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tv   We Are Charleston  CSPAN  November 26, 2016 8:00am-8:56am EST

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determine how you work and when you provide your services, we do. that's exactly it. it's about association. we've already had supreme court decisions on this. the thing about it is you're talking about indentured services and that's what this boils down to. when you remove politics, that's about indentured servitude. and that's the scary thing about it. and this, though, the fact that you had a reporter that went to a small town and sought someone out to prove a narrative that she was building, that's exactly why people in fly-over nation have just had it. mother emmanuel 8me
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church. it is a story of fighting for civil rights and also fighting for understanding. we hope you will engage our authors as we hear from them how they were able to transcend biggest 3, fraud, racism, poverty and misery within the pages of our books. the shootings that took place in charleston opened up a deep wound of racism that still permeates the south, southern institutions and the fabric of
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our society. we -- "we are charleston: tragedy and triumph at the mother emanuel" tell the story of people, people who had been continually beat down but also triumphed over the worst of adversity, exploring the stories of one of the oldest african episcopal churches looking at forgiveness and healing. it is my pleasure to introduce our panelists. first we have herb frazier. he is the editor. he has been the editor of five different daily newspapers in the south including his hometown paper, former michigan fellow at the university of michigan, currently marketing and public -- relations manager near charleston, south carolina. bernard powers junior is a professor of history at the college of charleston where he teaches united states and african american history.
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he has been a consultant on many historic sites and served on boards of several history oriented nonprofit organizations. he has been seen in pbs films such as the african-americans and slavery and the making of america. lastly marjory wentworth's poet laureate south carolina. her poems have been nominated for multiple awards, she is author of the prize-winning children story shackled, she is cofounder and former president of low country initiative for the literary arts, she serves on the editorial board of the university of south carolina poetry series and also joins faculty members, doctor kendall will help her shape the conversation today. please join me in welcoming our panelists. [applause] >> thank you so much. we are fortunate to have these three with us today.
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the idea of bringing people from different sides of the literary arts in order to tell the story is marvelous and one of the things you should know is the background of the literary effort of these writers. herb frazier has written behind god's back and having taught african-american music for a long time i was curious about that book. one of the things he talked about was he collected twee 10 years worth of oral history of his people and talks about the fact that when he entered college his culture was somehow denigrated and he felt as if he had hide -- a treasure hunt of his heritage. what was curious is just this week, one of my african-american male students said the same thing was when i went to my first predominately white, i was
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placed in a box of stereotypes which meant i had to consistently define these stereotypes. i first recognized my blackness, i was embarrassed about where i came from, the way i spoke, the way i looked. one of the important aspects of this book is we are still dealing with issues that herb has brought up i also am very pleased marjorie is here because one of the things this preparation led me to do is read some of her poetry and her poetry, especially one poem, the and this repetition of an ordinary miracle shows she has the spirit to delve beneath the horror of this tragedy and get to the poetry of the human experience and i want to read two stanzas from a poem she was
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supposed to read at the south carolina inauguration for their governor, nikki haley. but it was too much time to devote to poetry so we will devote at least 30 seconds to poetry, from one river, here, where the confederate flag still flies beside the statehouse, hunted by our past, conflicted about the future, at the heart of it we are at war with ourselves huddled together on this boat handed down to us at the last bendable wide river slithering near the sea. from this poem you see she is ready to address the situation though in a humorous side knows it is like a statement that c smith said, she was talking to an irish made in a hotel and she said you came over on one boat,
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i came over on another boat and now we are in the same boat. >> i may borrow that last but not, bernard powers, of my own heart, and academic who is nonbiased because he got one degree at northeastern university and one at northwestern university. his book black charleston, a social history 1822-1883, was elected a choice award for one of the best academic books so we have the people whose skills are necessary to tell the story and what i would like to know first and foremost is how did the three of you come together? >> that is the book we are going to start with. it started with a poem. it puts us back to that day
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june. the day after the shootings at emmanuel church i was charged by the arts editor of the newspaper, they were putting together a pool out section for that sunday and emmanuel church opened for services the sunday following the shooting, it was still a crime scene downstairs but they were open to services and some articulation of what this meant to charleston. i wanted it to feel like a prayer. charleston is also called the holy city because there are so many churches there. that is the title and i found a speech reverend pinckney who was minister who was killed and in this speech he said only love can conquer hate and those were his words speaking to me from youtube and i use that as an epigraph because it seemed to embody what we needed to hear so we will begin with that and then tell you how we came to that,
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holy city. let us gather and be silent together like stones glittering in sunlight so bright it hurts our eyes, searching skies for answers. let us be strangers as we gather and circle wherever we need to stand hand-in-hand and sing hymns to the heavens, and praise to the fallen and speak the name, clemente, cynthia, ethel, daniel, myra, susie, they are not alone. as bells in the spires, holocaust the wounded, charleston's guy, we close our eyes and listen to the same stillness ringing in our hearts, hanging on to one another like
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brothers, sisters, because we know wherever there is love there is god. the poem was used by the bbc to be the text for their story which had beautiful visuals, the crowds and thousands of people coming to pay tribute. a lot of people saw this on the news and the person working with me at times that you should do more, your heart -- you should turn this into a book, i said i don't inc. so. that poem took just about every ounce of my brain and imagination and she was insistent and i thought someone from charleston should tell this story. we were right in the middle of it and i picked up the phone and called my friend herb frazier. >> good afternoon.
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i was happy to hear from audrey. we haven't talked in a while, after we got over the excitement of her offer, engaged in her with the opportunity to do this book my mind started spinning, immediately reflecting on the past and my life experiences at that point prepared me for this challenge because i grew up in the church. as a journalist who covered the community, i knew people in the community. i can tap those resources. i love your references to the gullah community and culture because it is what i thought of, we have people in that community in the 50s and 60s, iconic images of charleston, women sold baskets, walk the streets with heavy loads on their heads, all
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these things i could blend to this narrative, those were the thoughts going through my mind and i have family and friends as i moved away from charleston in the 1960s and after moving away and coming back i learned a lot more about charleston and the church and the role the church played in the community. i thought this would be a good opportunity to bring those narratives, those stories and the role the church played in the community and the civil rights movement because charleston is not noted as one of the leading cities in the civil rights movement but there are many things that happened there in the 1960s. as a kid growing up there, my grandmother used to tell me when you go to college she would say you are going to alan university, allen university is
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named for the ame denomination's first bishop, richard allen. as a kid growing up there i did not know the rich history of the ame denomination was island that sometime later. as a journalist i had the opportunity to interview doctor powers on stories and i knew of ongoing research in the ame denomination and the role it played in the abolitionist movement, through civil rights and into the modern day so i knew if we were going to do this and do it properly we needed that foundation and i called doctor powers, so i was as i always am very glad to hear from her but i was surprised at the project he began to describe to me and intrigued and enticed at the offer to participate, for a number of years i had been
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working on a project focused on the history of the african methodist e piscopo church in south carolina from its beginning until the period of the great migration, the 1920s so i thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to take the research i was developing and to a certain extent turn it in a different direction and bring that material into this project. i immediately said yes. i am willing to participate, what do we need to do next? and so in terms of the project, we had different complementary roles. i'm a historian and i immediately knew we needed to provide some background on the ame church, how it came into existence because people would be confused particularly by the
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name, african methodist episcopal, some people would wonder is it methodist, is it episcopal, how can it be more than one and so on and so forth and i knew we needed to talk about the founding bishop of the church, richard allen, a man who began life as a slave and was able to become free through self purchase, hard work and self purchase, becomes free right after the american revolution, was really one of the leading black ministers in the white methodist church of philadelphia, but now i had two concerns at the end of the 18th century, one was that racism was widely and deeply established in the white methodist church and the other thing alan believed was african people that to be able to control their own
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religious destiny and so is two factors would lead him to organize an ask otis from the white methodist church in philadelphia in the late 18th century and then create an independent religious denomination, the first black religious denomination in the country and be organized on a national basis beginning in 1816, he would become the founding bishop of the nomination and so really, incorporated into the very fiber of the church's social justice and antiracism and for our purposes, we know there was an early branch of the denomination established in charleston in 1818. that may seem to be just a small fact but it is far more than
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that. when you think about what i just said, charleston was the heart of slavery in america in the early 19th century, so for black people to have gathered themselves together and then created an independent denomination of methodists that was antiracist was quite troubling. eventually this church which was the antecedent church to mother emmanuel was destroyed. the year with 1822 and it was destroyed because it was determined that some of the members and leaders of this church which was known as the african church were involved in what was known as the denmark slave conspiracy where people
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organized themselves to overthrow slavery and escape from south carolina in 1822 so what that really meant was from 1822 until the end of the civil war there is no ame church in south carolina at also what we do in the course of the book is really look at a series of challenges that mother emmanuel ame church has faced in the course of its history, from the very first one which was an existential threat to its very existence and then we lay out a series of other challenges the congregation has been faced with and met successfully over time including the most recent challenge but we don't just lay out a linear historical treatment in the book. we don't do that because we thought it would be much more
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interesting to organize a series of episodes where the past and present interacted with one another as we presented the characters and experiences and institutions we discussed and when we thought about it, we thought about the city of charleston and if you have been to the city of charleston you know that you walk up and down the streets and you pass from one period of time to another period of time, from the 18th century to the 19th century even as you walk up and down, up and down the historic district, we try to put the book together in that way and if i could read a brief section to try to illustrate that point to you, denmark basey, the free black who organized the conspiracy in 1822 was a leader in the african church in charleston and he frequently convened prayer meetings as the guys under which
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he organized plans for the proposed insurrection. so in the book, in the chapter on the conspiracy, he talked about the way in which they were organized and what they did at these meetings and so on. and then in the next paragraph, jump ahead to june 17th, 2015, the main floor of mother emmanuel ame church in charleston. on that tragic evening of june 17, 2015, another prayer meeting was held at charleston emmanuel ame church but its composition, 10 or and circumstances were wholly different from basey's meeting. basey's were illegal and usually clandestine gatherings that could have been dispersed by
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authorities wielding corporal punishment or the blatant threat they pose to white supremacy. his meetings were also exclusively male which made their potential threat even greater, teachings relied on the old testament and a god of judgment, justice and physical deliverance, providing the means for black people to gain freedom and control over their own bodies, how different was the scene any manual's modern and spacious fellowship hall. only a small number were gathered but their grandest wish was for the multitudes to come to hear the good news of the gospel proclaimed, to study and to discuss it so that their souls might be saved. most of the attendees were women, which was not at all unusual particularly for the modern church.
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prayer meetings where public - public gatherings that broke no laws and the participants had every expectation of safety in god's house, but we know they were not safe that night. and so the book is organized around a variety of themes that allows us to bring the past and present together in an interactive way and we think that creates the dynamic that produces greater interest and texture for the various characters. the past is always present in charleston. as a boy growing up there i didn't understand this at the time. i didn't understand, there was a street that boarded - bordered our neighborhood, public housing project, years later, henry
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lawrence, the slave trader. i didn't know that façade which is still standing today in charleston was the façade -- of a rice mill. rice was a very important commodity in colonial south carolina, charleston rivaled philadelphia in new york and providence but i did know and we all knew and we all hated henry lawrence, john c calhoun, calhoun street is the church, the street on which the church fronts, a statue of john c calhoun. in the book i interviewed mister austin, used to show -- throw
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rocks up there, hitting the statue. he never could hit the statue but he improved his baseball arm i met harvey jones, a few years older than me and harvey was one of the first persons who told me his relationship with the church and his role as a young protester to the civil rights movement at emmanuel. one of the churches, the youth movement to nearly 60s to protest against segregated lunch counters on king street which is still today the central business district on the peninsula of charleston. harvey jones shared with me something he had written, kept that away and didn't do anything with it. will use this in some writing.
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marjorie called me and i thought of harvey and we set up any division interview. and his involvement in one of the marches of 1963 in which he met doctor king come to charleston. i will read briefly. in the summer of 1963 the naacp initiated the selective buying effort as part of the charleston civil rights movement, many foot soldiers were high school students like 17-year-old harvey jones, jones decided he was going to participate in the student protest, enough of jim crow laws. i realized i didn't want to not be able to go into a restaurant and eat regular people or forced to go upstairs to watch a movie, i would rather be dead than be treated as less than a human.
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jones joined the picket line, and protested doctor king alongside doctor king. during that march activists at each of the businesses that refused to integrate, when a white man came out of a bar and threw a beer on jones, saw what happened and told the teenager don't do anything. if you feel you have to do something, go back to the church. he said i am fine, i am thinking how what i have reacted if that was me? that is a small illustration of the enormous not only nonviolence but forgiveness because it is forgiveness that has elevated the story to this global perspective. in the book we deal with forgiveness extensively, marjorie takes a complicated
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subject and brings meaning to it. >> we want to address that very complicated and we were fortunate that we were able to speak with people who offered forgiveness and i want to talk about it as briefly as possible and read a little package. forgiveness starts with the people at bible study that night. these were people who had worked all day, stayed for two hours quarterly business meeting, probably not had dinner, not like there was food there and stayed on to a bible study that began at 8:00 rather than 6:00 and it was very hot, 100 ° or something. all these people were people who practiced their faith in all areas of their life. they were teachers, ministers, many of them got their license to minister that night at the business meeting. the minister, their preacher
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reverend pinckney was also a state senator and looked at his work in the state senate as an extension of his ministry and a beloved librarian, a poet, these are people not motivated by greed and when you listen to what the family members said who offered forgiveness, that is what my mother would have wanted, that is what my sister would have wanted. it is an extension of that faith, something we all could learn from but it is very complicated, not all the family members offered forgiveness and forgiveness is not absolution. one of the things we wanted about right away, where they told to say that you know. it was spontaneous and none of them have stepped away from it which is quite interesting. i am going to read a little bit from the book and at the end i
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will quote president obama who spoke about the forgiveness in reverend pinckney's eulogy. one of the people i got quite close to was reverend anthony thompson. his wife myra thompson was leading bible study that night and he had been to a lot of bond hearings in his own lifetime because he worked 27 years as a probation officer and he assumed this would just be a procedure. he didn't really want to go, didn't think he would speak there but when the judge asked him if he would like to speak he said he heard a voice speaking to him and i'm quoting here. god exactly what to say because i didn't even one to be there. 's kids said daddy, let's go but i wasn't even thinking about dylan roof. i'm still thinking about my wife and what happened.
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that she suffered? i said exactly what god said me, no more, no less. i knew where to begin and i knew where to end because he told me and if you go back and listen to his voice during the bond hearing he was very calm, never raised his voice, speaks in complete sentences, he says i forgive you and my family forgive you but we would like you to take this opportunity to repent and give your life to the one who matters most, christ, to change your ways no matter what happens to you. whatever we may believe, the power of the family statement is larger than them. who understands how we acquire faith? their words touched something deep inside all of us and he
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said the minute he sat back down with his children he experienced a kind of peace. when i sat down i was a different person but i was not the person thinking like when i came in there. what happened? no more. you got her. you gave me my piece this morning. i knew where to go from there. i still don't know exactly what to do but i do not to dwell on the tragedy anymore and i never dwell on dylan roof for one minute or one seconds. and took the power he had over them away. but it is not absolution. i just want to quote the president here. he gave the most beautiful eulogy for reverend pinckney,
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senator pinckney, he emphasized the word rape. many of you remember he sang amazing grace spontaneously which we thought of singing for you today. we are not going to do that. he saying that beloved him with the words amazing grace that saved a wretch like me, words written by a man, we all know the story, written by a slaveholder who repented whose ideology probably initially didn't differ much from dylan roof's since he was a slave trader. it reinforces the hopes of the families and the president reminded us of the christian definition of grace, free and benevolent favor of god as manifested in the salvation of sinners and reflecting grace, that we can find that grace,
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anything is possible, if we can tap that grace everything can change and then he saying amazing grace and talked about the charleston 9 finding grace. through the example of their lives, past it on to us. may we find ourselves worthy of extraordinary gift as long as our lives into her. may grace lead them home, may god continue to shed his grace on the united states of america. you want to talk about what is going on in charleston, those words seemed quite important in the times we are living in, we could use some grace in our national dialogue, that is for sure. he never quoted from the president's eulogy in a talk before but it seems important. we would like to talk a little
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bit about where we are, and the church and families nominated by the nobel peace prize, the president of colombia got it. that is a really significant thing. we write about how that happened. it is quite extraordinary. why is forgiveness often missing from our lives? the federal hate crime trial against dylan roof is starting the day after the elections. character witnesses starting in
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november. >> one of the things the number of people at emmanuel ame church are involved in, and activism, one of the most important organizations that has grown out of this tragedy is an organization known as the gun sends, understand guns do not fall into the hands of who should not possess them by promoting reform in gun access laws to ensure background checks are universal and to prevent the tragic situation that allowed the murderer in charleston to gain access to this gun because, he was not entitled to be able
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to obtain a weapon but the default position is background check hasn't been finished in three days, then the applicant is entitled to purchase the weapon. it is called the charleston loophole, rather unfortunate. the situation, a group of people who have grown out of the community in the city who are working together to try to promote better relations between the police department and these tragic and unfortunate shootings of unarmed african-americans for the past couple years, this effort known as project illumination has gotten off the
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ground in the aftermath, one of these examples of a shooting that occurred in north charleston in april of 2015, what happened there. this effort designed to promote social justice, in charge of the amd church, it is part of the brief. >> the family that started scholarship funds from the book, goes to the reverend pinckney scholarship fund and in the a graham literacy foundation founded by her family, she was a beloved librarian and to get books into the hands of children who wouldn't otherwise have them. the families are trying to do
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things to better education, changing gun laws, social activism reverend pinckney, to help his constituents in south carolina, to continue that work so there is a lot of good things happening, stepped into a role they never anticipated but working hard to make sure this never happens again. >> the confederate flag came off of the property of statehouse grounds, it is over, and unfinished story, ongoing discussions, with critical issues. and things we have been advocating for. and take advantage of the
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synergism, a lot of conversation that came out of this, before the tragedy charleston was very unique and if we have a special organization called charleston area justice ministries, for all denominations. who came together to form this organization, with issues like wage theft, high dropout rates, incarceration, and they had ongoing talks, to bring about change. ironically some of the leaders of this organization were on a
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civil rights pilgrimage to birmingham, the cell phone started to light up and some of them flew back to charleston, started having prayer meetings to bring the community together, healing and so these things going on in charleston as marjorie mentioned, the organization got a shout out, it is a national platform. >> what was very curious, and community evolution and race relations, and they attempted to maintain the antebellum racial order, intransigence was met by the u.s. army republican politicians, and presidents in
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state and federal legislation and determined to widen the horizon, this result was significant transition, and seems like we were still in the transitional period. i want you to comment, what is already being done to move -- to an actual place. and to jump into this idea of post racialism. we skipped over, some of the wounds are still there, skipped over the processes necessary to get from transition to common grounds.
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what do we think we can do? i believe your book helps the process. what else can we do? >> first, we need to get to a place where we can have a truth and reconciliation encounter of the kind south africa set the precedent for and given the decades-old system of apartheid and all the evils that resulted from it, nevertheless, people were able to come together in a very honest way and talk about the past where the past shaped the present and what specifically needed to be done. there was also the opportunity that kind of encounter provided for, forgiveness.
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i will never forget the situation and the scene where nelson mandela donned the spring jersey, the spring box, national rugby team that was racially exclusive, all-white and so on and so forth and the international symbol for apartheid, nevertheless mandela -- this kind of reconciliation bringing black and white together, that is only possible in a forthright and honest way to deal with the past and what happens. for example in south carolina the fact the confederate flag flew atop the statehouse dome and was brought down and displayed literally in the face of people until 2015 indicates we haven't dealt with the past.
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the other thing is we need to prevent retrenchment by ensuring increasingly restrictive voting acts are turned back. this is a very serious thing that is an attempt to take us back to the jim crow era. >> before you respond or after you respond, make sure we leave a few minutes to give time to interact and ask questions. >> if there are questions from the audience, step up to the mic so everyone can hear you. we will let them keep talking and answering more prepared questions. >> i have a question as we wait for someone to come up. we have some writers here. this is a practical question, how did you divide the work? >> we wrote it in thirds obviously he knew the history and wrote those chapters but
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since -- we were constantly interweaving chapters and moving things back and forth so there is a continuity of style. we did all the interviews and one of the tricky things, we had to land in a third of the book and we were doing interviews and not knowing what the interviews were going to produce. that was really tricky, to be moving forward and not knowing what is there. we were very critical of one another and honest and open and have a lot of stories, the other thing, we left our egos at the door and had great editors but the other thing is the chapters unique in the subject matter. when we were writing the beginning of the book it is almost journalistic and immediate because we want you to feel what it felt like to be in
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charleston the first few days, right up to the flag coming down. that has a more journalistic immediate style and the chapters embedded in history are a little bit different, less dialogue and interviews. the natural shifting of styles would be there anyway. >> one of the things i was interested in, how much poetry played, the poetic nature of setting the stage of a church on a wednesday night, wednesday night is church night in the south. such a wonderful beginning because it is so true and real for those who know or don't know they can get with the program easily but this idea of -- there is a poetic quality that combines with the every day quality of what they are doing
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every wednesday night that somehow makes the drama of the tragedy even more stark. >> we wanted to really, we felt our strength, we were from the place, he grew up in that church right around the corner, i knew a couple people who were killed, we all did. our hearts were broken and lived through it, the shock of it, we were with the community in all these events and we wanted those feelings to be a parent but also it is a small city, oceanfront, the church is right up the street from that and we wanted people to have a visual map the church in the heart of our town,
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literally and metaphorically. i'm glad you feel that way because we wanted to make people have that. >> to have that sense of place we were always mindful there was a fine line using the emotions of what happened and using the visuals of the city, dramatizing or sensationalizing the story. we never wanted to cross that line but needed to capture the emotion. >> the birmingham jail as a sense of literature and how you use pathos fairly and that is one of the things that brought that to mind, you used that, had to be part of the emotion, you used it fairly. i will be using your book in one of my classes too. >> thank you for your work.
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i haven't read it. the view -- how is charleston? how did they handle this story with their children? >> it is ongoing suffering. >> there were three children there. >> not the victims but those children who suffered the loss. >> reverend pinckney's wife and two children were in his office right off of the room where the murders took place and felicia sanders who saw her son and and murdered in front of her, shielding her granddaughter, and they both survived and by all accounts those three children, we heard they are back in school
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and have great families supporting them. it seems you are asking about the community. some of the most beautiful things, there were so many beautiful things in terms of tributes and people bringing things to the church but some drawings containing the children did in the aftermath are just beautiful, little -- the way children thought about it, there was art therapy at the library available to families and it is hard to say, the children in the church, sunday school teachers were killed that night, and backed up. >> there were some psychological services provided -- not sure what the agency was but these services are being made
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available to the congregation as late as six months ago and the prison minister was encouraging all the members to avail themselves of these services, whether they felt they really needed them or not, because even if they felt they didn't at this time there were other issues to emerge in the future. be change we are unfortunately out of time for our questions. i apologize about that but you have a chance to ask all the questions you would like in the book signing line. please join me in thanking our panelists and guests for the work they have done with "we are charleston: tragedy and triumph at the mother emanuel". they will be signing books in a few minutes and you can ask those questions up close and personal. we thank you so much for coming out. >> please walk with us to the
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signing line if you don't mind. thank you so much. >> thank you. we will stay in touch with you. thank you, thank you. >> thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> here is look at staff pics from powell's bookstore in portland, oregon. michael lewis analyzes the findings of two israeli psychologists whose work shows humans are predisposed to irrationality. his story explores the impact of britain have special air service
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in world war ii in road heroes. cnn's courier reports on a liberal arts education and why it is necessary. his book is in defense of a education. national book award winner gives his thoughts on the current state of black america in between the world and me. or smack that is some of the staff pics from portland, oregon. many of these authors have appear to will be appearing on booktv. you can watch them on our website >> sunday, december 4th on booktv's in depth we are hosting a discussion of the 1941 attack
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on pearl harbor on the eve of the 75th anniversary. we are taking your phone calls, tweets and emails from noon to 3:00 eastern. go to for the complete weekend schedule. >> it is surprisingly hard for the media to debunk some of mister trump's statement in ways which the people who believe the statements will find convincing. one thing i talk about in the


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