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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  September 18, 2016 6:00pm-6:46pm EDT

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on sunday, october 9, the second presidential debate. the third and final debate between hillary clinton and .onald trump on october 19 live coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates on c-span. listen live on the free c-span radio app. watch live or anytime on-demand at >> american history tv's american artifacts, we visit the health office building to see artifacts that tell the story of african-americans in congress in the 20th century. >> and the curator at the u.s. house of representatives. >> on the historian. -- i am the historian. >> we wanted to talk about the history of african-american representation in the 20th century. we have a lot of artifacts from house collections that has to do with that. and a lot of history to cover.
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african-american to be elected in the 19th century please in 1901. george white of north carolina. before is a long time another african-american comes into the house and that is oscar dupree from illinois. we had a couple of rare artifacts from him from the 1920's and 30's. before i launch into them, matt, tell us about oscar dupree. >> almost three decades after george henry white leaves congress when there are no african-american to serve in the house or senate. that has everything to do with the jim crow laws that go on the books in the south. the way that that changes over time during those decades and that there is a critical thing going on in the south where african begin to leave the south
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and move northward as part of a multi-decade movement that would later be called the great migration. on which to store and you talk to and 1890's and runs through world war ii. it takes up momentum around world war i as there is a need in the north to fill industrial jobs and jobs that have been occupied by men who are going off to war. you see tens of thousands of african-american's moving northward for the first time out of the rural south to industrial jobs in chicago, st. louis, cleveland, pittsburgh, new york. over time the african american populations in the city's increase. the african-americans in the
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cities are gradually recruited by the political party and oscar depriest is a perfect example of that process. he actually is born in the south. he and his family are part of a group called the exit dusters. he goes to grade school and high school in kansas. he finds his way to chicago and 1890's and moves up to the political system. he became's -- becomes a chicago city councilman. some pizza and balance. ofthe 1920's, he is a part the republican political machine in chicago. he is the ultimate.
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in 1928, when visiting congressmen -- the sitting congress and from chicago, he is on the appropriations committee in the fallmid--- election, the priest runs for the seat. he wins. in 1929, he comes to be house of representatives. >> one of my favorite things about oscar depriest's career is this little what did we have the collection that this from his career. it is small. it says depriest for congress. one of the things i love is that they are very rare. there are probably not many around initially. very few survive. think about this tiny button, worn on someone's lapel, looking like any other button, this actually represents a
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revolution. the attempt to elect an african-american to congress for the first time in decades. just this presence of this inch and a quarter piece of metal would have been a real statement on the part of whoever was wearing it. i love that it has survived and that it has come back to the place where whoever owned it wanted it to end up which was the u.s. congress. here, he then found a lot he was interested in. a lot that came to him that he did not ask for. the issues he handled and the way he was received. the circuitup being representative for african americans in general. >> it must have been an interesting ship for him because he had come up to be chicago political machine and while he
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had advocated for his constituency in chicago which was largely african-american, you did not get the sense that he embraced this role as a representative of african-americans generally until he comes to congress. a couple of things happen right off the bat they forced him to -- that. -- bat. they forced him to take a role for african american political rights. he is the first african-american to serve in a long time. when he comes to congress, there's a bit of a firestorm in the press. it was tradition for the first lady, and this case, herbert hoover's wife, to have 18 for all the congressional wives -- a tea for all the congressional wives.
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that caused consternation because there were several southern states that objected to the fact that the wives of their members of congress might actually have to have tea in the white house with an african-american woman. there were even southern states that had their legislatures passed resolutions asking hoover to make sure that this did not happen. was divide the tea party into a couple different sessions and the one that jesse to was very invited carefully preselected and was a small group of congresswomen who he knew would not object. this get out there in the press thedepriest pilloried southern state legislatures that had spoken up. this is the first roadblock that
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he runs into. another what happens in the house. >> right. people don't want their offices next to his. they don't want to be serving with an african-american. when we were doing some research on the history of who had what office, and the canon office out that theturned place that oscar depriest was assigned was a bathroom. they ripped out the plumbing and turned it into an office for him. what has to wonder, did they choose that space because it could happen at the last minute objection?pped any desolate the things that bubble up from lots of primary
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-- we learnrch that the stories behind the stories. >> one other episode happens late in his career when a staffer, his chief of staff and a family member are asked to ande the house restaurant move to a segregated room where african-americans could get lunch in an adjoining space. depriest objected to this unsurprisingly and defended his secretary as chief of staff. went after the chairman of what was then called the accounts committee in the house. lindsay lauren had dictated that it needed to be segregated. for and on to the house the press plays a lot of attention to this.
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haveine is, if we cannot freedom, if we cannot have the quality of the goodell of the capital, then wearing god's name are we going to get the? the house creates a special committee to investigate segregation in the restaurant. the issue dies in the committee. the restaurant remains segregated. it remains well into the 20 century. up not just the experience of african-american members in the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, but what the experience of the staff was. the restaurant is a good example. century, the responsible thing of running the house restaurant was given as a concession. somebody could have almost a franchise of running it. in the 1860's, that is awarded
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to a famous african american restaurant person. he is famous as a caterer. he runs the restaurant and his experience is, someone who is a if this man operating in that space, and the reconstruction period, there are some examples about and americans been some of the pioneers of being on staff and in the same way that the reconstruction time as they are very few in number but they managed to be in positions that have not been created for them the position that have some weight and purpose. symbolic importance that these individuals were put into these positions. one of them was willing smith. he was appointed to the house lebron in 1880. an appointed position.
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it is one of the most prominent positions in the institution and at that point he is one of the highest ranking in the-americans government. he came to the house starting working in the library. he had been promoted by radical republicans. who is appointed during reconstruction is the first african-american page to serve in the house on the floor. of manchester virginia just south of the james. is appointed by a member who is part of the reconstructed -- virginia government. a carpetbagger from the north. he serves in a district that represents richmond. in 1871.ointed
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he served for about 1.5 years. he is the great grandnephew of john mercer langston. >> he was serving as the dean or president of howard university at the time. later he will be in congress himself. there is this network of people who know other people and are able to move things around and make things happen. then we get from george downing and 1860's to be chief of staff for oscar depriest being refused service in the house. career, hes champions these issues that need championing and are not necessarily related to his constituency. then he becomes a national figure. another object in the collection that relates to that is a
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program from a speech he is .iving in dayton, ohio he does not say what he's got to talk about. he's just speaking and it there are all kinds of who caught around the whole thing. he's been presented as a statesman reported to the african-american community. , it is end of his career part of this notion of surrogate representation. >> the fact that you are representing people beyond the borders of your district or state. you are a national figure. we don't think of oscar to priest that much as a national figure. we do. many people do not. late 1940's, based on to arrive and they do become
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national figures. depriest leads congress in 1935. he is defeated for reelection by another african-american from chicago. arthur mitchell. he is the first african-american elected as a democrat to congress. what you begin to see in that decade of the 1930's into the 1940's and you see it very clearly in this chicago district is that there is a shift in african-american allegiance away from the american republican party to the democratic party during the new deal. has to do with the fact that african-americans are recruited by democratic city leaders. there is the promise of greater political participation. the promise that pulled african-americans out of the
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south during the great migration to begin with. and also that he has a slightly greater voice in the new deal coalition that roosevelt's together. you begin to be drawn toward the democratic party. mitchell is the embodiment of that. he chooses not to be a surrogate representative. he downplays the fact that he downplays the fact that he's a african-american in congress. he does not want to push black issues as he told the press on numerous occasions. he served for a couple terms and is replaced by another member named william dawson who is one of the longest-serving african-americans. individual who started off as a republican and moved to the democratic party in chicago. he is important because by the
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late 1940's, he chairs a committed that will become oversight and government reform. it was government operations back in 1940. he chairs the committee with the exception of a single term for the rest of his career. for two decades. he is another member who comes into the institution and unlike the priest challenges things thoughtfully, he feels like he can make changes by fitting into these institution and try to affect change from his position of power. being committee chair, and being part of that institutional approach to things, he has a portrait of himself as many committee chairman to created and it is one of the first portraits of african american -- and african-american in the u.s. congress. it raises it to the very elevated place.
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william dawson's portrait is the first african-american committee chairman port for it -- portrait. wonderful portrait and that it represents him as the embodiment of a committee chair. it is not one where there are lots of sort of other elements to give you clues of two years. it's about the stature of the man. he is standing alone. sitting in a very conservative blue suit. he looks like a member of congress. that is something that is really important. part of this is his approach and many people's approach to working in congress as members is to be part of this important institution. he is with that and becomes an incredibly long serving committee chair. william dawson as chairman of government operations was a
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member who had a legislative style that was a workhorse style. he is behind the scenes and did not want to be in the media. very quiet. determined but very low-key. he contrasts his style of markedly with the fellas represented here with these objects. >> this is a wonderful book we have. adam clayton powell. it was published right after he is elected in 1944. adam clayton powell was definitely a man ready with a program for progress. and ready to tell you all about it. of a baptiststor church in harlem. he represented a harlem district. he served a very long time in congress. this is from the beginning of his congressional career. tos made from the paper form
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wax, it is a recording he made. of speakinges meditations on a number of different issues. he book ends his career which is very long. he is no william dawson. he has a different approach to how to do things. all human beings, black-and-white, rich and poor, equal in the sight of god. keep your faith and the life of your fellow man even though he abuses you. when he abuses you, he makes himself a lesser man. a great man once said, love your enemies. less than the cursor -- bless them to curse you. pray. pray. pray for them. faith.ur 1970's, he was the
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person who kind of embodied civil rights in the house. civil rights in congress. he's elected in 1944. he and dawson are the only two members of congress for a number of congresses in the early 1950's. two very contrasting styles whereas dawson is behind the scenes and powell is out front talking to the media, pushing against segregation practices in the house restaurant. he is constantly pushing the envelope. there is a great story that we have covered in our book of black americans in congress where sam rayburn, the revered speaker of the house from texas has a conversation with him when he first comes in and the gist of it is freshman listen quietly
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and learn. don't go causing a ruckus. you can imagine this new yorker from harlem listening to the texan explained to him the ways of the house and he looked at him and said, mr. speaker, i have a bomb in both hands and am ready to hurl them. he had a great relationship with rayburn. he is constantly pressing the envelope in the house. he gets onto the education labor committee, a very influential committee. particularly by the 1960's when we go for a reform period during the kennedy and johnson administrations at the start of the great society with lyndon johnson. he is chairman of the committee and pushes through 50 different measures related to education reforms. legislatureantive
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in addition to being a show horse style. those oferesting that the two aspects. there is a part where he is known as mr. civil rights and he championilling to civil rights on all levels, both legislatively and into the life of the house. i remember you told me once about even something as minor as sitting in the house chamber and where you sit in the house chamber, that came up for him. >> another story that one of his biographers tells. seeking in the house chamber is open as long as you respect the party block tradition. when he came in, there was a prominent southern number who told the press, this man was a chairman of a committee and
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said, i refuse to sit next to a black man on the house for. what he did was -- floor. told himid was powell around and sat next to him anytime he sat down. he forced the senior member to move around the chamber which a lot of people took note of. afterwards, powell told the reporter that i'm a baptist minister by training and i don't know whether to baptize batman or drown him. -- that man or drown him. to the earlyr -- 1970's. he is one of the longest serving and house history. when he came in to congress in the mid-1940's, there was no large civil rights movement that was happening outside of congress. that does not come along until the 1950's with martin luther
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king and the southern christian leadership conference. ofell is very much the face civil rights in the united states for more than a decade. once the movement begins ,appening outside of congress as one of his biographers has told us, he begins to compete with it a little bit. he is no longer the face of civil rights. attendance, his behavior becomes little bit more erratic. the house in the late 1960's refuses to see tim -- see tim. the supreme court -- seat him. the supreme court rules he is entitled to sit. 70's he960's he has -- has run the course of his career and police the house. >> we see that -- leaves the house. >> we see that in the artifacts of the collection.
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speaking over the heads of congress and directly to the people by producing this. he's a great orator. he was a terrific preacher. if you ever see a film clip of temperature pricking, it is quite something. he releases this on to bully records as another example of the way he is inserting himself into the conversation. artifacts -- two artifacts somewhere in style and usage. the small differences show up a change in african-american serving in congress over just a .the late 50's objects as a fan. it is the nation's negro congresswoman -- congressman.
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it was passed out for free. it contains a big picture of the capital and for members of congress who served at that time. to thef you jump forward mid-70's, instead of four members of congress and a big picture of the capital, it has gotten so crowded that they have eliminated that language of change. instead of the nation's negro congressmen, this black lawmakers. there are over a dozen members. it shows a before and after. earlys the 60's and 70's. the changes that happen for african-americans in congress. a big change is the passage of the voting rights act of 1965. extending protections to african-american voters in the south, allowing them to register.
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that has some big implications for changing the face of congress over the course of the next decade. just sixthere were african-american serving in congress. all in the house. numbermid-1970's, that has grown to 18 members. time, it is an increasingly diverse lot. we get our first african-american woman. more specifically to the voting votersact which protects in districts where they have a hard time registering previously because of local laws and state laws and disenfranchisement. we have the first southern members elected since reconstruction. as the numbers of african americans in congress increase, one thing that this allows the
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core group to do is to create an issues caucus. in 1971, we have the formation of the congressional black caucus. dozenp of roughly a members at that point. it is able to exercise some awer as a voting block and as n organization that educates members on issues that are important to the black community nationally. the black caucus becomes involved very early on in things like opposing apartheid in south africa, building momentum to pass a federal holiday to commemorate martin luther king's birthday. it is operating at a legislative level. inside the institution, it is important to african-american members because it is doing
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things like getting them on to bigger and better committees and into positions where they can influence a broad range of legislation. ofwhen the mike turner parts the collision or the campaign buttons and as they relate to african-american lawmakers. we had some for oscar depriest. in moving for come out the -- growingmembers, roners of congress, this is delorme from the west coast. he comes to carry committee of the house. .e have a button right here this is from a reelection campaign of his. he had already begun some of the most interesting things he would be doing and the ways that he operated within the house. >> he is elected to congress in
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the 1970 election. comes into the house in 1971. he's a veteran. he had run on an antiwar warment running against the in vietnam. he represents berkeley california which has a strong antiwar constituency. he wants to get on committees where he can begin to affect military policy. he begins to lobby to get onto the armed services committee. he is also a cofounder of the congressional black caucus. help movee caucus to into a position to get onto on services. one of the story that he told us an oral history -- in an oral history interview was going to the speaker of the house and appealing to speaker albert to put him on armed services. this was going around the committee chairman who was a
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southern dixiecrat from louisiana. he went in to make this pitch with hezbollah congressional hisk caucus colleagues -- fellow congressional black caucus colleagues. he was trying to get into the committee. members ofll of the the cbc on thursday mick, we cannot do anything for writing. that is what we started to talk. mr. speaker, it is a matter of principle. if you don't put the brother on the committee, going to denounce this as a racist institution. you have the nice guy saying this is a matter principle. placing, this is about
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fairness and justice. at a certain point, he got up and said, going to see if i can get this thing reconfigured. hadhat moment, i knew i one. we walk out and i say it is over. the fact that the speaker said they were going to reconsider it, it is done. thisours later, i get phone call in on the first african-american appointed to the house armed services committee. incredible. andets onto the committee find out for us bigger upper that he has gotten the assignment. that is half the battle. she shows up on the day that the committee is being organized and he realizes that there is just one seat that has been put out for him at the dais. that is going to be shared with pat trevor, another antiwar
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candidate who had come into congress. we organize,day pat toner who had just one was on armed services. there is only one true available. nobody -- they did not want another see there. at pet edge of his her name and i'm honored to be here with you. my grandmother taught me not to let people make fun of you you,ly, if it is ok with why don't you and i sit in the together as ifde
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it is the most normal thing in the world. she said, cool. set on this one seat for the entire organizational meeting and we never acted as if -- even though we want to scream, no. we just let our silence and our behavior handle it. they did not know what to do. we did not scream. the next time, two seats were there. we made our point. we moved on. >> the service on the committee for flex a wider period of reform where the power of committee chairs is rolled back and junior members and the diversity of members, asking americans and women get bigger and other committee assignments. within a congress, it is part of
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a group that helps to remove that original german from the committee and put in another chairman. eventually, by the end of his career, features the armed services committee. going the other changes on is more african-americans are elected to congress in the 80's,s of the 1970's, 90's. we see women represented in that group. the very first was shirley chisholm. she is from brooklyn. she comes into the house in 1969. a show, you much has horse legislative style. she's talking to the press. she is part of a feminist wave of women and congress members. she serves alongside people like bell labs and from new york.
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on thentually serves house rules committee, which is a powerful committee in the house. throughout her career is kind of, again, another person who is a symbolic or circuit representative. not just for african americans, but for women. following her throughout the next four decades, roughly 40 african-american women who are elected to congress. that is impressive when you look tothat number of relative the number of african-americans who have served in congress from the beginning. it is a much larger percentage than for caucasian women or hispanic women were asian-american women. ofd of the rising influence women within the community and their role in congress. >> one of the things that is
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interesting about looking at women in congress and african american women in congress is seeing the role on the national stage. we have a couple of artifacts that illustrate that. magazine, 1969. it is an the cover and new face in congress. first black woman on capitol hill. she, like many other members of congress really become an important national figures in the african american press. example, right around the time the congressional black caucus is greeted come ebony 19 is able to put a lot of folks on the cover. importantbecomes an caucus, important issue-based
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group. each of these people become important in different ways to different communities. she seenhe cover of -- on the cover of jet twice. a woman who may become a congresswoman. she does not become a congresswoman. a little bit later, she does. she is elected to congress and shows up on the covers of a lots of magazines. as the face of not just black women in congress and women in congress and younger women in congress. she is the first member of congress to have a baby while she is serving. she shows up on it ebony the day magazine cover holding her baby. anand ebony magazine -- ebony magazine cover holding her baby. shirley chisholm also becomes a national figure in ways that are shown by these two but since we have here.
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they don't say anything about shirley chisholm running for congress. they're all about her running for president. she is our girl. for president. represent all americans. faceoman symbol around her places her in with a feminist agenda. that was something that was important to her. she was very much putting together a very interesting group of people. herou look at some clips of at the democratic convention, it is interesting to see her season pall talking about her delegates. they are very skilled politicians who also become show horse approaches to things. we don't see behind-the-scenes and in front of the scenes. you see a lot of action going on. today as abefore you
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candidate for the democratic nomination for the presidency of the united states of america. [applause] >> the congressional black caucus is founded in the early 70's. one thing they do that is striking as something that brings them to more prominence is that they really become, they placed themselves in a national context. one example of that is the fantastic record album. it is the first annual benefits conquered -- concert for the congressional black caucus. it featured such fantastic people as cool and again and gladys knight. it was very successful. are thousands of objects in the house collection of art
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and artifacts. these are just a few of them. you can learn a lot more about them on our website which is history. even more importantly been going to a website and finding out stuff, these are all objects that represent this incredibly long history of this institution. ,ach and every one of these something that is just text on it back on or something far , each ofike a portrait these is putting a little bit of a human face on the history of the house of representatives. it makes the institution that much more accessible to all of us. we can really get a sense of who were these people. who are these people that represent us. what is our role in it. the history of african
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americans and caucus is important for us to preserve and tell. it tells us a story of two different levels. one is the level of our institution. the dynamic people who have been a part of it. some of the unique personalities. and also how our institution evolved as african-americans became part of that. too, theperspective other story being told is one of the african-american experience nationally post-civil war from reconstruction to jim crow to the great migration to increased political participation during the mid-20th century civil rights movement and the revolution that that rob. it is telling two different important stories that the house affects.ffected by and
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to see more photographs, artwork and images of african americans in congress, visit history. the website is a collaborative project between the united states of representatives historians office and the house clerk office of art and archives. >> the time of year to an anti-studentcam competition. help us spread the word to medical and has will students -- middle school and high school students. your message to washington dc. what is the most urgent issue for the president and congress to address in 2017? our conversation -- competition is open to all middle school and high school student. $100,000 award in crash prices -- cash prizes. create 5-7 minute documentary. include c-span programming and explore opposing opinions. $100,000 inlars --
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cash prizes will be awarded for many different people. $5,000 will go to the best overall entry. this year's deadline is in your 20th, 2017. mark your calendars and spread the word. for more information, go to our student nicole eustace talks about her book. clinical emotion in america revolution. the brooklyn historical society hosted this 1.15 hour event. >> good evening. can you hear me? better. thank you so much for that lovely introduction and invitation to be here. it is exciting to see so many of


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