tv American Artifacts CSPAN October 25, 2016 4:42am-5:30am EDT
demoines register will talk about why iowa is a battleground state and then first vice chair will discuss the political layout of iowa and hillary clinton's chances of winning the state and conservative talk radio host will talk about donald trump's chances of winning iowa. be sure to watch cspan's washington journal. join the discussion. >> i'm sarah elliott. i'm the curator at the u.s. house of representatives. >> and we wanted to talk today about the history of african american representation in the 20th century and we have a lot
of artifacts and a lot of history to cover and the last african american to be elected in the 19th century leaves in 1901 and then it's a long time before another african american comes into the house and we have a couple of really rare artifacts from the 1920s and 30s but before i launch into them tell us about how he got into congress. >> there's a long period. almost three decades after he leaves congress where there's no african americans either in the house or the senate and that has everything to do with the books and the way that that changes over time is there's a critical thing going on in the south
where african americans leave the south and move northward as part of a multidecade movement that would be called the great migration and that begins depending on which historian you talk to 1890s and runs through world war ii. it picks up momentum around world war i as there's a need in the north to fill industrial jobs and jobs occupied by men that have gone off to fight in the war and you see tens of thousands of african americans moving northward for the first time-out of the south to industrial jobs in chicago and st. louis, cleveland, pittsburgh, new york and overtime the african american population and cities increases
and the african meshes in those cities are gradually recruited by the political parties. he is born in the south. he and his family are part of a group that moved to the midwest to kansas and he actually goes to grade school but he finds his way in the 1890s and moves up into in the political system and his career has peaks and valleys but by the 1920s he's part of the republican political machine
and in 1928 when the sitting congressman from chicago very powerful republican named martin madden who is on the appropriations committee passes away mid congress in the fall elections. he runs for the seat and he wins and in 1929 he comes to the house of representative. >> this little tiny button that we have in the collection is from his career. it was really small and it has a picture of him and one of the things i loved most about him is they aren't rare and there rbt many of them around him initially and very few survive. only seen one or two others in existence but if you think about this tiny button worn on someone's lapel looking for all the world like any other button,
this actually represents a revolution. the attempt to elect an african american congress for the first time in decades. so just this presence of this little inch and a quarter tiameter of piece of metal would have been a statement on the part of whoever was wearing it and i love that it has survived and came back to the place where they wanted de priest to end up which was the u.s. congress and when he got here he then found a lot of -- a lot he didn't ask for in the issues he handled and he does end up being sort of the surrogate representative for african americans in general, right? >> absolutely. it must have been an interesting shift for him because he come up
through the chicago political machine and while he had advocated for his constituent sy you didn't get the sense that he embraced this role as a he preventatives of african americans generally until he comes to congress and a couple of things happened right off the bat almost immediately that really force him to take a very public role for african american political rights. he is the first african american to serve in a long time but when he comes to congress there's a bit of a fire storm in the press. it was tradition for the first lady in this case lou hoover, to have a tea for all the congressional wives, spouses,
nowadays we would say but wives in the late 1920s and there were several southern states that rejected the fact that wooifs that are members of congress might have to have tea in the white house with an african american woman. there were even southern states that had their legislatures pass resolutions asking hoover to make sure this didn't happen. and what hoover did was to divide the tea party into a couple sessions and it was a very carefully preselected group of congresswomen she wouldn't object. and just the southern state legislatures that had spoken up and this is the first kind of
road block that he returns into. another one happens here in the house right? about where his office is located. >> right. yes, you know, people don't want their offices to be. they want their office to be next to him i don't want to be serving with an african american and we're doing research recently on the history of who had what office in the different house office buildings in the cannon house office building it turned out that the place that oscar de priest was assigned was a bathroom and they ripped out the plumbing and just turned it into an office for himful one has to wonder did they choose that particular space to rip out and change for him because it could happen at the last minute and perhaps it would side step people objecting in advance because they wouldn't think that anybody was going to be next to them? they thought just the bathroom was next door? but it's definitely these things that bubble up from lots of pie
mary source research that our offices do when we learn the stories behind the stories. >> one other episode happens late in te priests career when a staffer is essentially his chief of staff and family member are asked to leave the house restaurant and move to a segregated room where african americans could get lunch in an adjoining space and depriest objected to this unsurprisingly and defended his secretary as chief of staff and then the accounts committee in the house, that dictated the restaurant needs to be segregated. he comes on to the house floor
and the press pays a lot of attention to this and his line is if we can't have freedom, if we can't have equality under the dome of the capitol then where in god's name are we going to get it? and the house creates a special committee to investigate segregation in the restaurant but the issue dies with that committee and the restaurant remains segregated well into the 20th century. >> that's interesting because it brings up for me thinking about not just the experience of african american members in the 19th century and the early part of the century but the experience of african mesh staff there and the job of running the house restaurant was given as a concession. somebody could have almost like the franchise i guess of running that and in the 1960s after the civil war is over that is
awarded to a famous african american restaurantuer and his experience is as someone that's a business man operating in that space and in the reconstruction period there is some examples of african americans being sort of the pioneers of being on staff and they're very few in number but they manage to sort of be in positions that have not been created for them but the positions that do have some weight and purpose in the house. >> and some symbolic and importance to the fact that these individuals were put in those positions. one of them was william smith who was appointed the house
librarian in the 1880s. and he is at that point one of the highest ranking african americans in the federal government and he had been brought along slowly. he first came to the house and worked in the library during the civil war and he had opinion promoted by radical republicans like senator sumner helped push him along in his career and another would be who is appointed during reconstruction is the first african american page to serve in the house. of manchester virginia, just south across james from richmond and he is a carpet 3-bagger from the north. a former union officer and he serves in a district that represents richmond and he is
appointed in 1871. he serves a year and a half in the house and he's also the other connection there is that he is the great grand nephew of john mercer langston there at that point. >> he was the dean of howard university at the time and is going to be in congress too. there's an interesting network of people that know other people and are able to move pieces around and make things happen and then we get from george downing in the 1860s running the house restaurant right up to the chief of staff for oscar depriest being refused service in the house and oscar de priest later in his career he takes on and champions these issues that need championing and aren't necessarily related to his constituent
constituentcy and he's a national figure and another object that relates to that is a program from a speech he is giving in dayton ohio, very far from chicago. it doesn't say what he's going to talk about. he's just speaking and it happened at the local junior high school. you know there's a band and around the whole thing and he is presented as a statesman important to the community in dayton and that's part of the whole notion of surrogate representation. >> the fact that you're representing people beyond the borders of your district or your state your a national figure. >> we don't really think of him that much as a national figure. but we do. and many people don't and the
late 1940s do become national figures. >> he is defeated for re-election. another african american from chicago. and he's the first african american from congress. and what you begin to see in that decade from the 1930s into the 1940s and you see it very clearly in this chicago district is that there's a shift in african american allegiance away from the republican party. the party of lincoln and the party of reconstruction to the democratic party for the new deal and it has to do with the fact that african americans are recruited by democratic city leaders and there's the promise of greater political participation which is that promise that pulled african
americans out of the south during the great my fwrags to begin with. and they have a slightly greater voice in that new deal coalition that franklin roosevelt puts together and they begin to be drawn toward the democratic party. and he down plays the fact that he's an african american in congress. he doesn't want to push black issues per se as he told the press on numerous occasions. he served for a couple of terms and he is replaced by another member named william dawson that's one of the longest serving african americans in house history. started off as a republican and moved to the democratic party in
chicago and he chairs the committee that will become oversite in government reform. and he chairs that for the rest of his career. for two decades and he's another member that comes into the institution and and fitting into the institution and trying to effect change from his position of power as a committee chairman. >> and in addition to being committee chair and part of that institutional approach to everything and he has a portrait of himself as any committee chairman did, created and it's one of the first portraits of an african american in the u.s. congress. which really raises it to a very
elevated place. william dawson's portrait, it's the first african american committee chairman portrait in the house and he's the first standing committee of the house and it's a wonderful portrait in that it really represents him as the embodiment of a committee chair. it's not one where there's lots of elements in there to give you clues to where he is. it's about the stature of the man. he's standing alone. he's standing in a very conservative blue suit and he looks like a member of congress. that's something that's really important. part of this is part of his approach and many people's approach to working in congress as members is to be part of the institution and he uses that and becomes an incredibly long serving chair. >> so william dawson was a
member that had a legislative style that was very much a workhorse style. she was behind the scenes and he didn't want to be in the media. very quite. determined but very low key. his style contracts with these. >> this is by adam clayton powell. this was published marching blacks. it's published right after he is elected in 1944 and begins to serve in 1945 and he was definitely a man ready for a progress and he was the pastor in harlem district and he serves a very long time in congress. this is from the beginning of his congressional career.
this is later moving from the paper form to wax. a recording he made. keep the faith baby. it's a series of speaking meditations and these bookend his career. he has a very 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 in 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. bless them that curse you. do good to them that hate you and pray, pray, pray, pray, pray for them which despitefully use you. keep your faith.
>> up through the 1970s powell was the person who kind of emotions bodied civil rights in the house, right? civil rights in congress. he is elected in 1944. he and dawson are the only two members of congress for a number of congresses until the early 1950s and swo very contrasting styles where as powell is out front talking to the media. pushing against segregation practices in the house restaurant. in the press galleries in terms of accreditation of african american reporters. he's constantly pushing the envelope. there's a great story that he we covered in our book black americans in congress where sam ray burn the revered long time speaker of the house has a
conversation when he first comes in and the gist of it is fresh men listen quitely and learn and don't go causing a ruckus. well, you can imagine, powell this new yorker from harlem listening to this texan explain to him the ways of the house and powell looked at him and said mr. speaker i have a bomb in both hands and i'm ready to hurl them but he had a great relationship with ray burn according to the account afterwards but he is constantly pressing the envelope in the house particularly by the 1960s when we go through a reform period during the kennedy and johnson associations and at the part of the great society with johnson. he is chairman of the committee and it pushes through 50 different measures related to education reforms so a very
substantive legislator in addition to being, having a show horse kind of style. very flamboyant. >> one of the things that's interesting is the two aspects. there's the part where he's known as plfmr. civil rights an he's very willing to champion civil rights on all levels. both legislatively and the live of the house. i remember you telling me once even something as seemingly minor as sitting in the house chamber and where you sit in the house chamber, that will came up for him. >> there's another story one of his biographers tell. seating is open slox you respect the party block tradition and when powell came in there was a very prominent southern member
that told the press this man was a chairman of a committee. he said i refuse to sit next to a black man on the house floor and what powell did is follow him around for a day on the floor and take a seat next to him any time he sat down and force this very senior member to move around the chamber and afterwards powell told the reporter i'm a baptist minister by training and i don't know whether to baptist that man or drown him. >> you have to remember when he came into congress in the mid 1940s there was no large civil rights movement happening outside of congress. there was nothing happening and that doesn't come along until
the 1950s with martin luther king and the southern christian leadership congress so powell is very much the face of civil rights in the u. s. for more than a decade and once that movement begins happening outside of congress as one of his biographers told us and he is no longer the face of many civil rights and overtime his attendance, his behavior becomes a little bit more erratic. the house in the late 1960s refuses to seat him. the supreme court rules that he is in fact entitled to be seated but by the late 1960s he has kind of run the course of his career and leaves the house in the early 1970s. >> in some cases we see that in the artifacts we have in the house collection in the case of this late artifact from 1967
keep the faith baby this recording in which he is -- he is really sort of -- he is speaking over the heads heads o congress and directly to the people very much by producing this. and he is a great orator. he was a terrific preacher. if you ever see a film clip of him preaching, it's quite something. he releases this on jubilee records as another way he is sort of inserting himself into the conversation. we have two artifacts in the collection that are similar in style and usage, but the small differences in them really show up a change in african americans serving in congress. but over just a 15-year period, from the late '50s to the mid-'70s. so the late '50s object is a fan. and it's called the nation's negro congressman, and was clearly printed in many large
numbers. it was passed out for free. and in the late '50s, it contains a big picture of the capitol and four members of congress, the four african american members of congress who served at that time natural the house. and then if you jump forward to the mid-70s, instead of four members of congress and a big old picture of the capitol, it's gotten so crowded there that they have eliminated that. language has changed. instead of the nation's negro congressmen, it's black lawmakers in congress. and there are over a dozen members there. and it really shows a kind of before and after of a particular time in american history and congressional history. it really covers sort of the '60s and the very early '70s and the changes that happened for african americans in congress, right? >> right. and the big change that happens in the middle of that period is the passage of the voting rights act in 1965, extending protections to african american voters in the south, allowing them to register.
that has some pretty big implications for quite literally changing the face of congress over the course of the next decade. in 1965, there were just six african americans serving in congress, all in the house. by the mid 1970s, that number has grown to 18 members. and over time it's an increasingly diverse lot. we get our first african american woman, shirley chisholm in 1969. but more particularly to the voting rights act that protects voters in districts where they had a hard time registering previously because of local laws and state laws and disenfranchisement, we had the first southern members elected since reconstruction. andrew young from georgia and barbara jordan from texas. and as the numbers of african americans in congress increase, one thing that this allows that
core group to do is to create an issues caucus. so in 1971, we had the formation of the congressional black caucus, which is a group of roughly a dozen members at that point. but it's able to exercise some power as a voting block and as a organization which educates members on issues that are important to the black community nationally. and so 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. so it's operating in a legislative level. but inside the institution too, it's important to african american members because it's
doing things like getting them on to bigger and better committees, and into positions where they can influence a broad range of legislation. >> one of my favorite parts of the house collection are campaign button, especially as they relate to african american lawmakers. we have some from the very early period in the early 20th century for oscar depriest, for example. and then moving forward, as the number of members in congress grows and grows, african american members are represented more and more by a variety of number of buttons. some of my favorites are from rondell lums who is-- ron dellu. we have a button right here, ron dellums, our congressman. clearly this is from a reelection campaign of his. at that point he had already begun some of the most interesting things he was doing and the ways he operated within the house, right?
>> dellums is elected to congress in the 1970s election. comes into the house in 1971. he is a veteran. he had run on an anti-war movement, running against the war in vietnam. he represents berkeley, california, which has a strong anti-war constituency. and he wants to get on committees where he can begin to affect military policy. he begins a lobby to get on to the military armed services committee. he is also a member of the congressional black caucus in 1971. and he uses the caucus to help move into a position where he can get on armed services. and one of the stories that he told us in an oral history interview was going to speaker of the house carl albert and appealing to speaker al a bert to put him on armed services. and this was in effect going around the committee chairman
who was a southern dixiecrat from louisiana. and he went in to make this pitch with his fellow congressional black caucus colleagues, louis stokes and bill clay, with clay playing bad cop and stokes playing good cop, and dellums trying to wheedle on the committee. >> walked in a meeting. we got all of the members of the cbc, you know, on various committees. but we couldn't do anything for ron. so that's when we started to talk. and i looked at lou stokes. he said mr. speaker, it's a matter of principle. nodded to bill clay. and if you don't put the brotherton committee, we're denounce this as a racist institution and we're going to call a press conference. >> so he got the nice guy going this is a matter of principle. ron dellums knows these issues.
bill clay saying it's about fairness and justice, right? so at a certain point, carl albert got up and he said i'm going see if i can get this thing reconsidered. at that moment i knew i had won. so we walk out and i said it's over. lou stokes said you really think so? the fact that the speaker said they're going reconsider it, it's done, okay. hour and a half later, i get this phone call. i'm the first african american appointed to the house armed services committee. incredible thing. >> so dellums gets on to the committee, found out from speaker albert that he's got the assignment. but that's only half the battle because he shows up on the day the committee is being organized, and he realizes that there is just one seat that's been put out for him at the dais, and that seat is going to have to be shared with pat
schroeder, another anti-war candidate who had come into congress in that session. >> first day we organized, pat schroeder who had just won as a freshman was on armed service. the two of us are at the bottom of the rung. but there is only one chair available at the committee tables. and nobody wanted -- they didn't want another seat there. just one seat. and i looked at pat schroeder, and i introduced myself. i said ms. schroeder, my name is ron dellums. i'm from california. she said i know. i'm honored to be here with you. my grandmother taught me not to let people make fun of you cheaply. if it's okay with you, it's cool with me, why don't you and i sit in this seat side by side
together as if it's the most normal thing in the world. and she said cool. so ron dellums and pat schroeder sat on this one seat for the entire organizational meeting, and we never acted as if -- even though we wanted to scream, we said no, we just let our silence and our behavior handle it. and they didn't know what to do. because we didn't scream. so the next time the two seats were there, we had made our point and we moved on. >> dellums' service on that committee really kind of reflects a wider period of reform in the house where the power of committee chairs is rolled back. and junior members and a diversity of members, african americans and women get bigger and better committee
assignments. and within a congress, representative dellums is part of a group that helps remove that original chairman from the committee and put in another chairman. and eventually by the end of his career, he chairs the arms services committee. so one of the other changes that is going on here is more african americans are elected to congress in the decades, the 1970s, '80s, '90s is we see for the first time women represented in that group. and the very first was shirley chisholm, who was elected from a brooklyn center district in 1968. she comes into the house in 1969. and someone, again, who very much has kind of a show horse legislative style. she is out talking to the press. she is very much part of a feminist wave of women congress members. she serves alongside people like bella abzug from new york.
and she eventually serves on the house rules committee, which is a powerful committee in the house. but throughout her career is kind of, again, another person who is a symbolic or a surrogate representative. not just for african americans, but for women. and following her throughout the next four decades are roughly 40 african american women who are elected to congress. and that's an impressive number when you look at that number relative to the number of african americans who have served in congress from the beginning. it's a much larger percentage than for example caucasian women or hispanic women or asian american women. so, again, kind of the rising influence of women within that community and their role in congress.
>> you know, one of the things that is interesting about looking at women in congress and african american women in congress is seeing the role on the national stage. and we have a couple artifacts here that really illustrate that. here is a cover of "ebony" magazine from 1969. right when shirley chisholm first took office. and she is on the cover. and really, it says "new faces in congress. mrs. shirley chisholm is first black woman on capitol hill." and she like many other members of congress become important national figure, particularly in the african american press. for example, right around the time when the congressional black caucus is created, "ebony" magazine is able to put a lot of folks on the cover as that's created. and it really becomes an important caucus, important
issues-based group. but each of these individual people become important in different ways to different communities. yvonne burk is here seen on the cover of "jet" twice, once in the 1960s when it says "women who may become congresswomen." and she does not become congresswoman in 1967. but a little bit later on she does, is elected to congress. and very much shows up on the covers of actually a lot of magazines as a face not just of black women in congress, but of women in congress and of younger women in congress. she is the first member of congress to have a baby while she is serving. and she shows up on an "ebony" magazine cover holding her little baby in something that probably the first time there had been such a cover of a lawmaker holding a brand-new baby. shirley chisholm also becomes a national figure in ways that are shown by two these buttons we have here in the collection.
they don't say anything about shirley chisholm running for congress do, they? they are all about shirley chisholm running for president. shirley chis some, she is our girl for president. shirley chisholm for president to represent all americans. and you can see the woman symbol around her face in the center really place herself in with a feminist agenda. and that was something that was very much important to her. and on the national stage in 1972 election was very much putting together a very interesting group of people. and if you look at film clips of her at the democratic convention, it's real interesting to see her really seasoned talking about her delegates and what she is going to do with them. they're very skilled politicians who also become, as you say, show horse approaches to things. so when you see behind the scenes and in front of the scenes, you really see a lot of action going on in the '70s. >> i stand before you today as a
candidate for the democratic nomination for the presidency of the united states of america. [ applause ] >> when the congressional black caucus is founded in the very early '70s, one thing they do that really sort of is striking as something that brings them to more prominence than just yet another caucus in congress is that they really become a -- they really place themselves in a national context. and one example of that is this fantastic record album. it's the first annual benefit concert for the congressional black caucus and was held at the capitol center. and featured such fantastic people as kool and the gang, how can you not like that? and gladys knight and the pips, and was very successful and was part and parse to feel congressional black caucus being a source of power there are
thousands of artifacts in the house collection of art and artifacts. and these are just a few of them. you can learn a lot more about them on our website which is history.house.gov. but even more important than going to the website and finding out about stuff, the thing that i think is important is these are all objects that really represent this incredibly long history of an incredibly long and important institution. and each and every one of these from an object like ron dellums "our congressman" that is just text on a background to something that is far grander like a portrait or a picture of shirley chisholm on the cover of a magazine. each of these is putting a little bit of a human face on the history of the house of representatives. and it makes the institution just that much more accessible to all of us so that we can really get a sense of who were these people? who were the people who represent us, who counts in american democracy, and what is our role in it too. >> the history of african
americans in congress is an important one for us to preserve and tell. it tells us, really tells us the story at two different levels. one of them is the history of our institution, and some of 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. and it's in that perspective too that the other story that is being told here is the 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 brought. so it's really telling two very important stories that the house is both affected by and also affects.
>> to see more photographs, artwork and images of african americans in congress, visit history.house.gov. the website is a collaborative project between the u.s. house of representatives historians office and the house clerks office of art and archives. and coming up tuesday night, american history tv in prime time continues featuring one of the founding father, alexander hampton. including a discussion on the sold out musical "hamilton." that's at 8:00 p.m. tuesday, here on c-span3. at a campaign rally for hillary clinton, massachusetts senator elizabeth warren criticized donald trump for disrespecting women. you can see all of the rally at c-span.org. here is a brief part of it.
donald trump disrespect, aggressively disrespects more than half the human beings in this country. he thinks that because he has money that he can call women fat pigs and bimbos. he thinks because he is a celebrity that he can rate women's bodies from 1 to 10. he thinks that because he has a mouth full of tic tacs that he can force himself on any woman within groping distance. i've got news for you, donald trump, women have had it with i goes like you. [ applause ] and, and nasty women have really had it with guys like you. yeah. get this, donald, nasty women are tough.
nasty women are smart. and nasty women vote. [ applause ] and on november 8th, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever. [ applause ] on election day, november 8th, the nation decides our next president and which party controls the house and senate. stay with c-span for coverage of the presidential race, including campaign stops with hillary clinton, donald trump, and their surrogates. and follow key house and senate races with our coverage of their candidate debates and speeches. c-span, where history unfolds daily. c-span brings you more
debates this week from key u.s. senate and governor races. tuesday evening at 7:00 eastern, live coverage on c-span. the indiana governors debate between eric holcomb, and libertarian rex bell. wednesday at 7:00 live on c-span, democratic congressman chris van hollen, then the debate for the florida senate between republican senator marco rubio and democratic congressman patrick murphy. and live thursday night at 8:00 eastern republican senator kelly ayotte and democratic governor maggie hassen, debate for the new hampshire seat. watch house and governors races on the c-span networks. c-span.org and listen on the c-span radio app. c-span, where history unfolds daily.