need new saints or something. he was so adored.
5:15 pm
the kid is 27 and 28 years old. he comes back to the house of brutal racism in the united states where the hope of ending slavery was a bizarre sort of hope he comes back in the middle of the mexican more. and he doesn't know how to put that anger except into the passion and brilliance of words. from the moral sweetness of the end of slavery. even addressing the question of the possible uses of violence is a real transformative time in their life. you are always trying to figure out the personality within a given context and
5:16 pm
then you have the contest of the civil war. also we are all evolving creatures we are not the same as we were five years ago. and we never remember anything accurately. anyway. i'm wondering if arthur was this way. he is always the human being who is not only willing to change it was a natural state. into some new term. when he gets older he gets a little set in his ways also.
5:17 pm
he is an evolving thinker. and i think that also has to do with the fact that he never had any formal designation. his mind you always have a list of things when you are a biographer ready they just can't figure out. you can find that letter or story. you just can't and the readers hate that. there's another list of things you just know. if he met you he would figure out what he could learn from you. as quick as he could. he did that to a lot of people.
5:18 pm
he was not always there. he was not always the nice guy there weren't really many nice abolitionist. the civil spokesman. i just did it fit -- fix that. arthur was also a sponge for sure. i don't think he ever discarded anyone. a number of interviews that i conducted one in particular i remember. the ex- patriot in south africa. i am interviewing him in the waldorf hysteria.
5:19 pm
he started crying an on-air interview yesterday and i have to turn them down. because every time i thought about arthur i would start tearing out. this was the greatest man i met in my lifetime. he changed my life forever. i only wish i could have been more like him. people have friends but i kept running into that kind of statement they would tear up. of course it was so sad. arthur would only be 75 today. he was always evolving as well i think i would be remiss if i didn't mention a couple of things about charlottesville.
5:20 pm
they really changed his life. i'm not sure he would've become that without charlottesville. some of you may have heard of. he came through charlottesville they used to hold the inter- dirt scholastic old championship here. and that then he went and talked to teddy if i a couple of black players here next year. would you let them play? the first undergraduate would it graduate.
5:21 pm
>> they just get destroyed year after year. they are competitive because they didn't start tennis. they didn't have expert coaching and all that sort of thing. he have to promise that they would not stay overnight they would go back to lynchburg each night and then come back the next morning. they would not eat anything they changed the rules. and you can stay in the dorm overnight you can go to the cafeteria. they check into the dorm. by the time they woke up the white boys were all gone.
5:22 pm
they evacuated. and when they went to the theater they have to be in the jim crow a section in the balcony uncertain of a bitter sweet thing. arthur came to play in the tournament and he just destroyed everyone. a few weeks later they gave up its sponsorship of the inter- scholastic tournament and i went to williamstown. they wrote a pretty devastated article about this. maybe they weren't so interested in sponsoring it. one of the things that he have to deal with was the love hate relationship with virginia and with richmond.
5:23 pm
it's really a token to the depth of his character that he was able to overcome all of the hurts and the insults that he have to experience he went everywhere he could. his controversial but wonderful statute. someone like arthur ashe came from this low-level working-class family enrichment. and they would have the statute there and robert e lee. he was someone i could really forgive maybe not forget. he confessed that a lot of it was about his dealing with agates.
5:24 pm
the greatest burden in my life has been race. he was a jet setter. with dealing with the problems of dealing with an african-american. they were shocked by this. it sort of kept it to himself. it was really a fundamental part of him and of course he ended up writing a three volume history it was a columnist for the washington post for years. and never hesitated to jump into the fray.
5:25 pm
and never hesitated to jump into the fray. i just had a jim crow in a dope they are a dime a dozen i'm afraid. it happened early, hotels, trains. steam ships on and on. early in his life he would react without rage. even physical outrage. but as he got older he would encounter yet again the hotel owner it would not serve him. there was a couple cases i've documented where it would not be served in the dining room and he would be told you can only eat in the kitchen. he would stand up as loud as he could in the dining room. pretty soon the people in the restaurant feel sympathy for
5:26 pm
him. let the man said here. he found a way to use humor to get a decent meal in the dining room. what he thought about having to do that when he went back to his room this kind of racism you have to find overtime some way to process it without just putting a peer fist and wanting to kill somebody. >> as i come up with the microphone to give it to the next person. i'm curious to what happens to the children of great men. i will be very brief adopted a
5:27 pm
little girl at birth in 1986. jeannie is a very prominent photographer in new york. she is now 34 she is only person that i did not interview she was still weepy about her father some evidence that she has never really recovered from the father's death. he lost his mother and she lost her father. i hope to meet her because she carries an important legacy. that is a story there.
5:28 pm
douglas have five children as he was off in england escaping the john brown conspiracy. that is a long story but to make it very short douglas' children struggled mightily. seems to sustain a very good marriage into pretty reasonable life but his sons really struggled to develop professions at all two of them are in the union army. in the famous 54th massachusetts regimen. he became a recruiter in the mississippi valley and recruited a large number when
5:29 pm
he came back north of the 55th calvary his entire family went to war i do a lot with this in the book. they have a profound impact on the family and his daughter rosetta who have the best education of any of the children by far she married a black civil war soldier it was a terrible marriage. seven babies with him in 13 years. you can imagine what that did to her life. as they were producing 21 grandchildren and there are some deeply moving at times pathetic but very emotional letters between sons and daughter and father and his
5:30 pm
older age of their struggle to live up to the expectations it was not easy to be his daughter or her son. it's never that they were quite measuring up somehow. and yet he have deeply loving relationships with him too. and he was always giving the money. he was always giving money to the grandchildren. eleven of them died in embassy or by their teenage years they were always doing funerals for grandchildren died and one month.
5:31 pm
it was not unusual for children to die in the 19th century because of disease but that rate was very high. they buried 11 of their 21 grandchildren. >> it is a huge extended family with lots of dysfunction they hated their brother-in-law is very visible and not letters. it's a very modern kind of a dysfunctional family at times but a loving family nonetheless and the kids adored their father in ways that don't seem entirely healthy. >> am interested to see how many people here today grew up in a segregation asked richmond like i did i move to richmond when i was eight and
5:32 pm
i remember vividly when we would go to the park to fish or to go where the fountain must wear to the tennis courts know african-american children were allowed on the tennis courts. and because of that i never played on the tennis court. i remember vividly that we have neighborhood schools i went to robert e lee. and we have black kids but they were told to remain invisible like you said. it was a neighborhood schools that lived west of the boulevard would go to the neighborhood schools. i'm interested did he go to
5:33 pm
william fox i think he went to baker grammar school he actually did not finish school in richmond because they got so frustrated. he was becoming one of the highest ranked players in the country but he wasn't allowed to play enrichment. and he can play indoors of all things think about it in age of black lives matter and ferguson he went to st. louis because it was more racially liberal situation and he went to charles sumner high school and lived with dick hedlund who have been the first african-american to be a major tennis player he was the captain of the university of chicago. so he lived with hoglund. he was also a history teacher in the school. they gave the world chuck berry tina turner and many
5:34 pm
other amazing people. arthur was very upset about this. he have a very authoritarian father. and he was very deferential in those early years. what they were telling him to do. he knew bobby kennedy and those two assassinations i think something snapped in arthur and he decided he was can have to speak out. he was can have to stand up. he never looked back in those early years. within the black community tennis was a sissy sport.
5:35 pm
he actually loved baseball as much as tennis it's ironic sometimes that he is called the jackie robinson of men's tennis but he was the jackie robinson which no -- with no willie mays. his entire career he was all alone. another single player on the circuit during his career. it is astonishing. he spent a budget time later trying to find the next arthur ashe. he gave a lot of philanthropy and time and effort. he did meet the williams sisters before he died. when it he be amazed today. to see how much wonderful success there has been. >> this question is for mister blight.
5:36 pm
i have noticed since i had been studying this will be close. i was only black kid in class i think it was a last year he was alive. him and harriet tubman was a same with her. >> i went online and found pictures of the young harriet tubman he was incredibly
5:37 pm
handsome. i was wondering if you have any theories as to why those old images are always the one that the public schools shall do you have a theory. i can make some guesses. i have an old poster they got in about 1971 or two. on some service put out these posters i love this poster. i still have it up at my apartment because it has the wrong middle initial for douglas in the wrong birthday which makes it a collectors item. it is the older douglas with the white mane of hair.
5:38 pm
or that grain and white need afro was probably visually the most distinctive however in the early years i'm not suggesting how old you are sir. but in the early years a lot of the younger photographs were not even known. the most photographed american of the 19th century. they pulled together with some intrepid research. all of the photos. about 162 images of douglas.
5:39 pm
not least of which however, he cultivated photography. everywhere he went. he was photographed in all sorts of small towns. if there was a local photographer that photographer wanted him to sit. but he also cultivated this because he was saying in those photos look at me. look at how well-dressed i am. look at how educated i am. i may be smarter than you. look me in the eye. i'm a man of intellect. something far different than you claim multiple -- most
5:40 pm
black people are. it became the element of maturity. he could seize in present himself. now why, some of us may be still like the image of the older one. there is a lot of history in the lot and a lot of living. i guess it may depend on when we may encounter those images. he was very much aware of his visual presentation. and even wrote three essays about photography. they are partly about photography. >> we had time for maybe one or two. i was very excited when i came to page 600 it was a great
5:41 pm
part of the book. and how complicated it was. who organized that. i have to think that was kind of that stonewalled the grade -- brigade. anything more that you can say how did he choose when he didn't have an agent. how did he organize that. in virginia he also did an amazing information.
5:42 pm
if you remember that moment when you write a book it's out of your head. that event was a totally segregated church. in douglas gave his own variation of a kind of reconciliation a black and white he did not want to lose his audience.
5:43 pm
to the black folk. they had been slaves. it's a very complicated moment for him. but he is navigating here a southern town the town where would we woodrow wilson was born. i found these case because of the way he crafts a speech tried to reach white southerners without getting thrown out. in ways that make him sound a lot like booker t washington. you can also find this as well. he anticipates both of them.
5:44 pm
who invited him there i don't remember. i would have to go look at my own footnotes. and apparently it is in the book. and usually they are pointing out something i might have gotten wrong about it. there is a burden if you have it that's actually been read by people. i think thank you all for being here. please remember to return your surveys.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on