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tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  March 23, 2016 3:48am-5:29am EDT

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book. there's -- i know there's one black lady, i think in d.c. she's kind of connected a lot of african american people who own their own bed and breakfasts. you that network out there. you know, people wanting to do that, support businesses. so it's still, you know, a niche market. now it's out of -- ain't nothing wrong with it, you know. ain't nothing wrong with it. but i don't know about, you know, just -- you know, being -- is that the same spirit of the green book. this was like life saving and all kinds of things. now it's a luxury if you want to stay at a black bed and breakfast in brooklyn or florida or chicago. it's nice. ain't nothing wrong with that at all. they do exist and there's a network out there for that. >> so maybe one more.
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i saw a lot of hands. >> okay. >> i was curious about hotels in new york. i mean i know my parents stayed at one of the few hotels in new york that allowed black people to stay there. >> well, you know, it was different. like up where i interviewed paula, up at the polo grounds, she mentioned in her building at one time walter white from the naacp, thurgood marshal stayed there, judge bruce wright stayed there at one time in that building. but further up is a building count 555. gnat king cole would come in town and he couldn't stay in town. he could playdown town but couldn't stay downtown. what years were your parents stay ting there?
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>> they got married in '54. >> well you know, i guess it happens. but i know i read his article not too long ago that hairy bell fon taye was having a hard time finding a place. he ended up buying the building and sold the penthouse to lena horne. that's how he was able to get in the upper westside. >> do you know the websites url for the green book chronicles so people with keep up to date? >> my website is calvin sf zerntramsey, which is kind of long. but the green book chronicles, you know, you can go there, greenbo greenbo
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i know a lot of adults getting the books for them. floyd cooper is my illustrator. a legend in illustrations. this guy is out of oklahoma, lives in pennsylvania with his wife and family. but he was -- he's just a marvelous illustrator. but the green book chronicles is the documentary. we hope to have it out as soon as we can. and i thank you all for coming out. appreciate it. [ applause ] >> thank you, calvin. wednesday morning on c-span3, a hearing about border security including effort to stop people from illegally crossing the southern border. the house oversight subcommittees on national security and government
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relations will hear from law enforcement, border patrol officials and legal analysts. live korng at 9:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span 3. american history tv on c-span 3. this weekend on saturday afternoon at 2:00 eastern, law professor jeffrey rosen talks about the influence of john marshal. >> adams famously said my gift of john marshal to the people of united states was the proudest act of my life. and marshal has been widely praised for transforming the supreme court into what his biographer john edward smith called a dominant force in american life. >> and at 10:00 on reel america -- >> the roll will put the shuttle on its precise heading. space shutting, a remarkable
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flying machine on the two-day maiden voyage of the space shuttle clum into yea. the 1968 campaign film for republican presidential candidate richard nixon. ♪ >> i have decided that i will test my ability to win and my ability to cope with the issues in the fires of the primaries and not just in the smoke filled room of miami. >> and at 1:00, a panel of authors on their recent books chronicling mexican civil rights from the 1930s to 1970s. >> in this coalition of labor unions with, mexican civil rights leaders and religious authorities came together to protest the exploitation of the program and in fact accelerated congress's decision to terminate it the next year in 1964. and i think this was a moment of
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blossoming for the what can that movement. >> for the complete schedule go to the need for horses on the farm began to decline radically in the 1930s. it was not until the 1930s that they figured out how to make a rubber tire big enough to fit on a tractor. and starting in the 1930s, 1940s, you had an almost complete replacement of horses as the work animals on farms. i believe one of my books on horses i read that in the decade after world war i irk we had something like a horse holocaust, that the horses were no longer needed and we didn't get rid of them in a very pretty way. >> sunday night on q&a, robert gordon, pronfessor of economics discusses his book "the rise and
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fall of american growth." >> one thing that often interests people is the impact of superstorm sandy on the east coast back in 2012. that wiped out the 20th century for many people. the elevators no longer worked in new york. the electricity stopped. you couldn't charge your cell phones. you couldn't pump gas into your car because it required electricity to pump the gas. so the power of electricity in the internal combustion engine to make modern life possible is something that people take for granted. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. ♪ when i tune in to it on the weekends, usually it's authors sharing their new releases. >> watching the nonfiction
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authors on book tv is the best television for serious readers. >> on c-span they can have a longer conversation and delve into their subject. >> book tv weekends, they bring you author after author after author that spotlight the work of fascinating people. >> i love book tv and i'm a c-span fan. next on lectures in history, emory university professors hank kilbanoff and breath gadsden look at the politics in mid century georgia. they talk about a number of unsolved murders during the segregation era and the cold cases project. this class is about 90 minutes. because today what we're going to do, i'm going to open up the georgia civil rights cold cases, plural, class by taking note of a particular milestone
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that occurs -- is occurring this week. anybody know who this is? this is emmett till. now on this day, august 26, 1955, that's 60 years ago today, so i'm going to ask you to sort of take your mind back. i'm sure none of you remember that, right? none of y remember what happened 60 years ago. but we're going to take a measure of how long ago that really was in a minute. emmett till was 14-year-old boy from chicago. he's spending his summer with his uncle down in mississippi. his uncle was a farmer and his uncle had a son who was emmett's age. his uncle is moses wright. moses wright's son, simeon, and they're all living together in the wright house down in mississippi having a good
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summertime. two days before this day, 60 years ago on august 24th, emmett till had gone into a local country store called bryant's. bryant's meet and grocery i think it's called. and h was hanging out with simeon, with some other guys and he goes into the store to purchase something. and he purchases it and he's at the cash register and there he sees the woman who owns the grocery store with her husband, carolyn bryant. and something happens at that point and there's only one person alive today who knows what happened. and that's carolyn bryant. okay? and he purchases something and he then either whistles at her
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in a sassy sort of way, a wolf whistle, you know, that construction workers and others are known to do when women walk by, okay, or as he's leaving he says something like bye, baby. or, if you listen to his mother, he starts to say something and he stutters. he had a stutter, she said. and he would blow air out in what sounded like a whistle. whatever he did it crossed the line. certainly in the minds, not of only carolyn bryant but her husband. a couple of days later roy bryant and his brother-in-law j.w.mylum show up late at night at the door of moses wright's house. and demand to see the boy that was in the store. 'em mitts till sfitirs, he come
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out. simeon remembers, emmett till is half asleep, goes to the door and mylum and bryant grab him, taking him out to a truck and they can hear bryant and mylum say, is this the boy that did that. and a woman's voice says yes, that's him. and they take him away. not to be seen again for several days. okay? that was now on the 28th. so two days from now, 60 years ago. all right? they took him to j.w. mylum's barn where they tortured him, they beat him and they shot him. and then they took him out to the tall hatchie river where they strapped a cotton gin fan
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weigh 70 pounds, wrapped with barbed wire around his neck and threw him in the water. and he's missing, people are looking for him. even before his body surface, the spotlight turns to bryant and mylum, and they say yeah, we did that, se we showed up and took him, we roughed him up a little bit and let him out on the road. whatever else happened we had no hand in. somebody else must have done. but then he surfaces. and what i'm about to show you is a very gruesome picture that at the time was only show in the black press. it later made its way out to the larger. so the body was bloated beyond recognition, one eyeball was dangling from its socket, his tongue extended from his mouth swollen eight times its size, there was a bullet hole behind his left ear and he was
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recognizable only by the ring that his mother had given him and she had fitted it on to his fingers. it has had been his father's. so this is a civil rights cold case unresolved, unpunished, as is the case with many of these. there are still elements, possibilities of prosecution on small elements of it. ultimately this is the "chicago defender" the black newspaper that he was a local kid to them. they're following a big local story. and this is only part of the front page but the entire front page, if i recall, was devoted to this. it wasn't just the black press that was interested. he became a national story. this is "the chicago daily
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tribune." you can see the title to the left of the cartoon. "the chicago daily news" till case goes to jury for verdict. this is what happened as it finally went to trial a mere three weeks after his body was found it goes to trial. now you know, it seems forever between an arrest and when somebody might go to trial. so mylum and bryant are tried, okay, in a courthouse in sum ner, mississippi. and if you ever come back with this detail on a piece, we're going to love you. okay? guess what the slogan of the town of sumner was. you won't guess. i'll tell you. that's a mean trick. nobody knows? okay. "a great place to raise a boy." totally ironic. and a detail that you as writers ought not miss when you come across something like that. okay?
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it may not be a surprise to you that they were -- the two white men, mylum and bryant were acquitted. the jury was out 67 minutes. in fact when they came back they said we wouldn't have been out that long except that we stopped to have a pop, a soda, a drink, you know. it seemed a fanlly slam do you think deal. the prosecution was actually pretty -- did what many people believed to be an effective job. the judge was a fair judge. i won't go into all of that now. but we can at some other time. the one thing that's interesting is that mylum were not convicted of the one thing they admitted, abducting him. it was a few months later by the way that mylum and bryant and carolyn bryant sat with a journalist from alabama and told the story.
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and in effect confessed to the murder for a piece that ran in "look" magazine. but you can read the piece and never know they spoke to the reporter because he vowed to reveal that they admitted it. he would have to write the story in some bizarre contorted way that would tell the story of what happened without acknowledging. and he agreed they could go out in the world and deny that they did it and that he wouldn't argue. later that fellow just couldn't take it any, the writer and he made sure that everybody knew they had confessed. i have copies of the documents where he paid them money for the interviews. i was one of the earliest examples of checkbook journalism. emmett till was of course not a civil rights activist, right? he's 14 years old. back then he's seven years from being able to vote, you know, or whatever the age was back then.
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so that wasn't the case. he was killed for violating what scholars somewhat primly refer to, and we will in this case because we're prim, racial etiquette. okay? he crossed the line, the social codes, by whatever he did or was believed to have done. it's worth noting that as much attention as this one got, there were two other murders in the weeks leading up to it in ms, a man named george w. lee and lamar smith, different parts of the state of mississippi and they had been actively involved in voter registration, trying to get black to the polls and had been warned not to do it. and they did it anyway. so this semester we're going to explore a case that's actually more similar to george w. lee and lamar smith. that's going to be the 1948
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murder of isaiah nixon in the town of alston, montgomery county. it's three hours from here. he was shot dead for voting. and he voted in the 19 -- in 1948. and i'm going to come back to this in a little bit and talk to you about the extraordinary period of time in georgia history between 1946 -- actually more broadly 1944 and 1948, the highlights of which were two statewide races for governor within two years of each other, one in 1946 and one in 1948. two and possibly three black men were killed for vote in that time that we know of. now, why -- just i want to open the floor for a second. why would white people go to
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such lengths to stop black people from voting? what do you think would so trouble white people back then or anytime that they would murder someone for voting? yes, sir. >> i mean, at that point politics was a way to actually voice one's opinions and it actually was power. so there was a specific power structure in the south and black people voting would most likely upset that. that wouldn't be a thing that they wanted. >> absolutely. yes. >> i agree with that. i think you know at the time politics all, you ow, sheriffs, councilmen, mayors, they're all white men. and if you have black men voting, it, of course there might be a change to that. you know, they couldn't let that happen. they couldn't give up the power of having control making decisions because who is going to go after the white men
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killing people if all of their friends are in politics and everyone is going to side with them. >> right. right. absolutely. yes, megan? >> also, if you have the right to vote -- the politicians have to cater to your needs because they are a part of getting you elected. so i think that's a big part of it, too. >> and by that you mean that white people would never want to cater to a black person's need? >> yes, exactly. >> yes. >> it's a legal equalizer and it was one of the only things at the time that could equalize what was going on in society. >> right. it's worth knowing that -- you may know this intuitively. but the details are what make it extraordinary. what life was like. what segregation was like. i was absolute. okay? in the 1940s. okay? and we're talking about before -- some people would say it was even a little more
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liberal atmosphere in the '40s leading up to the brown versus board decision by the supreme court that that really hardened people even more. but in the 1940s even your liberals never believed for a minute that segregation would end. you've got -- i can name four liberal editors, prominent people who worked -- later worked in the roosevelt administration, ralph mcgill, others, jonathan daniels who was an editor in raleigh, north carolina who said absolutely segregation will never end in the south. you might as well believe that day is going to become night and night is going to become day. all of the armies of the world, access and ally combined said mark eldridge who had been in lincoln will never bring an end to segregation. so it was that absolute. so when we say that white people
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didn't want black people to vote, it was just one piece of all of the absolutes that were going to be banned, actually be barred from. but let's get to the real technical detail. you could say they can't want them to vote because they might elect a black person. keep in mind. what do you think -- why -- do you think a group of blacks and these counties, rural counties that we're talking about could ever elect a black person back in the '40s if they could vote? no? >> no. >> why not? >> because i don't think they had the structure there to get someone into office, to run for political office and then to win political office is a hugely expensive time-consuming endeavor, right? and i think these people were in such a situation where they're more concerned with their day-to-day livelihood, getting food on the table, than they are
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about putting someone into a system that has never, in their experience, been beneficial for them. >> that is all true. okay? but i would remind you that white people down there were very, very poor too. and white people were struggling day to day. okay? and here's what i want you to keep in mind, is that in rural georgia, rural alabama, rural mississippi, the population was heavily african american. you can go into some counties and it would be 70% african american. and maybe voting age would be 60% and you'd look at the voting roles and seven people, blacks, would be registered. maybe 100 in a really aggressive county. my point is that the structure, not just of their lives, but the structure that barred them from voting at all was because whites
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feared that they were -- they would be the minority. whites were the minority and that majority ruled, they would lose power. i want somebody else to quickly name one other important reason why the vote matters. what happens when you register to vote? we stumped them. year after year after year. what happens? how many of you are registered? what do you get in the mail every now and then. you get a call from your folks back home -- >> jury duty. >> jury duty. and what does that mean? >> that you go sit on the jury and you can make the decision that these -- >> you have an influence on the criminal justice system, right? a widely overlooked consequence that white people clearly understood, okay? and as we go through these civil
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rights cold case, so many of these are about criminal justice and whether people got, you know, justifiable verdicts given the fact that all white juries were looking into them. normally so you know, i would not start off with emmett till, he's mississippi, not georgia. we're focused on georgia. i wanted to do it for the anniversary and i wanted to do it for another reason. let me ask you a question. this gets really personal. somebody tell me how old their grandfather is. somebody tell me -- how old is your grandfather? >> 88. >> 88. somebody else? >> 92. >> 92? anybody? >> 89. >> 70. >> 70, uh-huh. all right. you can do the math quickly. how old would emmett till be. >> i can't do the matt quickly. >> 60 years ago and he was 14.
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he would be 74 years old. 60 years ago is not that long ago. i can name one person in the room who was alive at that time. okay? so i just want you to know we're closer in time than you might think. yes, emily. >> what was the influence of him being from chicago? is that why it was published in the newspapers more? >> yes, that is why the chicago papers went down there. and also the fact that he was a mere 14 years old. and see, to have crossed a line that didn't make sense outside the south for the most part drew massive press coverage. okay? this little town of sumner, mississippi was overrun by reporters. "the new york times" cover it ever day, associated press, upi. the only newspapers that didn't cover it every day were the mississippi newspapers. okay? okay.
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now, just to go a little further here. as we go forward in these cases we're going to be examining, as i think we've discussed a little bit, not the who done it as much as the why. in most cases we know who done it. what conditions, what forces, what states of mind were in place, social, political, economic. you know, what forces would come together override all sense of common decency, all religious e repreaccepts and acceptable behaviors and lead men to resort to such horrific violence and wide spread murder as a means of control, to your point okay. this is the website that i've asked you to look at, you know, the civil rights cold case project. okay, this did begin as a joint
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journalism and african american studies class. it's expanded to include history and american studies, cross-listed in all of those programs, and as i said, we've had students working the summers. we've had students do independent studies after taking the class. and we've had seniors do honors thesis that were related. and we're examining the history of racially driven behavior, and not just the murder of activists as you can see. it's racially motivated murders. you're going to be using primary evidence, fbi records. we're going to give you a big stack of them, okay, just to prime the pump. we want you to dig out ncaap archives, personal records, we discovered a mother load of
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manuscript and rare book library, it's a real gold mine opportunity. and we want you to come to understand history that is little known from the inside looking out. and it's long forgotten from the outside looking in and that is our goal for you to seat it from that new, fresh appreciate. this is a whole bunch of different cases. clarence picket, mabel mahone, a.c. hall, people who were targeted just because of who they were. wasn't always even their beliefs. in most cases, these murders prompted no local investigations or state investigations or prosecutions, or received consistent investigation by the fbi. as you'll see, you need to be open, however, we'll show you, to all historical realities and possibilities. and things are not always what
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they seem or what you'd expect. this is james brazier. james brazier was 31 years old in 1958, the father of four children, a husband. he worked three jobs, including at the chevrolet dealership. and james brazier, there's something he just loved not more than his family, but with a great passion, and that is new cars. in '56, he bought himself a new '56 chevrolet from the dealership where he worked. in '58, he bought himself a chevrolet impala. okay? we have examined in this class why it was that that was so offensive to whites down in dawson, georgia -- not dawson county. dawson, georgia, terrell county. a few months before this particular day when he was
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arrested in april of '58 for who knows, didn't matter, and beaten up on his lawn by the police, taken to the jail where he was examined by a doctor who said he's going to be okay and he wasn't. and then in the middle of the night, he's dragged out and beaten all but dead and within a few days dies. but five months -- or four months before that day, he had been stopped by a police officer. and he said to the police officer, why are you stopping me again? what's going on? why do you keep doing this? and the police officer says, you got a lot of nerve driving a car like that when we can't hardly live. i'll get you yet. and by the way, we know all of this because we have the paper. we have the records. we have all -- the record in which that whole dialogue took place. and james brazier, unlike emmitt
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till, no news coverage. not a word. a month later, one of the same police officers and another one from the same police force kill another man, willy countryman, who was found later with a knife under him that his family said he had never had, it was never his knife, it was planted. they kill willy countryman in the middle of the night. also no coverage of that. hadi brazier, james brazier's wife, a very hard-working woman. she spent five years trying to get his case to a federal jury and finally succeeded with -- the consequence was that the jury in a civil case did not -- decided not to hold the police officers responsible for james brazier's death, but it produced a large transcript. so this is the transcript that one of our students -- that's actually just a portion of the transcript that one of our students found at the national
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archives. it really enlightened us. okay. this is macy o'snipes. very much like george w. lee, isaiah nixon. killed for voting. killed in georgia in 1946. two years before isaiah nixon. because he voted. now, here's the kind of detail that's interesting. so many things that are interesting, but when you're studying these things, you want to glom on to these interesting moments. the family says after he was shot and had to walk three miles to a white land owner's place to get a ride to the hospital. he gets to the hospital, the doctor examines him and says, my gosh, he's going to need a blood transfusion. the family tells us this. and the family says, well, good, let's give him a transfusion. and the doctor said, i can't do that. now understand the doctor was white. this was the time when just
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about all doctors were. and the doctor said, well, we can't, we don't have any black blood today. you've heard me talk about the mythology that people operated under about african americans at the time. they adopted a lot of myths that were hard for people to break, even if they had wanted to. by the way, the murder of macy o'snipes really deeply upset a young college student at the time at morehouse college, who was provoked by the incident to write a letter to the atlanta constitution. do you see it over here? can you see who wrote this letter? on the far right in the middle. who does it say? ml king. martin luther king. this happened within just weeks of another murder in georgia, a mass murder of four people at
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moors ford, which we can talk about also some other time. but click on through here, this is a story about clarence picket. a man who in columbus, georgia, maybe he was a little bit off, frankly. he had spent six months at the state mental hospital. he returns to columbus. he'd be known to wander around. he'd be known to drink a little bit. maybe a little bit too much. and some police officers sort of took him as the village idiot. and some were deeply offended by him. but he gets arrested on one particular day in 1957 around christmas, and he gets thrown in jail and he goes off. he's in jail, can't break out. and he's yelling and screaming, you know, calling the police officers names. and most of the police officers just say, oh, that's pickett. you know. preacher, they called him. but one police officer decided not to take it. and he goes in the jail cell and
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kicks him and beats him and stomps him to near death. okay? and he has to be taken to a columbus medical center, where a white physician sees him. and i'm going to show you what the white physician -- he examines him. there's a police officer in the room at the time, and the police officer says to the doctor, well, what do you think? and the doctor says, i think he's putting on. okay? the next day, clarence pickett was dead. so what our students were able to do was look at the doctor's medical report from one day and look at the autopsy the next day and we sat with a pathologist from emory university at midtown hospital who said, well, gosh, based on this autopsy and what we know, here's what the doctor the day before should have seen and should have done. and he should never have released him to go home, which he did.
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and the doctor who said he was putting on, when he released clarence pickett, he gave him 75 milligrams of demerol, an analgesic, a painkiller. so clearly there's some problem here. if he's telling the police officer i think he's putting on, either afraid for whatever reason, or just wants to be part of the boys and the team, and then gives him a painkiller on the way out. whatever it is, clarence pickett died the next day. i want to say something else about how we learn to think counter-intuitively. i told you before, you need to be aware not to jump to assumptions about things. one student we had, a very good student, was determined to betray a police officer who beat and stomped clarence pickett as this southern racist cracker. all right?
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white cop, stereo typical, straight out of central casting. another student was looking into it too and discovered something. this is the joseph cameron was the police officer. what does that say? where was he from? he was from new york. so we traced him enough to know that he came south only when he was in the military to be at ft. benning. okay? so i say this to you as a means of saying, we want you to challenge some assumptions that you may have going into these things. okay? couple more. lem yul pent. in 1964, lem yule pen was a high-ranking administrator in the washington, d.c. school system and he and two other african americans come south to go to ft. benning for army reserve training in the summer
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of 1964, a really important summer of '64. in civil rights, it's the summer of freedom over in mississippi. the three civil rights workers are missing and they show up, so on and so forth. they finish up with their military service down in ft. benning and they're driving back home to washington to be with their families. little do they know as they get near athens, they are going to cross paths with a group of three clansmen just looking for trouble. lem yule pen and his buddies, another one's driving. they stop, they get out. lem yule pen takes the wheel. and within minutes the clan car has pulled up. somebody's pulled out a shotgun and blown him away, killed him, okay? in 1964. there are two very, very gruesome pictures that i have
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that show lem yule pen that i wouldn't dare show you, but i'm just telling you, it was just breath-taking how brutal this murder was. i think it's -- i want to give you a detail that we learned. and y'all may find, it's such a small detail, but it's helpful for you to understand what things were like at the time. and this comes from student research and from some reading we've done, and helps you understand the frame of mind of people in 1947, '57, '64. there was a trial. the three clansmen were caught. they were indicted. and they were tried. okay? and during the -- in state court. okay? not federal. state. we'll later go into a lot of these distinctions. during the trial, two of the witnesses against the clansmen
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were the other two men who were in the car, okay, with lem yule pen. and two african american men who walk into the courtroom to testify in their military uniforms. one was a major and he had the stripes to show it. the other was a corporal and he too had the stripes. and suddenly the press that was there took note of the fact that when they came into the courtroom, the white jurors, all men, all white, took -- just suddenly had these expressions of disdain for these black men who had higher ranking than they did when they were in the military. they were, you know, privates, many of them. and it ended up, maybe it was going to be influential, maybe it wasn't. but it's a moment worth understanding that the psyche at
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the time was that no black man should be in a military uniform fighting for this country. okay? and this is, what? 16 years after truman's order, something like that. desegregating the military. all right, and by the way, the lawyer for the defendant, the clansmen, was very adamant in his arguments that the white jury would be letting down their race were they to convict these men. he really appealed to their anglo saxon tradition and their -- so they would have to answer to their neighbors and of course they did find the men not guilty. okay. couple more. this is a young man who was 17 years old in 1962 when he's walking home from a dance. a.c. hall and his girlfriend, she was 15. they've gone to a dance.
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they're walking past a school. they don't have -- they don't know that some hour earlier a white woman has called the police and said, i just saw a black man in my car port, reaching into my glove compartment and now my gun is missing, that they kept in the glove compartment of their car. so the police pick her up, they go out looking for people. they see a.c. hall, walking with his girlfriend, and the woman says, that's him! and really the only thing similar was that he had on a white shirt and the guy she had seen was wearing a white shirt. and the police come after him, and he starts to run. does this sound similar to anything you've heard recently? a.c. hall starts to run, and they start to shoot. and the police shoot him. and when they finally get up to him, he's all but dead, and he's trying to get up, he's trying to
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right himself and he lifts his hands up like this in surrender and then falls over dead. and they look for a gun. they didn't find a gun. two days later, they come and they say, we found the gun, in a coroner's injury, it's called, at an inquest. and they have a gun. somebody in the coroner's jury then calls in the man and the wife whose gun was stolen and says, is this your gun? and they say, no, that's not our gun. so this white coroner's jury, which doesn't have -- which only has the power to recommend whether or not a grand jury should then bring criminal charges. okay? they do a complete statement that says, we believe this was murder. okay? so a group of white people meeting, examining the evidence,
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conclude it was murder. it's taken up by a grand jury, and the grand jury wouldn't bring any charges against the police officers. so as you can see, you have a lot of unrestrained agents of white supremacy acting here to enforce what they believe to be the social order of things. and they brought just injury and death to untold numbers was african americans in georgia and in the south. okay? we're going to ask you during this time, as i said, to ask the questions about the why. why would police officers be so offended that a black man owned a nicer car than they could afford, that they would kill him? why would white physicians examining black patients so readily ignore the signs of grave injury, withhold treatment, and send patients
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home to die? so the purpose of the course is clear. we want you to learn how to locate, how to dig out records, how to analyze the documentation of these crimes. find the truth. and find the context. beyond the primary evidence that we're going to give you and that you're going to dig out, we have a lot of secondary reading, okay? because there are others who have examined some of these issues more broadly. so that when a student was looking at why would a man be killed for owning a nice car? why would james brazier be killed? leon lit wack has two or three other examples. some of these scholars have done the work that sort of is the glue of our work and helps expand our understanding. our understanding that these were not isolated, one-off
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incidents. okay? so that's the kind of work that we're going to be engaged in. professor gadsden is going to discuss a broader context in which we're going to understand the cases and then we're going to come back to me for a little bit, talking about georgia, the close-out. okay? did you have questions at this point? let me just ask that, about what i've just talked about. you probably must have had things going through your mind at the time. feel free to raise your hand. yes, please. >> i believe you mentioned one of the officers and one of the people that killed someone was from new york instead of the south. wouldn't that also -- wouldn't that -- i don't think that would change much because they considered the south -- the north was more like, it kind of concealed its racism more than the south did, so i think that mentality wouldn't really change because of where he was from, because it was a general thing.
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>> right. i think that's right. it's a question of what people knew at the time. and that's part of our challenge. not to apply what we know in 2015, to what they knew in 1964, or '47 or '48. and what were the understandings then. you do have a number of northerners who came south and maybe they held those beliefs up there, even there, but who came south and decided to fit in. they were going to have to adopt sort of southern ideologies on these things. did you have -- yes? >> i was just going to say, that same guy, he was in the military. so that's a whole nother structure of group thinking and fitting in and this ideology and this brain-washing thing. because there's a lot of brain-washing in the military, that plays into his thoughts and his actions in that moment.
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>> exactly. any other questions? okay. >> so how do we think about racial violence in american history? i think that's one of the underlying questions to this class, to this project. how violent is the united states or was the united states? who were the victims? who were the perpetuators? and how did the justice system respond to this violence? and i think these are some of the things i'd like us to consider. i think a good place to start, when we think about the problem of violence in american political development is with gunner mirtels in american dilemma. myrtle was a swedish sociologist who had been contracted by the carnegie foundation to write a sosh logical study of relations
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in the 1940s. he produced this epic study of american relations called "an american dilemma." >> 1,083 pages. >> yes. it's perhaps one of the finest study -- comprehensive studies of american relationships ever published. and myrtle worked with a bevy of academics to study a variety of aspects of the south, including white attitudes toward blacks, the biological and social foundations of race. he published population statistics and trends. he explored the institution of slavery and the evolution of the southern planter economy. he looked at the economic conditions and social stratification of african american communities. he explored white southern politics. he did detailed studies of the
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justice system, of police, of prisons and jails. he looked at the problem of violence in the south. he explored the problem of segregation and equality and he looked at a variety of different institutions in the african american community. kind of uplift institutions, social protest institutions. he looked at the role of the black press and black churches. i mean it really is a study that i think deserves us returning to again and again and again. but in a very provocative way, myrtle offered a particular interpretation of southern culture, and i think by extension, of american political development. he developed this argument that he called the american creed. right? and in myrtle's telling and this is a quote, there's a strong unity in this nation and a basic homojen aidient in its stability. americans of all national
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origins, classes, regions, creeds, and colors have something in common. a social ethos, a political creed. myrtle continued, it is difficult to avoid the judgment that this -- and what he called american creed -- is the cement in the structure of this great and disparate nation. now, the ideals contained within the creed included notions that ought to be familiar with us. right? if you've read our kind of founding documents. they include the dignity, the recognition of the dignity of the individual human being, the fundamental equality of all men, certain inalienable rights to freedom and justice and fair opportunity. right? we can read these sentiments in the declaration of independence, in the u.s. constitution, in various state constitutions. myrtle recognized this recurrence of these themes in all these -- in all these documents. now, because myrtle was doing a
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study of american race relations, he did concede there was a tension between this creed, right, and the kind of everyday experiences of americans. still, he maintained -- and this is another quote -- that the ideals of the american creed have become the highest law in the land. and they were expressed repeatedly by national leaders, thinkers, jurorists and statesmen. it was his opinion that the american creed had triumphed as the guiding ideology of american political culture at the time. now, in myrtle's assessment, again because he's studying the south right now and american race relations, he constructed racism as a kind of contradiction to this creed. right? it was a kind of -- it was a kind of problem to which otherwise good people succumbed, and it was a problem that demanded kind of moral redress
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and education. myrtle was of the opinion that if americans understood the totality and complexity of the problems, of these kind of insults to the american creed, that therein they would very quickly discover a remedy for these problems, of segregation, of inequality, and of violence. and i think in many ways myrtle's telling of -- or kind of exploration of american political culture provides the essential sub text for how we even tell american history today. so if you pick up your average u.s. history textbook right from your high school or even university level, i think you'll see a kind of argument embedded in the text about american history as this struggle toward greater levels of freedom and equality. and i think you can see it -- you can see kind of echoes of
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myrtle's argument in arguments of american exceptionalism. that somehow america is different than the rest of the world and we're better. that americans are kind of innately, inherently freedom-loving, democratic, you know, egalitarian. and so i think we need to recognize the kind of power of that sentiment, right, in the past and in the present. now, a number of myrtle's contemporary -- contemporaries, his critics, offered a more sanguine take on the notion of the american creed, right, and the notion that americans, and particularly white americans, subscribed, or had an abiding commitment to these notions of freedom and equality and democracy. right? they noted that myrtle demonstrated great skill at celebrating american democracy, even as he detailed the great
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breadth and scope of america's brand of racial apartheid. but they charged that myrtle, in many ways, underestimated the depths of racism that existed among all classes of whites. like among the upper class and working class whites. and that swedish sociologist treated racism and racist acts as vestiges marked by pre-democratic, pre-scientific modes of thought. he rendered these problems of segregation, discrimination, and violence as something kind of removed from the essence of american sentiment, and something kind of not fitting with the american creed. african american sociologist oliver carts in particular, chided myrtle for treating
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racism as a disembodied element of american political culture. and contended -- and cox contended instead that the problem of race and racism was kind of part and parcel of the system of american political and economic structure. i think the debate that myrtle had, i think, explicitly, implicitly, with his critics, is a really interesting one that frames, i think a lot of discussion about american history, right? and it creates this, i think, interesting interpative tension when we think about u.s. political and economic culture as inherently democratic or something else. and i think it does a lot to shape our perspectives, right, of different events. but i think the tension between
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myrtle and his critics, i think is really interesting for the purpose rs of this class, where we're thinking about the specific problem of violence. right? and the extent to which it is something central and intrinsic to u.s. history, right? it's something that's kind of out there, right, that these kind of people on the margins of society engage in, right, that otherwise -- or is it something that is kind of bound up and woven throughout a variety, a myriad of different american traditions and practices. right? is it embedded in the actions of different institutions? and i think that's a really interesting way -- a really interesting problem for us to ponder over. i think when we think about racial violence in history, i think it's important to think about it as a kind of long arc
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and think about it in its various iterations, right? in many ways, we can look to the institution of slavery and see the kind of practice of violence as kind of inherent and essential to the institutionization of childhood slavery in the american south. slave owners went to great lengths, right, to convince themselves and others that the institution of slavery was a kind of benevolent arrangement between masters and slaves, right? that they were the ones who provided -- the masters provided a kind of shelter and food and civilization and religion for their slaves, in exchange for labor and obedience and love. right? but we understand, just a cursory review of american slavery reveals that violence was an essential component of the master/slave relationship.
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right? that masters frequently resorted to corporal punishment to discipline their slaves, right? and to maintain the essential imbalance between masters and slaves. masters frequently whipped their slaves. i'm sure we've seen the iconic photograph of the gentleman with the cross hatched scars in his back where he'd been whipped repeatedly. you know, slaves were whipped and beaten for disobedience, when they failed to meet their kind of cotton or tobacco quotas. they were subject to corporal punishment when they attempted to run away or when they broke a kind of myriad rules that governed plantation life. and it wasn't clear there was a logic to the violence. slaves lived in a constant state
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of vulnerability, right, to the master's whims. slave women were often subject to forms of -- to rape and other forms of sexual exploitation, for masters, master's sons and the male relatives, overseers and other visitors, right? and i think what's striking about violence in the slave south was the fact that all violence short of murder, or serious maiming of a slave was considered legal. right? that the state regarded that this was the purview of masters and as long as they didn't kill their property, that was fine. but even in cases where masters were determined to have killed their slaves or maimed them, they were rarely charged and rarely prosecuted for their actions. i think violencviolence, it's
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interesting to think any violence as a feature of the post emancipation south also. we can see a continuation of that world that originated in the slave south. new constitutional amendments establish citizen rights for african americans and african americans gained degrees of freedom and independence unimaginable in the slave south. that's not to be underestimated. we have to think about different gradations of freedom, but i think the fact that emancipation mattered, right? it didn't result necessarily in equality of the races, but was a profound change from the previous regime. and that created a great deal of anxiety among whites. for a variety of different reasons. and it's in this context that we can see the rise of institutions
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like the ku klux klan, right? that use violence and threats against free people to reassert, right, the political, economic, and cultural superiority of white southerners that had been kind of seriously undermined with emancipation. the ku klux klan organized lynch mobs and portrayed themselves really as kind of protecting the weak and punishing criminals for their immoral behavior. and they often resorted to violence and intimidation to protect white southerners from competition from the newly freed people. right? the clan was renowned for night rides in which they would take people from their homes, and many were killed execution style by shooting, hanging, they were raped, whipped, or otherwise humiliated. and i think in these ways, we can see the violence, right, as
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a continuation of patterns, of traditions of racial -- patterns and traditions of racial culture, but it's important to think about violence and this interesting tension between other tools of domination, right? and it's a question that we discussed yesterday that white southerners didn't necessarily turn to violence when all other methods of domination failed, right? but that violence of a kind of tool in a large toolbox, right, of -- that provided them the means to exert their power and authority that they lost in the war. right? and we can see that kind of play, those kind of actions being played out -- played and replayed out in different variations, right, throughout the late 19th and 20th century. now, lynching is arguably the
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most conspicuous form of racial violence in the late 19th and early 20th century. what do you all know about lynching? it's difficult to avoid if you know anything about u.s. history? nobody knows anything about lynching? yes? >> it was almost kind of a show. >> okay. >> people would come and bring their families to watch a lynching. >> yeah. >> during different periods, i guess. >> yes, exactly. >> it could get out of hand really quickly. sometimes it was mob violence, and sometimes it wasn't directed toward a specific individual, but just whoever could be found on the streets. could get caught up, like in towns, there could be an anger of what are we doing, we're losing power, things are getting out of control, society is changing and we don't like that, kind of thing. >> yeah, yeah. yes? >> it was also seen as somewhat
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of a religious spectacle. a lot of people just saw it as a church goer would see a sacrifice or something like that. it was something that they believed in, they were showing or offering to the people. >> yeah. it has elements of all that. for our purposes, it's important to kind of define lynching as a killing perpetuated by a group of persons working outside the law to avenge a crime, real or imagined, right? to impose a kind of social order. all right? and so the origins of the term "lynch" come from the american revolution, right? with colonel charles lynch of virginia, who instituted this extra legal court that sentenced torries to flogging. and this, the kind of practice of lynchings evolved over the 19th century. and initially were most associated with the west, right?
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with the frontier, right? and -- and whites and mexicans and native americans were primarily the victims, right? but once we get into civil war and reconstruction, we see the practice of lynching become increasingly a southern phenomena and increasingly an exercise perpetuated against african americans by whites. and it involved various kinds of beatings, of different forms of torture. but i think what's important and essential to understand is the extent to which it was this public ritual. right? it was this -- it was often times carried out, you know, in town squares, right? that it was advertised, right? that lynchings were performed with the knowledge and
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understanding and permission of authorities, even if the police weren't actively participating, they stood by. they allowed victims to be often times removed from jails, to be taken from the mob. and this institution of lynching really evolves kind of hand in hand with the segregation and disenfranchisement of african americans after the civil war, right? it's another kind of tool in the toolbox that white southerners used to politically and economically disenfranchise african americans. between 1882 and 1950, we don't have exact figures of how much people were lynched, but it's estimated that roughly 6,000 americans died at the hands of lynch mobs. with mississippi, georgia, and texas leading the way. of those who were lynched, roughly 1/3 were suspected of rape or attempted rape. the next popular category was
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murder or attempted murder. but african americans who were lynched for a variety of other transgressions, including arson, burglary, assault, petty theft, vaguerancey, or theft. so there's this problem of lynching and crime, perceived or imagined. but i think actually the study of the work of ida b. wells, a famous activist, reveals something really interesting about the practice of lynching. right? that it wasn't just african americans didn't just suffer lynching for perceived wrongs, but they also often suffered lynchings when they succeeded. when they demonstrated economic success, when they demonstrated political independence, right? they often aroused the great
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consternation and antagonism of local whites who descended upon them and took their lives. there's a great -- a terribly important incident of lynching that occurred in 1899, right down the street, or down i-85 in newnan, georgia, where a black farmer was accused of murdering his white employer and raping his wife. now, again, i think the important problem here is "accused of." many of these victims were never found guilty of a crime. but even if they had been found guilty of a crime, there was an extra legal element of this, where the state abdicated its responsibility towards disciplining and holding to account actual criminals. but the interesting thing, i think, and the historically significant thing about sam
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hose's lynching, was the public spectacle of it all. thousands of people turned out. excursion trains were organized to bring people from atlanta out to newnan, georgia, right? and hose was tortured and mutilated before he was eventually burned to death. and his body parts were distributed and sold afterwards. local photographers snapped and distributed pictures of the violence and with many lynchings, there actually developed a consider market in lynching postcards. there was this great exhibition on lynchings that if you have the opportunity to see it, you need to see it. it is really, really moving. now the composition of lynch mobs was often difficult to discern. but researchers believe that the participants hailed from across the social spectrum. they were rich folks, they were poor folks. they were civic leaders, they were church leaders, they were
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jurists and there's this really interesting element of mass complicity in the law. so whether or not -- we tend to focus on the most immediate perpetuators of violence, those people who made the nooses and actually killed the people. but i think what's interesting and important about the lynching as a kind of public spectacle is the way in which it was this kind of mass, kind of popular effort, right? of violence against an individual and assertion of white supremacy in the face of perceived black crimes or black assertions of political and economic authority. there's another form of violence i think that's really important for us to remember when we think about southern history. and i'd like to just borrow from
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european and russian history and think about the term the pogrom. in russia, it's a term used to define the wrecking of havoc -- it's meaning is to wreck havoc or demolish violently. it refers to violent attacks against jewish populations in russia and europe. in america, we had variations of those. in the u.s. context, they're just called race riots, right? and in 1898, in wilmington, north carolina, a mob of nearly 2,000 men attacked a black newspaper after it published what was perceived as an inflammatory article, kind of questioning the motives of lynch mobs. and this is kind of against the backdrop of a really important election in which democrats and
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republicans were vying for political power in the city. two dozen african americans were killed during the -- more than two dozen were killed and many others were forced from town. and it's this kind of really important moment, i think, in southern history, and one around which there's been great discussions in wilmington, north carolina, recently. and there was also the tulsa race riot in 1921. and there's been some recent work on the lasting impact of this riot. in this case, a group of whites mounted a 16-hour attack on the greenwood district, which was also then known as the black wall street. right? and in this riot, it's estimated that between three dozen and 300 african americans were killed. 35 blocks were razed and over 1,000 residence were destroyed.
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and there's amazing photographs of burned-out structures, as far as the eye can see. with the rising tide of civil rights activism, we can discern a kind of wave of anxiety throughout the white south, and a kind of next chapter in the history of racial violence in america. african american soldiers returned from war, intent on demanding their rights as citizens. the naacp and other organizations organized and began to mount concerted efforts and began to compile a record of successes. small, but gradual successes. and they mobilized efforts to regain for african americans the right to vote, through voter registration campaigns. and to all of these things, all of these efforts, i think, we
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can measure forms of white -- whites responded with various forms of violence. and those forms of violence come in a variety of different ways. interpersonal violence was a kind of persistent quality, i think, of southern society. in the kind of mid 20th century. and for many instances, african americans, for real or perceived violations of racial etiquette, could be met by various forms of interpersonal violence. and when we talk about racial etiquette, i think it's really important to consider and we'll kind of tease this out a little bit more, but we have to imagine a time and a place where in all contexts, african americans were expected to act in a subservient manner to whites. right?
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to refer to whites as mister or miss, never in the first name, to take off their hats, to concede the sidewalk, right, to the white person who was walking in the opposite direction. and real or perceived violations of these rules were often met with beatings and kickings and other forms of kind of humiliation. and i think we can see the most emblematic example of that is emmitt tube. he was perceived to have committed a gross violation of racial etiquette in the u.s. which is, as a black man, to make any kind of gesture, especially sexualized gesture towards a white woman and he paid for that violation with his life. there are many other examples of that. we can see evidence of political assassinations in the south. the cases of george lee and lamar smith, who attempted to
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organize a voter registration, to vote, and to exercise the franchise is a perfect examination and i don't think it's too much to use the term political assassinations. medgar evers, the president of the mississippi chapter -- mississippi conference of naacp, was assassinated by a sniper, right, for his civil rights efforts in jackson, mississippi. and the biggest example is martin luther king jr, right, who was a victim of a political assassination, for his political activities. we can see episodes of racial terrorism in the south, i think. terrorism is a kind of really fraught and -- word, i think, to be used in the political -- in the contemporary context, but i don't think it's a stretch to talk about terrorism -- racial
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terrorism under jim crow, especially when we remember the bombing of the 16th street baptist church in 1968. right? and the large amount of dynamite that was placed in that church and detonated with the express purpose of killing and intimidating african americans, for a particular political end which was to kind of undermine and subvert, the growing momentum of the african american civil rights movement at the time. there were numerous incidents of white mob violence in the jim crow south. where white demonstrators descended on african americans -- if anybody is familiar with the stories of the freedom riders, right? when they pulled into those stations in aniston, in montgomery, that with the kind of tacit support of the police,
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whites descended on the buses, on the station, and beat -- mercilessly beat these civil rights activists, while the police literally stood by and allowed that to happen. we can see other incidents of that. and then there's the problem of police violence, which seems to factor very centrally in our cold case project here. right? there was this terrible incident in 1946 that involved a gentleman named isaac woodard. woodard was a u.s. army sergeant. he was on a bus. he was traveling through south carolina, right outside of akin, south carolina. and he had a kind of dispute with the bus driver. he wanted to use the rest room, the bus driver objected. and the bus driver later called the police. the police removed woodard from the bus and jailed him.
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during his period of incarceration, the police beat woodward and blinded him. literally, they kind of gouged his eyes out with a billy club. right? and this is a case that became very important in thinking about the -- in moving president truman, right, to support various civil rights measures. and so you think about this -- especially this american soldier, t, it became -- it was just an important moment, an emblematic moment, i think, in thinking about violence in the south. and there's eugene bull conner, most of us know about him and these iconic images and footage of his police force and them unleashing dogs on non-violent protesters and such. and so, i think, you know, for us, i'd like to challenge us to think about the problem of violence, as we give context to
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the events surrounding the murder of isaiah nixon. right? is to think about the extent to which what happened to nixon was an aberration. i think there was a way in which we might frame his murder as that. as the kind of outcome of two deranged individuals, kind of crazy racism. but i think it's more interesting and important for us to kind of work diligently to try to give context, right, to all of these incidents of violence, right? and to think about and maybe kind of challenge myrtle's thesis a little bit about these problems as these kind of aberrations to the american creed. that the problem of violence, not just -- we can talk about racial violence, there's other forms of violence that are actually more central to our understanding of our collective
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history than we often times are willing to admit. and there might be this kind of interesting problem of complicity, right? that it was certainly the case that two men, right, approached isaiah nixon, and killed him. literally. right? but these men were part of a community, right? they were -- and there were witnesses, right? literally and figuratively to their violent action, right? and these witnesses had the choice, they had a myriad choices, right, to hold these men to account or to let them go. right? and in the kind of community's decisions about how to deal with the assailants of these -- of isaiah nixon, i think we can tell a really interesting story about not just southern history, but u.s. history. and so i'd like to kind of leave you with those final -- that
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final challenge. because i think that is kind of -- therein lies the great kind of possibility, i think, inherent in our work in this class. >> we'll just keep going, unless you have some questions. we're going to push on here to the end. if that's all right. and we'll have time at the end too if you have some questions. i just started thinking, as you were talking, i hadn't really put this together. of course we're looking at st a isaiah nixon, 1948. two years before was macy o'snipes, 1946. and you really don't have to go to tulsa and wilmington to look at the atlanta race riot in 1906. there were people -- neither of those were killed in atlanta, but that race riot, in atlanta, it was widely known, widely understood, atlanta had one of the -- and still does -- one of
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the most significant upper middle class african american populations in the country, and it did even then. and they came under serious attack in the 1906 race riot. we're not going to go into that, but it occurred to me there would have been people, very much alive in 1946, in 1948, who might have lived through that atlanta race riot and remembered it. and it would have been sort of a benchmark moment in their lives. and there were other atlanta -- besides the clan, there were other clan-like groups. there were the black shirts. and they were -- they created -- threatened businesses that had any thought about hiring blacks. particularly the cities. they didn't want cities to hire blacks. and they used to walk around with signs that said, city jobs are for white folks, and they would enforce it brutally. there was a group called the men
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of justice, the supreme kingdom, there was the colombians. pretty significant perpetrators of violence. we were talking yesterday and had this conversation where we were noodling through this idea that violence is not necessarily the last resort. when everything else has failed to keep the social order and white supremacy intact, in you can't keep them from voting and sitting in the schools, you know, we're going to go to violence. that wasn't the case. violence was often the first order of business. and the longer-range goal was built into -- embedded in the laws and in the voting laws and in the political infrastructure. so you can't really, you know, sort of jump to any presumption that, well, nothing else has worked, let's just go beat them up and kill them.
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okay. and i want to talk about two things that become really important that i think will -- i don't know that they'll astonish you, but i think they'll surprise you, about the way georgia was built. in one case, where the way the south was built. and the other. i want to talk to you about the way politics and political decision-making, electoral politics worked in georgia, just briefly. we're going to come back to it and i'm indebted to someone's book who we'll dive into portions of patrick novotny, professor at georgia southern, and he's looked into this in a pretty big way. and that's the georgia county unit system. now what could be more boring than to say? >> not to the political scientists in this room. they should be jonesing for this. >> that's right, exactly. but it was unique to georgia. okay? and i won't say no other state had it, but georgia was best
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known, going all the way back to vo key understanding what distinguished georgia as the county unit system. and basically it was a perversion, although not everyone would agree with that, you'll see what i mean in a second. it was a perversion of the political structure that gave the rural parts of the state far more influence in electoral politics than the urban areas. okay? and it went back to the 1700s in georgia, but it really caught fire in the mid 1800s. okay? this system where in the way both the legislature was set up and the power was distributed, and in elections, in much way the electoral college, right? the electoral college, we all know in this country, the person who wins the most votes, the
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popular votes doesn't necessarily become president. it's whoever gets the most electoral votes. georgia had a similar system, and i'm going to give you an idea of how that worked. but it was seen as a way of protecting the rural areas and not letting the big city slickers run rough shot over the county and the rural folks. this is how it worked in the selection of the legislature at the time. georgia had 132 counties, which is a lot. okay? today it has 159. and it has so many counties, because that's where the power was. and people wanted their own county so they could have their own power. but i'm just going to take you back to the mid 1800s. the 132 counties. and i wish i had my board here. i couldn't find the marker, but y'all can write down and see the math yourselves.
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the sixth largest counties in population had three seats each in the house of representatives. so that's 18 seats held by the six largest counties. the 31 next largest had two each. okay? and the 95 other had one each. so the smallest counties had 95 seats out of 132. the middle counties had 62 seats, and the largest counties had 18. so you can see how they created this intentional imbalance to keep power out of, as i called them, the city slickers. so successful statewide politicians were those who not nearly played to the rural interests and the populist period and beyond, but those who targeted the city and the urban interests as anath ma to the
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overall best interest of the state. so that's something we'll look at more closely, to understand why when you were running for governor in this state, really, you could almost abandon the campaign in the cities. because if you could stack up enough rural counties, you won. okay? that was unique to georgia. what was not unique but was pretty much south wide, though, is what was known quite plainly as the all white primary. okay? now the all white primary existed in georgia, south carolina, texas, in many states. what it meant was that when the democrats had their primary, to decide who their candidate would be in the general election, only white people could vote. now, blacks could vote in the general election. but not in the primary.
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why is that significant in the 1930s, '40s, '50s, '60s? why is it significant that blacks could not vote in the democratic primary? what would be the simplest explanation? did he beat you to it? >> no, he raised his hand. >> all you did was give me a little nod like you were almost ready to go. >> wouldn't it be that the primary is usually the place where it stops the front-runner, so you're putting up representatives of that white belief, so you're really not doing much as far as like in the general election by having too much choice there, because it's already pre-or daned, the thought that people have. >> so who was the dominant party in the '40s? >> you're absolutely right and i'm going to put some more flash on those bones. who was the dominant party in
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the south? political party? >> democrats. >> the democrats. they were the party of the white people. okay? are you familiar with who the party of african americans might have been when they had the vote, the occasion times when they had the vote? republican. why? why were african americans through the 19-teens, '20s, '30s, even the late 1800s more republican? [ inaudible ] >> lincoln was a republican. they were the party of the emancipation proclamation. the african americans were far more republican, okay? and -- but they were virtually, so they were because african americans did not participate and were not allowed to
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participate in the political system that much, what really mattered, as you just heard, is what happened in the democratic primary. whoever won the democratic primary won the election. they'd go through the pro forma staging of a general election in november, but there would be one person on the ballot. so that's why that's important. but challenges to the system began mounting in the 1940s. and chief among them was a challenge that was mounted in this state, by a man who maybe we'll even think we want to profile him this semester. a man named primus king. you can read more about him later, but he was aided greatly in his challenge to the all white primary by a man you'll see on our website, when you get to it, thomas brewer, a physician in columbus, an african american, and you'll see it there. but he helped him file his
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lawsuit challenging in federal court the musk ogy county, they're saying their failure to allow me to vote in a democratic primary is a violation of my 14th and my 15th amendment rights. equal protection and my voting rights. so -- and the federal courts, by the way, two of them found in favor of primarius king on this. in 1945 and 1946. do you see the period we're talking about? we're talking about the period leading up to the murders of macy o'snipes and isaiah nixon. okay, now while his case was pending before the united states supreme court, primus king's, another case, a challenge from texas, reaches the state supreme court, and they actually rule -- the u.s. supreme court rules on the texas case first. and what they said was, the state of texas, the democratic party, and the state of texas
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cannot have an all white primary, because the democratic party is by the supreme court's interpretation, an extension of state government, and state government didn't discriminasd discriminate. so what did the state of georgia do? they quickly passed a law that said the democratic party of georgia is not part of state government. it's an independent private party and it can do anything it wants, you know, as a private party. so that arrives at the united states supreme court as an altogether new wrinkle. so the supreme court has to take this issue up separately. all right? on april 1st, it was no april fool's joke. april 1st, 1946, just three months before the next georgia democratic primary, 1946, in which a leading candidate for
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governor was a man whose name you'll hear. gene tal maj. gene tal maj had been governor three times already. not in succession. he couldn't succeed himself. but three times already. he was -- you know, we sort of -- professor gadsden and i caution you not to overuse the word "racist," with what that means. sometimes white supremacist means something different. but i'm going to use the word racist with him. he would do anything to try to get elected. and he's trying to reclaim the governor's office in 1946, and he's on the ballot. and three months before that election, on april 1st, 1946, the united states supreme court ruled that georgia's all white primary was unconstitutional and said they cannot ban black
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people from voting in the democratic primary.
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