tv Southern Black Educators Desegregation CSPAN August 25, 2018 4:45pm-6:01pm EDT
watch the entire class on lectures in history. only on american history tv. next, on american history tv. the nessa walker talks about her book the lost education of force tape. how will recount african-american teachers fought against southern segregation. the jimmy carter presidential library in atlanta georgia posted this event. it is in our entertainment. >> good evening. tony: i am tony clark. i am glad that you are on here considering the weather outside. i think it is a testament to our author tonight and the topic. the one thing that i always do is i encourage you to pick up one of these sheets about upcoming author programs. we have wonderful authors that are coming here.
i know you want to come back and see some of these other offers. -- authors. vanessa is a professor. the segregation of african american children for more than 25 years. she and i were talking about the impact that our education system to help and hurt african-american children over these years. and the people who have stood out to try to improve education for our children. is the 104th president of the american educational research association. she got her bachelor's degree from the university of north carolina. her master's and doctorate from harvard university. she is the recipient of the prestigious award for education. thehas received a was from
comforts of southern graduates was, the american education studies association. she has written a number of books and articles about black educators and their fight for quality education. of new book tells the story the devoted black educator and several black educators who battled southern school segregation in any quality. it reminds me that the carter library is an excellent place for this tonight. go through the museum, you learn about jimmy carter's childhood, growing up during segregation in rural georgia where all of his closest friends are african-americans and he said as a child he couldn't understand why they want to separate schools and separate churches. these were the kids that were
closest to him. welcomingn me in vanessa walker. [applause] professor walker: good afternoon. i am stunned that there would be so many people in the rain. i don't know how to thank you. i want to tell you thanks. let me say this. i am the daughter of a black baptist preacher. when you want the daughter of a black baptist preacher, you learn certain protocol. protocol before we start talking about dr. tate is to do a really genuine appreciation. i'm actually stunned. many of you i can call by name. , see former students
undergraduates, i see members of the church congregations, , my agent is here. there are a number of people. there are special to me. you do not have to come out tonight. person that all of you , i want to introduce or not. tate, would you stand up? [applause] professor walker: she is 93 years old. she is extraordinary educator in
her own right. amasters degree from teacher's college and a number of leadership positions. she was very adamant when i was writing the book that the book is about him. don't write about me. but tonight, i need you to know that without her, dr. tate could not have done what he did. theuld not have written book. it is dedicated to her. i think you are or were coming here tonight. let's get started. the gentleman on the far right is dr. tate. a couple of weeks before his death which will be almost 16 years ago. he began to say something to me that was quite extraordinary. i didn't know how to respond. he was out of the hospital, back
at his home. he was in a hospital bed. death was imminent. he began to say have you been back down to the building? meant by thee building. the building is where i first met him in 2000 -- the year 2000. it was the building that the old black teachers had bought. if you look at the picture here, you can to the one they purchase in 19 61. or the to the back, there is a brick building they purchased a 1961. i met him at the building. i have violated all the rules. he managed to meet with me back by the building.
when he talked about that building, it did make a lot of sense to me. i knew the building. i have been at the building with him for close to a year. haveld come and he would these materials. i would say thank you. these materials and black schools are quite rare. i would come back in the stack would be higher and then a little higher. put an entirehe set of harold magazines in my arm, i actually was just about to crack. they dated back to the 1930's. this is actual information on black schools. what i had note seen at the building.
i said i had not been back to the building yet but i will go. the truth is, i did not go back to the building until after his death. cold decemberr morning and i finally returned to the building. i walked in the side entryway. because this building faces the street. the larger building faces a parking lot. times i haveese come past this building and turned to the parking lot and in this building no tension, gone in and going up the stairs and met with dr. tate. when i returned after his death, i went to that space where he
and i had met so many times. i am feeling a little lost because after all, he is gone. have now known him for almost two years. we have gone from the times in the building to finally going to the basement of his home. i was so excited. at first he would say when i had that i want you to go to the basement of my house and tell my wife to let you have my stuff. i did not know mrs. tate. i couldn't figure out how that would happen. i knew that wasn't going to happen. invited meentually to the very form of -- formal living room of their home. mrs. tate interviewed me. they were file cabinets down in
the basement. she said i am so excited. dr. tate has audio files. martin luther king's voice is coming up. who is this man? this is just amazing. i am in research heaven. i have everything anybody could ever need. did he keep saying in those last weeks before his death have you been back to the building? i am back at the building. i meet with his daughter. father asked me to come back. i don't know what i'm supposed to be looking for. he said that daddy meant the stuff in the attic.
?hat attic i didn't know there was one. i remember he was talking about times that he would escape the reporters. that i would escape the reporters through the back way out. i never asked him that question. out?was the back way i had no idea what she was talking about. said you know where his office is? i said yes. she said you know the door behind the door in his office? >> no. she says go out the door behind the door and you will be in a little hallway. look to your right and they will
be another door. take that door and go down the stairs. the light is out so be careful. there are no windows. go down the stairs. by the way, at the bottom of the stairs there is a hole in the floor. make sure you don't get caught in the hole and the floor. ok. she said when you get there, walk around to the left and you will be in a big room. when you're in that room, look over to your left and you will see some staircases going to the second floor. this is real, i could not have made this up. then she says go of the staircases. when you get to the second floor then look very carefully. you will see a door that leads
to the attic. that is what daddy was talking about. i do not know what to do but i had come that far and dr. tate said that i was supposed to go back to the building. this is a fairly what i am supposed to go find at the building. i start to make my way. .ery carefully i don't care for spiders or other things that crawl. i had to use my hands to feel my way. and how do you know where the bottom is? this is 2002. we can't pull out our cell phones and make them flashlights. it wasn't like that. it is just dark. i met my way down. i followed the route that she gave me. sure enough, there is the door to the attic. . open the door to the attic
i stood there for a little while. i wasn't sure that those stairs had worked. that it was anybody had walked on them for decades. so i stood there for a while. it i am the daughter of black baptist teacher. -- ll degrees to say i stood there and said i have come this far. i may as well go up the stairs. maybe i will fall to my death. let's go up the stairs. i went up the stairs. on the very top of this building, you will see the for the twondow rows that constitute the attic. in the attic, as soon as i got
up there, were 11 file cabinets neatly aligned under a window. there were boxes, there were plaques, there were awards not given, there were journals, there were little blue booklets. an inclusive guide to school integration. there were all kinds of things. it looked as though the person or the people -- there is an old steel -- i am talking about old, not something we get from home depot now, the heavy old steel file cabinets. carriedple carefully them to the attic. it appeared they followed the because that'snt where they would originally have been. it appears they might have been in a hurry at the end because it looked like they started throwing stuff at the end, so things are all over the floor.
i stood there actually numb because i knew without asking dr. tate or anybody that these were the organizational records for the georgia teachers and education association, the group for which he had been executive director at the time of its demise. dr. tate understood that in real-time, black records were being destroyed. trophiesds of schools, , sometimes the children's actual -- the little records, little transcripts? we would not have called them that back in the 1950's and 1950's. the report cards, all these things. sports records, all destroyed.
not only were the records destroyed of schools, but the records are missing for organizations. so when i talked to dr. tate's comparable mr. palmer in north carolina, mr. palmer said to me that on the day after integration, i went to my office and my for my records records of the north carolina teachers and education association were gone. mr. palmer was trying to contact dr. tate to get his records so mr. palmer could write his own story. in this moment when black records were being destroyed, horace tate paid somebody -- who knows who -- to take these organizational records, put them as far away from prying white
eyes as possible, and there they stayed. during some of the time that i would talk to dr. tate, i said, you know, these stories you are telling, these are amazing. i said, do you have any documents to support this? you know what he said? i guess you will find something. [laughter] professor walker: and so i did. what did i find? years to figure it out. i would not have been in the gifted and talented class. [laughter] professor walker: took me 18 years to figure this out, but what i found hidden in plain sight where the activities of black educators during segregation. see, i thought i knew something about them when i first met dr. tate. that's why i wanted to meet with
him. i was told, you have to talk to dr. tate, he was the head of the teachers organization. so when i met him, i knew something about the schools. i had won some little awards and everything for what i do. and he just looked at me, he said, you got part of the story. you don't have it all. what did i learn following this trail? if you leave all these materials -- and i am trying to figure out , how do the materials that with all the stories that you told? they don't always match. and how do they fit with what i thought i knew? you have to go into archives around the country. i followed these educators' footsteps literally around the world. they are everywhere. , whaten you ask yourself did you learn?
and what i learned is that we lost them. atck educators were so adept making sure their advocacy could not be seen by white school boards that we believe the story that they told, which is we are not doing anything but teaching. the truth of the matter is, these black educators are behind almost everything that gets us to the point that we are right now. but we have not known it, we have not know their story. am i right? i think so. i met with oliver hill, one of the esteemed naacp attorneys, in richmond prior to returning. and i had one question. my husband is here, my daughter,
they taught me how to talk to attorneys. my husband is an attorney. i said, how do i talked oliver hill? i only know how to talk to academics. i said, what do i ask? and he said, ask him what services were being provided, the lawyers were providing. i talked to oliver hill. oliver hill was blind at the time i met with him, and yet he could see the truth that america missed. it was the educators. talkedot convinced, so i to his counterpart in georgia, donald hollowell, also blind at the time that i spoke with him, and donald hollowell was quite explicit. got thethe educators plaintiffs, we just groomed them for the witness stand.
these black educators are the people to whom we owe an extraordinary debt and who might also map how we think about the future, if we bother to bring them back into our conscious presence. there are a lot of stories about dr. tate that i could tell, but i decided tonight not to tell the stories. hopefully you will read -- some of you will read the stories about cows getting stolen, the long, dark night drives and the funeral director. kos this funeral part could be anytime of the day and night. you could meet by the creek, train passengers. there are lots of stories, some of which are funny, some of which are painful, that constitute the telling in the book. i honestly think if dr. tate were here tonight, he would be less interested in the opening of the book and the telling of
the stories and more interested in me telling you the point. what are the conceptual ideas that we can learn from these educators and how might they inform our present? that's what i want to talk about tonight. black educators were extraordinarily networked, and they used their schools to create aspiration. i am going to explain to you how this works. if you go into almost any black community today, now, and talk to people of a certain age, they will tell you -- where is mr. peers? raise your hand. mr. sears, i just met him, was one of mr. case students -- mr. -- if you talk
to him or anybody just a little bit younger -- >> 78. professor walker: they will tell you how much they love their teachers. we loved our teachers. they cared for us, we had great principals. they are still celebrated. i was on a boat a week and a half ago and there were all these black people with blue shirts on. old black school. i went up to a couple of them and said, what are y'all doing, is this a family reunion? they said no, a class reunion, our 50 year reunion. i said, are you having a good time? we are having a great time, we are the gladiators. i said, ok, gladiators, all right. and then they started telling me the things that we know about these schools -- the high expectations, teaching children they could be whatever they wanted to be.
we know about these things. you can talk to people and they will tell you. what we don't know is how they did it. that is what we don't know. every community thinks his or her principal -- they call him professor, and if they really liked him, they called him fessor. fessor tate, fessor whoever. communities,ir their teachers, and their principal, but remember, they were the children, so they don't know actually how those fessors and teachers created the schools that they remember. just a moment and explain to you how they did it, how it is that black schools could be so seamless in their conversations about what we're trying to do for black children that they used even the same language. "theirwas first writing
highest potential," i thought that was a really extraordinary school in north carolina, until i started lecturing all over the country and people said, i went to a school just like that. everybody was trying to make the children reach their highest potential, and i cannot figure that out at all. this is why it is so seamless. black educators live in a national climate that's hard. i am not going to say anymore about that. we whine about climate now sometimes. they live in a very difficult, segregated world and climate. they live in a local climate equally oppressive, and they are very familiar with the advocacy efforts that are going on by other blacks, lawyers and other people in other organizations. they understand all of this and they create for themselves ,omething called the ata
american teachers association, the counterpart to what you now know as the nea, national education association. they are excluded from the nea, so they make their own, the american teachers association. they also create something called the association. i got corrected on that. i am not quite sure what they are trying to say with that, but they emphasize the a-s-s part whenever they talk about it. there, there is a story but no one ever told me the story. the association is the black counterpart to the southern association, the same one that accredits emory now and others tools -- other schools. with the association and ata, you see an exchange of black people and ideas. they are talking about, what are
white graduate schools doing, one of the policies? how can we get into black schools the information that we need? you see the cross-fertilization of ideas going back and forth at national meetings. interestingly, when you go into every southern state, every one of the 14 southern states, you see an organizational structure that looks like what i have written on the left. there is a state organization that covers the entire state, everybody is a member. there are regional organizations. georgia had 14. 11, 11. georgia had 11 different regions. this date is broken to 11 regions, each region has its own director. there are local meetings. so you can get black educators meeting together within a county. i have see them with the cav county, meeting and talking about ideas. then you get state publications, like in georgia, the herald.
this is happening in every seven state, but the person who is the executive director, these people are in these ata meetings and/or association meetings, and you can actually trace an idea from a national conversation into states, into regional meetings, into local meetings, and all the way down to schools. i am not going to do that tonight because that is not the focus for tonight. one of the tremendous ones to look at is testing, how black educators were talking about testing in the 1950's. white educators said, it is amazing what you are doing, we should do some testing, too. because the people were hadected in the state and national ways of being connected across the states, they knew each other, they could craft a
plan and they could disseminate it to any one of the southern states. this is why we see similar ideas about what it is we are to be doing in our schools. so when they say things like, if you are going to be a teacher, you need to get out into the community. or you can't teach somebody you don't know, you need to get out there and know people. across geography and time, their language is similar, and it is similar because of this intricate, cure regular -- curricular network they have they can use to disseminate ideas. there is one idea i want to share with you tonight that is in this network, and i want to share it with you because this is the one that i elevate in "the lost education of horace tate," and it is from his time in griffin, although he does the
same thing when he is a principal in greensboro. if you look at ata meetings and association meetings, one of the things you see them talking a lot about is civic association and democracy. they are trying to figure out how to make sure black children can become full american citizens. lucy laney says that one of their meetings in 1919, we are going to do something we know will be effective. teach these little children how to vote. we are going to teach them about democratic principles. we are going to lay the foundation, in other words, for another generation. if i were to take you through the pieces, you would see the curriculum, the conversations fusing into states, into regions, and into schools on the local level. if we were to go to a school in new orleans, this lady turned
her entire school into a republic and named it after herself. jones republic. she has her first, second, and third graders and it is a full democracy. it is a full democracy with advisers, and they have real tasks they are doing. this is not like when i was in school where they would say, you can be on the student council, but you are not doing anything. these children are actually expected to work with the pta. they are creating programming. it is a very sophisticated, full limitation of how the u.s. congress works. by the way, the first and second graders -- i'm sorry, i was wrong -- the first and second graders can't vote, they can't do anything. [laughter] professor walker: it is not just that ms. jones' school. we see this throughout the taking, principals
children to vote, practicing voting, because they are trying to spend how to be citizens -- trying to teach them how to be citizens. at booker t. washington high school not far from us, charles harper would stand out. they would have elections that were so amazing that the community would be involved. it would look like you were at a presidential inauguration with whoever won. ,ou have a speech, little flags everything is waving, the community is there. somebody was giving out bibles, don't know where they got all the bibles from. it is a full community event. you get charles harper, mr. tate's mentor, saying to the children, you must be citizens of the world. if someone treats you with hatred, you must respond with love. this is martin luther king's high school.
but martin luther king had not even gotten there yet. that theuggest to you lost education of horace tate amplifies our understanding of this network by showing us the ways in which training black children for democratic citizenship was a subversive act. they were laying the foundations for a generation that did not exist, for a world that had not come into being. theou look and remember kind of placards that most of us can remember from the 1960's, if i were to overlay that with the curriculum that we see in the schools, you would see similar ideology. the atlanta daily world, referring to the activities at
booker t. washington high school 's civics education in 1932, writes the following -- if the young of today are trained in , these of the ballot same young people will not sit passively and let themselves be barred from complete citizenship. "the lost education of horace tate" helps us understand that the civil rights generation was a created phenomenon. they did not just get tired, right? and for people who say, rosa parks went to the highlander school -- yes, she did, and that is nice. but it was bigger than that. all across this network. and dr. tate said, it is the southern children who stand out, not the northern children. one could argue, well, they did
not have as much oppression in the north, so that is why the seven children stood up. but the last time i checked, there was a lot of oppression in the north. but it is the southern children who stand up. bias is the subject of -- you have to know somebody did something to you. he said if you know somebody did something to you, in the beginning you might feel ashamed that somebody did something to you and you didn't know what they did. he said, but after you get done being ashamed, wait a minute, who did it and what did they do? america is know that not delivering on its promises. and if you know it is not delivering on its promises and you are in a school climate that
teaches you to aspire, you are learning in your english classes in victor. you are memorizing if -- if i can keep my head when those around me are losing theirs and blaming it on me. if i can trust myself when all y'all doubt me -- it was a created phenomenon. but this is actually only one of the small things in the book. let's look at something else. i love simple justice. how many of y'all have read simple justice? [laughter] professors, ier: am sure you are requiring your students to read it also. i love "simple justice."
the freshman class looked at me like i had lost my mind. because the book is about this thick, right? but it is a history of brown v. board of education, compellingly written, beautiful. richard lugar does a masterful job with this particular book. the first time i read it, i said, this is profound, a profound book. i like everything about it, as my friend trudy says, i like everything about how richard kluger wrote that story. here is the story that he wrote, and it is the story we all believe, most of us, even if you have not read it. this is how we got brown v. board of education. we all know this story. you have wonderful people at the top, and you get these brilliant attorneys -- thurgood marshall and others -- and they worked
with the naacp state councils, and the state councils worked with the local branches. and these people, the local people, know what is going on on the ground, they know what the students need, they know the school conditions, the parents, and the community. so they get plaintiffs and the naacp delivers grounds. right? we all know that, that's the story. and it took me a lot of time in the library of congress. if i don't ever see another memo about walter white, i will be so happy, because it took years and years to figure this out. honestly, if i had not had the trail that dr. tate left, i would have written exactly the same story my very esteemed colleagues in history have written. if you don't know who you are looking for, you miss it. it is that miniscule in the data.
the problem with this narrative is that it doesn't answer. johnson wanted to be like this. he said, we needed to be able to work through our local branches. charles houston really wanted it to be like this. is the 1 -- he -- not do it all by itself, all by himself, but lawyers think so -- who envisioned how we could structure the fight against school segregation. he said, it needs to be against an army, with everything going up and down and you make it work. but it does not work. there is some times that it works, but most of the time it doesn't work. you know why? branches inal naacp the south are --
write my next letter, could you direct it in my wife's name? i don't know if he was trying to get her killed -- [laughter] professor walker: but it was vulnerable, right, to work in the naacp during this time. local people in the south understood this. so the national office would say can't y'all just go down to where the lynching justnd see the man and tell the sheriff that the man did not have an ax? and the local people are like, mmmm, i don't think so, i am not planning to be hanging on the tree tomorrow, no thank you. so while there is great support and great pride, there is not this interchange of ideas coming down from the top and we are sending the information backup
from the bottom to the top. you know where it came from? the educators have a structure that the naacp wants. so you can't run it through the naacp, but you can run it through these black educators. so the same structure that delivers curriculum to schools, typically a top-down kind of model, uses a bottom-up model to get the information to the attorneys. what happens in real time, dr. tate's greensboro story. who actually knows who will litigate a school principal? he knows his community, he knows it. and so when parents and
community begin to talk to a principal, then the principal and see, ist this somebody really willing to go all the way? -- hete was interested was not dr. tate then, he was tate.sor date -- who came to him, he said come back tomorrow morning and we will talk more about this. mr. ward gets in his car and leaves. the fessor tate lets him get a head, then he gets in his car to follow him. mr. ward could really want to do a school bus suit in greensboro, or mr. ward could have been sent by the superintendent. doesn't know, so he follows him for not to see, are you really going home or are
you going to the superintendent's office? when mr. ward comes back the next day, now dr. tate can say, yes, let's talk. it is going to be rough, are you ready for it? yeah, i am ready. they are going to come after you mr. ward. >> it's all right, i got a farm, let them come. appearspal often it skips the regional director for the regions, because everything has to be so secret, but goes straight to the state executive secretary. it is the executive secretary who is back and forth with the naacp offices, who is also back and forth with the national teachers associations, because the money and the data -- where do you get surveys on inequalities in black schools? what you are thinking cap on a minute. if we think outside of the box of what you have been taught, local people
you are getting data that is needed to document any quality. and an costntiffs that is actually the name they started to use in the last years when people had gotten onto the ata sending money. they came up with another way to do it. network actually worked for us. this is what we think. this is atlanta journal-constitution article from 1949 a document irwin county suit area they say the naacp in urban county is going after school and equality blah blah blah. scenes, the state executive secretary at that time
has written a letter, as you have been helpful to us in the past, we need you to help us again. we are getting ready to move in on the local school boards that are continuing inequalities against black children and still we need you to do. in the first paragraph right these people. leave the second paragraph open. we need to be will to fill in details because some places we will go after school bus transportation but somewhere else we will go after facilities. we will fill in the middle. and and, you tell them we will take them to court. if they don't do we want them to do. as usual, we will make sure the local naacp is involved. naacp puts the stamp the local press says
naacp is doing it. --ple like the government governor of georgia are fit to be tied. these outsiders messing with our schools. he doesn't know his problem is down the street. his real problem is down the street. [laughter] if you look in the library of congress and the urban county 1949 branch records, they are not doing anything differently than any other local branch. , baby contest, they see their job is to get the money and they are working with the educators but there is nothing in the file about the school suit that may cost millions. what is happening here? [laughter] that's a trick. children red brick around in stories.
educators used it as strategy. agent is never exactly what you see. particular point is extraordinarily important for us .o think about the state executive director before mr. harper's black people are victims of people who do crooked thinking. we are victims of people who do crooked thinking we need to do straight thinking. many to figure out how to outmaneuver others. this is not a story typically told. let's look at one more. argue thattors inegregation as i lifted 1970 and ice i have benefited
that that a scholar desegregation was poorly done. i want to take a minute and explain to you why they would say that. after brown, like educators are quite exuberant. because after all, they are the ones who lost jobs, they are given money and they were the forerunners albeit under the table but they are jubilant about this decision. to brown, the state suddenly started copying of money for black schools. finally. we did have some schools. this is great. money,te service giving georgia gives money, the federal government ultimately under title i will give money. good because to be
we will finally now have the since the actually atlanta university conference back in 1911 we have been trying to get money. for our schools. we will finally have the money. the educators are excited because they anticipate that the federal government will oversee the distribution of the money. butwill send money down there will be accountability from the bottom up. the south needs some accountability because left to its own, it will do what it has been doing.