tv 93rd Annual Black History Luncheon CSPAN February 18, 2019 5:30pm-6:54pm EST
you can watch the entire three-hour film "the birth of a nation" along with comments from historians and viewers on our website, c-span2.org/history. this is american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span3. next, the 93rd annual black history luncheon held this past saturday in washington d.c. each year the association for the study of african-american life and history establishes a black history theme. this year the theme is black migrations. as 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the forced migration of enslaved africans to the virginia colony in 1619. at the luncheon speakers reflected on the migration into slavery as well as the northern and western migration of
african-americans in the 20th century. welcome to the 923rd annual black history luncheon for the association of the study of african-american life and history. it is my honor to be your emcee today, but when i had to think about a few things -- actually, i shouldn't be your emcee today. and the reason why i shouldn't be your emcee today, i remember early on in my broadcast career people used to tell me that a black man can't run a sports department. i've been the sports director of two cbs stations and an nbc station. [ applause ]
i also started my broadcast career in a city called ail pina, michigan with two black people, myself and some other black person i'm still trying to find. my experience there, i used to receive a lot of e-mail, hate e-mail, telling me i don't like your black style on tv. or you know what, i should have been dead like philando castile or eric gardener when i was a victim of police brutality back in 2014. but i didn't let those realities of this world hold me back. i continued to follow that same path that a lot of our leaders, our black leaders, have paid throughout the year and that's why i'm your emcee today. [ applause ] now today we celebrate our national black history theme, black migrations. now, the theme is to focus our attention to the movement of the people of african descent to new
destinations and new social realties, and those such realities are the rise of the garvey movement in new york, detroit and new orleans, the emergence of the black industrial workers, black entrepreneurs, the growing numbers of urban churches and more. now, one thing that helped me out a lot is asalah. i'm glad you guys made an acronym for that and made it very easy for me to say. she had that hold up like my mom, like that nate dog, hold up. >> excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, if i could have your attention. you may not have noticed but we have a real big real deal right up here. and i would be so appreciative if you would give him his attention because he really has a lot to say. you know, we paid him about $1 million -- no.
>> now that i know what y'all are paying me, i'll send y'all my invoice. where's edgar? [ applause ] with that said, continuing with the program and i do appreciate you guys having me as your emcee today. just a few housekeeping items. make sure if you're trying to leave this area, make sure you leave in the back of the ballroom. you can enter and exit there. also, there's some volunteers walking around selling ralffle ticket. you can get one for $5, three for $10. you can win $500, get a weekend stay at the renaissance hotel, win an african dna kit and a gift basket. i will say this though, the drawing will take place after the luncheon and in order to win you need to be present. now, if you feel like you need to leave before they have the raffle, just give me the raffle ticket and if you win, i won't call you. also, the parking fees, who like
me parked way at capital heights and walked here? you parked at capital heights and walked here? all right. we do apologize for the parking situation. there was another event going on. if you did park here at the hotel, it's $17 for the self-parking, $45 if you valeted your car. follow us on twitter, instagram and facebook. i'm not going to mess with you again, my man. who has black planning still? all right, nobody. aol, instant messenger? with that said, we're going to have a good time. are you guys ready for this evening -- this evening? are you guys ready to have a good time? i know some of you guys are really tired. it's valentine's day weekend. you maybe had a long night last night. you're probably still on your third dream and probably trying to go back to sleep. i want everybody to stand for the video presentation of the negro national anthem.
and i work for the news station here and we have a montgomery county high school passing around free passes to say the "n" word. we have a virginia governor who's involved with the blackface scandal. first it's him and then it's not him. who knows. he's playing the hokey pokey dance with it. when you hear that song it almost inspires you that no matter what we face, we must keep moving forward. that also goes along with our theme today. it's my pleasure to introduce dr. evelyn brooks higgenbotham, chairman of the department of african-american studies at harvard university. she's a prolific writer, recipient of the 2014 national
humanities award, which was awarded to her by president barack obama. she also has a long history of involvement with saalah. she'll bring the greetings and offer the occasion. she'll be followed by dr. tiffny gill who will provide the reflections of the theme. we'll also have dr. lionel kimball jr. to join us and our luncheon co-chairs, dr. vaughn and dr. thompson who will introduce our executive council members, partners, special guests and sponsors. without further or do, i'd like to welcome dr. higgenbotham. [ applause ] >> greetings. i just want to make one correction. i used to be the chair of the department of african-american studies but i am now the chair of the history department at harvard. [ applause ]
and why i make a big deal about that is because that is the department that gave carter g. woodson his phd in 1912. [ applause ] so welcome to the 93rd black history luncheon. the theme for 2019 is black migrations. this theme captures an experience central to african-american history. there is no word that better connotes the complexity of our history than the word migration. it brings to mind both pain and unbounded hope. it brings to mind forced and violent separation of africans from their homeland and from
their families in the transatlantic slave trade and tells of the sale of loved ones who trekked together across the united states via the domestic slave trade, and that existed in this country all the way through the civil war. but it also speaks to how we got over. the fugitives who dared to flee from bondage, the exit dusters who went to kansas, the families who packed up their belongs and moved to detroit and chicago and ohio and new york and to washington d.c. and they made new lives for themselves and they created many new cultural expressions. so we don't want to forget the bad or the good when we tell the many stories of migration, and
that is why we proclaim the migration story, when we sing as we just did the negro national anthem "stoney the road we trod." in the days when hope unborn had died yet with a steady beat have not our weary feet come to the place for which our fathers side. we're still trying to come to that place for which our fathers sighed. we talk about black migrations as a way to know and to understand our heritage as a people over the centuries and as a way to identify the history of our own individual families. where are your people from? we tell the story about migration because it's a part of our own individual lives, our own personal movement from place to place. so ultimately these stories of
migration, the good and the bad, the easy and the uneasy, are ultimately again about our strivings, about our endurance and of course our perseverance in america. so i thank you, and i want to especially thank the staff, the luncheon committee, and the volunteers for their dedicated service in planning and supporting the luncheon. can we thank them? [ applause ] i would also especially like to thank buoy state and morgan state universities for their generous support of asalah. you have supported us over the years. i want to thank all of you for joining us today and i want to express my sincerest gratitude
for the support of my alma mater, howard university. thank you. [ applause ] and now i would like to welcome to the podium dr. tiffny gill. she is the cochran scholar and associate professor of african studies and history at the university of delaware. she will give the occasion of this 2019 black history theme. congratulations, we've made it another year. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. what a beautiful occasion this is, what a beautiful afternoon. thank you so much to dr. higgenbotham and to all of the
executive board members and the luncheon planning committee for the invitation. i have been a part of saalah since i was a graduate student many years ago and this is truly an honor to stand before you today. i only have a few minutes which is very hard for me both as a long-winded professor and a church girl, but i will try to do what i've never seen before, which is to say something quickly and be out of your way. dear sirs, a letter published in the chicago defender in 1917 began, i am writing to you to ask a favor of all of you. i am a girl of 17. school has just closed and now i feel like i ought to go work. she reflected on her life in alexandria, louisiana, the young woman whose name and whose fuller details of life are not known to us went on in the
letter to explain that, quote, there isn't a thing for me to do. the wages here in louisiana, only 1.$5.00 a week and while her mother and father did all they could do to provide her with a good life, she felt the best way to help her family and improve her situation was to leave all that was familiar to her and migrate to chicago, to try to find, as she put it in the letter, a good, quiet place to stay and a good job. in that same year, a 25-year-old woman from mobile, alabama who identified herself as a poor woman, a wife and a mother of five living children and three dead ones, also wrote to "the defender" seeking advice and help with employment. as she considered not only her own life but the future prospects for her children, she pleaded, quote, i want to get out of this dog hole because i
don't know what i'm raising my children up for in this place. these women, like the many african-americans who left the south during the greatit in the letter, a good quiet place to stay and a good job. in that same year a 25-year-old woman from mobile alabama who identified herself as a poor woman, a wife and a mother of five living children and three dead ones also route to the defender seeking advice and help with employment. as she considered not only her own life to the future prospects of her children she pleaded quotes , i want to get out of this dog coal because i don't know what i am raising my children up for in this place. these women like the many african-americans who left the south during the great migration, a mass exodus that would witness over 6 million
african-americans leaving between 1915 and 1970. believing that moving to cities like chicago, new york, detroit, indianapolis, washington dc that these places would hold the greatest promise for a better life. however the very things these women desired good jobs, good quiet places to live and a secure future for their children still often eluded them. they quickly learned the virulence of racism and sexism was a respecter of geographical boundaries. even as many of us sit here as the descendents of these migrants over a century later we find even their most basic desires remain unmet for far too many. this year a solace theme of black migrations couldn't be more important or timely, 2019
marks not only the 100 years since the great migration began but for hundred years since the arrival of the first africans to american shores less than 150 miles from where we sit. unlike the migrants with whom i opened my discussion these africans did not come willingly. they were captured in wars, exchanged for weapons and other insignificant trinkets and chained to colonial forts before being forced to embark on slave ships for the peerless and bloodstained journey to the americas. the trauma and violence of their passage forced millions of africans into international waters while their subsequent legal and extralegal mechanisms instituted by those who were committed to their enslavement long after they won their freedom limited their ability to move freely from one place to another when they arrived.
we currently inhabit a world that is in many ways very different than the ones that captured africans faced or the migrants however there is much about what they endured that has unfortunately is unfortunately all too familiar. how do we understand the paradoxes of migration? a phenomenon that was once full of promise and also met with peril? how do we assess our contemporary moments in light of the complexities of lack migration? black migration? what can we learn by examining black migration and what should we do with what we learn? in the few minutes i have remaining i want to turn back to those women that i opened with. these young women who courageously boarded trains, piled into automobiles and buses
and arrived in bustling cities that were unfamiliar to them in just about every way. in many ways the history of the great migration is a black woman's story, it is black woman's history. since the majority of those who left during the great migration were black and young women between the ages of 13 and 39 years old. in other words we cannot talk specifically about the great migration ashes a monumental demographic shift unless we take their lives seriously. as the historian has noted for is one of the motivating factors for black women to leave the south was not just to escape the multi layers and perils of racial inequality, but also the dangers they face unfortunately within their families, within their homes and their communities. in other words the women that journeyed north were often not
just fleeing the wrath of jim crow but the peril of sexual and domestic violence as well. however accounts of this type of violence often appear in the historical record in whispers. they are often sung through coded language and not so coded language in blues music. and in the spaces and silences where they show up in black women's personal narratives. any history of the great migration is a complete if it only addresses the desire for migrants to flee racial oppression. it must also address the way gender violence and discrimination also motivated many of those to leave. when these girls and women arrived in cities they often encountered the same struggles they faced before they left. migrant women were viewed not as courageous, not as women
with dreams and desires of their own but were often considered objects to be controlled or problems to be explained or fixed. everything from the way they spend their free time to the way they dressed was often scrutinized. furthermore their quest for economic stability was often met with disappointment as black women frequently treated working four to six for white families in the south for toiling for their northern kinfolk. if their migration was merely about escape our reflections today about their departure from the south would allow us to simply celebrate their courage however the great migration was not just a physical movement but a social, political, and economic one. one rooted in the long quest for black freedom and black liberation. that is what compelled the women and others to leave.
for all of the young women who fled the south seeking to escape domestic and sexual violence and for the black women and girls who today still remain disproportionately impacted by these particular manifestations, we must if we truly want to honor the migrants, we must be committed to supporting them, believing them, and calling predators to public reckoning. to honor the many women like the 25-year-olds from mobile who had to bury three children we must consider and support candidates who consider healthcare a fundamental right and not merely a privilege as well as demand that the medical profession take black women's maternal health seriously and worked to combat the still all too high rates of black infant mortality. we must fight for a living wage which is what i believe this migrant women would want for us. for affordable housing for those good clean places to stay as they said. for an end to an educational
that values white children's lives over our own. we must also continue to advocate for new migrants as they continue to come into the country understanding that much of the language about their demise is rooted in the way black people were spoken of during the great migration. and like those who came before us we must be willing to hit the roads, to hit the streets to disrupt our lives and risk it all to imagine a better future and a more just nation. those who participated in the great migration like the two women with whom i began were part of a social, political and economic movement that declared well before the hashtags that not only did black lives that matter but all black lives mattered, including the lives of women and girls and the economically vulnerable. this is the legacy we have inherited from one of the many migrations that african- americans have participated in , the great migration.
it was then as it should be now a call to action. if you will allow me to re- appropriate the words of our forever first lady michelle obama the daughter of black migrants of south carolina who settled in chicago let's move. thank you. . evelyn. we also have missus barbara, our vice president, chair of >> thank you evelyn brooks higginbotham and thank you dr. tiffany gill. my name is lionel kimball junior i am the vice president of programs and my task today is to recognize the leadership of asalh and the leaders represented in our local government. first i will call the names of our officers followed by executive council members
present and past. when i call your name will each person please stand and remain standing until all have been introduced? audience please hold your applause until all of the names have been called the. you will have already met our current national president doctor evelyn brooks higginbotham , we also have mrs. barbara spencer done our vice president of membership and chair membership chair of the membership committee yours truly doctor lionel kimball junior, we have mr. gilbert smith our treasurer, miss sylvia cyrus our executive director, our current councilmembers are also here today. we have gladys mack our annual luncheon host committee cochair, doctor betty gardner committee chair and asalh former president. doctor gladys gary vaughn
legend committee cochair. professor gloria brown marshall , we have doctors sheila fleming hunter who was also a past asalh president. doctor does johnny fraser, doctor jarvis gibbons, doctor cheryl reni , ms. aisha haeckel, mr. anton house, mr. jeff banks host committee cochair, doctor tonya duncan, mrs. susan sims marsh, mr. moses mattson berg, doctor edna green medford, doctor ned palmer, ms. anita sheppard. would all pass
this very special annual event for asalh and it is our privilege to do so . i am here to recognize our city officials and organizational partners who are here with us today. lionel asked you to hold applause and i will ask you to do the same thing. he responded to him very nicely, i hope you will respond to me. councilmember monique anderson, would you please stand and remain standing? alexandria councilman john taylor chapman, mr. carl ray seen the attorney general of the district of columbia, mr. brandon todd district of columbia city councilman, and
prince george's city councilman rodney, calvin hawkins and mel franklin. we also have charles county commissioner ruben collins. we have representatives from prince georges county parks and planning commission particularly commissioners elizabeth hewitt and dorothy bailey a former member of the asalh executive council. we also have ambassador shirley bonds , ambassador elizabeth mccune, federal judge nathaniel jones, federal judge robert wilkins and we have the prince georges community college board of trustees representatives. as far as our partners are concerned we have representatives from our
partner of long-standing the national park service mr. robert stanton, who has served for decades with the national park service and been one of our true friends is here today along with his lovely wife janet. he has partnered -- asalh has partnered with carnegie hall and their migration series. at your seat you have a brochure describing the series and we hope you will take it with you and utilize it. the dc lottery has provided the black history poster and as you leave today please get your copy of the poster. usa today has provided copies of their migration insert for all of you so make sure you carry your copy of that particular feature.
>> thank you. good afternoon. i have the privilege of serving as dr. gladys gary vaughn's cochair. at this time it is my honor to recognize our special guest and sponsors attending the lunch in this year. again please hold your applause until all have been introduced. as i call your name or organization will you please stand? first i would like to acknowledge a few of our special guests. ms. dorothy gilliam it was featured at our inaugural event this morning, miss valerie hollandsworth baker international president of zeta phi beta sorority inc., doctor elsie scott the interim president of the congressional black caucus foundation, doctor janetta cole president of the national council of women ,
miss arlette bentley representing mary bentley lamarr of the offer cap alpha sorority incorporated north atlantic regional director, member 19th -- education foundation. presidents of chapters in the metropolitan area, mr. stephen rochon retired admiral coast guard and formal chief usher at the white house, doctor frank smith founding director of the african-american civil war museum, doctor lonnie bunche founding director of the national museum of african- american history and culture and he is here with his lovely wife maria. last but certainly not least please join me in recognizing our sponsors. please direct your attention to the screens. we have our heritage sponsors,
omega life membership foundation and the omega psi phi fraternity , district representatives and presidents of area chapters. we have several preservation sponsors that will be shown on the screens and we have our media sponsors. i would like to record nice denyse barnes publisher of the washington informer who is here with us today and miss francis murphy draper chairman of the board and publisher of the afro- american newspaper another one of our media sponsors. diversity.com another media sponsor has provided copies of the black equal opportunity journal which you have your seats. and i would also like to thank the lawn hampton and associates for sponsoring our inaugural featured event. i just got a note that i must recognize miss florence radcliffe our oldest living
past president and she is 103 years old. [applause] thank you >> thank you dr. gladys gary vaughn and dr. sharita thompson. i also want to get dr. evelyn brooks higginbotham chair of the history department at harvard university. i would like to welcome he is pastor of the african methodist episcopal church right here in washington dc for our invocation. ied beneath the harml
rubble of >> beloved i wish to invite us into something that our nation desperately needs, a moment of silence. you have always known us and we have always known you , you called us by name before there were churches or mosques, we saw you dancing in all that you created, we heard your voice echoing throughout the cosmos, we spoke to her word before there were bibles or carranza, in this moment however your voice seems to be buried beneath the harmful rubble of the black mimicry of white evangelicalism. your voice seems to be barely
audible as prosperity preachers serve harmful helpings of conspicuous consumption and uncritical capitalist assimilation and call it the gospel. your voice seems a whisper as our religious leaders embrace and support with their silence a system that crushes our bones and spirit. you are still speaking, give us years to hear. we heard you, help us to hear you as methodists and baptists and pentecostals and muslims and people of no faith at all. your voice, the voices of our mothers and fathers will lead us to freedom. help us to dance to the song of liberation, help us to no longer despise you, the god of our people, the hope of our children. as carter g woodson
and his co-laborers both women and men worked incessantly to offer us the truth of our history to shield us from the lies necessary for the perpetuation of the myths that america is god's chosen nation and that america is an innocent nation. let us quest for your truth for only your truth will sustain the character and hope necessary for our strength and beauty to be awakened. so holy one awaken in us the strength of the african- american communities . awaken in us love of our speech, our style and our swagger. awaken in us ida b wilson cisterns that black bodies would not be destroyed in silence. awaken in us nina simone's artistic truth telling, awaken in us refusal to cooperate with the forces of death. you have always known us, we have always known you, awaken us
and keep us from falling asleep again. thank you for this food, nourish us that we might nourish one another and nourish this good and beautiful earth. all shae and amen. one is, of coa greater cause. and the othe >> dr. rev. william lamar , where did he go? he said he wanted me to pass the collection plate. seriously where did he go? he went to the back? we will have our ushers steward board, the labor organization and everyone is going to walk around and make sure that we treat dr. rev. william lamar very well. everybody paid some money to be here today unless you had a hook up to enjoy this wonderful
afternoon. that money goes to two big things. one is of course to help out a greater cause and the other one which i see everyone already doing is to eat. lunches now served and with that i would like to give us just a few notes that you guys need to note. don't forget the raffle tickets, volunteers are walking around remember one raffle ticket for five dollars, three raffle tickets for $10 and some of those prizes are the cash prizes, there's $500 and also the ancestry dna kit and a weekend stay here at the renaissance hotel along with a gift basket. there is an envelope of raffle tickets on each table and at this time make your financial purchases. lastly those membership
applications are also on the table. make your commitment and make sure you support asalh. enjoy your lunch program and we will continue shortly . me becaa lot of my mentors and people i have known and people who are responsible. thank you. i appreciate that. people who are responsible for me being able to participate in this discussion. >> good wiafternoon. hold on. asalh how are you all doing? let's do that again. good afternoon all right it is good to see you all. i have the honor of moderating the discussion we are going to have here for a little bit so, let me just start by giving a
general greeting to everyone here who has taught me because i see a lot of my mentors and people who i have known and people who are responsible. thank you i appreciate that. people who are responsible for me being able to participate in this discussion and i will just tell you something that should get to the heart of the matter of why we are here and the mission that asalh has fulfilled . that is a young man who is a reporter was interviewing me about this discussion we are about to have. he said, how did you come to be involved with this event with asalh? i said, i think you have the question wrong. i would not be dr. jelani cobb if asalh had not gotten involved with me . this goes
back to the beginning of my educational career. doctor palmer who i doctor palmer taught me the first college class i ever took. an 8 am class my freshman year at howard and i learned a great deal from doctor palmer including not taking anymore 8 am classes. that is just to say my humble thanks and gratitude for everything this organization has done. i am going to introduce the people we will be having the discussion on our theme of black migration shortly. first is doctor g derek musgrove he is an associate professor of history at the university of maryland, he is author of rumor repression and racial politics
and how the harassment of black elected officials shape the rights of america. also author of a number of popular scholar articles on black politics and he recently published with his good friend chris myers ash a book that i personally love chocolate city, a history of race and democracy in the nation's capital. next we have professor gloria brown marshall who is a professor of constitutional law at john jay college of criminal justice up in my neck of the woods in new york city. she is a civil rights attorney who has litigated cases for the southern poverty law center in alabama, community legal services in philadelphia and the naacp legal defense fund. she addresses audiences nationally and internationally and professor brown marshall has spoken on issues of law and justice in ghana, rwanda,
england, wales, canada, south africa and before the united nations in geneva. she is the author of many articles in several books including the voting rights war , the naacp and ongoing struggle for justice. finally we have mr. cojo nhamdi who i remember from my time at howard how much information and how much community dialogue and how much he has fostered over these many years. he is the host of a live talkshow produced on 88.5 , he is a native of guyana who immigrated to the u.s. in 1968 to attend college and explore the civil rights movement. from 1985 through 2011 he
hosted evening exchange and an public affairs television broadcast by at howard university. he also served as news editor and is director producing award-winning local news program the daily drama. we could go on and on, in 2005 he was named a washingtonian of the year by washingtonian magazine. i am very happy to be able to have all of us here to talk about this theme of black migration and i am going to start with a straightforward question which is in what way is migration central to the black experience? before we get started right you all aren't going to hang me out to dry like this.
>> that was the point. >> our agreement was that we would get timely answers that were profound implications. >> i think after every migration that african- americans end up experiencing there is a significant effort to re-create ourselves so what it means to be black typically it needs to sort of act on the back end of a migration. after the trans-atlantic slave trade we re-created ourselves from different african ethnicities into african americans on this ground people who were considered hayseed sort of become urban african- american residents . even today -- >> is that a technical term? >> this is a technical term.
even today you see large numbers of west indians and africans learning about race in its american context this is arguably the largest and so folks are constantly negotiating what it means to be african-american on the back of these migrations. >> i coined the phrase of 400 years of perseverance because this marks the 400th year of the 1619 arrival of africans in the virginia colony. these weren't the first africans in were the first africans in north america but the reason why the arrival of these africans is so important is because jamestown virginia
counts itself as the foundation of america, that is where they began. so as it was pointed out we do reinvent ourselves. as hostages going into a strange land, as servants and then laws enacted because my background is constitutional law and legal history, in my book it recounts the different laws each time we reinvented ourselves successfully and the loss would change undermine our progress. we talk about, we talk about 400 years of perseverance and reinventing ourselves we also have to look at the triggers for reinvention, why did we migrate? why north? why do we have to do these things? because there were lynch mobs and an undermining of the black economy. when we talk about the black migration we also need to talk
about the triggering events that gave rise to the black migrations into the country and out of the country that is going on among these regions seeking opportunities. all we have ever wanted to be is a human being, respected as a human being, to work as a human being, to have a right to be a human being in this country and we have been seeking that. >> all right. i'm about to put this microphone down. >> i have talked about migration from overseas to the united states and the effect it has had on african-americans course i couldn't talk about i could talk about barack obama's father or harry belafonte but let's talk about me. i left south america to go to
school in montrial canada in 1967. up until that time i had written just witnessed a struggle for independence and admired the people that led that struggle for independence. they were then considered militants and ghana did get its independence in 1966. i had heard doctor martin luther king's speech in 1963 at the march on washington, i heard a recording of it and my only other real connection with the struggle going on in the united states was that my father revered [ indiscernible - low volume ]. i arrived in montrial canada in 1967 was the rise of the black power movement. when i started telling my friends about what little i knew they said no this is a new era. this is the black power
movement. we had several demonstrations in montrial during that time and then the next summer in 1968 i decided to go to new york and spend the summer and i lived in brooklyn. it was my first time since leaving ghana that i had lived in a predominantly african- american community. as a result i got more interested in the black power movement and long story short while i was living in brooklyn i heard about an organization being formed in washington out of what was then federal city college called the center for black education that had its focus on pan africanism. after participating in that organization during a time when a lot of us were changing our english names to african names because that connection was being reinforced by the black power movement, that organization rooted itself in the african-american community
in washington. the 1400 block of fairmont street northwest. as a result of the organizations that were formed in that neighborhood we became very close to all of the residents in that neighborhood whether they were the hard- working people, the winos, the drunks, the drug addicts, they were all a part essentially of our organization. that organization is what eventually landed me a career in broadcasting but i use it as an example to show the way in which overseas immigration can impact and be impacted by living in african-american communities in the united states . >> on this question of overseas migration i want to raise the question more that is a bit more delicate which is that we heard some rumblings about this
and eventually it died out in 2007 and 2008 when barack obama was running for president that there were people who did not think of him as african-american because of his ancestry and that his father was from kenya and had not been in the united states and jim crow's ancestors had not been in slavery in the united states. when he spoke in selma i think in 2006 barack obama went through these long this long remarkable speech where he talked about the way that his black ancestors in kenya had to remain distinct and separate from the white colonialists in kenya the way an adult would be referred to as boy or girl trying to elucidate all of these things that would be familiar to black americans to say that there is this so we
saw this and we fast-forward to 2019 and we have some similar things about colonel harris, who is my fellow howard university graduate and people were saying she is not a descendent of slaves in the united states. i wonder if we can talk a little bit about how this theme of migration complicates our identity and complicates the questions of who we are. >> if i may and i will bring it a little closer to the moment so i can eliminate the paradox that i think we all live with. i think many of the people in this room either live in dc or know folks who live in dc and you know that the phrase native washingtonian is in fact a single word if you are a black person from dc. we are a city that has institutions named the association of oldest inhabitants, both for white and
color and historically. it is a place that really values residency here right? many people celebrate the quant or family that has been here since before the nation was formed. there is a real celebration of roots in dc and yet if you look around at the people we consider quintessentially dc they are all from someplace else . father from north carolina. father of black history and his entire church is from virginia. you could go on murray and byrd from mississippi. no one is more dc than marion barry. and he is a migrant. many of the people that founded the center for black education were part of this [
indiscernible - low volume ] who all gathered in washington dc after the civil rights movement and as the black power movement began. i sat down with some of them encountered like 36 people and they all came in and formed the black bone of the power movement in the city rooting themselves in the community with all of these people that had been here for a long time. i think that tension in a city that really values you having been born here and having so many people who are from elsewhere who are quintessentially of that place is this tension you see in african-american history more generally right? we are constantly on the move and when we land somewhere we are constantly trying to re- create ourselves into something new in that place and it creates these odd feelings were at one point you are trying to figure out who we are as a collective as we face generally
white supremacy and oppressive state apparatus something of that sort. at the same time we are desperate to find our roots and in that latter process i think it can sometimes pull us apart, the desire to come together to face a faux often times pushes us together. you have a situation where at one point we are all black and in other situations where we are fighting over resources and perhaps we start to slice it up a little bit. >> i would say as someone who sees myself as an african- american , who can trace roots back hundreds of years, who was my people were from kentucky and during the kansas farm homesteading in the 1880s traveled to kansas and still have cousins that have farmland today. they spread out west, i
live in new york city. i think one of the crucial issues of being a very proud african-american , and i want people to say this to younger generations that you are a proud african-american because too often people see our struggle and they don't see the joy. they don't know we are proud of our heritage and proud of who we are and the courage it took for 400 years of perseverance. it took courage for us to be in this room today and the success story is the fact that we still care about each other when everything was supposed to rip that away from us. when they took away our names and our religions and culture and they thought they had taken our heart we had more heart than they would ever know. they will not know our power, they do not understand us despite everything they think they know. the reason i say this as having lived in the
deep south and having moved around there is a fear among african-americans that we will be extinct. that we will be bread out, jailed out, killed, shot, that our culture will not exist. i think that caused a competitive attitude that you are talking about when you see other groups coming in. you have to admit sometimes there is a jealousy, why did this group get something we have been fighting for so long? we haven't gotten it yet to full measure. these are the discussions i think we need to have in our communities because we have them in our silos but not among each other and we shouldn't wait until a disaster happens that brings us together. i think we should have more conversations about culture and about the people coming in and what they want and at the same time we need to understand there are people who have never seen a african-american that come in with prejudices
against african-americans. i don't want my child to mary this person, they don't have the same degree of initiative or whatever it is so there are prejudices within the group, we won't even get to color distinctions please we will have to make that another lunch. for this one in particular when we start talking about people coming in the divide and conquer characteristic of undermining our progress has been so successful over 400 years that we need to understand that divide and conquer isn't always working. there is always some outside oppressive agent trying to undermine the coming together of the groups from africa, from the caribbean who have been here hundreds of years and we need to work together and understand we are all in the same boat now whether you took a plane train or automobile. we are all in the same boat now. >> i want to go back to the, la
harris -- that you mentioned. i am going to ask you because i've spent my life as a moderator to also address this issue with camala harris. i think a lot of people and i think there is a group called the american descendents the distinct ownership of kamala harris not being one of us so to speak. when her father is jamaican and jamaicans experienced slavery. as a matter of fact if you happen to be black wherever you come from in this world you have experienced oppression. and racism wherever you are has been a fundamental aspect of that oppression. that is the commonality we have and you are a graduate of howard university and your friend talks about when you walk onto that campus and you
see the wide variety of black people from all over the world on that campus, it increases your understanding of the nature of the oppression we have all experienced and the realization that in order for us to emerge from that oppression that we have to work together. i would like to hear your take on the kamala harris issue. >> to that point really quickly my first week at howard a black person from alaska and a black person from hawaii, my concept of what was black was different. the complexity of this, we try to avoid complexity, we want the simple narrative but it is not simple. i have a good friend who is african-american , her grandfather was from india, left india and went to haiti
and from haiti to texas. got to texas in the 1930s and 1940s. this dark skinned indian and white people looked at him and said boy you are a . i don't know nothing about delhi india what ever you are a . he said i guess i am . he married a black woman and then became president of a black business association. apparently the were like you are one of us too . so we have these complex narratives of how we came to be who we are but when we try to hold onto the narrowest a strand of it it is equivalent of saying, what plantation are you claiming? our slavery is worse than what you all have or look how thick my chain is, look at these shackles you have the thin ones you are doing better.
we wind up in a situation in which we desperately need every hand on deck, we wind up diminishing in the process. by that same standard in then i will go back to being moderator , by that same standard you could have that standard but what you are doing is excluding kerry washington from our community, excluding harry belafonte, are you crazy? where are we going without harry? excluding with white and caribbean ancestry, excluding, let's just say raise your hand in here if you have caribbean ancestry. that is like a third of the dudes right there gone. raise your hand if within a couple of generations you have
african ancestry. okay. that is the rest of us. so it is like the five of us can sit here and have dinner or a lunch together and then where are we going from there? i think this is the issue of black migration tying it up. when we got to howard we found a crossroads where all of those different strands of these different narratives came together and they said, your people are from here and my people are from here in our experience was this and your experience was this and now i am talking to these brothers and sisters over here from nigeria, what did we have in common and what can we accomplish? so i know we have time but i want to make sure we get this one last question in. that is, what do we think are the implications today for black migration?
is it politics in terms of culture? how do we see this manifesting and why is this idea and theme relevant in 2019? >> may i just say one and a half things? one is we are seeing this migration from the north back down south and we are seeing it because we are going where the opportunity is and too often in places i know in my neighborhood in new york city and my former neighborhood of brooklyn we are priced out of the market. again we have to go where the opportunity is. the question and for those of you hopefully who will attend the asalh conference it will be in charleston south carolina 2 october through seventh. there will be plenary sessions on great migration. black migration. i am posing should we migrate out of this country? this is a question that is very
controversial because so many people say my roots are here and my people are buried here and we have contributed so much but i always ask this question, where is our america? where can we migrate to that would give us the opportunities to say people have migrated here? i think the 21st century question is, do we migrate down south? where is the opportunity and does the opportunity lay in another country? as it was pointed out with pan africanism and so many similarities when it comes to racial oppression, are we going from the frying pan to the fire or do we just want a different frying pan? >> nonstick. >> yes. when we are talking about migration in the 21st century i think it is as complex as it was in the early 1800s when people were migrating out of the u.s.. -- there were black
organizations for people migrating to africa, to canada and other places as early as the black loyalists who fought on the side of the british and migrated to canada and now they are in nova scotia. we have been migrating in and out of the country, around the country the 400 years we have been here. it is a complex question but it is not a new one. >> can i ask a variation on that? can we stay and ask some other people to leave? i got a list, i'm not saying this is a state of emergency or anything, i'm just saying. >> who wants to follow that? i have to take up the challenge
of dr. tiffany gill and apply this to our present circumstances. when my co-author and i wrote to chocolate city people would talk about chocolate city in the past tense and rightfully so. the city is no longer majority african-american , it is technically over. what i have always had a difficulty with when they came to that story that people were telling about dc was that they ignore the place where black folks have been moving. if you look at prince georges and has twice as many black folks in it today as dc and there has been since the 1970s a massive movement of african- americans out of dc and prince georges county. you can say this for atlanta and many large metropolitan areas around the country. i like to put ourselves in
history and think about where black folks are on the move to today. you can say they are going south, you could certainly say much of it is coming here and i think we have to look at the history we have already talked about and say how do we use the tools we get out of that story to figure out what is going on today? i think most of us come to our history and heritage because it helps us to develop prudence and help us deal with our present circumstances. the future in this area and in some other places is towards the county. we should begin to talk about what it needs to be black in the county a good deal more rather than focusing on a chocolate city that is passed. certainly 45% of the city is still african-american , i don't want to close the door but we shouldn't ignore this new place where african-americans are. >> can i ask a follow-up question with that?
how do we make distinctions between a migration and movement that is voluntary and is like an indicator of us having more power and more control over our circumstances and the kind of movement that is not like? i lived in harlem and i went to starbucks in harlem and realized i was the only black person in there and i felt awkward. when you are the only black person you start looking for the exit to make sure just in case something jumps off. i said i don't know you know. but much of that community is not there for reasons that are out of their control economically. is there a distinction we need to make between those two things? >> i certainly think so. chris and i made the mistake of writing our first article on
gentrification and when we talk about movement to prince georges county they say it is through gentrification. it is not that simple and i think we must try to parse the difference. much of the migration in the prince georges county was primarily middle-class migration looking for a lawn, a good school system and a nice new house at a time when dc was the murder capital of the u.s. it is reasonable large numbers of folks including black folks did not want to be here during those times. there is also since then a sort of compulsory migration where folks simply can't afford the city in the same way and i think that needs to be attended to but you have to figure out the difference. >> in terms of looking at the present about migration from overseas, it reminds me that people who lived during the reconstruction period had to face setbacks with progress and
those of us who have immigrated from overseas are now witnessing a time where after the countries from which we immigrated were colonized, after people were dragged from those countries and enslaved, after the natural resources of those countries were exploited and in some cases drained, all of a sudden the president of the u.s. describes those countries as like whole countries and tries to prevent immigration from those countries like why can't we get more people from norway and tries to prevent immigration from those countries. that is the situation we now live in and it also reminds us that in order for our struggle to progress we have to align ourselves with a wide variety of movements like the dreamers movement that is currently taking place. we are not the only ones who are targeted and we have to understand alliances are very
important in our struggles and in the current state of our struggle. as someone who immigrated we have to understand if you don't push back then you get stepped on and get pushed under. >> can you say more about that connection? >> i call my journey a journey of consciousness. , i did not have the kind of world view that i was able to get by virtue of coming from one country to another. i did not get an understanding of the international and worldwide nature of struggle. rlr
question, whether we should stay here or go someplace else at some point. >> there i at s some point. p >> this is the thing i want to say and we have to wrap up shortly. i think the thing you raised about haiti, no more important than to talk about for a moment, egregious racism and our contempt for xenophobia and paired with particular narrative black and brown people. see you can refer to haiti in that way i. the only way that you can refer to haiti in that you're not familiar with the history of your own country . because we are taught as ffyoung people about the genius and diplomatic skill of thomas jefferson when he went
to france and negotiated the $15 million purchase of louisiana territory, doubled the size of the united states. some 13 states in total, some portion are entirely are carved out of that new territory . what we have learned about, this is a tribute to the virtues of thomas jefferson's. wouldn't talk anything about the fact that napoleon was what they called a motivated seller because of what they had put on him down in haiti. and so you are saying, this country, now you wouldn't have your country if it wasn't for those haitians. and so that migration, and the migration of people coming from the caribbean from different narratives. the way that all these threads come together, tapestry we understand in this committee .
i think is really crucial. there is no better time for us, look at the conversations we're having about immigration and what happens, who gets to represent us. who is a member of this community? who is not a member of this community? all of these things are about these questions about migration. finally, i think when we look at the similarities, all of us have been coming and traveling in hopes of achieving something better for the generation that comes after us. i think that is the biggest tie that we fall to migration . we are going to wrap up now. thank you all for your attention. we have to pause for --. you're watching american history tv . 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3.
follow us on twitter for information on our schedule . to keep up with the latest history news. illinois current state capital building is the sixth in the state. construction started in 1868 and wasn't completed until 20 years later. the illinois capital is the tallest non-skyscraper capital in the united states. taller than the u.s. capitol in washington dc. up next, we speak to to political journalists about the history of political corruption in illinois. thank you for joining me today we are here to talk about illinois politics. if you could, i will start with you. how would you describe illinois politics? >> i have lived my whole life during my life and there has been a