tv 1968 - Protests in Philadelphia Germany Mexico CSPAN May 19, 2018 2:40pm-4:01pm EDT
already made up their mind. >> we began with the document and in the with a document -- nd a document, and that is the way historians can post questions. please join me in thanking the panelists. [applause] announcer: next on american history tv, a session from a daylong symposium title 1968, three historians and a professor talktin american studies about 1968 protest for civil rights and social change in philadelphia, germany, and mexico. this event is about one hour and 20 minutes.
then a wonderful, wonderful day. thank you for coming. thank you to all of our speakers, to my colleagues, as well as the wonderful volunteers. have done it without them. let's give them a round of applause right now. [laughter] [applause] >> this is our last panel, that the theme of which is protests. it is appropriate because we have been circling around this theme all day as you have seen all the topics have been somehow connected to the theme of is appropriate we have a final panel dedicated specifically to delving into that. let me go ahead and introduce our speakers.
to my right is a professor in the department of romance languages and literatures at villanova university. to us abouto speak student activists in mexico in 1968. historian ofs a the late 20's century united states and an assistant professor at allegheny college. her research focuses on north philadelphia residents in the 1960's to the 1980's. is an associate professor of history at rutgers university camden and is an expert in african-american history and the civil rights movement. finally is a professor of history at rutgers university in new brunswick and director of the center for european studies. mostly to speak
about activism in germany in the 1960's. manager here.d wanted to god, i back to a question that came up , that is the tendency certainly among americans to think about the early 1960's and late 1960's as very different. i think one of the benefits of this panel is that we can get an international perspective on the question, although i am eager to have our americanist speak as well. the question is how different as, whyere these er do we think of them as some different come and how accurate is that perception? i can start with a little u.s. context. i would argue there is more
continuity than change between eras, at least in the sense there is no sharp break in terms of protest tactics or issues. we tend to look at the 60's that way for a few reasons. people really like simple binaries and are attracted to these easy narratives that they can plot. the second reason why i think that true, at least in the united states, it gets very over the politics of 1968, messaging a shift to a more conservative era, and i think we read that also into what is going on in every day protests in the streets of the united state, a higher degree than we should -- united states
a higher degree than we should. bytests are gaining momentum 1968 and dry on a greater multiplicity of tools by that point. >> i would like to add with respect to the civil rights movement, the black movement in its various phases from civil rights to black power, that there may be a slight grain of truth and seeing a difference between the early 1960's and the late 1960's, and that difference is in how the movements are received and perceived in the media. birminghamy 1960's, 1963, there is the graphic image of police dogs biting little black children. there it is clear the black people are innocent victims, people for whom we feel sorry. image of who is the good guy, who is the bad guy. by the time we get to 1966,
stokely carmichael has articulated the doctrine of black power, which to many white people felt threatening. by the time we get to 1967, new jersey and detroit are in flames and there is the perception that the black people now are burning down the cities and they are dangerous and militant and we are afraid of them, and so the perception has changed, even though the aspirations of black people are still a desire to be treated with dignity and with respect and the desire for self-determination. , butoals have not changed the perception of black people in the media has changed. >> there is a lot to say about europe and specifically west germany. betweena watershed
1960's activism and 1970's activism in the sense that the the of violence of 1968, dystopian elements of 1968, in mexico, the fascination with martin luther king, the attacks on an activist leader, and many others, by the gillette anti-zen by police in the course of 1968, which didn't begin then, but intensified and produced what many saw as a real retreat from , and others move into violent activism, which i would newacterize as a move into forms of politics, many of which , but an in place before part of a new way of thinking
about how change took place and a move away from notions of revolution, of radical change, that was something that was going to happen in a sudden and ,pocalyptic, overnight change but rather the idea of violent revolution was simply not a part of west germany, even among those in the course of the intensifying feeling of 1968 and that notions of how radical change can take place over the course of the 1970's movement was in part part of the revolution itself, so that is where i would lace the dividing line. >> in latin america, it is important to consider the master framework of the cold war and how the cold war was experienced
in latin america. there has been a laboratory of different experience between the u.s. projects and the ussr projects. year, specifically in the case of mexico, there is break in regards to the press participation movements and the students of dancing these agenda. it had a government of 72 years ruling the country in mexico, so the perfect dictatorship, a democratic way of having one party govern for 72 years, it was like a functional did hader ship. the 1968 movement in the case of mexico marks the movement where mexican society starting with students and other groups started the process of
democratization and would start the end of the regime in mexico. so 1968 is important because it is the moment that the government becomes much more aggressive against the student protests in mexico, against the movements that were previously not as important in student movements in 1968, but it is an important turning point in the cold war era, the war against communists and alternative political project starts in mexico with the repression of students. wouldlowing up on that, i like to pick out one thread of that question of little bit more specifically. one of the reasons i think that people tend to point to a disconnect between the early
1960's and the late 1960's is they perceive violence and nonviolence functioning differently. they perceive the early 1960's as a time when protest movements thebraced nonviolence, and late 1960's as a time when they were more willing to embrace it. the question to the panelists is that an accurate perception, this trajectory from nonviolence to a willingness to embrace violence, or has that been overblown, at least in the american imagination? >> i would like to respond to that by saying that there is a tendency to perceive the later 1960's with respect to civil rights and black power that there is a willingness to turn to violence in the later 1960's. again, there is a grain of truth
in that. the question of violence is two-sided. birmingham 1963 is police brutality. 1964, they were the victims of violence, so it is if the activists are violent. most of the violent in the early 1960's is being inflicted on the people in the movement, but by the time we get to 1966 and before, malcolm x's in the picture and articulating a human rights self-defense, a right to fight back when attacked, not aggressive violence, but the right to defend oneself. by 1966, we have the black panthers in oakland california, and they are carrying guns and fighting back against the police , and so by the time we get to 1966 and later, then of course
we have brown rhetorically burn, so all baby, of that looks like, although activists in the movement did not want to insight or initiate filings, that a will respond with violence when violence is inflicted upon them and they will fight fire with higher, so the mood, tone, and rhetoric changed by the late 1960's. it might be different for the student movement or anti-war protest, but certainly for african-american organizations there is a willing to embrace violence, counter violence, by 1966. >> i would add to that by saying violence and nonviolence as categories start to become problematic, particularly 1960's even in the early
, many civil rights groups need to be armed for self-defense and are prepared in the eventuality they need to defend themselves to do so. out thatlso point violence against protesters is probably more of a continuous thing over this time period in philadelphia in particular. police misconduct is a huge target of activism. in addition we might also think of other ordinary people perpetrating violence against protesters, or even non-protesters. for riddicknce, pari puerto rican and african american families are having their houses firebombed and bricks thrown through their windows in the 1960's and 1970's.
another example is it seems hard for us to figure out what counts ,s violence, so for instance there is a very famous moment in philadelphia history where black high school students by the todreds walk out of school protest and demand in part a curriculum that is more sensitive to their cultural history. this turns into a situation the police rizzo commissioner unleashes recruits onto these kids protesting. the kids understandably run away. some of them smash some windows. does smashing windows while you are running away from an assault a police on what had been peaceful protest, does that
count as violence? i think many people at the time would have said yes but i am not sure our answer should be yes. >> i think the parallels in west germany harper the extraordinary , and not always accidentally, because west german officials were concerned to be seen positively in the eyes of the asrican government precisely rewriting their story, not as nazis, but in the frontline battle for anti-, against communism, and i start with the officials because it was just as in the u.s., and also as in mexico, the violence is really coming very much from above by officials who are both trying to maintain a sense of order, very concerned to demonstrate their streets, allthe
these fears of expression -- spheres of expression. that it starts out with the what is defined as filings. in west germany hanging a flyer without permission is illegal and discussed as violence. any kind of protest that was not preregistered was illegal and constituted as violence. i would argue that the relatively small number of those who pursue violence as fought, and as they the fewer still who sought out active violence, are usually against property as a kind of way of what they saw as tipping the state the prominence of
was very muchs the work of officials and media in creating a picture of the movement that look like that and in term legitimated the creation and aet of dragnets notion of guilt by association and new arms of the federal criminal office that both nazi leaders and east german leaders salivated at in terms of the efficiency of being able to know what people were doing at what time and following them. so again, the violence question has to really be seen from above as has been suggested. >> in the case of the movement in mexico, what really makes the trigger of the student movement
was a game between two different high schools in mexico city in july 1968, they end up having a fight and the police intervenes in this conflict and represses the high school students, so , thewas some kind of students from other universities and other high schools responded to that aggression to the and start creating some kind of organization regarding ofice brutality in this act oppression against specific high school students. so it starts with a provocation of the state in terms of we will be dissolving any kind of protests. it is important to frame it as a moment crucial in mexico, the first games and latin american, the first games shown in color. they wanted the presentation to be modern, but it was not modern
at all. it was a state project, the olympic games. any kind of problem that could before october 12, 1968, it was going to be taking care by the state, by the police. the escalation of the student movement is connected with the repression of the student movement in terms of the state army. any kind of police cannot enter the university. it is a very free space where it is completely for bid in for the entrance of a police force that does not belong to the university. the provocation of student marches by state authorities before october 2, which is the massacre of the 300 students, so the escalation of the police in octoberends up
1968 with this massive irruption in mexico -- irruption in mexico city. many students who survived and decided to continue fighting decided to do it through an armed movement. , the movements that were peaceful and were considered specific organized by students, there is a radical sector who decide to take up in the contexty of what will be called the dirty war. i just wanted to highlight quickly something. part ofointed out that this is a misunderstanding of the early 1960's, 1950's, and going further back, that
something thats went back further. it did not just come out of nowhere with the black panthers bursting onto the scene. i don't know if anyone wants to speak to that, but that is part of why people tend to think of these two different eras. >> can i comment briefly? in 1963,forget that 1964, 1965, when dr. king was in the south, that he had protection. he had armed protection from black people. the deacons of self-defense were there to protect him. they did not often have to shoot someone, so we did not notice, but it is not as if he was out there all alone by himself without protection. there were people to protect him . we just did not notice as much. i think all four of you have
pointed to these examples of either violence enacted from above, or repression enacted from above, and i wonder if you any instanceso related to the movement you study? mexico, there of is no way to think about the of thes an ally in terms force used by the state to control student protests in mexico. it is something that has been used for many decades in mexico. can think about what happen with the 43 students and trace state crimes in mexico for 50 1968, repression, and
forced disappearances are still going on in mexico. mexico, untile in now we don't know exactly how many victims were killed. we don't know how many students disappeared. was commandingho the operations of attacking the students in the main square, and we don't know exactly what happened with many of the families who were asking for justice and searching for their loved ones. another important aspect, and i believe it is crucial to understand what happened in to a newt is connected culture of human rights in mexico. for example, in latin america, human rights starts with this , searching for the disappeared ones in the 1976-1983 period, which was the
most terrible time of repression. in mexico something is happening that is similar, searching for their loved ones from 1968, 1971, from the repression, another important state crime happening three years after 1968, so the state has been to thisly responding kind of dissident, alternative political projects with force, using the army, using police, most important elements of the 1960 movement as they were asking for a public dialogue. we want to discuss our 5-6 proposals and the state of the situation we are currently hasng, and the government never been able to establish this dialogue in public with
these alternative groups searching for others different from the statement. dependsld say it on what part of the state we are talking about. in philadelphia, the police department in particular is pretty much a constant adversary for protesters and all types of folks in philadelphia actually. but if we look at the period until rizzo is elected mayor, there is more of a willingness on the part of activists to see what they can get in terms of cooperation out of the local establishment of the state, so particularly city hall, but i the city government is not necessarily regarded as an ally. as ambivalent,
uncommitted to causes, so to take a couple of agencies in theicular, things like department of licenses and inspection, which is responsible for inspecting housing and enforcing building codes and things, it is seen as pretty ineffectivestaffed, at curing out its mission improving housing. the philadelphia housing authority is trying all these programs to decentralize public housing, especially through the rehabilitation of what were called -- at the time. they are having all kinds of problems with things like friend alyssum and shoddy contractor work in these homes, and so the philadelphia housing authority is increasingly reviled among local communities, not because it is necessarily an outright
enemy, but it can't seem to do anything right to help these causes. the case of the civil rights movement in the 1960's, i am reluctant actually to describe the federal government as an ally. i think it is more like a friend -enemy. state and local government should respond. we don't want to intrude necessarily. but then if you push the federal government, and especially if there is a crisis, then the federal government will respond, so it can be responsive under the right circumstances. to take a few examples, in 1962 when the federal court says that you must admit james meredith m of president kennedy sends and federal marshals -- james meredith, resident kennedy sends
in federal marshals. they are shooting the federal marshals on campus, then the president sends in the army, and however many tens of thousands of troops come into oxford, mississippi, and james meredith is admitted. others were going to the same thing at the university of alabama a year later in 1963, president kennedy federalize the alabama national guard, and one of the deputy attorney general's went down in , and governorst wallace stands in the schoolhouse door, but in the end of steps aside. and to give one example, when we have the march from selma to 1965,mery and alabama in at the end of the day what lyndon johnson did was to say since alabama cannot afford to pay to guarantee the protection of the marchers, that the federal government will take up
the cost. that march did a kurt successfully and easily, so there are moments where the government can become like an ally. , civil rights act, voters act so there are those legislative accomplishments, but it is you have to push so hard to get your ally to take action. so once again in west germany very similar to the question of it depends on what level and the friend-enemy issue, at the federal level in which germany beginning in the 1950's is a program of political education, which among other spaces allows for young people to have a very open kinds of discussions of politics, including the reading
of karl marx, which young people were supposed to be reading to was, butvil karl marx instead inspired many of the young people. they were generally at the local .evel very open i would say this is part of what helped politicize young people alongside precisely this surprising pushback back they got when they tried to transcend the limits of these carefully and wanted tols use the skills and knowledge that they had learned and fight for what they thought were real issues, and that's where they .ot a lot of pushback at the federal level at the same time, this produced a youth who believed it was their right to a
provincial minister and say we need to meet with you about creating sex education in the schools, which may seem like a minor issue, but was perceived why activists as part of a larger whole. in fact, this minister did meet with them, responded to the two,d within a day or although what actually happened was not completely satisfactory for the students in terms of the timeline and so on. another example of high schoolers and vocational school students and workers who protested against rate hikes in public transportation by the privately owned public transportation company in , and the very positive
response ultimately after some efforts of police to really move in on the protesters, state officials eventually said we will take over that public transit because this company, you have shown us this company is not doing the right thing. they then raised the rights themselves six months during the winter when it was harder to protests outside, but this led activists saying if we are getting such good response, maybe we are not asking for enough. there were ways in which liberal municipal leaders really co-opted a lot of these independent and autonomous efforts by protesters, which can be seen in some sense as very positive in producing change, and and another sense having
-- diluted the autonomy and independence protesters were looking for in their campaigns. wayne a few minutes ago noted that in 1963, when police dogs were attacking children in birmingham, it was clear to everyone watching who the good guys were and who the villains were. thatof that was increasingly sympathetic northerners were seeing this unfold on television, the violence unfolding right in front of them. i was wondering for all of the panelists, especially by the time we get to 1968, did that sympathetic media coverage still exist? how did the media cover the movements that you study? how did it affect how they were perceived by the population in general? mexico, in the case of
it is crucial the role of the media. today, theeven relationship between media and state power is connected to the financial pressures that the federal and local governments put on the media. most of the media in mexico survive because of money from state or federal governments as publicity of governments of specific local regions, federal announcements, and this kind of publicity, so there is no way to have an independence, no way to have this kind of research group of people that will question specific topics. for example, police corruption or drug filings. in 1968, it was a similar situation, the relationship between the media and the state was very much submissive. the newspapers were very
submissive to the government. they were pretty much repeating what the government was giving us as official versions. it is similar to what is happening right now in mexico with this historical truth, which is what the government has been trying to push. killed by drug traffickers in combination with local authorities. they don't want to come up with the truth. in the case of 1968, what happened in most official media, they were reporting an armed confrontation between students, police, and the military. did not have any guns on october 2, 1968. they did not start the provocation against the police officers or the military. it was in operation completely who were by a group
located in different parts of the square who started shooting the students in the meeting, which is interesting because the army was also entering to dissolve the protest, so the army was part of the crime committed by other members of the army hired by the mexican government. the role of the media is the media for many years supported the idea that this was an armed confrontation, that there was violence from both sides, and that is not the case, that the students were also trained, especially the leaders, in different tactics, and that was also not the case. and another important aspect to media that the only
was contesting and challenging the official narrative of what happened were international , onets by journalists italian journalist was covering the events of 1968 and covering the olympics. she was part of that situation that was currently happening. we also have journalists, now giving who was also testimony and voice to the people in that specific moment. we have a lot of oral storytelling's of people who survived after many years and who give their testimony back. so this is also an important moment because the testimony because the element of searching for truth for most of these people who are still demanding justice in mexico. i will say in part due to source availability that i am much more familiar with print
media coverage of this era than local television news coverage, but within the print media i would say that your daily, philadelphia newspapers, so at the time the inquirer and the evening bulletin, they did cover these areas. tendedes their coverage to be pitched from the angle of there are problems in these neighborhoods, and it is not so much they are concern for the people who live in those thereorhoods, but more so is an overall concern for how these areas reflect upon the city of philadelphia in the larger sense, what can be done to solve some of these problems to help the greater prosperity of the philadelphia region as a whole. there is also this angle of
coverage that looks less to aser people's activism pressing political issues, and more to cover it as a human interest story. is one particular person you might find interesting and this thing they are doing in their spare time, rather than challenge a concerted to any part of the power structure. the other thing i would say is variousmany cases portions of the alternative press are really important in filling in the gaps year. we have the philadelphia tribune, a weekly black newspaper, but also smaller publications, spanish-language publication circulating among the puerto rican population, publications like the philadelphia free press, the kensington peoples press,
distant drummer, also known as thursday's drummer, there are a ton of these things with small publication runs, but covered a philadelphia the and evening bulletin did not get around to. for the civil rights movement, especially at a national level, i would like to connect three things. i would ask us to remember that in the early 1960's and up until 1965, the focus was on the south , so there was segregation in the south and disenfranchisement , but by 1966, martin luther king is leading demonstrations in chicago, in the north, talking about housing discrimination. there was more than one right in chicago, one by black people, one by white people, who were
upset about the idea of black people moving into white neighborhoods. the issue had become housing and the problems of the ghetto in the north. at the same time that shift is taking place, the media gives us the new narrative, white backlash. white backlash becomes the master narrative for what is happening with the civil rights movement, and part of that narrative is to ask a rhetorical question. although we have sympathy for the grievances of black people, are they going about it the right way? we sympathize with grievant sees, but were not sure you are going about it the right way. the question is well maybe you are asking for too much, too soon, pushed too far, too fast, so there is this skepticism and ambivalence in the media. i would add that by the time we get to 1967, martin luther king publicly denounces the war in vietnam.
the reaction is that he is a traitor to his country, may be communist dupe or sympathizer, and maybe he is a troublemaker. life,st year of his martin luther king is reviled as a traitor to his country, and now he has the poor people's campaign and is talking about poverty, but he is in the doghouse. then he gets assassinated and 90 and then martyr -- becomes a martyr, but the media has a certain ambivalence to the civil rights movement after 1966, which is when stokely carmichael embraces black power, then we get the rights of 1967, and then it blows up in everybody's face and where did we go wrong and what is wrong with those people? so in the u.s. media, it is , again looking
mostly at the press, although there are parallels in television and radio broadcasts at the time, they are the most powerful media mogul who runs the most widely read news of -- newspapers, which are thearily yellow press, is mogul springer wants to demonstrate his cold war street protesters ating every turn as part of this long-running concern that for the youth and the fear of what the youth will do, and so this performance a lot of the july and t activity against protesters, everything from pouring hot water on protesters
and youth walking down the street, from balconies pouring hot water on their heads and throwing flowerpots at them, two assassination attempts. butmore mainstream, moretly less, was far open-minded perhaps, the coverage was perhaps almost too assiduous, almost everything young people are doing to him and i don't mean to suggest it was only young people, though i do appreciate the way others have suggested we are not talking about a student movement , which was not the case in germany, but percy broadly as a ofth movement, and the kind coverage of youth activism was and yet young
people felt they were being misrepresented. there was a focus on what they didn't mean. there was a misunderstanding. anactually produced alternative press in philadelphia that was actually quite remarkable, this poll a restoration -- this proliferation of hundreds of newspapers and magazines, which i would argue help for some decades to transform the kind of protests and make that be seen as part of politics as legitimately as what was happening in the parliament and what politicians were doing. one of the things that those of buzz who study social movements of the 1960's like to point out is that all of these movements were connected, and the on that each social movement
,pawned other social movements connected of course to the civil rights movement, to the student movement, or the broader left a youth movement was the 1960's feminist movement. i would like to draw our attention to the document on the screen behind us, which comes from our collection of the national of organization women's papers and declare sexism and racism are 20 evils of society. however, then, as now, intersection analogy could be a for some challenge white feminists to certainly acknowledged. the question i would like to put two panelists is how race and gender were connected in the movements they study. shall i begin? >> of course. [laughter] the civil rights movement for
a long time was male-dominated, especially when you look at something like that southern christian leadership conference, which dr. king founded in 1957. it is a group of black ministers. they are all men. if we look at the experience of a woman like ella baker, who served as the provisional chief clc, she had great difficulty there because the men had great difficulty receiving instruction or direction from a woman, and they had difficulty following the advice and recommendations of a woman, so ultimately she quit almost and frustration, but not before encouraging the young people to remain independent and formed the student coordinating committee in 1961. if we move a little later, i think the civil rights movement
did not openly addressed the issue of gender and tell much later, and if we do look later, then we have a woman like angela , but iso is a communist trying to work with the black panthers. it is like, lady, you need to be quiet, that kind of thing. a lane brown and kathleen cleaver in the black panthers. makeomment i would like to about this is by the time we get to 1968, there is the national welfare rights organization, and a woman named johnny tillman, and johnny tillman is a single ather on welfare and she has meeting with dr. king about the poor people's campaign and says why is there nothing on the agenda about the rights of welfare mothers watermarked they had been -- welfare mothers? they had been deliberately left
out. she confronted dr. king and ask about legislation on welfare mothers working. to dr. king, if you don't know the answer to the question, you can say you don't know. it is all right. [laughter] i don't know anything about welfare mothers and i am to learn. it simply illustrates how it is late in the day before the civil rights movement begins to address the issue of gender and inequality for women. >> i agree with that in terms of the national scene. i think women are a lot more successful at asserting themselves earlier in terms of local movement.
if we look at groups in philadelphia that are focused on issues like housing, education, police brutality, etc., many of these are headed by females, founded by females from the very beginning, have very strong female spokeswomen -- spokesman or spokespeople covered in the media. some of those leadership roles con directly out of their participation -- come directly out of their participation. this often helps them build local connections that they then use in a larger organizaiton. -- organization. i would like to reinforce for philadelphia, as an example, the importance of looking locally.
overn't want to focus too overleaningly on 1968. national leaders, whether self proclaimed or from the outset, thinking about philadelphia now, and the issues now related to level,s that now was a middle-class, white site activism, where race was not an issue and the issue of net -- a radical change did it play a part. a local scholar and activist has written an important book on philadelphia that suggests that precisely at the local level, the role women of color as well seeking ouren
broader forms of change that with in veryapple contested and not satisfying ways sexism and race. a lot more activism if we look at the local level and not just at the national level just in terms of seeing how change is taking place. in the european context, the race question is a little bit different. the activists very much identify so-called jews of anti-communism. they feel they are being persecuted if they are in the position that jews were in germany some decades earlier. they see themselves very much as following on civil rights activists, are absolutely inspired i american civil rights
activists. ethnicityal work on -- for example, in terms of grappling with questions of guest workers from turkey and -- is a littleny uneven. they were inspired by non-germans in germany who were ining, but what is notable the same way of thinking about this intersection analogy is the exciting piece -- intersection intersectionality is this exciting piece of sex ed that i was mentioning before and the lowering the tariffs, the rates of public transit were seen as a piece of a much larger question about the deposing of lumumba in congo and the
oppression of the shot and iran and cia actions in latin america. these are seen as connected issues already from the early 1960's. inhink that intensified really productive ways in the 1970's, including specifically around issues of sexism. in [indiscernible] they are starting a new where the research on testimony who are not responded to the on atives built constructed by the student leaders in the mail leaders of the 1968 movement -- male leaders of the 1968 movement. work.women did important the most important role that they play is in the human indication of the message -- the
communication of the message among the population. they created cultural brigades where women were creating this kind of [indiscernible] was very low-budget and explaining in small prints. us isere giving them on in mexico city, having conversations in the main squares, trying to influence middle-class society to get into the solidarity movements with the students. one of the greatest tactics of the 1968 movement was in the hands of women who are producing these kinds of prints and were convincing people to join the movement, to follow up what was going on in the student movement during a time when the media was
criminalizing students in mexico. women were taking care of the student prisoners. who were visiting the prisoners were women. who were feeding the prisoners were women. who were feeding everyone that was participating, not only student leaders of the movement, were women. rolehey were taking this -- some may think it is a conservative role from the side of women, associated with it led them the possibility to understand different ideas, to expose their comments. from that perspective, the role of women is very much a subversive role. they were feeding people who were feeding the student protest and they were progressing the contact with other student leaders. the street becomes the school of political activism in mexico. the women enter the public 1968, most of them
not having previous political participation. that's why it is important in the case of mexico, in 1968, because students from public and private schools much for the first time together. it had never happened before until this 1968. they took for the first time the main square of mexico city. it had never happened before. they occupied the square by being accompanied by women in the frontlines. the testimonies of women that are pretty much giving a completely different testimony were speaking about what happened, the repression, what they suffered in the imprisonment. most of them were cost rated. in concert -- most of them were incarcerated. in contrast, women were down the streets were taking initiatives and producing a completely different cultural activity to promote the students' message.
>> right. i have make -- great. i have many more questions, but i better give the rest of your you a to do so -- rest of chance to do so. we have 20 minutes to take audience questions at this point. >> just wondered what is it you would think in terms of your own sphere of influence her or educationut -- about the role of the labor movement, both good and bad, in these struggles. also, i am particularly concerned about the comment made
was the ally -- was the state ever an ally? one of the panelists said it was half-and-half, i think. i can just remember. guy who really ran the state come in terms of my own opinion, on some of the struggles was j edgar hoover. i did not think he was an ally at any time at all. but i would like to hear what you think. since i think i described the , it's alsofriendemy a part of the state we were talking about. with j edgar hoover, he was an absolute enemy from day one, at some point restraint in fact by lyndon johnson. but we now know that the fbi had an informant within the ku klux mid-1950's.e
and the fbi knew everything that the alabama klan was going to do before they did it. they knew in advance that there was an attack -- there would be an attack on the freedom writers , when viola griggs was murdered . gary roe was in the car from which she was shot. and the fbi knew the next day what had happened and who had done it because they had an informant right in the car. there is even a suggestion that roe himself was a person who far the shot. hoover wasy, jaeger in bed with the ku klux klan and was an absolute opponent -- j edgar hoover was in bed with the ku klux klan and was an absolute opponent. fbi, hector of the reported to robert kennedy. but the justice department did not know half of what hoover new. it is -- hoover knew.
c -- now bit of let native it is an ambivalent legacy. we have to ask the sister leadership, the sister rank-and-file. one of the great moments of the labor movement came out of birmingham, alabama 1963. 2000 children were placed in jail. all of them had to be bailed out. where did the money come from? in fact, it was the unions that raised tens of thousands of dollars to bail out the children in birmingham, alabama in 1963. and of course, it was the labor movement that helped support the civil rights act of 1964. >> i would agree that there is an ambivalent relationship there. certainly between some local activists that are very established, more traditional unions. there could be more friction,
particularly with those unions that were still predominantly white and were chafing against efforts like the philadelphia plan to diversify their membership. but if we move forward over time 1968, relationships get a little bit better, especially with some of the newer union structures. i would point out 1199 c, the hospital workers union, in particular. the meat cutters union that is plans.at many local to some extent the transit workers union. of thee of the locals clothing workers, like the amalgamated. for instance, they immediate -- they increasingly have a leadership that is more and more black and puerto rican. increasinglyre intertwined with some of these local rights struggles. unlike -- well, in france and
italy, there's certainly -- for example, there's important moments where workers and those in labor unions very much come together with other protesters to make -- to play a really important role as, for example, in the french may, as is well known generally. in west germany, there was the conventional understanding that older workers and certainly their leadership in the labor union had negative interest in these protests, at least in the period relative economic upswing from the late 1950's to the late 1960's. there was a sense that workers within labor unions had never had it so good.
economically, there is the sense of stability and so on that was belied very quickly by the recession that soon followed. but there's the sense that there was a real divide there. but in fact, especially younger workers and especially nonathletic german workers -- non-ethnic german workers played a part in interacting with other populations, other demographic of protesters and often inspiring ethnic german processors -- protesters in ways that are not always very visible. if you look at the union levels, unions were not helpful in supporting this protests, although sometimes, they can through. mexico, itase with is important, the railroad movement of the 1950's, where
they gained a lot of legitimation with their movement and they become an important part of the student movement of the 1960's by the end, by having these important role figures accompanying the students during the protests. i would say another important role played by other different groups were connected with the professors of the students. they were assuming leadership with their students and accompanying their students. and the families of the students, which is also very crucial, during the student massacre, the student the victims were not only students. they were people representing unions. they were people family members of the students who were accompanying their children. of having these kind political affiliations of eating together in the same space.
also very small kids were present. it offered a very particular legitimation of the student movement. having the professors on one side, the railroad cedar -- railroad leaders on the other side, and dr. supporting the students by having also the oil union, which was very important at that time in mexico, which period in mexico with economic stability. but in that time, the economy in , ando was pretty good industry.to the oil having this kind of persons from the oil unions and the presence of professors and student workers, it is important that they reach all over the most important institutions, unions
connected with the different aspects of the economy in mexico and the professional development in mexico. i wonder if you might agree, in light of your discussion earlier about the violence/nonviolence, that 1960's, it was the spirit and tactics of the nonviolent movement that was emerging and eventually played a much bigger role in stopping the vietnam war, advancing the civil rights agenda. when you look at the full -- first of all, martin luther king speeches let a lot of people to see the link between gandhi and the philosophy he adopted in the early 1960's after his unfortunate experience in getting attacked in his house and having a gun in his own
adde, and how jim lawson brian ross and convinced him to study the gandhian movement and to promote a nonviolent strategy. then you have the emergence of the clergy and lehman concern that eventually united with king in a famous speech in 1967. overall, the churches, the synagogues, even the draft resistance movement took on a much more, a much stronger nonviolent, direct action movement. of course, there were certain incidents, especially there with the weather underground, that tended to cloud that movement's effect. overall, i would as you to consider whether in the end it was nonviolent, direct action that really advanced the social .nd peace agenda
>> sure. i would say, in the philadelphia case, nonviolent, direct action is absolutely a prime moving force in gaining these communities what they can gain, which is not to say that they are wholly successful in getting the things they are pushing for. there are a few other things to consider. theof those is that nonviolent, direct action things, like sitting in and protesting, is always mixed with other simultaneous strategies, like signing petitions, registering voters, etc. if we look at the philadelphia case, some of those efforts will culminate in the 1970's, these hotly contested rattles are over the mayor's office where we have
a third party, the philadelphia party candidate running. we have a petition to recall result by the end of the 1970's. by the end ofo the 1970's. a lot of those were the ones staging demonstrations in 1968 and in the years in between. the second thing i would add is we tend to think about nonviolent, direct action as taking place on a mass scale. so we pay attention to the march on washington. and we pay attention to when thousands of black high school students show up at the board of education. i would suggest that is actually much more constant in much smaller doses, when there are smaller groups of people who, for instance, decide to sit down at an intersection and shut down traffic for one hour to make their point.
then they get up and leave. similarly, you might have a dozen folks who go pick it out storeket outside of a where the owner is accused of unethical business practices. i think it is not only effective in pushing for this broader, overall jays, but effective in these very targeted campaigns against local businesses, against local institutions for specific grievances. >> i would add that the strategy of nonviolence, part of what helped make it effective was that dr. king was trying to create a coalition with white liberals or with antiracist white people, a biracial coalition. so the language of nonviolence is something that will be appealing beyond the black community, but it helps to bring about that alliance with antiracist white people.
dr. king was not asking people simply to feel sorry for black people and to feel pity for them, but to ask and do something about it. and as he said, one of the great sins of our country's indifference, that we stand by silent and indifference or the evil takes place. so the perpetrators can do what they do because the bystanders do nothing. so he was asking why people that they cease to be bystanders, and that they become actively involved to end the evils. so the language of nonviolence and mastering action is appealing to that audience in a consistency. you achieve what you can with that method. on the other hand, i do have to add, when we look at the kennedy brothers and when you look at lyndon johnson, as they are looking at martin luther king and as they are looking at a nonviolent civil rights movement, they are also looking over his head. and the person they are looking at over his head is malcolm x and the nation of islam.
so i give the power structure credit for making concessions to the moderates, but in part, they made concessions to the moderates because they were afraid that, if they did not make this concessions, that black people would begin to listen to people like malcolm x and turn to violence. so these positions were strategic and pragmatic. malcolm x made martin luther king look good. and that is why the power structure made concessions to him. they were not moved by, oh, there's terrible injustice in the country, but there is disorder and there is disorder and there's a crisis and we need to do something about it. the army of history is that, despite the civil rights movement, the city still burned in 1967 anyway. because the civil rights act of 1964 was too little, too late, -- is what we would have done in 1945. mexico, it is of
very important that the 1968 or the post-1968 student massacre and the state crime that was developed a culture of human rights in mexico and the violation of human rights. i would say that is one of the most important aspects of these fights through nonviolent strategies and tactics. what i mentioned before, the mother activism we have in latin america, it happened in mexico. it happened in argentina. it happened in other regions of central mark of -- central america, like el salvador. but instead -- but in el guerrila you have revolutions. state crime to state offenses were connected to the building culture nonviolent
based on human rights and connected very much with the force the disappearances in latin america. and the other route that was such more radical was guerrilla that were settled down in different regions, like the case of mexico in the 1970's. post-1968se of the different ways or approaches and responses. >> i would really like to reinforce the characterization that alyssa made about the importance of looking not only had big marches, but at the everyday examples of blocking an intersection. these protests could be five people in a kind of provocative action that called attention to an issue.
they were often very successful, especially after 1968, to draw on the kind of division that raul is suggesting. it became increasingly difficult in west germany to enact even the small forms of public nonviolent direct action. at that point, there was a lot award -- inward, effectively retreat from politics to a kind of politics of the kitchen table, which i think is really important to also acknowledge again for its substantial importance in the 1970's, in which, in these innumerable living experiments and these experiments are creating these autonomous zones
in cities and so on, people tried to re-create all different kinds of relations among people and to sort of re-create themselves. and some of this kind of action was deeply radical and effective. so i think that also has to be considered along with nonviolent action is some of the most effective -- most important strategies of the period that were really effective. >> this is both the benefit and the drawback of having four terrific panelists. of course, we want to hear all of their answers to everything. unfortunate, we are not only out of time for this session, but this is the end of the event. it's been so wonderful. [applause]
i will just say one more time, on behalf of all of us at hsp, thank you all so much for coming. thank you to our speakers, all of whom were wonderful. thank you for c-span for taking the time to be here with us. i'm thrilled with how this went. so thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter for information on a schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. >> the united states to cord war on mexico in 1846.
let, became know as mr. pokes war, it resulted in more than 500 square miles of u.s. territory. next on, history bookshelf, joseph wheatland talks about his on thenvading mexico," mexican war where he chronicles the president's desire for war. as was resorted that's recorded in 2007. it is about 50 minutes. >> good evening. here,alf of of the owners i want to thank you for supporting your local bookstore. tonight, we are honored to have mr. joseph whelen to discuss his new book, "invading mexico." a graduate of the university of wyoming and the university of colorado denver, joseph began his early stint in writing as a