tv Richard Bell Stolen CSPAN December 14, 2019 4:30pm-5:26pm EST
week. and thank you very much. [applause] >> the new c-span online store now has book tv products. go to c-span store.org to check them out. see what's new for book tv and all the c-span products. >> welcome this evening. the iv bookshop for wonderful book talk with richard bell on his really remarkable narrative history 53 boys kidnapped in slavery ãbmy name is anna and the overview of the iv it's an amazing story. [applause] it's a wonderful thing to be a owner of the independent bookstore in case anyone's inãthey are
remarkable places and events like this are really remarkable opportunities we have. i always like to start with these events especially on nights when we are inviting remarkable writers into our midst to talk a little bit about the shop. first i want to talk about richard bell tonight who is a scholar and writer, beautiful writer. this particular book really jumps in with this incredibly human picture of a young boy and from that moment i knew i was in short creative hands as well as scholarly hands. he is educated at cambridge and harvard and beloved professor at the university of maryland. one of the major university system of maryland awards.i think if there is a round of applause as well it's for people educating the next generation of people to have a sense of our history and a sense of what it means as human beings in the world but also particularly americans and someone from elsewhere dedicated to helping us mind
history. he is a 2017 public scholar after the national endowment of humanities. he said scholarships from the huntington library in california to cambridge and england and everywhere in between places like yale and the library of congress. this is the mind we want tilling the soil of america's past and helping us come to understand it and he's written a really remarkable book. it's a history about five young men in philadelphia, boys, who were kidnapped and taken back into slavery.
it's a beautifully told story and i think that merging of incredibly insightful historical perspective pushing out the sense of who we been merged with real storytelling ability is sort of an important service of all the readers around us. that leads me to talk a little bit about bookstores. it's important to support people working alone on incredibly important pieces of scholarship. the novels that help us understand how other human beings think and feel. we want to support that. in order to support opportunities like this. which is people coming together to talk about books to hear from people who have thought incredibly deeply on other topics. and combine the sense of who we
are as individuals and together. it's one of these more remarkable things about books. you have this independent bit experience but can join each other people in the communal experience. specifically at the end of this book and i've now lost my place. there is a moment at the very end when richard writes about the act of writing this book as much as the story itself. he had some two things. this is a book that tries to find moments of ãbalso something that wanted to highlight revel in liberty and seek it to grasp it back when it's been taken away. it's an important thing for us to look back in our history and five important thing to do at this moment in time so we at the iv bookshop are incredibly pleased to have all of you here on this first wintry night we've had in the city of baltimore but y'all came out says something about what we are seeking collectively. it's just a delight to have richard moment. thank you to richard, thank you
to all of you and we have a really interesting conversation next. >> what a thoughtful wonderful introduction. i'm so humbled to be here at the iv bookshop in baltimore. i'm also grateful to ãbfor the opportunity to talk about some of the stuff on the record. i'm going to speak for ãbi'm getting a nod to use the microphone. i'm going to speak for about 25 minutes. you see i brought some notes because i think the story is important and i want to get it right and you don't want to hear me ãbi'm going to try to frame remarks around what i've written and hopefully if there are questions or comments we can talk fully about this. obviously this is a story full of adult themes to folks in the back know that. cornelius sinclair was 10 years old and he was trapped. he was trapped in the belly of a small ship in the delaware
river just a mile south of philadelphia. the man had crammed 10-year-old cornelius from the city markets one hour ago pushed a black gag into his mouth 's tossed them into a wagon and held him here. it was dark below the waterline but 10-year-old cornelius could see just enough from in the ships holders to know he was not the only black child lock down here. for other pairs of eyes stared back at him. for other black boys. one looked about his size he was probably nine or 10 or 11 years old but cornelius. two more were obviously taller and older perhaps 14 or 15. the last of them were shorter and smaller than everyone else. he might've been as young as eight years old. yesterday all five of these boys had been free but today
they were slaves. they were prisoners as of again of child snatchers who plan to sell their lives and leaders. most likely to plantation owners in the deep south. these boys of doctors got away with this. 10-year-old cornelius sinclair would spend the rest of his life is someone else's property somewhere very far away. he would never see his family again he was one of dozens african american children to vanish in similar circumstances from philadelphia that year alone. in the early 19th century the city of philadelphia was actually the hub of american slavery blackest market its graded streets entangled alleys were hunting grounds for cruise of professional kidnappers who
made their livings turning free black kids like 10-year-old cornelius into slaves. they did their work swiftly and shamelessly. in brazen affront to the city of philadelphia rep used ãbas a safe haven for people of color and at the headquarters of america's antislavery movement in this period. none of that to kidnappers mattered. early 19th century philadelphia was actually one of the most dangerous places to be free and black anywhere in the united
states. maryland, delaware, virginia what's now west virginia. all of them run along pennsylvania's southern border and the border was known as the mason-dixon line the boundary seems increasingly important as a marker when you move into southern slave states and pushing to free northern state like pennsylvania. by 1825 the year that cornelius was kidnapped, pennsylvania was a free northern state one of the many in the north that slowly disentangled themselves from grace slavery over the previous 50 years. that meant that that boundary line running across pennsylvania's southern border the mason-dixon line as far as black people were concerned became ever more important. by 1825 the year that cornelius was kidnapped that mason-dixon line along pennsylvania's southern border for black people it seemed to divide two worlds, separating northern free states from southern slave
states. it was the closest thing for african americans to moderate international border anywhere in north america. philadelphia's proximity to the mason-dixon line to the frontier line made its money black residents whether legally free or runaways from slavery seeking refuge in philadelphia it made philadelphia's many black residents attractive targets for professional kidnappers. professional people snatchers. they prayed on the members of this city's black community relentlessly putting bull's-eye on their back, putting prices on their heads. the people they stole away could fetch in louisiana and mississippi and alabama anywhere up to $15,000 per person in modern money. and of course mississippi alabama louisiana think of them on the map the three of the new territories and states rising
up along the gulf of mexico along the gulf coast. the american settlers swarming into territories and states like those three they needed and demanded a nearly bottomless supply of forced labor to cut sugarcane and pick cotton. it seems that they would take almost anyone to do that work including children of as young as 10-year-old cornelius sinclair. planters might not have liked a small proportion five percent of their and slave labor force from kidnappers but they have few other options. they been forced to look to forces within the united states to satisfy their labor needs ever since 1808 the year lawmakers in washington passed legislation that outlawed any further slave imports from overseas from africa, from the
caribbean, wherever it might be. that 1808 decision outlawing further legal participation in atlantic slavery. it proved to be a major turning point in the history of slavery in america.the 1808 decision spurred the growth of an internal slave trade within the united states. the domestic slave trade within the united states. a massive forced redistribution of enslaved people from plantations in places like virginia or maryland and delaware so that many of them gets sold to legal interstate slave traders who carried himself and west to resell them a check that prices in louisiana mississippi alabama according to the best scholarship illegal domestic slave trade moves about a million enslaved people all of
them against their will in the course of about 50 to 60 to 70 years after the revolution. that's the legal domestic slave trade. settlers down the deep south they want more. the more they were willing to pay, the more tempting and profitable it became for anyone professionally cold-blooded to try to kidnap free adults and children including cornelius from northern cities like philadelphia. tried to smuggle them into the larger legal supply chain and try to sell them in this vast new southwestern slave market. these incentives left philadelphia large and dynamic free black community dangerously exposed. by 1825 the city of philadelphia become the center of an interregional kidnapping operation. it was the northern terminus of what we might usefully call the reverse underground railroad.
let's talk about that comparison a little bit. this reverse underground railroad the kidnapping of human trafficking into slavery of free people and it's much better known namesake the underground railroad they ran in opposite directions of course but in many ways they were actually mirror images of one another. on the underground railroad, the famous one enslaved people abandoned southern plantations and dreaming of new lives and new opportunities in ãon the reverse underground railroad, free black people banished from northern cities like philadelphia and were made to trudge southward to be sold into plantation slavery. on the underground railroad conductors like harry tubman risked their lives and liberty to help fugitives and slavery make these epic journeys of
freedom on the reverse underground railroad the conductors and station agents were kidnappers and human traffickers the number of people who made these journeys in one direction or the other out of or into slavery was roughly the same. each one carried hundreds of black adults and children across state lines each and every year in the early 19th century. both of these networks ruled to life in the earthly ãto exploit what then was becoming major differences in the legal status of slavery in the north and the cell. both of these networks were loosely opportunistic, loosely organized and highly opportunistic both ran on secrecy and relied on close circles of trusted participants on forged documents on false
identity on disguise. whether traveling from the slave states into the free states or vice versa from the free states into the slave states black voyageurs on these two networks had to hide often they had to hide in stables addicts and bars. the roots might have even passed one another on the roads from time to time. most americans i hope you know a good deal about the underground railroad and i'm saying this in november 19 when there's a movie the box office that made $12 million last week outperforming expectations by two percent and that movie is
harriet for the record. most americans i hope know something about the underground railroad. historians have spent decades, almost 100 years or more studying the strategies and tactics that harriet tubman and her fellow conductors and station agents used to help freedom seekers escape from slavery. accounts by former passengers on tubman's railroad and biographies of many other former participants spurred immense interest not just in topic but many other colleagues comrades and collaborate. there are walking tours there are museums like the national underground railroad freedom center in cincinnati or the amazing underground railroad visit center outside cambridge maryland here in the state. there was a television show until last year and now this movie harriet. all of them are dedicated to
celebrating the man and woman who created the secret network through which the enslaved critics escape to freedom. conductors and station agents work tirelessly to remain untouchable and the identities of all but a handful of those grotesque actors still remain a secret centuries later. she would go on lecture tours to spread the word about this important thing. she would go on fundraising tours to raise money for her important work. and to be clear, the people who ran the reverse underground railroad did not do that. only rarely did their names and their crimes appear in surviving police files or trial
transcripts. that low-profile the result of years they spent in the shadows unlike legal interstate slave traders who acted out from the open who were doing by the standards of the law of the day nothing wrong legal slave traders sometimes left their papers to historical society to southern college just and you can go read them. that's not true for the conductors and station agents who did the kidnapping and freeman chop human traffic on the reverse underground railroad. those outlaws left no business records they left no bundles of private letters for historians like me to stumble across in an air-conditioned reading room in the library of congress. these kidnappers and human traffickers did not write memoir bragging about what they did they did not post paintings they did not pose for
photographs. there houses, warehouses no longer stand. but as i argue in this new book "stolen", which came out a couple weeks ago, these professional kidnappers in this reverse underground railroad left its mark everywhere in 19th century america. if you look over six decades the first five or six decades of the 19th century the numbers are nothing left less than staggering. over that half-century they stole away probably tens of thousands of free black people in that period. many of them children like cornelius. minimally many of them under the age of 16. most of those they kidnapped could not read or write. most of those that kidnapped were never heard from again. their families and friends searched petitioned advertised. they waited in earnest for news, any news but usually no
news came. free black people in northern cities like philadelphia had very few white allies in the early 19th century beyond the ranks of a few quaker led antislavery societies. what's more, white employers openly discriminated against african-american job applicants in the early 19th century while city constables generally ignored people of color's complaints generally turned a blind eye to most white on black street violence. so when children like 10-year-old cornelius went missing their parents can hardly ever persuade magistrates to get involved to do something. it was rarer still for anyone to be able to gather enough evidence to issue warrants, to search properties, to interrogate suspects and on the
very rare occasions when things like that did happen, even then experienced members of kidnapping crews new what to do and what to say to talk their way out of trouble and get back to work. how many people here have heard of 12 years a slave? a lot of hands in the room which is wonderful.you remember 12 years a slave is both a movie and memoir. a movie based on a memoir the memoir is called 12 years of slave too and written by man called solon northup about his experience as a prisoner passenger on the reverse underground railroad. in being a passenger against his will and being kidnapped and trafficked into slavery he was not at all unusual. what is unusual about his story that he was ever able to escape from the slavery into which he had been cast and that he chose
to write about it and we have this amazing extraordinary memoir 12 years a slave. in it i will just recap his story. he tells his story of what happened to him. he tells us that in 1841 he was living in upstate new york when one day he is lord backend into manhattan by two well-dressed white confidence men. to be clear, norfolk is an adult at this time he's in his mid-30s. he is relatively prosperous. he is a highly skilled musician he is also literate. in manhattan these two well-dressed white confidence men wine him and dine him and they drug him. then they sell him to legal interstate slave trade. not very legal, he is clearly corrupt. he they sell him to interstate slave trader in washington dc he is then forced onto slave ship which is bound for new orleans and in new orleans he is sold in one of the cities
infamous slave markets to atlanta who puts him to work in his cane fields. in 2013 and oscar-winning film starring ãban extraordinary film based on his even more extraordinary autobiography through overview attention to the ordeal what i would like to say tonight is that both the memoir and that amazing movie offer distorted and perhaps misleading views as to who the agents of this reverse underground railroad typically work. who they typically targeted and how they typically made money because it turns out the northup experience grotesque as it was, was in many ways not typical of the larger reverse underground railroad. most kidnappings were committed
not by smartly dressed competent men but by poor people who never set foot in a fancy bar or restaurant and never whined or died anyone in their life. most of the kidnappers acted on the reverse underground railroad. some were women. most of the kidnappers on the reverse underground railroad were white, which you should not surprise us. what startled me was to find a tiny number of african-american people were also inveigled in this business as kidnappers as well. regardless of their gender, regardless of their race, the kidnappers on the reverse underground railroad rarely approached highly literate middle-aged men like northup. they preferred instead to lure away poorly educated children with ruses that could swiftly separate them from their families and loved ones. very few of the captives traveled by ship down the east
coast around florida to new orleans as northup did. for more commonly kidnappers with force most boys and girls to truck southward on foot. in small walking chain gangs known as scuffles the arabic word for caravan i am told. the prisoners would drag across the country against their will they would rarely end up in showrooms in new orleans or even the auction block they were vastly more likely to be sold off in ones and twos somewhere along the way. usually to planters in the mississippi interior the alabama interior, the louisiana interior to planters who wanted to buy more slaves but didn't have much money and couldn't afford big-city new orleans slave prices and were ready to cut a deal with someone they met on the road.
what are described as being perhaps more typical than northup's experience is almost exactly what happened to 10-year-old cornelius sinclair. he is one of the five central figures in my new book "stolen" in august 1825 cornelius and four other boys living in philadelphia fall into the clutches of america's most fierce gang of kidnappers. the captors hustle them on the ship just outside philadelphia they then warehouse them in a pair of safe houses the kidnappers own on the delmar peninsula which is south of philadelphia which is home to most of delaware slivers of maryland, slivers of virginia. they warehouse them for a week and then keep going. they march these five boys halfway across the continent to the deep south. a journey of 2 million steps.
i'm not going to tell you much more today. about what happens to cornelius, to alex, joe and sam but if you read the subtitle of my book stolen:5 three boys stolen into slavery. the title is ever so slightly misleading but eye and tell you how it's misleading and i'm certainly not to tell you the highway and the why of that astonishing odyssey home. i hope some of you pick up the book and take a look. i will say is that what did happen next to 10-year-old cornelius and the four other boys who began their journey together in the belly of that ship outside philly, what would happen next would involve two murderers, three exclamations of dead bodies and escape,
recapture. lawsuit, a race riot, suicide, sing outs to conjure the spirits of the dead and the nations largest manhunt so far. instead of telling you what happened, let me just quickly note that the full story of what did happen to cornelius sinclair and these four other boys who went missing from philadelphia in august 1825 has never before been told. cornelius was a child he came up from a heart family that was not the sort of family to leave lots of traces behind in libraries and archives. historians like us we need sources we need lots of sources
to reconstruct ways that are true and fair. the stories and struggles leave personal papers for people like me to stumble upon the stories often remain unstudied and dumps told as result of those problems. to reconstruct the most basic outline of what happened to cornelius in his journey along the reverse underground railroad i first took advantage of two well-known sources about this case. one is a cash of about two dozen letters either to or from the mayor of philadelphia will become engaged in this case. the handwriting is not great but we've known about then we've also known for a while about some brief coverage of corny oasis case in a single
philadelphia area antislavery magazine called the african observer. those two bodies of sources turn out to be two few and two ãbtoo few and too thin. i'd have to look through it pre-much any archive i can find to find scraps of information that if you weave together enough of them you can start to flush out hopefully a broader story. for anyone who has done historical research. what i'm about to say next might hit very close to home.
they were borrowing within 35 archives in 14 states and the district of columbia. i'm going to entities to quickly 23 of those sources which i dug up in the course of this research. one was a handwritten note in the trial that took place in tuscaloosa alabama that would decide cornelius sinclair's fate forever. forever or forever free. they also came across -- across in this one i thought i would never find two letters in the
handwriting of one of the kidnappers writing to the governor of pennsylvania explaining exactly what had happened and then saying i had nothing to do with it or you and the third source i found that i'm actually going to read to you. the third source i found, i found in the philadelphia newspaper published about three days after cornelius disappeared and it's a missing persons at put there by his father joseph sinclair. it's on page eight of my vote. it's a lawyer lost. my son cornelius sinclair a boy about 11 years old left with a friend yesterday. he has had no cause that has never before left. i fear he's been seduced away by some evil minded person.
my son cornelius is pretty staff. he is then long fingers but his eyes are weak in his left eye is smaller than his right. any person hearing about my son will confer a favor from his afflicted parents by giving information to my employer on 19 south street. before regatta questions questions and comments let me wrap up quickly with a couple of reefer factions about why i think studying the reverse underground railroad in 19th century america is important and why cornelius sinclair's particular experience as a writer on this railroad at the time. to begin with i would argue forcefully then as now families belong together and as any story about free children ripped from their families and in this case
swallowed up as slavery is a story worth telling for its own sake but the remarkable ordeal that cornelius and his four fellow captives a knot, sam, alex and job. the remarkable ordeal that these five boys endure demands attention for many other reasons as well. the one thing it serves as a pointed reminder that people snatching and child snatching most particularly was a very frequent evil pernicious and politically significant in this period and the black freedom in northern towns and cities before the civil war was actually achingly fragile. it was literally paperthin. the story demonstrates to the important role of this grotesque trade and kidnapped free people played an accelerating the spread of southern slavery into the deep south in this period.
as i said i'm not going to preview the book sending her tell you exactly what did happen to cornelius after he was kidnapped, after he was trafficked into alabama but i will drop a few hints here. i will say here that dogeared effort of all those involved in trying to save him and the four other boys from the horrors of the southern slavery would have profound consequences. the r r r r rfforts of parents n allies and the aftermath of their campaign would radicalize lack communities across the free state emboldening african-americans who embrace violence in the cause of self-defense and the cause of mutual protection against enslavers as never before. their efforts would reshape the rest of the american antislavery movement as well by encouraging
white abolitionists with access to a printing press to begin focusing the public's attention on the suffering of black families forcibly separated by slavery. that's a new tactic in the anti-slavery campaign. most immediately outraged over the action of these five boys in 1825 does remarkably force lawmakers in pennsylvania to post a new anti-kidnapping was known as the personal liberty law to protect their right to remain a free black people in the borders of the state of pennsylvania. it's designed to protect people from kidnappers would also slave catchers and bounty hunters as well. that law enrages southern slaveholders. that 1826 law sets in motion a chain of retaliation that common eights in the passage through congress in washington of
something i hope every tenth grade student in this country is heard up which is a fugitive slave act of 1850, a proslavery abomination that sets this country on a collision course with civil war. cornelius sinclair's experience as a forthright -- underground railroad was a result of the complement of massive economic and political forces. and what happened to him as i suggested would usher in a new chapter in the history of slavery and freedom in the united states. that lasting legacy must not obscure the urgent and human stakes of his particular story. a 10-year-old toy and four other free children are dragged into slavery in 1825.
they will have to fight like hell to try to escape. thanks very much indeed. [applause] if you were able to stick around for any comments or questions i would love to hear it. >> he's said the law was passed in 1808 prohibiting the importation of slaves. why was it done when it was written into the constitution that until 1808 the importation of slaves would not a prohibited >> the context for this law is important. you correctly pointed out the text of the 1787 etterer constitution has a lot to say about trans-atlantic slave trading and it never uses those words by the way. what it says is exactly as you just put it to me. [inaudible]
what it is talking about is the transatlantic slave. macinnis says congress cannot prohibit, cannot outlaw or regulate or touch or put a rate american participation in transatlantic slavery for at least 20 years from 1787 another part of it you may not sets up a protest for amending the constitution. says you can take any part of the constitution going forward but the full process, the one bit of the constitution he you cannot amend a way for 20 years is the bit where we say you can't touch the transatlantic slave. back so the protection of the transatlantic slave trade is doubled down on in the constitution of 1787 and yes on the first day of 1808 pretty much the first they allowed under that constitution congress and the jefferson administration
does actually outlaw the things that the founders hoped wouldn't happen 20 years and one day later. there are a lot of reasons as to why that happens and none of them are heroic. none of them are altruistic or none of them are big sign the people in congress have agreed that slave trading is horrible and we must do something to stop the strangle of american slavery. really it's the opposite. 1808 to a greater or lesser degree there's consensus importing and slay people from abroad is expensive and dangerous and you could be importing people with revolutionary ideas about read him from places in the caribbean. you may have heard about the haitian revolution. there's an economic argument that america already has plenty of enslaved people and why don't we leave them to the places that they are the most needed you can imagine the representative from states in the upper towns like
virginia and maryland whose slaveholding population would benefit they domestic slave trade are happy to go along with this idea of outlawing legal importation of transatlantic slavery. to be clear that doesn't mean that no black person ever get is imported into the united states. is there smuggling of lack people into american slavery? you bet there is. other historians have written about this but i have focused on the black market which sounds like a pun. i'm not trying to be funny, the black market of trafficking within the united states and my book "stolen." >> i'd did a lot of research with united states census and have for maybe 40 years and i was quite shocked when i was trying to do research on an image of the effort of the american man from 1880 that in
the 19th century and the census at least for a period of time african-american or enslaved people were listed as property and so they did not appear in the census. have you encountered that or do you have anything to tell us? >> i can't remember the exact time period and it went on for a long time. maybe it was before the civil war but if you are trying to track where someone was, i was tracking a person with the unfortunate name of samuel jones. i thought maybe i could follow him in the census but i couldn't because when i was trying to track where he was born he was likely visit as property. >> there are lots of people in the room who probably know more how the census can be used in the biases of the problem than i
do. i it's unfortunately. blunt tool african-american history before the civil war for some the reasons he laid out about how people have recorded accurately how people are recorded and often false to the state-level census or the simple plantation records on southern plantations to complement our fill in some of the gaps left by the federal census. even then these resources do survive, these historical racers that survived patchy and incomplete. many are filled with biases and whole points of view so making statistical claims which a modern statistician would regard as robust based on the 19th century census it's a very dangerous ground. you'll notice when i was talking about the magnitude of the underground railroad and the
magnitude of the reverse underground railroad the group jura comparison. they were the same order the same power tens of thousands of each over a 50 or 60 or period. notice i was not more specific and than that. anyone who claims they know what the exact number of people who exited slavery via the underground railroad or claims how many were kidnapped and trafficked into slavery what i'm calling they were first underground railroad that person is lying to you. we did not have access to those figures either. both of them are underground outlaw or pseudo-criminals enterprises. the records don't exist to say say accurately productive to death that in both cases when we are talking about the underground railroad or the reverse underground railroad there are sources that tell us something. there are missing persons outs. there are runaway slave ads. there are changes in the census and changes in the population as
in philadelphia which may or may not be revealing. it suggests you done a deal with the kidnapper and if you read enough of these things especially for me i spent 60 years reading missing persons at in philadelphia, baltimore new york boston papers in the 18 tens, 1820s and 1830s and the sad truth is you can't vote for an issue in a newspaper in an urban free city like philadelphia without running across as ike one i've read about joseph sinclair so it's hard to walk away with this conclusion robust or otherwise that's talking about the scale of human trafficking into slavery. it shouldn't be measured in the dozens or hundreds or perhaps thousands in the 50 year period you should be measured in the tens of thousands which is encoded in -- equivalent to our
best guess is that the underground railroad. we will take two more questions i think. although in the back. [inaudible] i've been thinking a lot about history and what does history have to say about the struggle we have in baltimore today? is there anything that you studied? >> it's a wonderful question about what this work reveals and how baltimore functions and maybe other cities in the united states function today. i studied the past and i studied did people. the dead are the better as far as i'm concerned and modern history terrifies me. offering something cogent by way of insight and way baltimore functions today is above my pay
grade and i would encourage you to read the book and see what connections you would make. many people know a lot more about the subject than i do. i would just make a general point which is to say the structure of urban cities aside we know the reverse underground railroad survived and prospered and functions enlarged -- large part because of widespread indifference among the white population of philadelphia in the 1820s. there are permitted antislavery people in baltimore both white and of course black but among the white folks it's a radical unusual position to be standing up and say guess i think slavery is an outrage and we should strike it down now. in the 1820s as a very unusual thing. only a small number of white people would say that and free black people would say to as many people as would listen.
as far as residents between a story about kidnapping in human trafficking and the world we live now i will say two things. free black parents were well aware the kidnappers stopped their neighborhood and they wanted their children to be safe that meant talking to them all the time about being on the lookout not going anywhere alone , never going down certain alleys. how to read body language and never talking to strangers and it's a bit of a jump but this always reminds me a little bit of what we call the talk nowadays about how african-american teenagers and typically young man should handle themselves around the police. that may seem like too much of a threat so maybe that's something to be investigated. the other thing i will say is of course one of the things that brought home to to me in this
book "stolen" is the fragility of black freedom in supposedly free cities and to be legally free is different from living in a racially equitable world and there's nothing historical about it. you can buy that today as well in the freedom of people on social margins were particularly vulnerable in the 1820s in philadelphia. in 2019 african-americans and many other groups and i'm thinking about the crisis on our southern border and whether you have the right papers in certain states in the union right now. thinking about i.c.e.'s separation of families in the continuing prevalence of slavery in this country and around the world. we tend to tell ourselves that slavery is dead and buried and slavery is an artifact of the
american past. when it comes to race slavery it's been outlawed at the end of the civil war and reconstruction that doesn't mean other types of slavery did not thrive and grow and live in this country and around the world. sexual slavery, agricultural slavery, domestic slavery. it's happening in california. the big agribusinesses that supply supermarkets and restaurants. sexual slavery is happening across united states for domestic slavery is happening under the protection of diplomatic immunity oliver washington d.c. tonight and every night. this is not just an american problem. it's happening in all the global capitals of this world. two organizations that study this phenomenon one of course free the slaves in the other called antislavery international estimate in 2019 there are somewhere between 30 and 40 million people in slavery around the world and to be clear
that is vastly more in the united states that men like and became the president and new election of 1860 so there's a lot more work to do. as is and just history. this is an ongoing fight an ongoing struggle for which everyone should be committed. think will stop there and i'd be happy to sign any books. thank you so much for your time. [applause] >> there's a scene in radical son is two volumes in my autobiography when i am in a bookstore and it's after this happened and it's a berkeley bookstore.
all these books and then i see many people are into science fiction and they are into this and into that. the whole world which is completely outside of my world that marxism was the key to it all. my books, there were probably 10,000 books in the bookstore but my books are the important ones. and when i realized that it was just another story and it was completely false one as it turned out the room was black. it was like being in a desert completely flat with no landscape. i realized there was nothing. that was terrifying. >> what do you mean? you are in a bookstore in the 70s and burt lee.
>> i realize that marxism was a false idea, false set of ideas. there are millions who live off these bad and disproven and stupid ideas. >> are you suggesting -- >> i had to face my own mortality and nothingness and that was as difficult a thing if he could possibly have to do. see tacky talk about a new book mortality and faith but it seems to me that you are suggesting you are going along for ride and at some point you woke up and you i'm going in the wrong direction. >> i had written 10 books at that time. a devoted my life. it was 35 years old then. it devoted my life to this false idea and very distrustful one in evil idea.
that's how i knew people were still marxists like obama. the first thing i wanted to do was scream it out and warn other people against falling into this trap and the people who don't do it the obamas the valerie jarrett's in a day arrived -- david axelrod's they all grew up that way may never detach themselves from it. [inaudible conversations] >> if this seems especially packed in here tonight there a couple of reasons for that. one obviously there's a lot of interest in this book but secondly we party started to set or