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tv   Matthew Algeo All This Marvelous Potential  CSPAN  April 10, 2020 6:06pm-6:43pm EDT

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thank you so much. [background sounds]. [background sounds]. tunable tv starting at eight eastern highlights our "in depth" program will begin with the author and a number of books among them history of the black national anthem and brief. novelist jodi, including her novel a spark of light in the journalist and science fiction novelist, cory discusses his book and activism. after the date of social distancing, can close to a good
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book tonight. hope to be, on "c-span2". matthew: good afternoon everybody and thank you for coming out. my name is travis and i'm in charge of this club. let's do go over some quickon housekeeping. remind everybody to please silence your cell phones, are also going to be recording video and audio. today's talk so tappan. so we can suit time for the q&a program portion, we have a microphone right here. we ask that you speak clearly into it and keep your question to a question. so we have all the books on self behind the cash register at the front of the store. so you w can get those then come back in, matt will be more than happy to sign them. then we ask you to keep your
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tears in a place. also, we post a lot of events this year. every year really. we have the calendars up at the desk and also you can check on her website. we update that all of the time. with the pleasure of hosting matthew. he's an award winning journalist. he's authored many books, and the president is an' sick man among them. and he is here with all of this marvelous potential. matthew algeo. the story of kennedy's tour starting in mid-february, before
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his assassination. and there's books like have recast these in a different life and what citizens were in place. myself having lived near cumberland for years, has seen house the story is told in the book, the resumes of the population there. but even deeper into the book, readers familiar with the story of economic withdrawal will find much to discover. everybody please help me in joining and welcoming matthew algeo. [applause]. matthew: thank yououpp travis. how is everybody feeling. he feeling okay. no handshakes. it is great to be here at politics and prose. travis, as mentioning some of my
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earlier books, a kind of like where this fits into some of the previous ones i've done but a little background about myself. it is always good to let people know the person whoeo wrote the book. the person who you will be giving your money to hopefully. i grew up in a town about 30 miles north of philadelphia, means nuts were cracked, this was the town means. university of pennsylvania in philadelphia and i made majored in folklore. so i have that going for me. [laughter]. so after i graduated, i could not find any work there. [laughter]. and my parents were surprised. so started working in public radio. it was kind of the place where folklore people went at the
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time. and i worked at a few stations in seattle and, in minnesota it's a lose. i met my wife in st. louis in 97 and we were married in 98. and in 2005, she was hired by ane state department enjoyed foreign service. so since then, i have been able to write these books because my wife has a real job. [laughter]. beis string of non- best selling books has given me something to do at least what we are overseas. the first book was less team standing. thank you. they can. the 1943 merger of the eagles. in the steelers they became the seals because the nfl was so short of players in world war ii, had merged two teams. the quarterback was blind in one eye the running back with had
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older ulcers printed but the publisher decided that we should call the book last man standing. and then the next book retraced a road trip in the summer of 53 after they left the white house, before ex-president that had pensions or secret service protection. siso we invest just got in the chrysler drove from independence missouri to theot east coast to etsit their daughter margaret who lived in new york at the time and then they wrote back again. it was kind of an sweetet book, they were eating at diners and staying in motels. it really speaks to a bygone era. ex-presidento snow, basically have midsize corporations under themselves but when truman left office, he was the last president to return something is simply a normal life. so was a lot of fun to do that story. real quickly, and the president is a segment which is about secret operation on grover
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ocleveland to remove a canceros tumor from his mouth. how these not best sellers. [laughter]. pedestrian symptom history of competitive 1880s popular spectator sport with a six-day walking race. okay. and david and fido which was widely acknowledged as the greatest biography ever written of lincoln's dog,. [laughter]. enemy lincoln, someone. what do i have to do. so we will see about all of this marvelous potential and while that fits into the scheme of things. this book came about in 2016. "all this marvelous potential" after the election and a lot of people were surprised when president trump was elected and then look to the numbers and they were especially surprised that the overwhelming majorities that he picked up and a lot of counties. people started to write about this and c a couple that's interesting i wonder how that
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was happening. in 68, one of his name is poverty tours to eastern kentucky at the time kennedy was not officially a candidate. he was considering running lyndon johnson in theca democrac primary. so it was in effect kind of a campaign and it certainly had the trappings of a campaign trip with the opportunities in the hearings and the s speeches. i just thought that it was interesting that robert kennedy in 1968 is a liberal could go to eastern kentucky campaign and then you see donald trump when he sees counties with 60 to 70 percent of the camp a vote. so i thought i should write a book aboutte that. so this book ended up being a little bit different and focuses on the trip itself and not overly into the analysis of d wy things have changed. make a look at more at how things have changed and a limite
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decide. they are worse. i went down to kentucky to begin researching the book and 2017. can i grew up in philadelphia or outside philadelphia so a lot of my biases are attached to it to this story of appalachian also the 1960s my ideas of the 60s was woodstock and the chicago convention in san francisco, i don't really think of kentucky when you think about the 60s. at least i did it. where i came from. but the 60s happen in kentucky a lot. there were a lot of crazy things going on. appalachian eastern kentucky. thing to do with environmentalism and poverty and really surprised me and really thought maybe that was the way to approach the story was to look at what the 60s were like
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in eastern kentucky. and just by way of background before the rfk trip. in 1960 his brother jack ran for president. and west virginia was an important place in bobby was his campaign manager and this was the first time that jack and bobby really were exposed to american poverty of closeby i'm really think it struck are stuck with both of them. there is a funny story from the 1960 camping and west virginia where an old coalminer came up to jack kennedy as it is a true that you have never worked today yin your life. and jack kennedydy said, there s some truth to that. the coalminer said, will don't worry you haven't missed arr dan thing. [laughter]. so kennedy really was enamored with the people in west virginia and the people in appalachia and they think that stayed with him and 63, july of 63, harry it was a writer from eastern kentucky in kentucky read a book, and it was really an exposé in the
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exploitation of the people eastern kentucky by the coal companies in the major corporations in the u.s. at that dependent on coal. and in october of 63, homer it was a reporter for the new york times about poverty in eastern kentucky. a jack kennedynk and seen both f these and they made quite an impression on him and you plan to go to eastern kentucky to see what the conditions were like himself and the trip was scheduled for december 1963 did so course that never took place. however, after his assassination, he stepped up and reallyis took up financial anti- poverty campaign in his january 64 statement scene of the union address. in august at 64 - just seven months later, the economic opportunity act was passed. crating the office ofss economic opportunity or oto which was the
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agency that over saw all of the war on poverty programs. there were so many programs that there was a page in the book just to list them, some more and statstart, school lunch program, headstart. rfk, when he went to eastern kentucky had a few reasons to go. one was i think it was still in the back of his mind that his brother made or had wanted to visit eastern kentucky and had never made it. he wanted to engage with the success in poverty as well too. and this was coming up. and so he wanted to see what progress had been paid on the war on poverty. i think that robert kennedy lswanted to show the poverty was not just an african-american problem. or native american or mexican-american problem. it was an american o problem. it affected every american and including white people. and white people in eastern kentucky in particular. it he thought it was important
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to show that to the company and the trip itself was today's print he held hearings in a one room schoolhouse. and then it and a gymnasium in a town called neon, a high school gymnasium. as i was writing the book, thought it was more interesting, robert kennedy, alone books have been written about him. in their type wrote what i thought was an excellent biography tonn give me good verbiage which really is a must for anything. and i do not want to write a book really about robert kennedy. explain what he did in this trip in the people he met and the issues he faced and try to put them into some kinde of context of what was happening in the 60s and what is happening today. also to show what changes have happened and what changes have not. just a few of the issues that he discussed or that he confronted
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eastern kentucky, one was strip mining. at the time there is a system out called the product formed dd. maybe it was fate but these are these the people inside over the mineral rights to their property and often 50 - 100 years earlier. but to give companies the right to strip mine and strip the land that the coal was on. and the companies were not required to repair the land, they were not required to do tything to fix the damage that was created and so people would seek coal companies they would come in and dig up the call and leave. it was environmentally disastrous. this trip the hillsides of all of the cover, the hollows would flood every spring. not to mention very exploitation of since it really destroyed when the people had and they got no benefit from the coal that was taken out. and i think something $1 trillion a call, was
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extracted from eastern kentucky and not much of that money made it back. then another issue that was pressing at the time this concept of maximum feasible just a patient, the economic opportunity act, provided that the people most affected by o these programs, i.e. poor people would be given maximum feasible participation in deciding how the money would be spent. and with the money would be spent on and where it would be spent. as are just as an example, there was a grassroots assistance committee of in these counties that was organized free to get a $40000 grant from the federal government to build new roads. this was a committee that had been formed by an employed minors in two counties. seem like a really fantastic thing that they were able to get this money but you think did not the fact that the federal government sent money directly to those grassroots committees. the state and county politicians
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and they were used to getting the money first w and then they got to decide québec money. and they bypass them and going directly to the poor people, this was kind of the final straw for a lot of people who were opposed to the war on poverty in the in the way i think the opportunity act by maximum feasible participation was one of those things that was a fantastic idea but in a way, plan s a little seed of its own demise and his own that triggered such a backlash among the entrenched political interest. this was not only intact kentucky but everywhere. in 1968, the presidential campaign was heating up in time lyndon t johnson and not withdrn yet from the campaign. that happened in march. bobby announced his candidacy in march. so we were in february when the trip took place. so were about six weeks before
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robert kennedy officially announced his candidacy. like i said earlier, and had the campaign trip kind of it is funny that i have pictures in the book that the kennedys did not expect quite the crowd of press to accompany the senator on the street so you would see these long caravans of cars following him and he would stop summer and go of the house and talk to somebody they would be done and he would be on to the next house before the caravan even finished pulling up to the house. so this kind of funny how much attention in god. although i was surprised to learn that the networks did not archive nightly newscasts until august 1968. when the democratic convention came. so there would be ancio occasiol and cast that somebody thought it was important toou say for oe reason or another. but that network from the
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kennedys trip was not able to find. they did it archive the newscast at that time. there is a host of issues, though briefly, food stamps was one of the fascinating issues to me. mainly people had to pay for food stamps which i did not really appreciate. but when food stampd. program began, you paid for a certain denomination of stamps and then in addition to that you would get free stamps. see would pay like say $10 and get $15 for the food stamps. and if he was determined by a number of factors, the size of your family, your income, could be a fairly big price. one of the people i kennedy talked to on the trip was an unemployed minor with long name.
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he spent $72 a month for $94 in food stamps rated so it up a $72 just get $22 in food stamps. another minor was a guy name mr. his monthly income was $60 and he paid $26 a month for hundred and $12 in food stamps leaving just $34 for all other expenses printed at the hearing he said to kennedy, have you ever seen 15 kids and three beds and robert kennedy said, i am headed in that direction. [laughter]. had ten kids at the time i think. and after the trip, one of the things it did come out of this was that eventually the purchase requirements was lifted although it did not take effect until the foodstamp act of 1977 and they didn't take in effect until january 1979 when the purchase requirement wasas finally ended and participation in the foodstamp program went up
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1.5 million in one month. so it made a big difference in a lot of people's lives just by lifting that purchase requirement. it is also interesting to find that the p food stamps are welfe programs for people, for the hungry and also for walmart because about 4 percent of walmart's sales come from food stamps. so it's always interesting to see how walmart comes down on legislation that makes it harder for people to get food stamps because it's part of the revenue. after the assassination in june of 68, richard nixon was elected president. he tapped he had to appoint somebody to over see the office of economic opportunity basically see the one poverty. so this kind of annex in a tough spot. who will he find to do this thankless job and nobody wants. willie found a congressman from
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illinois, a guy named donald rumsfeld. and he took over the office of economic opportunity in one of his first hires was a young ambitious congressional intern from wyoming. a guy named cheney. so 1981, the office of economic opportunity was finally abolished altogether did we can give rumsfeld and cheney credit for ending at least one more. and that was the war on poverty. too soon. [laughter]. finally a couple of statistics, one was that poverty was reduced from 22 percent, that is pretty crazy. like living to the map, one in four or five people, f then in 1973, it was 11 percent. it was cut in half and the space of 14 years. so when you look at a graph or chart of where poverty was
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headed from 1959 - 1973 it's just straight down butit since 1973 the race really went into effect, putting the effect of the brakes on poverty, it took about 11 - 15 percent. in some ways i think the word poverty was a success and in other ways, of course it was not. i would be happy to take questions if you have them. you can step up to the microphone. guest: thank you for the talk. my question is i wonder if you can speak more about the decline in poverty. i work at the county with a patient population of uninsured adults. 250 percent of the poverty level or below but, in the cost of
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living is not at the same across the united states for the poverty level is. can you give a slow a context about how those numbers came from. matthew: i talk about this in the book how you determine poverty. huge thing when kennedy came in and 61 and said what do we do about poverty in the first thing he wanted to know is what is the number of people said we don't know. so there was a gal at the department of agriculture was a woman who came up with a formula to determine what the poverty line was. and basically she took the usda, she took the usda a figures for nutrition for a family of four and figured out the average shopping price etc. and she came up with this number. that formula has basically been hunchanged now for where we 60
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years. in the problem is at the time, hehousing was very cheap and fod was very expensive. now you have the opposite. food is cheap and housing is expensive but if you made any changes to the poverty line, would immediately put millions of people technically into poverty no politician wants to do that so they don't want to change producing how things work the criteria just keep going. it's a 250 percent of the poverty line why do we just move it. why don't we make itov fluid by regions or by metropolitan regions and things like that predict so i think the problem is it is so politically difficult for with people to come up with a corporate and seven up-to-date formula for exact determining exactly who's in poverty and where. that's just not the political will to do that. nobody was to touch it. guest:
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with the war inen vietnam and these men who were out in various areas of the country, sometimes the military, well plus their way out. and yet, how did he convey the fact that this was an unjust war. it's best not to participate in and yet the military was often the only way and often times they were coming from these regions, would be in the frontns lines. a more likely to be killed or injured. so it was kind of a thing. matthew: he had just come out, kennedy did about expanding the war in vietnam, and right, support for the war in appalachia was strong. however, i think there was a lot of even among people who supported the l war, there is a lot of people opposed to the way it was managed.
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and they saw their sons in the eastern kentucky kentucky were dying at a higher rate than any other region inha the country rated west virginia the highest casualty rate in any state. in the counties of eastern kentucky considered their own state rated it would have an even higher rate. appalachians, his voice and the boys, their men were considered especially good because they were familiar with the mountain terrain, they were fantastic marksmen and they were familiar with living in rough environments. they could bes out there for log periods of time and i think it was a percent of the combat veterans were soldiers in vietnam were from appalachia. 13 percent were the medal of honor recipients. there is a pretty big disparity. so to answer your question, it
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was ambivalence. i think young people unequivocally oppose the war and i think thed parents were more ambivalent to that they supported the war but they certainly did not like seeing their children go off and fight it and die in such. guest: what is known about the health effects of the war on poverty. there must be something that has been studied but i don't know anything about it for sure. matthew: even ine. terms of improvement d health. one of the really fascinating things and i haven't even mentioned some of the people in this and i will be researching the book. it's just amazing people one of the war in poverty programs was the creation of community clinics.
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there still merely health clinics that were founded 50 years ago in eastern kentucky the primary health care providers for communities there. and i woulday say statisticallyi don't know off the top of my head that the incidence for early childhood diseases which were still prevalent into the early 60s, homer wrote this article in 63 talked about the number of cases of child malnutrition documented there. so they certainly, that decreased, the school lunch program helped immensely. this was the guarantee mill that kept kids had everyis day. although even their ♪ ♪ they had political problems trying to get those implemented. a lot of school districts were basically the systems of people rented people then like people coming in and telling them what to do even if that meant offering free pledges. in many of the schools just
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didn't have the facilities to cook lunch. they did not have indoor plumbing. so there were a lot of hurdles to tackle but overall this pub far as public health the effects were positive. guest: i wondered what things you heard about the reflections of people about kennedy strip or . matthew: the one that i have done that was the most recent happening, not very well worded but you know what, i mean. was only 50 years old or so. there are a lot of people still around to admit kennedy. the problem that i had as i mentioned, few gate, there are few gates everywhere printed their ices everywhere. everybody has ascending so it took a little work to track people down.
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a lot of people had memories first-hand memories of the trip itself. i think it was interesting to look at the impact it have on people. even to this day, people got very emotional talking about meeting robert kennedy. one of the people i talked to was a woman and she had gone with her sister to see kennedy at the high school neon and she had written on a piece of paper and excuse slip then had kennedy sign it so she could get excused from school. it was a good thing because a lot of the schools do not want the children to attend. they didn't think bobby kennedy was a positive influence on the children at the time. so it was a lot of fun finding people who remembered the trip and had first hand memories.d one of the guys it's hard about the book was a guy who was a university of kentucky law student and was a friend of carl perkins who was a congressman from eastern kentucky in one of the reasons kennedy went to
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eastern kentucky was he originally was going to go to south carolina but his friend was running for reelection at the time and he said he bobby, maybe not all of this on poverty. i want to run for reelection and so kennedy said okay and then later he supported some of the legislation so he went to kentucky because there was not a senator for reelection in the congressman was carl perkins. he held a job like the pope. he had until he died. in fact that's what did happen. in this law student would occasionally come to washington and help out helping out his office. so we would ride in the cart with kennedy sims and state trooper who drove kennedy and carl perkins and steve caywood, 23 -year-old kentucky law student in of course it had a huge effect on steve and he basically has worked in environmental and poverty issues
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ndever since then. i don't even know if i answered your question. good answer thank? you. [laughter]. before part of the narrative of the presidential campaign and 68, the ability of robert kennedy to talk to them to gain the support of african-americans as well as working-class whites, and all of your preparations for this book, and all of the research in all of your background, did you find traces of that. would you uphold that particular theory. matthew: yes, absolutely. reporter quoted a voter in indiana, a white kid, said yes, if you don't like negroes around here veryou much, will kennedy wants to improve life for the
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negro, why do you think so. he said i don't know, i just do. remember he was the running attorney general sci-fi event that came from the background of law and order andnd i think they saw him as somebody who would balance, a certain balance the interest of communities with law & order. but the anything that was interesting is that in 64, george wallace ran as a democratic presidential candidate in the primary in indiana got something like 24 - 26 percent of the boat pretty is running straight out. and then four years later, kennedy. in indiana and one with 40 percent of votes are clearly some of the people vote did for george wallacepl in 64 voted for bobby kennedy's estate. soy go into this and a little bit of the book. i think kennedy and wallace were kind of competing for the same
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voters. in appalachia. george wallace was a piece of work then. [laughter]. hopeful so at the time and 68 when he was campaigning, he could not run for reelection so he got his wife elected governor of alabama. when she had her third child in 1662, the doctor saw some suspicious tissue but of course told george not arlene, need to get her to check this out might bee cancerous. she might have cervical cancer but george was running for reelection at the time and said he did not want to tell her so we do not like 67, she finally was formally diagnosed with cancer in the died and i think was march or april 68 and of course wallace was running for president at the time and find out his threeee kids to relativ.
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not a nice man. i'm going to go out on a limb and say that. there was definitely overlap the constituency. it is fascinating. guest: i was 18 years old in 1960 and i had friends and new acquaintances of people thought george wallace or bob kennedy without hesitation then then then deduct voting for ronald ragan. q. matthew: no more questions? very good. thank you all for coming out. and think the most important thing to take away from this today is to remember to buy the book. [laughter]. thank you. [applause]. host: ahead and come on up to the
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registers. thank you again. [background sounds]. to not a book tv starting at eight eastern, highlights from our "in depth" program, we begin with money. , author of a number of books. among them are history of the black national anthem and brief. followed by novelist jody including her novel about the spark of light and then journalists and science fiction novelist, discusses his book of activism. after a day of social distancing, get close to a good book tonight. otd, on "c-span2". c-span has around-the-clock coverage of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. and it's all available on demand at but white house briefings, updates from governors and state officials, and the spread throughout the u.s. and world with interactive


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