tv Georgetown University Discussion on Civil Rights Movement in Northern... CSPAN January 2, 2019 8:01am-9:33am EST
democrats assume control of the house of representatives while republicans increased their majority in the senate. this congress has been described as the most diverse in history with over 100 new members coming to washington including more women and minorities than ever before. join us at noon on thursday as the 116th congress gavels into session. watch your member take the oath of office, the election of a new speaker, and the congress began its work. new congress, new leaders live on c-span and c-span2. >> c-span covered an event marking the 50th 50th anniversy of the civil rights movement in northern ireland and the shared experiences found in the federal movement happening during the 1960s in the u.s.
>> good afternoon. so i would take up the challenge and walk often protest but then we would have to start late. i'm going to be -- some who know me say that would be for a change, but when not going to go there. so as gerard so eloquently, and thank you so much, read from the "letter from birmingham jail" which by the way, we in the civil rights movement and the united states consider one of
our sacred texts from civil rights, it's an extraordinary extraordinary document. if you haven't read it i strongly encourage you to do so. so thank you for doing that. and so we have four speakers, each of whom has an extraordinary wealth and diversity of experience, real engagement as gerard said, and civil activism and studying it and engagements of people in it. so i really wanted from them. i just wanted to remind you that i wish americans have been involved on this side of civil rights for a very long time, and i give you just two names. dorothy day and "mother jones." you notice they are women, just saying. so one of the reasons that 2018 and 50 years later is so important is not just because of the tragedies of 1968, the
assassination, but there were extraordinary events in the movement then. the american indian movement was founded in 1968. [inaudible] some of her say found a bit early, a bit later pacelli considered to have been founded in 1968. in 1960 there were two back to extort event right here in washington, d.c. the poor people's campaign, which was really a statement about collaboration, unification across broad social economic issues, and by the way, crossing the racial divide. that was the poor people's campaign. and it culminated in resurrection city. for those you who don't know about it i strongly encourage you to look it up. resurrection city right on the grounds of the living memorial. people gathered there for some
time to say we want you to hear what our issues are. we are crying out to you. and again with extraordinarily diverse and real, actually come to think of it, political theater. those of us were involved, it really was political theater. now i'd like to introduce the speaker. kathleen kennedy townsend is going to speak first. she actually has associations with the georgetown. she was the founder of the center for retirement initiative at georgetown university, our mccourt school of public policy. she is the director of retirement security at economic policy institute. she was of course our wonderful lieutenant governor of maryland from 1995-2003. and i think really importantly for the potential to engage in nongovernmental organizations, in civil rights, she was one of the founders of civic works in
baltimore and i'm hoping you can spend at least a couple of minutes talking about that because it's a real community-based development organization and as i said had extraordinary success. >> thank you very much. i want to thank you for your leadership making this happen, and this is a really broad topic, what happened in ireland, the good friday accords i listened to the panel a little bit before me and i want to congratulate you for talking so much ultimately about what happened in ireland. as you know, a number of my relatives were involved in that, good friday accords. my aunt jean is my godmother, was ambassador to ireland at the time, and my brother-in-law was in prison for 17 years he goes he was in ireland and he was arrested, which they agreed was unfairly. and it was not good to be in prison for 17 years.
so it's not been very helpful for his life. anyway, he did produce my niece, whose wonderful, which means -- assertion, which means freedom if unocal at which i'm sure some of you do. anyway, let me just talk about combat like to talk a little bit about my family and the idea of the sense of discrimination and were a a sense of justice comes from. as some of you know, obviously my family has been involved in politics. >> just a little bit. just what you know like how bright this group is. [laughing] are you awake at 4:00 in the afternoon? yes, you are. so irish catholic, and they came as you know to the united states, and when they arrived there were those signs, help wanted, no irish need apply. there was a lot of discrimination against the irish in our own country. and my grandmother, rose kennedy, made my family very well aware of that discrimination. my grandfather, joe kennedy,
left boston because of that is commission and moved to new york because he thought he couldn't really make his weight in boston, even though his father-in-law had been the mayor of the city. you could get ahead in politics but you couldn't get ahead in business. and my father when he was at college, isis because as many of you know my uncle john kennedy became the first catholic to be elected president but he did it during a a very tough time and there was a lot of discrimination. billy graham who just died and norman vincent peeled for many of you probably have never heard up about the power of positive thinking wrote a letter in that 1960 campaign to say we should not be like john kennedy president of the united states because he would be controlled by the pope. and that was pretty discriminatory, and everybody gets a great billy graham is, but just remember that.
and eleanor roosevelt said the same thing, didn't want john kennedy because she thought he was too close to the pope. so people have their prejudice. they overcome it in many ways but sometimes they really didn't. interesting enough, i'd tell you a story you don't know about my father. there was a priest in cambridge, massachusetts, called father feeney who said that only catholics could get to heaven. which, you know the? >> how many people know this story to people, great. my father thought that was an outrageous idea. he's thought what kind of god with the only people born in a certain time in history with a certain family, a certain ireland, ireland, could get to heaven. that makes no sense and god creates a whole world. he obviously once everyone have a way to get to heaven. we called up his friend who was at the time the cardinal, cardinal cushing, instead would you give him defrocked and thrown out of the church?
which cardinal cushing isa did kill somebody can get to heaven, whether they are catholic or not, just so you know. [laughing] so with all those priests say only catholics can get community, my mother and father never believe that an art buchwald always got community. communion. >> some may not know who he is. >> and they're probably horrified but that story but in with a moving right along. my second story, it's also kind of a funny story. moving right along. so john kennedy is running for president in 1960, and martin mn luther king is arrested. i'm sure you have heard of that story, and my uncle, john kennedy, calls coretta scott king, martin luther kings wife to say i'm so sorry. and my father is horrified because he thinks how will that play in the south? any thinks about it for 12 hours and realizes it is ridiculous martin luther king is sentenced
in georgia to four months hard labor for a ticket, a speeding ticket. he thinks that is completely ridiculous. so he doesn't call coretta scott king turkey calls the judge, much more effective, right? circuits and off immediately and get him out of jail and gets him free. so at that point what would a normal person do when they get out of jail? they would endorse the guy that gets you out of jail. but martin luther king is very self-righteous. that's where, how it gets to be where he gets to be, and says sometimes the politically astute is a morally just come and so is not going to anything to do with my uncle or my father. but likely, daddy king, martin luther king's father, says i'll vote for a catholic or the devil himself. what do you think of that
sentence? if he will wipe the tears from my daughter in-laws eyes, coretta scott king. i've got a church full of the votes for john kennedy. so the church full of votes produced large go he only got, not on his church full of votes but large numbers of african americans voted for john kennedy in 1960. 1960. and between the irish catholics and the african americans, john kennedy won the election of 1960. when my uncle john kennedy heard daddy kings speech, i'll vote for a catholic or the devil himself, he realized oh, my god, martin luther king has somebody who's prejudiced as a father, which is kind of ironic, don't you think? but then he said, but we all have fathers. >> most of them are prejudiced. >> not that they're all prejudiced but my grandfather
always did have a good reputation and some of the things which were not going to get into right now. okay. i wanted to lay the groundwork that it's kind of, when you talk about discrimination, there are all sorts of ins and outs of discrimination. and it goes in all different ways. when president kennedy then became president, announced that my father, his brother, was attorney general, people were as you can imagine horrified he would appoint your own brother attorney general. but as my uncle said, he needs a little legal experience before he goes into the world. [laughing] some of you are not laughing at that either. [laughing] most americans didn't either. anyway, and my father really didn't understand, i would say, the real depth of discrimination
that african-americans faced. he felt a little bit because when he was at the university of virginia he was in charge of inviting people there, and he had invited ralph bunch who had won the first african-american who it won the nobel peace prize for his work. when he invited him to charlottesville, virginia, in the '50s there was no place for him to stay because they wouldn't allow african-americans to stay in any hotel so my mother and father had been stay at their house. all night long they were pelted with apples and oranges and rocks and screaming people, stood at the house all night long telling them how terrible they were affected have an african-american at their house. so it was not unaware of the problems but it wasn't as depth when he felt when he is the attorney general. i'm not going to go into all the details because this is, i'm one of four people on the panel, but the fact is that over the course of president kennedys
presidency, and with my father, they saw incredible discrimination that african-americans faced in the south. also in the north. and they integrated the university of alabama and the university of mississippi. they fought for the protection of the freedom fighters, freedom writers, particularly in the terrible situation in anniston and in selma. and they understood that a lot of work had to be done, and that in 1963, in june of 1963, president kennedy gave a speech in which he said that civil rights was a moral issue. and martin luther king said it was the most extraordinary speech by a president of the united states to actually say that civil rights was a moral issue, in which president kennedy said would any of you want to change, anyway people want to change the color of their skin, your skin.
it was clear that most white people would not want to change the color of their skin, so we put in very personal terms at an immoral term, not just in what is right and wrong terms. not just in a legal term. and that night medgar evers who was a great civil rights leader was killed. so it was just underscored the terrible situation that african-americans felt. and later on when my uncle was killed, lyndon johnson took both, i think because of the horror of my uncles death he was able to get the 1964 civil rights act passed in 1965 voting rights act passed. and it was very, very tough to get both of those past. and when they were passed, lyndon johnson said there goes the south. he knew that the south would no longer vote democratic which is exactly what happened and the
republicans took advantage of that. but he thought it was more important to do what is right and what was politically expedient. after that, my father expanded his views about what needs to be done in this country. he went out and visited cesar chavez who was on a hunger strike and worked with hispanic workers, particularly those who were working in the fields. and then when he ran for president, the first 90 days of his campaign he spent 15 of those days on native american reservations, which were not going to produce a lot of votes but he really thought they had been mistreated in american history and thought that's what he should be spending his time doing. and when members of his campaign said this was a waste of his time, he said if you think it's a waste of time, my time, get off my campaign, you don't
understand what this campaign is about. this is about making sure this s is a country which people are treated with dignity and justice and the feeling of love towards one another. i could go in much greater detail about all these things, but i ring asked me to also speak about other things, which is civic works. before i became lieutenant governor, i thought that all young people should have the same opportunity i did. they will not all be children of robert kennedy and be as lucky as that, and ethel kennedy. she had a lot to do with it, too. >> and how. >> you guys -- [laughing] hello. i really should tell you my irish story about my mother. can i just interrupt this just
to tell you irish story about my mother? so my mother went to college, and unlike my father who studied really hard and work really hard, my mother really liked to play the ponies. [laughing] and she had a crush on an irishman who was a really good writer, and he was writing at madison square garden and he had a white horse, this great white horse, beautiful horse. and she figured that if she pretended, she wanted to get to know the guy, and so she pretended that she was a "new york times" reporter because that, she thought that would be impressive to him. so she called up and she said a minute times reporter, let's meet at an ice cream place in new york. she went up to him and she had a ten minute interview with him. after ten minutes he realized that she had nothing to do with the "new york times," and he got
up so angry and left. and my mother did not like being dissed. so she went out and bought green dye and stuck into madison square gardens and painted his horse green. [laughing] and he thought it was the venezuelans. [laughing] can you take one or two minutes the civic works? >> you didn't like my store? >> i loved your story. >> nobody is remember anything i said except about the green dye, swear to god. okay, civic works. when i get all the kids in maryland to do committee services, at high school graduation because i thought of you in person should learn they should make a difference. thank you very much, if you grew up in maryland you had to do 75 hours before you graduate from high school. and then after that, a young man came up to me at a wedding and
said, kathleen, i hear you like young people doing that. i said it did picky set i want to start an urban service corps. corporate i said great, let's do it. we started it and just a month ago we celebrate this anniversary. it's now $12 million budget. we also have a charter school. we have 1100 kids involved every year in baltimore, and we ever thought that it's a diverse group. we fix up homes. we help the elderly, and we work with johns hopkins to train people to become nurses and healthcare technicians. so it just shows anybody young, or whatever you are, if you have a great spirit, if you have an idea, if you pursue it you can make a difference. thank you much. [applause]
>> i love the story about the paint. in the 1960s i don't know how many of you were around washington, d.c., but every once in a while on st. patrick's day a certain statue of a certain famous british persons, the statue the messages avenue would be painted green. just saying. >> that's good. >> speaking of 25 years, i would like to introduce sylvia wilber. we are celebrating our 25th anniversary of friendship, and sylvia is a really remarkable young woman from the menominee nation of wisconsin, and she has played with a really significant roles in civil rights, both within the tribe and ensuring rights of women and so forth, and also was, she doesn't like
to really take credit for this but she invented principally to other women were just really responsible for regaining sovereignty for the menominee people, after it'd been removed by the u.s. government. and she's also wonderful storyteller, so sylvia, can you compress your extraordinary several decades of life into about ten minutes? >> yes. >> and then, and then we're hoping that will have opportunities for more storytelling later. >> thank you. i want to be really, want you to know that i'm really happy to be here. when i was first asked to comment, i did know i would fit in. but i have known irene for 25 years, and so when you know irene, you get dragged into stuff that you don't know what you're getting involved in, but i stick with her. that i can tell you. so i am happy to be here, and as
i was able to have lunch with some of the organizers and talk with them, and some of the speakers, we do fit in. but some of what happened to us happened prior to what you're going through. i'm happy to know that president kennedy was the one that -- he can do a reservation. he's revered up there because he did come. you know, indian people don't vote a lot, and that's because they don't vote if they don't believe. and if they don't want to, they don't come. and we know that. part of my struggle and part of our struggle in regaining was to get the faith and keep the trust of our people. and i'm one of them. so if you know how determined i can be, there's many more out there that isn't. but i'm going to kelly, i'm a member of the menominee indian tribe of wisconsin, and we are
the continuous residence of the state of wisconsin. there are 571 federally recognized tribes. there are some state recognized tribes and there are tribes that are not recognized because their land-based was taken from them, and so in order to be recognized they have to have, show that they lived there. they lived there but it was taken. and so as i have listened to the speakers this afternoon and talked about the civil rights, we experienced that, but it was a way of life for us and the matter of survival, if you can equate to that. but we were not discovered, a lot of people think they discovered us. we were here. [laughing] when they came, so it's a matter of, the menominee tribe had
10 million acres in the state of wisconsin, 10 million. as the settlers came in and they came to settle and establish america, they begin then to move the indians, and it's all tribes, move them and take their land. there was a series of treaties that were done and started with the indians, the federal government started the treaties where they promised to hold the land forever so that we would always have a place and take care of us. it got smaller and smaller, and that has happened all tribes, not only menominee but i'm talking about menominee because we were the ones that were terminated and lost our federal recognition with an act of congress. we then, the treaties started, our first treaty was with the
federal government in 1831. it gradually got down to 1854 when our current treaty right where we live now in wisconsin along the banks of the wolf river near green bay, if you know the packers, we used to occupy green bay as well, but we were squeezed into the area we are now. so that was 234 acres of land -- 234,000 acres, compared to the 10 million, that we had which is quite significant i would have to say. and then in 1856 the stockbridge muncy tribe got to make townships of our lan as well because they were replaced and had to find a place to stay. so the treaty ended, but the
federal government didn't quit attempting to get rid of their indian problem and so they pass such laws as the indian reorganization act, though relocation and then the allotment act so that the whole premise would be trying to assimilate the menominee, or the indian people into the mainstream of society. and so the federal government, in 1854 is when our current reservation was established and we agree to be, our chiefs and forefathers agreed to that reservation. there were trees there. it was land that was not very good that they thought because it was marshy, but in essence it was really beautiful. we have a forest of that everybody in these. we have the wolf river, and so
they then decided to allow the tribes and built us a sawmill for the tribe to harvest the timber. the bureau of indian affairs which the federal government did the management of the mill and a forest, the indians were able to cut and harvest the dead and downed trees, but that what you pay for the services that the government was providing. so although the money that the indians made with into the federal treasury, for the menominee is and -- but you can get the money and less congress agreed to do it, so we went back to congress. in 1934, the bureau was mismanaging our forest, and so the menominee sued them in the court of claims and actually won a judgment of $8 million, and
that, we got the money and then that went into the treasury. in 1951. well, i then they were still inn the movement of getting rid of the indians, and come then the termination. we had a senator by the name of arthur watkins, the head of the interior and insular affairs. the menominee had to request the money. they went to ask for a per capita payment of $1500. there were 3270 members on our tribal roll, and only remember that because that's what prompted our termination to occur, and all roles to be closed. and so we had to agree to it. senator watkins came out to the reservation to convince us that you wanted to liberate us and they wanted then to be able to,
well, we were being treated like babies. he had all kinds of things, but our people were skeptical of what was going on because this land was supposed to be ours forever and saved so we would have a place to live, and our children would and the descendents would, and this will be for ever. inking people are attached to their land. i remember what's been taught to me in our culture, and our stories are if the land is there, , the tribe will be ther. amanda leaves, the tribe is gone. and so we had the connectedness and the love and we were poor. it was a simple way of life, but it was our home for ever. and so there was some kind of security there, but man when termination occurred, he came and couldn't get the tribe and their general counsel for two days to agree to termination, but then he tried the concept of
termination. so they voted on the concept of termination and the vote was 179 to five opposed to it. he took that vote and put back, but just after he left there was confusion and concern as to what was really happening. so the nominee's took another boat and if he goes like when headed 90 something to zero, they didn't want the money. they did want to be terminated, but he wouldn't take that vote. it was the concept of termination. so he went back and they drafted the termination act. and menominees were terminated then in june 1954. that was just 100 years after the creation of our reservation. by then there had to be a plan developed, and what to do with the assets of the tribe because
the tribe held all the land in one, communally, , and it didn't like that either because they couldn't get the land. it was harder to get the land if it was held with individual allotments they could, indian people lost their land and so that went back to someone else. so that's how the land got so small. anyway, the indians, menominees didn't understand it, didn't want it, didn't have the experience either of creating a plan to put all the assets of the tropics of finally congress understood that -- i figured they were stalling, so he told them if you don't have a plan to us by february 1 of 1959, the secretary will develop a plan. and if you don't agree with the plan in three months, then the secretary will name a trustee
and he will disperse. so the menominees felt it was kind of better to try to do something. they named a four member could nadine and negotiating committee. the chairman of that committee was a menominee, a former menominee, but he worked for the bureau for 20 some years recs i think he had the mindset of the bureau. they developed a plan, created a state corporation, menominee enterprises, to receive all of the assets, the land, forest, machinery, whatever wasn't there, buildings that the tribe owned. he got that, and whatever money was a very, and he got, the corporation got that. he deign to complicated trust, the menominee comstock and voting trust that had three members, three non-menominee, or mac menominees and then an assistant trust that was
operated by the first wisconsin trust company of milwaukee, bank of milwaukee. all the miners shares went to the assistant trust, and incompetence. now, i don't, they never had a hearing or who would be an incompetent person, but somebody selected them and they were put in that category. and that amounted to about 40% of the 327,000 shares, because each one of us got 100 shares, but we didn't get the shares. the voting trust got it. we got a certificate of beneficial interest, and what we could do with that was vote once every year to replace the expiring term of a voting trust number and also to vote every ten years, whether or not we wanted to keep the trust. and so again when i say menominees to come and go, they
didn't have a voice so you don't go to a meeting if you are over voted, outvoted i one person and nobody listens. one of the fact, it was different, it was wrong, it was different. and so -- am i -- >> if you can just accelerate just a bit. the story is wonderful. can i just say i think most people here have no idea of how all of this happened with the tribes. it's really such an important story, and i wonder if you could fast-forward to what you did in order to get the tribe reinstated. >> okay. that was my problem in coming here because how would you be able to come and tell me what a tribe is and where we were? we decided we need to do something. the land was being sold, and they gave it away by the leases
or trusts. but it was still being done. we had no voice in it and we didn't know how non-indians were getting to occupy the reservation, and that land not being ours. remember, without land there is no indian. we finally, , after the collocad trust system was picked up and realized, what we think it is decided, and we had, again, that's where ted kennedy comes in. there was a fund, the american, native american rights fund which was illegal from that was established by the ford foundation to help indian people, we needed someone from congress to request the assistance. senator kennedy did that, so he
helped as a draft an act that would be what we wanted. we didn't want to go back to metabolism that governor had given us but we want an act that would restore us to allow us to be our own sovereign body and care for herself with the protection that are land would be safe for ever and a place to live. so there's that connection with the kennedys that, again, our tribe likes. but -- >> i was wondering when you would get to that. [laughing] >> well, it's there. we had also the unit care with a lawyer that stepped up, wisconsin had established an organization that would provide legal expenses the people who were poor. and so one of our certificate holders were told she wasn't
able to get any of the information from our company because she was only a certificate holder. wasn't a shareholder. and so we went to the lawyer. he helped us. he became a lawyer for the group that we formed to do something to help ourselves. we knew we had, nobody was helping us. the land was going. so that's where the drums movement came in. it was determination of right and unity from innominate shareholders. and we had come the other thing i need to say, and it might take more than three minutes, but it was the civil, the women's rights movement. so you had that women in the nation becoming more powerful or taking more roles in leadership roles, and within our tribe, our tribe was more maternal tribal leadership where our women, you know, are the ones, it's the
women that are treated are here, we should have our land sold. my mother was one of them. shirley daily -- louise fowler was another one. so you had those three and the elders at that time, and they were then pushing to do it, and a part of it. so step up the second generation, and so we led the movement, was to get, the only thing we could do is get control of our company. they wouldn't sell the land. nobody would help. we went to court. nobody would listen. so time was running out. our funds were being drained. our land was being sold, and so we needed to get the trust of the people to get our own people to vote again. we've had a massive proxy campaign so that they would give us their proxy so we could vote.
in 1971 is when we gained control of our corporation because we had the most members on the voting trust. they voted four members to the board of directors of menominee enterprises. i was one of the members that cut on. we established a legislative committee, and the we moved and work diligently with our people to get them to continue to trust us, to listen to us. we listen to them, and we were successful. we got i think every member of congress voted in favor of an act. all indian tribe support our act, every member in both houses supported the act. that pastor the president was richard nixon and our concern was, is he going to sign it? he was having troubles of his own at the time, but lo and
behold, he signed the act on december 22, 1973. we became then again, we were the first tribe that congress admitted they made a mistake and restored us to a federally recognized tribe, and you we are. we're starting the process over. what i heard at that time, , you don't listen, you hear. which up to here is what your people are saying. and so for all of those that are fighting for civil rights, we experience that, but i mean, didn't seem like the civil rights was a matter of survival to me then. that's kind of the way it was so there is hope, there is a movement, continue to do it. and so i'm sorry i took so long. >> it was beautiful, thank you. [applause]
>> silvia, it's on board, and i'm really sorry we didn't have more time. it's important for this story to be heard because so few people know it. and the fact that it was primarily four really strong women from the tribe bishop wonderful. everything it's a good example of convergence of some of the civil rights struggles that were going on. and in your case it was primarily the women's movement as well as the tribal movement. thank you so much, and thank you for doing this, for coming all the way out from near green bay wisconsin to washington, d.c. >> thank you. [applause] >> would you mind, terrance, being the next person to speak? >> sure.
>> terrance, so i apologize, maurice jackson looking early this morning that he unfortunately couldn't be with us, and he said i want to tell you who should be there. it should be terrence johnson. i said perfect. so terrence johnson is a professor at georgetown in both political science and religion. isn't that a wonderful combination? underpins a anything beyond that. terrance is very knowledgeable about the history of civil rights in the united states, has been quite engaged. and not too long ago convened a really wonderful symposium here at georgetown on religion and black lives matter, and had some speakers who have been involved in charlottesville a year and a few months ago, and from howard university, et cetera. sauternes, if you could share with us. >> thank you for the invitation.
i want to begin by introducing you to my late grandmother, mary k johnson. she was born in alabama, was a sharecropper, spent most of her life mopping the floor either at a state hospital cleaning white peoples homes. what's striking about her life is that despite never been called by her surname in public, taking the bus to work in the morning at 6 a.m. or 5 a.m., she found a way to find sort of dignity interchurch or within our family, or in how she cared for neighbors. i mention this sort briefly because we all have these kinds of stories, but what's interesting to me, there was a question of working through this idea of what does it mean to be a problem? this question that two boys race as early as 19 -- my grandmothers life, she reflected on i believe many other black women as boys reflected on the same question, particularly in
the black church, a space that was called sort of a counter public stupid as i think that the civil rights movement, without this black women who were day workers, who were caretakers of white children, that these black preachers can mostly black male preachers were not even able to make these incredible speeches or to travel or have the resources to fight against political injustice. and as a thing but as i did i get sorted thinks of the problem does me to get problem? these black women created in these black churches a space to these conversations and to build sort of a life that wb deploys called that would give the mean. and i share the story in part to show civil rights movement and dismayed attention i think were still trying to work through, this idea that on the one hand, king is arguing for we want medical justice. we want voting rights. but what's interesting, i would
argue part of bob is when you catch human dignity to achieving civil rights come some people to push back and say that aside a problematic. what happens and when the government takes away your rights to vote? does human dignity also get erased at the moment? i think black women in particular have been pushed back the this idea of one to more nuanced how we see a medical justice, how we achieve political justice. when we arrived at 17 sees it and see the emergence of black power, sylvia carmichael and others are saying look, it's not simply the asking white people or asking politicians to give us something. we need to forget how do you amass the power to make certain demands? and so with this sort of very, very brief introduction, i think it's not unusual to see the emergence of black lives matter. because black lives matter may respect is about this idea of what to do with the portrait blackbody? what do you do, how do you deal
with the language question of how does it be a problem that never gets addressed you can pass the voting rights act, fair housing act, but when people see you as a problem, we will find different ways to recycle get ourselves and figure what do we do with this problem. so black lives matter emerges in part because the result of killings by officers against black man and latino men and women. but i also want to think if you look at the creed of likewise matter, it's about how defined human dignity, how do you deal with the souls of black people? i just want to and by saying that's the tension we're facing i think as a country. what happens when laws are removed? how then do humans emerge? how do they respond? i think the black churches are a
great example of how people have sort of built into resources, how defined the space to talk about sort of civic responsibility, how defined the space to create schools or to create a world in which they had meaning, even when the outside world says you don't matter, right? you do not matter. and so i think we're left with the question do we respond by creating more internal worlds when you're rejected by the broader society? that's the question i think we're left with now. i don't think people know what to do. i know we'll have a few minutes but wanted to give that example of my grandmother and a black women using sort of their knowledge to push back at this idea that what he writes is a way to achieve human dignity. i think i will end there. [applause] >> before he could disown you, if i could just say that when
someone -- go to so you, somewhat on the early panel mention the voting rights act, immediate thought the came to mind was all my goodness, the voting rights act which in some states in the last few years, there been attempt to essentially obliterate it. some of those attempts have been rather successful. so that statement that you make about dependence on something like voter rights without consideration of what that means, if those rights are taken away is just so important. thank you very much. and we imagine your grandmother here. >> thank you. >> sonia, so sonia gutierrez is a new friend, not even 25 days. >> yes. >> and sonia is in washington, d.c. she's in the d.c. government in
department of housing, but she has actually about a 25 year career. you must have started when you were in grade school. >> i was. gifted child. [laughing] >> gifted and talented. and so she has been quite active in nongovernmental organizations in the community and in the d.c. government, which is probably no mean feat, working towards civil rights and social justice in a wide variety of areas, housing, education, boating, et cetera. and we're so happy to have you. one of the reasons that of the people we could've selected from this area i chose sonia is because she has this broad range, not across the topic areas, but actions is not just focus on one particular community. and that's really, really important for us now.
sonia. >> thank you so much for inviting me, and that she got the right sonia. i'm not sure if you're from d.c., there's another sonia gutierrez who's actually very well known who has long history of work in education, and actually has a street named after her. so in the street was named after her, everybody was calling me. [laughing] you got a street named after you i was like no, the other sonia. so that's my call the thing is the other sonia. so yes i've been working in civil rights. right after college i came to the district and the found my dream job which is what to put office of human rights. at the time of doing employment discrimination. i was the very first bilingual investigator in the agency, and lo and behold all of a sudden you have a lot of cases that were misfiled, misplaced, forgotten, and the community, knowing there were some who
could speak spanish, now we had 300% increase in filings of discrimination cases. because before the community was kind of not there. like you know there are latinos in the district. it's a multicultural city but we don't have any problems with the latino community. they never filed any cases. then i moved on to fair housing with a nonprofit organization which was -- now called equal rights center center, and i became very focused on their housing. wasn't there for five years and came back into the district to then create the fair housing unit under the department of housing and community developer. so having worked on the streets, grassroots, and doing my marching, we want this and we want that, i was networking with policy, and in the background, and i found out that any civil
rights movement, you can have the agitators, you can have the marchers, you can at all that but if you don't have control of money, if the control of the policy, you're really not going anywhere. no matter how much you scream. and yes, , you might get some publicity kesselman got killed, someone did, but at the end of the day it some is not on your team working with you to make that policy change, to make the little changes as are doing now to even take with some of the rights with the current administration, but you have to have those people. i'm so glad to have been here to view to hear the history and ireland, and how this civil rights movements grow? they grow because of injustices, because one group over another. whether it's in ireland, whether it's in the united states, was in my home country of columbia which is still going, but in the district it didn't just start with the civil rights movement
of the 1960s. that is the moment the most people know odyssey because of the advent of the television and people got to know what is going on here. but at the same time he also had the chicano movement going on in the southwest figure also had i think they're called the pink -- pink panthers. [laughing] in new york with the puerto ricans that when you are seeing the irish, don't apply, you also see no mexicans, no blacks, no puerto rican sensitive when having hangs in the south, the south of african americans, you are also having hangs of mexicans in the southwest. so civil rights would take the 1960s as the foundation but really was not the foundation it was the explosion of civil rights. the civil rights act of 1866 was actually the very first time that race, color, national
origin were written so that you could not be discriminate in any services given by the government. now, the people follow? obviously not because we have more civil rights movements. you also to realize the of other civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement. and then with dr. martin luther king being the kind of character he was, he brought everything to the forefront and that was a combination of a lot of people been joined in. whether they were hispanic, whether they were black, whether they were jewish americans, white and also the native americans communities. that has been as i heard people from ireland say this morning, northern ireland say, it was something that use as a basis. that is also been used as a basis and a lot of latin american countries as well. obviously with a different history, and with a different
tone. in the district, the d.c. was, the hispanics living in the district of columbia. it came as a result obviously of violence because most movement unfortunately start as result of people being sick and tired of being abused and the violence occurs. in 1991, it was called -- anybody familiar with that? a few. and you know that a police officer shot a man from el salvador. at the time the community itself felt very abuse by the police, felt neglected by the government. did not have the services that they were entitled to by d.c. officers. and i think shooting a man come some reports in the front, a lot say he was shot from the back.
as he was leaving, created, it was the explosion. that was the catapult into civil rights being more prominent for the hispanic community. as a result of that there was a u.s. commission that was brought, invested by that was happening at the same time there was the very first study not only of ethnic communities but also discrimination and poverty and every thing else. that was one of the first study spirit what did they find? obviously the latino community was not in service. that was in 1991. i came to the district in 1993 so i was actually the civil rights task force, i was part of that. after the riots. one of the things we worked on was internal. in the government through having representation in each government agency that provided direct services to the
committee. ford example the department of civil service, the department of behavioral health, the department of motor vehicles, the department of, the police department, those things, department of public works. anything that touches your life directly, there needed to be representation and what was called the hispanic program managers. and that person inside agencies within talk to the directors. okay, this is what the community needs within the jurisdiction of your own agency. not that we were asking for anything special just because you happen to be latina, but that you also give the latino community the same services that you are giving everyone else. so it was now we want a piece of the pie that should've been given to us in the community. something that the department of, police department did, is that they then brought a whole bunch of new police officers
>> so that was to try to appease the community. by then, also, the language access act which didn't come into place until 2004, but it had already started before that, was to make government provide services to the community in the language that they spoke. so also title six and similar to that, but the district then also used that in many other language access acts around the country to platform and create for the district of columbia and it had to work. so, my experience in civil rights has been go where the money is. so when i do talk and i talk to the community in the latino community or i talk to the chinese community or the vietnamese community or the
community, the ethiopian community now we're starting to have a larger community from the countries who speak french. so it's the same thing. make your voice heard and make sure that you, as another-- as they found out you have to become a part of the government, you can't change things if you're not at the table or somebody who believes in your movement at the at the point. so working for a district government who provides that service, a direct service, which is housing, i made sure that there is fair housing so i work on fair housing issues, not only for the latino community, for all the other immigrant communities in the district of columbia and obviously for those communities that are isolated, whether by age, be it elderly, african-american community, the
disability community. so, all of those people that are disenfranchised or put aside or don't have a voice, my role is to make sure that at least in the policy that we write in our agency, that those voices are heard. and similarities to the northern ireland movement is just that. you get to a point where marching doesn't do what you want it to do anymore, and it comes to the point where, okay, where the similarities between who is in power and how can i educate them because that's a big part of having somebody that understands what your needs are. have them understand where you come from so they can make policy and you can affect the money. so-- >> well done. >> thank you so much. [applaus [applause] >> before i turn to the audience for questions, i have two, and you can answer one or
the other of them as briefly as possible. the first is, so since the founding of this country, we have struggled with what we mean by rights and how those rights should be provided. one of the most fascinating exhibits in washington d.c. is the viewing of the declaration of independence and the constitution showing the mockups and changes over time as they're being developed. very, very significant changes. our founding fathers really argued about what those should be. they put in slavery provisions, took those out. put in women, took them out. so and this is at the very founding. i wonder if you think because we now think of rights in very different ways, 50 years ago who would have thought about lbgt rights. a small handful of americans. so, i wonder if you can say
what you think about a changing definition of rights and what that means, and the second option is, imagine it's 2025. you notice it's not too far into the future. imagine it's 2025, what do civil rights look like in the united states? and remember how much has changed just in the last seven yea years. so which question would you like? like? >> repeat the first one again? >> you clearly don't want the second one. the first one is essentially about the definition of civil rights and if you think that definition has changed, is changing, and if so, what that means. >> okay. so i don't think the fundamental definition of civil
rights has changed or needs to change, the fundamental basis for it. what we do, as people become more comfortable knowing the rights are going to be adhered to, then one thing that sets them apart from everybody else, whether you're lbgt, hispanic, a single woman, whether you're a particular race, or even a particular religious belief, they're more encouraged to say listen, i'm proud of who i am, i should not be in this community because this person believes something else. i think you're more encouraged to then come forth and have your belief and your own rights to hear from. >> and anyone else, want to venture either of them. >> very quickly, to the category of rights in general, just really it's a category
obviously, under attack and there are multiple voices want to lay claim to it and my fear is that without the kind of range of historic narratives to understand rights, it's -- it would just be co-opted in dangerous ways. my father is given the way we're dividing our country, there's a growing number of people who feel as if their voices have been put to the margins, whether it's conservatives, whether it's the progressives, and i don't know. i mean being i think, you know, i think there are a number of people now beginning to place power as an important kind of extension of rights, but again, i just see us going deeper and deeper into our silos and i'm not sure how we get out of it, right, because i think in part because we haven't dealt with the fundamental issue around loss and also in terms of how we have clung to the category
of race as a way to denigrate people, and now it's coming back to haunt us and we're not sure, what do we do with it. many of the great examples, the story about thomas jefferson high school, and people are concerned that they're asian americans, and so what's interesting, when the high school was built, there was a rumor that this was established to keep blacks out of the school and to keep, sort of elite students in a safe space and the irony we have a new group of people who have mastered the rules, people are concerned, wait a minute, there is a whole new group of students quote, unquote, taken over the school and to keep the problem out, now we have a new problem emerging. i feel there's so many issues related to history and loss and sense of being wiped out. until we deal with those issues, i think we're going to misuse and abuse rights and we're not going to heel from
some of the trauma of racism. >> and it gets in the way of the convergence and collaboration on addressing. >> well, i love just to move off of the question of loss, the way to deal with loss is to deal with the future and how do you develop one, you know, a great view of what a future can be and that's what i think obama gave us, the idea of hope for the future. one of my favorite parts of the declaration is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because i think that what the founders meant by the pursuit of happiness was the ability to get involved in politics. [laughte [laughter] >> you laugh, but if you actually go back to the 18th century, you'll see that the word happiness was really associated with the notion of public happiness and that the
idea was if you really thought-- think about what that revolution was about, it was not just about my private life. the founders had nice, private lives, monticello, montpelier, john adams had a nice life in massachusetts. and the slogan of that revolution was not know taxation, it was no taxation without representation, it was the idea that you wanted to be able to control what was going on in your life, and that it really goes back to the ancient-- you can tell i've talked about this before, the ancient greeks, which was the ancient greek work for idiot, idios, a private person not engaged in public life. that really-- i did not make this up, this comes from hannah arent and her book on revolution and she said the whole revolution where we get our happiness from, being
involved in public affairs, having our views listened to and having a sense of power that we can be-- have a role. and that that's what the american revolution was about. they didn't want to be subjects, they wanted to have power. >> and one of the challenges and i think that really rolls off your idea, that if you don't -- if you have a world in which you're in a zero sum game, everybody is going to have a sense of loss, but if you have a politics in which everybody has a role to play, then you don't have a sense of loss, and it depends on how you have politicians talk about what we're doing. is it we all get to vote or is it we're not going to have the right to vote? and it was really, i've got to tell you, i loved what you said at the beginning because i thought it was so interesting about, i remember my father and martin luther king having this argument about voting and my father thought voting was
really important because that's, as you can tell, that's how the irish did well in boston. they didn't do well in business in boston they did well by voting and martin luther king i can see did well not by voting because the voting was difficult if you're african-american, but doing well in our community or a church setting. so it was clear to me know why he didn't think it was voting and just the woman who cleaned my house literally would ask me to go to her church because when she was in church she was a minister. she had a totally different role in her community. she could preach, she could sing, so she was powerful in a different setting and i just love what you said, so in different roles, in different situations people have different roles. nonetheless, i still like politics, despite the fact that this whole audience who sat here and learned about the role of politics laughs at me. very hurtful.
i'm going to overcome it, but i think you should rethink your laughter at somebody who has been involved in politics and has a really important message, get involved in politics, you are much happier on tuesday when people won, the democrats did, so don't laugh. >> to the point you made, this idea with the civil rights movements trois a process of how do expand rights. a lot of people assume, whoever read history it was about taking something away and if you look at the political thoughts, how do we actually expand this model. >> yes. >> and make it sort of fluid for a wide range of people. >> yes. >> and i think that's why i talked about president kennedy's saying that this is a moral issue and a morality expands things. and i really find interesting about this is that so he gave that speech in the united states about--
in june, two days later he went to berlin and he said berliner-- and 20 years later think about where you were 20 years before, you were fighting somebody and you were probably-- or you weren't fighting somebody maybe, probably weren't, but if you're thinking how angry you were, his brother was killed in the war, they were, the people hated the germans, i mean, they had-- their families were killed by the germans and he's saying right there i am german, so he's asking people to forgive the germans and asking people to forgive the germans. just as he's saying in the united states, put your feet in the steps of an african-american. he's going to the world at germany and saying i'm a german. stand up for them just as --
and he's really an extraordinary person to be able to say to everybody, put yourself just where you don't want to be, and expand your moral universe to think of yourself in a different place. >> and be courageous. i don't know if you've ever seen this graffiti, but one of my favorite graffitis. >> probably not. >> it's in baltimore, the working class wall in baltimore. >> okay. then of course i've seen it. >> a white wall working class wall in baltimore sprayed in deep pink is the phrase democracy, it's not just a greek myth. >> that's good. >> isn't that wonderful? >> sylvia, would you like to say something about-- i wonder if you could imagine 2025 and say what you think civil rights is going to be
like in the united states briefly in 2025? >> well, i think if we all listen and if we all learn. we've got to listen to people. a lot of people don't listen and they don't hear and so they proceed in their righteous way of doing things because they think they're the leaders and if you don't know how to lead you should get out of the field. and that's kind of where it is. we all have our own feelings, our own knowledge and our own way of life, but that doesn't mean ours is better than anybody else. so, let's start listening and let's start accepting and let's start realizing we're not the most important person here. kind of in-- you know, that's the way of life. and we have to learn how to share. we have to learn how to care. and it's going to work because people are going to step up to
do it and it might seem like it's the end of the world. it's not going to be the end of the world if you're going to really care who you are and who your next person is. or who your neighbor is. and learn how to listen and hear. >> can i add something? real quickly? >> yes. >> i just wanted to also faulk about expanding of the civil rights, 19 protected categories. in my-- i think there's the most of any other jurisdiction at the local level. so federal level civil rights laws are protecting categories, the district protects 19 of course dealing in employment, public spaces and housing. now, my experience was when i started with the district of columbia, there were 16 categories at that time. it didn't matter if you have 16, 7 or 25, if if you don't
have the leadership who wants to enforce it, it doesn't really matter. you keep adding more categories. so, my experience when i came to the office of civil rights was national origin was not being enforced because all of the cases were going to the cracks. so, it's not only expanding civil rights to include other groups, but making sure that it's actually enforced. it's not at the federal level, then at the state level, and in the u.s., the level or the city level. so, this is such an important point. when we're talking about civil rights and human rights, and reflect back on that u.n. declaration of human rights, imagine that. >> right. >> so, sometimes when i'm teaching ethics and teaching about the human rights declarations, inevitably, a student will say, this is wonderful, it reads nicely, but that's a long time ago and a
lot of of laws have been base withed on that, but they're not applied. and inevitably, a student will say, do we have such a thing as blue helmet soldiers for human rights? you know what blue helmet soldiers are? the u.n. soldiers. do we have someone who goes out and ensures that the international protection mechanisms and national protection mechanisms, et cetera, really are enforced? and we know that that doesn't happen at the national level consistently and we know it doesn't happen at the local level. i wonder if we could take some questions from the audience. >> surely you have some questions? yes. >> i've got-- [inaudible] former trade union category, i have some other tied closer to the irish discussion, but i want to comment on the political question. i would say there's absolutely
a role in politics, but that's not enough. it's a necessary condition to be happy on tuesday, it's essential condition to continue to organize, organize, and organize, or agitate, agitate, agitate as frederick douglas said because you've got to get in position, but then you've got to keep the accountable and that's for the political side. so, i think it's absolutely, it's a mixture of both. the political action to get the elected, but you've got to be able to hold them accountable and that, it doesn't stop on tuesday. >> i know. i was telling them that that's their road to happiness was always to be involved in politics. did i get any response? >> i think maybe sometimes when you think about politics, people think politics in a broad sense, it's the election process. >> right. >> and in some communities, i
think that that's reported that the horse race level, rather than now say, power politics, the other things that were talked about earlier, the protest is politics as well, but i think that sometimes it gets caught up with politics meaning, oh, like that's the party stuff. >> i think that's really an important distinction because increasingly and globally, we're really talking about civic engagement. and civic being perhaps more broadly considered than politics, which some may consider just part of the political process, but in other countries, actually, it's kind of not limited to the political party so if you're talking about political engagement is really is much broader than political parties. it's an important point. >> someone else? >> we were that good? >> surely we have other
questions. >> listening to you speak. i was wondering, you mentioned having written lawment granted it wasn't always applied the way it's supposed to be. what do you think? do you think that might differentiate civil rights in the united states versus others that have? >> to have written enough and there was movement enough to have it in there, and other countries having only lived in one other country, which is my country, some of those -- we have really poor laws regarding people with disabilities. we have really poor law for allowing people with disabilities and so or even, even in hispanic-- spanish-speaking countries the whole thing of gay rights is slowly coming into fruition now
in some countries are actually putting in protections for lbgt communities, colombia being one of them. not every country in latin america is very friendly to that. so you need to have-- that's just an example. so you need to have civic engagement. not necessarily political. because remember, you could get killed in colombia. i can only speak about colombia. you have union workers being killed when you make too much noise. colombia is one of those countries that has the most in newspaper people being killed because of what they write or because of the movements they make. so, yes, you need to engage the community and here in the district, we have really good laws, but perhaps in the dmv area, which is the district now in the virginia area. some of the other localities don't have as expansive laws.
you can take that and how do you make those changes? again, you need to be in the budgeting cycle. in the district of columbia, i'm not sure how it works in ireland, each agency in the district has a public hearing on their budget. when i talked to communities. when i talked to the community, the it chinese community, the disability community, always be present at the budgeting hearings. always be present. and know your stats. know how your community is being serviced or not serviced because that's where the council here and that's where you're being representative and counts. always be known. make yourself a nuisance there. are people in council hearings you know them for years, and that's so-and-so and speak about every issue, but at least it's in the consciousness and that's how you make change in policy and how the money gets
diverted to affecting those communities. >> and that's engagement in the political process because those activities, those hearings are part of the political process. any other questions? so one of the-- i think it's time. >> oh. okay. so one could point about the laws, really, thank you for your questions. as you know, the united states is considered by many by some in a pejorative way, to be the most littgious country in the world. and there are many international conventions to which we have not agreed that have to do with rights. and for example, the rights of a child, that's an
extraordinarily important international convention to which we are not a signatory for political reasons and that that's fundamental rights for children. and there are others having to do with access to health care, et cetera, to which we're not a signatory because political issues actually get raised. so we talk a lot about civil rights and civil liberties and that don't necessarily pay attention. >> i think we haven't pointed out-- we say we protect civil rights, on the other hand, there's also religious rights. >> yes. >> and so, you know, the baking of the cake is one of the classic fights between my rights, my religious rights not to bake the cake, to somebody else's rights to have the cake baked and those are two conflicting rights and so, there are rights that conflict, which we haven't discussed in
any detail whatsoever, but and there's the right that's the conservatives, so i'm just giving you that there are two, there are other sides. there's a right not to have your property taken, which is a conservative right that's growing exponentially and people are saying, well, if you change the-- change the laws, the zoning laws, that lowers my property. and so, it's not all -- all the rights are not off to the left. there are other rights that are more difficult and just the growth of rights is not necessarily a plus for a sense of community. so, one of the things that we, i think, we all need to think about is the value of rights on one hand and the value of community and the value of caring about one another as well, and how do we raise a
sense of as i think my father said after martin luther king was killed, how do we raise the sense to care one another and care of one another and a sense of forgiveness towards one another. those are not the language of rights. those are language of faith and religious and a much deeper language and we need both to build a community and to build the country. so, rights are part of it, but it's not the only way that we go forward. and i think the focus only on rights doesn't get us to where we need to go. >> because what we also need is ethical leadership at versus levels in the public and private sector, because we need leaders who understand the convergence between values and rights, and how to have a appropriate balance.
>> we're on day 12 of the government shutdown, the house will gavel in for a brief pro forma session with no legislative work scheduled. and that's on noon eastern on our companion c-span. pending business will be a bill to end the federal shutdown, but no votes are expected. majority leader mitch mcconnell says there will only be votes when there's agreement between republicans, democrats and the white house. see that live here on c-span2. ♪ the united states senate, a
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