tv Arthur Ashe Boulevard Dedication Ceremony CSPAN August 4, 2019 4:20pm-6:00pm EDT
"american history tv", the virginia museum of history and culture cohosts a ceremony commemorating the naming of arthur ashe boulevard for the late african-american professional tennis player. guests include virginia officials and keynote speaker congressman john lewis. pres. bosket: ladies and gentlemen, welcome. [applause] good morning and welcome. my name is jamie bosket, i serve as the president and ceo of the virginia historical society, and on behalf of our board of trustees, our staff and volunteers and everyone who made today possible, i am honored to be the first to welcome you to the virginia museum of history and culture. [applause] i am so thankful to see such a remarkable turnout today as we dedicate arthur ashe boulevard, we open our newest exhibition,
and together we mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of captive africans in english north america. today is one of reflection and it is also one of celebration. we are gathered in the front historic very institution. in fact this is the oldest cultural organization in the commonwealth of virginia. for 200 years we've been collecting materials for the purpose of telling the story of this place. some 14 million historical artifacts are housed in the walls behind me. we have much to be proud of. but we still have so much we must do to be the state history museum we all reserve -- all deserve to represent all and , welcome all. [applause] woodson, a virginian and the man considered the founder of black history, wrote those who have no record of their forebears have
accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of history. how very true. we must do more, be more, and we will. we are committed at the museum to a bright future dedicated to inclusion and access. the exhibit that we open today is a you see project of the virginia commonwealth 2019 commemoration, american evolution, which remembers key historical events that occurred in virginia in 1619 and continue to influence america today, including of course the arrival of enslaved africans at point comfort, virginia. i hope you will learn more about all the activities this year. with the support of l trio bank , of america and supporters conrad and peggy hall, we have done something truly special that we are proud of, and i hope you all will take time to see it, to see it and to learn, learn the stories of 30
virginians, stories of people like arthur ashe, important stories of perseverance and also progress stories that , remind us of the work still to be done. history is so very valuable for this reason. it gives us perspective and empathy to make us better people and a better community. this is why commemorations like today are so important. this is why delegations like this are so very important. we are fortunate today to have with us a rather distinguished assembly. i would like to make a few acknowledgments as we begin. first to the members of richmond city council. thank you very much for your support and for making this happen. [applause] thank you to our mayor, levar stoney. mr. mayor your team has been a , remarkable partner in making the program possible. thank you. [applause] and i will take that one step further because i would like to
commend the money dedicated city employees who contributed their talents and efforts to make today possible. dozens of them, all under the leadership of chief administrative officer chief selena. thank you to all of them. i would like to acknowledge the representatives of the commonwealth, including numerous members of our general assembly, lieutenant governor fairfax -- if you would please waive and be recognized. [applause] i would like to acknowledge the bass, congresswoman presley, congressman john lewis who will be with us in just a minute as , well as our virginia representatives, bobby scott, congressman don mceachin. [applause] also with us this morning, our senator and fellow richmonder tim kaine. , [applause] now i would like all members of the arthur ashe extended family
to please give a big wave so we can clap for you. [applause] it is now my pleasure to invite forward mr. tom farrell, to -- ceo and president of dominion energy to extend his welcome, , which he does with our appreciation for the sponsorship of today's ceremony. tom. good morning: everyone. ,>> good morning. pres. farrell: today marks a bold step forward for our city. many folks here remember the hard work to build the arthur ashe statue now almost 25 years ago. like many things important in richmond, it was very controversial. lots of people had reasons not to build it or to build it somewhere else, or to do
something else altogether. it was not easy. but richmond is a better place because political and civic leaders with vision took action. leaders like senator tim kaine, who then served on the city council representing the second district. [applause] he helped make that celebration possible. councilwoman kim gray represents the second today. she helped make today's celebration possible. [applause] and we should all thank her for her leadership. these efforts demonstrate what can happen when good people, who love our city, come together and persevere despite all the hurdles and all the naysayers. two of my friends did that a generation ago. first was a political leader, senator benny lambert. he served on the board of directors of dominion energy and was my boss.
[applause] he dedicated his life to serving the city and his state. he led the campaign to build a statue. his partner in that effort was a business leader, tom judy, who was the chief financial officer of dominion energy. tom had played tennis with arthur ashe in the 1960's when they were teenagers. because the law kept richmonders divided they had to sneak around , to do it. tohur ashe was not allowed play at the tennis courts just down this road. so arthur ashe's father would pick tom up and take them to the north side of town and then he would stand guard to make sure nobody harassed them. those tennis courts are long gone. they were at a park at the corner of the road and school street. eventually the post office got built on that site. you know, there's actually a lot of richmond history in that
story, i think. when it came time to honor arthur ashe, a political leader and a civic leader, got together and achieved a wonderful thing. today we honor arthur ashe in this new way. not because of tennis or wimbledon or the fact he lived here. it was -- we honor him because he believed in serving people. his community was the world. he taught us to call out injustice everywhere from apartheid in south africa to poverty in haiti. [applause] he valued education. his parents taught him that learning shapes human dignity. he believed in inclusion, despite the fact that he had grown up in a city that did not. he believed everyone deserved a job and the chance to work so they could contribute to society. he believed everyone deserves an affordable place to live. he believed in shaping a future
that is different from our past. all of us here today believe those things too. he also believed in learning from the examples set by great people who had come before him like congressman john lewis. there are a lot of distinguished political leaders up here -- [applause] and he is almost here. >> [laughter] pres. farrell: the governor has done a lot to make 95 work better. looks like it could use more help, governor. >> [laughter] pres. farrell: but i think we should all be very proud to have such a distinguished leader like congressman lewis come to richmond to do this event. [applause] i believe it is important to name the values that arthur ashe lived by, because today is not only about honoring such a great man. it is also about ourselves, and
the values that we want to shape the future of our hometown. we believe in a richmond that welcomes everyone. ones that learns from our past and builds a future that is better for everyone. we believe in holding ourselves accountable to each other, and we believe in looking forward, because we have a lot of work to do to shape the future that we all believe it. today we dedicate ourselves to the words that arthur ashe chose for his statue, the letter to the hebrews. and now since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight in the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. thank you. [applause] pres. bosket: thank you, tom, for dominion's lasting support and for your sponsorship today.
future, his life continues to inspire us today. reverend grady powell. [applause] rev. powell: would you bow your heads? let us pray. oh, divine spirit, whose presence has been with us from one generation to another, we thank you for your kind investments in all of us. most especially we are grateful for the gift of time that has steered us to do and to be good. for the acts of yesteryear, which is a part of our history, that have lifted humankind for the making of a better world, we say thank you. please forgive us for those times we have used our gifts to divide, to subjugate, and to destroy.
the collection and preservation of these gifts which span over 400 years by this organization, the virginia museum of history and culture, these acts give us a clear picture of whom we have been. we pray that in reading and observing this history, we will devote ourselves to building that world that is most pleasing to thee, amen. >> amen. >> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, governor of the commonwealth of virginia, ralph northam. [applause]
gov. northam: please be seated. good morning. >> good morning. gov. northam: and thank you to the virginia museum of history and culture for hosting this gathering today, and thanks to all of you for being here on this important occasion. to our congressional delegations representing other states, welcome to virginia. this year we mark the 400th anniversary of virginia's long history of representative democracy and the arrival of enslaved africans. we must remember that our history is complex. the story of virginia is rooted in the simultaneous pursuit of both liberty and enslavement. a full accounting demands that
we confront and discuss those aspects of our history, and it demands that we look not just to a point in time 400 years in the past, but at how our commonwealth and our country has evolved over the course of those four centuries. how did we live up to our ideals or fail to do so? we are examining these issues in various ways this year through exhibits, forums, and other american evolution events, and we are also looking at this history through exhibits that determine the 400-year black struggle for quality and liberty. african-american history, black history, is american history. [applause]
and the way that we teach that history is inadequate and inaccurate. which makes -- [applause] which makes exhibits like this all the more important as we continue to work to rewrite the narrative. my hope and intention is that virginia will take long overdue action on addressing the racial inequities that exist today. [applause] i am grateful for the virginia museum of history and culture for taking up this important conversation. we need to continue to have this kind of dialogue, because when we know more, we can do more.
today we also honor a man who challenged the limitations society placed on men of his skin color, and by doing so, advanced the struggle for equality. by breaking down racial barriers in tennis, arthur ashe achieved much more than sports fame. that legacy is why we are here to honor him today. arthur ashe was a groundbreaker, and i am proud to be here today as we honor his legacy. thank you and may god bless all of you. [applause] theadies and gentlemen, sixth mount zion baptist church choir of richmond, virginia. [applause]
thank you thank you thank you, lord, for all you have done for me yeah, i want to say thank you, lord, for all you have done for me yeah, yeah thank you, lord, for all you have done for me thank you thank you, thank you thank you thank you thank you, lord thank you for loving me every hour i want to thank you, lord i want to thank you for your power thank you, thank you
[applause] sen. kaine: how about another great hand for sixth mount zion? [applause] a beautiful congregation formed by freed slaves right after the civil war and the reverend john jasper, a great historical figure in his own right. so good to have you here with us. and so good to be together with all of you richmond friends. i want to thank the museum in -- and all of the elected officials here today, especially the members of the congressional black caucus who are visiting virginia to participate in the forum later this afternoon -- let's give them a big welcome. thank you, congresswoman bass. [applause] i am thrilled to be here with my federal colleagues donald mceachin and bobby scott together.
[applause] together, we were the sponsors of the congressional bill signed by president trump that commemorates 2019 and forms a commission to celebrate 400 years of african-american history in this country. there was a federal commission in 2007 to commemorate 400 years of the english roots of this nation. there was a federal commission in 2015 to commemorate 450 years of the hispanic roots of this nation. if english roots matter, if hispanic roots matter, then african roots matter. [applause] and i applaud my colleagues for their work in that way. my role today in the program is old-timer. >> [laughter] sen. kaine: i know i don't look that old, do i?
but my role today is old-timer, because 24 years ago, when i was much younger, much thinner, had a lot more hair, and it was much darker, i was a newly elected member of the richmond city council as we engaged with our community in a very, very memorable debate about whether arthur ashe's statue should be placed on rose and eaten monument avenue just a few miles from here. some of you were around. i particularly hoped viola would be here today because she was a number of our city council who played such a role in that debate. give viola and all the 1994 council a round of applause. [applause] it was controversial, there were protests. there were discussions, there were different points of view. well,rrell said it whether after ash -- whether arthur ashe should be recognized
at all, if he should should he , be recognized on monument avenue. some said monument avenue should be reserved for civil war generals. others said it was not good enough for arthur ashe. we talked about all of that at the time. the debate finished in the seven hour council meeting that lasted until about 1:30 in the morning, where hundreds of people came and spoke. the pulitzer prize-winning "washington post" journalist tony horwitz, who just died within the last two months, came to cover that event. here's what he wrote. at the time. "i came expecting an angry meeting, but what i witnessed instead was a thoughtful discussion on public art, the potency of historic symbols, racial healing, and affirmative action." that's what richmond did at the time, and the decision to place the ashe statue on monument
avenue was a healing in a city and commonwealth and country that still needs healing to this day. [applause] i want to congratulate mayor stoney. i want to congratulate the city council especially kim gray for this active healing. the naming of the boulevard, a principal gateway into our city, to honor the great arthur ashe. [applause] some people ask the question about whether names or naming or renamings are important. names are very important. the power to name is very important. let me prove it to you. in the book of genesis, the
story of the formation of the world and of man and woman in the garden of eden, what is the first power that god gives to man? the power to name. this is a story that is sacred to jews, and christians, and muslims -- it is in the quran, the story is well known. god gives us command, be fruitful and multiply. god gives a warning, don't eat from that tree or something bad will happen, and god gives a power. the first power given to man was the power to name all of the animals in the world. god could have named all of the animals. god was god. but god decided that it was very important for man, for man to be able to choose the names of those around him, choose the
names of those that would be given to his reality. he brought them to man to see what he would call them, and the man chosen name for each one. naming is important. naming is important, this is not a minor thing we are doing today. we have to acknowledge that so many of the names on a map of richmond, on a map of virginia, on a map of this country, so many of the names were not chosen by a full community invested with the power to choose their name of their reality or tell the story about who they were. no. so many of the names that we live with were chosen by a tiny, tiny subset of people who do not represent the full community of our city, or state, or nation today. this is an act to rectify that.
arthur ashe boulevard is a name chosen by and ably representing richmond's full community, and that makes this -- [applause] and that makes this a very great day for our city, and hopefully a day that will be followed by many more such days. thank you so much. it is great to be with you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, mr. david harris, nephew of arthur ashe. [applause] mr. harris: good morning. >> good morning. mr. harris: it seems i'm using modern technology today where everybody else has a book. bear with me.
senator tim kaine, thank you for your kind words. thank you for supporting this effort, and this commonwealth, and this state. additionally richmond, this is truly a spectacular and momentous day. [applause] one we should never forget. our efforts together are epic. today we are letting the world know racism, discrimination, exclusionary tactics, lack of investment in our children, education, and people is bankrupt. [applause]
we can no longer support these ideals. and if you find yourself a gatekeeper to discrimination and exclusionary tactics, give up your keys today. [applause] to mr. jamie bosket, we met over a year ago. and at the moment we walked in the door, you said yes, and i realize that was the easiest sales pitch i ever had. >> [laughter] i want to thank you for allowing us to join you. you have been a gracious host. and you have contributed significantly.
i will tell you this. there are many who avoided this building right here behind me because of what's inside. today, i want you to consider this building is now fully integrated by the city of richmond. [applause] and as we've discussed, we are going to partner with you in bringing more and different faces, peoples, ideals, and thoughts into this building and be a beacon to the world. [applause] i do need to give thanks and gratitude to councilwoman kim gray. [applause] you know it is pretty hard to
, get with the councilperson and have a good, open dialogue and conversation. she also said yes right away. we knew it was risky. but we knew it had to be done. we chose to do the right thing at the right time. you are courageous, and you are a gracious leader. and to council, thank you for joining her. [applause] the fight and struggle is real, but today is a celebration. please pat yourselves on the back, because you truly have let -- have led us. and last but not least, i must thank the mayor, levar stoney. [applause]
from the beginning, he said yes, which is amazing. we have heard no a lot of times in this world. he is truly a man of the people. the children of this city, that is truly phenomenal. you have made it possible for the world to see what real leadership looks like. continue to lead with your heart and ideals we have named the street after. i owe you a debt of gratitude. thank you. [applause] >> good afternoon, richmond, how are we doing? isn't this a beautiful day in the city of richmond? today, we celebrate a true champion, a champion not only on the tennis court but on the world stage, for civil rights and for racial equality.
david, thank you for the introduction and all you have done to make this day a reality. let's give him around of applause, everyone. [applause] not only to preserve and share an important part of your family's legacy. but also to literally mark an important time and a physical place that will from this day forward be known as arthur ashe boulevard. [applause]
that's right, arthur ashe boulevard. arthur ashe boulevard. i would be remiss if i did not acknowledge the work and action of our richmond city council. in particular, the efforts of our second district councilwoman, kim gray. [applause] miss gray carried the legislation that the council passed without opposition, making this well-deserved and long-overdue name change possible. thank you, councilwoman gray, and the city council. [applause] and i want to give a shout out
to all the relatives of arthur ashe who are here today. would you please wave your hands to be recognized again? [applause] ladies and gentlemen, this is what progress looks like. for too long, words like progress, change, and ambition have been considered bad words in the city of richmond. in richmond, folks did not know that those were arthur ashe's keywords. as many of you know, richmond was a different place when arthur ashe was growing up here, a place that was not welcoming to people of color, a common refrain i'm sure those like arthur heard was "how do you dare want change and be black?" "how dare you want progress and be black?"
"how dare you be ambitious and be black?" growing up, arthur ashe was denied access to the tennis courts just south of here, instead he played tennis at brookfield park, a segregated playground near his home. despite the adversity he faced right here in his hometown, by sheer talent, perseverance, arthur ashe wrought change to the game of tennis. he brought change to this world. so it is only fitting on june 22, 2019, his name and his legacy bring both symbolic and real change to the city of
richmond with this renaming today and the renaming of the barack obama elementary school. [applause] and erecting a new statue to the great maggie lena walker and jackson ward and our city is transforming. it is changing its future and it is triumphant over its past. as you all may know, arthur ashe already has a statue in our city on monument avenue, and he is the only true champion on that block. [applause]
but i believe, i believe naming the boulevard after him is just as powerful and even more meaningful. ladies and gentlemen, this stretch of state route 161 will never be the same after today. today, route 161 is getting an upgrade. by naming this boulevard here today after arthur ashe, we are once again partnering with our darker past and embracing our brighter future. we are making a pledge that is not simply in paint in steel street signs but in our hearts. we are reaffirming our commitment to fairness by creating opportunities for everyone. we are reaffirming our
commitment to equality by protecting everyone. we are reaffirming our commitment to being inclusive regardless of who you are, the color of your skin, where you come from, how you worship, or who you love. [applause] and in the scorekeeping of tennis, the game that arthur ashe loved and accelerated out so well, we are reaffirming our commitment to love. to love our neighbor, to lift them up and not write them off, to connect and unify, not divide and conquer. to put aside differences and focus instead on seeking common ground and common understanding. i think arthur said it best -- we must reach out our hand in
friendship and dignity, both those who would befriend us and those who would be our enemy. simply put, arthur ashe boulevard symbolizes the city we want to be, and are becoming each and every day as we build one richmond. what better time and place to continue this work that in richmond as we commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved african arrived on the shores of the state. represented by the extraordinary work at our friends of the virginia museum of history and culture. today we stand on the shoulders of the generations and legacies of the great men and women who came before us, men like congressman john lewis who honors us with his presence today.
[applause] you will get here. 95 is tough, y'all know it. oh, he's here. still, 95 is tought. [laughter] and now at the intersection of our city's past and present, it is our duty to take the next step in our journey down the path that leads the way for future generations. we already have a map, a road to follow that will take us in the right direction. let's follow it together. it's called arthur ashe boulevard. [applause] thank you, richmond, and god bless you. [applause] it is now my honor and distinct pleasure to welcome my friend in
my congressman, the congressman for the fourth congressional district, mr. donald mceachin. [applause] >> good morning, richmond. welcome to virginia's finest congressional district, the fourth congressional district of virginia. [applause] mr. mayor, i want to thank you, and i want to thank all the dignitaries and people who are with us on this solomon important occasion. today is an emotional day for me and i hope we can get through this chat without shedding too many tears. when you walk into that exhibit in the first thing you see is
these faceless figures with 20 some oddly gross, it just grabs you. and to think 400 years later, 56 of their children had the honor and privilege of serving in the united states congress. god is good all the time. [applause] as i stand here today, almost inside of the confederate chapel, i am reminded how far we have come and, yes, how far we have to go. i'm reminded that we stand on the shoulders of those who come before, on the shoulders of those who make sacrifice to improve our lives. whether it was an enslaved individual risking harsh and severe punishment to seek freedom, or even to learn to read or learn to worship or those who after the civil war
risked their lives and lynchings for incremental improvements. those who try to overcome jim crow or struggled to pay an outrageous poll tax on literacy tests to try and vote. the rank supposedly given to them by the constitution. those who knew in their hearts and eyes that separate but equal was a fiction, one more depravity to keep people down and treat them as less than human. those who sat at lunch counters, who refused to go to the back of the bus, and those children who risked mocking and isolation and even violence, and those children who took risks, recognizing that their second school would never prepare them
to succeed or lead like our own virginian barbara jones. those who used their own stature and hard-earned education to get the gist of the judicial system to break down the racist systems in place like our own oliver hill. and those who said yes with everyone else saying no, those who knew that with work and encourage, barriers can be broken, such as the first african-american governor in the united states, here in virginia, and the confederate capital. [applause] and as we all know, many barriers still exist. systematic racism still permeates our country. 400 years after the forced migration of africans to british north america. but we have these examples, we have these shoulders to stand on, and in our own time, we still have heroes willing to stand up and risk insult and injury to help all those supplies out.
that is what gives me hope and inspiration. i see people brought hereunder the worst conditions imaginable, seen as nothing but property and second-class citizens. i see people who believe, who will assist and fight until we really have the ideals and the reality of this country. joining us today are several folks who are heroes, who stood up, who every day in congress fight to dismantle the racist and bigoted system of laws that still hold people back. it means so much to folks of the congressional black caucus. our chair from california -- [applause] she inspires me each day. her knowledge, her fearlessness, her eyes on the prize make me proud to be a soldier in her
army. the history of our home state in california, when the california assembly elected her as speaker, making her the first african woman in history to serve in this role. in the cbc, she is our northstar, providing invaluable leadership and guidance. someone who i know needs no introduction. my mentor, my northstar, my congressman bobby scott. [applause] he is the dean of the congressional virginia delegation, and you know that when he speaks everyone listens. and i don't just mean another representative or african-american, i don't just mean democrats, all the virginians know he speak with wisdom, compassion, and straight from the heart. congresswoman ayana pressley will be here later on tonight. she's here now.
[applause] she has kept her promise to me, to come north in massachusetts to the real commonwealth here in virginia. she may be the newest member of the cbc, but as a freshman, she brings experience and knowledge and inspiration. she has broken barriers her entire life, most recently as the first woman of color elected from massachusetts and previously the first woman of color elected to the boston's city council and its 100 year history. [applause] her life demonstrates her belief to lift the voices of those she represents, but today, today we are incredibly fortunate to have a singular hero with us, a man whose name is synonymous with courage and conviction, someone
on whose shoulders we all stand and who is an inspiration not only to me but to so many every single day in the united states congress. i have to admit as a delegate and a state senator that man was an inspiration, but never someone i thought i would actually meet and see him in the halls of congress had listened to his words of wisdom -- it has been a life-changing experience for me. for those of you, and i can't imagine there are many of you who don't know the story of the incredible john lewis, let me review some highlights. born the son of sharecroppers in alabama and forced to go to segregated public schools, john lewis was inspired at an early age to join the civil rights movement to make a difference for his people in his community. even as a college student, he organized counter sit ins and participated in freedom rides all across the south, challenging segregation at bus
terminals and elsewhere. he was severely beaten by angry mobs within an inch of his life. in 1964, congressman lewis coordinated voter registration efforts during the mississippi freedom summer. in 1965, and now but appearing in history books, he had jose williams organized to lift over 600 peaceable protesters over the edmund pettus bridge. these peaceful, nonviolent protesters were met by alabama state troopers in the valley confrontation that became known as bloody sunday. news coverage of this assault on innocent people helped move congress to pass the long overdue civil rights act of 1965. over the next 20 years, john lewis continued his dedicated
leadership, both in terms of bringing rates and bringing them out of poverty. he held diverse positions such as the director of the voter education process. in 1977 he was appointed by president carter as the head of action, the federal volatility agency seeing over 250,000 volunteers. in 1981, he was elected to the atlanta city council, and in 1986 elected to congress from georgia's fifth district. he continues to hold numerous leadership positions in congress. congressman lewis's civil contributions to civil rights has been recognized by numerous accolades. he has received and richly deserves, including over 50 honorary degrees from
prestigious universities and numerous awards, including the medal of freedom, our highest civilian award given to him by president barack obama. [applause] in addition, he is a recipient of the only lifetime achievement profile in courage award given by the jfk library foundation. in addition, he is the co-author of the best-selling graphic novel called "march." this important work is used in classrooms around the country to teach the civil rights movements and to lead us to inspire our next generation of leaders. i could go on and on, but you are not here to hear me, and if i did, i would still barely skim his biography. i will stop now because he has inspired all the work we do,
inspired by his words. a truly great american, richmond, give a warm welcome to congressman john lewis. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. thank you, brother mceachin, thank you for those kind words of introduction. i love you, too. i love each and everyone of you. [applause] it's a beautiful day here. i must tell you, it is good to be in virginia.
it is good to be here in richmond. senator king, governor -- [laughter] it's just good to be here. [applause] 400 years later, it's good to be here. all of the elected officials, you look good. you look smart. to be here with my colleagues for congress, the chair of the cbc. your own congressperson, who i
mentioned earlier. barbara scott. to be here with your wonderful mayor, to be here with my sister from the northeast, congresswoman presley. you know, so much is going through my mind. i have a prepared text, but i'm not going to use it. i'm almost overcome. 400 years later, 400 years later, this young brother, the young man here, can become the
lieutenant governor. [applause] a young man by the name of arthur scott can become a congressperson. in this young brother here follows in the great line of leaders becoming mayor. governor, thank you for being you. senator, thank you for being you. thank all of the honorably elected officials, getting in on the way, getting in good trouble, necessary trouble. i didn't grow up in a big city like richmond. i didn't grow up in a big city like washington, d.c. or los angeles or boston. i grew up in rural alabama on a farm.
my father was a sharecropper, a tenant farmer. but back in 1944, when i was four years old, my father had saved $300 and a man sold him 100 acres of land. my family still owns this land today. [applause] so dorian, many many days and many years long before it was even a dream, we came over the ocean 400 years ago to this land. we learned to pick cotton. we learned the work in the
tobacco fields. we learned to plow mules. sometimes we were beaten and left for dead. but we never gave up, we never gave in, we never lost hope, we kept the faith and we kept our eyes on the prize. somebody somewhere should have said thank you. and i know there's some people in america today who have said nothing's changed, but let me tell you, we live in a different america. when i was growing up and working in the heart of the civil rights movement, people had constant with a bar of soap, the number of jellybeans in a jar, people stood in immovable lines.
we no longer have to count jellybeans in a jar, no longer had to count the numbers of bars of soap, because somebody somewhere and sometime gave a little blood and during this season that is coming up, none of us -- and it has never mattered whether we are black or white, latino, asian-american, or native american, straight or gay -- we must come out and vote like we have never, ever voted before. [applause] our democracy is in trouble, big trouble. we must save our democracy and save our country. we can do it. we must do it.
when i was growing up and had to go to the field and work and sometimes i would fall behind, and my mother would say you need to catch up -- this was hard work, and she would say hard work never killed anybody. i said it's about to kill me. [laughter] during the height of the civil rights movement, we went from sunup to sundown the same way we worked in the field. growing up there in rural alabama outside a little town called troy 50 miles from montgomery, i saw the signs that said white man, colored women, white waiting, colored waiting. i asked my mother and father and grandparents and great-grandparents why. and they said that's the way it is.
don't get in trouble. don't get in the way. but the actions of rosa parks, the words from martin luther king, jr., and the young people in little rock, and even here in this city -- there was a young man from selma, alabama, some of the lawyers remember this case, warrington versus greyhound. they were arrested. it was a student. he took a seat in the so-called white waiting room. it became the boynton case. because of what happened here, we decided to organize something called the freedom rides. i was 21 years old, had all of my hair and a few pounds later. back in 1961, black people in white people couldn't be seated
on a greyhound bus together, leaving the nation's capital. in may of 1961, 13 of us, black-and-white, mutt in et washington, d.c., under the leadership accord and the man by the name of james former, organize the freedom rides of 1960. [applause] along the way, we were beaten, and i will never forget in a little town called rock hill, we attempted to get off the bus. my sleep mate was a young white gentleman from connecticut. we were escorted to a white waiting room and we were beaten, left bloody by members of the
klan. many years later, the young man who had beaten us came to my office in washington, d.c. he said, mr. lewis, i have been a member of the klan. i'm one of the people who beat you. will you forgive me? he was in his 70's. he brought his son in his 40's. his son started crying, he started crying. they hugged me, i hugged them back. and i cried. it is the power of the way of peace, the power of the way of love. the power of the discipline of our environment. we must never ever give up on any human being. [applause]
we must have the power to forgive. we cannot remake what happened 400 years ago, but we are here today as one people, as one family, as one house living in america's house. [applause] i got in trouble, what i call good trouble, necessary trouble. for all the young people here, my colleagues in congress, it is time for us to get in trouble again. good trouble, necessary trouble. my philosophy is very simple. when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, say something. do something. you cannot afford to be silent. in the 1960's, i was arrested and jailed 40 times.
since i have been in congress, i have been arrested another five times. i'm probably going to get arrested again for something. [laughter] [applause] how can we be silent when our government, the federal government is taking little children, little babies from their mothers and their fathers and put them in cages. we should say something. we should stand up and do something. [applause] as we celebrate, as we commemorate, let's think, what are we doing? what are we saying? now, my colleagues know that i'm
not a long talker. and, i try to make it short. i try to speak through action. but, i'm sick and tired, just sick and tired of what has happened on so many levels in our government. [applause] and i don't want to be political today. but, i think it is time for us to get anyway. to get in trouble. if it means a sit-in, just sit. if it is a sit-down, sit down. the democratic members two years ago, occupied the floor of the house of representatives for the first time in history for more than 26 hours trying to do something about gun violence. we've got to stop it, the madness. we should have the right to be
safe at school. to be safe in church. be safe at a party, a club. we must have that right. we all are human. we must be protected. by government. we don't need all of these guns. we don't. we don't need all of these guns. [applause] we must stop the killing and put an end to the violence. we can do it and we must do it. i go back to another point i tried to make earlier. so many, so many of our brothers
and sisters, so many of our mothers and fathers never had an opportunity to register to vote. to cast a vote. so when president barack obama was elected, was declared the winner, i jumped so high at dr. king's old church in atlanta speaking. i didn't think my feet were going to touch the ground. i started crying and members of the press asked me why are you crying so much, john lewis? i'm crying for those who never had an opportunity. never ever had an opportunity to register to vote.
then, lived to see a man of color elected president of the united states of america. [applause] crying from another and my father and my grandparents and my great grandparents. crying for those murdered in firming him in the church. crying for dr. king and many others, emmett till and many others. rosa parks, president kennedy and robert kennedy. two young men that i got to know very well. sometimes you have to cry. there is nothing wrong with crying. sometimes it is a way to move
the tears and get up again and again and again and keep coming. i've said to each and every one of the, especially young people here, never ever give up. never ever get lost in a sea of despair. keep the faith. keep your eyes on the prize. get in trouble. change things for the better. we can do it. and get a good and great education, young people. stay in school. and be prepared to fight the good fight. we're one people, one family. we all live in the same house. not just the american house, but the world house. it doesn't matter whether we are black or white, latino, asian american, or native american, we are one people. we must believe in the way of peace, in the way of love, in the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. in the teachings of dr. king and
gandhi, our mothers and our fathers, many of us would not be standing here today. so, again, i'm very, very hopeful, very optimistic about the future. there are forces that want to take us back. we are not going back. we are not going back. we're going forward. we are going to create one america. we are one people, we're one family. we all live in the same house, the american house, the world house. never ever give up. keep the faith. thank you very much. [applause] mr. lewis: thank you. i'm glad to know members of the arthur ashe family are here. arthur ashe, glad you have changed the name of the boulevard to arthur ashe.
was a good friend. in our home in atlanta, there is a picture with arthur ashe and my wife when he came to visit us many years ago. so, think about what arthur ashe did and the contribution he made. he came out of this state and out of this city. thank you very much. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the allegra folklore society. [drums playing]
the drum encourages us. the drum affirms that we are determined. the concept of the drum evolved, congressman lewis, into a drum major, where like our namesake, he or she opens the road. opens the boulevard so that the people can come through. [applause] ♪ >> we are going to the root right now. the cosmology of west africa so that we can continue to live
[applause] ♪ >> yeah! look at that talent we have in the city of richmond, right? all right, i want to end by extending a special thanks to jamie bosket, the entire staff at the virginia museum of history and culture which put on this fabulous event. let's give a round of applause. [applause] >> vmhc's boldly leading the way in advancing our understanding of our commonwealth's past with a view towards the future, as evidenced by the exhibit that just opened. if you have not gone, i ask you go today. determined is an appropriate way to describe the current exhibit, but also the mission of vmhc. i would like to acknowledge the efforts of david harris, the nephew of arthur ashe. [applause]
>> who along with dontrese brown helped bring in key sponsors like dominion energy and spearheaded the outreach around the arthur ashe initiative. they helped turn a street renaming into the national celebration of our city and an american hero that was long overdue. thanks are also due to our regional and state government partners in the richmond metropolitan transportation authority, and the virginia department of transportation. their support will change the new signage you will see on the highways that greets visitors and workers to our city every day will make the right first impression on the city of richmond. [applause]
>> and finally, i'd like to thank our very own city of richmond employees. [applause] >> uh-oh. little windy up here. led by our chief administrative officer. i also want to thank our recreation director. i also want to thank the men and women of the department of public works led by bobby vincent. in just a moment, they will begin the process of replacing every sign in our city with a sign that reads arthur ashe boulevard, all by the end of the
weekend. [applause] >> i have one question left. are you excited? are you ready for the unveiling? >> yes! >> if i could ask our choir to move into position now for the big moment. i also would like to invite councilwoman kim graves, if you could clear a path down the middle for councilwoman gray. also, i would like to invite david harris to join me for the unveiling. [applause] >> to represent the great cooperation between the city, rmta, and v-dot, one sign has been provided from each. the work in the city will begin
♪ [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us today for this important moment of remembrance, reflection and celebration. let us not forget the remarkable people that forge our path. as our platform party departs, please stay seated for a few more moments. we hope you enjoy your day on arthur ashe boulevard. the virginia museum of history and culture is free all day. i would like to recognize our wonderful neighbors and collaborators, the virginia museum of fine arts. they invite you to visit the exhibit cosmology of the tree of life which features 34 extraordinary works of art. the museum is also free and they have refreshments. at 2 p.m., the united states
congressional black caucus for a town hall session on the state of black america at the museum. also today, i hope you join us at arthur ashe atlantic center for a community gathering of games, food and fun. this has been a remarkable day for richmond, the museum vesey above history and culture, and the commonwealth of virginia. thank you for joining me and have a wonderful day. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> now you are watching american history tv. every weekend we bring you 48 hours of unique programming exploring our nation's past. american history tv is only on c-span3.
>> this weekend on the presidency, we talk about richard nixon's early life and career. how they influenced his residency. and he argues that ultimately led to his downfall. >> how could such a flawed man with a log character -- flawed character accomplish so much? his story was amazing. comes back from the war and nobody knows his name except for you of the burgers back in orange county. they decided some young servicemen would be the goat against jerry voorhis.
him,wo senators don't know los angeles times has no idea, he wins that race. in six years, he is vice president of the united date. meteoricastonishing rise. eight years after that he is running for president. he was smart. he was shrewd. he has that great ability to recognize the grievance and his audience. see it in himself and make that connection because they showed it. that feeling of resentment. when he did focus his mind on what he called his structure of peace.
used to hold up and say united states, russia, china, japan, europe. that is the world. that is the way we keep peace. he had vision, amazing resilience to come back. loses to kennedy. election.'62 makes the greatest political comeback and gets elected by 500,000 votes. then wins one of the greatest landslides ever. reaches some kind of uneasy peace with himself after watergate that people give him credit as a better statesman in his later years. there was no holding him down. he had that amazing grit.
learn more about richard nixon's life sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern. you are watching american history tv only on c-span3. >> hi, i am corinne porter, i am a curator at the national --hives movie is him archives museum. before we head into the gallery i want to talk about this lenticular out in the lobby. it has a photograph of the 1913 women's suffrage march, looking up pennsylvania avenue toward the united states capital. it is overlaid with