tv [untitled] CSPAN June 21, 2009 12:00am-12:30am EDT
school lunch program to understand that it is not just a question of children making poor choices. it is a question of public policy, and of public responsibility. >> and how did you decide on your title, on the full title for this book? >> that was a long discussion and it took a while. school lunch politics, because the book is about the politics of the school meal, not just the food that is on the tray, and the surprising history of america's welfare-- favor welfare program, because in many places school lunch program became a welfare program over the course of its history. it didn't really start out that way, and there were very unusually, unusual coalitions that formed an odd bedfellows. for example, in the establishment of the school lunch program, a very
>> is such a pleasure to be here. this is such an exciting time for us. we are so pleased to have the opportunity to come and we can talk to you about this labor of love and passion. we will tell you a little about the but before we do i will turn it over to my colleagues. >> we are very excited to be here and especially excited a number of the contributors have also joined us. this has been a worldwide in diverse with the ball all over the world, african americans from one part of thj united states to the other africa, niger, and other countries and we are extremely excited the first african-american men woman in the white house as a response
of the african americans around the world.ñi we have laurie and betsy [applause] we will invite them a little later in the program to say something what this experience has meant to them and what motivated them to write to us what we have found we develop day network or a sisterhood that is comprised of women who contributed to this outstanding work and historic work as was mentioned. we want you to know them a little better as well so we will have them say something as we go through the program. we want to tell you a little
bit about what motivated us to write this book and how we got started. we will talk about the uncrowned queen soleil tours in the question-and-answer because this has been a passion for the uncrowned queen is a two the missionxd is to identify collected preserve and disseminate the histories of african-american women we call community builders.ñr actually this work the underground queens is a two set the foundation for this book. the institute's call is not only to reclaim the african-american community builders to share them andñi primarily at the website of uncrowned queen the.com that
has those of thousands of african-american women from buffalo new york as well as the state of oklahoma. we primarily and conservatively invited our community to join us in this were covers 18 this history by giving us the biographies of the community builders. these aren't normally not well known women but they are the bedrock and the women instrumental in buildingt(r institutions and as you talk about social justice, the educators, the mothers of the community and very often we do not electorate preserve our history is so that has been our goals and in a sense, that also is the reason why we did this book although it was not the exact impetus.
it was really the culmination of the whole election, the process of watching as the campaign went on, becoming very much a engaged in learning more and more about michelle obama and seeing her as she emerged as a person in her own right but alsoxd as she supported her husband and as she was unfairly treated and she was denigrated on a number of locations, she was presented in terms of per image, a style, intent and i just have to point* to the cover of "the new yorker" magazine which portrays harass the angry black woman a militant and hostile and violent black woman who could do harm issues a knife and a gun and decided she would be
combative.t( unpatriotic, how i know it was not only us but so many white and black and latino women and men were incensed that this woman should have been so probably one week after the election was over and we were basking in the euphoria of having the first african-american president in the history of this country and by her status the first african-american first lady in the nation's history i turned to my colleague at a said i think this woman will need are supportive of her as she enters this new phase in her
life so why did we ask african-american women to write her letters in poland's to express their encouragement and support. initially when we sent out the call for letters, we turned it it dear michele letters of love and support and encouragement. we sent it out over the internet the tasby year in axd technological world but also because we only gave people three weeks to respond to the call. we ask them to send in their letters buy december 1st because the intent was to have a book published by the inauguration. it did not give us a lot of time. they had until december 1st and they did over the scores we had over 200 letters received and we had to do some work to identify 100 letters
because there were so many good letters but we"n could ony choose 100. we were going to publish this ourselves potentially but then my colleague had the bright idea and because she is so quiet right now because i am doing the talking but we will let her talk in just a minute. we call it tag team presentations because we have been doing this so long over the 10 year period we have worked together very closely we normally have a feel forx(p&@ our own presentations what we can say but i will throw it over to hurt to let her proceed with the rest of the story how we got the book to our publishers. >> we had a meeting with the new ceo and we did not know him but açó friend of ours directed him to
us. he was interested in the other books we had done we were self publishing called the "uncrowned queens" publishing and it was time we tell our own story that is what we did with the "uncrowned queens" institute but i said we have a deal for you if you publish this book we need you to publish it inside of 30 days part of that must have been a crazy statement to make the kids we know with the academic press you have the least two months of review and you may not be notified if it is accepted and one year later you may not be ready. so an effort to support the new first lady we really wanted to be able to do this book in at least 30 days and it turned out it was 34 days.
the publisher said, if you had seen us the month of november at least november 12 through december 1st you would not have recognize us. [laughter] really, it was a crazy seen. the guy was asking me if i can give him a schedule i gave him one if what it would look like but i did have the idiot if the press said i will the publish two than we would take out a loan and we had printers on that stand by because we knew if you have a book written you can get printed in 10 days you can get it printed in 10 days, of 18 to may not be dry. [laughter] but it will be fine. so we decided to do that. i said he was away on a
conference in oregon and he said give the eighth day i said i am on the internet and nobody is doing this and it is ideal. >> he said give me until monday morning and he said it is a go. the rest of the staff of 40 people must have thought he went crazy because there were other books in line with 18 but it was the historic moment and we needed to get it done then perhaps after it was a go, i guess he had some second thoughts and he said maybe you should send me one of these letters i can take a look at it to see the story. so we sent him a powerful letter by ms. smith zero-coupon call me in anticipation of view. if i recall, it starts like we in anticipation of view, we
swallow and engorged ossianic passages inside darkened carriers, moving coulter kindred from home as a slave reality. that was the opening and i thought all my goodness. [laughter] then it went on in extraordinary writing of recounting the history of african women from africa to this country and laying out all of the things and finally concluded with michelle saying week in anticipation of view we can remove the mantle from the soldiers of sojourners truth and command of the end anderson and rosa parks and on and on and later we send them 80 other letters so they could take a look. we knew we were onto something
when we could not stop crying. every time we got a letter it was an emotional experience whether personal writing about their mother or father or men or women writing about their children or women advising obama's they had prayed for her. we never doubted we could do it. but one thing that was so power fall it is that black women have these incredible network all of these reports that say we don't use the internet is not true. not only that we use it but black women has established this base around the world because black women were sending us letters from africa and it says i just got to ethiopia we've found black women whether the buenos
aires, italy, ethiopia all over the world and they were writing to say is this the real deal? are we actually going to see these letters in a song form? is a possible peace could go to the white house? is it a hoax? no it wasn't it is an extraordinary response we have gotten from them and i might add another thing we were struck is the diversity of things they were housewives, a former university president, people on the 1 faculty, writers, nine writers, people who would never tried writing before, they raged in a range from 25 through 80 and they were writing things that really told us black women had very deep sensibilities and sensitivities about this
historic moment and of the role they could play. i will stopxdñr now. >> in terms of the tears the letters and poems bringing tears to our eyes we found that certainly in some of the views that have been done and the e-mails and letters we received that the expressions and feelingsxd expressed by these women resonate with the white men that right us and say they are reading these letters and crying. white women, latino, black women and men, a foreign for african women, the universality is so powerful we did not expect when we started putting this book together we would have a book that has such universality and
resonated with so many people all over the world. i mentioned in the impetus which was certainly the image of michelle obama. that was expressed on the cover. that was not just an image of michelle obama but all black women. reno for hundreds of years black women have been defiled by images that say we are welfare queens, poorçó mothers, we are jezebel type women and so the fact when inroad about this and it talked about it, a 36 year-old wrote in her letter how she has been working to change the image that people have offá her in her work place and she
writes to michelle i can only change and educateñr a few. but you can change and educate the minds of many. african women love to say you're going to make a difference for black women worldwide, not just in the united states but that resonated throughout the book and with so many of us. we are very spiritual people and prepare it is veryñi important. many women wrote to say that they are praying for the obama's, the safety, well-being of the obama's and the prayer is very important and they want to michelle to know we pray for you, we will continue to pray for youxd and your safety. although no one mentions the word of assassination in terms of president obama.
lc @&cb@ expressed as well precut we talk about the ancestors. the historical rhodes that we have played to have the ancestors looking down on the obama's smiling because now they walk into the front door of the white house that was built by the slaves who could only come in through the back door. themes that resonate within the letters and poems are ones we can identify with, black women told about their stories, their own families and the family's history as a way to connect. both peggy and i have letters in this book and my letter is about my father and my
father's struggle throughout his life to care for a large family, all the jobs he had, a talented men who only had a sixth grade formal education but he was a minister and worked very hard in a plant everyday got up at 4:00 a.m. a self-taught photographer, and a man who tookw3 care of our family, a nurturer were again black families where black males are not seen as taking care of their children or families but we have the obama's as a representation of that. but that has been true in our community for ages so we want to tell that story to let michelle and others know that there is a historical continuity within our families
that go back generations and now we see the evidence of that very vividly and portrayed in the obama family. >> i want to say something that they am not trying to make sure people understood what type of book this was progress number of people who reviewed the book was saying this is a a very nice book of letters come of sweet letters, nice and the feeling is nice and cute but that is not a nice and q book. it is a book about women telling their stories to a woman that they see as someone who is part of a major historic location that we are likely never to see again and
the stories are very complex in that they deal with issues that often times as african-american women we have glossed over or hidden and young women and very clearly identified the interracial color line where they take a look at what a means to be a blacks and women and a state to michelle we are happy to see because we see you in the us that it is the african women say it is amazing we should see a black man in the presidency but even more amazing we see a black man with a black woman. that is powerful [applause] young people put that out there. there is nothing needs and cute about that.
it is a long term, longstanding issue we have to address.xd black women talk about prayer and put that as the center of this happening and reminding us it was prayer and a bridge that got us over and we should not forget that. then they talk about bill love of a black man for a black woman. theñi way they talk about barack obama and as he said, a girl, honey child, the way he looked at her when she walked away. [laughter] and they were saying that they wanted their black man to look at them with the same love and desire and affection and they said this and eroded as thoughjf they were writing to michelle obama. and they were saying to their partners come i want this from new so the whole new spin on the idea of black law of a
black man loving a black woman and most importantly michelle obama that he could show unabashedly this love to 75,000 may be in denver but two billions of people around the world just as if no one was looking. that was one of the most powerful things for me. the other was that these women not only talked in their own voices but gave agency to the women who lived before them from others who have passed away, grandmothers, they revived the old names ofjf rosa parks and of the others i mentioned before. theyñr gave life and stories to me, it was an extraordinaryo book because we saw black women s historians and poets
when they talk about the love of michelle and obama and vice versa and for us in reminded us of things hour own experience as barbara spoke of writing about her father i wrote to about my aunt lily. looking at these bases i was looking for the face of rosa parks because several women in this book had their own bus stories but it's amazing how one person can stand out as the example but the millions of others who have the same story i realize that story i wrote about my a and delete it was that she and i together had a bus a story and i said she told stories of the bitter
segregation ofñr theçó south bui saw it firsthand i sought when a white bus driver told us to were not far enoughñr behind the white linebacker he said all i could not have to seize even though i was too big to sit on her lap but we had to stand and she refused and the driver came to us and threatened to throw us but she never budge he shouted and she shouted back. i have been baking pies all morning i will be watching 50 bedsheets to tonight and right now while the sitting here until we got off. with fear choking me and lilly turned my head to the window we rode home silent but we one
[applause] so we find other women right there on the stories and as other women recall points in their life that were so important and show them sells rising with a deep passion and understanding with a deep knowledge of the place in history and their grandmother and we were most moved by women who loved the idea that michelle obama was not only going to the white house but taking her mom with her. [laughter] and we know exactly what it means to take your mama with you program looking at share and and i believe she just came in with her mom, her grand mom? fed has beene1 extraordinary, the whole experience for black women to tell us their feelings
about the first lady and something about the title of the book people always ask us about that. "go, tell michelle" it started out as dear michele, letters of love and support and encouragement but we send it into the publisher but they said how about this title? we don't want anyone bossing us around but we boughtlp it. those of us who like poetry we said it is not just go tell michelle but go tell it on the mound 10. so doing a little research and finding now calling the publisher back but there has to be a, after the word go and it signifies that we were either identifying